Monday, October 08, 2007

Chhattisgarh continues to be epicentre of Naxalite conflict

Narendra Ch
06 October 2007, Saturday

A latest report released by ACHR (Asian Centre for Human Rights) documents the human rights violations committed by both security forces and naxalites in the country.

CHHATTISGARH CONTINUES to be the epicentre of the Naxalite conflict as a direct consequence of the counter-insurgency Salwa Judum campaign, according to an estimate of the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR). At least 384 persons have been killed in the Naxalite conflict in the country during January to September 2007. These include 129 civilians, 162 security force personnel and 93 alleged Naxalites.

The highest number of killings have been reported from Chhattisgarh (208) which constitutes 54 per cent of the total killings, followed by Andhra Pradesh (59), Jharkhand (44) and Bihar (28). According to the report, the Naxals are increasingly getting more lethal. It is not only the powerful landmine blast targeting former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Janardhan Reddy on 7 September 2007 but the killing of 24 security personnel including 16 Central Reserve Police Force(CRPF) personnel on 10 July 2007 in the forests of Elampatti-Regadgatta in Dantewada district and again the killing of 15 security personnel near Taadmetla under Dornapal police station of Chhattisgarh on 29 August 2007 bear testimony to the increasing lethal power of the Naxals.

Human Rights violations by security forces

The ACHR has alleged that there have been credible reports of serious human rights violations by the security forces while combating the Naxalites. Though security forces identify all those killed by them as “Naxalites”, there have been allegations of fake encounter killings.

ACHR director Suhas Chukma alleged that incidents such as the alleged rape of 11 tribal women by the Andhra Pradesh Police at Vakapalli village under Nurmati panchayat in Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh on 20 August 2007 and unwillingness of the State authorities to provide justice provide fodder to the Naxals.

On 1 July 2007, a Maoist top leader Chettiraja Papaiah alias Somanna, secretariat member of the North Telangana Special Zonal Committee (NTSZC) was killed in an alleged encounter with the police in Medaram forest area in Tadvai Mandal of Warangal district. The police claimed to have recovered one AK- 47 rifle, a carbine, a pistol and four kitbags from the encounter site. However, in a statement released to the media on 2 July 2007, the Maoists alleged that police arrested Somanna on 30 June 2007 and killed him in a fake encounter on the next day.On 10 July 2007, five alleged Maoists identified as member of Karnataka State Committee of the CPI-Maoist, Gowtham (35), Paramesh (30), Subramanya (25), Rame Gowda (50) and Gowda’s wife Kaveri (40) were killed in an alleged encounter with the combined team of the State police and the anti-Naxalite force near Menasinahadya village under Narasimharajapura police station in Chikmagalur district of Karnataka.

The villagers of Menasinahadya however claimed that those killed in the alleged encounter were innocent people and did not allow the police to take away the bodies for post mortem.On 16 July 2007, representatives of various political parties and civil society groups such as Congress, Communist Party of India, the Dalit Sangarsh Samiti, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, All India Trade Union Congress and Indian National Trade Union Congress demanded a judicial probe into the encounter stating that it was fake.

On 7 August 2007, a Maoist identified as Talari Krishna alias Pochaiah was killed in an alleged encounter with the Grey Hounds in Nallamala forests in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. Kurnool District Collector M. Dana Kishore has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the death of Talari Krishna. The Revenue Divisional Officer at Nandyal will inquire into the death.On 26 September 2007, four alleged Maoists, including three women were killed by the police in an alleged encounter at Amidala village in Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh. The police have claimed to have recovered two 303 rifles, one DBBL gun, and five kit bags from the encounter site.

The deceased have been identified as Swetha of Maddigaruvu, Chanti Babu of Tulam village and Vijaya of Deddilawaka village in East Godavari and Mandapa Nagaratnam alias Shakeela. But the villagers of Amidala have alleged that the encounter was “fake”. According to the villagers, six Naxalites came to the village in the morning of 26 September 2007 and a police party surrounded them. While Swetha was killed in the firing, two Naxalites managed to escape and other three Naxalites surrendered to the police when the police assured them that they would not be harmed. But the police personnel allegedly tied their hands and took them to the nearby forests and killed them in a fake encounter.

Naxals violating humanitarian laws

The ACHR report says the Naxalites were also responsible for gross violations of international humanitarian laws including torture and mutilation, hostage taking and killings after trials in Kangaroo courts, the Jan Adalats. Alleged police informers and political party activists were the primary targets. At least eight persons were killed after trial in so-called Jan Adalats from July to September 2007.

The Naxalites killed at least 109 persons including 60 civilians and 49 security personnel during July – September 2007. The Maoists targeted civilians who were not their supporters. Often, they identified the victims as “police informers

In July 2007, the Naxalites banned farming in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh “to protest against the exploitation of the state’s natural resources by the Government”. Whoever defied the ban was given the death sentence. According to the police, at least 11 tribal farmers have been killed by the Naxalites for working in their fields in July 2007 in Bijapur police district alone.

On the night of 8 July 2007, Naxalites killed two farmers identified as Kalmu Dulla, 50, and Marwi Mura, 40, for working in their fields at Chintagufa village in Bijapur police district of Chhattisgarh. The deceased were abducted, beaten up and then hacked to death. Their bodies were recovered on 9 July 2007.

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