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Too close for comfort

Tadmetla, a sleepy tribal hamlet in Dantewada, has not been covered by any census so far.
Agencies | By Ejaz Kaiser
UPDATED ON MAY 05, 2010 12:01 AM IST

Tadmetla, a sleepy tribal hamlet in Dantewada, has not been covered by any census so far.

But Census 2011 may take the village into account for the media attention it got following the Maoist attack on April 6, barely 600 metres from here.

Villagers, however, are not happy with the publicity. Many fled a day after the Maoist ambush, fearing they would be caught between the security forces and the rebels, but not before they helped in lifting the bodies of the slain jawans from the ambush site.

“We helped in bringing the bodies from the forest areas,” said Nupu Tula (45). But the next day the terrified villagers
decided to flee to nearby villages.

“Most crossed to Andhra Pradesh,” Tula said.

A glance at the village reveals scattered dwellings, fewer than 50. An estimated 250 people lived here, but only women and children can now be seen.

Tula was the only adult male in the village HT spotted.

But the villagers who returned are haunted by uncertainty and anxiety.

They speak in a dialect that appears closer to Telugu, though Bastar tribals are known to speak Gondi or Halbi.

The language barrier adds to their fear of being harassed by security forces.

The tribals caught in the crossfire faced losses. “Herds of cows and goats that had ventured into the forest in morning were trapped and killed in the clash,” Tula said.

He and his family survive by collecting forest produce, and farming in small holdings. He returned to Tadmetla after two weeks. “I would have stayed back had the forces not arrived the next day to seek answers from us after the attack,” he said.

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