The article has been translated into English by Ishan Nag and Akash Poyam. The original article in Hindi can be accessed here.
On February 17, The Indian Express reported that two people (one of them a minor) were allegedly gunned down in a fake encounter. They had gone to the bazaar on January 28 when they were picked up by security forces. According to another news story , a statement issued by the police claimed that “they received a tip off about the presence of Naxals in Hirauli-Purangal jungles and engaged the rebels which resulted in their death. According to police, the slain Naxals were identified as Bhima Kudati alias Sukku, a deputy Commander of Gampud village and Sukmati Hemla, a member of Jan Milita. Police also claimed that it recovered a 303 Rifle and huge cache of arms from encounter site.”
Bastar IG Sundar Raj also seems to be reiterating the language of ex IG (Kalluri) and has referred to the two Adivasis as Maoists. Those villagers who had protested for the judicial inquiry of the incident under the leadership of Soni Sori were punished by Bastar Police. On 17th Feb, Police severely assaulted villagers in Gompur village, in which 20 women and men have been injured and two of them are in serious condition. Among injured is Bheema Kadati’s wife – who is blind on one eye.
Meanwhile, on 21 February, 2017, a petition was filed in high court by Ungi Kadati and Bheeme Hemla, mother of Sukhmati and Bheema for the judicial enquiry, post mortem and arrest of the culprits. In this regard, the first hearing of the petition filed by advocate Amarnath pande, Rajni Soren and Kishor Narayan is scheduled on 22nd Feb 2017.
Villagers have accused that Sukhmati (14) was raped and murdered along with Bheema. Police doesn’t want justice to prevail, in fact they are leaving no stones unturned to punish those who are seeking justice. With this new case of rape and violence by security forces coming into light, villagers demanding justice have become victims of further violence and assault by forces.
Bima’s brother ( Baman Kadti) was branded as Maoist and put in jail just two days after the fake encounter and on 17-18th February villagers who protested against the fake encounter (on 15-16th February) in Kirandul and Dantewada were beaten by police forces in their own homes. Adivasi men and women were brutally beaten by gun butts and wooden logs. Several women have suffered grievous injuries in thighs, bottoms, breast and internal organs.
Injured woman and men were taken by AAP leader Soni Sori, Rohit Singh Arya and Lingaram Kodopi to Jagdalpur’s Maharani Hospital on 22nd February for medical treatment. Names of the injured people are :
Kunjam Nande, w/o Kunjam Hunga
Podiyaam Aagte, w/o Podiyaam Mangu
Kunjam Deve, w/o Kunjam Mangu
Podiyaam Somdi, w/o Podiyaam Aayte
Taamo Hungi, w/o Taamo Paandu
Podiyaam Somdi, w/o Podiyaam Peediya
Hemla Suko, w/o Hemla Bridh
Hemla Hidme, w/o Hemla Bheema
Kadati Somadi, w/o Kadti Hunga
Kadti Jogi, w/o Kadti Baaman
Madiyaam Paayke, w/o Madiyaam Bheema
Kadti Lakhme, w/o Kadti Sannu
Midiyaam Nande, w/o Midiyaam Dhanna
Kadati Hidme, w/o Kadati Kowa
Madkam Nande, w/o Madkam Sannu
Kudali Samaru, s/o Kadati Kowa
Kunjam Mangalu, s/o Kunjam Dhurwa
Kadati Motu, s/o Kadati Santu
Podiyaam Sona, s/o Podiyaam Maasa
Kadati Hunga, s/o Kadati Maasa
Kadati Hidiya, s/o Kadati Dhurwa
Kadati Mangatu, s/o Kadati Soma
Kadati Arju, s/o Kadati Sannu
Mukhiya – Kunjam Aaytu, s/o Kunjam Maajha
(Photos via – Sanket Thakur)
28th January: Bheema Kadati along with his sister-in-law Sukhmati Hemla went to Kirandul market from her village Gompur to buy supplies for the preparation of Chhatthi ritual of Bheema’s new born child. To buy items for rituals, they sold Salfi in kirandul market, however both of them did not return home.
29th January: Bima’s elder brother was informed by police that Bima and sukhmati were Maoists and were killed in an encounter in Purangel’s forest, their bodies were given to family in Dantewada Hospital. Bima’s relative found visible signs of rape and mutilation on Sukhmati’s body. Baman Kadati decided to complain to senior police officers against the fake encounter.
31st January: Police arrested him from his house and locked him up in police station. Baaman was severly beaten up by the police and his knees were cut by sharp objects like knife. Police also declared him a Maoist. The news of fake encounter and forced arrest got spread across media. Villagers complained the entire incident to Soni Sori and requested her to visit their village. Sori in her primary findings got to know that Bheema and Sukhmati were innocent, Bheema had been farming since childhood for family’s subsistence and his brother Baman was a contract labor in Kirandul. Sukhamti was only 15 years old and her family lived in Gompur village. Her elder sister was married to Bheema about 8 years ago. They had an elder daughter and were blessed with a new born son a month ago. Bheema’s wife is blind from one eye.
After making an enquiry with Bheema and his family, Soni Sori along with AAP members and two reporters went to Gompur on Sunday 12 February by walking 15 kms through hilly forest areas. There Bheema’s wife in tears narrated the entire incident. All villagers had gathered at Bheema’s house and were furious. They were demanding arrest of security forces accused of rape and murder. Hundreds of villagers present there showed the preserved dead bodies. Villagers argued that they would not perform death rituals according to their custom, until a FIR is filed against the security forces for the murder of two. Villagers told Soni that when police returned dead bodies of the people, they found out eyes of the two had been gouged out, both the bodies were mutilated and were in bad shape.
15th February: Almost 600 villagers walked to Kirandul under Soni Sori’s leadership where they demanded a FIR to be registered against the fake encounter , re-post mortem of Bhima and Shukmati and if Bheema and Sukhmati were maoists a copy of the FIR against the same . Thana inspector refused the demand out rightly.
After spending 15th night in kirandul, villagers with Soni Sori went to Dantewada Collector where the letter of Bheema’s and Sukhmati’s mother was given to the collector. He responded that an investigation can only be carried out under a Court’s order. He added that, police has registered FIR and is carrying out investigation on their end.
16th February: Bheema’s and Sukhmati’s relatives were sent to Bilaspur HC with Soni’s associate Rinki. Other villagers returned to their villages.
17th February: Dr sanket Thakur took Bheema-Sukhmati’s relative to Bilaspur High court. Soni Sori informed the group that a large force has been dispatched to Gompur and they could force the villagers to cremate the body to hide their crimes. An application was immediately sent by fax to Bheema’s relative, to not do anything with the dead bodies in their absence.
18th February: After the preparation of petition in Bilaspur, Beema’s relatives left for their village Gompur.
19th February: After reaching Gompur, Bheema’s parents got to know that in their absence security forces have come and physically assaulted their relatives and other villagers. Security forces had beaten up villagers with their gun butts, accusing them of protesting outside Kirandul Police Station. Around 40 villagers and Bheema’s relatives became victims of the attack, among which 15 women and others have been severely injured.
The news of this incident was given to Soni Sori and on 21 Feb she visited Gompur along with her associates to meet the injured people. Of 22 injured, 15 are women, who were brought by Soni for medical check up. She was informed that 4 injured people were brought till Kirandul on bed. After this, all the injured persons were taken to Maharani Hospital of Jagadalpur.
In order to hide the crimes of accused security forces, Bastar IG has been lying and accusing that both the Adivasis were Maoists. Departure of ex-Bastar IG Kalluri hasn’t changed anything on ground for Bastar’s Adivasis and in the name of Maoists, Adivasis genocide is being carried out with the support of state.
Thumbnail picture: Hasan Javed (Facebook)