Attack on an Adivasi community near LB Nagar, Hyderabad
Call or sms – Asst.Commissioner of Police: Cell No : 09490617103
History has proved time and again, that the marginalized groups of the society continue to be tortured by the wealthy class. The violent incident at the Adivasi Melchi Sedak society behind Kamineni Hospital at LB Nagar in the wee hours of January 4th was nothing short of yet another gruesome act of violence perpetrated against the Adivasis. The preliminary investigation done by the Human Rights Forum (HRF) suggests a clear nexus between the political establishment and the police department.
History of the Adivasi colony:
The Adivasis, most of whom had migrated to the city from Nallamala forests and other forest areas of Rayalaseema and Telangana regions more than 30 years ago. A majority of the Adivasis belong to Nakkala (Pittalollu) tribe and they manufacture beautiful artificial-plastic floral arrangements and ‘Gulers’ which are used to hit birds.
They claim that thirty years ago, Ramulu, a freedom fighter, had given them permission to live on his 10 acre land, which is now known as the Adivasi Melchisedak Society. However, te extent of land occupied by the tribals kept shrinking with the passage of time. Thanks to corruption in the system, the 10 acre land has now shrunk to merely 2 acres, as private individuals had somehow managed to take ownership of almost 8 acres of land. Tall buildings were constructed in the periphery of the slum.
There were about 300 Adivasi families living in the slum most recently.
The political drama to evict the Adivasis:
For the past several months, the tribals have been alleging that they were being threatened by J Prabhakar Reddy (local Congress leader), K Narasimha Reddy (local TDP leader) and some other influential leaders, to alienate the land. They said that the leaders were claiming ownership of the land. Most recently, according to the Adivasis, the so-called leaders brought about a split in the community by offering money to the families for leaving the property.
Several families left their homes and went to an alternative location shown by Prabhakar Reddy at RK Puram, not too far away from the slums. The families who shifted there were assured ‘Pattas’ for the new land they were being relocated to. However, the families who didn’t vacate claim that the land where their friends were relocated was a government land which was on ‘Lavani Patta’ and that it couldn’t be sold to a private party legally, according to the revenue officials. Therefore, they didn’t shift to RK Puram.
At present, there are about 60-70 families still living in the Adivasi Colony.
However, they say that the so-called leaders continued to harass and threaten them with dire consequences if they didn’t leave the slum immediately. Last month, several huts in the slums were demolished by Prabhakar reddy at ‘gun-point,’ according to the Adivasis.
Conspiracy about re-settlement:
When we visited the re-settlement colony at RK Puram 2 weeks ago, there were more than 1000 people who said they had come from the Adivasi colony and that they were promised Pattas by Prabhakar Reddy. They seemed fearful and didn’t divulge many details about the displacement. They said that the entire Adivasi colony had relocated to RK Puram though. They seemed happy.
The Adivasis at Adivasi colony alleged that the families who relocated had also invited their friends from the rural areas to take positions at RK Puram, so that the owner could misguide the revenue authorities, saying the entire Adivasi colony was rehabilitated ‘in numbers’.
The Fright Night:
It was 2 AM on Saturday night, January 4. The Adivasis were in deep sleep. Hundreds of men and women (from Lambada and Eruka communities) were brought by the land sharks from Falaknuma area, to attack the Adivasis and to force them to vacate the land. The following information is echoed by every single Adivasi victim affected by the inhuman acts of the so-called ‘reddy leaders’ on Saturday night.
The scene was not much different from the Jalianwala Bagh massacre. The only difference was that stones, boulders, sticks and knives were used here instead of bullets and that fortunately, nobody died.
Hundreds of Lambadas and Erukas entered the Adivasi colony through two entrances, when the two constables deployed to protect the Adivasis that night went on a mysterious break. Many of the attackers were stationed in the periphery, where they were put-up to make sure nobody escaped from the attack.
Several attackers were assigned to individual huts so that they could demolish them and beat-up the sleeping Adivasis. The attackers entered the huts, woke the Adivasis up and sprayed pepper-spray in their eyes. As the Adivasis struggled with the unbearable pain, they beat them up black and blue. The attackers didn’t even leave the children and mothers out of their violence. They hit the kids with stones and the women with sticks and knives. At least 6 people were seriously injured on their heads, including the pastor of the church, which is located in the slums.
Then the attackers dumped them inside the vans they came-in, by holding their hands and feet and by literally throwing them inside the vans. The Adivasis were taken to Choutuppal area where they were dropped. On the way, the attackers tore-away the clothes of a few Adivasi teenage women and tried to rape them. That is when they jumped-off the moving van. Several Adivasis were beaten-up badly and were dumped in the Choutuppal forest area.
The Adivasis returned and tried to file a complaint against the so-called leaders. However, according to the victims, the policemen were reluctant to register the FIR against the political leaders.
It is still a grey-area as to what is in the FIR. Despite several attempts, the Sub-Inspector of Police, Sudhakar Naik, the in-charge of the case was unavailable. The Adivasi women said that the Sub-Inspector, Sudhakar Naik, had wondered why the Adivasis preferred ‘DEATH’ to relocation.
Attack on Christianity:
The attack was not just on the Adivasis. Many of them were converted-Christians, who had built a Church in the Adivasi Colony slums. As the Adivasi women hid inside the Church, the attackers broke-open the door and took away the money inside the ‘safe’ and destroyed the interiors of the Church. They stole the amplifiers as well. They also broke-into the room which was adjacent to the Church where the Pastor, Israeli was sleeping. About 40-50 attackers barged-into his room and attacked him with iron rods and hit him repeatedly in the head. The Pastor received serious head-injuries and was admitted to Gandhi Hospital. He received 10 stitches on his head.
Surprisingly though, the ACP, instead of assuring him safety, tried to act as a mediator between him and the so-called leaders and tried to convince him to make his people relocate.
The Church had played a major role in unifying the Adivasis in their difficult times. Therefore, the attackers targeted it and the Pastor, with an intention of weakening the movement. The Pastor maintains that he has not played any role in the political matter. He is not a permanent resident of the slums and stays elsewhere. Unfortunately, he had decided to sleep in the slums that fateful night.
Support for the Adivasis:
From what has come in the media, it can be understood that MP Sarve Satyanarayana, Former MP Aziz Pasha and Ram Mohan Goud (local Congress leader) have been supporting the Adivasis.
Campaign for Housing and Tenurial Rights (CHATRI), Human Rights Forum (HRF), Civil Liberties Committee (CLC) and other organizations have resolved to stand-by the Adivasis during their difficult times.
Questions which are emerging:
· How come a war was waged on the Adivasis when there were policemen deployed to protect them? Why did they have to go on a break at 2 am?
· Why has Sudheer Reddy, MLA, LB Nagar, not responded to the incident?
· Why is the police department insensitive towards the Adivasis?
· Has SC/ST Atrocities Act or Communal Violence Act been imposed on the perpetrators of the crime?
· What about the provisions of the Nirbhaya Act?
· Why is there an effort to protect the so-called perpetrators of the crime from getting arrested immediately?
There are several other doubts, which would be communicated at an appropriate time.
HRF requests every ‘HUMAN’ to stand by the side of the Adivasis in fighting this blatant violation of ‘HUMAN RIGHTS’ in a city which claims to have become a ‘Global Village’. Will our so-called civilized society at least give a chance to the indigenous population amongst us to live peacefully in a so-called Global Village?