Police informed the public that as many as 12 people were killed in an encounter that was said to have happened in the Pidia forests in Bijapur district on 10th May. A T V channel broadcasted excitedly that it was most likely that there were important Maoist leaders among those 12 dead people. It also conveyed the news that the SP’s of Bijapur, Dantewada and Sukuma districts were personally monitoring this encounter and the Inspector General of Police Sundar Raj was reviewing the situation by being in touch always. The broadcast also divulged the information that it was known that 6 people  were already dead by the morning of 10 May in this frightening encounter and there was every possibility that the number might grow as the time passed by. The T.V. broadcasted repeatedly the news about the encounter all through the day by being in consultation with one Mr. Sachin, the reporter who was there where the encounter occurred. A thousand security forces surrounded that area and were sifting through the entire forest. They were saying in the broadcast that the search was on and since the encounter was continuing at that juncture they were unable to say anything then, but in the reporting they sometimes mentioned in an emotional flow of words that nearly 40 Maoists were killed until then. The viewers were thrown into utter confusion by the TV broadcast because they were saying on one side that in the encounter that was continuing six deaths were confirmed, and on the other side they were also declaring that 40 Maoists were dead. It is very difficult to presume how the common people would respond and with what morale they would react after listening to such TV sensational information.

Further on, the aftermath of the encounter, the police themselves brought the dead bodies of 12 persons, wrapped them up, covered them with white cloths and got them filmed by a reporter, and broadcasted. The TV reporter, specifically played the role assigned to him by the Police, tried to convince us how the Police achieved a great success by numerically counting each corpse, and showing us the ammunition (all are only barmers) and other material the police seized, a bundle of coiled wire and some objects similar to that of bullets.

So much difference was there in the two TV broadcasts and the difference could not be cleared until the family members of the deceased people were taken to the encounter spot and in the same context the families of the 25 or 30 adivasis who were under detention were also taken to the District Collector  by Soni Sori for their release. These developments were explained with clarity by Soni Sori in her video clipping and until then how many people were dead in the Pedia Encounter and who they were was not known. All of them were none but the people who were confined to police custody after the police attacked the villages. Some people were sent to jail and the remaining were shot dead by the police in the name of the encounter. The dead people were 12 in number. All were the villagers. 

The video in which Soni Sori has spoken contains all about the information the essence of which is conveyed through social media being typed in Hindi, English and Telugu languages. The people who heard her speech and who witnessed the group of tribal women that was shown in the video would get two feelings simultaneously. All the women who were there around her were taken to the District Collector, Bijapr. They were all below 30 years of age. Almost each one carried a child of one or two years of age in her lap. As an answer to what the Collector spoke, she seriously retorted by taking three or four children into her hands and showing them to the Collector, “ See these mothers and these children, do they look like the wives and children of the men who work for the Maoist squads? All these women are none but the wives of men who went to forest from their villages and their homes to do their routine work of collecting tendu leaves to get their livelihood and who were shot dead or jailed”. 

The text of her speech…

“The innocent adivasis are being killed in Chhattisgarh in the name of encounters with Naxals. A disabled girl who could not stand upright and who could not speak properly was taken to forest while she was in her home, raped and was shot dead. Then they claimed that they had killed a woman-naxalite. They shot at another girl of 14 years old and killed her. The adivasis who went to the forest to collect tendu leaves and the adivasis who were at work in their homes were dragged to the forest and were killed. And then they claimed that they had killed 12 naxalites”.

When the social activist Sona Sori asked the Collector to make arrangements for the stay of the adivasis who had come to Bijapur to receive and take the dead bodies and also to try for the release of their family members who were arrested, the Collector replied … “All these people are naxalites, I don’t want to help them.” Himanshu Kumar wrote in his Facebook that Sona Sori had posted a video in social media and he advised us all to see that video. 

Soni Sori had taken the villagers by herself to the Dist. Collector. There is a video which communicates what she spoke to the Collector, then. Please listen to it. It is in Hindi. The listeners of other languages can get it translated into their own languages by the people who know Hindi very well, but listen to it. I need not introduce Soni Sori and Himanshu Kumar to the democratic spirited people and the people who respect democratic and secular values or to the people who respect human values. Soni Sori is a tribal teacher. Police brought tremendous pressure on her to confess that she has contacts with corporate forces as well as Maoists and that the corporates are secretly giving lakhs and crores of funds to Maoists. Why because she is the daughter of one tribal rich peasant who was once attacked and punished by Maoists. She never succumbed to their pressure and temptations. Therewith she was branded as Maoist. She was arrested. She was so tortured that stones were stuck in her vagina; tortured with gun bayonets. She was put in jail. Later, on the intervention of the Supreme Court, she was examined by the Calcutta Medical College Hospital and when the torture was proved she was released on bail.

From then onwards, she is living in her own village like an organic intellectual. Most importantly she is making the villagers talk about  the arrests in Bijapur, Dantewada, Sukuma districts, and the police raids and revealing them to the outside world. She is also bringing them to the notice of District Officials and the Courts.

The people might have noticed what Professor Bela Bhatiya, the professor of Economics who worked in Delhi School of Economics, told the media. She is the person who changed her name to Bela Sonari and has been living in Bastar for decades. When the police declared that they killed 13 Maoists in an encounter, she went round the villages and met their families and declared that there were only three Maoists among those who were encountered.

When she was questioned why she kept herself silent when the Maoists killed police people …. She had answered that when the police were killed, the Government would immediately plunge into action and the same response should also come when the Maoists were killed in a police encounter. She said, “this is the constitutional responsibility of the Government and the police, why don’t they realise it? This is my question.” Bela Bhatia is not an intellectual whose ideology is similar to that of Maoism. Sona Sori contested in the elections in the past from the Aam Aadmi Party. Himamshu Kumar is a Gandhian who was born in Gandhi’s family. He has a great respect for the Directive Principles of State Policy which are incorporated in the Constitution Of India and he also greatly regards the 5th & 6th schedules and the PESA which are intended to protect the tribal rights. These three people demand that these constitutional provisions should be implemented. Bela Bhatiya continues her fight positioning herself in between the police and the Maoists and condemning the attacks on tribals in the name of Maoists.

Himamshu Kumar was subjected to much harassment and detentions with the intention of not allowing him to live amidst the tribals and to drive him away from Bastar. His ‘ashram’ (the secluded place dedicated to voluntary sevice) was burnt down and he was left with no option but to leave the place. At the end, the Congress government headed by Bhagel instituted a Commission to enquire into the encounters which were talked about in the rest of the country. The Commission concluded that those were one-sided shootings from the police. When there was no action from the Government side, Himamshu Kumar convinced the blood relatives of the killed civilians to file a petition and approached the Supreme Court. But the Supreme Court had imposed a fine of Rs.5 lakhs on him. Just like Gandhi refused to pay penalties imposed by the Courts during British rule but was ready to go to jail, he also declared that he would not pay the fine but expressed his readiness to go to jail. Now he lives in Himachal Pradesh and is visiting several places in the country. 

These three people (Soni Sori, Bela Bhatiya and Himamshu Kumar) are not Maoists. But they are opposing imperialism, globalisation, corporatisation and  militarization very firmly and totally supporting the struggles the adivasis are waging for water, forest, land and respect. They are the defenders of adivasi struggles without being Maoists or the supporters of Maoist party. There are several instances like that of B D Sharma and Roy Burman, that are related to the love and affection shown towards tribal struggles being waged under the leadership of Maoist Party.

All these people have great respect for the Constitution. They all served the adivasi community strictly following the constitutional methods. Everybody knew that the PESA bill, which Buria, the tribal M.P. introduced in the Lok Sabha was drafted by B.D.Sharma. The M.P. himself revealed this fact.

B.D.Sharma was the District Collector of united Bastar district which is now bifurcated into seven districts. He was the person who wrote ‘the Tearful Stories of Bailadila Sisters’ by being the Collector of that district when the Posco Company  was established in the 1960s. The Sangh Parivar people paraded him with a garland of shoes around his neck when he went to the area where the adivasis live, during the period of BJP rule in the united Madhya Pradesh after the Emergency. Even then, he lived all through his life working for adivasis. He pronounced two things out of his experience and study – as far as adivasis are concerned the Constitution is like fetters, and all the Acts in the Constitution right from the Directive Principles of State Policy will hardly be implemented. He wrote this comment in the celebrated book called ‘Broken Republic’ which is considered to be a standard one on the matters related to the adivasis.

In 2004 when the government headed by Manmohan Singh and in which Chidambaram was holding a crucial portfolio undertook the Green Hunt Operation to confront the most dangerous internal enemy (to confront Maoist Party, they use the term ‘most dangerous internal enemy’) he commented that its roots were in the ‘operation Red Hunt’ which was undertaken in 1920 by Roosevelt who served as the American President continuously for four terms. There are (it is apt to say there were) Red Indians, Apaches, yellow-coloured white and other than white skinned aboriginal tribes. Mrs. Seetharathnam and Mr Sreenivasa Rao, who taught biological sciences for decades, toured Kenya, Masmara forests and many other places in the world to see and study the different kinds of birds and wild animals said that these people are now the display items to exhibit to the tourists, but they possess extraordinary creative skills and talents.

The struggles waged by the adivasis and the aboriginal legends in America are no less important than the struggles waged in any country. The information about the adivasi warriors and about their struggles is well documented and it is available in the American Universities and in American Museums. One can read the poem penned by Emmanual Ortiz titled ‘Before I began writing this Poem’ when the World Trade Organisation was attacked on September 11, 2003. In our country too, as in America, Europe, Australia, there were many adivasi struggles before the Naxalbari movement and all were anti-Imperialism, anti-State and anti-Central struggles. They are all wonderful struggles to protect and preserve self-dignity. Theymight be the struggles defeated, but they are not the struggles compromised or surrendered. But Naxalbari is the only struggle that is carrying the worldly perspective exhibited by the adivasi world-wide struggles, in the new democratic revolutionary path and implementing the alternative people-oriented politics with the intention of establishing a real democratic State. That is why it is the “most dangerous internal enemy” to the Delhi government. That is why it has resorted to ‘kagar’ to finish it. It terms it as ‘last fight’ with an apparantly haughty feeling and to realise that daydream before June 4, 2024, they have killed 103 adivasis even prior to May 12 Bijapur incident. The people who were killed are none but adivasis. Because, right from the 6 months old baby to the 66 years old Chipur Narsaiah, Jogalu, their lives and struggles are none but adivasi struggles. The Bastar adivasi struggle that is being waged today under the stewardship of Maoist Party is the struggle aimed at liberating the entire natural wealth and the human labour for the welfare of humanity. It is like that of the concept that all the classes will be liberated in the anti- imperialist fight under the leadership of the working class. That is why all the anti-fascist forces should consolidate themselves in the broad united front to fight against this onslaught just like the brave fight that was aimed at in the State of Andhra Pradesh earlier under the banner of “Movement Against War on People” spearheaded by a broad united front to which G. N. Saibaba was the Convener and people like Jan Myrdal and Arundhati Roy were members.

The country did not respond to the Mujafar Nagr massacre that continued for months and the rapes and murders of Badayun Muslim girls as it responded to three-day Muslim massacre in Gujarat. In the case of Kashmir, we have become so stone-hearted that we stopped not only wailing but became so indifferent saying to ourselves, “Who will weep for the people who die every day?” We have retreated to the ‘let it go’ routine worldly business.

We have treated the continued silence of Prime Minister Modi on the Manipur issue, and the stupid statements of the Chief Minister lacking of humanistic approach as normal except in the context of three Kuki women who were paraded openly after subjecting them to cruel rape.

On top of all, the encounters that are happening in the State of Chhattisgarh for the past five months from the formation of ‘double-engine sarkar’. This is not restricted to Brahminical Hindutva Fascism as in Kashmir and Manipur. Though the Brahmanical Fascism always gives priority to the welfare of the imperialist corporate comprador section, in the Eastern and Central India, most importantly in Bastar, the anti-Muslim stance as in Kashmir and anti-Christian stance as in Manipur, is not so dominant factor. Though there are some stray incidents obstructing the adivasis not to be influenced by the  Church, the sangh parivar people treat adivasis as Hindus, but their main selfish motive is the exploitation of natural resources. During the ruling period of Manmohan Singh, we used to talk about the corporate exploitation and the time limitation that the World Bank prescribes. The ‘prahars’ and ‘samadhans’ in this period of war against people in the name of ‘Green Hunt Operation’ are nothing but such limitations. In April 2023 Amith Shah declared in Chhattisgarh that the 2024 elections will be held in naxal-free India. ‘Kagar’ is the guarantee that the BJP government offers to the corporate bodies. They say it is the final war. That is why now they have annexed Redhunt with Green Hunt and made the adivasis’ blood flow. But their dream is short lived. The intention of the Brahmanical fascist compradors is to set right the things when there is opportunity. That’s why this hastiness.

When seen from the Maoists’ angle, this is not a bigger loss than losing Ramanna (Srinivas, Secretary, South Bastar), Haribhushan, RK, Anand who became immortals due to illness. Even from the point of view of losing the leadership in a big way in encounters, this is not a bigger loss than the losses the party suffered in Ramaguda of AOB. From the point of view of upcoming new leadership from among the adivasis, this loss is not as big as the loss that resulted in Gadchiroli encounter that took place in 2018. But this is most painful because we have lost a sizeable number of adivasis along with Maoists in a very short period. This is a considerable loss to the Janatana Sarkar because it is being formed totally on the strength of adivasis. Thousands of paramilitary forces penetrated into the so far unknown Abuz Maad in pursuit of the Central leadership and killed the adivasis, the innocent human beings, cruelly. There the adivasi humanism is protecting its collective life culture and life-styles in spite of the penetration of the capital investment in different forms like companies, camps and roads. It is our minimum responsibility as human beings to respond and support the people who are protecting the natural wealth and human essence for our sake.


                                                                              translated by Rajendra Babu Arvini

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