Dantewara (south Chhattisgarh): She was a four-year-old tribal girl sacrificed in the name of a revolution. Her eight-year-old brother, Markam Joga, crippled by polio recalled that fateful night when the Naxalites attacked their rehabilitation camp and smashed his sister's head repeatedly with a bamboo pole till she dropped dead.
``Mother pushed us out of the house. She picked me up in one arm because I can't walk fast and my youngest sister Kanni who is two-years-old and ran. My two other sisters aged four and two were also running. Everyone was running. All houses were on fire. Some men were beating-up our neighbours. There were sounds like big fireworks going off. An old man told my mother that Naxals had attacked our camp and the police station. Then one of my sisters running behind us cried in pain. Mother looked back and then collapsed on the ground. I saw a man smashing Dulley's head repeatedly giving blow after blow with a bamboo pole. Mother dropped us. I saw Dulley's face soaked with the blood oozing from her head. Dulley collapsed on the ground. My mother was crying. She picked Dulley and ran to get help from the police,'' Markam Joga continued.
``But she could not reach there. It was very dark and the people from our relief camp stopped her saying the police and security personnel were exchanging fire. My mother stayed in the field with Dulley on her lap for a long time. Dulley was dead. Next day, the police took her away with other persons who died. They said, one more baby girl just six-months old had been dropped into the fire because the Naxals were looking for
her father and could not get him. They burnt down our entire village. We were homeless for some days,'' Joga said.
Joga's father was a Naxalite, a member of the left-wing Maoist extremist group that terrorises the remote forest areas in nine states of India. Initially inhabitants of Odinguda village, nearly 500 kms south of Raipur city in the Bastar jungles, his father fell out of favour with the Naxalites. The armed extremist group then forced Markam Malla to either have the entire family join the armed movement or get killed. He continued to oblige the extremists doing their odd jobs, giving them his grain, chicken, poutry, goats, carrying their messages.
In June 2005, a people's movement started in these remote areas of Bastar jungles. The movement called itself the Salwa Judam, or the Peace March. The state administration which was desperately seeking to end the Naxal menace, starting giving its full support to the Salwa Judam. All tribals who did not approve of the armed extremism joined the movement. Markam Malla was one of them.
But defying terrorists comes with a heavy price. Attacks on Salwa Judam activists became rampant. Between June 2005 to July 2006, at least 250 persons were killed by Naxals including policemen and security personnel.
To protect the Salwa Judam, the state of Chhattisgarh guarded the rehabilitation camps. One of these camps is Errabore, 520 kms south of Raipur where the Naxals attacked on the afternoon of July 17, 2006. Five hundred Naxals armed with sophisticated weapons and 800 of their secondary members armed with bows and arrows surrounded this camp with 1,500 families simultaneously attacking security forces, the police station nearby and killing Salwa Judam activists. The massacre left 32 dead amongst them three children aged below 4 and an 80-year-old man who couldn't walk. They slit the old man's throat and pushed him into the fire. Markam Dulley was one of the infants killed in the inhuman massacre.
Kasoli is another rehabilitation camp for Salwa Judam activists. As one enters this camp, just 25 kms from the Dantewara district headquarters, the first thing that stands out is the school for the children. Aged between 3 and 15, the moment they see an outsider, the children stand with enthusiasm and shout in unison: ``Jai Hind.''
Ask 10-year-old Sandarnath Budhra: ``Who is a Naxalite?'' He answers: ``They are the people who killed my grandfather. They tied him to a tree and beat him from morning till evening in our village in Priyakot. They were taking him to the foress to kill him but my grandmother pleaded with them. She said don't take him to the forest. So they killed him in front of our house. A man took a knife and cut my grandfather's throat. They also beat my father in the same way. That night the villagers helped us to escape. We walked for five days through the jungles.''
Why did they kill Sandarnath's grandfather? ``Because he was the `mukhiya (chief)' of the village. They wanted all our grains and we had Rs 13,500. They said anyone who earned money would be killed,'' the little boy said, his eyes filled with tears.