Defend the Defenders: Human Rights Law Network

Inveterate Maoists they certainly are not

Kartam Joga

Kartam Joga

After they abducted Sukama’s Collector Alex Paul Menon, the Maoists have demanded that certain people rotting in the prisons of Chhattigarh be released. Two kinds of people are mentioned in the letter listing their demands. First, activists from various political parties, and secondly, members of their own cadres. The activists of the first hue work within the democratic process, and are elected representatives hailing from Congress and CPI. As a social activist in Dantewada, I was often in touch with them, and certainly know that they have little to do with the Maoists or with violent activities of any kind. All of them have been framed in false cases by local contractors, political opponents, and corrupt police and put in prisons. Brief information about each of them follows.1) Kartam Joga

Kartam Joga is a senior CPI leader. He is the vice president of the Konta Janapad. When he raised his voice against atrocities committed by the Salwa Judum, he was dragged to the police station, hung upside down, and mercilessly beaten. He is a co-petitioner (along with Nandini Sundar and Manish Kunjam) in a case against Salwa Judum in the Supreme Court. When he demonstrated in the Supreme Court that the reason that children are unable to go to school in Dantewada is because the schools have been occupied by security forces, the Chhattisgarh Government panicked. In a breathtaking lie, it told the Supreme Court that security forces had already vacated the premises of all the schools, and that the petitioners in the case can themselves investigate this, but just three days later, they arrested Kartam Joga who has since been languishing in a Chhattisgarh prison.

The then SSP SRP Kalluri who was instrumental in arresting him, brazenly charged that Kartam Joga was a participant in the attack on seventy six CRPF personnel, whereas Joga was at home at the time in Sukama, a hundred kilometres away from the incident site.

When a journalist from the English newspaper The Hindu asked Kalluri on what basis he had arrested Joga, Kalluri responded that two witnesses had accused Joga of being a participant in the incident. When the journalist went to their homes and related to them what Kalluri had told him, they said that they had never met the police and that they had never given any testimony against Kartam Joga. However, even after this clear case of frame up had been exposed for what it was, Joga is still languishing in a prison cell. The international human rights organization Amnesty International has also started a campaign to free Kartam Joga.

2) Vijay SoriVijay Sori is an activist from the Indian National Congress, and is an official of the Farmers’ Congress, a subsidiary of the Congress party. He is close to Konta MLA Kovasi Lakhma Ram. Vijay Sori was also against Salwa Judum. Dantewada’s SSP SRP Kalluri started harassing Vijay Sori. One day, Kovasi Lakhma and Vijay Sori decided that enough was enough and went to meet with SRP Kalluri in his Dantewada office. Kalluri threatened MLA Lakhma, asked him to get out of his office, and boasted that he would not rest until he had sent Vijay Sori to prison. Vijay Sori was later framed in a case of attack on the house of Rajput Congress leader Avadhesh Gautam. Gautam, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, is an erstwhile police officer, and currently works as a contractor. He has close links to police officials in Chhattisgarh. In a recent hearing on Vijay Sori’s bail petition, the Chhattisgarh High Court observed that in order to prolong the judicial process, Gautam has deliberately failed to appear in the court, and for this reason, the Court ordered that if Gautam does not testify in the court in the next three months, the bail petition of Vijay Sori and other accused should be presented again.
3) Lala Ram KunjamLala Ram Kunjam used to work for Essar. He had also given away his land to Essar for construction of a pipeline, but later the company withheld his wages. Essar also reneged on its promise of providing employment for the local unemployed. For this reason, Lala Ram Kunjam became quite active in the movement against Essar’s forcible acquisition of tribal lands. His involvement in the movement annoyed the local leaders and contractors. For this reason, Avadhesh Gautam colluded with the police in framing him in a false case and threw Kunjam in prison.
4) Sudaru Kunjam
Sudaru Kunjam hails from the Kadampal village and is a CPI member of the district Panchayat of Dantewada. He was involved in a quarrel with Avadhesh Gautam during the elections. For this reason, Gautam again colluded with the police. A false case was registered against him, and he was also thrown in prison.
5) Sannu MandaviSannu Mandavi is the erstwhile president of the Kuakonda block panchayat. Local contractor and Rajput leader Avadhesh Gautam also lives in this block. Gautam wanted a contract for all the activities of the Panchayat all to himself. However the well laid plans of this corrupt contractor were being frustrated because of fierce opposition from the charismatic young adivasi leader Sannu Mandavi. For this reason, he colluded with the then SSP SRP Kalluri and registered a false case against him, and threw him in prison. So as to prolong the case indefinitely, Gautam has consistently refused to appear and testify in court, and again with collusion of the police, he keeps on returning the summons with incredible impunity. This criminal mastermind used to be a police official, but was expelled from the police force because of a corruption case. Thereafter, he started working as a contractor and by relying on his goons and their terror, he has now become the uncrowned king of a large area. This Rajput leader brooks no challenge, no matter how remote, from any adivasi leader and frames them in false cases and in collusion with the police, throws them in prison.

It is quite clear therefore, that all the prisoners mentioned above are adivasi leaders of various political parties and are victims of a conspiracy hatched by the unholy coalition of corrupt non-indigenous leaders, and corrupt police. No policeman has ever lost their life in apprehending (or more appropriately, abducting) them. Therefore the truth is light years away from the shrill and incessant propaganda that these folks are inveterate Maoists, and that policemen have lost their lives while trying to apprehend them. ( Translation – Sanjeev Mahajan , San Fransisco USA )

Filed Under: Himanshu KumarHuman Rights DefendersKhalra Centre Alerts

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