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The attitude of AP Government towards the victims of Chattisgarh

By: Souvik Chatterji
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Since 2005 around 30,000 to 50,000 people fled to the State of Andhra Pradesh from the state of Chattisgarh due to the escalating violence of that place. The displaced communities including members of Gothikoya tribe mainly settled in the Khammal and Warrangal districts of Andhra Pradesh and small villages like Kothuroo.

The violence took place mainly due to the existence of the naxalites, armed maoist groups, Salwa Judum groups, etc. Many of the displaced tribal groups settled in the protected forest areas. The AP Government authorities burned down the temporary accommodation of most of the displaced communities and forcibly evicted them from the forest lands as the Government realized that the stay was illegal.

According to the finding of the International Association of People"s lawyers (IAPL), having members from India, Brazil, Belgium, Turkey, Nepal, etc., in some of the cases the displaced persons included women and children who were transferred into trucks by the application of force and were transported to the state boundary which was distant from their place of stay. IAPL was invited to observe and report on the situation of Chattisgarh and they visited many places of Chattisgarh in October, 2007. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Forum for Fact-Finding Documentation and Advocacy (FFDA) also gave a similar report.

Those members of the displaced communities who came from Dornapal, Penta and Dubatotta, who still remained in border areas of Andhra Pradesh got threatened by the Salwa Judum members and the government security officials. Those members who somehow or the other managed to settle down in the area faced the problem of meeting the needs of the children.

The tribes which were affected the most include the Gothikoya tribe. Some of the children who were previously studying in any of the primary institutions in the State of Chattisgarh could not be admitted in any school in Andhra Pradesh. In Chattisgarh the medium of exchange used to be hindi while in Andhra Pradesh the medium of exchange was telegu.

The major reason why the displaced communities require justice is because they had to leave the land where they had livelihood in the State of Chattisgarh due to severe violence existing in the state due to the intervention of the government and action of government against the naxalites, the maoist groups and members of Salwa Judum.
Especially the villages of Dantewada and Bijapur districts of Chattisgarh were affected the most due to the naxalite violences. The naxalites during the contemporary period got involved in bombings, abduction, execution of civilians, etc.

The displaced communities have faced problems of every kind and dimension in the states of Andhra Pradesh. Firstly they lost their livelihood. Most of the members of the displaced communities were involved with agriculture and as such could not find new livelihood in the parts of Andhra Pradesh where they settled. They were not skilled or semi-skilled to do any other type of mechanical work to support their living.

There were not any kind of standard sanitary system existing in the area. There was not adequate food supplied for the displaced people. To make matters worst children within the age group of 10 to 12 years were used by the security department of state of Chattisgarh as informers who could assist the security officials in their fight against naxalite movement.

These children had risked their lives in the process and their was no compensation given by the government to the families of the children in case they died due to the risky affair. Neither these children got justice, not support and were exploited by the security officials.

The state of Andhra Pradesh had to treat the displaced communities sympathetically. They are internally displaced communities and are the victims of naxalite movement in the neighbouring areas.

As they entered the state due to emergency and had no way of returning back to the original place of stay, the government can use the unskilled labour force to do manual work like making railway tracks and other work which does not require skill or mental capability.

The Andhra Pradesh government can open few English medium or hindi medium schools in the border districts where the children of the displaced communities can get primary education. The state government should stop forcible eviction of the communities out of the state.

At the same time the Government of Andhra Pradesh should work with the government of Chattisgarh to reduce the naxalite violence in the neighboring states so that none of the village communities have the requirement of displacement from their native lands. More projects should be undertaken by the government so that some group of the displaced community can be given employment.

If the displaced group can be treated with humanity they can end up becoming a useful workforce for the state, otherwise their oppression can give rise to fresh violence in the state the way it happened in other border states of India. We wish that the Andhra Pradesh Government will revisit its policy towards to the displaced community in the months to come.

Souvik Chatterji

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