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‘Can 17 lives be paid for with free rice?’

Kamla Kaka
Kamla Kaka, 25, Tribal Activist

Why were you angry with the CRPF?
At night on 28 June, we were attending a seed festival in our village when personnel surrounded us and started firing. Many of us lay down on the ground. Those who stood with their arms raised, shouting, “We are not Naxalites, we are villagers,” were killed. In all 17 were killed, including a 12-year-old girl. Then they set our on fire. So when the CRPF returned later to distribute rice, I could not hold back my anger.

But they had come to distribute food.
Tell me, does the government distribute food to Naxalites? If we are Naxalites, why do they come to distribute relief materials? The may last us a few days, but will that really change our lives? Can 17 lives be paid for with this ?

What do you plan to do?
I met the district collector, and then Chief Minister Raman Singh. I invited the CM to visit our village. However, he said that he will be unable to do it as long as the investigation is on. When I asked him to take some action and move the CRPF out of our village, he left without responding.

Atul Chaurasia is Chief of Bureau, Tehelka Hindi.
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