Chhattisgarh: HRF Note on Abduction of Adivasi Women by Police

January 19, 2013

A four-member fact-finding team of the Human Rights Forum (HRF) to Nimmalagudem village on January 16, 2013 was told by tribal residents that two women of the village — Madvi Parvathi, (aged 21, wife of Madvi Bhaskar) and a minor Kovasi Somidi, (aged 15, daughter of Kovasi Idma and Kovasi Aite) were forcibly taken away by policemen from Andhra Pradesh at about 7 am on January 12, 2013 from the village itself. Their whereabouts are not known till date. According to Parvathi’s mother Punam Jogamma and her husband Bhaskar, Parvathi is also pregnant.

Nimmalagudem, with about 30 tribal households, is in Konta block of Sukma district, Chattisgarh. It is located only about 3 km from the Andhra Pradesh border. Residents, who are all farmers, said a huge police party from AP consisting of over 100 personnel, including the Greyhounds, came to the village at daybreak on January 12. On seeing the police from a distance, most men fled into the forest in the opposite direction. The policemen began abusing and beating up residents including several women and children. Among those beaten up were Sodi Devi, a 10 year-old girl and a 12-year old boy Madvi Venkatesh. The boy lost three teeth as a result.

The policemen then picked up a farmer Podium Chukkaiah and his minor son (aged about 11) P Bhimaiah as well as Parvathi, Somidi and another woman Madkam Saramma. Their hands were tied and they were taken to a spot about half a kilometre away from the village below a hillock where there were remnants of a camp set up earlier by the Maoists. Accusing the four as well as the entire village of providing food and help to the Maoists, they beat them with their hands and sticks. Bhimaiah was slapped repeatedly.

Several women including Parvathi’s mother Jogamma, her aunt Punam Somamma, Somidi’s mother Aite followed the policemen pleading with them to not harm their daughters. The policemen instead abused and also beat up the three women and even kicked them. Aite and Jogamma tried to give some water to Parvathi and Somidi but the policemen did not allow it.

Soon after, the police partially disrobed Parvathi and Somidi and forcibly took the two away with them. They let go of Saramma, Chukkaiah and Bhimaiah. Chukkaiah was bedridden for two days from the beatings and is now better. Over a week after they were abducted by the AP police, there is still no trace of Parvathi and Somidi.

The incident was reported in the Telugu media after the tribals went to Cherla, a mandal headquarters in Khammam district of AP, and narrated the events to local reporters. When contacted by reporters, police officials have kept denying knowledge of the whole thing.

On January 16, Nimmalagudem villagers again walked to Cherla and met the Bhadrachaslam sub-collector Narayana Bharat Gupta. They told him what had happened on January 12 and pleaded with to help them locate their daughters. They told him that every-time there was movement of Maoists in the area or any incident involving the Maoists, the Andhra police were targeting Nimmalagudem and harassing them. Gupta promised to take up the matter with higher officials. Two days have gone by and there is no word about the women.

Fax messages have been sent to the Chief Justice of the AP High Court as well as the Chattisgarh CJ seeking their intervention.
An appeal was made by HRF through the media to immediately set the two women free and handed over to their families.

Members of the HRF fact-finding team:
1. VS Krishna (HRF State general secretary)
2. SK Khadar Babu (HRF Khammam district president)
3. D Adinarayana (HRF Khammam district general secretary)
4. N Amar (HRF Nalgonda district vice-president)