Tribals in Chhattisgarh are violently oppressed by government.
The state of Chhattisgarh has been reeling under the effect of the undeclared civil war between the Naxalite insurgents and the government authorities. The word Naxalite is used to describe militant communist groups operating mostly in the eastern states of India. The plight of the exploited and dispossessed adivasis gave the Naxalites the perfect situation for starting a communist revolution. As the Naxalites slowly began perform the roles the government was ideally meant to perform, they began to gain the sympathy and support of the tribal people. In the last ten years however, the movement has moved away from guerilla warfare for the rights of tribals and natives and has mostly become anti governmental in nature.
In 2009 the Indian Government initiated the Integrated Action Plan which was to include funding for grass-roots economic development and special police funding for better containment of Naxalite influence in states like Chhattisgarh. However, instead of providing any relief to the villagers, the police have only added to their miseries. The Kalar and Gond adivasis of the tiny village Kadegaon have been the latest victims of police atrocities reports Bhan Sahu, Community Correspondent from Ambagarh Chowk district, Chhattisgarh. Bhan is a social activist who focuses on mobilizing villagers and raising
awareness, and uses video to advocate the rights of tribal people.
As Bhan speaks to villagers, they describe how, one early morning, they had gone to gather their harvest and used an old red sari as a marker. This innocuous sign convinced the police that the villagers must have been Naxalites and without bothering to ask any questions, indiscriminately opened fire. They later rounded up the villagers and beat them mercilessly, keeping them in custody in their camp. The villagers were finally released at night.
Bhan goes on to tell the story of a young girl, Jayanti. It is a common practice for the children to bathe near the fields before preparing for school. The police had been marking those very fields and the villagers were unaware of that. Jayanti was in the fields collecting her clothes along with the other village children when suddenly the police opened fire. Jayanti was hit in her womb by a bullet, as a result of which, she will never be able to bear children. Jayanti has since been paid one lakh INR as compensation by the government and a team from the police gifted her family a television set. However, that cannot hide the fact that no action has been taken for the irresponsible behavior of the police. Says Bhan, “It is time the external police forces were removed from these villages. The local cops are good enough for us. Instead of feeling protected, the villagers are, instead, terrified of all the extra police around. They are too afraid to return to their own homes after dark!”
A MBBS student from Kashmir, stressed by exams and the pandemic, uses art to unwind.
The Union government's Soubhagya Jyoti scheme aimed to electrify every Indian village by Mar 2019. But that ambition is yet to be realised.