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War-like situation in 3 villages in Dantewara

A copy of the final report that Harsh Mander has submitted to the Supreme Court is available at this link:

From the Hindustan Times:

An undeclared civil war-like situation prevails in three villages of Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district where hundreds of Koya commandos (local armed militia) and anti-Naxalite Special Forces allegedly burnt houses, grain reserves and moveable properties of tribal people on March 11, a Supreme Court p anel has said.

The court’s special commissioner on right to food, Harsh Mander, was asked by SC to visit the villages and submit a report after PUCL filed a petition alleging it feared that conditions of acute hunger and starvation were rampant in Morpalli, Timapuram and Tarmelta.

According to the report — which is likely to be considered by the court next week — the villagers lived in unabated conditions of fear. “…their perceived Maoist support results in grave and exorable consequences for the villagers. Many are jailed as Maoist sympathisers and languish for long periods in prison, without even the succour of national and international support and human rights backing as surged for Dr Binayak Sen.”

Mander, who visited violence-hit Morapalli village along with Chhattisgarh principal secretary Vivek Dhand, Bastar divisional commissioner Srinivasulu and Dantewada collector Omprakash Choudhary on April 6 , however, ruled out any starvation deaths as reported in a section of the media.

“The indigent local tribal communities are trapped in unending cycles of often brutal violence, unleashed consecutively by Maoists, security forces and vigilante armed civilian groups such as the Salwa Judum, and its incarnations…” the report said, adding PDS grains were being diverted to Salwa Judum camps.

“The government officially admits to around 50,000 people being housed in 20 Salwa Judum camps between 2005-08, and even during my visit to Morpalli it was clear that subsidised grain for the village had been diverted to the Salwa Judum camps,” the report said.

On April 25, the court had taken strong objection to the Centre and state government using a colonial law to arm the local tribal population to take on Naxals, but the Centre said it supported the law as it enabled insurgency-hit states to recruit special police officers.

“Villagers informed the team that three deaths could have occurred because the old and feeble persons who had fled into the forests had lost their way and were unable to procure adequate food,” the report said.