Horror in Dantewada: husband in jail, tribal woman dies after childbirth
The common people of Dantewada are caught in the crossfire between Maoists and state forces.
Numerous studies and probe reports have proved that the impoverished region is facing an undeclared war in the name of eradication of Maoism. The unanswerable question is whether the tribals will ever get justice.
The sordid saga of a tribal woman, Hurre, in Badegudra village, is yet another reminder of their plight. Hurre is no more, but her story is enough to expose the cruel reality of a system that is being held at gunpoint.
When a blessing turned into a curse
Motherhood proved to be a nightmare for Hurre. And it all began on 13 April when her husband, Hunga, went to the forest with his friends to catch fowl.
A police team, apparently out in search for Maoists, allegedly fired at these men without any provocation. Hunga was shot in the leg during the operation. He, along with seven other villagers, had no option but to surrender to save their lives.
Dantewada SP Kamal Lochan Kashyap then called a press conference to announce that the arrested people were dreaded Maoist insurgents. He claimed these men were involved in a blast between Melawada and Mokpal, which had targeted security personnel.
All the arrested villagers were sent to Dantewada jail. But, nobody bothered to inform their families. The men were not told why they were arrested, and where they were taken.
The news of the arrests spread like wildfire. A devastated Hurre ventured out to look for her husband. She was in the last stage of her pregnancy at that time.
Hurre's search took her to the police headquarters, where she was allegedly roughed up by a policeman. She was hit with the butt of a rifle on her stomach.
An injured Hurre had no option but to return to her village. A few days later, she gave birth to an underweight baby. Nobody in the village remembers the exact date of the birth.
The villagers of Badegudra say Hurre needed to get a good diet and proper rest after the delivery. However, this was a luxury she could not afford, and she went out again in search of Hunga.
Somebody had told Hurre that all the persons rounded up by the police end up in jail. This started a new ordeal for this Gondi-speaking woman. Every morning, she would go and wait outside the jail premises with her baby in her lap. She would wait till the evening for Hunga's release, but all in vain.
A villager then took her to social activist Soni Sori. Thanks to the latter's efforts, the reluctant police allowed Hurre to meet her husband on 27 April. Hunga advised her to take care of the child, but it was too late by then. The struggle to meet her husband had already worsened Hurre's condition.
'Nothing can be done'
On 11 May, social activists, led by Bela Bhatia, Linga Kodopi, Arvind Gupta and lawyer Shalini Gera got Hurre admitted to the Maharani Hospital in Jagdalpur. Doctors informed them that infection had spread to Hurre's whole body, and her brain was not functioning.
The social activists allege there were no facilities in the hospital. Hurre was attended to by a nurse; doctors only came occasionally for inspection and curtly told Hurre's caretakers: "Nothing can be done."
Eventually, they advised to shift her to Raipur. However, Hurre breathed her last on 15 May. The activists tried to make Hunga see his wife one last time. But, it did not happen.
Hurre's painful death is not likely to stir the conscience of the administration or the security establishment. Yet, she has left behind several stinging questions. Will these questions ever be addressed?
The tyranny of the Chhattisgarh government in the name of anti-Maoist operations is not a good sign for things to come. Nothing demonstrates the horrors of 'police raj' better than Hurre's death.
Edited by Shreyas Sharma