Day 2 (7th June’08)
Nandini and I went on motorcycles to this palce called Pulondi today. On out way we crossed strict and clear salwa judum territory with sign boards of “Salwa Judum Zindabad” all over.
We cross that area and a few camps. From then on we faced road blocks with bridges being broken and trees all over. Thankfully the rumours we heard about the roads being mined were’nt true.
– So after a two hour ride we finally reached Pulondi village; where as soon as the people saw us they started running away. A minutes later on they came and surrounded us with bows and arrows. Actually, the salwa judum, SPOs and the CRPF had conducted a lot of raids here; killed people and looted their food stocks. They thought we were one of them.
Now this village was a pure naxalite village but we didn’t get to see any ‘dasta’ or ‘sangam’ members. It too some time for Nandini and I to explain to them who we were and why we were here. Once they started feeling a little secure, they let down their bows and started telling their stories. Most of these were horrifying and scary to hear. For instance; one ‘Hemla Pande’ was shot while she was pregnant. It was not that she was running away or anything; but she was in her house when the forces came in and shot her. Her husband who witnessed the whole incident told us about it.
In another incident, the forces came and killed more then 10 people while the village was having a meeting. None of them was armed or anything.
Pulondi is in Bhairamgarh block (Mirtur thana) and has a population of about 600 people.
– One boy called Lachu new hindi as he went to school before it was destroyed by the forces. Very diligently he had maintained a diary of the dates of the raids by the forces and the losses that had occurred to the village. He even maintained a list as to who had lost what in the last two years.
I was amazed at the vision and disposition (a new word that Sridevi taught me) of that kid and as a small token I gifted that boy a pen. I then realised that I was running out of gifts to give the kids so on the way back I bought a lot of toffees to give next time. I should be safe by then.