Saturday, 9 January 2010

The Idea of Semantics in Chhattisgarh

The Oxford Dictionary defines “police” as “an organised civil force for maintaining order, preventing and detecting crime, and enforcing the laws”.

The Oxford Dictionary defines “breach of trust” as “violation (either through fraud or negligence) by a trustee of a duty that equity requires of him”.

In Chhattisgarh, the whole idea of “semantics” is redefined. Language is not merely something that can be associated with the dictionary here; it has much to do with survival and death.

Socrates tried to get away from the vicious web of semantics, and hence chose to go deep into the roots of words, and their meanings. However, that depth is missing in the words that pour out from the mouths of intelligent civil services officers in Chhattisgarh. Their words explain the law and order within the state, their words explain how the lack of discipline in the state is hushed up. In this tribal belt of the country, the whole idea of elucidating and evading that vicious web of semantics gets a new meaning.

Throughout the evening of January 3, 2010, I made several attempts to contact Amresh Mishra, Superintendent of Police, Dantewada. But he chose not to answer any calls – I understood that it was a busy day and evening for him, with Sodi Sambo being “captured”.

The next day, on January 4, 2010, I gave him a call the instant I woke up, at 7.45 am. This is what transcribed between us, for 6 minutes. The conversation is a primer to the web of semantics in Chhattisgarh:

Priyanka: I am a journalist and I need to speak to you about Sodi Sambo. Where is she now? Why was she illegal detained last night?

Amresh: She has not been detained or arrested. She was only brought for questioning. We wanted to record and put our case in the Supreme Court also as there was no FIR lodged in the police station.

First of all we never had any authentic information about her encounter. It was only with Himanshu Kumar's statement and other people who were talking about it that we learnt about the incident. There was no FIR; we were searching her for the last 3 months, and we knew that she was captive somewhere. We learnt that she was most probably in the custody of Himanshu Kumar to which we had no access and we are still verifying the facts with her. Whether it was legal or illegal, we don’t know. That we will learn only after we speak to her guardians.

P: Were there any attempts made to get in touch with Himanshu Kumar in the interim period and ask him about her?

A: There were 3 letters sent to him, which were duly signed and returned by him. He was one of the complainants. We told him to kindly co-operate with us and to find her. But he made a mockery out of it on a Youtube video, where he said that, Police nahin bol sakte toh mein kaise bol sakta hoon?” Yesterday we learnt that she’s being taken to Raipur and we tried to get her. She’s not been detained. We have handed her over to her family.

P: Where are the family members right now?

A: They are in Dantewada.

P: Where is Sambo right now?

A: She is in Dantewada.

P: Where in Dantewada sir? It is a big town...

A: That we cannot disclose.

P: But she’s also an eyewitness to the incident that took place in Gompad…

A: She can be an eyewitness to anything. There’s no problem with that. But there was no FIR. We are not defending the police. There should have been an FIR. I needed first-hand information and not some borrowed information.

P: As far as I know about the law, any person who’s been an eyewitness to any incident, the statement from him/ her needs to be taken from the most comfortable location of that person which is usually the home. So why wasn’t the statement taken from her home?

A: More than an eyewitness she’s also a complainant to me that all this has happened to me and please do justice to me. Eyewitness is a separate thing; that issue will come up later on. First of all there’s a complaint against me by her in my name just after the incident so I needed to get that information. We are not recording her statement right now, but have handed her over to her parents, or her mama/mami whatever. I think that is the best confines for her right now and protect her form the clutches of other people.

P: But she needs a surgery on her leg for which she needs to be taken to Delhi. So what about that? Will you be making arrangements for it?

A: We will take care of it. It’s a medico-legal case and nobody except police and Govt doctors have any business into it. She’s also against vilification of evidence and destruction of evidence because she has been shot in her leg. It is a medico-legal case. She should have reported to the police, get the MLC conducted and then government doctors can refer her to any other doctor for treatment. All of that was not done in the last two months, due to the agenda of some people.

P: I would like to give you an example: if there has been attack on me by the police, and if I need to write an FIR, do you think the police would write an FIR against themselves, stating that they have themselves attacked me? Because that I what has happened now. Was there any better way that she could have taken this forward?

A: Our many SPOs are in the jail! But we wanted to be sure first rather that malign good SPOs. If we are sure that this has happened, then we will surely file an FIR.

P: How long will Sambo now be in Dantewada and in your custody?

A: I don’t know. She is now with her parents and she will leave with them in a bus in a few hours. If she needs a surgery we will take her to Raipur or Mumbai or wherever she needs to be taken. We will take care of everything.

P: Is there any likelihood that you will issue a warrant to arrest her?

A: There is no question of arresting her at all. Why should be arrested at all? This is again another concocted story. There will be no arrests. She is only a complainant for me; not an accused for me. She is a complainant who has written that she was shot by a police party. I need to verify that because till today, parties are claiming that there was an encounter.

P: As far as I know it has been a detention of a different kind. This could have been done during the day time too. Why was it done at night?

A: There was no detention at all. We were abiding the law. You can go to the Supreme Court and find out. This was not any detention.

P: But why was it done specifically yesterday? You could have done this earlier too…

A: Before that we had no access to her at all.

P: But there was no FIR also lodged. When she wanted to file one, it was rejected…

A: All of that is under enquiry. That is why we want to enquire with her. Once that is done, we will file the FIR.

P: What about her treatment now? Who will be taking responsibility for it?

A: It will all be taken care of. The state will take care of it.

P: Do you have her medical files with you?

A: Not right now. I will get them; I have to ask her guardians for it.

P: But why were the medical files not taken earlier? You were working on this case since yesterday… besides, since it is a medico-legal case, her guardians may or may not have the files…

A: After all the work yesterday till late night, we all wanted to sleep since we were all tired.

P: Do you have a translator for her, because I believe she cannot speak in Hindi..

A: 99 per cent of our men are Gondi-speaking, which is her dialect.

P: But she doesn’t speak Gondi….

A: 99 per cent of our men know all the languages here. The translation will be managed.

P: But she doesn’t speak Gondi….I know that for sure sir.

A: Does she speak Telugu? Does she speak Koya Mata then?

P: No sir she doesn’t.

A: Then whatever she speaks, we will find that out. And we will have all the information in hand.

P: Sir can I please come and meet you today?

A: I will be out all day today. I will let you know.

P: Can we confirm our meeting at 11 am?

A: I have other meetings. I will call you later than 11 am. Are you leaving today?

P: No I am not, but there are many other matters that I would like to speak to you about.

A: Is this your number? I will call you a few hours after 11 am. Don’t worry, we will meet today.

P: Thanks you for your time sir. Have a nice day.

Battling the system? Or battling the conscience? While Om Puri faced the dilemma in 'Ardh Satya', Amresh Mishra faces it in reality

The same afternoon, I went to meet Mishra, accompanied by few more independent journalists and activists. Of course the focus of the interview was the whereabouts of Sodi Sambo, her arrest, her treatment, her release, her custodians. It was a long interaction that lasted 36 minutes, and here is the four-part video of that interaction. Anyone with a keen eye will notice what needs to be noticed during the conversation and the person being interviewed.

PART 1 - Here Mishra explains about the “suppression” of the medico-legal case of Sodi Sambo; the fact that the entire police set-up is not the accused in this case; the debate about the existence of her “parents” or “guardians”; the emphasis on the need of villagers to go to a police station to file complaint, even if it is about 80 kms away; the need for people “responsible” for her – like NGOs – to approach the police; Sambo not being sent to hospital as “she wanted to relax”; the lack of “medical urgency”; his inability to answer what language she communicates in.

PART 2 - Here Mishra continues to speak about his lack of knowledge about Sodi Sambo residing in Himanshu Kumar's residence; the inaction by Kumar to aid the legal process in Sambo's case;  refusal to acknowledge that Sambo was prevented from boarding the bus on January 3, 2010; his overt refusal to acknowledge that Kumar would soon be slapped with charges of abduction of Sambo; the “body language” of Sambo which proved a couple to be her guardians; the missing case of her medical history; no casualty in the “firing” in Gompad when Sambo was injured; the discovery of explosives after the “firing”; his refusal to acknowledge that she was in police custody; his refusal to acknowledge that Sambo was brought from Kanker police station based on his order.

PART 3 - Here Mishra speaks about Sambo's location based on the “latitude and longitude”; his lack of knowledge about the names of her guardians; his own confusion about the “police protection” upon her; the difference in his statement about not “knowing where she was the previous night” and “not wanting to disclose the information”; the confusion about action not being taken about any police personnel who may be accused of any crime; his confusion about her “parents” and “guardians” and the Sarpanch who aided in ascertaining the guardians; the “complaint” filed by Sambo's family regarding her disappearance;  his lack of knowledge about the chronology of events when Sambo was accosted in Kanker.

PART 4 - Here Mishra says that we are not supposed to know if her record has been taken down honestly since “police is not accountable to citizens”; the judgments of doctor to not send her for medical treatment; his refusal of his earlier statement that Sambo's guardians were identified by her body language; his refusal to acknowledge the language in which Sambo communicates; the fact that no information is available with him at the present moment; his assurance of his duty to provide her protection; his assertion that “Chhattisgarh police is very efficient”.

On January 7, after the high-drama of my illegal detention, I went to meet Mishra again; this time with another set of activists, research scholars, and activists. No cameras were allowed in this time; the hostile air was looming large.

Mishra said that he knew that I had been recording his conversations over the phone.
Mishra said that he knew that I was putting up the conversations on the Internet for all to see.
Mishra said that he knew that my blog had become a tool powerful enough to make it unavailable temporarily.
Mishra said that recording my conversations with him was “a breach of trust”.

Here comes the vicious web of semantics.

Who has shot Sambo on her leg for no reason?
Who has worn the khaki and has misused it?
Who has tried to arrest Sambo for being the sole eyewitness to a massacre?
Who has prevented getting her a proper treatment?
Who has inflicted terror upon the tribals, who care nothing more than their frugal survival?
Who has passed the civil services exams, only to dis-serve the nation?
Who has exploited its own brethren at the behest of politicians and profit-hungry corporates?
Who has replaced a stone for a heart of conscience?
Who has fallen prey to a distraught system?
Who has turned into a persecutor instead of being a protector?
Who has exercised “breach of trust”?


  1. The word Police seems to have been derived from 'Guard" during rule of ancient societies.That would mean Guardian, had ther been no Social Guardian in form of Police, then my Esteemed Freind Priyankaji might not have been even able to move safely from Mumbai to Dantewada.
    As we all know Naxals have outraged "Peace" and "Liberty" in Dantewada, Priyankaji might not have been able to stay there.
    It was Police only Priyankaji who saved you and your five - star social activist friends from fury of tribals.It was police there which protected so - called Tribal GANDHI on 14th Dec,1009 and managed him to escape for Delhi in the darkness of night. It is Police only which is still silent on issue of arresting Himanshu Kumar who is in fact abductor of Poor Tribal lady Sodi Samboo.
    Please do not mislead nation and world by posting misleading facts.

  2. Dear Priyanka

    Your posting “The Idea of Semantics in Chhattisgarh” quite succinctly brings out the fact that the threat to life and liberty, for the poorest of the poor, comes from the state itself….the law protectors have become law breakers…No conscientious citizen is safe in the belly of the beast called Dantewada…..Indeed you have done a remarkable job in bringing out truth in front of is the horror story unfolding in its most monstrous fashion and it is not a tale of fiction…the signs of all round decay and degeneration are clear for those who want to see…and it is rotting from the top...the king has no clothes...

    the state has probably no answers to the incisive and straight questions that you have posed simply because in the state of Chattisgarh its law machinery is neither accountable nor it is answerable to the people (but perhaps only to the Corporates)….The questions itself pokes hole in the complex web of lies and deceit constructed by the state to justify its acts of the omission and commission in the present case and it clearly exposes the near prevalence of jungle law in the state and no amount of rhetorical and ideological fig-leaf by the state and their apologists can cover up the brutal objective reality and facts…this is the truth as you see it from the suffering people’s perspective and this is where the commitment to write the truth flows and also the urgent need to defend it till the last….

    There are people who find a “livelihood in the culture of the self-deceptions of the dominant classes” and there are people who believe in speaking up Truth against all odds in the service of poor and weak. Why? Because their hearts beat as one with the suffering ones…. because they cannot turn their face away from the society which is in deep agony and crying out for a relief ….because they believe silence is a crime and dissent is their duty…and (to quote Orwell) because “during times of universal deceit, telling the truth itself becomes a revolutionary act”

  3. Dear friend Sam,
    But it is a matter of agony that Priyankaji is not speaking the truth.They have been exposed in Dantewada and Nange Paon is going to expose this nexus of liars every where.

  4. Mr Rajesh what makes one and all to believe that what you say is the ONLY TRUTH and what Priyanka writes is all a big lie? If what you say is TRUE, then how come the so-called proclaimed TRUTH is not making BREAKING NEWS in National News Channels??? Why there is no news about Police Atrocities in Dantewada on News Channels?

    When the country faced the drought, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh lied to the nation saying - NOT EVEN A SINGLE INDIAN WILL DIE HUNGRY - However, many have died and are dying but there is no mention or news on the Dailies or News Channels respectively... can you tell me WHY Mr. Rajesh? The ruling government is the biggest LIAR and misleading the nation!

    While the nation is endlessly debating about the heinous crime of DGP Rathore, there is no mention of RAPE by SPOs and Sitaram Kalluri, who gets promotion by none other than Home Minister Chidambaram... IT is a shame that people like you have NO CONSSCIENCE left as a human being... well, I am sure you are not even worth to be called a HUMAN ...

    What did NANGE PAON do when VCA was razed by the government??? Let us hear the truth from you...

  5. There is no news in differsnt channels because Dantewada Police is not so atrocious as you claim it to be.Secondly Dantewada police sides with Himanshuji rather than siding with Poor tribals.
    For your Kind information ,He is Shiv Rama Prasad Kalluri not Sitaram Kalluri. He was falsely alleged of raping any one,which has already been heard and duly closed by The Honorable NHRC,District Court Surguja and Honbl'e High Court of 36GARH.
    Gentleman, Donot compare Kalluri with DGP Rathore of Punjab who is shame to the nation and Kalluri is pride of Chhattisgarh.Kalluri is future of peace in Chhattisgarh.
    Since I stand with and spell out truth, I do not think necessity of conscience, inspite of it courage is needed.

  6. Whatever you say As far as I understood, every journalist present in the interview was making mockery of the whole government set up. The work of police is to investigate and only police can investigate. If you do not believe in the system, it means you do not abide by the constitution. If police has done anything wrong, It must be brought to notice but one can not question the integrity of the post of SP. He was right when he said, "I am responsible for maintaining discipline in the force". One can not presume that he wwon't take action because he is the SP. Generalization of trends is very dangerous. Mind it. Treat system as system and people as people. There are good people like Amresh Mishra who are doing good job. Why don't Miss Priyanka see the killings by naxalites? Why don't she scream at them. Journalist now a days have become hypocrites. They will do anything to get the bite. But, it's maligning their profession. Maintain your integrity too otherwise you all won't be different from the nasty politicians we have got today.

  7. If you believe in democracy then you will have to content with the system.
    Amresh Mishra has helped Himanshu escape in the darkness of night,he is not arresting "Abductor of Sodi Sambhoo".

  8. An Open letter to DGP Vishwaranjan : Restore tribal rights in Dantewada (36 Garh)

    Venerable Vishwaranjan Sahab,
    Warm Regards;

    It is being brought under your vigilant notice that screams of tribals go unheard & their problems go un starred by the officers of your department. DIG Sri S.R.P. Kalluri and S.P. Sri Amresh Mishra have sided with the elite and powerful journalists and social activists in the past two months. They in spite of listening the tribal leaders of Dantewada district, ordered for their arrests en – masse. Where as So –posed Gandhian Sri Himanshu Kumar was given police protection. The tribal leaders who were demonstrating against that Gandhian were even not listened by these officers.

    Nandini Sundar given police protection & Nange Paon neglected
    Nandini Sundar is also a human rights activist and Nange Paon also falls under that category. Basic distinction between these two are:
    • Nandini Sundar is fortunate daughter of an I.A.S. officer whereas Nange Paon is unfortunate enough for not having such an elite background. Nange Paon has an indigenous background.
    • Nandini Sundar comes from Delhi (metropolis) and Nange Paon comes from a backward district of Chhattisgarh called Surguja.
    • Nandini Sundar comes from Delhi to defame the pious land of Maa Danteshwari and Nange Paon puts all his efforts to counter her “discredit ions to Chhattisgarh mahtari”.
    • Nandini Sundar figures out “killings, rape, loot & arson” by S.P.Os, the policemen and innocent villagers who have sought refuge in “relief camps” due to fear &fury of naxals; whereas the Nange Paon figures out “killings and devastation by the naxals”.
    But it is ironical, that Nandini Sundar was given police protection during her visit to Dantewada in the month of December, 2009. Nange Paon also visited the place to extricate the realities of “Fake – Satyagrah” by Himanshu Kumar but he was not given such an honor by these police officers.

    Medha Patkar was consulted for firing on innocent tribals
    The tribals of Dantewada were not even in a mood to see the unsolicited faces of Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey and others. To them, these activists were naxal supporters. But S.P. Sri Amresh Mishra in spite of giving an ear to the “victims of naxal – terror tribals” was asking from Medha Patkar to fire on these tribals. Whether Medha Patkar was Collector, Dantewada or Mrs. Reena Babasahb was?

    Himanshu escaped amid police – protection in the darkness of night
    What kind of guards were provided to Himanshu Kumar, who even were not able to watch his nefarious activities? When Sri Kalluri & Amresh Mishra came to know “that Sodi Sambhoo was in captivity of Himanshu Kumar since two months” then they secretly made Himanshu to escape.

    Why abductor of Sodi Sambhoo wanders free?
    From the agitation of tribal – leaders of Dantewada, it appears that “they were in know of captivity of Sodi Sambhoo” and that’s why they were agitating against Himanshu Kumar. But it is also a fact that tribal leaders were not even heard by any of the officers at that point of time, they were arrested.
    It is now evidently clear that abductor of Sodi Sambhoo is none other than Himanshu Kumar, who wanders free in the streets of metropolis.

    At this critical juncture, your attention is called upon to:
    Effectively check anti – nange paon (poor), anti – tribal and anti – rural attitude of D.I.G Sri S.R.P. Kalluri and S.P. Sri Amresh Mishra. Furthermore, they should be activated to ensure that Sri Himanshu Kumar should be brought to book as early as they can. Sri Himanshu has infringed upon the laws of land under, and he is an accused under SC/ST atrocities prevention act.

    Pledged to remain bare – foot until human rights are totally exercised;
    Sincerely Your's

    (Rajesh Singh Sisodia)
    Nange Paon Satyagraha, Vivekanand Nagar, M.G.Road – Ambikapur (C.G.)
    Mob: 09826921897 & 09229240638

  9. Nange Paon Satyagrah
    (Social battle for human rights)
    An appeal to post relevant in formations about SODI SAMBHOO: do not make a mockery of her poverty and innocence.

    Esteemed All,
    Warm Regards;

    We Chhattisgarhiyas are innocent not ignorant. In state of innocence we are usually not in know of what is being portrayed about us on various platforms. Sodi Sambhoo of our state is definitely a matter of discussion for all those engaged in promotion and protection of human rights, and she should be.
    But prior to making any posting about this lady who hails from Nange Paon (poor) category, it is my request that kindly verify the facts pertaining to her background, prior to posting any thing about her.
    A posting by Sri Javed Iqbal revealed that he parents are no more, whereas, I take this opportunity to unveil the same Sri Pusam Hunga S/O Sri Tumaiya is father & Mrs. Pusam Dule W/O Sri Pusam Hunga is mother of Sodi Sambhoo. Her parents are based in Maita village, whereas her husband’s village is Gompad.
    I invite every one concerned with Sodi Sambhoo to Dantewada for verification of facts about her. Please do not mislead esteemed readers of this pious forum.
    Nange Paon pledges to cater justice to Sodi Sambhoo, in this endeavor we seek to distance equally from the police as well as such believers of human rights who post false in formations about her. To us “Police is a visible snake, whereas the later one are like hidden snakes in the grass, which can bite us any time”. Sodi and parents too damn care for both, that’s why they refused to meet everyone in the hospital. They do not like to meet any one. They are more concerned about the treatment and prestige of her daughter. They are most worried about the arrest of the “abductor of Sodi, who wanders freely in the streets of Delhi”.
    We are deeply vexed to see the ties of police with the abductor of Sodi Sambhoo.
    Pledged to remain bare – foot until human rights are totally exercised;
    Sincerely Your's

    (Rajesh Singh Sisodia)
    Nange Paon Satyagraha, Vivekanand Nagar, M.G.Road – Ambikapur (C.G.)
    Mob: 09826921897 & 09229240638