HYDERABAD: If Adivasi children want to get educated, they have to leave their families. And if their parents fear that the children will not be safe away from them, they will have to forego the dream of getting them educated.
These were the words of author, sociologist and social activist Nandini Sundar. She was speaking as part of Manthan at Saptaparini in the city on Wednesday.
“There is no way that Adivasi children can study and still live with their parents. Adivasi women are kicked out of buses because they are tribals. Where is the logic to this? This is subtle discrimination if you look back on how hundreds of innocent Adivasi villagers in Chattisgarh were killed,” recalled Nandini Sundar, professor of Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics.
Nandini, who, along with some other activists and maoists, was booked for the murder of a tribal man in November 2016, has been working with Adivasi population in Chattisgarh for years now. The case was later struck off after the wife of the deceased, Shamnath Baghel, said that she had given no names to the police.
Nandini’s latest book, ‘The Burning Forest - India’s War in Bastar’, talks about the complete destruction of law in Chattisgarh. She elaborated on this recalling her own experiences.
“The activities that take place there are unconstitutional. Let me tell you the stories of three villages - Morpelli, Thimmapuram and Tadmetla - that were burnt down by Salwa Judum formed to ‘counter’ Maoists in the state. Most of the villagers were forced to live in the camps set up by Salwa Judum,” shared Nandini.
Salwa Judum represented those whose power had been challenged by the Maoists. “They were people who had rape cases against them. There were Special Police Officers (SPOs) who had license to exploit,” pointed out Nandini adding that these SPOs were Adivasi youth who just wanted to make some money. “A lot of youth were exploited. It takes a lot of strength to kill your own people and these youngsters would be high on alcohol in order to perform the job,” she said.
Urging the need of confidence building measures between the government and people, Nandini said peace talks should be initiated. “We need to initiate talks with maoists too,” she added.