Friday, April 1, 2011

Attrocities By Indian Forces On Tribals Condemned

Atrocities of Indian paramilitary forces on tribal villagers in the central state of Chhattisgarh more than a fortnight ago have evoked widespread condemnation. Stunned by the horrific exposure of the incidents by the media, Human Rights Commission of India has directed the government to come out with the facts landing Home Minister P Chidambaram into hot water.    Operation Green Hunt against the Maoists by the joint forces began raiding four forest villages. Heavily armed 350 troopers of Koya Commandos, COBRA battalion and CRPF paramilitary force finding no Maoist dumped their frustration on the hapless tribal villagers. For four days beginning March 11 they plundered houses, slaughtered and eaten up their goats and chickens, raped women, burnt homes and brutalized the villagers. At least three persons were killed and some others remained missing.    The authority tried to hush up the atrocities. Journalists and relief workers were intimidated and restricted to visit the area for more than a week. But some enthusiastic reporters managed to sneak into the villages, talked to the affected people and exposed the massacre done by the government forces. Narrating their woes women have said the government forces herded them to the police camps and raped. At least 300 homes were burnt to ashes. Hundreds of villagers were brutalized. A number of police requesting anonymity admitted to newsmen of the atrocities of the paramilitary forces. The villages are in Datenwada district where the Maoists in an ambush had killed 76 paramilitary troopers just a year ago. The district is close to the state border with Orissa.         Compensation offered    Facing widespread condemnation the BJP government in the state rushed relief materials and announced compensation of Tk 50 , 000 to each of the affected families.    National Human Rights Commission taking suo motu cognizance of the media reports of murders, rape and plunder of tribal villages has asked the government to submit a report within two weeks. The commission in its meeting on March 28 viewed the media reports and photographs with serious concern. This is for the first time NHRC sharply reacted to the atrocities of the joint forces deployed in Maoist hit states of India nearly three years ago.    Social activist Swami Agnivesh leading a team with relief materials to the affected villages complained that they came under attack by security forces. Agnivesh has sought President Prativa Patil's intervention to render justice to the innocent tribal people.    A group of ten legislatures ( MLAs) of the state belonging to opposition Congress Party were arrested on Tuesday (March 29) on way to the villages rampaged by the paramilitary forces. Nanda Kumar Patel, former Home Minister of the state, said they were asked by the centre to visit the area and report on the carnage. But police forcibly stopped them and arrested. Police said the arrest was made 'as part of preventive measure' but they were released later.    Meanwhile, Maoists have circulated leaflets in the troubled area vowing to carry on attacks on the paramilitary forces to take revenge of the carnage. Red alert was issued to the security forces engaged in Operation Green Hunt across the Maoist corridor following the threat.    The operation began in the early hours of March 11 when about 350 heavily armed troopers marched into the forests of Dantewada. They returned to their barracks five days later, with four villages within a radius of 15 kilometers in flames. Hundreds of homes and granaries incinerated. At least three soldiers were killed by Maoist bullets.    A week ago, three Koya commandos were killed in a Maoist ambush during a routine raid against the insurgents. On intelligence report of existence of clandestine arms factory, Government forces on March 13 raided the villages. But they found neither arms factory nor Maoists. The forces set up camp in a village. A group of about 70 Maoists ambushed the camp on March 14 killing three commandos and nine wounded, who were airlifted by helicopter. A Maoist section commander was also killed in the encounter. Continuing the operation the forces created the havoc.    Similar atrocities were frequently reported from other worst Maoist- hit states of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa. Peoples committee against the police atrocities have been formed in those areas. Such committees are considered by the government as front organs of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) which is fighting to secure rights of downtrodden tribals, adivasis and dalits living in mineral rich forest areas. The government has given their lands to multinational companies to exploit the mineral resources. Maoist movement also supports secessionist struggle of Kashmir and Northeast states of Assam, Nagaland, Monipur and Tripura.