‘For weeks after they raped us the Salwa Judum men freely roamed our camp while we hid ourselves’
THE FOLLOWING is the account of my rape that I gave the questioners from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC):
I was raped along with probably 10 other girls. At the time, we were all residents of the Salwa Judum camp, next to the police station. Our rapists were SPOs who lived at the police station. Some lived even inside our camp. The distance between the police station and the camp was about 10-15 metres.
One night, some SPOs came to our houses in the camp at dinnertime and asked us girls to come out with them. They had guns. We didn’t go. The men were in full uniform at that time.
Later, at about 10pm, when we had just gone to sleep after dinner, a number of SPOs entered the camp again and woke us up at our houses. Now they were wearing only half pants and vests, which is the regular SPO gear at nights.
“Come with us,” they said. “We have to question you.” I was home sleeping with my father, mother and sister. Outside, I saw they had collected the other girls, too. My father came out of the hut and asked them, “Where are you taking her at night?” My mother said: “Why are you taking these girls? We will follow you.”
The SPOs said, “Don’t worry. We won’t do anything to the girls. But if you follow us, we will kill you.”
The SPOs then took us to the forests just outside the camp. Some marched ahead and some behind us. The girls cowered in the middle. It was a dark night and we walked some distance. All the girls started crying. We all thought they were going to kill us.
Another man caught me. I cried, ‘please Let me go.’ for the second time that Night, i was disrobed. He, too, raped me
We kept asking the SPOs, “Where are you taking us at night? What have we done?” Some boys from our camp were following us. The SPOs caned them and said, “Go back. The girls will come back in a while.”
There, by the roadside, they raped all of us girls, next to each other.
A man disrobed me. I begged him: “Please don’t do this. You aren’t my husband or anything.” But he raped me. He was totally drunk.
I could hear the other girls wailing, “Oh, mother…” I also screamed: “Oh God! He is killing me.” After this man raped me, he said: “Go back now. Don’t even dare tell anyone that I have raped you.” I somehow wore my clothes and started running back to the camp.
But another man caught me and asked: “Where are you off to?” I cried: “I have fever. Please let me go.”
He held me by the hand. I couldn’t free myself. He took me back to the roadside. For the second time, I was disrobed. He, too, raped me.
Then all the men were done with all us girls. The girls got together and somehow ran back home. The men, too, returned to their rooms. I wept before my parents. I told them that the SPOs beat us up. I was too ashamed to tell them that I had been raped.
But the next day, our village people asked us if we were raped the previous night. We had to admit that we indeed were. All the rape victims were all unmarried then. The villagers didn’t do anything.
I bled a lot at being raped. For three months, I was bedridden. I got my periods three months after the rape. For three months I had fever. For three months I bled.
I know the men who raped me. One is named Munna. His caste name is Telga. The other man is named Dinesh Kunjam. I had known them long, though I had never talked to either of them.
After these men raped us girls, they freely moved around the camp for weeks. We were so ashamed of what had happened that we stopped stepping out of our homes. I stayed at the camp another month, then our family moved back to the village.
In June 2008, I deposed before the NHRC. I was pregnant at the time. I now have a five-month-old daughter.
I was taken from my village to the Dantewada town to depose. There were two people in the room. One asked me questions and wrote my answers. The other was the interpreter. Both were men. They wore shirts and full pants.
They asked me, “What did the Salwa Judum men do to you after they abducted you?” I told them that the Salwa Judum men raped me. I told those two NHRC men that I had begged the Salwa Judum men not to rape me.
THERE WERE five of us who had gone to depose before the NHRC. All of us were rape victims. Inside the room, there was one more girl with me from my village.
They asked us questions together. They asked me if I knew who had raped me. I said, “Yes! It was the men from Salwa Judum.”
I gave them the names of my rapists. They asked why I didn’t go to the police. I told them that the Salwa Judum men had told me that if I went to the police, they would kill me.
Hadn’t our rapists gone back to the police station right after raping us? The other girl was quiet as I gave my testimony.
Did the NHRC give me any documents? No.
Did they give me a copy of my testimony? No.
I don’t know what’s an affidavit. Nobody told me that I have a right to get a copy of my testimony, my affidavit. They took my thumb impression on some papers. That’s all. I got nothing from them.
A year after my rape I was married off. I now live with my mother-in-law and husband.
I don’t have faith in the NHRC anymore.
I want my rapists dead.