• Chhattisgarh

    1. Overview. 1
    2. Human rights violations by the security forces and Salwa Judum activists 2
    3. Violations of international humanitarian laws by the AOGs 4
    4. Violence against women and children. 6
    5. Violations of the rights of the indigenous peoples 7
    6. Violations of the prisoners' rights 7

    1. Overview

    Ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, Chhattisgarh came to the centre-stage of the Naxalite conflict in India following the launching of the Salwa Judum, an anti-Naxalite campaign supported by the State government, in June 2005. The Naxalites, also known as Maoists, who were reportedly active in eight out of 16 districts of the State[1] increased their retaliation against the supporters of the Salwa Judum campaign led by the Leader of the Opposition in the State Legislative Assembly, Mahendra Karma. On 25 August 2005, the State government announced that it had set up a Committee headed by State Chief Secretary A.K. Vijayvargiya to provide direct support such as logistics, arms and funding to the Salwa Judum.[2] On 5 September 2005, the Chhattisgarh government banned Naxal organisations in the State following the killing of 24 security personnel in Bijapur Police district on 3 September 2005.[3]

    There were reports of serious human rights violations by all the parties in the Naxalite conflict - the security forces, the Maoists and the Salwa Judum cadres. While the government denied any deaths in police custody[4], the Maoists accused the police and paramilitary personnel of killing innocent and unarmed civilians after taking them into custody. The Maoists alleged that the security forces killed 10 civilians after arresting them on 1 September 2005 at Haryal village near Mirtul Police Station in West Bastar.[5]

    Prison conditions remained overcrowded with 8,873 prisoners against the sanctioned capacity of 4,563. Of them, 4,337 were under-trials. There was 94.46% overcrowding.[6] Asian Centre for Human Rights documented at least five deaths in judicial custody. The State government ordered magisterial inquiries into four of these deaths. The NHRC had reported 26 deaths in judicial custody during 2004-2005.[7]

    The State government continued to directly involve the tribals in the conflict under the  Salwa Judum to fight the Maoists. The tribals became both the perpetrators and the victims of the conflict. They also faced prosecution by the Forest Department of the State for accessing minor forest produce.

    While child marriage continued to be reported regularly, killings of women in the name of witches remained the major crime against women in the state.

    2. Human rights violations by the security forces and Salwa Judum activists

    The NHRC recorded 5 deaths in police custody and 1 encounter deaths during 2004-2005.[8] The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) of the Government of India recorded killing of 4 civilians in police firing in the state during 2005. However, the NCRB failed to record any death in police custody during 2005.[9]

    According to the 2005 Annual Report of NCRB, a total of 1006 complaints were received against the police personnel in Chhattisgarh during 2005. Of them, departmental inquiry was ordered into 284 cases, magisterial inquiry into 4 cases and judicial inquiry into 18 cases. 54 police personnel were sent up for trial during the year. Of the 36 police personnel whose case trials were completed, 30 were convicted and 6 acquitted.[10] The NCRB does not report human rights violations committed by the army and the paramilitary forces.

    In March 2005, Additional Sessions Judge Deepak Tiwari sentenced Ambarish Sharma, the then Town Inspector to ten years rigorous imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 65,000, Sub-Inspector Rajendra Pandey to five years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 20,000 and seven other accused to two years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5000 each in the custodial death of Baldau Kaushik who was killed on 22 May 2002 in Kawardha Police Station.[11]

    There were allegations of extrajudicial executions of innocent civilians in the name of military action against Maoists. The police claimed that between 29 August 2005 and 3 September 2005, 10 alleged Maoists were reportedly killed by the security forces in the dense forest of Bijapur and Bhairamgarh areas under Bijapur police district during a special operation called “Green Hunt”.[12] But the Maoists alleged that 10 civilians, including a 12-year-old boy, were arrested on 1 September 2005 and killed in custody by the police and paramilitary personnel at Haryal village, two kilometers from Mirtul Police Station in West Bastar. The Maoists further alleged that the bodies of the deceased were not handed over to their family members but were secretly cremated by the security forces in the forest.[13]

    The security forces continued to be responsible for arbitrary arrest, detention and torture. Sunita Bai, the mother of Suresh Yadava alleged that on 18 February 2005 some policemen suddenly entered her house at about 8:00 pm and dragged her son Suresh out of the house for interrogation. Suresh was beaten up in the lane in front of their house and his face was thrust in the drain water and hair was pulled. As a result of brutal beating by the police, Suresh fell unconscious. The police had admitted Suresh to Government Hospital where he was under treatment of Dr Shrivastava. But later Suresh allegedly went missing. When Sunita Bai went to the police station to enquire about her son, the police reportedly told her that her son had been released from police custody because he was found to be innocent.[14]

    The anti-Naxalite Salwa Judum campaign also resulted in serious human rights violations. A fact-finding team consisting of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)  Chhattisgarh, PUCL Jharkhand, People's Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), Delhi, Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), West Bengal and IAPL in November 2005 alleged that villages that refused to participate in the Salwa Judum campaign faced repeated attacks by the combined forces of Salwa Judum, the police and the paramilitary Naga battalion. There were reports of looting, arson and killings in many instances. In some villages, the raids continued till the entire village was cleared and people had moved to relief camps while in other cases, only old people, women and children were left. The police reportedly did not register First Information Reports relating to the atrocities perpetrated by the Salwa Judum activists and the security forces.[15]

    On 1 July 2005, hundreds of police, paramilitary forces and Salwa Judum activists under the leadership of Inspector General of Police Ansari, Bijapur Superintendent of Police Manhar and Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Mahendra Karma allegedly raided Kotrapal village in retaliation to the killing of three Salwa Judum activists by the villagers when they had attacked the village on 18 June 2005. Most of the villagers had fled to the forest prior to the attack. The mob allegedly burnt down 8 houses and killed and looted all the chicken, pigs, and cattle of the villagers. Two elderly villagers who were returning to the village were allegedly killed by the Central Reserve Police Force personnel, who also shot at and seriously injured an old woman.[16]

    The police, paramilitary personnel and Salwa Judum activists allegedly carried out similar attacks at Pondum and Pallayvaya villages on 20 July 2005; at Munder village on 22 July 2005; at Phulgatta village on 25 July 2005; at Karrebodli village on 29 July 2005, at Kotrapal village on 8 August 2005 when three villagers were allegedly killed and four women allegedly raped, at Pottnar village on 26 August 2005 when four Adivasis, including a minor boy, were allegedly shot dead; at Aakva village on 28 August 2005 when a minor boy was killed; at Haryal village situated just two kms from the Mirtul Police Station in West Bastar where 10 villagers were allegedly killed after their arrest on 1 September 2005; and at Paralnar village on 10 October 2005 when a minor boy was allegedly killed.[17] The Maoists also alleged that on 3 October 2005, personnel of the Indian Reserve Battallion (Naga Battallion) and Salwa Judum cadres shot dead a Maoist activist identified as Komar Mankeli, who was the chairman of the Janta Sarkar of Lova village, and that a minor boy named Raju who was a witness to this murder disappeared since then.[18]

    However, the allegations of the Maoists could not be verified.

    3. Violations of international humanitarian laws by the AOGs

    The Maoists were responsible for gross violations of international humanitarian laws in Chhattisgarh. The Naxalite conflict intensified after the launching of anti-Naxalite Salwa Judum campaign in June 2005. Civilians became specific targets for participating or supporting the government sponsored Salwa Judum. The Naxalites demonstrated all their brutality while killing innocent people, including by axing to death or slitting their throats. On 29 September 2005, suspected Naxalites killed a civilian named Mahadev Manjhi by slitting his throat after dragging him out of his house at Pandiyarapara village in Bijapur.[19]

    On 16 July 2005, Maoists raided six villages of Kutru, Ambeli, Pharsgaon, Uskapatnam, Badekarkeli and Chhotekarkeli in Dantewada district, and killed seven villagers (two Maoists were also killed in retaliation) and injured at least 12 others.[20] Again on the night of 27 July 2005, Maoists attacked three villages of Karemarka, Talnara and Munder in Bastar and killed seven villagers for allegedly participating in a public rally against the Maoists on 24 July 2005.[21]

    Other victims of Maoists' violence during 2005 included Vijay Giri, member of District Panchayat, who was killed after abduction from his residence in Nayapara in Bijapur on 7 July 2005;[22] Akhmu Podami of Junwani village in Bhairamgarh region who was axed to death on 6 August 2005;[23] Suku Karma and Sukhdev Bhogami, relatives of Mahendra Karma, the Leader of the Opposition in the Chattishgarh Legislative Assembly, who were killed at Pharaspal village in Dantewada district on 9 August 2005;[24] Pandru Dongi of Jangla village under Bijapur police district who was killed after abduction on the night of 15 August 2005;[25] Jumadi Laxmaiyya, a resident of Cherapal village, who was shot death on 28 October 2005;[26] Pujari Budhram who was publicly beaten and stabbed to death at Gogla village under Gangalur police station in Bijapur police district on 4 November 2005;[27] Hapka Ayatu who was killed after abduction in Halur under Bhairamgarh police station on 5 November 2005;[28] two villagers identified as Samlu of village Padera and Hemla Boudhram of Gangalur under Bijapur police district who were brutally stabbed to death on 11 November 2005;[29] and four civilians - Sujan Singh, Fakira, Ankalu and Sriram of Otekasa village in Kanker district who were killed on the late night of 23 November 2005.[30]

    In addition, the Maoists killed at least three political leaders. They included Kamesh Manikpuri of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who was killed on 5 May 2005 near Pinnabheji jungle under Dornapal police station area in Dantewada district;[31] Ravikant Mahoba of the BJP who was killed in Konta in Dantewada district on 27 April 2005;[32] and Hungaram Markam of the Congress party who was killed at Chirmur village in Dantewada district on 19 April 2005.[33]

    Asian Centre for Human Rights also documented killing of at least three “sarpanches” (elected village heads) by the Maoists for their alleged support for Salwa Judum programme. They included Lekam Satish, sarpanch of Tumla village in Jashpur district who was dragged out of his house and killed on the night of 21 July 2005;[34] Rajman Uike, sarpanch of Baghadongari village, who was “convicted to death” in Maoists' Jana Adalat on the charges of being a police informer on 12 August 2005;[35] and Hafta Mangu, a former sarpanch of village Ghumra in Dantewada district who was beaten to death on the night of 22 October 2005.[36]

    The Maoists also continued to deliver kangaroo justice in “Peoples Court”, Jana Adalat. On the night of 22 May 2005, the Maoists reportedly killed Ayodhya Prasad Jaiswal, manager of a cooperative at Khod village under Ramkola police station in Sarguja district after finding him guilty in the Jana Adalat.[37]

    4. Violence against women and children

    The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) recorded 3,599 cases of violence against women in the state, including 990 cases of rape, 1,450 cases of molestation, 184 cases of abduction, 100 dowry deaths, 732 cases of cruelty by husbands and relatives during 2005. The NCRB also recorded 997 cases of crimes against children in the state including 28 murder cases, 382 rape cases, 110 abduction cases during 2005.[38]

    Women continued to be victims of atrocities and societal cruelties. The National Commission for Women confirmed that witch-hunting was one of the many forms of violence against women in Chhattisgarh. Often women were accused of practicing witchcraft by their relatives who wanted to seize their properties.[39]

    On 19 July 2005, the government of Chhattisgarh adopted the Witchcraft Atrocities (Prevention) Act, 2005.[40] As per the law, anyone who identifies a woman as a “Tonhi” (witch) or inflicts physical or mental harassment or damage to any such woman shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment upto 5 years and be fined. Offences under this Act are cognisable and non-bailable.[41] Earlier, on 10 July 2005, a 54-year-old widow identified as Phoolwati Bai Gaur was paraded naked and killed allegedly at the order of the village panchayat which accused her of being a witch at Parsatolo village in Rajnandgaon district.[42]

    Rampant child marriage continued to violate the rights of the child. One particular mass child marriage ceremony of as many as 137 couples was reportedly solemnised in the presence of the Ram Vichar Netam, Minister of Tribal Affairs of the State government in April 2005.[43]

    On 6 January 2005, an arrest warrant was reportedly issued against Tapan Kumar Panigrahi, a teacher of Nalpawand Primary School in Bastar for allegedly forcing 12 students of the school to eat human excreta three weeks earlier. According to the complaint filed with the police, Panigrahi caught the students, between 4 and 10 years of age, chewing tobacco. He allegedly started scolding them, beat them and then asked one of the students to bring human excreta from the adjoining field. Panigrahi then forced all 12 to eat the excreta.[44]

    5. Violations of the rights of the indigenous peoples

    The indigenous/tribal peoples continued to face atrocities from the authorities and the upper caste Hindus. Thousands of tribals have been charged for collecting minor forest produce. On 8 November 2005, the Forest Department of Chhattisgarh reportedly decided to close 2,57,226 forest cases registered against 1,62,692 tribals between 1953 to 30 June 2004 under Sections 26, 33, 41 of the Indian Forest Act 1927 pertaining primarily to illegal felling of trees for domestic use and ferrying of wood by bullock carts.[45]

    In many cases, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 was seldom invoked to prosecute the accused. On 28 April 2005, Raigarh-based Rameshwar Steel's factory manager Dinesh Gupta and security guard Remaul Kujur allegedly forced two Adivasis identified as Shyam Lal and Shadanand to sit on burning iron plates on the charges of stealing raw material from the factory in Chhattisgarh. The tribal victims reported the matter to Gharghora police station but their complaint was allegedly not entertained.[46]

    By the end of 2005, 1,149 cases of atrocities against the tribals were pending trial in court and 84 cases were pending investigation by the police in Chhattisgarh. The conviction rate for the crimes against the tribals in the state during 2005 was merely 39.6%[47]

    6. Violations of the prisoners' rights

    The NHRC recorded 26 deaths in judicial custody during 2004-2005.[48]

    Chhattisgarh had four Central Jails, seven District Jails and 17 Sub Jails. According to the Government of Chattishgarh, “the lock-up in the jails of the state is double the capacity”.[49] According to NHRC, as of 31 December 2004, Chhattisgarh had 8,873 prisoners against the total sanctioned capacity of only 4,563 resulting in 94.46% overcrowding. Of them, 4,337 were under-trials, representing 48.8 % of the total prisoners in the state. There were 399 women and 70 children with their mothers in the prisons.[50]

    Almost all the jails in the state were overcrowded. According to the latest statistics available on the website of the Jail Department of the Government of Chhattisgarh, the four Central Jails of the state housed a total of 6,436 inmates against the capacity of 2,493. While Central Jail, Raipur housed 2,718 prisoners against the capacity of 1,130, Central Jail, Bilaspur housed 1,657 prisoners against its capacity of 572, Central Jail, Jagdalpur had 1,264 prisoners against the capacity of 548, and Central Jail, Ambikapur housed 797 prisoners against the capacity of 243.  Similarly, all the District Jails and Sub Jails were overcrowded. Six District jails[51] housed 1,556 prisoners against the total capacity of 855. 16 Sub Jails in the state housed 1,751 inmates against the total capacity of 815.[52]

    Asian Centre for Human Rights documented deaths of at least five prisoners in the state during 2005. Magisterial inquiries were ordered into four of them, including the death of under-trial prisoner Meetram, son of Rajaram Gujar, of central Jail Raipur in May 2005,[53] death of Ashok Gond, an undertrial, of District Jail, Durg on 9 August 2005,[54] death of a convict Ramratan, son of Parasram, of Central Jail Raipur who died on 12 November 2005,[55] and death of under-trial prisoner P Diami Danka alias Somdu of Central Jail Raipur who died on 27 December 2005.[56]

    In addition, Ghasiram Pinjwar, a convict, died in Central Jail Raipur on 21 September 2005.[57]

    [1]. Top Maoist leader killed in Chhattisgarh, The Pioneer, 18 November 2005 

    [2]. South Asia Intelligence Review, Weekly Assessments & Briefings, Volume 4, No.7, 29 August 2005, available at http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/sair/Archives/4_7.htm#assessment2

    [3]. Chhattisgarh orders ban on Naxals, The Asian Age, 6 September 2005 

    [4]. For example, 2005 Annual Report of the National Crime Records Bureau of the Government of India does not show any death in police custody in Chhattisgarh during 2005 

    [5]. More Horrors of the Salwa Judum, Peoples March, Vol.       7, No.  1, January 2006, available at http://www.peoplesmarch.com/archives/2006/Jan2k6/salwa%20judum.htm 

    [6]. NHRC's prison statistics as of 31 December 2004

    [7]. 2004-2005 Annual Report of NHRC of India

    [8]. Ibid

    [9]. Ibid

    [10]. Ibid

    [11]. TI gets 10 yrs RI in Custody death Case, The Hitavada, 2 March 2005 

    [12]. 10 Maoists killed in ‘Green Hunt': DGP, The Hitavada, 6 September 2005 

    [13]. More Horrors of the Salwa Judum, Peoples March, Vol. 7, No. 1, January 2006, available at http://www.peoplesmarch.com/archives/2006/Jan2k6/salwa%20judum.htm

    [14]. Youth picked up by cops goes missing, The Hitavada, 21 February 2005

    [15]. The fact-finding report is available at http://www.pucl.org/Topics/Human-rights/2005/salwa-judum-report.htm

    [16]. More Horrors of the Salwa Judum, Peoples March, Vol. 7, No. 1, January 2006, available at http://www.peoplesmarch.com/archives/2006/Jan2k6/salwa%20judum.htm

    [17]. More Horrors of the Salwa Judum, Peoples March, Vol. 7, No. 1, January 2006, available at http://www.peoplesmarch.com/archives/2006/Jan2k6/ salwa%20judum.htm

    [18]. Ibid

    [19]. Naxals attack common people, The Hitavada, 1 October 2005 

    [20]. 9 killed as Naxals clash with villagers in Bastar, The Indian Express, 18 July 2005 

    [21]. Maoists kill seven in Bastar, The Pioneer, 29 July 2005 

    [22]. Abducted Giri killed by Maoists, The Hitavada, 10 July 2005 

    [23]. Maoist kill tribal leader in Bhairamgarh, The Hitavada, 8 August 2005 

    [24]. Naxals kill kin of Chhattisgarh leader, The Deccan Herald, 10 August 2005 

    [25]. Maoists slit throat of aged man in Bijapur, The Hitavada, 16 August 2005 

    [26]. Tribal killed by Maoists, The Hitavada, 30 October 2005 

    [27]. Maoists kill villagers, The Hitavada, 5 November 2005 

    [28]. Salwa Judum participants Maoist threat, The Hitavada, 11 November 2005 

    [29]. Naxalites kill two villagers, The Hitavada, 13 November 2005 

    [30]. 4 villagers killed in rebel attack, The Telegraph, 26 November 2005 

    [31]. Naxals kill BJP leader in Chhattisgarh, available at http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1351093,000900030012.htm 

    [32]. Naxals kill BJP leader, villager, The Hitavada, 28 April 2005 

    [33]. Naxals kill Congress leader in Chhattisgarh, available at http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1327132,0006.htm

    [34]. Naxals kill Sarpanch, The Hitavada, 23 July 2005 

    [35]. Naxalites kill kidnapped Baghadongari Sarpanch, The Hitavada, 28 August 2005 

    [36]. Naxals kill Ghumra village sarpanch, The Hitavada, 24 October 2005

    [37]. Maoists step up attack on policemen, 6 killed in Chhattisgarh, The Pioneer, 24 May 2005 

    [38]. 2005 Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau, Government of India 

    [39]. Witch hunting among many forms of  violence to women in Chhattisgarh, The Kashmir Times, 13 January 2005 

    [40]. Law against witchcraft to check crimes, The Asian Age, 21 July 2005 

    [41]. Chhatisgarh Crackdown On Social Evil  - ‘Witches' to get legal cover, The Deccan Herald, 3 August 2005 

    [42]. Widow paraded naked, killed by villagers, The Times of India, 12 July 2005

    [43]. Child marriage puts Chhattisgarh minister in a soup, The Pioneer, 22 April 2005

    [44]. Teacher forces students to eat human excreta, The Hindustan Times, 11 January 2005

    [45]. Over two lakh forest cases against Chhattisgarh tribals to be withdrawn, The Hitavada, 11 November 2005 

    [46]. Steel company manager held for torturing tribals, The Indian Express, 9 May 2005

    [47]. 2005 Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau

    [48]. 2004-2005 Annual Report of NHRC of India 

    [49]. Jail Department, Government of Chhattisgarh, available at http://jail.cg.gov.in/lockup.htm

    [50]. NHRC's prison population statistics as of 31 December 2004 

    [51]. The number of inmates in District (Open) Jail, Masgoan is not available

    [52]. Jail Department, Government of Chhattisgarh, available at http://jail.cg.gov.in/lockup.htm

    [53]. Probe into death of undertrial, The Hitavada, 23 March 2005

    [54]. Magisterial probe ordered into death of undertrial, The Hitavada, 12 August 2005 

    [55]. SDM probe into prisoners  death ordered, Hitavada, 29 December 2005

    [56]. Probe into death of undertrial, The Hitavada, 31 December 2005 

    [57]. Prisoner dies, 4 others under treatment, The Hitavada, 22 September 2005 

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