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Central India

Death In Dandakaranya: In Jungles Of Chhattisgarh, Justice Is Served At The Barrel Of Gun

The culture of rifles among Adivasis, aided by the ever-increasing deployment of parami­li­tary forces, has permanently mutated the central Indian forests in Chhattisgarh.

Jungle cry: Adivasis protesting after the Ehadsameta killings Photo: Ashutosh Bhardwaj

Right across the Kutru police station in Bijapur district of south Bastar in Chhattisgarh, stands the first Salwa Judum mem­orial: Salwa Judum Shahid Smarak. Many Salutes to the Martyrs - June 4, 2005.

On that day, the Chhattisgarh government signed a highly-publicised MoU with the Tatas for an ultra-mega steel plant in Bastar. A day later, the Salwa Judum was launched to evict Maoists from the region—a move that began a series of encounter killings that would redefine the landscape and history of Dandakaranya. Whether retributive or executed in rage or under the shield of law—by security forces or by the Maoists—the common denominator of all these killings was that the finger on the trigger acted with utmost impunity. Obvi­o­usly then, the perpetrators were rarely punished and justice eluded the victims.

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