Indravelli killings leave a blot on civilised society

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The infamous Indravelli episode in Adilabad district has come to stay as a blot on the civilised society which has perpetrated unending atrocities on the innocent Gond tribes of Bastar. The incident occurred on April 20, 1981 in which over 60 tribals were killed and more than 80 were injured during lathi charge and police firing.

The then Congress government has resorted to the heinous act of targeting innocent tribals in order to disrupt the scheduled meet of the Andhra Pradesh Rythu Coolie Sangham (RCS), a frontal organisation of the then People’s War Group. The incident sent shockwaves across the world. Many termed it as another ‘Jallianwala Bagh Massacre’.

A peep into the history would lead us to the genesis of the issue that led to the killings. Indravelli situated in dense Gondwana forest region in Adilabad district has witnessed two historical revolutions in the past. During 1858-60, an historic revolution took place against the British rule under the leadership of Ramji Gond who was later executed by the Britishers on April 9, 1860.

Again there was another historic revolution in Gondwana during 1938-40 in which Gonds have waged an armed struggle against the Nizam’s rule under the leadership of the legendary tribal leader Komaram Bheem.

He died while fighting with Nizam’s armed forces led by Talukdar Abdul Sattar who had banned organising the first anniversary of Rythu Coolie Sangham. It was to hold a public meeting of tribals to demand adivasi rights over their podu agricultural lands and market price for their agricultural produce. But the Nizam forces opened fire on mob without any warning leaving several dead. Hundreds of Komaram Bheem followers armed themselves with bows, arrows, swords and spears launched a frontal attack braving their guns, only to be riddled with bullets. That night, the martyr Komaram Bheem became a deity and eternal hero to the tribal community.

The then Congress government declared that 13 tribals as dead and 9 injured in the incident. However, media put the figure 60 as dead and more than 100 as injured. The Jodeghat incident might have left a deep wound but laid the path to several such revolts like Farmer’s Revolt in Srikakulam during 1968-70, first Telangana movement in 1969 and Jagityal Workers Jaitra Yatra in 1978 etc.

And its’ been 37-years since the historic incident took place, but nothing notable changes have occurred in the lives of tribals in remote forest region though the Centre had initiated implementation of 1/70 Act, PISA Act, to protect tribals from exploitation of those from plains. It is also pathetic to note that efforts are on to displace Gonds from Kavval area in Adilabad, Chenchus from Nallamala forest in Srisailam and Koyas in Bayyaram and Kantakapalli in Khammam district. Its time the government implemented the recommendations of the late anthropologist Prof. Haiman Darf.

(This Article is dedicated to all those brave sons of the forest)