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Inside a Maoist fortress: Sori hoists first tricolour in Gompad, Bastar

Rajkumar Soni | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:47 IST

In the heart of Maoist-dominated Bastar, tribal leader Soni Sori has achieved something remarkable - she has successfully hoisted the tricolour for the first time in the village of Gompad.

Gompad first came into the spotlight when a young woman, Madkam Hidme, was killed by security forces on the suspicion of being a Maoist operative.

Also read-Endless cycle in Bastar: of 'fake' encounters and alleged rape

Sori, who has been at the receiving end of the Maoists' ire as well as the State's heavy-handedness, then announced that in a bid to help restore the suspended democracy in Bastar, she would undertake a Tiranga Yatra.

Sori's Yatra was welcomed wherever it went. However, on the night of 14 August, when the Yatra reached Gompad, Maoists also arrived at the village and resisted the decision to hoist the tricolour.

The Maoists said that while Sori's fight against the injustice being doled out to tribal people is commendable, she should not unfurl the tricolour. They repeated the message on the morning of 15 August, but Sori insisted that her Tiranga Yatra was not merely for show.

She said the object of the Yatra was to remind all concerned that tribal people, too, were citizens of India, and they also have some rights; they should also be allowed to breathe the fresh air of freedom.

Security forces' warning

When the Yatra left Konta en route to Gompad, security forces posted at the Konta and Murliguda camps tried to stop it, saying that if Maoists attack, they won't be able to provide any help. They even tried to scare the people taking part in the Yatra that land mines dotted the landscape in every direction, and that they could explode. They even clicked pictures of the people taking part in the march.

Sori, meanwhile, raised slogans imploring the forces to 'stop killing tribals'.

Villagers receive the tricolour

Photo: Rajkumar Soni
Photo: Rajkumar Soni

While the country celebrates its 70th Independence Day, the people of Gompad have never seen a train, nor do they know what electricity is. They have no idea what 'independence' means. Residents of the village just know the sound of the boots that walk into their village during the day, trample their dreams, and go away.

The encounter of Madkam Hidme was a prime example of this.

Also read-Was Madkam Hidme raped and killed? New autopsy no closer to finding truth

When the Yatra reached Gompad, Sori & Co. went to Madkam Hidme's final resting place and paid their tributes. Hidme's mother Lakshmi and father Kosa were also present at the spot.

Yatris handed over a tricolour to the villagers, asking them to keep it safe and continue their struggle. They promised to help the villagers in their cause.

Kalluri the real CM

In the presence of national and international media, Sori said that while it's true that Raman Singh is the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, the Inspector General of Police in Bastar, K Sivarama Prasad Kalluri, has started referring to himself as the CM of Bastar.

Kalluri has managed to spread the message among the merchants and common people of the region that what he wants will happen.

Translated and edited by Shreyas Sharma

More in Catch

In photos: With tricolour in hand, Soni Sori begins Tiranga Yatra in Bastar

Will Maoists red flag Soni Sori's Tiranga Yatra in Bastar?

IG Kalluri's reign of terror: there's hardly a place left for truth in Bastar

First published: 16 August 2016, 7:40 IST
Rajkumar Soni @catchnews

The author is bureau chief at Patrika, Chhattisgarh.