Indravelli carnage of tribals completes 31 years

The massacre of score of innocent and poor Girijans in police firing at Indravelli village in Adilabad district completes 31 years on April 20.

Girijan families in remote and backward forest areas in Agency areas in the district depend on forest produce. In the places where agriculture lands are available, they take up agriculture. Those who do not possess agriculture lands go for `Podu’ (agriculture in narrow grooves in hilly regions).

They were demanding the officials to issue them land pattas so that they could have legal rights on the lands which they cultivate for their livelihood. Possession of pattas would also enable them to get financial assistance from banks.

Time and again, the Centre and State Governments claim that they were introducing a number of schemes for the welfare of tribes. But these schemes failed to improve their living conditions. So, they were demanding pattas for the lands. In the early 1980s, there were several agitations by Girijans in the Utnoor Agency area of Adilabad district for pattas. Leaders of Rythu Coolie Sangham , which existed then, extended their support to the genuine demands of Girijans.

However, Government officials wanted to suppress the agitations. It was decided to have a massive Girijan meeting at Indravelli on April 20, 1981 in support of their demands, which mainly include issue Pattadar Pass books enabling them to have right on the forest lands in their possession.

The proposal gained momentum in the thandas and tribal hamlets and people determined to attend the meeting. But officials had sent wrong signals to higher ups that Girijans had the support of the then People’s War Group (PWG) Naxalites and the meeting would lead to further violent acts such as looting of richmen properties and lifting of grains from landlords.

The then Government determined to stop the proposed meeting at Indravelli. So hundreds of police personnel were deployed at the venue and surrounding areas.

However, several thousands of Girijans started coming to Indravelli to participate in the meeting on April 20, 1981. Soon after the commencement of meeting, police resorted to lathi-charge and beat up women, children and elderly people mercilessly. Tribal people, as they are in masses, revolted against the unprovoked police action. This infuriated the police and they resorted to firing. More than 100 innocent and poor Girijans lost their lives in the police firing. Several hundreds sustained serious injuries.

The incident had drawn nation- wide condemnation and criticism by all sections. However, the Government claimed that only 13 people were dead in the incident. In later years, a memorial was constructed at Indravelli where tribal people lost their lives. The memorial was demolished by the police.

However, with the support of Civil Liberties activists, the memorial was reconstructed at the place again. Every year,scores of Girijans assemble at the place to pay tributes to the martyrs.

Police imposed 144 section at Indravelli to prevent assembly of Girijan masses on Friday. [The Hans India]

Photo: Sangishetty Srinivas

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