Between the 5th and the 7th of May, 2016, a team of members from Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) and independent activists and reporters visited villages in Bijapur following a series of recent reports of mass sexual violence and assault on adivasi women by security forces and police in the area. The team visited a few villages in the Gangalur thana area, following reports of violence during a search and combing operation carried out by police and security forces. Villagers reported several instances of loot, plunder, arrests and violence over the last couple of years. In one such recent operation in November 2015, a young man was shot dead and then falsely declared a Naxalite; two young women were stripped, abducted and held in captivity in the forest for two days and were sexually assaulted. In another operation in January 2016, three young girls were sexually assaulted, and a young mother was brutally gangraped. This report details findings over two visits.
On 14 January 2016, a combined team of Coordination of Democratic Rights Organizations (CDRO) and Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), conducted a fresh fact-finding in the Sukma and Bijapur districts in Chhattisgarh. Initially the objectives of the fact-finding mission was to investigate cases of encounter killings, supposed “surrenders” by Maoists and atrocities against tribal women in the villages in the intervening period of 3 months since the last fact-finding of WSS. However, the intensity and frequency of reported attacks, that the team learnt of once they were in the area, compelled them to limit the focus of the fact-finding to events that happened in the course of one week, between the 11 th and the 15 th of January.
Read the full report here State of Siege_Report_29th April_0
WSS teams have gone for two fact-finding trips to South Chhattisgarh between October 2015 and January 2016. The second round of fact-finding was done in collaboration with Coordination fro Democratic Rights Organizations (CDRO).
The fact-findings uncovered incidents of sexual violence, loot and plunder in interior villages through the security forces while on their combing operations in Peddagellur and adjoining villages (Bijapur), Bellam Lendra (again in Bijapur) and Kunna (Sukma). The teams also went to Nilawaya (Dantewada) where an adivasi villager was killed while simply crossing going from one hamlet to another on October 7, 2015, and similarly in Pedda Jojer where four people had died, including of one 13 year old girl, enroute to the weekly haat in a so-called encounter in January 2016. We also visited the families of the two journalists, Somaru Nag and Santosh Yadav and went to Bhadrimahu (Bastar) a village which was linked to Santosh’s arrest.
A compiled report is under preparation. Read the village reports of each of these visits.
01 Peddagelur, Bijapur Fact Finding Report
02 Bellam lendra, Bijapur Fact Finding Report
03 Kunna, Sukma Fact Finding Report
04 Nilawaya, Dantewada Fact Finding Report
05 Pedda Jojer Fact Finding Report
06 Bhadrimahu, Bastar Fact Finding Report
December 10 and 11, 2015 New Delhi
The inspiration for the seminar “Resisting Caste and Patriarchy : Building Alliances” came from an initiative that started in 2013-2014, when members of WSS made a series of visits to villages in several districts of Haryana to investigate reports of sexual assaults and killings of Dalit girls. The team met and interviewed many of the survivors and their families. Intensive discussions with a team of young Dalit lawyers and activists provided additional insights into the situation. In the course of internal discussions that followed, members of WSS tried to articulate the gaps and grey areas in feminist debates on caste and patriarchy, and draw on lessons from the histories of engagement with questions of caste and gender by and within different mass movements and women’s movements.
Seminar report at WSS Seminar Resisting Caste and Patriarchy 10-11th Dec 2015 Final Report
It was obvious that the disappearance of “annihilation of caste” from the agenda of contemporary movements was an inevitable consequence of the marginalisation of Dalit women in political struggles and social processes. Thus, complex issues arising from Dalit women’s labour in various relations of production have been reduced to the question of choice or coercion in sex work, with little exploration of the ways in which caste, class and patriarchy have worked together to exploit and stigmatise dalit women across the spectrum of work and labour relations.
Progressive groups and social movements across the spectrum are struggling with uncertainty and lack of clarity on advancing the agenda of annihilation of caste in the context of changing land and labour relations, neo-liberal capitalism, the appropriation of natural resources, increasing state violence and the dominance of Hindutva. The decision to organise a national seminar around these issues was taken at the WSS annual meeting in Lucknow in 2015.
The main objective of organising this National Seminar on Caste and Patriarchy was to strengthen our dialogues and alliances around Babasaheb Ambedkar’s foundational insight – that the annihilation of caste cannot be fulfilled without the annihilation of patriarchy. The objective was also to explore the question of how our struggles against patriarchy, caste and religious orthodoxy could draw from Ambedkar’s legacy to redefine feminism in the Indian context. Our effort was to create a space to explore and discuss questions around re-framing our perspectives on the intersections of caste and patriarchy with structural inequalities so as to take on the challenge of annihilation of caste.
A team of human rights activists from Solidarity Committee for Brick Kiln Workers of Telangana State, Human Rights Forum, and Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression, as well as professors and students from University of Hyderabad, visited Hanumantunipeta village in Pedhapally block of Karimnagar district today, to conduct a fact finding on the death of Surja Bag, a pregnant woman brick kiln worker from Orissa. Her husband, Jitendra Bag had filed a complaint at the police station stating that she had been lethally kicked by the owner of the brick kiln and the supervisors when she had been unable to work due to high fever. The FIR filed cites S. 304-II and the owner of the kiln, Shyam, and 3 supervisors have been taken into remand on these charges. Continue reading
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.
On March 25, 2014, 31 women from a nondescript remote village in Chamba, Himachal Pradesh were arrested for protesting against the starting of the work of the 180MW Bajoli Holi Power Project. The opposition to the GMR project is almost 2 years old, but in recent past the situation in the area has become sensitive as Police-on-demand have been stationed to assist the company in carrying out their construction activities by addressing any ‘law and order’ situation. While the women were released on bail the next day, a series of cases were filed against them including promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, voluntarily causing hurt to deter a public servant from his duty, rioting, unlawful assembly, wrongful restraint, intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace, criminal intimidation and using criminal force to commit theft. Despite this, the women continued their 24 hour agitation at the project site. Since then, several incidents of threat and intimidation have occurred, with the local contractors, politicians as well as the District Administration exercising pressure for the women to call off their protest.
In this situation, in April 2014, as groups concerned for the issues being raised by the women and in support of their democratic rights, an independent all women’s fact finding team visited the area and interacted with the local women and men. This document attempts to trace the history and background of the agitation and examine the demands being raised by the communities living in the affected villages. The fact-finding team also shares its observations of the situation on the ground.