Jungle Terror 8

SHYAMAL POJAMMA, Refugee from Koras village

A blue plastic sheet pitched 200 metres outside the main cluster of houses is home to seven people sitting nearby out in the open. Blank stares mark their faces. There is no sign of activity and the conversation is as scattered as the clothes that have been hung out to dry. This is Day 8 of their arrival in a strange land —the only connection they have with the village in Andhra Pradesh is that a distant family member had trekked across to set up home here three years ago.

Scattered Pojamma struggles to find words and a place like home

My 18-year old son, Shyamal Admaiya, was killed by the Salwa Judum and the police in a fake encounter in Singaram village on January 8, 2009. (Read TEHELKA report The Jungle Justice of the Trigger  Happy dated February 7, 2009.) I saw his body. He was shot between the eyes. In addition to this, they had used a sickle to cut open his head. I can’t erase the images from my mind. Admaiya was my youngest son.

For two months after this, we lived in the forest, terrified that the Salwa Judum would come back and kill the rest of us. My two older sons and their families decided to walk to Andhra Pradesh since they were tired of constantly living in fear. I refused to leave. I wanted to die in my village. If I left, there would be nobody to remember the place where my son was killed.

Two weeks ago, the Salwa Judum returned to my village. My husband and I escaped again to the forest. When my two sons heard of this, they came to the village and brought us here. We walked for an entire day but that is of no consequence. If I could bring back Admaiya, I would walk for a year.

FACT FILE

• LOST HER SON

• WALKED FOR 48 HOURS

There is no food here, no lands to cultivate. For me, this is alien land since none of my ancestors are buried here. Come back and talk to me in a year and I will tell you so even then. Back home we were kings. Now all we can afford is one portion of rice gruel a day. The Naxals are safe, the Salwa Judum is safe. We are the only ones dying in the middle.

Related stories:

Mao and the Motorcycle diaries

A struggle to find new memories

‘Salwa Judum spared no one’

‘Those killed were not naxals’

‘We The Non-People’

This article was originally published in Tehelka, a leading independent news magazine in India, known for its investigative journalism. 

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