Archive for the ‘Witness’ Category

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The Life Of A Witness

June 17, 2012

Photo credit: Tehelka photo

In memoriam: Tehelka photographer Tarun Sehrawat (1989 – 2012)

This piece appears in Daily News & Analysis on the 17th of June 2012. Another piece appears in Tehelka on the 30th of June.

I first met Tarun Sehrawat and the intrepid Tusha Mittal in January of 2010, when we both found ourselves with the duties of trying to investigate why the state of Chhattisgarh had kidnapped Sodi Sambo, a supreme court petitioner, and a woman who was shot in her leg during the combing operation of Gompad that took nine lives. She was there in Jagdalpur hospital, while we were outside the ward trying to get access to her, and Tusha Mittal would harangue every stubborn official with such gusto, that you were certain that war reporting was best left to women. Tarun and myself sat quietly, smiling at each other, joking and taking photographs of one another while Tusha did her job. He was an absolute delight to work with, or in this case, observe work. He had no malice and insecurity that most photographers had for their own. And his innocence was something that you were absolutely glad you could find in a place like Dantewada.

The next time we met, we found ourselves on the way to the village of Tadmetla, Timmapuram and Morpalli which was burnt down by the security forces in March of 2011. Tusha and I were this time, at each other’s necks like a bunch of Laurel and Hardy’s on steroids, regarding the best way to deal with the logistics of going into ‘the jungle’. Tarun, as usual would smile to placate our anger against ourselves. We all did do our jobs eventually, and Tarun’s images were an absolute justification of our profession.

Tarun was a witness to our state’s grand security operations in Central India. He has photographs of burnt homes, of widows whose husbands were killed by the security forces, of women raped by security forces, of fragile old men with country rifles who the state refers to the greatest internal security threat, and of Abhuj Marh, his final assignment, where few have ventured. But one of his most heartbreaking images would remain a photograph of a family in Dantewada sifting through their burned rice trying to separate the ash from what they could eat. That’s what he witnessed. That’s what only a few handful of people from the outside world have ventured in to see, some of the bravest and some of the most brilliant journalists and photographers I have had the honour to work with.

Yet it’s death from Dantewada that follows you around, as with each story of encounters, and killings. Just a few months ago, the controversial superintendent of police Rahul Sharma would take his revolver and shoot himself. Assistant Superintendent of Police Rajesh Pawar who I confronted about a fake encounter would be gunned down by the Maoists some years later. And now a tortured adivasi journalist Lingaram Kodopi would wish to die in jail, as there’s no way he feels he can get justice in this country. Each name jotted down in my collection of notebooks, of those killed, of sons named along with their fathers –Madvi Kesa s/o Bhima, Madkam Deva s/o Bhima, Madkam Admaiah s/o Maasa, and countless others. They add to a list that I don’t know sometimes whether they will have any meaning, when all that tends to happen, is that the war goes on. It’s the ghost of the conscience of the country that’s dead as each time the warmongers ask for helicopters to drop hell from above onto one of the darkest corners of the country.

A cellphone becomes the purveyor of madness and death. ‘There’s been an attack in your favourite village’ an activist once called and told me, and I went into a daze, and hated him – how many favourite villages did I have? Then came the final message about Tarun, ‘Pronounced brain dead.’ And this just a few days after friends would tell me that he was making a full recovery.

We all think we’re invincible. We venture into roads that could be mined with IEDs, as did one explode a day after two of us passed, killing three security personnel. We venture into the haven of the malarial monster, the killer of people that doesn’t discriminate like we do. In Basaguda, I remember the sight of a CRPF jawaan holding the hand and walking with another jawaan, whose body was sapped of energy, whose eyes lost of life, who would say the dreaded word: malaria. It was an absolutely tragic sight of watching these two towering men, pathetically walking down, broken down. A year later in Chintalnaar, a few days after 76 jawaans were killed in an ambush, the jawaans of Chintalnaar would exert, ‘You don’t even have to ask about the mosquitoes. Around 80% of us suffer from malaria at some point or the other’.Mosquitoes have killed one of the Maoist’s most iconic leaders- Anuradha Ghandy. And for the ordinary adivasis, their stories are left to statistics, sometimes to a world beyond statistics.

In Jharkhand, at the Roro mines of Chaibasa, an old adivasi miner left to die of asbestos exposure by the Birlas would talk to me, while three young children, slept behind him. All three had high fever. All three had malaria. In fact, a few months into the job, and it became standard operating procedure to not just document the atrocities committed on a whole people, but to finally ask about illnesses in the village. At one visit to an IDP settlement at Warangal last year, our investigation team very quickly became a medical team, and we had to take on the responsibility of taking people to the nearest clinic.

Some quarters mention how Tehelka should’ve guided Tarun with some precautionary measures but unfortunately those are never enough and some circumstances can’t be helped. Tarun had no option to drink pond water, in a place where water, even after boiling would turn yellow. A few years ago, my adivasi guides and a few other journalists and myself faced a similar problem. And we had to walk over 15 kilometres of hillocks in a summer that can blaze to around 48 degrees, and our water supply ran out. We had to drink from a miasmic river. And we all did and we were lucky.

The more water you carry, the more you’d tire, and the more you’d drink. And you can’t ration what is never enough.

I used to even take anti-malaria pills every week in my first forays into Central India, and ended up in the middle of nowhere with high fever, and find myself in the middle of a busy bus station, alone and wrapped in a shawl, shivering like my bones would be shattering, with my mind drifting away, waiting for a family friend to come and save my life. And I was lucky. Malaria was bombed out of my system. To most people in Central India, there’s little rescue. Where Tarun had gone, no doctors venture. In fact, in some of the areas in Dantewada and Bijapur where Doctors Without Borders did go to work, they were accused by the state of Chhattisgarh of ‘helping the Naxalites’.

The angel of death of Bastar made of iron ore, covered in flags and illusions of greatness, is touching and destroying everything that is beautiful. Tarun had a long way to go. Twenty three, the age of most SPOs and Maoists, is not the age to die.

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To Get Away With Murder, Chhattisgarh Style

February 21, 2010

The graves of the villagers of the now eeriely empty Dorla-para of Gompad. The bodies were exhumed by the state of Chhattisgarh on the 23rd of January.

This article appeared in The New Indian Express on the 28th of February, 2010.

Sets: The Supreme Court and the inaccessible jungles of Dantewada.

Cast – missing witnesses and supreme court petitioners, a controversial activist, a young superintendent of police, counsel for the petitioners Colin Gonsales, counsel for the respondents Ajit Jha and DGP Chhattisgarh Vishwaranjan.

Plot – the truth about the killing of nine villagers at the onset of Operation Green Hunt.

Act I – It was alleged that, in the early morning of the 1st of October, 2009, a police party killed nine innocent adivasis at the village of Gompad, Dantewada district, Chhattisgarh.

There were no press reports about it, no press conferences and no bodies were taken to the police station. There were numerous conflicting accounts of whether it was ever announced by the police.

Testimonies of the villagers: The Maoists were present outside the village in the morning but they had disappeared long before the security forces arrived. All those who were killed were villagers of Gompad and two were from Bandarpadar. Three of them were women, one of them was an eight year old girl, and an eighteen month old baby Katam Suresh lost three of his fingers. His deceased mother was missing her nose and her body was found before the remnants of her burnt home. Two other deceased villagers – Soyam Subbaiya (20) and Soyam Jogi (18) were a newly married couple.

One more villager was killed from the neighbouring village of Nukaltong and another from Velpocha on the same day.

Act II – Activist Himanshu Kumar takes the victims of violence of Gompad, Velpocha, Nukaltong and the village of Gacchanpalli where five villagers were killed on the 17th of September, 2009 to the Supreme Court and files a Writ Petition (criminal) No.103 of 2009, against the State of Chhattisgarh, Respondent no.1.

The Supreme Court accepts the petition and requests the State of Chhattisgarh to file a reply.

Act III – Activist Himanshu Kumar is hounded out of Chhattisgarh, his right-hand man Kopa Kunjam is imprisoned and petitioner no.13 Sodhi Sambo who was in the care of Mr. Kumar is detained at Kanker police station on her way to receive treatment for her injured leg. She will be kept in virtual confinement at Jagdalpur’s Maharani Hospital with no access to her lawyer, activists or the press.

The Supreme Court passes an order directing that the Respondents would in no way obstruct Sodhi Sambo from going wherever she pleases. So instead of letting her go wherever she pleases (which no one could ask her about as she had no access to anyone), the respondents take her to Delhi, AIIMS hospital themselves and she is again, not allowed access to her lawyer, activists or the press.

At the same time, villagers who had come for a public hearing at Dantewada (organized by Himanshu Kumar) on the 5th of January, 2010 were last seen being driven away by the police in four Bolero vehicles without license plates.

Katam Suresh of Gompad who is now around two years old, and his father Katam Dulaiah, along with Soyam Rama and Soyam Dhulla from Gompad were taken away and were last seen at Konta Police Station on the 14th of January, 2009.

Colin Gonsales, advocate for the petitioners, on the 10th of January: ‘Apparently all the 12 tribal petitioners from the writ petition have been picked up and are in custody of the police, and it is possible that they will be coerced to withdraw from the case.’

On the 22nd of January, Justice Sudarshan Reddy and S.S. Nijjar, presiding judges of the Supreme Court passed an order allowing lawyer Colin Gonsales and activist Himanshu Kumar access to Sodhi Sambo at AIIMS, stating, “we direct that the respondents shall not create  any obstacle in the way of petitioner No.1 and/or advocate for the petitioners in meeting petitioner No.13, in which the police shall not be present.”

However it soon came to light that Sodhi Sambo was discharged from AIIMS. Counsel of State of Chhattisgarh Ajit Jha had previously told the court that the Chhattisgarh State had no objection to anyone meeting her and that she was still in AIIMS.

Act IV – On the 23rd of January, the police exhume the bodies of the villagers of Gompad while the lawyers claim they’re tampering with evidence.

On visiting Gompad, it has been observed that articles of clothing have been removed from the graves. A bottle of phenyl as well as the packaging of surgical gloves lie around the graves.

Act V – The Supreme Court directs the State of Chhattisgarh to produce all the petitioners by Monday the 15th of February, 2010. The State claims all of them have gone back to their villagers, the lawyer for the petitioners claim all of them are still in custody of the police. No independent verification is possible.

On the 9th of February, a police party attempts to go to the village of Gacchanpalli to bring the petitioners to court and are allegedly ambushed by Maoists around the village of Gorkha.

No local journalists visit the spot yet two SPOs are reported to be seriously injured.

On the 15th of February, the police present the petitioners of the village of Gompad – Sodhi Sambo along with Soyam Rama and Soyam Dhulla to the Supreme Court. They also presented petitioners Muchaki Sukdi from the neighbouring village of Nukaltong and Kunjam Idma from the village of Velpocha.

They were always in the custody of the police, and the police claimed they did this to protect them from Maoists who might consider them to be police informants.

Act VI – On the 15th and 16th of February, six of the petitioners (of all the villages but Gacchanpalli) confirm that killings took place but they don’t know who attacked their villages on the said day.

As of February 18th, all the villagers still living at Gompad and the villagers of Velpocha claim that it was the police who had attacked them on that day. They had come at six in the morning at Gompad, burnt two houses and killed nine people. They had killed one young boy Kunjam Hoora from Velpocha and another Muchaki Bhoote from Nukaltong a while later.

According to press reports from the South Asia Terrorism Portal regarding the 1st of October, the police claimed to have killed two Maoists around the Nukaltong forested area, and detained nine villagers for ‘interrogation.’

DGP Vishwaranjan writes in the Outlook: “The police have since August 2009 been receiving credible intelligence about Maoist designs to oppose Operation Green Hunt by killing tribals or committing other atrocities and then blaming the security forces.”

Two houses were burnt down in the village of Gompad.

Act VII – On the 18th of February, Sodhi Sambo’s parents claim they met their daughter at Jagdalpur three ‘saptaahs’ ago (three market days ago, which is three weeks). Superintendent of Police Amresh Mishra had initially claimed that Sodhi Sambo’s parents were her attendants at Jagdalpur hospital in the first week of January. That was six ‘saptaahs’ ago. The next of kin of both Kunjam Idma and of Soyam Rama and Soyam Dhulla, claim that their relatives never made it home after a meeting in Dantewada more than two months ago – the date of the botched public hearing on the 5th of January.

Kattam Dullaiah and his 2 year old son Suresh from Gompad, who are NOT petitioners are still missing.

Act VIII – Similarly, a few days after the alleged ‘ambush’ at Gorkha, villagers from Gacchanpalli begin to appear at the markets in Andhra Pradesh and claim that the police had come to their village and taken away 20 people.

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Out of Sight, Out of Mind

February 1, 2010

Gotti Koya from Chhattisgarh often travel 70kms through the jungle to the markets in Andhra Pradesh and often move incognito, in fear of being apprehended by the security forces.

This story appeared in The New Indian Express on the 7th of Feb, 2010.

On the 18th of March, 2008, 14 Maoists of a Dalam (armed squad) were killed by security forces near Dareli, at Pamed, Bijapur district, Chhattisgarh. The security forces claimed no casualties in the alleged gunfight while the Maoists claimed that they were poisoned after the police came to know of a meeting. It was a well-publicised local incident that was reported yet what was neither reported nor investigated was the retaliatory killing of at least five villagers deemed ‘informants’ by the Maoists.

Rava Oonga (30), Badse Masa (50), Kovasi Hidme (35), Madkam Durva (70) and Madkam Idma (21) were returning to their villages in Bijapur District from Hyderabad after an election rally for the CPI (ML) New Democracy. They were hacked to death by axes in front of other villagers by a mixed squad of Sangam and Dalam members as suspected informants. Their previous visit to Hyderabad seemed too suspicious to the Maoists who quickly organized a ‘Jan Adalat’ or ‘People’s court’ to condemn them to death.

One villager was from Pallagudem, two from Jeerlaguda and two from Dareli. When their relatives and neighbours were asked about the identities of the assailants and the Maoists who were present during the killing, they replied: ‘Agar hum aapko bol denge, phir woh log humko marne bhi aajayenge.’ (If we tell you who killed them, then they will come to kill us also.)

A majority of the villagers do not reside in their villages anymore. They left without lodging an FIR against the Maoists at Pamed Police Station for fear of being detained by the police as suspected Maoists, and are now, not eligible for compensation. They had initially moved to Andhra Pradesh where their shacks were broken down by Forest Officials. And as it is, it’s not just the Maoists, or the Forest officials they’re afraid of. The neighbouring village of Thadmetla was raided by the Salwa Judum and one man, Sodhi Nando (30) was burnt to death along with his house.

Similarly, as it was previously reported by the Express, the village of Tatemargu in Konta block was raided by the security forces on the 10th of November, and seven villagers (four from Tatemargu, two from Doghpar, one from Pallodi) were allegedly killed by the security forces while more than 60 buildings were burnt down in Tatemargu and 30 homes in Pallodi. Some villagers of Tatemargu had lost around 40 quintals of rice to the fires that consumed their homes.

There were even some allegations of rape that were investigated yet there were no women willing to come forward to give their testimonies. Yet recently, at least, three women from Tatemargu claim to have been raped on the day of the raid, allegedly by members of the security forces who dragged them into the jungle. One woman claims she was held down by two men, and raped by a third who spoke ‘Koya’ – the tribal dialect.

She has neither lodged a complaint at Kistaram Police station for fear of being apprehended by the police as a ‘Maoist’, nor has she any access to a lawyer.

Previous incidents of rape from Samsetti, Bandarpadar and Arlampalli that were investigated and then taken to court led to nothing but the mental and physical harassment of the victims by their assailants. None of the accused SPOs or members of the Salwa Judum have ever been arrested even as warrants have been issued by the courts.

Yet even before the cases of rape are tried as criminal cases, witnesses and victims of all incidents of violence perpetrated by the state, have a tendency to disappear.

Both Katam Suresh (20 months) and his father Katam Dulaiah (20 years) of the village of Gompad are still missing. Katam Suresh lost three of his fingers during an attack on his village on the 1st of October, 2009, when nine villagers were killed. He was last seen on the 14th of January, 2010 at Konta Police station.

Similarly, Rava Jimey (17) and Madkam Sana (22) from the village of Boorgam were traveling to Kuakonda in Dantewada on the 25th of January, 2010. They disappeared somewhere between Konta police station and Dornapal police station and their relatives haven’t heard of them since. They were residing in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh and were going to meet relatives at Kuakonda. The tribals from Chhattisgarh often travel incognito from Andhra Pradesh to South Bastar, claiming to be from other villages and other districts. Many of them travel around 70kms through the jungle to Andhra Pradesh for the regular ‘saptaah’ – market day. Their local markets are often out of bounds to them out of fear of being apprehended by the security forces for questioning.

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The Tribal ‘Ruchikas’ Of Dantewada

January 14, 2010

This story first appeared in The New Indian Express on the 7th of January, 2010.

The Muria don’t know anything about rape, as they say, their word for it is closer to ‘baalatkaar’ than anything else. But when four tribal girls were allegedly gang-raped by SPOs in the village of Samsetti in 2006, neither does the entire state machinery of Chhattisgarh.

Recently, the same girls were beaten by the very accused and forced to give their thumb-prints on blank papers. They were then detained for five days in Dornapal police station, where the very accused are stationed. Once the girls were released they flatly refused to talk to anyone, let alone their lawyers. The villagers of Samsetti had told the victims to let go of the matter as well. Previously, throughout September, the Sarpanch of Samsetti would ask the villagers to withdraw the cases and to put their thumbprints on blank papers otherwise the police and the SPOs would come to their village again. They did not heed to his threats.

According to victim testimonies, on the 6th of July 2006, in the village of Samsetti, in the district of Dantewada, three girls, aged 19, 22 and 23 were gang-raped by government appointed SPOs and members of the Salwa Judum during a raid on their village. Another girl had been raped in January of that very year.

When the girls had gone to file a complaint at the police station, they were threatened and chased away. Time would pass. It was discovered that there were allegedly 24 cases of rape in the entire Konta block, out of which, only six of the women were willing to speak up. Four of them were from Samsetti, one from Arlampalli and another from Bandarpadar.

The girls first wrote their complaints straight to the Superintendent of Police and the Collector on the 27th of March, 2009. Nothing happens. Then a complaint case was jointly filed to the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Konta on the 29th of April, 2009.

Interestingly, while statements were being recorded at the court on the 16th of June, 2009, the accused were loitering around the corridors. On the next court date, the 17th of July, when the testimonies of the victims were meant to be heard, the Magistrate was absent, allegedly, ‘called away to headquarters.’ The Magistrate also magically disappears on the next court date, the 12th of August.

The Magistrate, Amrit Karkate nervously rides his bicycle to court everyday from his house in Konta – the bastion of the very accused. A warrant for the thirty accused is finally issued by the court in October to the police stations of Dornapal, Konta and Bhejji. Yet no arrests are made. The accused are missing. One of them is even giving speeches. The accused SPOs are on duty yet for some reason they’re missing too.

Harassment of the victims still continued, the women fled their village and began to live on the premises of the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram. They had even approached the Collector Reena Babasaheb Kangale on the 11th of August to ensure the safety of the women. Yet nothing would happen. There would be no security. They returned to their village. They’d be beaten. They’d be dragged to jail. Irrespective of the fact that once a warrant is issued, the accused cannot withdraw the case unless the accused are brought to court and the matter can proceed. What’s the point of beating them now? What can they do?

Take the case of Madkam Madvi (name changed) of Bhandarpadar, Konta block, who was allegedly gang-raped by SPOs at Konta police station in April of 2008. According to her testimony, she claims that she was taken to the police station by the Salwa Judum, robbed of some Rs. 25,000, then kept alone in a room. She was first raped by a SPO in an isolated room in the police station, then blindfolded and gang-raped over two days at the station by three more unidentified persons.

Eventually, she was set free and after further harassment she escaped to Andhra Pradesh. She had hoped to start over and had even married.

At this point, members of the Salwa Judum traced her down in Andhra Pradesh and the harassment continued. According to her husband, they had threatened him saying, ‘we were going to sell this girl and earn some money but now that you married her, we have suffered a loss that you shall now have to payback.’ They then stole Rs.3500, one cow, three goats and two chickens to ‘make up for their loss.’ After further threatening them, they went back to Chhattisgarh, ensuring that Madvi would sleep in a different room in a different village every night.

Finally, through the Gandhian NGO Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, a complaint was written to the Superintendent of Police, Dantewada. There was no reply for months. The matter was then taken to the court as a private complaint. There was a request to shift the case from Konta to the Dantewada sessions court on the 9th of March, 2009.

Harassment began soon after. SPOs crossed the state border and searched Madvi’s house on the 10th of April, 2009. And on the 2nd of December, 2009, Madvi’s father and a boy who shared her husband’s name were apprehended and taken to Chintur Police Station in Andhra Pradesh. There, the father was threatened and the boy was beaten. They were told to bring Madvi to Konta police station. At this point, she had gone into hiding, knowing that her next appearance at court was to be held on the 10th of December when she had to depose.

The deposition didn’t happen. On the very day of the hearing there was a rally against the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, who used to support her emotionally and financially. As of January 6th the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram has ceased to exist, it’s workers arrested, it’s employees threatened, it’s director missing.

The day after, prominent activists Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey, D. Gabriele, Kavita Srivastava along with some twenty others were attacked by a mob comprising of members of the Salwa Judum who referred to themselves as ‘Maa Danteswadi Adivasi Swabhimaan Manch’. According to activists, the entire mob was orchestrated by police. And according to local media reports, one of the accused in the Konta Rape case was also part of the mob. 

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The Case of Sodhi Sambo

January 13, 2010

This Article has been written for The New Indian Express.

Witness and Supreme Court petitioner Sodhi Sambo at the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram.

The bullet that traveled through Sodhi Sambo’s leg didn’t just shatter her bone. It didn’t just leave her without medical care for twelve days of writhing agony in her village of Goompad, Dantewada District, where nine of her neighbours were killed in an alleged encounter on the 1st of October. It didn’t just take her to Delhi, to AIMS, to the Supreme Court, away from her four children and her husband. It didn’t just ensure that she’d become an intrinsic character of a drama that is played out between activists, the press, the police and the supreme court.

She was initially detained at Kanker on route to Delhi for treatment, on the 3rd of January and two days later she was found under guard at Maharani Hospital in Jagdalpur.

‘It is a medico-legal case. We haven’t arrested her, nor have we detained her, we’ve just brought her to collect her testimony on the said incident of Goompad. The police is accused, I understand but the whole police is not accused.’ Said Superintendent of Police Amresh Mishra, who had given journalists the permission to visit Sambo when they were in Dantewada to collect her own version of the story.

But by the time the press got to Maharani Hospital in Jagdalpur, this permission was mysteriously denied. Tehelka journalist Tusha Mittal was literally pushed out of the ward by policewomen. The journalists had gone back to the SP, the DIG, the IG, the Collector, from both Dantewada district and Bastar district yet no one was forthcoming. The plain clothes police personnel would ask for written permission. Every official who was contacted, forwarded responsibility to another. Many didn’t take calls, others mysteriously transformed into some other individual when informed they were speaking to journalists. Many of them refused to meet the press, IG Longkumer of Jagdalpur mysteriously leaves from the back as the press wait for him.

The red tape for the journalists was a gagging order on any testimony of Sodhi Sambo. No one shall be allowed to talk to her and there was never any intention to let anyone talk to her. The Director of the Hospital, Dr.Paikra had given full permission for journalists to talk to Sodhi yet the plain clothes police still refused permission. The head constable at the hospital admitted his fear of his superiors, DIG Sitaram Kalluri and S.P. Mishra, not the law. Advocate Colin Gonzalvez, Sambo’s lawyer, armed with a supreme court order that the State of Chhattisgarh is directed not to prevent or create any obstacles to Sodi
Shambo, was not allowed to meet her either. Chief Secretary Joy Oomen had told lawyer Kavita Shrivastava, ‘I can’t meet you, and I don’t want to meet you.’

Sodhi Sambo stayed in ‘protection’ of the plain-clothed police, who called every visitor ‘a naxalite’ or ‘naxalite sympathizer’. The S.P. Amresh Mishra had also claimed that her parents were with her yet when informed that her parents had passed away, her relatives who were attending to her, had turned into a mysterious ‘maasi’ and ‘maasa’. Yet the other attendants or nurses in the ward have little notice for any such ‘maasi’ or ‘maasa’. Her doctor Sudeep Thakur would only communicate with her, via the translation provided by another patient’s attendant, not any ‘maasi’ or ‘parent’.

Sambo is shy, vulnerable and barely talks to anyone, and the police say she is free to go where she pleases and she did not protest to come with them in the first place. Yet she still has no access to anyone but the police.

She was eventually referred to Medical College Hospital, Raipur for bone-grafting surgery, or limb-lengthening, as Maharani Hospital in Jagdalpur had no such facilities. Yet she stayed in Jagdalpur for three days, uselessly waiting for treatment she could not receive in the hospital. She was only taken to Raipur at Ramakrishna Care hospital where she was again referred to AIMS. At the whole time, neither the press nor her lawyers were allowed access to her. At one point, she was said to be in Delhi by Director General of Police Vishwa Ranjan, when she was actually still in Raipur. As of now, it is confirmed that she is in the private ward of AIMS in Delhi, and has no access to the outside world.

Meanwhile, her husband and one of her children had arrived for the Jan Sunwai on the 6th of January and had been taken away by the police. More than 25 villagers had arrived for the Jan Sunwai and there is no news of them. According to Supreme Court lawyer Colin Gonzalez, ‘Apparently all the 12 tribal petitioners from the writ petition have been picked up and are in custody of the police, and it is possible that they will be coerced to withdraw from the case.’