The Andhra Pradesh High Court has asked the State police to produce details of two young tribal women who were picked up from Nimmalagudem village in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh on January 12 on the charge of being ‘Maoist militias’ (villagers who work for CPI-Maoist).
A two-member Bench of Justice M.V. Ramana and Justice P. Durga Prasad passed the order while hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by Human Rights Forum (HRF).
The SP of Khamam A.V. Ranganath said the women were arrested on January 14 and produced in a Khammam court two days later. However, Inspector General (Warrangal Range) A.B. Venkateswara Rao told TheHindu that the women were picked up on January 20. “A multilateral operation was on in the forest of Nimmalagudem since January 10 in which the A.P. and the Chhattisgarh police and the CRPF took part. These [arrested] women militias were involved in burning several constructions earlier. There are several charges against them. They were produced in a local court and are lodged in the Khammam sub jail.”
ADG (Naxal Operation) of Chhattisgarh R.K. Vij confirmed that “a small team of the Chhattisgarh police took part” in the operation in the area recently.
The disappearance of the tribal women came to light when a HRF member visited Nimmalagedem. Quoting tribal residents, HRF’s fact finding report said Madvi Parvathi (21) and Kovasi Somidi (15) were “partially disrobed” and taken away “at about 7 am on 12 January 2013.” Parvathi was pregnant, according to her family members.
The report said every time a Maoist movement was apprehended around the areas bordering Sukma and Khammam, the villagers of Nimmalagudem bore the brunt. On January 12, a huge police party from AP consisting of over 100 personnel, including the anti-Naxalite force Greyhound, came to the village at daybreak. The report says “policemen began abusing and beating up residents, including several women and children.”
They picked up a farmer Podium Chukkaiah and his minor son P. Bhimaiah (aged about 11), besides Parvathi, Somidi and one Madkam Saramma. “Their hands were tied and they were taken to a spot about half-a-km from the village below a hillock, where there were remnants of a camp set up earlier by the Maoists… They beat the villagers with hands and sticks,” the report said.
Mr. Ranganath, however, denied any human rights violation. “Nimmalagudem is a notorious village and the people work as militias. On January 14, after arresting the militias, we were bringing them to Chintoor in Khammam when we were fired upon. The police retaliated, but there was no rights violation.”