Day 3 (8th June’08 )
Rains last night had led us to alter our plans and we made move for a village called Potenaar. It was a nine km trek to jangli thana which took us about an hour and forty five minutes to cover.
On our way we were stopped by a patrolling squad of SPOs who asked us where we were going. By now this had become normal since we were on our way to naxalite territory from Salwa Judum’s. Fortunately we had informed the police and the NHRC card seemed to have worked. People here have become very vary and cautious of the NHRC after newspaper reports of the issue reaching the Supreme Court et. al.
The testimonies at Potenaar were the most horrifying to hear and document till now. First the Naga battalion came and killed people , raped women and burnt their houses. Then the Salwa Judum took them at gun point to the camp. The camp description they gave seems a lot like a nazi concentration camp. In all they were given food only once in the two years that they spent there. They didn’t have much to money to but food so they were like scavengers hunting for it. The Salwa Judum; at one documented instance took eight of their women to the bridge by the jungle and raped them. One of these girls was 13 years old then and I still cannot get her face out of my head.
These instances are only of one pada of the seven in the village and there were as many as 20 villages in the camp at Jangli.
You start wondering where this is the notion of Governmentality and human dignity that one yearns and talks about. Life is so different here than what we experience in Hyderabad, Mumbai or Delhi. It is a full fledged war out here that shows no signs of ending.
When we go to the villages, the people are so open about the deaths and other gruesome crimes committed against them that you wonder as to how it all seems so normal to them. Perhaps its because they’ve been witnessing it for over three years now. The Salwa Judum and SPOs have instilled a lot of fear in the minds of the tribals. In a place called Matwada where the people were planning to leave the camp for their village; at around 3 a.m. they were pulled out fo their houses and beaten up with their hands tied. After that there were taken to the nearby handpump and forcefully drink water. At around 8 a.m., knives were pulled out and their eyes were pierced and finally they were killed with boulders squashing their heads.
I’m not recounting most of the testimonies as one is more horrifying than the other and would bring back memories that I dont want to keep. Above was merely an instance of the gravity of the situation out there.
Things are really bad out here and I know that I’m really lucky to survive. I don’t know how Ill be able to tell my friends as to what’s happening out here. I don’t know if they’d even make an effort to understand what I’ve seen and the shit going on around. There are no atheists in fox holes they say and every time I see an armed person stopping me i forget being an atheist.