Among the most horrifying and sordid reports on blatant human rights abuse in Chhattisgarh, what has repelled me the most is a statement recorded by the gang rape victims of village Belamendra in January 2016, where the Security Forces and Special Police Jawans had wreaked havoc on women and children. The victims categorically stated that among those who had hounded, stripped, gaged and raped them, were few ex Naxalites. Villagers who were till a few months ago, their neighbours and mates. That these vulnerable adivasi youths can turn into such macabre violent soldiers of hell, escaped my imagination and set me on a long instrospection.
In the state’s infallible war against the “biggest internal security threat” the government has manufactured a movement to exterminate those that stand in the way of gold, diamond, coal and minerals excavations. Since, war is never pretty, the casualties have begun to crop up like ugly malaise against the “democratically elected” BJP government here. However, we would be kidding ourselves if we thought, the entire war on Maoists in Chhattisgarh, and the surrender, encounter gang rapes, acid attacks, cold blooded murders of innocent adivasis, was being carried out by our nationalist and patriotic police force or para military forces alone. This is not a chess board, or a mythical story whose ending has the good “white Aryans” victorious over the evil “Black Asuras.” And this is perhaps the biggest tragedy of this war.
It is strange how the war dictionary in each nation of this world has the same vocabulary borrowing their diction of raw bestiality from each other. The “enemies”, “patriots”, “civil war”, “elections” , “army”, “airforce”; and “collateral damage” or “endemic genocide” are figured in the same row as rapes, encounters, murders. However, there is a word that’s rarely mentioned, and that word is “fratricide”. Brothers killing brothers, raping daughters, brothers ratting out on sisters; neighbours turning into blood thirsty zealots; or closer home-ex surrendered naxals and seemingly innocent tribals raping women and children at the behest of local Police and Corporate and Political goons. All this human rights abuse goes on as millions of tonnes of precious metal remains protected under the hallowed land of Bastar. This is a pattern that has been successfully used all over the world, earlier by Corporate Giants of United States of America, Britain, Germany, Italy and other developed nations.
In Africa, Congo, Darfur, Angola, Ivory Coast, Sierra leone; in Indonesia- West Papua; in Ukrain; in Australia’s Bougainville; in Latin America and Combodia- all these nations have seen bloody rampage and killings of millions of people, starvation, droughts, epidemics, and long standing unbearably cruel human rights abuses. In all these nations, the wars began with division of resources, by selling of rivers, by felling of forests and creation of droughts, malnourishment, starvation and epidemics. These nations have been fighting off zillion dollars worth civil wars, purchasing arms from the very same nation that have caused the wars.
All these nations have one chilling common factor with Bastar. Its that these countries were all rich in minerals and they had aboriginals staying over the land in peace with nature, forests, mountains and rivers. In each of these nations, now torn and plagiarised with precise impunity at the behest of various Corporate giants, the greedy macabre game of loot, rapes, murders, human traffickings, armed conflicts and civil wars has been played for years even as the Human Rights, Amnesty International and even the United Nations invariantly failed to protect the rights of the people.
Its appalling to see that the same game is being played in the state of Indian nation, as we all stand in mute horror. It began with the entry of TATA, Essar, Jindal , Vedanta and last but not the least-the Adani group in the national political scene as the provider of jobs, holding the scintillating dream of taking Indian youth to the pinnacle of riches, by funding the elections, Teerth Yatras and Haj, by hosting cricket matches and beauty pageants, by building dams, hospitals, schools, spas, malls; by selling us the dream of a Utopian riches- all the while purchasing arms, building armies and wiping clean our conscience of last shred of humanity and sympathy for the poor. As TV stations continued to propel these lies in myriad of colourful coded verses, they sold us rivers, mountains and forests-in small attractive packages across the malls, the expiry dates clearly hidden from the plain view.
While we are blinded in illusion with these, the army and air force enters the jungles of Bastar. The TATAs, AdAnis, Ambanis, Jindals enter the refuge of Adivasis, warning them and then attacking them darstardly with their armies. The Police, the SOPs, the CRPFs they are all footsoldiers, picked up from remote villages across Indian plains to kill and rape anyone that surfaces its head to protect the minerals. The animals included. Leopards, elephants, millions of birds and bees have died in the process, thereby pushing us to the end of the climate cycle. What remain are a handful of Adivasis, who by nature do not understand greed like the suave elite people like us. So, here they cannot be bought with packaged shampoos, TVs and ACs. Hence, the age old tactics of divide and rule- “Fratricide.” Arrest a few, kidnap their mothers and daughters, torture them in front of their family members and then offer them the option of serving the nation by turning against their own neighbours and peer groups. The latest rapes and murders in Bastar, where the perpetrators are none other than fellow Bastar tribals living in the same villages- shockingly points at an ugly civil war building up in the tribal heartland. The attacks, the threats, the murders and the recruitment of tribals by the policians at the behest of Corporate regime- is exactly similar to what is going on in Africa, Latin America, Indonesia and Australia. What is perhaps the saddest part is that in India, hate sells more easily-thanks to caste system.
So, when around 35 gang-raped victims of village Peddagellur, Belamnandra and Kunna-Peddapara showed the unusual courage to point out the assault on them encouraged by Tribal Activist and AAP leader Soni Sori and went as far as lodging FIR against Inspector General of Police (IG) S R P Kalluri- it created a dent in this smooth storytelling of the raging war machine. Earlier too, there have been successive protest of murder of Hadma Kashyap, Meena Khalkho and Podia Emala by these lawyers and a few journalists. This distracted the orchestrators of war, and they took out a leaf from not so distant past- from Sri lanka. The Mahinda Rajpakse regime committed heinous human rights abuses towards Tamils in lieu of finishing off the LTTE through “war without witnesses.” Every journalist, human rights activist and civil rights worker was either hounded out, silenced or they simply disappeared from the land of Lanka, before thousands were murdered in cold blood, raped, trafficked and millions other maimed for life.
Thus, the hounding and subsequent ouster of lawyers of Jagdalpur Legal Aide, jailing of journalists Santosh Yadav, Somaru Nag, ouster of BBC journalist Alok Putul and Journalist and Human Rights Activist Malini Subramanium. The attack of Soni Sori, right afterwards was just another move in the chessboard. No witnesses, no testimonies and no war crimes. Since then, thirty more Adivasis have surrendered themselves as wanted Maoists, sixteen more have been killed in “encounters with police” and Vedanta has bagged a mining lease for gold in Bagbahara.
So, “Fratricide” after all is the middle name for “Mining” in this world. The rest? Well, pick a word from the war dictionary across the world- They are all the same.