Adivasis who had witnessed attacks by the Statebacked Salwa Judum in Ground Zero in Chhattisgarh talked to TEHELKA about the horrific nature of the violence unleashed. Despite the violence, they had decided to stay in their ancestral lands and pay the price for staying amidst the familiar.
Thousands others decided the price was far too high and walked many hours across to the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. Civil society groups say that over 3000 people in the last four months alone have walked over to Andhra Pradesh . The villages they chose to walk to were very often names they had only heard from neighbours and family members who had left before them. For Adivasis, whose lives are intimately connected to their ancestral lands, the lack of connect with these villages is far more debilitating than the precarious condition they find themselves in. The Salwa Judum attacks left them with the clothes they were wearing —and stories of attacks they witnessed back home.
This week, we profile three Adivasis whose lives have been doubly scarred —once by the Salwa Judum attacks and the second time by the experience of being refugees in unfamiliar land. As Madivi Muthi, one of the refugees told us, “The struggle is not only to forget what happened back home but to find ourselves new memories.”
This article was originally published in Tehelka, a leading independent news magazine in India, known for its investigative journalism.