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Sexual abuse, diseases afflict Naxalites

india Updated: Feb 05, 2009 01:20 IST
Pradip Kumar Maitra

Several activists of Naxalite groups, including some of those allegedly behind the massacre of 15 policemen in the Gadchiroli forests, are suffering from sexually transmitted diseases (STD) including HIV/AIDS, police and medical sources said. This has resulted in several deaths.

<b1>The revelation emerged from Naxalite literature seized during recent raids. Abused women can’t raise their voice for fear of retribution. The Naxalite leadership is worried about the sexual abuse of members.

“We should not encourage such anarchism. If anyone likes anyone, they should approach their seniors to get married,” the seized literature said.

The problem first came to light when Sushila Gawde, 32, arrested by the district police a couple of years ago, was discovered to be suffering from syphilis, police sources said.

A Nagpur physician, who spoke to Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity because he did not want to anger Naxalites, said Ramakrishna, 35, and Mahalaxmi, 30, two Naxalites who got their blood tested two months ago, were HIV-positive.

"I was taken to the jungle at gunpoint and compelled to treat them,” he said. Ramakrishna died of AIDS in January. Mahalaxmi is under treatment.

Twenty four-year-old dalam (group) leader Sonu Gawde, who surrendered recently, told HT she was attracted to the Naxalite movement as a teenager.

Gawde met and married Budhu Betlu, a dalam commander. However, after her husband was killed in an encounter in 2006, she was forced to have sex with several leaders.

“Sex is demanded at gunpoint. It is so rampant that often it is difficult to say who is sleeping with whom in the jungles,” she said.

A police officer said: “During a raid at the Bangetudi camp in 2006, we seized a blue-film CD, used and unused condoms, Mala-D pills and performance-boosting ayurvedic drugs.”

Gadchiroli SP Rajesh Pradhan said extremists had not spared even minors.

"Several women guerrillas left the movement and surrendered because they hated the indiscriminate sexual abuse there,” he said.