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Tribals prevented from paying homage to martyrs

Posted by Indian Vanguard on September 26, 2007


BY V L Srinivasan & S Anil Kumar

Indervelli (Adilabad Dist), April 20: “People’s heroes are immortal,” says the inscription on the 15-foot-high memorial erected in this tribal village in memory of 13 (by official count) Gond tribals who were shot dead at the spot by the police exactly a quarter century ago.

Tucked away some 18 km from the national highway, Indervelli, also known as the second Jallianwala Bagh, caught the world’s attention when police opened fire at a massive gathering of Gonds who had come to attend a meeting organised by the Grijana Rythu Coolie Sangham on 20 April 1981. While police records show that only 13 persons were killed, the toll was estimated to be much higher, and scores of others were injured.

As is its wont, the district administration decided not to allow a single villager in the vicinity of the memorial to pay homage to those who fell to the hail of bullets, and posted more than 500 police personnel from three sub-divisions — Utnoor, Mancherial and Adilabad.

To ensure that the tribals did not congregate at the venue, the authorities imposed Section 144 in all villages between Gudi Hathnoor and Utnoor mandals for three days.

Buses and autos were not allowed on the road leading to Indervelli, causing much hardship to the people, especially students appearing for the Class VII common examination, in nearly two dozen villages. ”Today is the last exam and we are somewhat relieved,” said 12-year-old Ganga, a resident of Emaikunta. She has had to walk with her peers to Indervelli, which is three km away, in the scorching sun to write the test.

”We did not allow the tribals here because the Naxalites would then have mingled with the crowd and created a law and order problem,” a senior police official told Express.

Apparently, the anxiety stems from the alleged seizure of literature by the special operations group in an “encounter” with Naxalites that purportedly revealed that the Maoists were planning to hold a massive rally to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the incident.

Pittabongaram village head Wetti Rajeshwar, whose mother, Isrubai, was one of the witnesses to the outrage and who died just two months ago, said there had been no development of their rain-dependent area. ”My mother was not paid any compensation after the incident. No one gives us the pattas and we don’t know what to do,” he said.

Kinaka Mankubai is another eyewitness. She suffered two bullet injuries in her shoulders and has been leading a lonely life as none would marry her and ekes out a livelihood by working as a labourer. ”She too did not get any relief from Government,” Rajeshwar said.

Determined to honour the martyrs, Indervelli ZPTC Kanaka Tukaram, vowed the tribals would visit the memorial after five days.


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