On 12th January 2016, in Pedras village of Sukma district, Battalion who were doing patrolling asked the women to go for ‘Naxalite Test’. It is by implicit rule of the government that if an Adivasi woman is unmarried then she is a naxalite, because naxalites don’t marry. In ‘Naxalite Test’ in order to prove that, the Adivasi woman is not a naxalite, she is forced to take out milk from their breast. Sometimes the military would do the test by tearing the Adivasi woman’s clothes and by pressing their breasts or sometimes the women do it by themselves to save their lives. The test is applicable to all women irrespective of their age and even the breast feeding mothers are not untouched. If milk is not coming from their breast, she is a naxal. The ‘scientific’ explanation given by the authority for this test is all those who are married should have milk in their breast and those who do not produce milk are unmarried and they are Naxals. During the patrolling, it is very common that adivasi women portray themselves as married by hiring ‘Mangalasutra’ because their prime concern is to save their life. In this incident, half a dozen of women were caught, sexually abused, beaten up, raped and the military in Pedras village broke one women’s hand. This is not an isolated incident of this kind. Before also, in Sukma and Dantewada districts of Chhattisgarh, two incidents of Naxal test had recorded but it did not grabbed media attention nor became a discussion in any of the forums. Irony, is that, Justice is far to reach!!
For an adivasi woman who is gun pointed, sexually abused, rape would not be that painful than struggling to keep herself alive. Here the question is not about respect, dignity and morality but the basic constitutional right to live. What we are seeing outside is just a portion of the iceberg and the unhidden situation beneath is awful.
When injustice happens with the mainstream, protests, debates, media attention, discussions take place on the national level and indeed, it should be. In contrary, why do mainstream act passively when it comes to the Adivasi issues? There are thousands of Nirbhayas in the tribal villages in this country. On the other hand, these Adivasi Nirbhayas are helpless even to find space to share their agony and trauma.
This is important to notice that this incident have happened on National Youth Day, which is celebrated in India on 12 January on the birthday of Swami Vivekananda. In the mainstream, National Youth Day signifies empowerment of youth whereas in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh instead of youth empowerment, this inhuman act happened with a group of young women. Either the boundaries of the country have to be re-demarcated or equal justice has to be executed.
- Bharat. 2016. अर्ध सैनिक बलों नें आदिवासी लड़कियों के स्तनों को निचोड़ कर जांच करी कि यह लडकियां शादी शुदा हैं या नहीं. Being Dalit. Accessed from http://www.beingdalit.com/2016/01/tribals-women-striped-to-check-whether-they-are-married-or-not.html on 17-01-2016.
- Dantewada@ Patrika. 2016. जवानों पर महिलाओं से अनाचार का आरोप. Patrika. Acessed from http://epaper.patrika.com/693956/Patrika-Dantewara/16-01-2015#page/1/2 on 17-01-2016.
- स्तनों से दूध निचोड़ कर देना पडा़ मातृत्व का सबूत. Deshbandhu. Dantewada Article dated 15-01-2016.
* Authors are Research Scholars in Tata Institute of Social Sciences.