Subscribe to South Asia Citizens Wire | feeds from sacw.net | @sacw
Home > National Interest vs People’s Interest > India: Independent fact finding report on massacre in Bastar

India: Independent fact finding report on massacre in Bastar

24 July 2012

print version of this article print version

A three-member team, consisting of J.P. Rao, Kopa Kunjam and Prof Nandini Sundar of Delhi University, visited Kottaguda, Sarkeguda and Lingagiri villages of Bastar on July 3 and 4, 2012. The following are excerpts from their findings as well as a statement by villagers.

The three villages merge into each other and have been carved up in an arbitrary fashion between different panchayats (Korsaguda and Chipurbhatti panchayats). The field where the firing took place is an open area surrounded by houses, some of which are in Kottaguda and some of which fall in Rajpenta. The villagers had returned only in 2009 after Salwa Judum had burnt their village in 2005, and are still struggling to put their cattle together and rebuild all houses properly. The meeting on June 28 night was held to discuss how to help those without cattle and single women headed households, and also to plan the holding of the bija pondum (seed sowing festival). The three villages share a common earth shrine—which means they celebrate all their festivals together.

The villagers say that there were no Maoists present, and that the police were most likely injured in cross-firing. The absence of any Maoist leaders is supported by the fact that had there been a squad in the village, there would have been sentries posted in the direction of Basaguda thana.

Whatever the CRPF’s claims, what is indisputable is that they knew they were in the middle of a village and yet did not use night flares or observe even the most basic precautions when firing. In all 17 persons have been killed, of which seven are minors; nine have been injured, and at least five women have been beaten/assaulted. One cow has died and one bull has been injured, and there are bullet marks on the houses. Two people were killed by the Salwa Judum and security forces in 2005, and almost all the houses in all three villages were burnt. What is shocking is not just the massacre itself but the cover-up that followed with the CRPF and Home Minister claiming that they had shot top Naxal leaders, when they could clearly see that they had killed villagers including small children, since 16 of the bodies were sent back that night. The CRPF version also does not explain why one person was killed in the morning.

We met Mr Kuruvanshi, the SDM appointed to investigate the incident. He seemed amused at our visit, and asked why the villagers were meeting at night. When asked, he also said he had no plans to visit the village, and if the villagers wished, they could come and see him. Subsequently, the villagers have been summoned to his office on the July 9.

We are enclosing a statement signed by family members of each of the deceased, three of the girls beaten/molested and other witnesses from the village.

July 4, 2012

J.P. Rao, Kopa Kunjam, Nandini Sundar

Village Kottaguda, Thana Basaguda, Zila Bijapur