One more ‘Encounter’
Te Andhra Police near Pedathundla village of Karimnagar district killed seven women (girls), on the first of November. This is the first of its kind in which seven women were murdered in a single incident. One would be shocked to know their age. Four of them are still minors. The details of their identity are as follows :
1. Naretla Swapna alias Pushpa (15 Yrs) D/o. Chandraiah, Chinna Odera, Manthani Mandal.
2. Kallelboina Komurakka, (14 Yrs) D/o Komurayya, Kambalpalli. Manthani.
3. Nagarapu Sankaramma alias Suneetha (16 Yrs), Rudraram, Siricilla Mandal.
4. Janjarla Prameela (14 Yrs) Surayyapelli,
5. Cheekati Vasantha. Donga Wanaparthy (18 Yrs), Ramagundam mandal.
6. Eligodu Manemma (20 Yrs), Metlapalli Kalya Sriampuram.
7. Janaki W/o Potharaju (24 Yrs), Jammikunta.
They all come from very poor families. Their education is not much. Some are just literates, some are not even literate. Except Janaki the rest are members of Viplava Mahila Sangam (Revolutionary Women’s Organisation) which fights against patriarchy, exploitation of women and oppression on them. All of them were working as labourers on daily wages till they joined the organisation that is six months ago. There is no ban on the organisation—It is a legal platform.
While this incident took place some of them must have been learning the alphabet, as some slates and slate pencils were found in the place. This ghastly incident took place while the chief minister was boasting about the measures that he would take to stop violence on women—hypocricy unlimited.
Seven of the total went to fetch water in a spring. Six of them were in water and one of them was standing on the side. The police entered from the side of Bhoopala palli (Warangal district) and opened fire without any warning, killing the one who was standing on the side. Others ran unarmed. Police chased them and fired, killing some of them instantly and injuring some of them. Later they caught hold of the injured and tortured them severely. Their breasts were chopped off, their teeth rooted out and bones broken at several places. There were signs of torture all over the body. Janaki had received the highest degree of torture. They were killed from a very close range. This incident of course, is projected as an encounter in a routine cooked up story. Fake encounter in Andhra will continue for ever.
The Warangal special party police were responsible for these killings. In fact there were no cases on any of these persons. At least there is no statement as per that, from the Warangal police. Then why did the police try to arrest them? (If at all they came only to arrest them). While there was no case to arrest them why on earth did the police kill them? These are to be answered by the ‘‘responsible’’ government. Let us assume that the Warangal police did have some cases against them. In that case they should have taken the help of Karimnagar police to arrest them. But Karimnagar police appear to have no information about this. It took 24 hours for the Karimnagar police to locate the place of ‘‘encounter’’. In a state where the police are highly rewarded for being responsible for such fake encounters-perhaps the Warangal police did not want to give the share of their booty to Karimnagar police. That’s why they killed the innocent hurriedly and the bodies were handed over to Karimnagar police.
The place of ‘‘encounter’’ which as per the police is in ‘‘deep’’ forest, is actually located just two kilometer away from Peddatundla village. It can be reached on any vehicle. This village is situated 50 km away from Manthani, which can be reached in four to five hours of time at the most. But the bodies were there for 30 hours. Then they were shifted to Manthani police station and kept in front of the station building without any measures to preserve them. On the third of November doctors did the postmortem on the roadside of Bokkalavagu, in an open place where bricks are made. The bodies were kept naked until the relatives of the killed came. Though it is the responsibility of the government to preserve the bodies, they did not even bother to cover them.
The president of APCLC Ms Ratnamala in the AP High Court demanding a postmortem filed a writ petition. The court gave an order to do so. By then the four bodies were taken away by the relatives. Some of the bodies were cremated and some of them burried. The court has given an order to take out the buried bodies and postmortem them. The police brought pressure on the families to dig out the bodies and cremate them. They did this consciously to wipe out the evidence.
In spite of such severe repression why many women are attracted towards the movement? What are the social and economic factors that are driving them into struggles?
The government is not trying to see the root cause of the fact that all these young girls are participating in the movement at the cost of their lives.
Let us go into the facts to understand the situation. Oppression on women in Karimnagar district is alarming. It has a higher rate of dowry deaths. The government is failing to protect the women from harassment. The only area of the government’s interest is suppressing the revolutionary movement. The police personnel are always busy doing this, not to find a minute to arrest the persons killing their wives for dowry. When Vivek Dubey was working as a DIG Karimnagar range he gave a report of Dowry murders to the government and even warned that the situation would become out of control unless the authorities could take preventive measures. He even mentioned that it would be disastrous for the society if the women become desperate. But there was no response from the government though years have lapsed.
The above Table depicts that in 90 days period 88 women committed suicides. That means on an average every day there is a death. There is an incident of rape every fifth day. Though a total of 165 cases are booked not even a single person is awarded punishment. Many cases did not come at least for trial. If the government makes no attempt to improve the worst conditions prevalent and if takes no measures for the welfare of women they will definitely look at the alternatives. So killing of women on the pretext of naxalites or for that matter killing the female naxalites in fake encounters will not solve the problem. When the oppressed section is denied of democratic rights they will definitely fight for the rights.
No doubt the killings have social background but more serious factors are of economic in nature. The World Bank loans are gushing in to Andhra Pradesh (First of its kind to give direct loans to state government bypassing the centre) and along with the loans conditionalities are to follow. The government does not tolerate any attempt, which can annoy the ‘‘masters’’. So that is where one should locate the reasons for increasing violence on women involved in the movements.
[T Purushotham, Joint Secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee was murdered last month by a group of unidentified assailants.]
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