The relevance of Kawasi Hidme’s unheard story


Sushmita

Being an adivasi, a woman and being born in a region desired by greedy multi national companies does not serve one well. That is the story of Hidme and many more like her in the regions of Bastar, Chattisgarh. Kawasi Hidme was a young girl, full of energy from Borguda village in Sukma, Bastar region. She helped her widowed aunt till a small piece of land. The rice grown was just enough for them and Hidme would, during the season, sell Mahua in the local market. Like every girl of her age, she would be excited about the occasional fairs from where she can buy colourful bangles and other items which were otherwise not available in the local market.

In January 2008 just after harvest, as in previous years, a fair was organised in Ramram, the nearby village. Kawasi accompanied her aunt and her other cousin sisters to the fair and to buy ribbons andchoodis. There she joined a group of other tribals who were dancing and singing. Having danced vigorously, she soon became thirsty and approached the nearby hand-pump for water. But as soon as she held the pump, someone very forcefully grabbed her. She looked up angrily and was shocked to see Police personnel. They had surrounded her and began dragging her by her hair towards their vehicle parked outside the fair. With hands and feet tied, she was thrown on the floor of the truck and driven to the Police station.A

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Art : Sushmita

This was just the beginning- the start of the atrocities that were to be perpetrated on Kawasi Hidme for the subsequent seven years or so. As the staff at one police station would satisfy themselves, she would be sent to another. Repeated torture resulted in a death like situation for her. The policemen however, got apprehensive that she might die in the station itself. That would be a major problem. Her detention had to be formalised and she had to be sent to prison. This was not something uncommon for this area- adivasi girls like Hidme were detained and tortured for months on end and would ultimately be falsely charged under draconian laws such as the Chattisgarh Public Security Act, UAPA, etc.

However before sending her to the prison, the formality of producing her before the court remained. Kawasi’s condition was such that she had to be admitted to the hospital. It was only after a few days that she was produced before the local Magistrate. The Police had conveniently accused her of an offence that related to the murder of 23 CRPF personnel and the Magistrate remanded her to the Jagdalpur prison. On reaching the prison, the excessive physical and possibly sexual torture ultimately paid its toll and her body suddenly ejected her uterus. She bled profously. Horribly scared, she somehow attempted and suceeded in putting her flesh back into her body.

Till then, she couldn’t share her experience with anyone, but now in prison she would be comfortable to talk to the other Gondi speaking women inmates. The next day as her uterus was again thrown out of her body, Kawasi decided to cut it off. She asked an inmate for a blade and when all the girls had gone out of the barrack, she sought to operate herself so as to end the pain. As she was about to act, a girl entered the barrack and screamed on seeing the bleeding Hidme. The other women inmates gathered. The blade was taken away from her and the jailor was called, who sent her to the city civil hospital for treatment. After a surgical operation at the hospital she was brought back into jail.

In court, the fabricated case against Kawasi was not progressing. The Police had mentioned two women and two policemen as witnesses. The two women never came to depose before the court and the two policemen denied having any information about her involvement. The evidence put up was itself suspicious at face value. The offence in which Kawasi was alleged to be involved, took place on the 9th September 2007. Statements of police personnels (with ‘remarkable memories’) were recorded on 5thDecember 2007, mentioning names of around 50 Naxalites supposedly calling out to each other. This list did not contain Kawasi Hidme’s name. However after 15th December 2007 when the police personnels added a few more names, her name suddenly appeared in newly recorded statements. And finally in court they denied her involvemnet.

Soni Sori, an adivasi teacher, was also in prison during this period and could interact with Kawasi. Soni Sori had undergone a similar treatment in police custody. She was administered electric shocks and stones were inserted in her private parts. After her release Soni Sori had informed human rights activists about Hidme’s condition who in turn, with sympathetic lawyers, started raising their voices for Kawasi. One such lawyer argued before the Court that as all the witnesses were complete, orders to release Hidme should be given. The judge replied that since she had already spent seven years in jail, there should not be a problem in spending a couple of months more! So Hidme stayed incarcerated for many more subsequent months. Finally in late March 2015, as none of the charges against her could be proved the Court ordered her release.

On the date of her release, Soni Sori and her nephew, Linga Kodopi went to receive her from Jagdalpur jail. When Linga took her back to her village, her friends failed to identify her and as she called out to each one of them, they started weeping. Though she was now free, her body was almost completely wasted. She had undergone multiple operations for gallstones. And each operation resulted in further exhaution. The mental injury is almost beyond repair. She regularly faces depression and sudden mood swings. On the other hand, the IG of Bastar, Kalloori has planned to fabricate Kawasi in a further case as she continues to speak of her violations and join Soni Sori in their fight against these injustices

This is not just the story of Kawasi Hidme, but rather the story of thousands of Adivasi women and men incarcerated for longest years of youth and vitality.The hard question we need to ask here is, who is going to compensate for their lost years? In the absence of legal aid, the torture these young women and men have undergone are never proved . The even more shocking part is that we do not hear such stories in the mainstream media. Soni Sori was one of the few women whose voice did reach mainstream media, the reasons being her own courage and the extent of gruesome torture she underwent. Though among aware citizens, it is not unknown that the Police frame adivasis and vulnerable people in regions like Bastar in false cases by branding them as naxals, but serious documentation on it especially when it comes to women still remains minimalistic. But all this fades in the midst of the footage that mainstream media devotes to coverage of the IPL, paid-news reports or events that do not concern us. This has created an illusion in the minds of our youth that a good life means a good job and abundant money with no concern for society at large. The few courageous women who decide to stand up against the mighty and powerful state apparatus face hostility at every step of their work. Recently when Soni tried to help Bhima Madkam, a local injured in a police firing, from Madenar village in Bastar to file a complaint, the police started harassing and threatening her saying that they will send her back to the jail by getting her bail order cancelled by the Court on grounds that she is ‘instigating people against the State’.

Apart from investigatng the case and arresting people, the police in these areas also assume the role of delivering justice. The growing impunity they enjoy is disturbing. The power that comes from holding the gun with absolutely no accountability is indulging. They assume the role of the overarching patriarchal figure who under the pretext of ‘protecting’ society, extracts ‘small’ (sexual or otherwise) favours, ‘teaches’ the accused a lesson and gets away easily unnoticed. Unless we broaden the discourse and dialogue on these issues, there is faint hope that anything is going to change for the better.

Hidme’s question keeps haunting us: “I was never involved in any Maoist activity… What was my fault?” We, as concerned citizens, have to decide if we are prepared for more such questions or are we going to stand up and challenge these injustices?

(Note : Support for the facts related to Kawasi Hidme’s case has been taken from Jagdalpur Legal Aid group’s lawyer, also a large part has been translated from information available in Hindi on activist Himanshu Kumar’s facebook page. The relevance of Kawasi’s story in our lives is becoming more important than ever before, hence I chose to talk about her story. All views expressed are mine)

References:

http://www.indiaresists.com/bastar-villager-injured-in-police-firing-police-harasses-activist-soni-sori/

http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2015/04/magdalene-mailpidi-village-maoist/

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/maoists-naxals-jharkhand-ranchi-crpf-cobra-battalion-camp-police/1/431818.html

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/acquitted-after-7-years-tribal-woman-says-she-was-tortured/article7050393.ece

http://dantewadavani.blogspot.in/2015/03/blog-post_28.html

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-can-carrying-a-vessel-get-one-jail-yes-if-you-are-a-tribal-in-maoist-belt-2072969

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75 thoughts on “The relevance of Kawasi Hidme’s unheard story

  1. This is just so unfortunate, evil and disgusting. Yes, tribal are easy prey, and since the upper or the middle class do not support them, all the injustice that happen with them goes unnoticed. They are humans, for god’s sake.

    My heart sank reading this!

  2. Its inhuman it should not happen to anyone our system is against our people itself shame on us that we do nothing but feeling pity……we must raise our voice……

  3. these are d rascals who ensure women safety and empowerment ?? this is just disgusting . instead of weeping and feeling pity we must raise our voice…

  4. oh god what is this.if someone has done this same physical torture to them how they will feel.poor girl.

  5. Pingback: Rape, Torture, Abuse: Wrongfully Accused Tribals Brutally Mistreated By Police In Maoist Belt

  6. I am deeply touched by this article. Thank you for letting this world know about this part of our society and legal systems. Media again shows how terrible it can be, where covering IPL on prime time is of more important than these cricitical issue. #helpIndia

    • Such a very shameful incident. We claim that India is a huge democratic country of the world but these kind of incidents tell us our harsh reality. Media,Police,Politicians and the common mass of our country equally culprit of this situation.Ohh..god…let my country awake….

  7. It is deeply disturbing. when one section of society is enjoying freedom and development, in the same country, the other section is getting this treatment.Some thing must be done for this and we have to come forward to deal with this.

  8. Is there any womens right activist in India? My heart sank on reading this. Even the police have their own wicked schemes when they are the ones supposed to be protecting the people. obviously the police are abusing their power. What this world need is not a change OF men, but a change IN men.

  9. Oh my God! I don’t have any words to express the shock..We should raise voice and share this so that at least those who can do something to stop this injustice will take notice.

  10. This situation is worse than death. It won’t stop until we show people how brutally should these rapist be punished. Seriously one bold move can help a lot. Just like some live telecast these rapist should be punished. seriously shocked to read this article.

  11. This is v disturbing though nt unbelievable at all. The kind of power police enjoys..its possible fr many of them to behave as demons..raises some important questions as well…n begs a question. .where will this end! when will this be shown on prime time..is anything more deserving! !

  12. what a country we are living in…we cry about our culture values..this is our culture..here gunda’s are more valued then the educated and innocent people.Media will never do anything..they will only show when and where celebrities had their lunch and breakfast.

  13. The rebels, terrorists, Maoists and other organisations taking birth under the circumstances of such. The culprits are in the society. They are the fathers of such organisations. If everything goes smooth such organisations will disappear. The goons who commits atrocities on women should be punished and such punishment should be remembered by them for life time.

  14. simply inhuman. each & every policemen involved should be made to pay for it. Thanks for sharing it. Please do let us know if there’s anything that we can do to help her besides sharing the post.

  15. Though my blood boils knowing this facts… still, being a self-centric, selfish and pitiful man, could not do anything for these people, our own people, other than commenting on web. May god forgive me for my inabilities.

  16. this can only happen in a country like INDIA, where voice of poor and neglected community is not considered……..

  17. I really feel disturbed at knowing the plight of adivasis in this particular region, I am one of them too. The events were horrific, not only for her but for any human being. Thanks for letting us all know of it, and like you said our main stream media would have never informed us of this. A lot has to be changed. Government can’t turn itself from adivasis just by providing them certain reservations in its institutions, we need equal respect and a live in which we have dignity.

  18. Pingback: The Relevance of Kawasi Hidme’s Unheard Story | BeyondHeadlines

  19. It’s horrible and gruesome to say the least. Thanks for bringing up the case of this poor woman to reflect the tortures subjected upon by the assholes who consider themselves Gods. If the media supports this story, people will notice and it might help changing the gruesome and inhuman life of the tribals in the naxal hit areas.

  20. I thank the Good Lord that I managed to escape from that cess pit called India, where abuses of the system are perpetuated by those in power..

  21. Pingback: Hidme | Trenchrat

  22. No respect for human lives. When will this dominating one another end. Everyone needs to be respected by all means. What atrocities we have in this world.

  23. Commenting and liking is no solution. We the good people have to reach a position where we can curb this inhuman practices..

  24. The approch in fighting terrorrism must be given for alternative thoughts. The present system is obsolate.

  25. Really foolish of the guardians to think they can silence through intimidation/implication/fabrication or even death of the innocents. That is understanable for the foot soldiers toi think that way in their level, but wha
    t about the thinkers, scholars, the learned and the well wishers of the Nation? Don’t we know that every action has an equal if not more of a reaction in the days ahead ?

  26. Reading wrong books I thought naxals is a term related to evil. It seems I was false. We elected some ppl and gave power they appointed representatives shared their power. Now I see these agents replaced ancient gundas doing vasulis. I thought girls are treated as aadi shaktis (Goddesses) in this region. Hmm… Now I see why some people are aborting girl child.

  27. The result of disrupted moral compass . Due to being bereft of spirituality. Be more individualistic &liberal ignore society & see hell on earth

  28. This is shocking to the root! When the officials who are supposed to give protection to the civilians themselves act like monsters, words like law, order, justice, seem to mock us.

    And, yes, somehow, the story of Soni Sori reached media but perhaps the enervated tales of many other girls like Hidme remained unheard.

  29. Hi, I am well aware about the situation of the tribal women and men, belonging to a belt too close to tribal culture. M wondering how to help these people. Being physically present will be difficult. And I don’t want to be the moral instructor boosting their strength. They have enough of it. More than us city girls. Is there any means that I can help? In Some meaningful way?

  30. How can we help
    Let us join hands to help them. Where is the system wrong? How can it be corrected.
    Sympathies apart these should be the relevant questions.
    We should start from the schools and homes, children should be taught goodness of being good and love everything in this world.
    It is a pity that nothing can ever give back what was lost to these people.
    I pray to god to give them the strength to fight the injustice and bless them with victory.
    A big thanks to the people who have brought this open, only such throwing light on the dark side of people with authority can the public join in the cause for change.

  31. Even more disturbing than the Delhi Nirbhaya case… God save us all from the so called ‘saviour of our society”.

  32. Pingback: Rape, Torture, Abuse: Wrongfully Accused Tribals Brutally Mistreated By Police In Maoist Belt - OddPad.com

  33. This country has become a shitty fucking country..I hate calling myself an Indian..this country is disillusioned…. bollywood and IPL matter the most to most of the fcking country men..

  34. Darker side of a developing country! When others keep an eye on what big is happening.. these “small” crimes happen! And, She’s an aadiwasi, not a girl with a sexy figure to covered by media! Be a girl of Delhi, Mumbai or of some major businessman, the rapers would be dragged to death. But. Not. Her. She’s an Aadiwasi. Not a human!😑

  35. Press should reach each and every corner of our country to bring light upon such instances..our law and order need to be improved strictly with adherence to speed with accuracy and precision while taking decisions…education and unity among ppl can only bring heros within themselves to fight against devil in today’s world.

  36. This is really a thought provoking piece of writing . Even a thought of being in such situation is so scary. I really wonder what our main stream media is doing . Hats off to the activists who are working out there to help these women and big thanks to you Sushmita for this write-up.

  37. It is shocking but the more necessary to show the world what horrible things are going on. Thank you for making us aware in order to spread the message!

  38. Pingback: The relevance of Kawasi Hidme’s unheard story | CROSSROADS – innocence in warzones

  39. Though there exists the possibility of this being true, there exists an equal possibility of this being a part of the propaganda material against the state and state agencies in a naxalism affected region.

  40. All said and done, seen in the context of insurgency, all the activists must come together and dialogue on new strategies without confrontation with the Government or the Maoists but uniting the people. By default, lack of unity among activists is the first to be help responsible. Our efforts to bring the activists together is not taken seriously. Link: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/15NnxrWpdZLxBvaTG7RUXdhsnK-uR20vwwYZFs_Dmeb0/edit?usp=sharing
    Even now, we welcome and it is possible to respond to such issues more effectively.
    V.B.Chandrasekaran, Chatti Mahatma Gandhi Aashramam,
    Chatti Post, Chinthur Mandal, East Godavari District,
    Andhra Pradesh, Pin Code: 507129.
    Email: verivaan2049@yahoo.com antarbharatid2010@gmail.com;
    Mobile: +919490109328 +918297976970.

  41. Pingback: The relevance of Kawasi Hidme’s unheard story – friendspell

  42. Heart touching story, bht I wonder, did ever author or ppl who endorse such “stories on human rights of criminals” even looked in to life of police ppl serving in the very same area. Did these “human right activists n Journalists or NGOs” ever took care of what life police ppl have their? How many policemen killed by naxal friends of these so called innocents??
    May kawasi was nt involved in naxal activities. Byt who is supporting naxals in the very same area????? Police work on information received from their sources in area. Isn’t this possible, may be they got wronge one this time. But what about others who r supporting naxals n killing “real innocent civilians n govt ppl”??
    Now a days, its fashion, to bark on system, on police, on law, on judiciary, but these fellow forget what al responsibilities they hv. Problem of naxalites cant be ended if local ppl dont support police n “so called human right activists n Libral intellectuals” stop spreading “half truth” on issues.

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