‘This is where we found his body.’ Says Mandgroo Kunjam (45), pointing out the spot where he found his older brother’s body on the 10th of April, 2010. This was the same area where 76 CRPF jawaans were killed on Tuesday.
‘There was blood coming out of his ears. He was badly beaten.’ Continued Mandgroo. His brother Suklu Kunjam, aged around 60 was allegedly apprehended from his home in the village of Mukram by the police on Wednesday, the day after the Mukrana encounter. Villagers found his body only on Saturday morning. Superintendent of Police Amresh Mishra claims that he received no information about any such incident.
The village of Mukram is the closest village to the site of the ambush. It has four ‘sections’ or ‘paras’– Pujaripara, Patelpara, Nadipara and Bojapara consisting of over 130 homes and almost all of them are now empty. Every house has been locked, livestock has been abandoned, the mahua left uncollected. The few residents of Chintalnar claim that all the Muria tribals left to live further in the jungles, in fear of further police action.
The 10th of April was also supposed to be market day at Chintalnar for the Muria tribals of all the nearby villages but there wasn’t a single tribal seen at Chintalnar.
Interestingly, exactly a year ago on the 10th of April, another encounter had taken place near the village of Chintagufa where 10 CRPF jawaans were killed with over 19 wounded. The situation for the CRPF posted between Chintagufa and Chintalnar has not improved either.
The company that was ambushed on Tuesday consisted of CRPF jawaans from three different companies – A Company, C Company, and G Company of the 62nd battalion. Around 20 jawaans of the 62nd posted at Chintalnar had an opportunity to speak to the press where they expressed their own complaints – ‘Around 80% of us suffer from malaria at some point or the other’, ‘The INSAS is not a good gun, it only maims, never really kills,’ ‘We live under tin roofs, and its more than 45 degrees here,’ ‘There are no SPOs here,’ ‘None of us speak Koya, how are we going to communicate with the tribals?’, ‘Everyone in this area is a Maoist or supports them in some way or the other’.
“In First Strikes itself, 26 Jawaans were killed”
According to intelligence sources, 26 of the CRPF jawaans were killed in the first contact with Maoists before they could even return fire, in the Mukrana forests of Dantewada in the early morning of the 6th of April.
“The first strike itself must’ve struck terror into the minds of the remaining forces’, according to source in the intelligence agencies. It is yet unconfirmed whether the CRPF was moving or whether they were merely sitting down. The ambush didn’t take place on a hillock as many say, but in an opening in the forest.”
Meanwhile, the Maoists have released a statement signed by Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee member Ramanna who is known to have hailed from Warangal and has been active with the tribals of Chhattisgarh since the 1980’s. In the statement he claims that around 300 Maoists were present during the attack while only eight of them were killed, including one section Commander Rukhmati who also hails from the village of Mukram. He also claims that they have stolen 75 weapons – 21 AK47s, 38 INSAFs, 7 SLRs, 6 LMGs, one stengun and one two-inch motor.
All of the Maoists killed in the attack are adivasis. At least half of them hail from villages that have been burnt down or attacked by the Salwa Judum. For instance Comrade Vagaal hails from Regagatta near Bhejji that was burnt down in the first few months of the inception of the Salwa Judum. Three more Maoists hailed from Pamra, Mukram, Kondapalli, that are villages where killings have taken place, according to petitions filed in the Supreme Court.
Another Maoist hailed from Raingoom near Jagargonda which was burnt down and emptied in 2005. It was just one kilometre from the police station at Jagargonda and is still empty, as of 2010.