Bauxite mining threatens to bring back violence to the tribal hills of Andhra Pradesh
In July 2013, my friend Ramarao and I took a trip to Chintapalle, a hardscrabble town deep inside the tribal areas north of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. The monsoon hadn’t yet started and the town was dusty and strange. Fresh garlands hung proudly from statues of Alluri Sitarama Raju, the revolutionary who had led a band of tribal warriors against the British, and loudspeakers relayed church sermons that echoed off the hills around town, so from every direction you heard it said that Jesus would set the adivasis free.
We borrowed a motorcycle from one of Ramarao’s colleagues at the Telugu news channel HMTV, and drove along a scarred dirt road to a lonely village called Jerrela, the site of a proposed and intensely controversial bauxite mine. We wanted to interview local tribal farmers about the mine, a vast project that would displace some 270 villages when completed. We expected anger but, naively, not suspicion. Ramarao and I barely reached Jerrela when we were stopped by a group of young men and women at the entrance to the village, who reasoned that no outsider would come this far into the forest unless they worked for the mining company. They locked our motorcycle in a cattle shed so that we wouldn’t escape and flatly declared, “We would sooner die than give up our land.”
As an inquisitive crowd gathered, a spry, middle-aged man stepped forward, introducing himself as Iswarao. Dressed in a grey sweater and sporting a mass of curly hair, he could be taken for a college professor if not for the bidi in his fingers and his wary eyes. Iswarao demanded to know who had sent us. I explained that we were journalists who wanted to interview people from the village, but he didn’t buy it. He said that he had seen the likes of us before – referring more to me than to Ramarao, who is adivasi himself – when some city dwellers had come to Jerrela posing as NGO workers, and tried to make everyone sign English-language “petitions” that turned out to be statements consenting to land acquisition. ”You’ll need to stay here for a month or two until we figure out who you really are,” Iswarao said. He flicked the tip of his bidi. “Maybe then you’ll understand how much we get from our forest mother you want to destroy.”
Naxal commander held in Chhattisgarh
A 25-year-old Naxal commander, carrying a reward of Rs 1 lakh on his head, was today arrested in Maoist-hit Kondagaon district of Chhattisgarh, police said. Rigu Muriya was nabbed from the forests of Chema village under Mardapal police station limits, Kondagaon Superintendent of Police J S Watti told PTI. Acting on a tip-off, a joint team of state’s District Reserve Group (DRG) and a local team of police had last night launched a combing operation in the forests of Aadnar, Chema, Nahkanar and Usri villages of restive Mardapal region, located around 300 km away from here, he said. After confirming inputs, security forces surrounded Cheema village forests and nabbed the ultra, he said.
During interrogation, the rebel admitted to his involvement with the outlawed movement as Janmilitia commander of Chema region, the officer said. Muriya was allegedly involved in several Naxal offences including murder, attack on police personnel, arson and others, the officer said.
Wanted naxal from Jharkhand picked up in AP
A Maoist leader allegedly involved in several cases in Jharkhand has been picked up from Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, police said today. Govind Yadav, a naxal commander active in Jharkhand, was hiding in Chittoor district for the past few months, a senior police officer of Andhra Pradesh told PTI. He said Yadav was nabbed by a police team following information provided by Jharkhand Police to their AP counterparts. The officer, however, refused to share further details, saying the Maoist commander was wanted by Jharkhand police and was involved in offences in that state and not in Andhra Pradesh.
Naxals damage rail track, roads to protest cadre’s killing
RAIPUR: Naxals damaged a rail track section and dug roads in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma and Dantewada districts as part of a day-long bandh called today in protest against killing of their leader. Sonadhar, a senior commander of People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army ( PLGA), was gunned down by Odisha Police in September this year.
Bijapur: ‘Policemen raped women, indulged in loot’
“From the accounts we have heard, and what we saw in the villages, the violence was on a mass scale. Around 40 women have said that they were forced to strip, sexually harassed and assaulted,” organisation for women’s rights said.
Women from five villages have alleged that Chhattisgarh Police personnel sexually harassed and assaulted more than 40 of them, and gangraped at least two in the Maoist-hit district of Bijapur. A fact-finding team of Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), an organisation for women’s rights, which visited the villages deep in the forests, also said that many residents alleged that their belongings were destroyed, stolen or scattered by the forces passing through the villages. Four women from the villages — including a 14-year-old, who was allegedly blindfolded and gangraped — were brought to the Bijapur district headquarters by the fact-finding team. The victims presented their versions before the District Collector, Superintendent of Police and other officials.
Later, a medical examination of the four victims was also conducted. The WSS members said that while the exact dates of the incidents were unclear, villagers indicated that most of the violence took place between October 19 and October 24 in the villages of Pegdapalli, Chinnagelur, Peddagelur, Gundam and Burgicheru. Rinchin, a member of the probe team, said, “From the accounts we have heard, and what we saw in the villages, the violence was on a mass scale. Around 40 women have said that they were forced to strip, sexually harassed and assaulted. Even breastfeeding mothers were assaulted, and those with children too. This happened across villages.” The complaint to the Collector said while a 14-year-old girl, who was grazing her cattle, was allegedly blindfolded and gangraped, another victim was “repeatedly dunked in a stream and gangraped”.
Naxals kill two in Gadchiroli, thrash two others in Adilabad
Maoists on Monday killed two persons in Maharashtra and thrashed an adivasi brother duo at Gopera in Tiryani mandal branding them police informers and anti-people. The second incident comes close on the heels of the killing of a tribal youth at Kheriguda village in the same mandal on October 30. According to information, a band of 10 to 14 armed naxalites came to Gopera and took into nearby forests Pendur Sudhakar, aged 40 years and his brother Tukaram, aged 35 years, belonging to Gond tribe. They were let off with a warning after being thrashed.
Naxals kills two in Maharashtra
Meanwhile, another report said Maoists killed a brother duo at Chinna Vatra village in Gadchiroli district located just across the inter State border with Maharashtra at Dahegaon mandal. The Gadhchiroli dalam is said to be responsible for the incident. Police sources, however, do not see any connection between the two incidents of naxalite violence which took place in Adilabad and Gadhchiroli districts. It could be a coincidence, a senior officer opined.
Maoists’ gun-making unit busted in Odisha
Border Security Force (BSF) jawans have busted a gun manufacturing unit of Maoists during combing operations in Turukpadu-Motawalesa reserve forest area near Siribeda village in Ralegada panchayat under Pottangi police limits in Odisha’s Koraput district. The combing party has seized five country-made rifles, 200gm gun powder, iron pieces, heat blower machine, drilling machine, hacksaw blades, triggers, barrel grip, hammers, knives etc used in gun making during search operations on Sunday.
Jawans of the 120 battalion of the BSF stationed at Raleguda launched combing operations on Sunday following intelligence inputs of Maoists running a gun making unit in the Turukpadu-Motawalesa reserve forest. The search party after 3/4 hours of search located a hut inside the forest. After encircling the hut from all sides; the jawans raided the hut only to find it abandoned by the Maoists, who had got air of the operations. However, the Maoists who had left in a hurry had left behind arms, tools and equipment used in gun making which were seized by the BSF jawans.
“This gun manufacturing unit was running under the supervision of Maoist leader Suresh for training new recruits in the rebel organization,” informed J C Nayak, BSF DIG (Intelligence) talking to reporters. Sources said around 10 to 20 Maoists including Suresh were in the hut and were planning for a strike but had dispersed on getting information of the combing by the jawans.
Tribal killed by Maoists
A tribal abducted by the Maoists 13 days ago was murdered by the ultras on October 30 night in Mathili police station area of Malkangiri district of Odisha. The body of Bhima Padiami of Dandipadar village was located in the forest near the village on Saturday morning. According to police sources, the throat had been slit. Bhima along with another tribal had been abducted from their homes by a group of around 25 armed Maoists from Dandipadar village on October 18.
They had accused Bhima to be a police informer. Bhima was a militia of Maoists in the past but had parted ways with the organisation and surrendered before the police in 2013, sources said. Officials claimed that Bhima had no links with the police. On October 17, Maoists had murdered Dambru Sagaria of Mundaguda village.
Maoists abduct pastor’s son in Andhra Pradesh
The cadres of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) abducted a pastor’s son from the outskirts of Lakshmipuram village in Yetapaka mandal (administrative division) of East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh, in the early hours on October 31, reports The Hindu. According to Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP), of Rampachodavaram, K. Phakeerappa, a group of 15 armed Maoists went to a chapel where pastor Kannaiah lives at midnight Friday (October 30). When told that the pastor was not at home, they took away his son Isaac (20) to the jungles.