Is the Tricolour Large Enough to Cover Up the Patches of Shame and Blood in Chhattisgarh?

Surabhi Singh

How does a man, woman or a child living in a forest inside Chhattisgarh feel about the tricolour? This was my thought when I heard the Human Resource Minister, Smiriti Zubeen Irani pronounce her decision yesterday, to band-aide the current implosion of youth resistance within the nation. Her point being tricolour furling on top of an academic institution would directly instill a notion of patriotism on the young minds, and stop them from questioning the decisions of RSS or the dictates of Manusmriti (the text). The question returned to my mind after I heard of attack on Soni Sori today.

Soni Sori attacked

IMG-20160221-WA0000Latest on attack on Soni sori. Details are not yet clear on nature of the substance used. As per reports the assailants rubbed some unknown substance on her face causing immense pain and agony. Soni is presently receiving treatment at jagdalpur.There are several hundred youths living in the forests of my state Chhattisgarh. They live in thatched homes, have a meager square meal a day, work hard throughout the day for petty money, they love this forest, the animals within, they love the rivers, the grass that grows on the earth, the flowers, birds, springs, the summers, winters and rains. It is apparent since their Gods are always a form of nature. Sometimes lion, sometimes, Tiger, even elephants etc.They have dreams.. small ones. To save money enough to educate their siblings, get their sisters married, help their parents get by in their old age, build a pukka house, purchase a bike.. maybe get married to their sweethearts.. so on and so forth.

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The problem is though.. their forests, the one that gives them their house, their livelihood, their songs, their firewood and the land where they bury their dead, the forest, the trees, the animals and their Gods.. are threatened. They are threatened by a band of Corporate zealots, who own this nation, who run the TV channels, the hospitals, the schools, Universities, our government and our Gods too. These zealots have now unleashed a band of desperate hate-mongering gang of hooligans over these youths and their families. These gangs sometimes wear Uniforms, sometimes Khadi, sometimes badges- they come in the darkness, sometimes in the daytime, and rape the mothers and sisters of these youths. They call them names, strip them bare in front of their children, squeeze their breasts, threaten them with abuses. At other times, they open fire. Kill the brothers, and sisters, mothers and fathers. The same gang then come in jeeps and take these youths to the police stations and throw them in Jails. After this, the band of hooligans get promotions, fat paycheck gets fatter; they win medals during Republic Day, and are also called “martyrs” upon their deaths.

They talk in breezy languages, throw lengthy legal jargons, accuse the youths of working against the nation, of carrying weaponry and breaking law. The youths, the same ones with small dreams, then go through unbelievable painful punishments- for being born as Adivasis in a state called Chhattisgarh. Their only crime is, they love their forests, that has huge minerals wealth nestling deep in its bowel. Their crime is to not understand the value of those minerals, of not being greedy enough to rape the earth they love so much and disembowel it of its wealth to create machines, trains, roads, computers, mobile phones, bombs, aeroplanes, missiles- to sell these goodies for millions of dollars to the Corporate World so that an archaic, nameless, faceless nation can live in filthy richness. You see, these youths never could understand the meaning of greed. They just thought loving their land, their village, their family, the forests, rivers and mountains was enough to remain patriot in this nation. Silly, Right? I mean when all they had to do was chop off the trees, mine the land, excavate the caves, sell of the river water, bombard away the mountains, and simply hoist tricolour flag on each of these sites.

So what if this caused floods, malaria, diarrhea, earthquakes, droughts? So what if thousands died each year from these “natural maladies”? So what if their neighbours daughters are sold off to these Corporate officials as sex slaves? Atleast they would have been patriots.

According to Malini Subramaniam, the Journalist and Social Activist who left Chhattisgarh today, after she was repeatedly threatened by Samajik Ekta Manch activists, for being vocal about the atrocities on these Adivaasi youths and women, “An atmosphere of insecurity and intimidation has compelled me to leave Jagdalpur. A group called the Samajik Ekta Manch demonstrated outside my house, taking objection to my reports in Scroll.in and warning me not to tarnish the image of the police. Hours later, around 2.30 am, I heard a motorcycle enter my neighbourhood. Stones were thrown and the rear window of my car was shattered.

It took the police two days to register a First Information Report. The investigating officer threatened the women in my neighbourhood who had given witness statements in support of my complaint. Samajik Ekta Manch held street rallies asking for my arrest. As reported by The Hoot and Caravan, the Manch has close links with the police.

​After an editor of Scroll.in met Chief Minister Raman Singh and urged him to intervene, the Inspector General of Bastar SRP Kalluri and district superintendent of police RN Dash visited my house and assured me that the investigation would be fair and my family would be safe.​ Despite that, the Samajik Ekta Manch continued to campaign against me, creating an atmosphere of insecurity.​”

Is it a co incidence that hours after Malini left, along with the lawyers of the Jagdalpur Legal Aid group, that Soni Sori was attacked with acid? what was her fault, apart from questioning the local and state police action of repeated arrests, rapes and jailing of innocent Adivasi youths in the name of “National Security”? What is this state, where one cannot even file an RTI asking for record on custodial rapes? Is this the new definition of Patriotism in this nation- to rape your earth, kill forests, mountains and sell rivers to a bunch of Zillionaaires, to kill and rape the sons and daughters of the forests,to ruthlessly intimidate, kill and threaten anyone who raises a finger- and then hoist a tricolour in the schools and colleges teaching pesudo historical
​ and scientific shenanigans? ​

​In a nation, where its most vulnerable citizens are pronounced the cruelest punishments for a crime called honesty, simplicity, honor and “accident of birth”, what could be the definition of Patriotism, I wonder. And exactly how many tricolours could cover up the patches of blood left in the parched road to Development? ​