This report is based on research conducted by Human Rights Watch in Khammam and Warangal districts of Andhra Pradesh, and Bijapur, Dantewada, and Bastar districts of Chhattisgarh between November 2007 and February 2008. These locations are most affected by the conflict between Naxalites, Salwa Judum, and government security forces, and were chosen based on literature review and background interviews with independent researchers, local NGOs, journalists, and lawyers who had either studied the conflict in Chhattisgarh or assisted victims of the conflict.
During the course of the investigation, Human Rights Watch interviewed 235 people, including:
Human Rights Watch also interviewed 15 government officials in Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, including the district collectors (the highest district-level administrative post) of Dantewada and Bijapur districts, the superintendent of police of Dantewada district (highest district-level police officer), the director general of police (highest ranking state-level police official) of Chhattisgarh, the divisional forest officer of Bhadrachalam division in Khammam district, and the sub-collector of Khammam district.
In addition, Human Rights Watch conducted 51 interviews with lawyers, local journalists, and representatives from local and international NGOs, including Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, Forum for Fact-Finding, Documentation and Advocacy, Vanya, Gayatri Sangh Parivar, Bastar Tribal Development Society, CARE, MSF, and UNICEF (a UN agency).
Human Rights Watch had hoped to include the perspectives of persons arrested as suspected Naxalites, especially children, through in-person interviews. Unfortunately, this was not possible despite requests to the Dantewada police superintendent.
Due to security concerns, Human Rights Watch was unable to conduct interviews with villagers living in jungles and interior villages in Dantewada and Bijapur districts, and members of the CPI (Maoist) party. This report however incorporates the CPI (Maoist) partys position on the conflict by citing its press releases and its October 2006 letter to the Independent Citizens Initiative, a fact-finding team from India.
Local NGOs providing services to villagers assisted Human Rights Watch in identifying victims and eyewitnesses to interview; we further developed contacts and interview lists through references from interviewees.
Most interviews were conducted individually, although they often took place in the presence of others. They lasted between one and three hours and were conducted in Hindi, Telugu, or Gondi, depending on the interviewees preference. The Human Rights Watch team included researchers who are fluent in Hindi. In cases where the interviewees chose to communicate in Telugu or Gondi, the interviews were conducted with the assistance of independent interpreters selected by Human Rights Watch. Some interviewees reported information regarding their families, friends, and acquaintances. In the relatively few instances where interviews were conducted with several interviewees at once, they are cited as group interviews.
Cases of Salwa Judum and Naxalite abuses may be significantly underreported due to a number of methodological challenges, including villagers fear of being identified, rightly or wrongly, as a Naxalite and therefore subject to interrogation or harassment by police, and, alternatively, their fear of reprisals by Naxalites or Salwa Judum members for reporting abuses.
Since most villagers keep track of time according to seasons, including agricultural seasons, in many cases interviewees were unable to give exact months for incidents. In some cases, interviewees described incidents with Indian festivals as time-indicators, or used their grade in school as a reference point. In this report, Human Rights Watch has in several cases provided approximate times based on such information from interviewees.
Human Rights Watch has used pseudonyms or withheld the names of almost all civilians, SPOs, and former Naxalites quoted in this report, consistent with our commitment to such individuals that their identity would not be revealed. Pseudonyms do not correspond to the tribe of the interviewee. Officials names have been included where they gave permission for them to be used. Some NGO representatives requested that they or their organizations not be identified in order to protect themselves from reprisals by government and police, and identifying information has been omitted accordingly.
For security reasons, Human Rights Watch assured some interviewees that the location of the interview would not be disclosed. In this report, the names of most IDP settlements in Andhra Pradesh and some Salwa Judum camp names have not been disclosed, also at the request of interviewees who feared retribution.
The interviews have been supplemented by official data supplied by Chhattisgarh government officials in response to applications filed by NGOs or individuals under the Right to Information Act, 2005.
In addition to interviews with Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh state government officials, Human Rights Watch requested information regarding issues raised in this report in letters to state government officials, copies of which are provided in Appendix II. Human Rights Watch did not receive any substantive response to these letters.
Unless otherwise specified, Human Rights Watch uses the phrase government security forces to refer to one or more of the security force units deployed in the region between June 2005 and June 2008: Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indian Reserve Battalions (IRBs), Chhattisgarh Armed Forces (CAF), and SPOs. It is virtually impossible for a civilian to clearly differentiate between the different types of police and other security force units and many interviewees used the broad term police to refer to these different forces. Human Rights Watch is not in a position to independently verify whether raids described by interviewees were conducted by the CRPF, IRBs, CAF, SPOs, or some combination thereof, and has therefore simply reproduced what interviewees told us.
Human Rights Watch found that some villagers who were forcibly relocated by Salwa Judum and government security forces are living in areas that are not recognized as camps by the government even though residents of these areas consider them camps. In this report, Human Rights Watch refers to such areas as unofficial camps.
In most places, this report refers to Dantewada and Bijapur districts that are now separate administrative divisions, each administered by a district collector. Until May 2007 Dantewada and Bijapur districts were part of one districtDantewada, and administered by one district collector. Therefore, in some places, this report refers to Dantewada (undivided). It is important to note that most Indian fact-finding team reports were brought out before this administrative division; references to Dantewada in those reports would correspond to references to Dantewada (undivided) in this report.
Tens of thousands of people have been displaced from their homes by the conflict, either within Chhattisgarh, or into neighboring Andhra Pradesh or other states. Under international law, all are technically internally displaced persons (IDPs). However, government officials and others in the region typically use the term IDP to refer solely to individuals who have fled from Chhattisgarh into other states. This report follows this latter practice unless otherwise indicated.
Human Rights Watch follows the definition of child as given in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989; all references to children in this report are references to persons below age 18.