A local newspaper has claimed that six Adivasis died of starvation at Morpalli village in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada district, where the security forces allegedly burnt 34 homes and granaries, sexually assaulted two women and killed one man on March 11.

Last week, The Hindu reported the allegations that the security forces had torched about 300 homes and granaries, sexually assaulted three women and killed at least three men (with two missing) in a five-day anti-Maoist operation in the villages of Morpalli, Timapuram and Tarmetla, prompting Collector R. Prasana to constitute a committee of inquiry and to dispatch emergency rations to the stricken villages.

Sources said the issue escalated into a full-blown confrontation between the district administration and the police, with armed special police officers hindering distribution of rations to the villages and cutting off all access to the area.

On Saturday, social activist Swami Agnivesh attempted to deliver rations, clothes and blankets at Tarmetla but was beaten back by a hostile crowd of stone-throwers and the rations were seized.

At a press conference on Sunday, he claimed that attacks were orchestrated by the police.

Late Saturday night, the government transferred Senior Superintendent of Police S.R.P. Kalluri, accused of organising the botched security operation, and Mr. Prasana, who ordered an inquiry into the incident.

Medical team to be sent

On Sunday, the Navbharat carried a report on its front page, claiming that four men and two women had died of starvation at Morpalli in the last two days. According to the report, the bodies have been cremated.

“A medical team shall be dispatched tomorrow [Monday] morning to ascertain the facts,” said Mr. Prasana, who will continue in the post until his replacement, O.P. Chaudhury, arrives in Dantewada.

In the meantime, Ramanna, a spokesperson for the South Bastar Divisional Committee Commander of the CPI (Maoist), claimed that Maoists had been providing rice, grain and relief materials to Morpalli and Tarmetla.

“We are giving the villagers what little we can,” said the spokesperson.

He was unaware of the starvation deaths at Morpalli and said he would look into the issue.