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Maoists take sides in a dispute between Bhagata, Kondu communities

G. Narasimha Rao
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The Maoists want the Bhagata farmers to part with their coffee plantations

Girijans taking out a rally in G.K.Veedhi on Thursday to protest against the death of three Girijans in Tuesday's attack by Maoists at Lakkavaram. —Photo: Special arrangement
Girijans taking out a rally in G.K.Veedhi on Thursday to protest against the death of three Girijans in Tuesday's attack by Maoists at Lakkavaram. —Photo: Special arrangement

The act of CPI (Maoist)’s militia members attacking Girijans, resulting in three deaths and serious injuries to five others, at Lakkavaram village in G.K. Veedhi mandal in the district, on Tuesday, was shocking and surprising since Girijans are probably the only section of people who are extending support to them more than any others.

Maoists have taken up many agitations for the welfare of Girijans and continuing them. In fact, the proposal for bauxite mining in Visakha Agency did not progress mainly due to the presence of Maoists.

But it was evident in the Lakkavaram incident that the party’s militia members have taken sides, in the dispute between the Bhagata community, considered an advanced community among Girijans, and a primitive tribal group Kondu of Saagulu village over land issue.

Maoists wanted the Bhagata farmers to part with their coffee plantations, which of course are not spread over huge areas -- as ‘plantation’ generally means -- but are small in size, to the Kondus, who have no land of their own.

Kondus are originally from the Odisha forests and have migrated to Visakha Agency after they were displaced by the many mining activities and smelter plants promoted by the Odisha government.

Resistance

The Maoists are distributing land to the Girijans and in the process allotted some agriculture fields of Bhagatas to the Kondus in the past. Now they wanted the Bhagatas to leave a part of coffee area also which was met with stiff resistance.

A meeting with Bhagatas from Saagulu at Lakkavaram, which is also a Bhagata village, turned bloody when the Bhagatas refused to part with their lands since they are not “landlords” as claimed by the Maoists.

Whether the Maoists branded all villagers as landlords or a few individuals is not known. But the Maoists beating up a farmer Gopalakrishna sparked off the trouble. Saagalu villagers protested and also reportedly retaliated and were beaten up by the Maoist militia members and Kondus, it was alleged. Commander of militia wing Jambri led the attack on them.

Two died on the spot and one on Wednesday while being shifted to King George Hospital here.

Lakkavaram incident will certainly be a setback for the Maoists, whose ranks are not exactly swelling like in the past and they have a lot of explaining to do and work hard to retain support from the Girijans.

Maoists have killed individual Girijans claiming them to be informers or for working against the party but this incident was different since a dispute between two communities which the party was trying to solve ended up with deaths.

This was for the first time that such an incident happened since the party took roots and became formidable force in the area.

Rally taken out

Girijans took out a rally at G.K. Veedhi on Thursday carrying the bodies of Vanjari Hanumantha Rao, Bavudi Pandayya and Adapa Chittibabu of Saagulu village.

They raised slogans and carried banners against Maoists and urged the Maoists to surrender. Women and children also participated in the rally. The bodies were later cremated at G.K. Veedhi.

A meeting with Maoists who wanted the Bhagata tribe farmers to handover their coffee fields to Kondu tribe people, ended on a bloody note with three deaths and serious injuries to some others.

One villager who was shifted to King George Hospital here and other injured persons are progressing.

Meanwhile villagers of Saagulu and Lakkavaram refused to go back to their villages fearing attack by the Maoists. About 80 families from the two villages are now staying with their relatives at G.K. Veedhi and some other villages.

Kondus too apprehensive

They told Revenue Divisional Officer of Paderu Ganapathi, who had met them at G.K. Veedhi that they would not go back to their villages.

The incident seemed to have pushed the Kondus into a state of fear.

The men folk were not seen at villages, around Saagulu and Lakkavaram, during day time.

Some of them said that they had no role in the attack on Bhagata tribe people on Tuesday.

They too had gone to Lakkavaram at the direction of Maoists and Maoist militia members attacked the Bhagata tribe people, the Kondus said.

Bullet wound found

A bullet injury was found in the temple region of Pandiah’s head during the post mortem. Those beaten up in the attack and others escaped said on Wednesday that they heard a single shot being fired during the attack.

They alleged that the shot was fired by CPI (Maoist) militia commander Jambri.


  • Lakkavaram incident will certainly be a setback for the Maoists

  • This is the first such incident since the CPI (Maoist) took roots in the area



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