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 18 SPOs and 10 former Naxalites including two former child dalam (armed wing) members. In addition to the impact of the conflict on children, interviews covered a range of conflict-related abuses by Salwa Judum vigilante groups, government security forces, and Naxalites, including threats, beatings, killings, abductions, enforced disappearances, looting, burning of villages, and forced relocation of and discrimination against persons displaced by the conflict. Details of these findings can be found in our report, Being Neutral is Our Biggest Crime: Government, Vigilante, and Naxalite Abuses in Indias Chhattisgarh State.
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), and the director general of police (highest ranking state-level police official) of Chhattisgarh.
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 Naxalite recruitment of children and destruction of school buildings by citing 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 government and Naxalite recruitment of children may be significantly underreported due to a number of methodological challenges, including fear of possible reprisals by Naxalites, SPOs fear of speaking freely, and villagers fear of being falsely implicated as Naxalites and therefore subject to interrogation or harassment by police.
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.
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 state government officials, Human Rights Watch requested information regarding issues raised in this report in a letter to the chief minister of Chhattisgarh, a copy of which is provided in Appendix I. Human Rights Watch did not receive any response to this letter.
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.
Unless otherwise specified, Human Rights Watch uses the phrase government security forces to refer to some or all of the security forces deployed in the region between June 2005 and February 2008Central 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. Therefore, many interviewees used the broad term police to refer to these government security 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, some or all of them. Therefore, Human Rights Watch has merely reproduced what interviewees had stated.