Acquitted after 7 years, tribal woman says she was tortured

“I was never involved in any Maoist activity… What was my fault?”

March 31, 2015 03:09 am | Updated 03:09 am IST - RAIPUR

Kawasi Hidme after her release from jail on Monday.

Kawasi Hidme after her release from jail on Monday.

At the age of 17, Kawasi Himde was arrested for “being involved in the killing of 23 policemen” in Dantewada district of South Chhattisgarh.

A young girl, full of energy, at the time of her arrest in 2008, a tired Kawasi Hidme walked out of jail three days ago when a Dantewada court found her not guilty. “I was never involved in any Maoist activity. Yet, I have lost seven years of my life. I am exhausted now with a number of health issues caused by police torture. What was my fault?” she asks.

Hidme was accused of being a part of a team of over 350 Maoists that killed the policemen near Errabore village of Bastar in July 2007. She was charged under sections 302, 147, 148 and 149 of the Indian Penal Code and different sections of the Arms Act.

“Hidme is a typical case study of how tribals of Bastar are subjected to harassment and exploitation in the name of tackling Maoists,” alleged tribal activist Soni Sori who received Hidme at the gates of the jail on Wednesday. “She was innocent, but it took the system seven years to realise that. The proceedings in her case were completed many months ago, but the judgment was delayed…”

Advocate Shalini Gera, who fought for Hidme along with senior lawyer Bichem Pondi, said the evidence presented by the prosecution was frivolous. “Hidme was not even named in the first FIR. Five months after the incident, some policemen suddenly recalled that Maoists present at the ambush site took her name. But none of the witnesses identified her,” Ms. Gera said.

“I was arrested in 2008 January. But for the first three months I was lodged in different police stations and subjected to all kinds of torture. I cannot even think of marriage now because of my health issues,” Hidme said.

“I lost my parents as a child. I will visit my relative in Sukma and then come back to join Soni Sori in her fight against injustice,” the 24-year-old told The Hindu .

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.