Rights activists fight for Dantewada tribals
A three-year-old tribal boy’s fingers are chopped off for being an alleged Naxalite. A 28-year-old tribal woman is not treated for a broken leg after she is wrongly accused of being a Maoist rebel.mumbai Updated: Jan 14, 2010 00:41 IST
A three-year-old tribal boy’s fingers are chopped off for being an alleged Naxalite.
A 28-year-old tribal woman is not treated for a broken leg after she is wrongly accused of being a Maoist rebel.
Children are recruited as armed soldiers, and police vehicles ply on the roads without number plates.
Such are the atrocities characterising the lawlessness in Dantewada, a Naxalite-dominated district in the south Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, which were voiced at a public meeting at the Press Club on Wednesday.
Organised by the Release Dr Binayak Sen Committee, the meeting stressed the need for the media to expose the plight of villagers and protest against the restrictions on the press and human rights organisations visiting the area.
Armed with first-hand accounts and video footage, a panel of journalists, activists and filmmakers are trying to fight the violations of law by the Salwa Judum — the state-backed initiative that claims to rehabilitate local tribals — and the Maoist rebels who consider themselves to be the voice of the oppressed population.
Freelance journalist Priyanka Borpujari recounted the injustice meted out to four women from Samsetti village. The women were reportedly raped by Salwa Judum’s Special Police Officers (SPO) in 2008 and threatened by the police with dire consequences if they refused to withdraw their complaint.
She also highlighted the plight of Sodi Shambo, one of the victims and witnesses to the Gompad killings by SPOs last year, who is constantly restrained by the police.
Borpujari said: “I spent some days in Dantewada where the villagers have no concept of balatkar (rape). In such a safe society, it is the SPOs who commit these heinous crimes.”