With the life imprisonment of Chhatradhar Mahato, Sagun Murmu, Sukhshanti Baskey, Shambhu Soren, Prasun Chatterjee and Raja Sarkhel under the different sections of IPC, UAPA, Arms and Explosive Acts on May2015, there was concern about the unjust, arbitrary punishment, irregularities in Judgment, filing appeal in higher court etc. They were basically punished for their role in the exemplary struggle under the banner of People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA). Chhatradhar Mahato was the spokes-person and Sukhshanti Baskey was the treasurer of PCAPA. Prasun and Raja of Kolkata, like many others actively supported the struggle. The struggle was mainly against police atrocities that the local people had to face daily in the name of combing for Maoists. No one was spared, old, women and children were frequently bodily searched, beaten, held illegally in police custody, tortured and abused. Along with the demand of stopping of police atrocities, the PCAPA’s other demands included development of their socio-economically backward area.
As the history books told us how the victorious king’s armies plundered after the occupation – Will the state continue to do the same under the garb of naxal operations and road-development work?
As an all-India fact-finding team of women, we were visiting Bastar to look at the status of women in conflict areas. When our team reached Jagdalpur and Bijapur, we were informed by the local journalists that there has been talk of rape and encounter killings in the Sarkeguda area but they have not been able to access the areas to get accurate information as the security forces had stopped them.
On Friday, October 30, our team informed the District Collector before setting out so that there would not be any problem in accessing the area. It was market day in Basaguda. We met many people from the villages where the recent incidents had occurred. Not in ones and twos, but in tens and twenties, the women shared their experiences of sexual violence including – molestation and rape physical beating, verbal abuse and threats, destruction and looting of property near Basaguda, Bijapur by the security forces and police who had come in 3 – 4 batches when they patrolled the villages starting from October 19/ 20 till October 24, 2015. The affected villages are – Chinnagelur, Peddagelur, Gundam and Burgicheru.