Repatriation of Lingagiri villagers, 17 March 2009
Lingagiri, once a prosperous tribal village, was severely hit by the violence of Salwa Judum in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh. It comprises of 4 hamlets, and comes under the purview of Bsaguda thana, Avupalli block of Bijapur district. It was found that that out of 73 families 69 were having more than 10 acres of land. Many people from the village are educated and are in government service.
In December 2006, Salwa Judum along with SPOs, CRPF and local police had attacked the village and killed 4 persons including a one young girl who was raped and killed brutally. Another girl was raped but rescued by the villagers later. All the houses were burnt and nothing was left behind.
After the raid, 53 families from Lingagiri fled to Andhra Pradesh borders and settled down in Ligapurampadu and Pedamidisileru, surrounding villages of Charla (block headquarters in Khammam district). The well to do tribal farmers who used to export fine quality of rice had started to survive on wage labour work in Andhra Borders.
After the Nendra experiment by Vanavasi Chetana Ashram, the villagers of Lingagiri too have got inspired and decided to go back to their native place. VCA had come forward to facilitate the process in Chhattisgarh.
Solidarity Committee on Internally Displaced Tribals and ASDS in Andhra Pradesh together facilitated the process of repatriation. The volunteers of VCA and ASDS spent 3 days with the people to prepare them for a risky but rightful return. On 17th March a meeting was held in Lingapurampadu. Dr. Rukmini Rao, Gramya Resource Center for Women, Mr. Sondi Veeraiah, Adivasi Vidyarthi Samkshema Parishat, P. Raghu, Action Aid, V.Gandhi Babu, ASDS, Ram Lekaam and Mothiram from VCA, attended the meeting. Representatives of electronic and print media also attended to cover the event. All the persons attended the programme, strongly felt that it was the right of the tribals to return to their home and to live in peace. They also expressed hope for normalcy to be restored soon at Lingagiri with its past glory where tribal farmers back to agriculture, children to school and men and women without the fear of conflict or violence either by Judum or by state machinery or by Maoists.
In the words of the tribal women who were going back:‘we want our village, our market and our paddy fields back to life and as rich as they were earlier and nobody should attack us’, Soyam Chandramma and another woman Gantala Baby recollected her painful experience – ‘3 years ago it took 5 days of walk to reach this village. On the third day of our journey to Andhra Pradesh I gave birth to a child in the forest. We did not have even a piece of cloth to keep the child, but still the child survived. We named him as Adavi Ramudu (forest boy). Now we hope there would not be any attack again.
At last, 64 displaced tribals including 30 men, 27 women, 2 boys and 6 girls from 44 families have started back to their native place on two tractors with a hope that VCA and ASDS will take care of their security and basic needs.
Four years have gone. The supreme court, NHRC and the government of Chhattisgarh had done nothing for the repatriation of the displaced tribals but the tribals are coming forward to go back to their home saying ‘any way it is our native place and one day or the other we have to reach there and live there’. However time will only decide, whether they< can start their life again with peace there and whether government supports or acts contrary.
List of tribals who left Lingapurampadu and Murumuru for Lingagiri, Basaguda thana of Chhattisgarh