ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Bastar 2016

Adivasis and the Anatomy of a Conflict Zone

Based on the field report of a fact-finding team that visited Bastar during 12-16 May 2016, this article highlights the impact of the long-standing armed conflict between the state and the Maoists on the Adivasi villagers of Bastar and points out that both are responsible for their current vulnerable state. After the visit the Bastar police has been harassing and intimidating the team members and theirlocal supporters.

On 21 June 2016, the Chhattisgarh High Court ordered that the body of Madkam Hidme be exhumed and a post-mortem conducted which would be videoed. Hidme’s family has alleged that she was raped and killed in a fake encounter by police personnel on 13 June 2016 in Gompad village, Sukma district. The police say that she was a Naxalite and a member of the “Kistaram Platoon Number 8.” The court’s order was the result of a public interest litigation petition demanding a judicial probe into the incident (Ghose 2016), which has yet again exposed the repression faced by local residents in this part of the country and is the latest in a long and continuing series of such incidents.

The high court order clearly shows that the state government has not been following the directives of the Supreme Court, which in its order in Nandini Sundar and Others v State of Chhattisgarh (2011; Salwa Judum case) held that the Government of Chhattisgarh and the union government should cease to use all forms of civilian counter-insurgency forces like the Special Police Officers (SPOs) or Koya Commandos to combat the Maoists and “Naxalites” in Bastar. This judgment has been considered a landmark in the history of the conflict between the state and the Maoists. It argues that (1) Naxalism, Maoism and other forms of “Left Wing Extremism” cannot be fought through only a military strategy, but there is a need to address the question of deprivation and rights too; and (2) the human rights of the Adivasis of the region were being violated by both the Maoists as well as the state.

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