There was silence. The kind only broken by the faint sound of crying. About 50 people stood in a circle inside a forest, their heads bowed. In the middle was an upturned cot on a bed of rocks. To its left, three empty steel vessels. Hanging from the tree above were some clothes and a tattered umbrella. Buried in the earth was Madkam Hidme’s body. Around her, all that she used to call her own. Rice and flowers were placed at the site in remembrance. Nearby, two young adivasi children stood with small tirangas in their hands. In Gompad, deep in what is considered a “liberated zone” by Naxals, August 15 was a day of many firsts.
On June 13, the Chhattisgarh police had said that Hidme, a woman Maoist according to their records, was killed in an encounter in the jungles around Gompad, in Sukma’s Konta block. In the days that followed, Hidme’s family and AAP leader Soni Sori alleged she was an innocent villager, picked up by police from her hut, possibly raped and killed in a fake encounter. They pointed to the neat Maoist uniform on Hidme’s body, which seemed to suggest few signs of a struggle.
In the heart of Maoist-dominated Bastar, tribal leader Soni Sori has achieved something remarkable – she has successfully hoisted the tricolour for the first time in the village of Gompad.
Gompad first came into the spotlight when a young woman, Madkam Hidme, was killed by security forces on the suspicion of being a Maoist operative.
Sori, who has been at the receiving end of the Maoists’ ire as well as the State’s heavy-handedness, then announced that in a bid to help restore the suspended democracy in Bastar, she would undertake a Tiranga Yatra.
Sori’s Yatra was welcomed wherever it went. However, on the night of 14 August, when the Yatra reached Gompad, Maoists also arrived at the village and resisted the decision to hoist the tricolour.
The Maoists said that while Sori’s fight against the injustice being doled out to tribal people is commendable, she should not unfurl the tricolour. They repeated the message on the morning of 15 August, but Sori insisted that her Tiranga Yatra was not merely for show.
She said the object of the Yatra was to remind all concerned that tribal people, too, were citizens of India, and they also have some rights; they should also be allowed to breathe the fresh air of freedom.
Security forces’ warning
When the Yatra left Konta en route to Gompad, security forces posted at the Konta and Murliguda camps tried to stop it, saying that if Maoists attack, they won’t be able to provide any help. They even tried to scare the people taking part in the Yatra that land mines dotted the landscape in every direction, and that they could explode. They even clicked pictures of the people taking part in the march.
Sori, meanwhile, raised slogans imploring the forces to ‘stop killing tribals’.
Villagers receive the tricolour
Photo: Rajkumar Soni
Photo: Rajkumar Soni
While the country celebrates its 70th Independence Day, the people of Gompad have never seen a train, nor do they know what electricity is. They have no idea what ‘independence’ means. Residents of the village just know the sound of the boots that walk into their village during the day, trample their dreams, and go away.
The encounter of Madkam Hidme was a prime example of this.
When the Yatra reached Gompad, Sori & Co. went to Madkam Hidme’s final resting place and paid their tributes. Hidme’s mother Lakshmi and father Kosa were also present at the spot.
Yatris handed over a tricolour to the villagers, asking them to keep it safe and continue their struggle. They promised to help the villagers in their cause.
Kalluri the real CM
In the presence of national and international media, Sori said that while it’s true that Raman Singh is the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, the Inspector General of Police in Bastar, K Sivarama Prasad Kalluri, has started referring to himself as the CM of Bastar.
Kalluri has managed to spread the message among the merchants and common people of the region that what he wants will happen.
Translated and edited by Shreyas Sharma
source catchnews and indian express