Tapan Kumar Bose

South Asia Forum for Human Rights


Eleven women of Vakapalli village in Nurmati panchayat of G. Madugula mandal in Visakhapatnam district, Andhra Pradesh were raped by personnel of a Greyhounds unit in the village on the morning of August 20, ’07.  All the women belong to the Kondh tribe (indegenous people), administratively listed as a PTG (Primitive Tribal Group). Ten of them are in the age group of 20 to 30 years, while one woman is 45 years. All of them are married. The village is located about 43 km from the divisional headquarters of Paderu in the Agency region of Vizag district. Paderu is about 100 km from Visakhapatnam.


The government of the state of Andhra Pradesh has created a special armed police force called the Greyhounds. The Greyhounds are responsible for counter insurgency operation in areas where the Communists of the Party of Indian Maoists are active. The Indian Maoists are also called ‘Naxalites’. The armed men of the Greyhound force entered the village at about 6 am on August 20. By then all the able-bodied men and youth were away in the fields having left as early as 3.30 am to 4 am, as they usually do, to carry out podu (slash and burn cultivation) and other farm operations. The women of the village were busy cleaning their homes, working in the turmeric fields adjacent to the village, at the cattle sheds and some had gone to the nearby rivulet to clean utensils. Others had gone to answer natures call.


The Greyhounds men started raping the women straightaway. Some were pushed into the huts and raped; others were set upon in the turmeric fields and even in open places in the village. Seven of the women were gang-raped. The police also threw out household utensils. The women were repeatedly threatened and raped at gun-point. Several women managed to save themselves by running away from the village and hiding in the forest. After the mayhem, the Greyhounds men left at about 8 am


It was only after the men returned that word was sent to Nurmati, the panchayat headquarters. The sarpanch and MPTC there in turn informed the Paderu MLA Lake Raja Rao of the Bahujan Samaj Party at around noon. It was only after the MLA rushed to the village along with mediapersons from Paderu that the news filtered out by around 3 pm.


The women went along with the MLA to the Paderu sub-collector and recounted the incident upon which he asked the DSP to register a case.  An FIR was lodged under sections 376 (ii) (g) IPC and section 3 (2) (V) of the SC ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act) 1989. The women were then brought to the King George Hospital (KGH) at 3.30 am of August 21 for medical examination. This was completed by around 10 am and the biological samples were sent to the forensic science laboratory at Hyderabad the same evening. A conclusive report is expected from the FSL in about 10 days.


The police did their worst to delay matters. Though the women were referred to the KGH at Paderu, the police initially took them to Anakapalle for the medical tests, though the hospital there is not equipped for such a process. The cops even threatened doctors at the hospital in Anakapalle to carry out the tests. The women refused to even get down from the van saying they wanted to be taken to the KGH at Vizag. There was a delay of about three and a half hours because of this.


About an hour after the Telugu news channels began flashing news of the incident on August 20, the DGP Mr Basith stated from Hyderabad that the police were innocent and that it was the Maoists who had provoked the women to make these allegations so as to undermine the morale of the police. He went on to add that the Maoists were doing this as they wanted to put a halt to the combing operations by the Greyhounds in the Agency region. Soon after, the State Home Minister Jana Reddy parroted this. There was a huge uproar from all mass organisations and political parties (excepting the Congress) which forced the Home Minister to modify his view the next day when he stated that “justice will be done and the culprits will not go free if the charges are proven”.


The district police have done virtually nothing after lodging the FIR. There has been no investigation at all. No statements have been recorded from the women even five days after the incident and there has not been any examination at the scene of offence. The Visakhapatnam SP (rural) Mr Akun Sabarwal said today that statements could not be noted because the women were “not available”. In fact, all 11 women were in the city at the KGH on the 21st and had left for Vakapalli only that evening. They were present in the village on the 22nd and 23 rd of August. It was only yesterday (24th) that they left by train to Hyderabad accompanied by women activists of the AP Mahila Samakya and the Chintapalli MLA G Demudu of the CPI. On Saturday (25th) the women met the chairperson of the State Human Rights Commission Sudarshan Reddy as well as  Chief Minister YS Reddy and the Home Minister. They are expected back to the district in a day or two.


Among the demands being raised by women’s’ and human rights organizations are immediate arrest of the police personnel. A test identification parade (TIP) has also to be done.

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