Chhattisgarh: Recent burning of village in Dantewada, copy of complaint filed by Bela Bhatia

February 4, 2013

Following is a police complaint submitted by Prof. Bela Bhatia in the Gangalur police station on 1 February 2013 regarding the burning of houses and destruction of household items in Pidiya village (Bijapur block, Bijapur district) by a large contingent of police force that stayed in the village from 21-23 January 2013.
- Editors

Police Station In-charge
Gangalur police station
Gangalur village
Bijapur, Chhattisgarh

Friday, 1 February 2013
7.45 pm.

Respected Sir,

1. I am a researcher and honorary professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bombay. I have spent the last two days visiting Pidiya village (Pidiya panchayat), Bijapur block, Bijapur district.

2. During my visit, I found that a large contingent of police force came to this village on 21 January. From the direction the force came, the villagers estimate that they came from Gangalur and Basaguda police stations. Seeing the forces come, most villagers ran to the forests. Force stayed in the village for two days (21, 22 January). They left on 23 January at around 4 pm.

3. In the duration the police force stayed in the village they burnt houses in 4 hamlets. These hamlets are: Maragudem (8 houses, 9 huts); Pantamuram (1 house, 1 hut); Oyampara (6 houses, 2 huts) and Kuppapara (2 houses, 2 huts). I have seen all the houses. In total, 17 houses and 14 huts were burnt.

4. 19 villagers have suffered losses. In the case of 5 persons only their household belongings were destroyed (or taken). In the case of 14 others their houses were burnt along with all their belongings. These household items included:

(i) Food items (unhusked rice, rice, korsa – lentil, tamarind, chillies, salt, turmeric, roots-tubers, kutki – lentil, barbatti beans, corn, cumin seeds, channa – gram, tora, etc.)

(ii) Agricultural implements (kulhari – axe, hassia – sickle, rope used to tie cows and bullocks, the mat on which unhusked rice is threshed, etc.)

(iii) Trees (banana trees, mango and lemon saplings)

(iv) Vessels (large vessels such as aluminium or steel gundis and mud handis; cooking vessels such as aluminium or steel ganjis, etc.)

(v) Clothes (shirts, lungis, children’s’ clothes, etc.)

(vi) Ornaments (nose-studs, neckalace, anklets)

(vii) Money

I have a list of the total losses of each family.

Besides, 2 goats, 63 hens and 59 eggs were also consumed by the police force during their stay in the village. In one instance, when a woman protested on her hen/s being taken, she was paid Rs. 150 by one policeman.

5. A community-run school was burnt. School related items such as books were also burnt or destroyed. The sheet-roof of the school was broken to bits. Holes were made in the large aluminium cooking pots used to cook food for the children and aluminium, steel and mud containers to store water and other things rendering them useless.

In Pidiya, I also met the teacher of a similar community-run ashram school in neighbouring Tumnar village. From him I learnt that the school building as well as items had also been burnt and destroyed by the police force on 21 January, 9.30 am.

6. On 23 January when the police force left the village they took two villagers with them. One of them, a person named Aandha of Idiumpara, was released on 26 January when his family members went to the police station to enquire about him. But nothing was known of the second person, Aavlam Sannu, until this evening. His wife and two other female members of the extended family had come with me today and they were informed [by
the ASI] that Aavlam Sannu had been sent to Dantewada prison. He said that the Bijapur police station had sent the information only that morning.

7. I believe that burning of houses in villages, destroying food and other household items of the public, and other action taken by the police force as elucidated above is against the law. That is why I am writing this complaint. Please admit this as an FIR or register one as per procedure.

Many thanks,

Bela Bhatia
Honorary Professor
Tata Institute of Social Sciences
V.N. Purav Marg
Deonar, Bombay – 400 088.

[Residential address and telephone numbers were provided on request.]

* Details contained in Annexure 1 were submitted to the police station the following morning (2 February) on request.

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