The village of Badepalli in Kuokonda block was attacked for the second time by security forces on the 25th-26th(?) of April 2009.
Around the 25th or the 26th of April 2009, the village of Badepalli in Kuokonda Block of South Bastar in Chhattisgarh, was attacked by a joint force of the CRPF, BSF and the SPOs. At that moment, hearing gunfire, around 215 villagers ran into the jungle. One man, Laxman Madka could not escape and was beaten and taken into custody. The police then proceeded to burn all the homes in the village.
Nineteen homes that kept grain, imli, mahua, some money and all the relentless labour of months, were burnt and people were left with nothing but the generosity of the few homes that were spared. The police also stole about twenty-five chickens from the village.
Badepalli itself is a village that is some fifteen kilometers off the road, a two-hour trek into the jungle, across four hills, through a jagged pathway. The villagers visit the market at Bailadila to sell their imli for two rupees a kilogram, the endeavor often taking the whole day. There is one handpump in the village that was dug up some twenty years ago, whose water turns yellow within five minutes. There is no healthcare, no working school and no anganwadi. And of course there is the police who burns all the food the people have, often rationalizing that the food is for the Naxalites.
Meanwhile, the discourses about development sound hollow when the ground reality is that the Indian state does not exist in villages like Badepalli, nor does it make any inclination to. It’s only inclination to enter villages like Badepalli is, as the police.
According to the villagers, the police had also raided the village of Badepalli in 2006 during the ‘mango’ season. Like many villages in Bastar, this village has seen repeated burnings. In 2006, they had beaten people, shot one man, a bound Bandi Pandu in the leg, and burnt twenty-two homes. The press had no knowledge of it, nor did any of the human rights groups, nor the CPI who have a presence in the block. And of course, the villagers did not file any report in the police station.
A world apart, the Chattisgarhi Home Ministry wrote to the Collectors of Bijapur and Dantewada, ‘with reference to petitions regarding the Salwa Judum,’ filed before the Supreme Court, on the following actions to be taken on the report of the National Human Rights Commission, – ‘1) Necessary action be ensured for rehabilitation of uninhabited (displaced) families by District Level Rehabilitation Committee constituted under the chairmanship of the Collector. Necessary scheme/proposal with respect to rehabilitation at the Collector State Level be sent to State Level Rehabilitation Committee. 2) Necessary relief money be given in cases of properties damaged by the Salwa Judum activists/security forces, besides Naxalite violence, after village-wise analysis.
Now, not only are the above recommendations disregarded and refuted, and there have been no initiatives taken by the government to rehabilitate the Internally Displaced Persons’, villages are still being burnt by the security forces.
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Eventually, Laxman Madka of Badepalli was released by the court. The police claimed he was a member of a Sangam, yet the court did not buy it. Apparently the Magistrate told him, ‘Yeh sab log jo tumko yaha laye hai, sab chor hai, aap jaao.’
He came back to his village with a big black eye yet he claimed he was not mistreated in jail. He did reveal that the SPOs had beaten him initially. In the police station, the police had asked him whether the Naxalites come to his village.
‘Of course they come, but what the hell can I do?’ He apparently exclaimed to his interrogators.
‘And where do they go?’ They asked.
‘How the hell am I supposed to know?’