‘They locked me in a room in the police station. Some time later, a man I know came in. He raped me’
IN MARCH 2008, the Salwa Judum burnt down my village, including my house. My father asked me to go to our relatives’ in another village. As I was about to get into a bus at Konta [150km south of Dantewada], a man named Dinesh, whom I knew to be with the Salwa Judum and who was the sarpanch of a village named Gorka, approached me with another man. He asked me: “Where are you headed?” At that time, my aunt – my mother’s sister-in-law – was passing by. She told them she would take me to her house. My aunt took me to her tenement in the Salwa Judum camp at Konta.
The next morning, at 7.30am, about 10 SPOs in uniform carrying guns, landed at my aunt’s hut. They said Dinesh had sent them. I knew three of them. They were SPOs from a nearby village. Their names are Suresh, Arpat and Govind. I had often seen them at the weekly market. They said the thanedaar [police station chief] at Konta had summoned me. I asked my aunt to come with me but she backed out.
At the police station, the SPOs told the thanedaar that they had caught me with the Naxals. Shortly, my aunt landed up. Three people interrogated me separately through the day in my aunt’s presence. One of them, whom I recognise by face but can’t name, said to me, “You will be jailed, or even killed.” I was scared. I pleaded to be allowed to go. In the afternoon, they said I could go. But just as I left with my aunt, I ran into some SPOs who told my aunt to go away and forcibly brought me back to the police station.
They took me to a bare room about 10ft by 7ft in size, blindfolded me with a towel, and locked it from outside. It had two windows and both were shut.
Some time later, a man came in. He took off my blindfold. I recognised him, having seen him often at the weekly market. I don’t know his formal name, but he is nicknamed Tudka and is an SPO in Konta. He asked me, “How did you get here?” I said: “They brought me here.” Then he raped me. I got very angry. I swore at him. I tried to push him. But he held me and continued to rape me. Once he was done, he blindfolded me again and left the room, locking it from outside.
I lost all sense of time. Later, two men came in. I begged them, “Show me the way out.” They let me out. I ran back to my aunt’s place at the Salwa Judum camp. After that, every day the SPOs came to check on me. One said, “We will kill you if you try to escape.”
Ten days later, I escaped the camp and came to the house of another aunt in a far-off village. She married me off to her son to save me further trouble. But a week later, seven SPOs with guns landed up in my husband’s village. Terrified, I hid myself. The villagers later told me that Tudka, my rapist, had been among them.
The SPOs demanded money from the villagers, citing a tradition in which the groom’s family pays the bride’s. The SPOs claimed they hailed from my village and that made them my family. At gunpoint, they stole three chicken, three goats, and a cow, as well as Rs 3,500.
They came back to my husband’s village several times afterwards, too. I fear that they will keep returning there. So I prefer to stay in hiding all the time.