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Prakhar Jain

A project report submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for

the Degree of Master of Arts in Social Work
Dalit and Tribal Studies and Action

Centre for Social Justice and Governance

School of Social Work
Tata Institute of Social Sciences



I, Prakhar Jain, hereby declare that this dissertation entitled Impact of conflict between Salwa
Judum and Naxalites on school education: A study in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh is the
outcome of my own study undertaken under the guidance of Mr Biswaranjan Tripura, Assistant
Professor, Centre for Social Justice and Governance, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social
Sciences, Mumbai. It has not previously formed the basis for the award of any degree, diploma, or
certificate of this Institute or of any other institute or university. I have duly acknowledged all the
sources used by me in the preparation of this dissertation.

4 March 2015 Prakhar Jain



This is to certify that the dissertation entitled Impact of conflict between Salwa Judum and
Naxalites on school education: A study in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh is the record of the
original work done by Prakhar Jain under my guidance and supervision. The results of the research
presented in this dissertation have not previously formed the basis for the award of any degree,
diploma or certificate of this institute or any other institute or university.

4 March 2015 Biswaranjan Tripura

Assistant Professor
Centre for Social Justice and Governance
School of Social Work
Tata Institute of Social Sciences

Dedicated to all those adivasi men, women and children

who have suffered because of conflict between Salwa Judum and Naxalites
and continue to fight from its tragic memory


Acknowledgement vi
Abbreviations, Acronyms and Glossary vii-viii
Abstract ix-x

Chapter 1: Tribes, State and Education 01

1.1. School education in Madhya Pradesh (1947 to 2000) 14
1.2. Chhattisgarh and education (2000-2014) 22
1.3. Education in Bijapur (2007-2014) 37

Chapter 2: Methodology 50

Chapter 3: Genesis of Salwa Judum 58

Chapter 4: Salwa Judum, Naxals and adivasi school education 75

4.1. Impact of conflict between Salwa Judum and Naxalites on school education 75
4.2. Naxalites and school education 90

Chapter 5: Adivasi and schools 98

Chapter 6: Reflections 120

References and Bibliography 125



It is to the people of Bastar I owe this research. However, it is always a burden for a researcher to
justify the time and resources used in coming out with his/her findings and assure its use for the
future generation. I realise that I might not pass that test with flying colours yet I would like to put
on record that whatever I have learnt among people I would always use it to further their cause for
justice and rights. I thank each of my respondent for enthusiastically answering all my questions
and travelling with me to deep inside the forests and leading the way.

This research would not have been possible without the guidance of Dr B Devi Prasad, Professor,
Centre for Equity for Women, Children and Families who clarified every doubt of mine in precise
and direct manner and helped me resolve my moral dilemmas. I am grateful to Dr Alex Akhup, Dr
Bipin Jojo, bodhi sr, and Monica Sakhrani from Centre from Social Justice and Governance who
patiently sat through all my research presentations and critiqued and motivated me to be thorough
with my work.

My guide, Biswaranjan Tripura, is a source of energy and inspiration for me. He has introduced me
with some of the basic concepts used in this research and given me ample reading material to
saturate myself with the topic. I thank him wholeheartedly for giving me independence to design
and execute this research and feedback he gave to refine my themes and chapters.

My forays in Bastar could not have been possible without the help of my extended family members.
Special thanks to Bade Papa, Badi Maa, Mausaji, Masi, Manish bhaiya, Chini bhaiya, Harish
bhaiya, Shweta didi and Shruti. Without their support, I cannot even imagine travelling fearlessly in
the forests. It is because of their hard earned trust in the region that I was easily accepted by the
people of Bastar.

Deepest thanks to my parents who have always supported my aspirations without ever questioning
the direction of my pursuits. A special thank you to all the friends from Tata Institute of Social
Sciences, especially my room-mates Mangal, Neerad, and Ramanand, who did co-operate with me
in putting together this work.

Thank you Aakriti and Namrata for taking out time to go through the chapters.


Adivasi Literally meaning original habitant, a term used to

refer to indigenous tribal communities in India
Anudeshak Teachers hired on contract basis for Portable Cabins
Ashram school Government-run residential school in rural areas
Bal sangam Village-level Naxalite childrens association
Begari Practice of forced labour without any pay
Bhumkal Gondi word for rebellion
Bisaha System in which price of food grains in fixed by the state and
at that price the state servants could buy grains from villagers
for their own consumption
Block Several blocks make a district
BRC Block Resource Centre
Child Any human being above 18 years of age
CAF Chhattisgarh Armed Force, under the control of the
Chhattisgarh state government
CNM Chaetana Natya Manch, a street theatre troupe
organized and managed by Naxalites
CPI (Maoist) Communist Party of India (Maoist), a prominent
Naxalite political party
CRC Cluster Resource Centre
CRPF Central Reserve Police Force, paramilitary police under
the control of the Indian central government
Dalam Armed squad of Naxalites
DISE District Information System for Education
District A unit of administration; many districts make a state
District collector (DC) Highest district-level administrative officer under the state
Diwan Highest district-level administrative officer in King's court
Dropout A pupil who has prematurely withdrawn from school
Eklavya school Special schools for adivasi children

Evaji Substitute children

Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) Number of pupils (of any age) who are enrolled in primary
education as a percentage of the total children of official
school age population
Gyan Jyoti Schools Schools for tribes in hilly areas
Jan militia Armed informers who travel with dalams
Kasturba Gandhi Girls School Centrally funded schools
Naxalite Term used to describe rebel groups in India that
believe in the Maoist ideology
NCPCR National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights
Net Enrolment Ratio (NER) The number of children of official primary school age
who are enrolled in primary education as a percentage of the
total children of the official school age population
OOSC Out-of-school children
Panchayat Three tier system of self-governance
Patel Village headman
PLGA Peoples Liberation Guerrilla Army, standing army of
CPI (Maoist) party
Portable Cabins (Porta/Pota Cabin) Large residential schools made out of bamboo sheets
Radical Study Centre Students' group formed by Naxals at school level
Retention Ability of student to remain and progress in school until they
complete their education cycle
Sangham Village-level Naxalite association
Sarpanch Village officialhead of the gram panchayat
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Govt. program to universalize elementary education
Shiksha Karmi Assistant teachers hired on contract basis
STS Single teacher schools
SP Superintendent of Police
SPOs Special police officers, auxiliary police force
Superintendent of police (SP) Highest district-level police officer
Taluk/pargana A unit of land for revenue collection
Tribe/tribal Term used to refer to indigenous people in India
Zamindari An area under a Zamindar (landlord) for revenue collection


When an anti-Naxal movement called Salwa Judum began in 2005 in south-Chhattisgarh, the issues
of tribals living in Bastar region became one of the important talking points in nationally. While the
movement was described as "spontaneous people's movement" and "peace mission" (Sundar, 2006,
EPW) by the state government, the media and human rights organisations often dubbed it as state
sponsored armed vigilante movement (PUCL, 2006).

The movement started from a village called Kutru in west of Dantewada district (now in Bijapur
district) allegedly over a dispute between few of the alleged ground level Maoists and the local
villagers who wanted to contest panchayat elections. There are however many versions to it, which
have been dealt in a separate chapter in this dissertation. The villagers then started organising
themselves under a prominent politician, who was also at the forefront of a similar initiative in
1989-91 called Jan Jagran Abhiyan (People's Awakening Movement) (Sundar 2006, Colloquium

The movement soon spread to other parts of the region and between 2005 and 2007, 644 out of
1153 villages in 6 out of total of 11 blocks in south-Bastar (Dantewada) district became part of it.
Officially, it led to displacement of 47,238 tribals to government run relief camps, while other
estimates put the figure close to one lakh. In the violence that ensued, 412 people were killed and
348 were injured till January 2007 (Collector's memo, 2007).

During the same period, 6,930 children in the age group of 6-14 were living in these camps and
were accommodated in schools specifically built for them in the camp premises. However, a lot
many dropped out of school (Ibid). Additionally, according to a letter written by the Chairperson of
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), it was estimated that close to
40,000 children were out of schools in the region (Sinha 2010).

The latest census figures say that Bijapur has a literacy rate of 41 percent which is abysmally low
when compared to the national average of 74 percent. Such is the condition that out of five children
who enrol in class I, only one is able to reach till class VIII. These figures are significant because
majority of population in the district comprises of people from Gond, Dorla and Halba tribe (DISE

This dissertation tries to minutely look at the historical processes which led to Salwa Judum
becoming such a brute force against Naxals that their conflict led to destruction and closure of 189
primary and middle schools in Bijapur district affecting the education of 4,231 children. It further
looks at impact of Salwa Judum on school education using grounded theory and also tries to find
how children came to be recruited in armed groups by the state sponsored vigilante group called
Special Police Officers and in the armed cadre organised by Naxalites.

Interventions made by State to accommodate children caught in conflict in Residential Bridge

Course Centres and Portable Cabins and their subsequent proliferation all across the district is
discussed and the increase in enrolment of children to historical levels in analysed. They are then
related to other barriers to tribal education and steps taken by the State to overcome those barriers.

A holistic picture is presented in the final chapter, which also tries to look at the various challenges
being faced by the children today and the areas where interventions can be made to overcome them.


Tribes in India
Tribes in India are known to different people in different ways. Some call them uncultured
beings who speak same language and follow same culture, while some consider them extremely
backward and call them 'primitive' and 'Khanabadosh' (wanderers).

There are various theories regarding the origin of the word tribe. For Romans tribe was a
political organization. In Anthropology tribe is a common social group which lives in a pre-
defined territory with distinct culture, language, mannerisms and social organization. They have
many sub-communities and generally have a leader and protector. British Anthropologists have
called them an independent political and social organization who follow self-rule (Chauhan

Hutton has called them primitive tribes, Elwin Aboriginals, Bens Jungle People. From 1891
onwards, the decennial census calls them by different names. Bens called them forest tribes in
1891. In 1901 they were called Naturalists, in 1911 nature worshipers, while 1921 report called
them hill and other tribes. 1931 census categorized them as primitive tribes. Government of India
Act 1935 went a step further to call them backward tribes. It was only in 1941 that they were
simply called tribes.

Western writers have called them geographically separate, who have defined territory and have
distinct social, economical and cultural traditions. In Indian context they have also been called
Gypsy, Criminal and Wandering tribes. The Imperial Gazetteer defines tribes as groups of
families with same name, language, shared common territory and follow endogamy. Nayak has
developed an elaborate checklist to identify tribes. Vidyarthi, Dube, Sinha and Betille's definition

of tribe is also there (Chauhan 2006).

They are often called Adivasis, Moolnivasi, Girijans, Adimjati (primitive) and Aboriginal.
However according to Article 366 (25) of the Constitution of India, Scheduled Tribes as those
communities who are included in a schedule according to Article 342 of the Constitution. Thus
the communities have to be recognized as Scheduled Tribes by the government in ordered to be
called as tribes.

The essential characteristics, first laid down by the Advisory Committee on Revision of SC/ST
Lists (1965), for a community to be identified as Scheduled Tribes are indications of primitive
traits, distinctive culture, shyness of contact with the community at large, geographical isolation,
and backwardness. According to this, a community which is recognized as a tribe in a particular
state might not be identified as such in another state.

In 2011, there were 705 notified scheduled tribes spread across 30 states and union territories.
Their overall population was 10,42,81,034 and they formed 8.6 percent of the total population.
This is a major improvement from 2001, when the total tribal population was 8,43,26,978, which
was just 8.2 percent of the total population. A majority of these tribes were living in rural areas
(Census 2011).

The sex ratio among tribes has increased considerably over the years and a marked change
change can be seen from 1991 onwards, when the ratio was just 972, which later increased to
978 in 2001 and to 990 in 2011.

Chhattisgarh and tribes

According to 2001 census the tribal population in Chhattisgarh was 66,16,596 (31.8 percent) out
of total 2,08,33,803 people residing in the state. Although the tribal population increased to
78,22,902 in 2011 census, but the total share of tribal population in the state dropped to just 30.6

percent of the total population1. In all, the tribal population of the state formed 7.5 percent of the
total tribal population of the nation.

Tribes in the state are spread all across and out of 18 districts in the state, 13 districts have more
than 25 percent tribal population. Out of these 13 districts, seven districts have more than 50
percent tribal population. What is interesting to note is that only 49.9 percent tribals live in tribal
areas, while 50.1 percent tribals live in non-tribal areas2.

The state comes seventh in order of states with highest tribal population after Madhya Pradesh,
Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan Gujarat and Jharkhand. When it comes to highest percentage of
tribes in total population it comes fifth after the states of Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya and
Arunachal Pradesh (Census 2001, 2011).

According to Vaishnav (2004), there are 31 tribe groups in the state. However, the Ministry of
Tribal Affairs in 2011 recognized 42 tribes 3. They can be broadly categorized under seven
parameters viz. geographical, economical, socio-economic development, language, ethnicity,
population, and education.

The area of this study, which is southern geographical part of Chhattisgarh, comprises of
Dantewada, Bastar and Kanker regions where Halba, Paradhi, Gadaba, Paraja, Dorla, Bhatra,
Muria, Madia, Gond, Pradhan, etc. tribes are found. They are mostly hunters-foragers who
simultaneously engaged in simple and advanced agriculture.

Their language comes from Dravidian family of languages which often derives its name from the
name of the tribe. Like Gonds speak Gondi, Dorlas speak Dorla and Paraja speaks Paraja. These
tribes can be further sub-categorized on various basis. For example Gonds can be further sub-

1 Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Chhattisgarh http://www.descg.gov.in/CG_Census_Demograpy.aspx,

accessed on January 25, 2015
2 Ministry of tribal affairs http://tribal.nic.in/Content/STATISTICSDivision.aspx, accessed on January, 25 2015
3 Ministry of tribal affairs http://tribal.nic.in/Content/scheduledtribes.aspx, accessed on January 25, 2015

categorised into Badi Mariya, Bada Mariya, Bison Horn Mariya, Chota Mariya, Dandami
Mariya, Hill Maria, Kucha Mariya, Kuchaki Mariya, Madia, Wadde Mariya, Muriya, Mudiya,
Dhurwa, Dhuru, Kiotur, Koya, Dorla and Raj Gond.

Situating Bastar
Bastar region is located on the southern most plateau of the state, south of Chhattisgarh plain. It
extends from 17 degree 4546 North to 20 degree 3033 N latitude and 80 degree 1459 East
to 82 degree 1459 East. It is surrounded by Rajnandgaon, Durg and Raipur district on North,
East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh on south and south-east, Koraput district of Odisha on
East and Chandrapur district of Maharashtra on north-west and Karim Nagar and East Godavari
District of Andhra Pradesh in west and south-west respectively.

There are 24 tribes in Bastar. Mariya, Muria, Paraja, Gadba, Dhurwa, Raj Gond and Mantri Gond
are some of the major tribes. However there is little difference in their clothing, behaviour and
way of living (Shukla, Mishra 1995).

Bastar was one of the 555 Riyasat (kingdom) in colonial India and used to come under Central
Provinces and Berar. It was the largest feudatory state of the Central Provinces with an area of
13,062 square miles, with a length of 170 and breadth of 120 miles (Joshi 1990, Behar 1995).

Before British it used to be ruled by Kakatiya lineage. Before them it used to be ruled by Nag
lineage. It is however not clear that from which year the Kakatiya rule began in Bastar. Some
historians believe that it was in 14th century while another section believes that it began in 15
century (Behar 1995).

According to the widely accepted history, Bastar became a princely state in 1324 AD, when
Annama Deva, brother of the last Kakatiya King Pratapa Rudra Deva (1290-1325) left Warangal
and established his kingdom at Bastar under the guidance of local goddess, 'Danteshwari.' The
state was ruled by his successive generation.

The state derives its names from its erstwhile capital village Bastar, which is 19 km north of
Jagdalpur town. The capital was shifted to Jagdalpur, which is on southern side of Indrawati
river, after the Maratha invasion of 1750 A.D.

It was in 1854 that British annexed Bhonsale kingdom, which led to Bastar being included in
British Paramountcy (Behar, Behar 1995). In 1856 the Bastar state was divided into 27 garhs
(forts) and nine taluks or parganas (revenue division) along with Zamindaris. By 1898 the
number of parganas were reduced to five and there were seven Zamindaris: Sukma,
Bhopalpatnam, Kutru, Paralkot, Chintalnar, Kotapal and Phutkel. The state remained fairly
independent till 1861 the state became part of the newly formed Central Provinces and Berar.
Pravin Chandra Bhanj Deo (1929-1966) was the 20th and last ruling head of the state ascending
to throne in 1936, but acceding it to the Union of India in 19484.

The district of Bastar was created in 1948 when the princely state of Bastar and Kanker were
merged together along with various Zamindaris spread over 39,000 square kilometres (Bastar
Gazetter 2000). It is considered to be a part of Dandakaranya forest mentioned by Valmiki in the
famous mythological text of Ramayana and is also said to be part of the Kosala Kingdom
described in the tales of Mahabharata5.

In 1951, after the abolition of Zamindaris, which were mostly in Bijapur tehsil, the district was
reorganized into eight blocks (tehsils): Kanker, Bhanupratappur, Kondagaon, Narayanpur,
Jagdalpur, Konta, Bijapur and Dantewada. These tehsils were further grouped into three sub-
divisions: Kanker, north-Bastar (Jagdalpur) and south-Bastar (Dantewada).

When the Madhya Pradesh Reorganisation of Districts Act came to force in May 21, 1998, these
sub-divisions were made independent districts of Bastar, Kanker and Dantewada. Dantewada
district comprised of Bhopalpatnam, Bijapur, Dantewara and Konta tehsils.
4 District of Bastar http://bastar.gov.in/bastar_history.htm, accessed on Jan 27, 201 5
5 Ibid

Before this trifurcation, Bastar was the third largest district in India after Leh in Jammu and
Kutch in Gujarat. Also, its total area was more than the area of the state of Kerala.

Situating Bijapur
Bijapur is one of the 27 districts of the state which was carved out of Dantewada district in May
2007. It is situated in south-Chhattisgarh with borders touching Dantewada district in north, east
and north-east parts and Andhra Pradesh in south and south-west areas. The boundary of state of
Maharashtra touches the western part of the district.

It occupies an area of 6562.48 square kilometers out of which 1848.04 sq. km.(28 percent) is
covered by forests. There are 696 villages in the district out of which 574 are inhabited, 122
uninhabited and 19 are forest villages.

The total population of the district according to 2011 census is 2,55,230 out of which 1,28,663
are male and 1,26,567 are female giving a sex ratio of 984. The total tribal population was
2,04,189 out of which 1,01,519 were male and 1,02,670 were female. Thus 80 percent of total
population in Bijapur is tribal with a sex ratio of 1011 6. The population is scattered across the
district with a density of 39 persons per square kilometres.

The growth of population in the district in last 11 decades has been in double digits except in
two decades when it was in single digit. From 1911 to 1921 and from 2001 to 2011 the
population growth was merely 5.25 percent and 8.76 percent respectively, while in other decades
it has been much more healthy (Census 2011). One can attribute the did to the Bhumkal revolt of
1910 and Salwa Judum movement of 2005.

The literacy rate of the state is 40.86 percent out of which male literacy is 50.46 percent and
female literacy is 31.11 percent. Gondi, Halbi, Dorli, Hindi, Telgu and Marathi are the languages
6 Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Raipur, Chhattisgarh,
http://www.descg.gov.in/CG_Census_Demograpy.aspx, accessed on Feb 25, 2015

widely spoken in the district.

When Salwa Judum began in mid 2005, Bijapur was still a part of Dantewada district which
comprised of 11 blocks namely Dantewada, Geedam, Kuwakonda, Katekalyan, Chindgarh,
Bijapur, Bhairamgarh, Bhopalpatnam, Usur, Konta and Sukma which in turn were bundled under
four tehsils of Dantewada, Bijapur, Bhopalpatnam and Konta-Sukma. The cumulative population
was 7,19,487 out of which 3,56,928 were male and 3,62,559 were female. Most of these
belonged to different tribes (78.51 percent) with a small number belonging to scheduled caste
(3.35 percent). Rest were from general category. The people were distributed in 1354 villages
which were under 409 gram panchayats (Collectors memo 2007).

Education and Tribes

Bronis Law Malinowski (1947) says, Education includes every process, except the genetic, that
help to mold a person's mind, character or physical capacity. It is a life-long process, for we must
learn new ways of thought and action with every major change in our lives. Ananda (2000)
takes this definition further and says that education is the inculcation in each generation certain
knowledge, skills and attitudes by means of institutions such as schools, deliberately created for
this end. He also quotes Kneller stating that education reacts to events in other parts of culture
and many occasions affect these events itself, and questions how newly introduced formal
educational institutions and the value imparted through them fit in to the organized schemes of
things in the individual cultures, how they can be adopted to the changing needs of the cultures
concerned, how the social, economic, political and cultural factors play a crucial role in the
acceptance or rejection of the formal education in developing societies, and the flaws in the
educational systems in the developed societies, especially in the context of minority group

The question of education of indigenous people often generates debates which are often
polarizing. Inherent to this debate is the argument whether to integrate or assimilate or isolate the
tribal population (Srivastava 1965).

Similarly, various arguments have been proposed whether a structural formal education system is
required for the tribal population or they are better off without it. In one of the anthropological
history of Bastar, it has been noted that, ...people positively wanted education, and objected
only to extortionate demands by schoolmasters. They had apparently told Ward that they wanted
one person in every household to read and write so that they could explain rules to the rest
(Sundar 2007:148). This description is however in relation to the atrocities being committed by
'outsiders' on the tribal families.

Even if one were to concede that education is necessary, question arises about the nature and
scope of that education. Various academicians have debated for long about the benefit of using
indigenous languages for primary education. It is apt to quote from a research by Gonzalo et al
(1951: 234): "Experience has repeatedly shown that on first contact with white or mestizo the
Indian withdraws within himself, takes flight, or acts foolish, if spoken to in Spanish. While if
spoken to in his own language he is communicative, frank - there is a kind of spiritual surrender.
To ignore this reality would be unwise. Gonzalo quotes two more people in his study. One of
them Alvarez Barret (Ibid) says: "The native languages are the genuine instruments of the
mind . . . and also the most adequate for teaching reading and writing. Another person quoted is
Dr. Maurice Swadesh who corroborates the words spoken by Barrent and further talks of his
experiences of teaching the natives with reference to the length of time consumed and says that
months and even years are saved by using the native language.

On the other hand, the experience from the field says that some teachers want the education to
happen in the language other than the local language, as it is difficult to have the course content
in local language because of changing nature of the language every few kilometres. They were
okay with having the local language as an additional subject (Jojo 2013).

Additionally, the question is to where to provide the education. International and national
literature has questioned the benefit of residential schools. They are seen as places for

introducing 'dominant culture' among the tribe, or as failed experiments. One of the scathing
criticisms of these schools in US, Peru, Mexico, etc., says:

The results were disappointing to the creators of the schools. In most cases those (tribal
students) who returned to their homes were absorbed into its environment; the new cultural
force, overwhelmed by numerous problems, became negative. After a period of spiritual shock
some of these new Indians became acclimated to their surroundings, and by degrees forgot all
they had learned. In other cases they turned into rebellious and unconforming beings, unable to
adapt to the indigenous manner of living. These left their homes, seeking adventure in the towns
and cities, living by means of lowly employment (Gonzalo et al 1951: 229).

In Indian context, it has been reported that Ashram Schools (residential schools) are working
against the objectives for which they were created.

The general condition and lack of upkeep and maintenance of the class rooms, confusion about
the use of the medium of instruction for tribal children, faulty methods of teaching, unqualified
and inexperienced teaching are hampering the childrens learning especially in subjects like
Mathematics, Science and English. Lack of curricular aid and limited scope of curricular and
extracurricular activities affect their cognitive development and negatively impact their academic
and non-academic development. In addition to this, the constant disparagement of their culture
and customs affects their pride in their identity and sense of dignity (Jojo 2013:393).

This also raises an important question of who the teachers should be. In the above mentioned
research, the teachers wanted the tribals students to study in a multicultural school, pointing out
the benefit accrued of such an arrangement (Ibid). Some researchers have proposed that teachers
act as a bridge in helping oversee the cultural transformation of tribals (Gonzalo et al 1951).

We then arrive at the most important question of what should be taught. In Indian context, it has
been argued that the current curriculum serves ...to assist SC and ST children to internalise the

symbols of 'backward' behaviour (Kumar 1983:1566).

However, as the focus of this research is on school education in conflict situation. experiences of
international agencies have shown how schools have been used as Zones of Peace (ZoP) to make
a political statement. In Sri Lanka, it was observed that by using tropes of the child and working
with child advocacy organizations, parties to the conict could provide evidence of their moral
tness, spatial stability, and thereby garner positive international support (Margo 2009:881).

Therefore, when the struggle is at the ideological level, it becomes imperative to look at the
dynamics of armed struggle in context of children and their education. In Thailand, it has been
recorded that if the ideological battles are fought for long, the indoctrination begins at an early
stage (Hogg 2010). Same can be said for areas affected by civil strife, where young kids are
recruited as bal sanghams (Civil society report 2006).

Thus, the need of education in conflict areas has been highlighted in adequately in a report called
Classrooms in Conflict which highlights the social aspect of education and says from the
experience of children that, Within their squalid camp, Jennifer and others like her consider
education as vital a need as food, shelter, clothing, and health care. Without education, children
and adolescents lose hope and confidence in themselves and in their future. They attribute the
rising ills within their communities an increase in early marriage and forced (Anderson 2009:

The report also stresses on the importance of education:

Reading, writing and arithmetic are critical, to be sure, but education also provides the
cognitive, physical and psychological protection that children need to pursue freedom and
work towards peaceful development of their families, communities and their countries.
Without the backbone of education - and the critical reasoning skills and opportunities it
provides - a young body and mind is more susceptible to being sexually or economically

exploited or exposed to other risks. Especially worrisome is the recruitment into armed
groups and gangs that provide structure and sense of belonging in a broken, conflicted
society (Ibid:67).

The international community has thus endorsed universalisation of education and affirmed it
through Article 26 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), which affirms the Right to
Education without discrimination and declares that primary education should be free and
compulsory, that secondary education in its different forms (including technical and vocational
training) should be made available and accessible to all by every means appropriate, and that the
higher levels of education should be open to all on the basis of merit. This proclamation has been
reconfirmed in at least ten other major international treaties ranging from the Geneva Convention
in 1949 to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. Various other international
agreements, particularly the 2000 Millennium Development Goals, have reaffirmed this and have
given an additional push to this politically.

Education of tribes in India

Before independence, one can find various references of British and Christian missionaries
trying to educate the tribes (High Level Committee on Socio-Economic Health and Educational
Status of Tribal Communities in India 2014). Post-independence, we see Article 45 and 46 of the
Constitution of India, which deals with Directive Principles of State Policy, talk about free and
universal compulsory education with Article 46 especially talking about taking special care of
educational interests of Scheduled Tribes.

In due course of time Backward Classes Commission (1956), the SC and the ST Commission
(1962) analysed the issues of tribal education. They note, Srivastava LRN (1965) has pointed
out, that slow progress of education among the tribals in India is due to inadequate provisions of
schools for these communities. The tribals generally live in inaccessible areas in small and
scattered villages and therefore schools are not available for all of them. Almost all the studies on
tribal education in India pointed that 'poverty' and 'neglect' happened to be the root cause for the

slow progress of their education (Renuka Ray Committee 1959).

Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes Commission (1960-61), chaired by U.N. Dhebar, and the
Indian Education Commission (1964-66) under the Chairmanship of Prof. DS Kothari also
studied the educational development among tribes. The Dhebar Commission found the problem
of absenteeism, stagnation and drop-outs among the tribals were far greater than others.
Education Commission (1964-66) observed that one of the important objectives of education is
to equalise opportunity enabling the backward or under-privileged classes and individuals to use
education as a lever for the improvement of their condition. It further stated that different tribal
people are at varying stages of economic development and a uniform approach between different
tribal areas as applied in a mechanical manner will not serve the purpose.

Planning Commission report on development challenges in left-wing extremism areas (2008)

invokes the theory of survival of the fittest in market based economy to say that Scheduled
Tribes are not the fittest in the society. It further goes on to say that poor Scheduled Tribes
need to have at least little bit of education to reap the benefit of rapid economic growth.

For better development of tribes, it calls for a three tiered structure in tribal majority areas:
Ashram and vocational schools in cluster of 10 villages; Eklavya schools in each block, and
Navodaya schools in each district. It also urges that the education system should not shy away
from speaking to the undemocratic practices that abound in our society.

The High Level Committee on Socio-Economic Health and Educational Status of Tribal
Communities in India (2014) talks about British educational policy which applied filteration
theory according to which education has to trickle down to the masses through the upper
classes, who would be the first to be educated at centrally located model institutions. However,
there were some exceptions and some schools were opened in tribal areas.

Table 1.1: Literacy rate in India (source: Registrar General of India)

Figures in percent 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001 2011
Total literate population 28.30 34.45 43.57 52.21 64.84 72.99
ST literate population 8.53 11.30 16.35 29.60 47.10 58.96
Total female literate 15.35 21.97 29.76 39.29 53.67 64.64
ST female literate 3.16 4.85 8.04 18.19 34.76 49.35
Total male literate 40.40 45.96 56.38 64.13 75.26 80.89
ST male literate population 13.83 17.63 24.52 40.65 59.17 65.5

1.1. School education in Madhya Pradesh (1947-2000)

Shivkumar and Shrikamal (2009) provide an exhaustive analysis of steps taken by Madhya
Pradesh in tribal education. The following data is mainly a synopsis of their work.

Administrative framework
All development works for tribes in Madhya Pradesh was controlled by Commissioner, Tribal
Development at the State level. Additionally there were two co-ordinators (Sanchalaks) who are
responsible for regional development and running Tribal Research and Training Institute. At
division level, there were Regional Tribal Development Authority (Pradhikaran) working. They
were terminated in 1996-97 and were replaced by Deputy Commissioners in 10 divisions.

In tribal dominated districts, the Chief Operating Officers, District Panchayat also had
administrative and financial powers. There were Additional Commissioners (Sahayak Ayukt)
working in tribal dominated 21 districts.

To ensure co-ordination between Tribal Sub-Plan and Special Areas Plan for 44 big projects and
five medium level projects, program officers were posted. In 38 Modified Area Development
Approach (MADA) projects and small regions, the officer in-charge was respective district

At 174 blocks the CEO of Zanpad (block) Panchayat was responsible for tribal development.
The responsibility was also shared by block development officers. There were education officers
in each of the 159 block which reported to Zanpad Panchayat.

Five year plan wise analysis

In first two five-year plans, importance was given to primary education. Total spending was Rs
348.04 lakh on education. Third five year plan saw one-third of Rs 308.96 lakh organised

(planned) expenditure spent on education . During the same time, schools were transferred from
education department to tribal welfare department and three new programs for Hostels, Ashrams,
and Scholarships were launched. There were 4,971 primary, 527 middle and 104 high-middle
schools at that time with 551 tribal hostels and 35 Ashrams operational. Technical Training
Institutes were also set up.

In fourth five year plan out of Rs 1706.24 lakh organised (planned) expenditure, Rs 786.15 lakh
(46.07) percent was spent on education. Infrastructure was improved and the number of schools
went up to 8,406 primary, 141 middle and 235 upper-middle schools and 135 Ashrams and 1,411

Fifth five-year plan (1974-79) saw Tribal-Sub Plan being introduced. Qualitative improvements
were made by trying to understand the reluctance of tribal students in going to school and the
reasons for their drop-out. Scholarship amount and number was increased during this plan.

However infrastructure improvement was not leading to educational improvements. The children
become a helping hand or an earning member when quite young and that is why families didn't
prefer to send them to school. People found it difficult to arrange money for education.

Work under Tribal Sub-Plan

Table 1.2: Tribal Sub Plan budget and expenditure (in Rs lakhs) (Including Central Assistance)
(source: Tribal Regional Development Secretariat Bhopal (Aadviasi Kshetriya Vikas Niyojan
Sanchalanalaya, Bhopal cited in Shivkumar and Shrikamal 2009)
Plan period Budget provisions Actual expenditure
Fifth (1974-79) 26000 30808
Sixth (1980-85) 83916 81454
Seventh (1985-90) 162207 158525
Yearly (1990-91) 55379 45447
Yearly (1991-92) 59517 51277

Eight (1992-1997) 333497 290345

Ninth (1997-2002) 366105 ----

Table 1.3: Schools being run by Tribal Department of Madhya Pradesh

(source: Shivkumar and Shrikamal 2009)
Year Lower Primary Middle High School Higher
Primary Secondary
1966-67 ---- 4,983 623 ---- 111
1970-71 ---- 6,118 806 ---- 171
1980-81 ---- 13,497 2,292 ---- 520
1985-86 ---- 15,472 2,806 ---- 520
1990-91 1,000 15,548 3,294 388 355
1995-96 1,751 15,912 3,394 484 454
1998-99 1,301 17,415 4,065 671 681

Number of schools increased substantially after initiation of Tribal Sub-Plan, but it did not lead
to expected increase in literacy level among tribes. In 1991 there were only 2599.4 thousand
literate tribals. This was just 16.88 percent of total population with only 32.1 percent male and
10.7 percent female tribals being literate. Literate male female ratio was 5:1 in 1981 and 3:1 in
1991. During the same time, in rural areas the ratio was quite skewed. Only 30.8 percent of tribal
men and 9.7 women were literate. In urban areas 56.8 percent male and 31 percent female were
literate. Their average comes to 44.7 percent.

Table 1.4: Tribal literacy as compared to state literacy

(source: Shivkumar and Shrikamal 2009)
Total educated people (in percentage)
Total Population Tribal Population
Year All Male Female Total Male Female
1961 17.13 27 6.7 5.09 9.25 0.97
1971 22.14 32.70 10.92 7.62 13.05 2.18

1981 27.87 39.49 15.53 10.68 17.74 3.6

1991 35.46 46.99 23.07 16.88 25.23 8.14
1991* 44.20 58.42 28.85 21.54 32.13 10.73
*Excluding 0-6 year old

Therefore, steps were taken to improve quantitative as well as qualitative aspects of education.
Various schools were added in Tribal Sub-Plan region including 14 Model Higher Secondary
School, six Kanya Parisar (Girls School) and one Gurukul Vidyalaya (residential school) were
started. Further, to resolve the issue of accommodation, 1,934 pre-matric and 131 post-matric
hostels and 1,133 Ashrams were also being run. They were in addition to 25 Krida Parisar (sports
schools) where education was also simultaneously given along with physical training. It was also
tried that tribal children do not leave school because of poverty or other reasons.

Table 1.5: Students in Tribal Schools (1997-98) (source: Shivkumar and Shrikamal 2009)
Scheduled Tribes Scheduled Caste Others Total
Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls
Primary 4,75,058 3,12,084 70,462 43,420 2,28,837 2,08,995 7,74,357 5,64,499
Middle 1,14,146 72,758 37,784 16,544 1,01,170 71,167 2,52,100 1,60,469
High 48,697 16,810 10,240 4,115 54,718 29,371 1,13,655 50,296
Higher 18,269 5,064 5,233 1,691 20,406 11,291 43,908 18,046
Total 6,56,170 4,06,716 1,23,719 65,770 4,05,131 3,20,824 11,84,020 7,93,310

A a total of 19,77,330 boys and girls were enrolled in 1997-98. When the total 33,29,466
children (16,72,751 boys and 16,56,715 girls) who were below six years of age in 1991 is taken
into account and adjusted for total tribal population in Tribal-Sub Plan area which was 72.25
percent, there should be 23,25,538 (12,08,562 boys and 11,16,976 girls) tribal students below six
years of age who were supposed to reach schools by 1997-98. Out of these only 9,74,000 boys
and girls did take admission in middle schools. Thus, two-third (59.5 percent) children did not

reach schools.

To prevent this, various scholarships such as state scholarship (pre-metric), special scholarship,
post-metric scholarship, merit scholarship and loan scholarship were run by the state to
encourage students to go to school. Cash prizes was given to girl students and books were
distributed to students of class I and II. Mid-day meal program was also started.

The number of residential schools also increased by leaps and bounds after the introducation of
tribal-sub plan. In Bastar, for the first time, a residential model higher secondary school was
established in Farasgaon in year 1978-79.

Table 1.6: Residential buildings run by Tribal Development Department (Madhya Pradesh)
(source: Shivkumar and Shrikamal 2009)
Year Hostel Ashram Shala Krida Parisar
Pre-Matric Post-Matric
1968-69 706 10 53 ---
1970-71 886 19 82 ---
1980-81 1450 50 153 ---
1990-91 1704 92 698 24
1995-96 1883 107 1006 25
1998-99 1934 131 1133 25

The total number of residential schools went up from 768 in 1968-69 to 3,223 in 1998-99. There
were 85,635 boys and 30,600 girls living in these hostels. For those who couldn't get hostels,
separate hostels were taken on rent. In 1998-99 there were 1,319 such rented buildings were
8,245 children were living. Therefore, a total of 1,24,480 students availed of these facilities.
Students who could not make to any of these were provided with rented houses . There were
1,158 such student houses where 6,829 children were living.

The children also benefited from District Primary Education Program (DPEP) and Education

Guarantee Scheme (EGS). There were many technical education institutions out of which there
were two in Bastar: one in Bastar Bacheli and other in Geedam. Production-cum-training centre
to teach carpentry, masonry, tailoring, leather-work, weaving, etc. were also functional out of
which one was in Dantewada, Narayanpur and Kanker each.

For competitive exams the training centre was in Bhopal for Public Service Commission. For All
India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) training was being given in Raipur. Training for
hospital, machinery and agriculture entrance examinations was being given at division level.

What we see is that all these effort failed to show any marked improvement on ground and the
drop-out rate remained on the higher side.

Table 1.7: Drop-out rate (source: Statistics department, Commissioner Tribal Development, MP
Statistics gathered related to ST 1998-99 cited in Shivkumar and Shrikamal, 2009)
1992 1994 1996
Level/Group Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls
ST 46.56 48.11 45 48 46.93 47.12
SC 35.73 48.73 35 40 30.35 36.26
Total 28.40 42.27 28.35 35 26 38.28
ST 16.16 24.84 34 31 29.58 35.03
SC 16.63 32.57 24 20 25.72 30.40
Total 12.65 18.18 22.00 24 20 25.08

Tribal education in Madhya Pradesh in 1990s

The main reason and indicator of tribal backwardness is low-education. One cannot recognise
one's rights and duties in absence of education. In 1991 there were only 16.88 percent tribals
who were educated. This was just half of the state average of 36.46 percent. If one reduced the
kids from 0-6 years of age then also the percentage comes to 21.54 percent, which is quite less

than the state average of 44.2 percent. Male literacy was 32.16 percent while female literacy was
10.73 percent. This again is abysmally low when compared to state literacy of 58.42 percent for
male and 28.85 percent for female.

Region wise difference in literacy:

In 1991, there were 174 completely tribal development blocks among which the lowest literacy
rate was in Bastanar Block of Bastar (2.2 percent). Out of total blocks, one-fourth had less than
25 percent literacy. There were 19 such blocks in Bastar while rest 9 were in mainland Madhya
Pradesh. Also, around 60.9 percent blocks had literacy rate of less than 50 percent out of which
27 were in Bastar.

In 1991, in tribal blocks there were 166 schools per lakh of population. This is higher in
comparison to state average which was 136 schools per lakh of population. What was surprising
was that none of the schools had just one teacher.

In southern areas (Bastar) there were 40 blocks. In 40 of those there were 7 blocks with 272
schools per lakh population while 22 blocks had 204 schools. There was no block which had
schools totalling less than the average of the state.

However, due to uneven spread of tribal population the population density there was 83 persons
per square kilometre in 1981. This would mean one lakh people will occupy an area of 1205 sq.
km. for which there were 205 schools. Therefore there was a school in every 5.9 square

School occupancy
In 1993-94 there were 27,899 schools in 177 tribal development blocks in which 32,89,075
students were enrolled. Therefore, there were 117 students per school. In around two-third blocks
(61.6 percent) there were less than 100 students per school. In 44 blocks (24.8) percent there
were less than 70 students in each school. Most of these schools were located in south (Bastar)

and north part of the tribal belt of state.

Tribal languages
Tribal languages haven't been mentioned in eighth schedule of the constitution. In the state 258
mother-tongues were spoken. In 1981 there were 2,44,848 families (1345.5 thousand people)
which spoke Gondi out of which more than half (671.3) were from Bastar. The language has
many versions mainly Abujhmaria, Dorli, Telanaga, etc.. Halbi was the state language of Bastar.
In 1981 and was used by 4,10,768 people.

1.2. Chhattisgarh and education (2000-2014)

Chhattisgarh is a state located in the central Indian region with total geographic area of 1,35,194
sq. km. It came into existence on Nov 1, 2000 after it was carved out from the state of Madhya
Pradesh, primarily because of its large tribal population, good forest cover (59,000 sq. km.) and
immense mineral reserves of limestone, quartzite, iron, bauxite, alexandraite, coal, etc..

Till year 2010, the state had 18 districts, 146 tehsils, 146 community development blocks,
(including 85 tribal development blocks), 110 towns, 19,982 villages, 6 municipal corporations,
20 municipalities and 49 nagar panchayats.

According to Census 2001 the total population of the state was 2,12,92,439 out of which
50.32%was male and 49.68% was female leading to a sex ration of 987.

Table 1.8: Comparison between some parameters of Chhattisgarh and India (source: AWP 2010)
Particulars Chhattisgarh India
1. Per capita Income (2004-05) at current prices Rs 15,073 Rs 23,222
2. Population in lakh (2001) 212.068 10286
3. Sex Ratio (number of females per thousand males) 987 933
4. Percentage of urban population (2001) 25.67 % 27.78 %
5. Decadal growth rate of population (1991-2001) 18.06% 21.34 %
6. Density of population per sq. km. (2001) 154 325
7. Birth rate per thousand (2002) 25 25
8. Death rate per thousand (2002) 8.7 8.1
9. Infant mortality rate per thousand (2002) 73 63
10 Infant mortality rate per thousand (2004) 60 58
11. Population below poverty line in % (1999-2000) 45.09% 27.09%

Urban 36.27% 23.62%
Literacy rate in % (2001) 64.66% 64.8%

Male 77.4% 75.3%

Female 51.9% 53.7%
13. Share of tribal population in total (2001) 32.82% 8.2%
14. Share of SC population in total (2001) 12.51 % 16.2 %
15. OBCs 55.67% ---

Availability of schools
The state had a ratio of 2.4:1 for Primary School and Upper Primary School, but there is a huge
variation at the district level. In Dantewada (3.08) and Bijapur (4.5) it was adverse. Overall the
state had 304 villages without primary schools and 290 villages without upper primary schools in
the villages having more than 40 percent SC and ST population.

Out of School Children (OOSC):

In 2008-09, there were 1,69,753 OOSC most of which were in naxal affected areas. The state
claimed that it was able to cover 1,50,666 OOSC, leaving 18,987 still uncovered. The figure got
worse when 52,820 fresh dropouts are taken into account.

The state then ran an additional drive to cover these children in 2009-10. Simultaneously, it
conducted a fresh survey on 22nd July in 2009-10 to identify all OOSC children. A nine point
criteria to assess OOSC was used which included:

1. Never enrolled
2. Dropout: if absent from school for more than one month
3. Dropout after enrolment in RBC
4. Dropout after enrolment in NRBC
5. Enrolled in school but absent in exams

6. Not enrolled in class sixth after class five

7. Not enrolled in class nine after class eight
8. Failed in class eight
9. Not enrolled in class XI after class X
10. Failed in class X

The survey treated all those enrolled in Alternative and Innovative Education (AIE) centres as
OOSC for 2010-11. Accordingly, more 2,36,680 children were found out, among which 49,445
were in Dantewada and 20,314 in Bijapur. The state was able to cover only 58,190 students by
various interventions and 1,78,490 were left still uncovered.

Table 1.9: OOSC children (2009-10 to 2010-11) (source: AWP, 2010)

Age group OOSC during 2009-10 Covered in Left OOSC for 2010-11
Alternative uncovered
and under AIE
Innovative and direct
Education enrolment
(AIE) and against
continuing target of last
this year year
Boys Girls Total 18,600 4416 Boys Girls Total
6-11 year 21,178 22,952 44,130 52,386 55,151 1,07,537
11-14 year 14,133 14,091 28,224 35,115 35,838 70,953
Total 35,311 37,043 72,354 87,501 90,989 1,78,490

Out of OOSC reported in 2010-11 by the state 12.6 percent (22,688) were from SC, 47.5 percent
(84,801) were from tribal. Out of 1,78,490 OOSC children in 2010-11, 80 percent (1,44,208)
were dropout children.

During 2009-10 against the target of 49,894 OOSC children, the state covered 44,683 children
under bridge course and provided residential dormitories to 2,331 migrant and tribal children

who were already in schools. Out of these 26,933 children were main-streamed to regular
schools from RBC and NRBC.

Out of total target of 63,280 OOSC children to be covered under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, 58,864
children were covered in 2009-10. It means that the state did left out 4,416 children.

The dropout rate was 10.48 % (DISE 2006-07), which got reduced to 9.59 % in 2007-08. The
dropout rate for primary students was 7.35 in 2007-08 and 4.5 % in 2009-10.

Single teacher school

According to DISE (2006-07) there were 6,601 single teacher schools which was 13.12% of total
schools in State. Pupil Teacher Ration at primary level was 29:1 and upper primary level was
21:1. In 2007-08 the number of single teacher schools increased to 7,789. This was attributed to
large number of promotions done the previous year after over a decade and the primary school
teachers deployed in upper primary schools after promotion.

The figure came down in 2008-09 to 5,652 single teacher schools at primary level and 376 at
upper primary level. In 2009-10 the number of Single Teacher Schools (STS) came down further
to 3,549 at primary, but went up to 704 at upper primary level. Overall, it was 9.5 percent of the
total schools in the state. Most of the single teacher schools, it was acknowledged, were in tribal,
Naxal district where, the report said, teacher rationalisation would be done before starting of new

Also, there were 23,000 untrained teachers in the state. Additionally, the state also had 30 percent
vacancies at state level and 62 percent vacancies at district level for teachers leading to very high
number of single teacher schools: 15.8 percent at primary school and 22.44 percent at upper
primary school level as per DISE 2008-09.

History of education in Bastar

The Gazette of Bastar (2000: 341) says that one can only conjecture about the system of
education prevalent before the advent of British Raj in Bastar and claims that tribes, which
formed two-third of the total population, had no interest in education.

However it goes on to cite the rich heritage of Bastar saying, The rulers of Kakatiya dynasty of
Warangal, who held a sway over Chakrakot kingdom comprising Bastar area, were great patrons
of learning and Mallinath, the great commentator, flourished under their patronage. It is,
therefore, possible that they might have encouraged some sort of education in the kingdom of
central Bastar (Ibid).

JD Blunt in his book Early European Travels In the Nagpur Territories says that in the entire
princely state the only person who knew how to read was the Diwan (equivalent to District
Collector of today) of the Kanker state. It has also been mentioned that in 1842, during the time
of King Raja Bhopal Dev, the courtiers were educated (Behar 1995).

Mention of formal education comes first in year 1854 when the Nagpur state was annexed by the
British leading to Bastar becoming a direct tributary of British India. The ruler of Bastar, Raja
Bhairam Deo, was found to be far from being a capable ruler, wanting in both character and
capacity. Almost totally uneducated, he had never stirred out of his state and acquired neither a
taste for administration nor any experience in it (Joshi 1990: 30). C Glasford, a British
administrator who was Deputy Commissioner, Sironcha 7, in his report about Bastar in 1862, says
that there was not a single school in Bastar.

Since Bastar and other states had accepted the control of British, they also decided to bow to
their demand for submission of an annual report to the Chief Commissioner of Central Provinces
and Berar Province. This annual report's seventh chapter used to contain details about state's
education policy, number of Hindi, Urdu, English and Mission schools and the number of
7 Sironcha was the headquarter of the Upper Godavary District. It was 240 miles from Nagpur and was formed in
1860 (Joshi 1990: 39)

students enrolled in them. It also did contain details about the number of students who sat for
high-school exams and passed it. Teachers who were trained in training camps and details
regarding scouting were also included.

From those records we find that in 1886, three schools were opened at Jagdalpur, all with
different medium of teaching: Hindi, Urdu (Arabic) and Oriya. There were 35 students in these
schools. The number of students studying in schools increased to 280 in 1889 when more schools
were opened in all the tehsil headquarters. According to the administrative report of 1889,
buildings were made available for 11 schools. Sanskrit was also taught as a subject in these
schools at the insistence of the Raja as the minor Raja of the state and the minor Zamindar of
Bhopalpatnam also studied in the Jagdalpur Middle School. In 1896, 15 new schools were
opened and the number of students increased to 2252 (Behar 1995).

By 1897 the number of schools increased to 58 and the number of students increased to 2627.
Buildings for schools was a huge issue. Shortage of teachers was also a problem because there
were hardly any educated people in the state. Thus, people from other states were appointed as
teachers (Behar 1995). To attract better men as teachers, their salary was also increased, the
state administration being asked by the Government to make a special provision in the budget for
the purpose, says Joshi (1990:50). Students were also given scholarship to get training as school
masters, police officers and moharirs (revenue officers)in Jagdalpur. This was done so as to
absorb them in the local administration instead of outsiders appointed by the state. This can be
understood by the fact that around year 1899 attempts were made to recruit literate men in the
police force (Joshi 1990: 68).

These local schools had local people as part of its management. However the development of
education was under Deputy Inspector of Schools. Later, a Joint Deputy Inspector was appointed
as an assistant to the Deputy Inspector of Education at Jagdalpur which led to increase in spread
of education in southern tracts of the state. English was taught also in Jagdalpur, while Hindi and
Telgu education were taught in the southern parts of the state. By 1907-08 primary schools were

spread all over the state (Joshi 1990: 70).

Despite the Gaontias (land-owners) and village headmens financial support to schools in tribal
tracts, desertions of pupils from schools were a festering problem. Clearly the tribal mind was
yet to be convinced of the close relation between educational progress and the material
development of their life, finds Joshi.

He notes that state administrators like Alamchand, the Superintendent of the state and later
Settlement Officer and still later Assistant Diwan, were taking keen interest in spreading
education. The enthusiasm was also shared by Mrs. Fagan, wife of the British Administrator
posted there, particularly when she was out in camp (Joshi 1990: 69).

However, due to epidemic in 1900, the number of school going children fell and some schools
had to be closed down. The Gazette records the existence of 55 schools in 1901 with 1,781
students. In 1903, Telgu schools were introduced in southern-Bastar. By the year 1907 only three
students had appeared for the High School Certificate Examination and four students for the
Teachers Certificate Examination. In year 1908 there is a mention of an English medium school
and a girls school being established in Jagdalpur town. However there is evidence that a girls
school was opened in 1893 in Jagdalpur (Joshi 1990: 69). A school for low-caste boys was also
started in 1909 in Jagdalpur.

It was however noted that the problems still persisted and ...the Government had to take more
vigorous measures to remove the defects in the educational system; for example, good, trained
teachers were hard to get, particularly to work in remote and wild areas. Low salaries were a
poor incentive to good teachers to work even at places like Jagdalpur.

One of the important problems was of the power and influence exercised by the school staff. This
is best captured in Joshis (1910: 70) words when he says, Peons attached to the schools often
bullied parents to send their wards to schools, and both the peons and school masters exacted

forced labour and free supplies from villagers. It is this, which, in the eyes of the local people,
detracted most from the merits of the educational system of the state. Schools instead of being
the harbinger of a civilized life, came to be feared as instrument of oppression; this was clearly
revealed in the tribal outbreak of 1910.

The Gazetteer of Central Provinces of India (1908) also agrees with Joshi when it says,
Education can scarcely be said to have made any great progress and though the 58 schools now
in existence, with a daily attendance of 2,355 pupils, show a great advance up on the total blank
which existed ten years ago, when there was not a school in the district, yet a great deal of up-hill
work remains to be done before any sensible impression can be made on the prevalent mass of

Table 1.10 Schools in Bastar

(sources: Joshi 1990, Behar, 1995, Gazette of Bastar 1908, 2008)
Year School Students Expenditure (Rs) Comments
1886 3 35 NA
1887 NA NA NA Attendance was 82
1889 NA 280 NA
1891 19 815 1,088 Average daily attendace was 584
1901 55 1,781 NA
1906 56 3,726 12,560
1907 57 4,300 13,394
1908 58 4,835 16,489 Average daily attendance was 3855. Rs
2590 contributed by Zamindars and private
subscribers. Pass percentage was 0.9.
1909 60 NA NA
1910 15 NA NA
1919 17 1,103 10,640
1920 17 1,178 NA

1925 23 1,651 16,632

1930 27 2,116 27,545
1934 32 2,224 35,037
1936 36 2,905 38,578
1943 43 3,752 49,393
NA: Not Available

Post 1901, the education department was managed by the Agency, Inspector of School, aided by
two Deputy Inspector of School under the directions of Political Agent, Raipur. Fees was charged
only in town and elsewhere education was free. The state granted altogether 24 scholarships- 18
of Rs 4 each for vernacular medium schools and four of Re 1 each for girls school.

The first high school of the Bastar State was The Edward Middle School which was renamed as
Grigson High School later and was affiliated with Allahabad university. A hostel was attached to
it in 1934 with accommodation for 12 boys, which was extended for 25 boys in 1936. Muslim
girls, 25 in number were admitted for the first time in an aided Urdu school in 1936.

One can see large number of Rural School for Boys being functional in 1934 which were
renamed as Boys Vernacular Primary School in 1943. There was a Vernacular Teachers Training
School in 1934, which was closed in July 1939. Two experimental vocational aboriginal schools
were also opened in 1942 and became successful in attracting large number of students. They
were made permanent and a third such school was later proposed in Abujhmar

According to Dr Devendra Nath Panigrahi, Professor at Delhi University, From 1939 to 1946
the teachers were highly educated and were from other states. They were educated in Kolkata
University, Banaras Hindu University, Fergusson College (Pune).

We find record of two schools in Kutru Zamindari in 1947. One was in Kutru and other in
Toynar. Two students from Ranjgond tribe were being given Rs 8 monthly scholarship for

continuing their education in Bhopalpatnam middle school. Rs 15 scholarship per month was
being given to a son of Zamindar to study in Grigson High School in Jagdalpur (Behar, Thakur

Bhumkal revolt of 1910 and school education

Bhumkal means gathering of people in one place or quick coming of people together in a group.
It was a revolt against the king, led by a near mythical figure of Gundadhur, who is said to be
from Netanar village belonging to Dhurwa tribe. Gundadhur and his colleagues used to roam
around threatening people that if one person from each house doesn't participate then their house
would be burnt and animals would be looted. Because of this people from nearly all ethnicities,
Bhatra, Parja, Dhurwa, Muria, Madia, Halba, Dhakad, Mahra, Prabhat tribes took part in this
uprising. Their strategies included burning schools, police stations, forest department offices,
murder of government employees and officials, etc. (Behar, Behar 1995).

The tribal revolt of 1910 did obstruct the development of education as out of 60 schools 45 were
burnt. Only 15 schools were left due to which the number of students in schools declined

There were many reasons for revolt which included reservation of forest, opening of schools,
begar (unpaid forced labour), bisaha (price fixation of food grains by the state), exploitation of
lower level employees (Behar, Behar 1995). Looking into the reasons for Bhumkal rebellion, it
has been noted that it was partly because of demand for unpaid labour. And it were not just
revenue and forest staff which exploited the adivasis to do begari (unpaid forced labour), local
school masters also demanded their pound of flesh. School masters, almost all non-tribal, also
collected supplies and subscriptions free or at reduced prices. They could do so because schools
aggravated fears and discontent in the tribal mind. Masters ill treated the students and their
parents so as to extract money and other necessaries of life. For tribes, it was far more
worthwhile sending boys to fields than keeping them into the prisons that were schools (Joshi
1990: 45-46).

When the revolt happened, police posts, forest offices and schools were attacked, apart from all
outsiders being beaten and driven away. Sundar (2007:134) also records houses of officials and
traders being burnt and looted and grain being redistributed. She also quotes from deBretts
confidential no. 4417 which says: Bhondia collected 400 men, sacrificed a number of goats and
started off to intercept the Dewan who was expected to return from the direction of Bijapur. This
mob started on the 10th February, burnt the Marenga school, the police post, lines and pound at
Keslur and the school at Tokapal (Rajur), detached a contingent to burn Karanji school and
captured a head constable and four constables of the State reserve police who had been sent out
to escort the Dewan and bring him in.

This indiscriminate burning and looting was finally halted when local Zamindars of Kutru and
Bhopalpatnam intervened (Joshi 1990: 86-87). Thereafter, some efforts were made to reduce the
establishment to the smallest proportions consistent with that style of administration suited to a
primitive country,(Standen Confidential no 175 cited in Sundar 2007:148). Seventeen out of
thirty six police stations were abolished, number of schools were reduced along with abolition of
a separate touring department for their inspection.

The British also replaced the Diwan with their own appointee, James May (appointed in August
1910), who on close inquiry found that the local people were really not opposed to education as
such, their opposition was mostly to the kind of masters who manned the schools (Joshi
1990:92). All they wanted was that school masters should be of their own choice and should
be paid by the local people, instead of state.

The tribals were of the view that at least one person from each household should be able to read
and write so that he could explain to others the existing Government rules, and orders in respect
of the forest produce, the system of unpaid labour, grazing etc. They further wished that the
copies of the existing rules should be hung on the school walls for ready reference by the local
people. Measures were taken to encourage people to build their own schools in place of them

which had been burnt during the rebellion. The Bastar Chief declared that the tribals could be
given few licenses for wood, bamboos and other materials to build schools (Joshi 1990:92-3).

Post the incident, all administrators of tribal tracts emphasized that the schools constituted an
important catalytic agent in the tribal life. WV Grigson, for example, emphasized not only the
need for restructuring the course and curricula, but also the style of the school buildings and their
structure. He said, School building in a Gond style, simple mud houses should be situated on
the hill top (tirara) or on the banks of the river. Once the principle is established that schools in
the aboriginal areas are not meant primarily for the children of officials and merchants, this
should not be difficult.

Grigson wanted the schools to be fewer and better; that they should be under the direct
supervision of the Government department; that picked men should be employed as teachers in
tribal schools; that the text books should lay emphasis on crafts and other matters closely related
to tribal life; that the thought, recreation and organisation should be of an aboriginal character.
In other words, the tribal people should find the schools beneficial to themselves and not as
means of oppression (Joshi 1990: 92-93).

Despite all this it was noted that the Governments efforts at the opening of the tribal mind by
spreading education in them did not quite succeed, for the increase in the number of schools and
the pupils in the state was really no indication of the spread of enlightenment among the
tribals...students taking instructions were from various sections of the Society- Hindus,
Mussalmans, Animists (aboriginals) and Jains. In fact, the non-tribes were the main beneficiaries
of the educational development in the state....

Table 1.11: Number per mile who were literate in year 1911 (source: Joshi 1990: 107)
Hindus Animists (tribals) Mussalmans Christians Jains
Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female
31 2 2 - 254 22 71 32 423 77

By 1910 only 0.9 percent of the Bastar people were literate, and among them only two tribals
were literate. However, the main incentive to get education for people in Bastar was they wanted
to understand the rules regarding forced labour (begari) and other forms of oppression prevalent
in the state. The tribals we so poor that could hardly spare any money for the education of their
children. Even e course in schools had hardly any relevance to the economic life of the tribals,
and this point was stressed by discerning officers like Grigson, who strongly opposed to
compulsory education for the tribals.

Some British officers urged that Maria language be taught along with Hindi in schools. For a
long time school masters, mostly outsiders, were greatly dreaded by the tribals, and no wonder,
the opening of a school in a flourishing village was often followed by its desertion by the
inhabitants. The management of school committees of local people was, indeed, a step in the
right direction, but the tribesmen were not represented in the committees and so they hardly
benefited from the functioning of these committees (Joshi 1990: 107-108).

British also tried to improve the moral condition of the local people by educating them and
checking drunkenness among the local people. They however failed miserably in doing both
(Ibid: 113). Because of the revolt provisions were made for more schools in rural areas (Pandey

Schools in Bastar post-independence

There is very little known about education in Bastar post independence. There is mention of rural
Schools Per 10,000 rural population, by tehsils, in Bastar district in 1951 Census and 1956 List
of Schools which states that there were seven schools in Bhanupratappur, six in Kanker, five in
Bijapur, five in Narayanpur, four in Kondagaon, three in Jagdalpur, three in Konta and one in
Dantewara. The district average came to about four schools.

In context of levy imposed by Government in 1966 and subsequent protest against it Sundar

(2007) notes: The anti-government feeling spread- school teachers were threatened and schools
were boycotted.

Agarwal (1968) writes that, The schools in Bastar are mostly PRIMARY SCHOOLS [sic],
teaching through the medium of Hindi. They are 384 in all, distributed over the whole District
except that there is none in the Abujhmar region. The response of the tribal population to these
schools is very lukewarm., still these schools are exerting a significant influence on the
languages of Bastar and with the passage of time they are increasing the number of Hindi

He further talks about the irregular distribution of schools across talukas and blames differences
in tribal response to schools, differences in communication facilities and absence of roads and
cart tracks for their poor state. However, talking distinctly about Bijapur, he observes, Bijapur
tehsil has high concentration of schools because its population is more concentrated along the
roads. Thus there is a distinct line of schools along the Bhopalpatnam-Usur road (Ibid).

One of the defining criticism of education in Bastar comes from none other than Dr BD Sharma
(2010), who served as Collector of Bastar. He says that development first paradigm was long-
back rejected by tribes of north-east who said, Our boys will take care of development part
when they pass out (Ibid: 44). Therefore the minimal efforts made in the field of education
along with excess of development proved detrimental to the cause of tribal upliftment.

Sharma further talks about the importance of mother tongue as a medium of instruction for in the
early phase. The graduation from oral to written via pictorial is the foundation for concept
formation amongst the children. It is especially crucial in science and mathematics, he says. He
talks about efforts made by government to prepare few text-books in tribal language of Gondi in
Madhya Pradesh and other states, but criticises its poor implementation and hence jeopardizing
the future of successive generations for vertical mobility.

Sharma raises the substantive issues in tribal education, such as importance of mother tongue and
child's natural abhorrence to intramural learning which were not even in the agenda of the
academic discourse happening at that time. Pointing to a sharp anomaly of tribes not being able
to speak even the State language, he called the education given as one for rote learning. This led
to initial enthusiasm for education waning among tribes and leaving them extremely vulnerable
in dealing with the outside world and even the local administration. The people are reluctant to
send their children to school for fear of educated amongst them likely to become a burden at
home in the absence of a job outside, he says.

Table 1.12:Literacy percentage in Bastar (source: Ministry of Tribal Affairs8)

1951 1961 1971
Total Rural Urban Total Rural Urban
Total 4.1 6.91 05.93 48.24 9.63 08.5 47.65
Male 7.1 11.6 10.42 62.66 15.1 13.38 57.75
Female 1.1 2.15 01.46 32.71 4.07 02.94 35.69

8 http://tribal.nic.in/Content/STATISTICSDivision.aspx, accessed on January 25, 2015


1.3. Education in Bijapur (2007-2014)

Since the Bijapur district came into existence in May 2007 very little has been written about the
state of its education. However, the Annual Work Plan and Budget of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan of
2010-11 presents lot of quantitative indicators which might be important to understand the
current scenario. They are being presented below.

Literacy and Bijapur:

Although the State had a literacy rate of 64.66% (77.86% male; 52.28% female), Bijapur district
had the lowest literacy rate (40.86%) in 2010. However, the enrolment number has risen over the
years and shows a surprising trend in Bijapur.

Enrollment ratio in Bijapur:

Table 1.13: Gross Enrollment Ratio (primary level) (Chhattisgarh) (source: AWP 2010)
Year Boys Girls All
2009-10 101.67 101.29 101.48
2008-09 104.71 104.28 104.49
2007-08 103.49 102.80 103.14
2006-07 105.21 104.28 104.74
2005-06 104.02 103.13 103.58

Table 1.14: District wise GER at primary level (source: AWP 2010)
District Boys Girls All
2008-09 2009-10 2008-09 2009-10 2008-09 2009-10
Bijapur 89.60 80.83 88.82 78.96 89.21 79.89
Dantewada 97.89 97.57 97.98 96.78 97.93 97.17
State 104.71 101.67 104.28 101.29 104.49 101.48

Maximum decline in Gross Enrollment Ratio at primary level in the state was seen in Bijapur

district which is 3 percent.

Table 1.15: Net Enrollment Ratio (primary level) (Chhattisgarh) (source: AWP, 2010)
Year Boys Girls All
2009-10 99.54 99.49 99.52
2008-09 99.49 92.44 95.96
2007-08 98.24 98.06 98.15
2006-07 97.96 97.60 97.78
2005-06 95.52 94.83 95.16

Table 1.16: District wise NER at primary level (source: AWP, 2010)
District Boys Girls All
2008-09 2009-10 2008-09 2009-10 2008-09 2009-10
Bijapur 87.82 93.73 87.07 93.28 87.45 93.51
Dantewada 96.55 96.78 95.98 96.00 96.26 96.39
State 99.49 99.54 92.44 99.49 95.96 99.52

The report notes: It is very strange to note that the NER for Bijapur district is reported to more
than the GER (at primary level).

Table 1.17: GER (upper primary level) (source: AWP, 2010)

Year Boys Girls All
2009-10 105.78 101.64 103.71
2008-09 100.52 99.81 100.17
2007-08 98.92 97.75 98.34
2006-07 100.42 98.78 99.60
2005-06 96.16 93.05 94.60

Table 1.18: District wise GER at upper primary level (source: AWP, 2010)
District Boys Girls All
2008-09 2009-10 2008-09 2009-10 2008-09 2009-10
Bijapur 43.98 42.14 42.62 40.48 43.30 41.31
Dantewada 63.68 92.47 59.46 90.54 61.57 91.51
State 100.52 105.78 99.81 101.64 100.17 103.71

Bijapurs GER was extremely low (41.31) and the report talks about it needing special attention.
GER difference (2009-10) minus (2008-09) upper primary level for Bijapur was 1.99 and for
Dantewada was -29.94. The state figure was -3.54.

Table 1.19: NER (upper primary level) (source: AWP, 2010)

Year Boys Girls All
2009-10 98.93 98.96 98.94
2008-09 98.85 98.87 98.86
2007-08 98.85 98.86 98.86
2006-07 92.99 91.90 92.45
2005-06 85.09 83.19 84.14

Table 1.20: District wise NER at upper primary level (source: AWP, 2010)
District Boys Girls All
2008-09 2009-10 2008-09 2009-10 2008-09 2009-10
Bijapur 43.53 89.37 42.17 90.74 42.85 90.06
Dantewada 63.26 91.96 59.06 90.06 61.16 91.01
State 94.21 98.53 93.82 98.42 94.02 98.48

NER difference (2009-10 minus 2008-09) for Bijapur is 47.21 and for Dantewada was 29.85.
The state figure did increase to 4.46 because of this distortion, else the next highest figure was
2.79 for Bilaspur.

Educational development index

The Annual Work Plan and Budget (2010) cites a tool develped by National University of
Education Planning and Administration (NUEPA), New Delhi called Educational development
index which is based on 21 indicators and is divided into four components related to access,
infrastructure, teachers, and outcome. On those parameters Bijapur's rank was last among the 18
districts in the state. Dantewada was not too far behind.

Table 1.21: EDI rank of Bijapur and Dantewada (source: AWP, 2010)
District Access Infrastructur Teacher Outcome EDI Primary
index e Primary rank
Bijapur 0.00 0.36 0.47 0.00 0.12955 18
Dantewada 0.76 0.63 0.86 0.11 0.36663 16

Retention level
The district also showed very poor retention rate at primary, upper-primary and elementary level
in comparison to state average and was among the worst performing districts.

Table 1.22: Retention rate: Primary level (source: AWP, 2010)

2007-08 2008-09 2009-10
District Boys Girls Total Boys Girls Total Girls Total
Bijapur 0 0 0 60.41 58.26 59.34 58.66 59.67
Dantewada 62.22 55.99 59.10 59.66 55.44 57.55 55.99 59.1
State 77.37 76.52 76.94 86.92 86.02 86.47 86.41 86.47

Table 1.23: Retention rate: upper primary level (source: AWP, 2010)
2007-08 2008-09 2009-10
District Boys Girls Total Boys Girls Total Boys Girls Total
Bijapur NA NA NA 84.68 83.77 84.22 85.90 83.94 84.92
Dantewada 89.42 88.43 88.92 89.29 88.02 88.66 89.42 88.43 88.92
State 79.44 79.33 79.38 89.78 89.83 89.90 90.66 92.40 91.53

Table 1.24: Retention rate: elementary level (source: AWP, 2010)

2007-08 2008-09 2009-10
District Boys Girls Total Boys Girls Total Boys Girls Total
Bijapur NA NA NA 72.55 71.01 71.78 73.28 71.30 72.29
Dantew 75.82 72.21 74.01 74.48 71.73 73.10 75.82 72.21 74.01
State 78.40 77.92 78.16 88.35 87.92 88.14 89.03 89.40 89.20

Drop-out rate
These districts showed an alarming drop-out rate in 2008-09, but the data for 2009-10 shows that
it has drastically come down for primary schools. This also leads to extremely low transiton from
primary and upper-primary level. Only half of those who take admission in primary level reach
to upper-primary level.

Table 1.25: Average Annual Dropout Rate: Primary level (source: AWP, 2010)
2008-09 2009-10
District Boys Girls Total Boys Girls Total
Bijapur 19.95 23.49 21.72 8.10 9.26 8.68
Dantewada 39.94 49.92 44.93 16.80 17.26 17.03
State 8.67 9.14 8.91 5.77 5.34 5.55

Table 1.26: Average Annual Dropout Rate: upper primary level (source: AWP, 2010)
2008-09 2009-10
District Boys Girls Total Boys Girls Total
Bijapur 10.35 9.99 10.17 13.82 13.15 13.48
Dantewada 54.61 75.81 65.21 19.87 14.64 17.25
State 9.28 10.54 9.91 6.62 5.76 6.19

Transition rate
Both Bijapur and Dantewada had the lowest transition rate of 50, which was at an 'alarming stage
(AWP, 2010).'

Table 1.27: Transition Rate: primary to upper primary level (source: AWP, 2010)
District 2008-09 2009-10
Boys Girls Total Boys Girls Total
Bijapur NA NA NA 55.17 45.84 50.51
Dantewada 61.83 49.53 55.68 55.64 44.50 50.07
State 88.25 87.78 88.01 89.25 87.81 88.53

Special focus districts

Districts of Dantewada, Bijapur and Narayanpur were termed as Special Focus Districts (SFD)
out of which initially eight Porta Cabins in Dantewada district were approved to enroll 5,000
children. There were 6,941 children studying in these cabins. The administrators of these districts
found also felt the need for nine more Porta Cabins to cover 4,500 more children.

In Bijapur district, 5,608 children were studying in 10 Porta Cabins in 2010. Eight more were
proposed for 4,000 children. Similarly two Porta Cabins were proposed for Narayanpur districts
for 1,000 children.

The AWP report (2010) says, ...on regular basis, children of 6 to 14 years aged are given
bridging of 1st to 8th class in the Porta Cabins along with residential facilities and for that the
state has incurred amount from OOSC interventions.

Also, there was no facility for drinking water and toilets in these Porta Cabin and children were
accommodated in the same room where they studied in the morning. It was also specifically
mentioned that around 87% of these children were from tribal communities.

The new schools proposed were for those children who were out of school due to destruction of
schools by Naxalite and were living in rehabilitation camp where no school facility was
provided. Around 593 schools were destroyed within last four years, the report notes.

The state did not raise any additional requirement of teachers for these Porta cabins as the
existing government teachers of tribal development department, who were placed in schools
destroyed by Naxals, were supposed to be placed in these schools.

Talking about the importance of these schools, the report said, ...child will have right to
education in a neighbourhood schools, these prefabricated schools are proposed because due to
naxalite affection [sic] the provision of regular schooling in pucca building is not possible in
these 3 districts. Keeping in view, these prefabricated cabin schools are proposed to provide
schooling facility upto 8th std and after these children will be ennrolled in class 9th in
schools/ashram shalas/hostels managed by TWD (Tribal Welfare Department) (Ibid).

Table 1.28: Closed and destroyed (on varying degrees) schools in naxal affected districts as on
08.1.2010 (source: AWP, 2010)
S. no. District No of school buildings No of schools under the custody of
destroyed and closed force for their stay
1 Bijapur 273 31
2 Dantewada 185 05
3 Narayanpur 135 02
4 Kanker 50 03
5 Bastar 12 10
6 Surguja 05 01
7 Rajnandgaon 01 04
Total 662 56

Table 1.29: Details of Porta Cabins in Bijapur and Dantewada (source: AWP, 2010)
Block Name Approved seat Enrollment
Bijapur Bijapur Naimed 750 732
Bijapur Bijapur 750 711
Bhopalpatnam Pegadapalli 500 483
Bhopalpatnam Sangampalli 500 492
Bhairamgarh Nelasnar 500 485
Bhairamgarh Pusnar 750 782
Bhairamgarh Jangla 500 497
Bhairamgarh Matwada 500 486
Bhairamgarh Kutru 500 489
Bhairamgarh Dugaiguda 500 491
Total 5,750 (10 units) 5,608
Dantewada Konta Dornapal 1,000 (2 units) 1,456
Konta Errabor 500 850
Konta Konta 750 (2 units) 850
Konta Maraiguda 750 (2 units) 800
Kuakonda Kuakonda 500 850
Geedam Kasoli 500 850
Geedam Karli 500 435
Geedam Bangapal 500 850
Total 5,000 (11 units) 6,941
Grand total 10,750 (21 units) 14,549

Table 1.30: Status of Schooling facilities in blocks proposed for prefabricated schools (source:
AWP, 2010)
District/Bijapur Unserve Unserve Buildi PS:U No of New No of Existi No of
d d ng PS OOSC Porta children ng children
habitati habitati destro (ratio Cabin Porta
on on yed ) Cabin
without without

Bhairamgarh 34 73 42 5 1,874 2 1,000 5 2,699

Bhopalpatnam 41 56 32 4 6,668 2 1,000 2 975
Bijapur 29 33 39 4 1,966 2 1,000 2 1,443
Usur 43 38 72 6 9,806 2 1,000 1 491
Bijapur Total 147 239 185 4.52 20,314 8 4,000 10 5,608
Grand total --- --- 593 --- 73,162 19 9,500 21 12,549
Dantewada and

Table 1.31: Villages eligible for schools (source: AWP 2010)

District Total PS Upper Eligible Gap
Recommended PS Proposed habitations as in UPS
per norms
1. Bijapur 10 in habitat 6 230 237
with nore than
40 percent ST
2. Dantewada 14 in more 0 0 256
than 40
Total 319 (84 in 152 476 2,833
more than 40
percent ST/SC

Strategy proposed for OOSC

The state did not propose any alternative for the 5,102 out-of-school children who were primarily
in Dantewada (4,417) and Bijapur (685) as these it could not identify the exact location of these
children. The state did not have any data about whether these children were in the State or had

The report however talks about 2000-3000 families affected by Naxal violence in the districts of
Bijapur and Dantewada which had migrated to neighbouring districts of Mehboob Nagar,
Khamman, Warangal of Andhra Pradesh. It noted that the state of Andhra Pradesh was taking
good care of the educational needs of children staying along with these families as they were
acquainted with Telgu language. The state was also convinced to provide books and teachers for
these children but the matter is pending, the report observed.

Education in Bijapur in recent years

Table 1.32: Block wise schools and hostels in Bijapur 2013-14 (source: Bijapur administration)
S. Block Primary Middle High Higher College Ashram Hostels Total
no school school school Secondary schools
1 Bijapur 177 41 2 8 1 25 18 270
2 Bhairamgarh 239 53 4 9 0 69 15 388
3 Bhopalpatnam 175 39 6 4 1 26 8 259
4 Usur 162 34 1 5 0 31 8 241
Total 753 167 13 23 2 151 49 1,158

Data collected by district administration shows that by March 2014 there were 408 schools out of
total of 1145 schools with no access road. Also, 794 schools had no electricity, 242 had no source
of clean drinking water and 242 were without flush toilets.

If we look at the results of examination held in year 2012-13, 4,477 students appeared for class V
exams out of which 3,598 were tribals. Among them only 46.28 percent managed to pass with a
first class. In class VIII, out of 2033 students who appeared for exams, 1509 were tribals and
among them only 55.40 percent passed with first class. Since no student can be detained till class
VIII according to Right to Education Act 2009, therefore these exams were held locally.

According to the district administration, there were only 1,388 drop-outs in the district in 2013-
14 of which 778 were boys and 610 girls. What is surprising is that maximum number of
students dropped out when they are eligible to pursue higher secondary education (593).

Table 1.33: Drop-out students in Bijapur (2013-14) (source: Bijapur administration)

S.no Class Boys Girls Total
1. I to V 274 180 454
2. VI to VIII 59 76 135
3. IX to X 128 78 206
4. XI to XII 317 276 593
Total 778 610 1,388

Table 1.34: Block wise drop-outs in 2013-14 (source: Bijapur district administration)
Block Usur Bijapur Bhairamgarh Bhopalpatnam
Boys 345 15 15 403
Girls 259 15 21 315
Total 604 30 36 718

In comparison, the number of out-of-school children was quite high, especially for children in
the age bracket of going to upper primary school.

Table 1.35: Out-of-school children (source: District administration)

S.no Year Age group Total no. of Children in OOSC Percentage of
children (Census school OOSC
1 2011-12 6-11 39,499 27,108 12,391 31.37
11-14 21,439 6,570 14,869 69.35
2 2012-13 6-11 39,499 36,250 3,249 8.23
11-14 21,439 8,955 12,484 58.23
3 2013-14 6-11 39,499 34,813 4,686 11.86
11-14 21,439 8,948 12,491 58.26

The district administration admits that during Salwa Judum around 65 schools were destroyed.

This included 31 primary schools, 11 middle schools and 23 Ashram schools. New buildings
were put in place for 20 schools and buildings were repaired for six more. Four schools were
being run in the same place and temporary arrangement of shade was made in the same place for
eight schools. Ten schools were being run in a different place than their originally intended place
and 17 schools remain shut.

Out of total schools destroyed 27 were restarted in the same place which includes 16 primary
schools, seven middle school and four Ashrams (Three boys and one girls). Among these 27
schools, 10 were in Usur block, 10 in Bijapur block and 7 in Bhairamgarh block. Around 1090
children were affected.

About 21 schools were being run from temporary buildings which includes one primary and
middle school each, a girls Ashram and 18 boys Ashram. Geographically, 10 were in Usur
block, five were in Bhairamgarh block, three each in Bijapur and Bhopalpatnam block. Affected
children were 1409 in number.

There were 17 schools which were permanently closed which included four primary and three
middle school, thereby affecting the education of 308 children.

The figures might be deceptive and many more schools got closed because of the violence.
According to a list given by the Bijapur administration to the researcher 159 primary schools
were shut in 2007-08 which affected the education of 3,564 students. These schools were spread
out across the district with 50 being in Bijapur, 52 in Bhairamgarh, 47 in Usur and 10 in
Bhopalpatnam block.

There were 30 middle schools too which were closed in the same year. 10 in Bijapur, 13 in
Bhairamgarh and five in Usur and two in Bhopalpatnam. In all this education of 667 students
was affected.

If we look at the number of teachers posted, one finds that that out of 3,663 teaching posts
approved by the government in year 2013-14 only 2388 in service leaving 1,275 posts vacant.
Maximum number of post vacant was of assistant teacher followed by Head Master of primary

This did severely affect the performance of students in board examinations. Local newspaper
coverage of 11 May 2014 says that in standard X, there was not a single topper from six districts
of Bastar, excluding Dantewada. The irony is that the girls who came eighth and 11th in state
merit were all non-tribal.

Out of 5,687 students whose results were declared, only 419 passed with first class, 1,958 with
second class and 1,797 with third class while 48 were in pass category. 595 were asked to sit for
supplementary exams while 870 failed the exams.



Situating self and knowledge gap

It was on an invitation of a friend pursuing her dissertation on Salwa Judum that I decided to visit
south Bastar in late 2010 for the first time. We were scared after having heard a lot of chilling
stories about extra-judicial killings and extraordinary violence happening in the district, but were
overcome by our curiosity to find out the reality for ourselves. The fear was later aggravated by the
fact that the friend, who was traveling from the adjoining district of Khamman to Sukma, had a
nightmarish experience of being followed by a man while traveling in a bus. She was trailed and
could scarcely find a safe accommodation before she reached Jagdalpur. Later, everywhere we
went, we saw men and women being looked at with suspicion by gun toting Special Police Officers
(popularly known as Koya commandos), policemen and paramilitary officials.

In Bijapur district, in the heart of the Naxal zone, we decided to visit the village of Gangalur. The
government had recently constructed a thick concrete road to the village, so as to reduce the
incidents of Maoists blowing up their vehicles using improvised explosive device (IED) or crude
bombs. Once in the village, we were greeted by the sight of security forces occupying the village
school having constructed a morcha (bunker) on top of it. A hundred meters away from the camp
was another school building in which classes were regularly being held. The camp was surrounded
by people displaced from interior villages due to fear of Naxals.

We were aware of the landmark Supreme Court judgment which had asked the state government to
get paramilitary forces to vacate all the schools they were occupying so that education in the area
could continue unhindered. The forces were however taking their own sweet time so as not leave
any ground which they had been able to capture from the Naxals.

I returned to the district a few years later in 2012 on a journalistic visit. I went to the school hoping
for a story on funding of sports infrastructure by the central government. What I saw was hundreds
of students crammed in the rooms of small huts, with classes often being held in corridors of those
huts due to paucity of space. Hostels were being run from decrepit buildings in danger of falling

down anytime soon. A single bed was being shared by two or more students.

Two or three teachers, appointed on contract basis, were in charge of taking care of more than 200
students. They simultaneously had to arrange for food and take care of a child if she fell sick. The
pressure on them to perform all these duties multiplied because of the remoteness of the schools and
poor condition of connecting roads, access to which was tightly controlled by Naxals and armed

There were several villages across the district which had more than five schools running in the
vicinity of each other. Most of these schools had been shifted from villages deep inside the forest
(interior areas), so that the children could remain safe. One could only imagine what kind of
education these children were getting when their near and dear ones were being killed on a daily
basis by Naxals and Salwa Judum members.

The thought stayed with me and I began to look for more data when I returned from the area. I
found a report by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) which estimated
that more than 40,000 students were out of school in seven districts of Bastar. KR Pisda, the school
education secretary of the state government, confirmed to me in an interview that in four districts of
Bijapur, Dantewada, Narayanpur and Sukma there were close to 15,000 children who were out of
school. These facts were quite disturbing.

Eventually, I wrote a story about my observations in the magazine I was working for. After getting
admitted to the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, when the opportunity arose to undertake a
research, as a student of Dalit and Tribal Studies and Action, it was natural for me to take up this
task of filling the knowledge gap with regards to education in Bastar.

Data from District Information System for Education (DISE) of Dantewada district presents a stark
drop and rise in enrollment figure of children in schools between year 2005-06 and 2008-09. The
biggest variation we see is in year 2006-07 in which the total number of children in schools fell
drastically. However, soon after the enrollment figures went up and reached a historic high in year
2009-10 (see Table 2.1).

Table 2.1: Enrollment figures for Dantewada (source: DISE (dise.in))

Grade 2002- 2003- 2004-05 2005-06 2006- 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11
03 04 07
1 26,838 30,039 32,779 29,102 19,208 31,283 26,498 29,260
2 16,732 18,104 20,699 21,583 16,837 23,879 20,952 21,359
3 13,276 15,230 16,011 17,846 15,251 19,525 17,475 7,894
4 10,431 11,861 12,891 13,829 13,067 13,915 14,300 14,611
5 7,217 8,124 8,207 9,129 9,985 10,000 9,750 11,500
6 5,444 6,605 5,899 4,339 3,229 9,768 8,412 8,793
7 3,943 4,865 4,735 3,595 2,930 6,345 7,846 7,377
8 3,427 4,399 3,557 3,366 2,371 5,322 5,539 6,897
Total 74,494 83,358 90,587 91,489 74,348 90,865 98,602 88,975
Total 12,814 15,869 14,191 11,300 8,530 12,520 21,435 21,797
Total 87,308 99,227 1,04,778 1,02,789 82,878 1,03,385 1,20,037 1,10,772

Considering that according to census of India 2001, there were 1,94,086 children in Dantewada in
the age group of 5-14, the number of children who dropped out of school between 2005-06 and 06-
07 consists of 10 percent of the entire school going population. Therefore, there was a need to study
the reasons for it and find out the factors responsible for such a drastic fall.

1. To study the impact on school education of tribes in the context of civil strife in Bijapur
district of south Chhattisgarh
2. To identify the causes of fluctuation in enrollment after 2005.

Research questions:
How did the civil strife affect the school education of tribal children in Bijapur ?
Can formal education be an instrument to prevent civil strife?

Arriving at grounded theory approach:

Various approaches of qualitative research were considered to find out the best one suited to fulfill
the requirements of the research objectives. Quantitative methods were ruled out because of
geographical challenges posed by the region in collecting objective data from a large sample-set.
Thus, among the five qualitative approaches mentioned by Creswell (2013), a chart identifying pros

and cons of all the approaches was prepared. Due to language constrains, the narrative and
ethnographic approaches, which require thick data from the respondents and long duration of data
collection, were discarded.

Among phenomenological, grounded and case study approaches, it was found that the
phenomenological approach was too restrictive to study the impact of conflict and a case study
approach would have substantially restricted the number of stakeholders who could have been
interviewed. It was grounded theory which provided a systematic procedure to generate a theory
which could explain, at a broad conceptual level, a process, an action, or an interaction about the
topic (Creswell 2012). Grounded theory approach was selected also because it has features that are
self-correcting in nature because only after analyzing one set of data, the researcher obtains
direction from the analysis for the next set of data (Charmaz 2000).

The next step was to select the research design appropriate for the collection of data. In grounded
theory there are broadly three systematic designs: the systematic procedure (Corbin and Strauss
2008), the emerging design (Glaser 1992) and the constructivist approach (Charmaz 1990, 2000,
2006). The systematic approach has a pre-set method for data analysis which is quite quantitative
in nature and therefore quite rigid. It is also criticized for allowing the use of preconceived notions
and framework which does not allow the theory to emerge. The emerging design is also restrictive
in its scope as it aims to explain basic social process (Glaser 1992) and its primary focus is on
connecting categories and emerging theories. This wasnt acceptable to explain the subjective
realities of the adivasis which became quite complex in nature because of the conflict involved.
Thus, a constructivist design was selected for the study because it is a philosophical position
(Charmaz 1990, 2000, 2006) and focuses on meanings ascribed by participants in the study and
takes into account views, values, beliefs, feelings, assumptions, and ideologies of individuals than
in gathering facts and describing acts. This was perfectly suited to describe a conflict which is
based on two sets of opposing ideologies which has shaken the subjectivities of the adivasis of the
Bastar to the core. The design also allowed me to bring my subjectivity to the fore along with the
values, experiences and priorities I held. To put it simply, it helps explain the feelings of individuals
as they experience a phenomenon or process. The narrative is explanatory, discursive and probing
of the assumptions and meanings for individuals in the study (Creswell 2012).

The only concern with this approach is that any conclusion which is arrived at is suggestive,
incomplete and inconclusive (Creswell 2012). These concerns are valid in situations where there is

an absence of any factual data and it is only through oral history one can ascertain the processes.
They therefore do not limit the scope of the research in any way and do suggest the dynamic nature
of day-to-day reality, which was experienced by tribal people of Bastar.

Interviews were first conducted in the region where Salwa Judum began. On the basis of the themes
emerging from the interviews, other respondents, who could articulate the impact of Salwa Judum
on various aspects of school education, were selected.

The sample included a cross section of people. It included children from both schools and colleges
who continued with their education and those who dropped out of school at the time of Salwa
Judum. Parents of these children were also interviewed wherever possible to understand the churn
happening in the family because of incidents related to Judum. Teachers, both regular and
contractual, were approached to learn about their travails in response to the movement. Surrendered
Naxals were also met to understand the Maoist approach to education. Leaders of Salwa Judum
gave their arguments about their initial plans for Salwa Judum and it did end up affecting the tribal
milieu and childrens education. Elderly people from the village gave a history of education in the
area and pros and cons of education for tribes. Activists and government officials working in the
field of education were also approached to get their perspective on the impact of Salwa Judum on
school education.

The respondents were situated all across the state. Some were interviewed in Raipur, Jagdalpur, and
Dantewada, while majority of the respondents mentioned above were interviewed in their homes in
Bijapur. Surrendered trolled area were interviewed in the presence of sangham (village level

Data collection was done in the summer of 2014 and around 30 interviews were done so as to
saturate the data. However, due to the threat perception and a small window for data collection, the
constant comparative method of data analysis could not be implemented in letter and spirit in the
field as the interviews taken could not be transcribed immediately. However, notes were taken about
emerging concepts through memos, which formed the basis of selection of respondents.

Secondary data was also collected from government sources from the block, district and state level,
especially from the tribal welfare department which is in charge of all the schools being run by the

government in the region. Reports from various civil society organizations and human rights
organizations were also looked for in the world wide web post field interviews and compiled on the
basis of the information they contained. Several popular academic journals and publishers were
looked up for writings on the subject of education in conflict areas, especially with an ethnic

Data Analysis
As the interviews progressed, they were constantly analyzed for the concepts which were important
to understand the research objectives. Inter-relationships between these themes were looked for to
come up with a hypothesis, which were tested for their validity by looking at the narratives of other
respondents. As a certain set of theories emerged, they were refined and integrated with stories from
interviews and memos. Secondary sources were also used to triangulate the findings.

Although this research tries to look at the impact of conflict between Salwa Judum and Naxalites in
a holistic manner, it does not represent all the categories of respondents in an equal manner,
especially girls and women. This was partly because of the villages being located deep inside the
forests, not being accessible because of restrictions imposed by Naxalites.

The induction of children as Special Police Officers during the phase of Salwa Judum has not been
adequately covered. However, secondary sources have been used wherever possible to fill the data

It was envisaged that the data would be interpreted on the ground so as to make sure that the
emerging themes are identified and validated through theoretical sampling. Further it was planned
to fill the data gaps by revisiting the field and to simultaneously confirm the emerging hypothesis.
This, however, could not happen as the researcher could not transcribe and analyze the recorded
interview in the field because of several limitations. However, data analysis was done to arrive at
selected codes through the data written as memos. A hypothesis was arrived at by interlinking those
data, which was validated by other respondents interviewed later in the sequence. No person was
interviewed twice for this research.

Most of the interviews were taken in Hindi language and only in few cases where the respondents
did not understand Hindi, it was done in local language with the help of an honorary interpreter. In

the process of translation of these local languages viz. Gondi and Halbi to Hindi or English data
might have got partially lost or distorted. They were therefore used cautiously.

Ethical considerations
Care was taken to make sure that the respondents felt comfortable talking about the incidents of
violence. They were given an option to drop out of the interview if they felt uneasy talking about it.
Utmost confidentiality was promised to all the respondents because of the sensitive nature of the
topic as in many cases their life was in constant danger because of the position they hold. Wherever
the Naxal leaders refused to give permission to talk to villagers, the purpose of research was
explained to them and at times, the interview was conducted in their presence. No questions were
asked to the villages against the Naxals in such interviews or were asked in a very mild manner.

Subjective Experiences of the Researcher in the Process of Research

Data collection on a topic related to conflict throws up its unique challenges. First, it is difficult to
find people who would be willing to talk about their experiences. Even if they agree they talk, they
speak very selectively, thereby giving very little information. They need to be persuaded again and
again till the time they are convinced about the larger cause involved in studying the concepts and
its processes.

Adivasis by nature are shy and reticent people. They take time to open up to an outsider. Also, most
of the concepts used in regular conversation by non-tribal are unfamiliar to them. Therefore, the
question being asked is interpreted differently on the basis of their understanding and exposure to
the outside world. If the adivasi doesnt understand the question, s/he prefers to remain silent rather
than giving ambiguous answers. Thus, questions need to be rephrased in various ways at times to
make sure that the people have clearly understood the question being asked.

On the topic of education, everyone has an opinion. It is a topic which concerns all because of the
virtue of being a stakeholder in the process in some or other way. Therefore the quantum of data one
can generate can be huge. When other sources of information are taken into account the data can
multiply many times over. Therefore, I found it helpful to do a thorough background check on the
respondents to make sure that they were privy to some unique experience at the time of Salwa

When one specifically talks about Bastar, the region throws up its own unique challenges. Apart

from the difficult geographical terrain and diversity of tribes and dialects, one finds various power
structures at play. A visible manifestation of this is the control of access to the villages. One might
be stopped, questioned, and even taken hostage if one fails to prove his or her identity and the
nature of work. I was questioned many times by the security forces and the local Naxal members,
but on telling them about the purpose of my visit and answering all their queries patiently, I was
able to ensure their co-operation.

In a research such as this, one might often be mistaken for a government official inspecting the
village and the school. Therefore it was important for me to make it amply clear that I was a student
working on a specific project. Although this disappointed some people, it brought their expectations
down to a realistic level.

Talking to children in presence of their parents threw up interesting conversations. Various ideas,
presented as facts were immediately contradicted by other family members, leading to clean data
emerging from these sessions. Many a times, it was the children who steered the conversation
because of their greater command over Hindi, but parents did chip in with their rudimentary Hindi
or in the local language to add more information. Naxals, because of security concerns, were
interviewed in police stations. Villagers in Naxal controlled area were interviewed in the presence
of sangham (village level members).

Data collection was done in the summer of 2014 and around 30 interviews were done so as to
saturate the data. However, due to the threat perception and a small window for data collection, the
constant comparative method of data analysis could not be implemented in letter and spirit in the
field as the interviews taken could not be transcribed immediately. However, notes were taken about
emerging concepts through memos, which formed the basis of selection of respondents.

Secondary data was also collected from government sources from the block, district and state level,
especially from the tribal welfare department which is in charge of all the schools being run by the
government in the region. Reports from various civil society organizations and human rights
organizations were also looked for in the world wide web post field interviews and compiled on the
basis of the information they contained. Several popular academic journals and publishers were
looked up for writings on the subject of education in conflict areas, especially with an ethnic



How did Salwa Judum begin?

Kujja, a school teacher posted around Kutru village from where Salwa Judum began, says the seed
of Salwa Judum was sown several months before the real violence broke out when the sanghams,
the village level workers of Naxalites, began to take advantage of their position to settle personal
scores with people they had rivalry with. Once this became a routine thing, it did hurt the
sensibilities of many.

The theory of sanghams taking the help of Naxalite leaders to settle their personal scores is further
confirmed by a surrendered Naxalite, Varun. He says that they used to complain about innocent
people alleging that they were working as police informers. When Naxalites caught hold of the
implicated person for interrogation and beat that person after tying him upside down from a tree, the
person was left with no option but to confess. This gave rise to hatred towards the sanghams and the

So one day, when a person named Soma complained about two persons named Unga and Dunga to
Naxalites, they both were caught by them and beaten up. They both, however, managed to escape
and mobilized others to rise against this atrocity in protest. This led to Soma being summoned and
interrogated in a village meeting where he was forced to divulge the names of all the Naxalite
sympathizers. These sympathizers all were brought to one place and handed over to police. Thus
began Salwa Judum.

Thereafter, a wave of such incidents began across the villages and people began hunting down
Naxalite supporters to hand them over to the police. The situation was further aggravated by the
attempt of these villagers to extend their hunt of Naxalite sympathizers to faraway villages too. This
led to mass scale exodus of such sympathizers from the villages.

In absence of these Naxalite sympathizers in the village, the Salwa Judum members caught hold of
their family members, beat them up, looted their property and burnt down their houses. Their anger

was further fueled by recovery of certain items, which were earlier looted from their house by
Naxalite sympathizers, from these family members. A few such initial raids forced family members
of Naxalite sympathizers from other villages too to flee from the village out of fear of persecution
and physical harm.

Those people who were handed over to police were kept in custody for few days and were released
after being given a thorough beating. Once out of the polices clutches, the sympathizers regrouped
themselves and with the support of armed Naxalite leaders retaliated against those who had led the
charge against them and their family members. Many were killed from both the sides in the
violence which ensued.

It thus turned into a a cycle of violence with the angry villagers targeting Naxalite sympathizers and
Naxalites in turn targeting the villagers. This again gave rise to massive migration of villagers,
belonging to both the camps, to escape violence. People were told to either leave the village or be
prepared to die, says Mitesh, a villager. Villagers left everything they had, grains, animals, etc., and
ran away for their lives. Some time amidst this, the movement was christened as Salwa Judum,
which was interpreted as Peace March by some and Purification Hunt by others.

The turning point of the movement was a meeting organized by people concerned about Naxalite
atrocities in Mendre village of Kutru block. Those who were tasked to mobilize people for the
meeting from nearby villages, did not even wait for the meeting to be convened. Even before the
village elders could arrive, these overenthusiastic people beat their opponents (Naxalite
sympathizers) black and blue. This aggravated the enmity between the two factions just before the
meeting where it could have been resolved.

Thus, when it became clear that there was no going back from the movement started against the
Naxalites, many people began to associate themselves with the movement and gave a new direction
to it. S Raja, a school teacher in one of the villages, who is from a family which migrated to Bijapur
from Andhra Pradesh long back in the 1960s, became one of the brains behind the movement. Many
political leaders like Mahendra Karma threw their weight behind the movement a bit later when
they were called to intervene as mediators to establish peace in the region. There were many others
who assumed leadership of the movement in a small way. They were assigned a region each and
were responsible for spreading the movement in their respective areas.

With the involvement of political leaders, the local police also began to take active interest in the
proceedings of Salwa Judum and went on to attack Naxalite camps in a few places. Naxalites
retaliated by attacking the police stations. Thus, battle lines were drawn between Naxalites and the
State because of this.

A second version of the beginnings of Salwa Judum is given by S Raja, who became one of the
leaders of the movement and became its visible face. He describes Salwa Judum as a peaceful
gathering as in Gondi language, Judum means going for a group or community work. Thus, a work
or an act performed together is called Judum and those who did it for the purpose of peace building
came under the banner of Salwa Judum. It was to establish peace, not to attack anyone, he says.

According to him, the ground for such a movement was set by two set of attacks on policemen. The
first was an attack on a police vehicle on the road to Bedre village in Kutru block. In that attack, the
Naxalites ran away with all the arms and ammunitions being carried by the police. The second one
was another attack on a motorcycle borne police party near Ranibodli village in the same block
around the same time, which further complicated the matter.

The turning point, according to Raja, came during panchayat elections happening at that time.
When people were filing nominations to contest the election, Naxalites asked them not to do so.
They then called for a meeting of all those people who had filed their nomination from Hurenar
village in Kutru block and brutally beat them up asking them to withdraw their nomination. Many
of those beaten died of injuries later because of failure to get any medical help.

This added to anger of people were anyhow annoyed due to regular checking of belongings of
people by Naxalite search parties. On top of that, random instances of Naxalites beating up people
and forcing them to leave the village even on slightest of suspicion of anyone being a police
informer added insult to injury. Further, a ban imposed on plucking Tendu leaves by Naxals, on
account of less prices being paid by the traders, irked people. On top of that, villagers were
forbidden to work at any of the government approved construction sites and other works.

Apart from these immediate reasons, S Raja alleges that Naxalites also take away a days earning
from the sale of Tendu leaves from every person in the village. People also have to give up a portion
of their farm produce to Naxalites every year, which could be as high as half of the total crop
harvested. Thus their polices were affecting the economic security of the adivasis.

To prevent any leakage of information about them, restrictions were also imposed by Naxalites on
the mobility of adivasis, who were forced to keep themselves confined to a particular territory. This
hampered their interaction with relatives living in other places and restricted their participation in
many of the social rituals organized by them including marriage, religious functions, etc..

Raja also charges Naxalites of disrupting a religious procession organized as part of a fair in Ambeli
village in Kutru block. Naxalites beat up the priest, looted the donation box and warned people
against worshiping the deity. This also caused great unrest among people.

Fed up by all this, all the village elders from villages near Kutru met in secret and discussed about
the deteriorated situation, which they felt could not be tolerated anymore. A public meeting was
therefore called in Ambeli village on June 4, 2005 by sending out verbal messages to all the

On the appointed day, around two to three thousand people got together at Ambeli. Naxalites
however chose not to attend despite being invited for it. Thus the meeting was postponed and the
ground level operatives and informers of Naxalites were asked to call their leaders the next day.

Six local leaders appeared on day two, but one among them immediately ran away. When people
raised their grievances before the Naxalite leaders and asked them to resolve it, they excused
themselves on the grounds of not having adequate authority and asked for time to consult their
seniors before they could respond.

This angered Michha Hunga Ram, who argued that the cadre doesnt consult their seniors before
harassing villagers and were merely trying to avoid the situation. In a fit of rage, he even got
physical with the Naxalite leaders and slapped them. This was unexpected for those who were in the
habit of giving orders and beating up others.

Tension increased to such a level that all the Naxalite leaders were rounded up and handed over to
the local police by the people present in the meeting. In next few days the Naxalites retaliated by
killing the younger brother of Dunga Ram, a sarpanch (head-man) of Uskapatnam village. One
more person was injured in the attack and several items were also looted from their house. Similar
incidents of violence were repeated in two-three other houses as well by the Naxalites.

These incidents further strengthened the resolve of those who raised their voice against the
Naxalites and caused them to mobilize themselves to hold more such meetings without any aid from
the police or government organization for a fortnight. Post that, facing Naxalite threat and
retaliation, the Salwa Judum members began writing to the administration to provide security in the
meetings organized by them.

In the meetings, all Naxalite sympathizers and leaders were asked to surrender themselves and take
a pledge of not supporting Naxalites in future. There were close to 2500-3000 surrenders in the
area, but only senior Naxalite leaders were handed over to and arrested by police. Rest were
absorbed by police as Special Police Officers (SPOs), says Raja.

It thus became unviable for the family of those who had surrendered to stay back in the village
because Naxalite suspected that they would relay information about them to the person who had
joined as SPO. The family members then forced to migrate to a safer place, leaving their land, cattle
and all other property.

Later politicians got involved in these meetings who were asked to act as mediators to restore
peace. Mahendra Karma, a Congress leader from the region, who was also the leader of Opposition
in the Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly, took the lead. His prior experience in leading a similar
movement called Jan Jagaran Abhiyan in 1990s came in handy for him and therefore instead of
brokering peace, he further instigated the movement. After his involvement the entire movement got
full support by the government with the governor and the chief minister of the state also
participating in the rallies organized by the Salwa Judum.

Micham, a Gond school teacher who has recently retired from service, sums up the entire
movement in a unique fashion. He says that many villagers migrated from the villages because of
being fed up of regular meetings called by Naxalites to stop them from joining Salwa Judum. They
took refuge in relief camps set up by the government and went to the police to complain that they
left their village because of fear of Naxalites. This prompted police to inquire further into those
villages and those who were left behind were questioned about their allegiance. They were
understood to be Naxalite supporters and therefore harassed by policemen. This led to another
round of migration by those villagers to far away places, especially to neighboring districts of
Andhra Pradesh. It was a classic case of tribes turning against tribes. Entire villages emptied out

because of this with only a few elderly people left behind to look after the cattle and the property.

The case of surrendered Naxalites, recruited as SPOs, fighting to weed out Naxalites was also seen
by many as pitching tribes against tribes as both the groups knew each others tactics of guerrilla
warfare and fought each other in the thick forest, where the police and paramilitary forces failed.

Salwa Judum and the administration

Officially, Salwa Judum is recorded to have begun on June 2, 2005 as a tribal movement near Kutru
village, in which the government had to intervene when it became a matter of law and order. During
its peak 644 out of total 1354 villages in Bijapur had joined Salwa Judum. Almost all the villages in
Bijapur and Bhopalpatnam blocks did join it while many from the Usur had become part of it.
Technically, the movement did exist in just five blocks out of twelve blocks in the district.

Table 3.1: Blocks where Salwa Judum spread (Source: Dantewada collectors memo, 2007)
S. No. Name of Block Total Villages Villages which Villages which
joined did not joined
Salwa Judum Salwa Judum
1 Geedam 75 28 47
2 Bhairamgarh 324 324 0
3 Bijapur 96 96 0
4 Usur 132 56 76
5 Konta 340 140 200
Total 967 644 323

As part of the movement, 139 marches were taken out and 47 meetings were conducted during
which a lot of people who were associated with Naxalites surrendered themselves. However, most
of them were Sangham members from Dantewada (472) and Bijapur (1536) leading to a total of
2008 surrenders.

As per the district administration it was running 20 relief camps in which 47,238 people were
staying. These relief camps had permanent and temporary residential facilities, depending on the
familys willingness to go back to the village after Salwa Judum. A total of 6,369 families
comprising of approximately 30,000 people wanted to stay back permanently, while 6001 families
wanted to go back.

Among these people there were 6,938 children who were in age group of 6-14 who were going to
schools established in relief camps. In addition to that 25 Ashram schools, situated in interior
villages were shifted to these camps for the education of the children enrolled in them to continue.
"It is being ensured that no child in the camps is denied an education, says the Dantewada
collectors memo (2007).

The government has recorded 412 people being killed, 348 being injured, with 627 houses and 468
property being damaged during the phase of Salwa Judum. Around 45 family members of people
who were killed in Naxalite violence were given a government job as Class III school teacher
(Shikshakarmi) in residential schools. Many of the surrendered Naxalites were inducted as Special
Police Officers (SPOs).

Table 3.2: Number of Special Police Officers (source: Dantewada Collectors Memo)
S. no. District Special Police Officers Total
Male Female
1 Dantewada 1357 29 1386
2 Bijapur 2392 270 2662
Total 3749 299 4048

Table 3.3: Relief camps and number of residents (source: Dantewada collectors memo, 2007)
S. no Block Camp Number of residents
1 Bijapur Bijapur 5,408
2 Cherpal 756
3 Gangalur 1,856
4 Usur Awapalli 272
5 Basaguda 1,544
6 Usur 251
7 Bhairamgarh Bhairamgarh 2,999
8 Pharsegarh 391
9 Matwada 1,310
10 Nelasnar 832
11 Jangla 1,363
12 Kutru 1,312
13 Mirtur 763
14 Bedre 454

A Planning Commission report on development challenges in left-wing extremism areas (2008)

talks about local inhabitants forming resistance group Salwa Judum when the Naxalites severely
interfered with their traditional life style. It criticizes them for turning into vigilante groups with
support of government, with some being appointed as Special Police Officers (SPOs) and given
arms training. This led to a situation when these vigilante groups fight with armed Naxalite groups
turned into a fight of tribals fighting the tribal. As a principle of good governance, such a situation
is not desirable, the report noted.

The report also mentions the migration of tribals from interior villages to relief-camps situated near
arterial roads, leading to separation from agricultural land, livestock and other means of production
and livelihood. This was not liked by most of the tribals because of discipline and constraints the
camp life imposed.

The phenomenon of involuntary displacement and forced migration into neighboring states causing
distress among the tribals and leading to administrative problems for the host state was also

Salwa Judum in academia

According to Nandini Sundar (2006) Salwa Judum officially started on June 4, 2005 in villages
around Kutru in Bhairamgarh block of Bijapur district. She refers to it as purification/pacification
hunt in contrast to the peace campaign/mission used by the state government. Another report
prepared by Human Rights Watch (2008) however calls it "popular protests against Naxalites in
Bijapur district.

Sundar (2006) alludes to one of the versions provided by the residents at Kutru relief camp, who
said the movement started with sangham members from Karkeli village looting a truck ferrying
rice to a CRPF (paramilitary) camp. The police then arrested and beat up all the adults of Karkeli,
releasing them only on condition that they hand over the Maoist leaders, which they subsequently

In another version provided by a local Maoist leader, Salwa Judums origin is attributed to meetings
held by Mahendra Karma, the Congress Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and leader of
the opposition in the state assembly. Referring to Mahendra Karmas interview given to

Independent Citizens Initiative in which he claimed responsibility for initiating the Salwa Judum,
tracing it from the Jan Jagaran Abhiyan (Peoples Awakening Movement) of 1989-91, Sundar says
that Karma later took an about turn and claimed that he merely provided leadership to the

In an interview given to Sundar, district collector, K.R. Pisda, claimed that the movement was self-
initiated in response to frequent Maoist strike calls on Tendu leaves and blockades on road
construction. He rubbished Karmas claim of having initiated the movement and said that he was
there for the publicity.

Sundar alleges that there was a grand master plan at work behind the scenes which gave rise to
Salwa Judum. She refers to the home ministrys annual report of 2003-04, para 3.145 which says,
"The states have been requested to explore the feasibility of appointing Special Police Officers
(SPOs), Nagrik Suraksha Samitis (NSSs) and Village Defence Committees (VDCs) in the villages
affected by Naxalites. These local groups are required to ...expose other misdeeds of the Naxal
outfits and their leaders. This will help reduce the over ground support to the Naxalites.

Sundar further refers to the work proposal for the Jan Jagaran Abhiyan (Salwa Judum) drawn up by
the district collector in 2005, which talks about peoples counterinsurgency plan, including
identifying friendly and enemy villages, distributing bows and arrows to people to help them
fight, dividing the entire area into clusters and permanently resettling villages next to police

The document further talks about forming a village level defense squad at cluster level, on the lines
dalam or an armed squad organized by Naxalites for every 75-80 villages. It says that in order to
destroy Naxalites police will have to adopt their guerrilla strategies and will have to involve young
people and village headmen in the process. It talks about arming the SPOs and village defence
committees by forming a squad of 15-20 people, with the support of 50-60 villagers.

To add on, Sundar cites a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Status Paper on the Naxalite Problem
(2001) which says, Naxalites operate in a vacuum created by inadequacy of administrative and
political institutions, espouse local demands and take advantage of the prevalent disaffection and
injustice among the exploited segments of the population and seek to offer an alternative system of
governance which promises emancipation of these segments.

The report also says that villagers with bows and arrows should patrol the villages in their areas for
3-4 months continuously. They should be given wireless sets to be in touch with the police at all
times. It would be appropriate to give them some police powers as well.

According to Sundar (2006(a)) exactly as planned by the government machinery, close to 3,500
young people, many of them minors, became Special Police Officers. For these SPOs it was just
another government job and they joined because everyone else was joining, but Sundar says it
was not uncommon to find one brother with the Maoists and another with the Salwa Judum as an
SPO. These SPOs were given lathis (sticks), bows and arrows and .303 rifles, supposedly to
counter the Naxalites, she says.

According to her, Salwa Judum members first targeted the sangham (the ground level village
members), who were identified with the help of other villagers and were forced to surrender. But
such was the hostility and atmosphere of suspicion at that time that anyone could have been
described as a Naxalite and killed. The Maoists, in turn, also selectively targeted specific members
of Salwa Judum, but from February 2006, onwards they resorted to large-scale counter-terror
(Sundar, 2006 (a)).

People fled their villages, as government says, because of fear of reprisal by Naxalites for having
participated in Salwa Judum meetings. Villagers however did have a different version according to
Sundar (2006). They were forced to move to camp and participate in rallies organized by Salwa
Judum because of the threat to their life from Salwa Judum members. Those who refused to move
to camps had their house burnt as Judum members felt that either youre in camp or youre with
the Maoists.

Fearing mindless violence, many people ran to the forest, but later had to emigrate to neighboring
Andhra Pradesh, to work in chilly farms there, when their ration supply got over due to a blockade
imposed by Judum members.

Villagers were scared because they faced severe consequences for helping Naxalites. Sundar (2006)
records an incident in village Tolampalli where Kosaki Karma was hit with a belt and his wife was
raped, for allegedly giving rice to Naxalites...

Human Rights Watch (2008) corroborates the writings of Sundar and accuses Salwa Judum
members of raiding villages suspected to be pro-Naxalite, forcibly recruiting villagers as its
members, and pressurizing tens of thousands of people to makeshift government-run camps set up
along main roads. All this was done with the active support of government security forces.

Those relocated to camps, including 12-year-old children, were forced to participate in Salwa
Judum meetings and raids conducted by group members along with the armed forces.
Children are said to have participated in beating villagers, pillage, and burning of villages. Those
families who refused to do so were beaten or fined.

The Human Rights Watch (2008) report further says that from the early phase of the movement
itself in 2005, police recruited camp residents, including children, as Special Police Officers (SPOs)
to assist government security forces in conducting anti-Naxalite combing operations and providing
security to camp residents. Around 3,500-3,800 SPOs were appointed in all, which included
children as young as 15 years and were given basic arms training.

SPOs often worked in tandem with the paramilitary forces and executed the orders to kill or beat
suspected Naxalites. Many of them died, including an unknown number of children, during
encounter and in land-mines and improvised explosive devises (IEDs) blast carried out by

These SPOs were paid a measly sum of Rs 1,500 but were put under immense risk of being
specifically targeted by Naxalites as traitors. As a result, many believe that SPOs can never return
to their home villages.

Sundar says that in many villages, villagers regrouped with the Maoists and often helped them in
their effort to contain Salwa Judum by taking part in attacks. But these villagers, situated mostly on
the other side of Indrawati river also faced the brunt of economic blockade imposed by the
government and Salwa Judum during which no weekly markets were held or villagers from Maoist
controlled area were not allowed to visit them.

Such was the extent of blockade that no government service, including health and education,
worked in the area controlled by Naxalites. Paramilitary forces occupied school buildings, leading
to Maoists breaking them down. These schools were then shifted to relief-camps with many of the

children missing. One school teacher said that every night the population of children in the camp
hostel varied by a hundred, since parents deposited them in the hostel when the combing got intense
and later took them back, Sundar found.

She also records that, life in the camp was only slightly better than life in the jungles and people
would lie around vacantly, with nothing to do.... This might be one of the reasons which children
started going to school.

Maoist leader Ganpathi is quoted as saying that, For outsiders the SPOs might appear as poor
adivasis, but to the masses of adivasis who had borne the brunt of their cruel attacks, the hardcore
among the SPOs are even more dangerous and brutal than the police.

Sundar further looks into the claim that it was an uprising against the atrocities committed by
Naxalites. At the village level, these organizations are colloquially called sanghams, and every
village where the Maoists were active had a sangham of 1012 members. In some places, they
overthrew the traditional leadership like the village headman and priest, whereas elsewhere, the
traditional leaders continued to decide on rituals, festivals etc, while sangham members
concentrated on calling meetings on economic or political issues. Sangham meetings would be held
2-3 times a month, and much less frequently, the villagers would be called to the forests to meet a
visiting armed squad, says she. In footnote she further says in such meetings, the Maoists
emphasized the importance of reading, suggesting it as an alternative route to education. An
emphatic sentence recorded by her says, Whoever joins them (Naxalites) learns to read.

The Communist Party however exerted tight control over everything. One such example is of fixing
the rate for Tendu leaves which were negotiated between the Naxalites and the contractors, with the
villagers not even consulted in the process. ...the sanghams would come in only to relay the rates
to the villagers, or call for a strike if the rates had to be raised, Sundar was told by one of her

Referring to Maoist literature, Sundar says it refers to them being engaged in creating schools,
clinics, ponds, cattle detention yards, and orchards through the self-efforts of the villagers; though
at least some of this appears to have come at the cost of utilizing government schemes that might
have generated employment, including the building of roads.

There is also a reference about formation of Self-help Groups (SHG) by Maoists to cultivate paddy
in a collective manner and the produce being shared according to the amount of land owned.
However, she says that part of the harvest was stored to feed visiting squads so that they wouldnt
be a burden on individual households, while part of it was given on easy loan terms to the poor, or
simply distributed free (Sundar 2006).

From her interviews one can find an acute sense of resentment among people towards policies
followed by Naxalites in not allowing adivasis to engage in trade of non-timber forest produce.
Watching television and spending money in weddings were also considered bad by them. But what
really stands out is the extreme anger among people about not being allowed to contest elections
and being pressurized to resign from the post if one had already been elected.

Reacting to Salwa Judum, one of her respondents Sondi Mula says, before it was their (Naxalite)
rule. Now those who were oppressed by the sangham have the police with them and they are taking
revenge. Sundar however doesnt consider these dissatisfactions as reasons enough for adivasis to
rebel against Naxalites and blames the government for resorting to forced polling and rigging of

Class and caste angle are brought to fore by Sundar who says that Salwa Judum had the backing of
village headmen, traders and some rich peasants, especially from castes higher up in the local caste
hierarchy... She calls Judum a reassertion of the class power of the traders and non-tribal
emigrants over the Maoist base, as well as a project of individual differentiation. This stands in
sharp contrast to Maoists whose cadre comes mostly from the Gonds, the majority tribe in the area.
She however accepts that there are people of all castes on both sides (Sundar 2006: 17).

Sundar notes that some one lakh people were displaced, 47,238 were living in the relief camps, 540
people were killed and over 3,000 houses were burnt because of Salwa Judum. She also says that
stories of gang rape by the paramilitaries and vigilantes were quite common.

Bela Bhatia (2011) also alludes to around 500 people being killed, 99 women being raped, hundreds
of houses being burnt and villages getting emptied with tens of thousands having to take refuge in
camps or being forced to flee across the borders during that season of indiscriminate, ruthless and
relentless violence. She alleges that all this cannot be the work of the Salwa Judum alone and hints
that it could not have happened without the active involvement of the state machinery.

To support her argument, Bhatia cites a conversation she had with a member of Naga battalion who
told her that they would kill people even on the slightest confirmation that they belonged to
sangham or dalam (the ground level informers or the regular cadre). The member also went on to
say that they (the paramilitary forces) burnt the houses of the villagers so as to make sure that they
do not go back to from the relief camps. This also ensured that the Naxalites do not find any shelter
in the villages.

Salwa Judum and the Maoists

The Maoist movement began in May 1967 from a small Naxalbari village in the state of West
Bengal and turned into a movement for "total transformation of the existing political system to
create a new social order ending what they see as the exploitation of marginalized and vulnerable
communities (HRW, 2008). To achieve this goal, the Naxals or Naxalites, deriving their name from
the Naxalbari village, have also resorted to the use of force, including arms, and attacked the state
and its representatives.

In Chhattisgarh (then Madhya Pradesh) it gained strength in 1980s with the active support of some
of the politicians in the Bastar region and soon gained popularity. The region, because of its
virtually impenetrable dense forest, also acted as refuge for the cadre from the Andhra Pradesh
whenever the pressure from the state government there increased. Maoists are also known to be
running their armed training camps in the pristine forests of Abujhmarh, which to this date remains
inaccessible to the government for a large part of the year. In all, Maoists have a very strong
presence in all seven districts of Bastar, with four districts of Bijapur, Dantewada, Narayanpur and
Sukma being virtually under their control.

According to Sundar (2006 (a):3189), the Maoists claim to have 60 lakh people in the organization
falling under Dandakaranya guerrilla zone which encompasses the districts of Gadchiroli,
Bhandara, Balaghat, Rajnandgaon, undivided Bastar, and Malkangiri in the states of Maharashtra,
Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha. The zone is headed by a Special Zonal Committee,
which in turn has formed ground based organizations like Dandakaranya Adivasi Kisan Mazdoor
Sanghatan (DAKMS) and the Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Sanghatan (KAMS) popularly known as
sanghams. From 1995 onwards, the sanghams overthrew the traditional village leadership and
established gram rajya (peoples rule) committees elected by the gram sabha (congregation of

From 1993 onwards, the Peoples War Group (PWG) began to form special guerrilla squads and in
2000, the Peoples Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) was formed. Militias have been formed on a
large scale in villages. Indeed, after the Salwa Judum started, there appears to have been a spurt in
recruitment to these militias (Ibid).

According to Navlakha (2006:2187), the Maoists are estimated to have 7,300 weapons for 10,500
armed cadre nationwide, a 25,000 peoples militia and 50,000 members in village level units. It was
estimated that after Salwa Judum, the strength of Maoists grew to 1,10,000 a 22-fold increase.
After Operation Green Hunt, every surviving adivasi will become a Maoist full-timer. And when
the Maoists increase in number, they expand their base. They will reach Mumbai, Delhi, he says.
The obsession of Maoist with militarism is seen as coming from their aim to capture state power
and to unfurl Red flag on the Red Fort (Sundar 2006).

Human Right Watch report (2008) clearly explains the structure followed by the Naxals with
respect to children. According to them those between age six and twelve are inducted as Bal
Sanghams and are trained in basic Maoist ideology. They are then primarily used as informers and
taught to fight with non-lethal weapons (sticks).

Children above 12 years of age are made part of either Chetana Natya Manch (or CNMs which are
street theater troupes), Sanghams (village-level associations), jan militias (armed informers), and
dalams (armed squads). Except for those in CNM, rest all are given weapons training with rifles
and are taught to use explosives including land-mines.

Children in Bal Sanghams, Sanghams, and CNMs hardly participate in direct fight but are often
targeted during search operations by security forces. Children recruited into dalams may not be
permitted to leave, and may face severe reprisals, including the killing of family members, if they
surrender to the police, says the report.

Human Rights Watch (2008) report says that the recruitment and use of children from age 16 is part
of CPI (Maoist) policy and is widely practiced. It also claims that there is evidence of Chhattisgarh
police arbitrarily detaining and torturing suspect child Naxalites when Salwa Judum was at its

Documents released by Maoist say that they have carried out several development activites in the
region and have established 135 peoples clinics, started six primary schools, 10 night schools,
built 25 huts for government teachers to persuade them to come, set up 10 village libraries, etc. in
south Bastar and Gadchiroli. They also claim that women were no more than chattels slaving
away from morning to night and children led wasted lives before they came in to scene and
handed them guns. Sundar (2006 (a):3190) calls this "fetishisation of militarism and glorification
of dying a martyrs death.

The Planning Commission report on development challenges in left-wing extremism areas

(2008:53) says the due to Naxalite attendance of teachers, doctors did improve in some states but
also notes that such employees have made the presence of the Naxalites an excuse for not
attending to their duties properly in the interior areas. The report also acknowledges the
contribution of Naxalites as pressure groups in forcing the improvement of physical infrastructure
like roads, school buildings, and notes the resistance offered by Naxals in laying roads because of
intrusion of police and paramilitary raids. Specifically in Chhattisgarh the act of demolishing pucca
school buildings to stop police and paramilitary from taking shelter in it has been highlighted. All
said and done, it cannot be said that there has been any general improvement in the administration
in the areas of Naxalite influence, it says (Ibid).

According to a booklet Salwa Judum: The Inside Story (2006) released by Maoists, Judum started
when Peoples Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) carried out an ambush on May 24, 2005 in
Karremarka village leading to the death of five Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans. A
meeting was thereafter called in Usakipatanam village on June 5, 2005 in which leaders of
DAKMS of the area were also called and then treacherously handed over to the police. The
meeting was followed by another meeting held in Maatwada village which was presided over by
Collector KR Pisda and leader of opposition in Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly, Mahendra
Karma. Around 3000 people were present among which a group of 1000 people attacked the village
of Kotrapal. Naxalites claim that most of these villagers who were part of this attack were taken
forcibly by few of the hard-core elements.

According to Naxalites, the villagers of Kotrapal knew about the impending attack and therefore
were prepared to resist it. Elder people had been sent to forest and young people stayed back and
resisted the Salwa Judum members, ultimately forcing them to withdraw. Villagers of Kotrepal were
also able to take 12 people as hostage out of which one person was killed after being tried in

peoples court.

The booklet claims that people were mobilized in the early phase of the campaign (from June
2005), under the name of some Sodi Deva who could not be traced. Rather, on investigation by
local journalists, these invitations and press releases turned out to be emanating from the office of
the Inspector General of Police in Jagdalpur, it says.

As for destroying schools used by the CRPF as their camps it says that neither the people nor our
Party think it is wrong. The schools, once they are occupied by these forces, are transformed into
torture chambers and concentration camps and there is no hope that they will once again be used as
schools in the near future.

The booklet questions the delay by the state in establishing schools in many of the villages since
Independence and taking up construction of concrete buildings only after the initiation of Salwa
Judum. They call it guided by the need for carpet security system. Maoists also claim that it is
people who have destroyed the school as they understand the real purpose behind their construction
and say that education of the adivasis is not affected by destruction of school buildings used by the
security forces but by the destruction of entire villages (upto 900 villages had been uprooted since
June 2005) by the state police, para-military forces and Salwa Judum goondas (hooligans) with
active police support.

The booklet also say that a rally was organized in July 2006 in which thousands of students, whose
education was disturbed by Salwa Judum, raised slogans against police-Judum gangs for depriving
them of education. They demanded immediate withdrawal of all police-CRPF camps from schools
and colleges and in villages and towns. The demands further included stoppage of destruction of
villages and killing of teachers and students by Judum goons, allowing people to go back to their
villages from the so-called rehabilitation centres, and to provide all facilities for education. While
destruction of school buildings had taken place in a few villages where peoples very existence has
become a question mark you still think that this is affecting the education of he children rather than
seeing it in a larger perspective affecting the lives of the entire people. We are curious to hear what
you would say of hundreds of other villages which do not have schools although Maoist threat
does not exist in those villages? It is for you to ponder over whether we are in any way responsible
for the lack of education to the children of Dantewara, it said.



4.1. Impact of conflict between Salwa Judum and Naxalites on school education

Schools destroyed
Hundreds of schools were either closed or destroyed at the time of Judum in the liberated area, the
area under the control of Naxalites. It was because of the fear that the government armed forces
would use these buildings as a place for temporary halts while they go out for combing operation.
Worse, the fear was that the security forces might make permanent residential camps in school
buildings so as to establish their domination in the area and restrict the movement of Naxalites to
these villages. Establishment of a camp signifies that the area is no longer a Naxalite stronghold and
is controlled by the State. The occupation of school buildings by paramilitary forces for a long time
is a fact clearly established in the case filed by Nandini Sundar and Kartam Joga against the State of
Chhattisgarh in the Supreme Court of India.9

Concerned with these issues Naxalites issued a dictum saying that the school and panchayat
buildings being built in villages should not have a pucca roof. This was probably because of the fact
that pucca roof allows security forces to set up heavy weapons with expansive range which would
had been detrimental for Naxalites had they tried to attack them. Also, people placed on roof get a
360 degree view of the area around the building, giving them an opportunity to alert their
colleagues in case of any reconnaissance activity being carried out by the Naxalites.

Thus, all those schools which had pucca roof were destroyed by Naxalites. For example, in Kerpe
village of Kutru block of Bijapur, there was an Ashram which had 100 girls and 50 boys along with
the local boys and girls attending classes as day-scholars. The building now lies in shambles after
being broken at the time of Judum.

9 Nandini Sundar and others v. State of Chhattisgarh, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 250 of 2007 and Kartam Joga and
others v. State of Chhattisgarh and Union of India, Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 119 of 2007

Similarly, around 10 schools, which were being run in the Naxalite controlled territory across the
Indrawati river in Bhairamgarh block, also stopped functioning because of the buildings being
destroyed. One of the persons living in the area claims that the government has sanctioned funds for
construction of new school buildings, but reconstructing a pucca building poses a huge challenge as
the materials required, like bricks and cement, need to be transported using boats, which have
limited capacity to carry weight. He fears that even if the schools are reconstructed they are most
likely to be destroyed again by the Naxalites.

Raja, a young school teacher posted in Bhairamgarh whose village is on the other side of river
Indrawati, says that for him destroying school building is equivalent to stopping people from getting
education. He also points out to the fact that with the only permanent pucca structures gone in the
village, professionals such as doctors, etc visiting the village would find it hard to get an
accommodation if the want to stay back.

Villagers also say that schools are required for education to happen, but Naxalites do not allow
pucca cement schools to be built. The kids however like the cement made building, despite it
getting too hot inside rooms during summer. This is because a pucca building requires less
maintenance and doesnt have to be painted with cow-dung on regular basis. The students however
know that it is expensive to construct a pucca building and they do not have the required money for

Naxalites however rubbish these allegations. Raghav, a senior Naxalite leader who later
surrendered, says that none of the schools without a pucca roof were touched by Naxalites.
Wherever school buildings were destroyed, it was done only after intense consultations with the
villagers. He stresses the point that Naxalites cannot take decision of destroying the school on the
basis of their whims and fancies and it is only after a consensus is evolved to destroy school, they
do that.

The primary reason he cites for destroying these schools was that they were being used by Salwa
Judum and armed force members for their accommodation, which subsequently led to clashes with
the villagers on petty and serious issues. He explains that villagers often, because of being illiterate,
do not have knowledge about what to do in such situations when armed forces come to their

He however concedes that villagers are also ignorant about the ramifications of destroying a pucca
school building, which might take years to be reconstructed again.If the villagers refuse to do so
(destroy the school) then it becomes their responsibility to manage the onslaught of Salwa Judum,
he says.

Raja, the school teacher mentioned above, challenges the suggestion that decision to destroy the
school was taken after reaching consensus through wider consultations with people. He alleges that
the decision was taken by local cadre, who are hardly educated, on the basis of ground realities.

Varun, a young surrendered Naxalite, presents a slightly different version. He says that it was on the
orders of senior Naxalite leaders that the villagers destroyed the school buildings. They (the
villagers) do not think that (by destroying the school building) the loss would be theirs. They fear
that police will beat them up under the influence of liquor and drugs. It is out of hatred towards
police that they do not want camps to be set up.

Sometime later, after the Salwa Judum had subsided, Naxalites issued an apology saying that they
have realized that destroying schools was wrong and they should not have done it. Raja however
finds it hard to forgive. Naxalites interfere in traditional practices of tribals...they do not allow
pucca buildings...they beat and kill innocent people...and then apologize. What purpose does it
serves, he says.

Villagers says that the attack on schools was not just one sided. Ganpat, who was in Basaguda
Ashram school of Usur block at that time, said that Salwa Judum members attacked their school and
beat up the children forcing them to flee for their safety. The school got shut and could begun only
after a year in a place 15 kilometers far from its original location. Education, however, was affected
for close to four years for many children who could rejoin school only after year 2010.

Also, as the violence perpetrated by Judum led to more than 600 villages getting emptied out. This
led to the schools located in all these villages getting severely affected. However, many of the
parents left their children in Ashrams before running away to Andhra Pradesh or relocating to a
relief camp.

Micham, a retired school teacher, says that because of Judum all the children got scattered to
different places because of the fear of violence. For four to five years from 2005 onwards people

lived in constant fear of their life and didnt know whether they would be able to see the sun rise
next day. Children were mentally and emotionally disturbed to such an extent that even if they were
in school they could not concentrate on their studies. They were tensed about what would happen
next: who would attack their house, or carry out a physical assault on them.

Due to destruction of schools, ashrams and hostels on massive level, the district administration
shifted students to make-shift arrangements made in villages situated next to a motor-able road.
This had led to congregation of too many schools in one place. For example, the school of
Korseguda village and Ashrams of Dharmapur, Pusbaka, Basaguda and Polampalli village were
being run in Awapalli village of Usur block.

Scarcity of food and surplus of children

Such was the intensity of conflict at that time that Salwa Judum members and government security
forces enforced a blockade on the movement of any type of food materials to those villages under
the control of Naxalites. To evade starvation due to shortage of food, families started sending their
kids to nearest residential school where they guaranteed to be fed by the district administration,
without causing any harm to them. Thus parents used to bring their kids to weekly markets and drop
them off to the nearest Ashram schools. Due to this pressure tactic, the number of children in
schools increased by leaps and bounds within no time.

Families who had to take refuge in relief camps, because of violence inflicted by Naxalites and
Salwa Judum members, were also forced to send their children to schools. This was because even in
camps, food was in short supply. Since they (the families) had come from far away places (to relief
camps) and were facing difficulty in getting adequate food, the parents admitted their children to
government hostels where they used to eat, live, and learn comfortably, says Sanjay Kumar, a
young boy from Bhairamgarh block, who witnessed the migration of several families living in
interior areas to his village.

Pota cabins (Portable Cabins or Porta Cabin)

As an the immediate response to the influx of large number of children in relief camps who had
never been to school before, the administration increased the intake capacity of existing Ashrams
and hostels by leaps and bounds. When they too proved inadequate to accommodate the number of
children, they came up with the innovative idea of setting up Residential Bridge Course Centers
(RBCs). The short-term aim of these centers was to feed these children and provide them with safe

accommodation. Its long-term objective was to bring these hitherto out-of-school children to
literacy level appropriate of their age.

So wherever the government got some space, a RBC was opened. Approximately 150-200 RBCs
were opened around that time. According to government norms, these RBCs are allowed to run for
only two years. After two years we found practical problems in transferring these children to local
schools as they were far from childrens respective homes and in the hostile situation people faced
from Naxalites and Salwa Judum it was not feasible for students to travel this distance. We had to
do something to keep this children is school, says VP Pandey a senior government official.

However, a follow-up report prepared by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights
(Charu, 2008) says that these RBCs were closed because of mismanagement that showed up in an
internal government inquiry. Those who were enrolled in RBCs were not even able to give their
exams due to their sudden closure, it observed.

Thus because of all these issues, in 2008-09, the administration came up with the idea of
establishing Portable Cabins in place of RBCs. Popularly known as Porta or Pota Cabins by the
locals these Cabins are structures made of bamboo sheets and are manufactured mainly by National
Bamboo Mission. These sheets are known for the minimal time required to install them, which
might be as less as seven days for a 10 room building. They are also strong enough to withstand
wide variation in weather change. Naxalites also do not attack them as they do not see them as
permanent structures where armed forces can easily take shelter.

Thus all the children who were in Residential Bridge Course Centers (RBCs) were shifted to Porta
Cabins. This could be done because the Cabins were constructed on a massive scale. Each Porta
Cabin was so huge that it could easily accommodate 500 boys and girls. But the demand was far
more than supply and they were forced to accommodate students beyond their capacity.

Once the infrastructure was in place, teachers were summoned by the district administration to go to
interior areas controlled by Naxalites and get all out-of-school-children admitted to either regular
schools or to Porta Cabins. Around 150 teachers who were transferred to schools located in interior
areas but refused to go to those schools were suspended with a warning that their services would be
terminated if they failed to take charge. The threat worked and most of the schools located in
interior villages started functioning. In places where the situation was not at all conducive to run a

regular school, children were shifted to the nearest Porta Cabin, Ashram school or hostel.

The whole process of getting students from interior villages to local school or Porta Cabin is quite
interesting. The district administration has appointed local boys and girls, who are educated till
class XII, as Anudeshak (contractual teachers) in RBCs and Porta Cabins. These Anudeshaks go to
villages in groups of two or three and meet the parents of those children who are out-of-school.
They try to convince the parents to send their child to school by explaining them the benefits of
education and how their standard of living would improve because of it. If at all there are any
educated people in the village, Anudeshaks make an example out of them by listing out the material
benefits accrued to them because of education. They tell the parents that the future of their child
would get secured because of education as they would learn how to read and write. Assurances are
also given that their child would be safe with them and would not indulge in any wrongful activity.

Parents generally do not let go of their children in the first visit by Anudeshaks. Minimum of two
visits are required to persuade them. At times parents fight with Anudeshaks and tell them that the
child is required to graze their cattle, do household chores and pluck tendu leaves. They further go
on to list out each and every work in which a child is of help to them and then straightaway refuse
to send their child to school.

When facing this kind of resistance, Anudeshaks take the help of elected and nominated
representatives of local village administration (Sarpanch and Sachiv) to convince parents. If at all
one of the families in the village agrees to send their kid to school, persuading others gets easy.

Motivation for Anudeshaks in getting these children from remote areas comes from the target given
to them by the district administration. Each Anudeshak is asked to get around 30-40 children to
Porta Cabin every year. Over years such has been the scramble to fulfill the target that Anudeshaks
have traveled to extremely difficult terrains, to go to far away places where the writ of
administration does not run, in search of out-of-school children. They have traveled as far as 30 km
from the location of Porta Cabin to bring children to schools on their own responsibility.

Why Portable Cabins?

There are no restrictions on the number of students a Porta Cabin could take, unlike Ashrams and
hostels which have limited seats. Anyone who is above six years of age and below 18 years is
enrolled. According to one of the teachers the initial mandate of Porta Cabins was to take only out-

of-school children who are above nine years of age. Yet they ended up taking students from all age
groups. This led to many Porta Cabins working far in excess of their sanctioned capacity. There are
more than 750 students living in a Porta Cabin constructed for 500 children in Konta (in Sukma
district). We are constructing two more such cabins in Polampalli village and will shift the extra
students there. Our aim is to not have more than 250 children in a Porta Cabin, else it becomes
difficult to manage students in such large numbers, says VP Pandey a senior government official,
who did also oversee their construction.

Teachers often allege that children are sent to Porta Cabin by their parents for the food they get
there. As an evidence, a teacher says, students run out of classrooms like crazy as soon as the bell
announcing lunch-break in sounded. Children do not care about washing their hands and such is
eagerness to have food that they would take enormous quantity of food on their dish, sometimes far
exceeding the quantity which they can eat.

Parents do strongly contest this claim. We do not send our kids to Porta Cabin for food and clothes.
We can purchase clothes by doing manual labor. We send them (to Porta Cabin) to read, says
Sangeeta, mother of a child studying in a residential school. She however agrees that the food given
in Porta Cabins is good and her son likes to eat it. Sangeetas husband begs to disagree. Dal-Alu
(lentils and potatoes) provided in schools are watery and do not provide energy. Whatever little
local food we eat like brinjal etc. it is good, he says.

Most of the children interviewed during this study said that although they like eating potatoes and
lentils, they prefer local delicacies over them. In the area it was quite common to find children
getting green vegetables from forest or buying it from weekly market to cook it for themselves in
the school premise. They feel the vegetables are much more nutritious than potatoes and lentils.

What makes Porta Cabins work?

1. Food and other facilities: A child studying in Porta Cabin gets food, clothes, shoes and
everything of daily necessity. They do not have to buy even a tooth-brush on their own. The quality
of these items is also good because of fear of inspected by senior district officials. This is because
Porta Cabins are situated right next to the main roads where four wheeled vehicles of government
officials can reach easily.

2. Trained teachers: In many of the Porta Cabins the district administration has posted their best

teachers considering that it would benefit large number of students. These teachers were also trained
by people brought in specially from Delhi. Also, the number of teachers in these schools is
comparatively higher than regular school, leading to better teaching in comparison to regular
school. This can be understood by the fact that in a test organized for primary school teachers in a
block of Dantewada district in 2013, it was found that out of 250 teachers only 30 teachers knew
how to multiply.

3. Anudeshaks: During early phase of Salwa Judum, when these contractual teachers were shifted
from Residential Bridge Course Centres to Porta Cabins, it was a matter of scaling up for them from
handling 50 students in RBCs to handling 500 students in Porta Cabins. However, they quickly
adjusted to the changed circumstances despite of their limited experience and provided continuity
for students who were also shifted along with them from RBCs to Porta Cabins. They held their
ground despite being paid a salary of almost one-fourth of what a regular teacher is paid for a work
which requires them to stay with students throughout the year.

What makes the Anudeshaks integral to the success of Porta Cabins is their tribal background and
command over local languages. They also know the psychology of children better than other non-
tribal teachers because of having grown up in a similar socio-economic and cultural milieu as their
children. Therefore, if a child goes missing or runs away, the Anudeshaks know where to look for
them because of their knowledge of the local terrain.

Anudeshaks generally teach primary classes while classes of middle level are taken by regular
teachers with a Bachelor in Education (B.Ed.) degree and specialization in a particular subject. This
system helps Anudeshaks lay the foundation of children in basic Hindi during their formative years,
so as to enable them cope with the rigors of other subjects in higher classes.

4. Scholarship: At the end of every year each child also gets a fixed scholarship money which
makes it attractive for them to attend school.

5. Extra classes/remedial classes/Multi Grade Multi Level (MGML): For those children who have
crossed the standard age in which they should be attending a particular class, they are taught using
MGML methodology. For example a child who is 10 years old and should be ideally studying in
class IV, but because of being admitted late to school has to study in class I, s/he is then taught
using the aid of items like chart, pictures, scale, pen, marbles, etc. to explain various concepts in an

easier way.

During initial years of Porta Cabin, these classes were held for four hours in a day, two in morning
and two in evening. Later the duration was reduced for an hour in morning as well as evening. This
was done so as to give children more time to to finish their home-work and enable them to read
whatever that has been taught in the day. Such extra classes are held in Ashram schools too.

No such extra classes are taken in regular schools as teachers are hardly able to spend enough time
with children to even complete the prescribed syllabus. Revisions are held only for children facing
state level board exams and even that too depends on syllabus getting completed on time.

6. Local language: Almost all the Anudeshak know the local languages and are therefore able to
explain the content of the curriculum by translating difficult words in those languages. Examples
are given from their local culture which is able to attract the interest of a child. This helps the child
connect with topic and therefore makes the whole learning process inclusive. Language is a main
(criteria). If one knows the language, then there is no problem (in teaching). One can handle the
situation with the use of language, says Manisha, an Anudeshak.

Knowledge of local language is helpful especially for primary class children to grasp the words of
Hindi and English language in a better way as they are able to connect with the words using exact
translation in their mother tongue. After primary, regular teachers take over thereby bringing in the
pedagogy which has been devised keeping the Hindi speaking population in mind. Thus, those
students who take even slight interest in learning process are also able to catch-up with the content
quite fast.

7. Syllabus gets completed: Due to residential nature of these schools, teachers are able to complete
their syllabus on time and are also able to squeeze out time to get its revision done. This leads to
better learning and pass percentage among students of Porta Cabins. In comparison, teachers in
regular schools find it hard to complete the syllabus leading to children writing their exams on the
basis of incomplete learning. This ultimately leads to poor performance in exams.

8. Adequate number of teachers: Initially there were less number of teachers in Porta Cabins
leading to a skewed Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR). In some places there were just four teachers for
close to 500 students. The ratio has improved over time and has come down to a manageable level.

9. Location: Teachers also feel comfortable going to residential schools as most of these are located
near block headquarters or in villages connected with a pucca road. Also, there is less disruption for
students in case of residential schools as they do not have to travel to and fro from their home. In
addition there is no distraction by the work they have to do at home.

Issues with Porta Cabin

With unusual Pupil Teacher Ratio in some Porta Cabins where around 10 teachers look after close
to 500 students, it becomes difficult for a teacher to give proper attention to each and every student
present in the class. Even in Porta Cabins where the ratio is decent, say close to one teacher over 30
students, there also teachers find it hard to cope with the work pressure because of their
responsibility to look after all other things which includes food, health, etc. of the students. Their
responsibility increases manifold because of reticent and shy nature of students who find it hard to
communicate even when they fall sick. There have been cases of children dying in Porta Cabins
because of lack of medical attention.

Porta Cabins have also created a division between regular teachers and Anudeshaks. Although they
both do the same work, Anudeshaks are paid much less than the regular teachers. Also, while
regular teachers are allowed close to more than 45 days leave in a year, Anudeshaks cannot take
leave for more than 12 days. They are also denied a weekly off during weekends, making their job
extremely stressful.

With regards to students, many Porta Cabins see large number of drop-outs as students who were
admitted late to the school find it difficult to sit with students much younger in age. Therefore a 10
year old child with limited learning might drop out because she is asked to sit with six year old
children in class I.

This kind of anomaly happens because Porta Cabins do not require any documents for admitting
students. Say, if there is a 12 year old girl, she is supposed to be directly admitted to class VII and
trained in such a way that she is able to learn the curriculum of previous classes while sitting for
class VII. In reality, it never happens and students are asked to start from the basics and begin from
class I.

Teachers in the school do not have adequate training to deal with such situations and find them-self

helpless in providing age appropriate education. Also, most of them do not have training in teaching
pedagogy and have acquired most of their skill through direct experience and experimentation.

What is interesting is that despite all the facilities being provided in Porta Cabins, children often do
run away from schools as they are not used to staying indoors. They fear living within closed walls.
Howsoever much food you give to them, they will run away the instant you remove your eyes
from them, says Manisha, an Anudeshak in one of the schools. This might be because children,
when in village, are used to spending their time roaming around in the forests without any

Such is the horror of closed spaces that many children stay back in the school for not more than a
week or two before running away to their village. They then return only after a month to run away
again few weeks later. Cases such as these are found more in Porta Cabins which have newly been
established. In older Porta Cabins, this phenomenon has subsided to a large extent because of
presence of boundary walls and watchmen being there to guard them.

As and when an Anudeshak comes to know about a child going missing, he or she tries to track
them by looking for them in nearby areas. If they come to know that a child has gone to her native
village, a message is sent to the parents asking them to send the child back within two days. If this
also fails, they then personally visit the village to get the child back.

The Porta Cabins also face a unique problem of substitution of children called Evaji (in lieu of) or
Badli (in exchange of) in local language. Once a child is admitted to school, after few months she
would run away. In her place her brother or sister would turn up to compensate for that child. After
another few months the first child would return and the second would go back to the village. This
happens because all that the parents are concerned with is that a member from their family should
be studying in school.

Parents generally do not ask about what is being taught in school. They are least concerned about
which class their child is studying in. This is because they are mostly uneducated and illiterate,
says Rajani, an Anudeshak working in a Porta Cabin from last six years. Parents however do come
to meet their child on days when they are visiting the village to purchase weekly ration from the
market. Food items from forest like vegetables etc are the things which they like to feed their kids
and bring them to the child during such meetings.

Micham, a retired schoolteacher, however warns against this kind of residential education. He says
that after going from Ashrams and Porta Cabin to home, children try to look for the same facility
and amenities there. This creates a great mismatch between their expectations and the reality
leading to children finding themselves out of place in their own village.

Preference of residential over regular schools

Teachers agree that the level of education needs to be drastically improved in regular schools. The
poor quality of education, they say, is because of single teacher being posted in each of the schools,
who are overburdened with work. Rama Kumar, a school teacher in Usur block, recalls the time
when he was posted in a regular school. He says, Till the time I was there, along with another
teacher, students used to come regularly. After I got transferred, the entire burden fell on my
colleague who was not able to cope with it. This resulted in half of the students joining Porta Cabin.
Had I stayed back, the students would not have had joined Porta Cabin.

Lack of qualified teachers is another reason. In one of the exams I was supervising, I found that
class XII students were not writing anything. When I asked them what the matter was, they said that
nothing has been taught to them because there was no teacher, adds Rama Kumar. This kind of
situation arose because most of the teacher posted in the region are from arts background with very
few trained to teach science.

The situation gets further exacerbated by lack of any effective monitoring by senior government
officials, leading to massive teacher absent-ism. This leads to most of the students shifting from
regular schools to Ashram schools and Porta Cabins during the time of Salwa Judum. They were
preferred because in interior areas after every serious incident, like an encounter between armed
forces and Naxalites, the area used to get blocked and the security of children also used to get
compromised. It therefore becomes unsafe for children to walk everyday in midst of conflict.

The increase in enrollment numbers in residential schools was also partly because Anudeshaks also
brought in students from even those villages where a regular school was functional. In addition to
that, parents also withdrew children from regular schools as they hardly used to go there. They were
mostly engaged by their parents in farming, cattle grazing or household chores during school hours.
Even those who did go to school, they went only for the mid-day meal. Overall the learning level of
children going to regular school was so low that many could hardly write their name even after

completing primary education.

Micham, a retired school teacher, criticizes the method of enticing children to school by forceful
persuasion, carried out through the annual survey of out-of-school children. Teachers used to
forcefully get kids from six to ten years of age to school by doing an extensive survey from village
to village under an annual program. This was despite parents having no interest in it. They do not
know the importance of education.

He also objects to the norms for Porta Cabin being relaxed. Initially they were supposed to take
children above the age of nine who had dropped out of school or were out-of-school. They however
ended up taking students from all age groups. This has led to massive exodus of children from
village schools to residential schools.

The increase in popularity of residential schools in recent years can also be understood by the fact
that once a child from a village goes to Porta Cabin, that child takes many more children along from
the village by telling them stories about the facilities offered in the school. In last few years, this
process has led to villages getting emptied out of kids. Shyama, a mother of three, whose one of the
daughters was in a hostel during the time of Salwa Judum worries about this and says, The child
get education and live well in (residential) school, but if she stays away (for too long), she is also
far from the love and affection of her mother. She wouldnt remember her mother.

S Raja, a Salwa Judum leader, however believes that centralization of schools and their
concentration in one place is a good thing because it encourages competitive behavior among
students. Also, with villages scattered far away from each other and with very little population in
each village, it is not financially feasible to run a school. Talking about the benefits of school
education, he says, The schools also gives exposure to a different culture and world. When
children go to places like Abujhmarh after learning from school, they create awareness among
people there. After sensitization towards education happens, the schools can be opened in hostile
(Naxalite controlled) villages too.

Kujja, a school teacher, has a different take. He sees Porta Cabins as centers which checks
malnutrition among children. Its aim is to anyhow keep the children and feed them. Even in there
is no mental development, at least physical development should happen, he says.

Many students are admitted to Ashrams because they stay across the river which they cannot cross
during monsoon. Thus they prefer residential schools over regular schools.

Reopening schools destroyed during Salwa Judum

Many villagers want the regular schools destroyed during Salwa Judum to reopen. A six year old
child does not know how to bathe, wash clothes, and therefore it is problematic for them to be sent
to residential schools, says a father of a young kid, whose village is located in a Naxaliteite
stronghold area. He says it is good to have school in the village because lot of people do not want to
send their kids away. It is good to have the kid stay with her parents till class V. Post that the of the
child wants to study further she is free to pursue it from anywhere, he says. Sometimes a child
might leave a residential school and come back home because of harassment by senior students. In
that case the parents cannot send that kid back to the school. If the same happens in village, the
parents do have a chance to intervene and persuade the child to go back to school.

Government is also doing regular surveys by asking villagers about their intent to reopen these
schools. The Sarpanch (village-headman) and a school teacher willing to be posted there has to give
in writing that the villagers want the school to be restarted. Wherever the government finds situation
to conducive, these schools have been re-opened.

In one of the blocks, the target in 2011 was to reopen 10 such schools. Every year post that more 10
schools are being opened. In village Kumler of Bhairamgarh block, villagers helped construct one
such school. In Usur block, some schools in villages of Gaganpalli, Narsapalli and Marudbaka have
managed to reopen and are being run in huts. The problem however is that even after these schools
are reopened they are being provided with only single teacher for five classes. Teachers also worry
that if at all some exchange of fire happens between Naxalites and armed forces happens in the
vicinity of schools and if a child gets harmed, who would take the responsibility.

Sometimes it takes an unfortunate incident for the administration to wake up to such requirements.
One of the schools in Kotteguda village in Usur block was reopened in 2013 after an incident in the
village left 17 villagers dead when paramilitary forces fired upon them mistaking them for Naxalites
while they were celebrating the festival of Beej Pandum before the sowing season. On a recent visit
to the village the researcher found a family living in the classrooms which were devoid of any doors
and windows. The walls of the building werent properly plastered nor were there any signs of any
classes being held within last fortnight. Villagers confirmed that the only teacher posted in the

school comes only twice in a year, on 26 January and 15 August.

On asking the concerned village teacher about his absence, he says that there are very few students
left in the village as most of them have now joined residential Ashrams or Porta Cabins and no
longer live in the village. This has affected the total enrollment in the school which is as low as 19.
Most of these children do not turn up for the classes. Villagers say that they did not oppose the
construction of the school as they felt that they shouldnt let go of the opportunity to get a school
building constructed.

4.2. Naxalites and school education

Introduction to ideology: Radical Study Center

The connection of children with Naxalites gets established quite early. Young students from schools
who are approximately between 10 to 15 years of age are selected to be inducted in a Radical Study
Center formed at the school level. Among them, a president and a vice-president are elected who are
in charge of conducting regular meetings of the group. At times, these meetings are also convened
by Naxalites in which problems related to school are discussed and potential solutions are
suggested. These meetings are sometimes so secretive in nature that the rest of the students are not
even aware of any such thing happening. These problems are then raised before the principal or
superintendent of the school or ashram and, if necessary, letters are written to the district collector
by these students raising their concerns. Also, students from class VI onwards are regularly asked
by Naxalite leaders to write banners and pamphlets for them. These students are later inducted as
full members when they turn 16 years of age.

Sometimes the indoctrination is direct and takes place in full view of the teachers. The teachers
cannot oppose this as they fear for their life. If someone tries to raise their voice, they are declared
wrong by the Naxalites because others villagers do not support their concern. The teacher is then
asked to leave the area. One can fight with the police, but not with Naxalites. They dont have
brains. One cannot predict what theyll do, says Micham, a Gond schoolteacher from the area who
has lived and taught there for a long time and faced the ire of Naxalites on many occasions.

Induction into cadre

A young boy named Varun was inducted in their cadre because he was found by Naxalites to be
roaming around with his school friend, who was a ground level worker with the Communist Party.
The Naxalites then asked him to join them and he could not refuse out of fear of physical harm
being done to him. One day, when Varun was due to appear for the final exams of class VIII he was
called on some pretext by Naxalites and taken away for training. This was despite him not knowing
much about communism and the ideology he was supposed to fight for.

There were also regular music and dance programs organized by Naxalite cultural troupes in the
villages. Many students get attracted towards Naxalites because of the influence these songs and
dance have on their mind. Varun says that those who get educated do not join Naxalites. They
work on their own, do farming..., he says. Once a person is asked to join Naxalites, s/he cannot

refuse and has to go out of mazburi (forced compulsion).

This line of thought is furthered by government officials too, who say that educated people would
ask uncomfortable questions to Naxalites, to which they would have no answer. Narrating an
incident about the abduction of the collector of Sukma district, Mr Alex Paul Menon by Naxalites,
VP Pandey, a senior government official says, When the Naxalites took Mr Menon to a village, a
child who was studying in class VI of a Porta Cabin recognized him and questioned the Naxalites
about why they had abducted him as he was doing good work for them (the children). When these
kind of questions would be raised by educated people, Naxalism would disappear.

Pandey alleges that whenever an educated person opposes Naxalites, they kill that person because
they know that the person has an ability to bring change in the society and can influence ten to
twelve more people.

Micham, a senior school-teacher who has retired, says that Naxalites do not use children as
informers as they know that children cannot lie much and if pressurized they are likely to tell
everything to police. Only those who can keep a secret and lie even after being beaten are used as
informers. Their preference is for mature boys who are married to be inducted as Sangham

Most of the boys, girls, men and women who are inducted are between 16-30 years of age. Once
inducted, the recruits are given basic training in public speaking (oratory). They are also groomed in
dealing with government officials when they meet them in public places. They are further taught
about the general etiquettes and are informed about issues happening around the world. The history
of China and Russia is also taught. Their aim, these recruits are told, is to establish the rule of
Janatana Sarkar (Peoples Government), especially of those who are poor.

The recruits are also given ample literature to read, including party literature. Educated recruits are
expected to read and discuss all of this with those who are illiterate. Discipline is a must for all the
new recruits and is strictly enforced by trainers who are usually middle aged people who do not
have very high education.

Simultaneously, field and arms training is given using dummy weapons made out of wood. The

recruits are also taught interrogation and intelligence gathering techniques. They are told in detail
about the weaknesses of the police and how they can exploit them.

A strict time-table is followed in all kinds of training, which includes a lot of field based and
theoretical training. The morning begins with physical exercise from 6 to 8 am, which is followed
by theoretical classes from 8 to 10 am. These classes are repeated from 2 to 4 pm which is again
followed by physical exercise between evening 5 to 6.

These training sessions last approximately for a week. Once trained, these people are then inducted
in platoons, which generally comprises of 25-30 people moving in a group.

Education among Naxalites

Most of the top Naxalite leaders working in Chhattisgarh are from Andhra Pradesh who are highly
educated and hold degrees such as Master of Arts (MA), Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of
Technology (BTech), Bachelor of Law (LLB), etc. According to a rough estimate given by Raghav,
a surrendered Naxalite, out of a total strength of 10,000 cadres, only 4,000 are educated. Out of
these educated Naxalites, half have education of less than 12 years. Those who have college degrees
are not more than a few hundred in number.

Raghav says that he did not know before joining that uneducated people could become Naxalites
and believed that one could continue getting education post joining them. He indeed got to read a
lot after joining the party but it was all an education without any degree. Varun, another surrendered
Naxalite, confirms this and says that most of the cadre from Bastar are either uneducated or
educated only till primary or middle level and occupy lower level posts among the cadres
hierarchy. He believes that without eduction peoples rule cannot be established.

VP Pandey says that as long as people are uneducated, Naxalites can rule over them. The day they
get educated, several questions would be raised by them, to which Naxalites would have no answer.

Without armed struggle, it is impossible to have a Peoples Government, Naxalites believe. This,
Raghav, a senior surrendered Naxalite says, is written in the Communist Party book and the history
of Russia and China also establishes that.

Micham, a retired school teacher says, Naxalites werent terrorists the way they have become now.
They did not trouble us much. Once Judum came, they became extremely violent. They turned into
monsters. Even on the slightest suspicion of one being an informer, they used to kill people. They
also killed everyone who claimed to be Judum leaders.

Do Naxalites destroy schools?

Raghav says that when police and paramilitary personnel started moving into the villages and
started staying in school buildings of mainly middle school and high school, they beat up the
villagers. Therefore, internal meetings were held by villagers to stop the forces from staying in the
village. Since the villagers are uneducated, the Naxalites suggested that the the school be destroyed.
The villagers agreed to this without understanding how much time and resources it will take them to
reconstruct the school. Raghav claims that there was no role of Naxalites in destroying the school
buildings and it was the people who decided that they dont want schools.

S Raja, a Salwa Judum leader, alleges that Naxalites were trying to gather all kind of amenities for
themselves but were denying the tribes even the right to basic education. Rubbishing the argument
that people themselves destroyed the schools, he says that no one, not even a Naxalite belonging to
the village where the school was destroyed, would want it to happen. According to him, schools
were destroyed on the instructions of senior Naxalite leaders who stay in cities and whose children
and near and dear ones do not get affected by this destruction. He says that Naxalites are trying to
isolate the adivasis, which shouldnt happen. Tribes should be given a chance to develop while
simultaneously preserving their culture.

Micham says that Naxalites were not happy with the way schools were being run. They view
schools as something being run by the government which is against their stated policy, objectives
and ideology, which calls for armed struggle. When armed forces occupy these schools, they further
the agenda of government and work against the ideology which Naxalites preach. Had the armed
forces not occupied schools, the destruction of schools could have been less.

He also remembers some people opposing the illegal occupation of the school by the armed forces.
They were reprimanded by police officials saying that by opposing the armed forces, they were
supporting the Naxalites.

After the Supreme Court ordered that the armed forces should vacate the schools, they made new

residential camps just next to the school buildings. This did put the lives of school children in
danger whenever Naxalites attacked the camp. Children had no option but to duck under their beds
and pray for their safety whenever such incidents happened. Sometimes it becomes extremely
difficult to differentiate where the paramilitary camp ends and where the school building begins as
the barbed wires around the schools, which the forces had put for their safety when they were
occupying the school, havent yet been removed, says Micham.

Most of the schools which were destroyed during Salwa Judum have not yet been able to restart and
if restarted, are being run in huts or under trees. Teachers also do not go to such schools on a regular
basis as there is hardly any monitoring by senior officials in those places out of the fear of

One point, which came up again and again among people who were living in territory controlled by
the government, was that Naxalites do not allow schools to be constructed because they fear that
people wont support them once they get educated. They would join the government, especially the

S Raja, a Salwa Judum leader mentioned above, says, Due to pressure by Maoists, many parents
were forced to withdraw their children after class V. Many more dropped out when they were in
class X. This, he alleges, was to force the children to join the Maoist movement, as the children
would not otherwise support them after getting school education.

VP Pandey also concurs saying that Naxalites dont oppose a child studying till class VIII. Once a
child studies beyond that, they vehemently protest. This is because they know that the child wont
listen to them after that as s/he would have grown up from the phase of a mere receiver of
knowledge to a thinker who would start questioning the policies of Jantana Sarkar (Peoples
Government). He also thinks that if people get educated, he thinks that movements like Salwa
Judum wont take place anymore.

These thoughts are supported by Micham, a retired school teacher, who alleges that Naxalites
violate their basic principles when they do not allow children to study. He feels that Naxalites
would lose control of their supporters if children are able to get education. Educated people will
demand development, i.e. road, water and electricity. Naxalites are opposed to such things to such
an extent that they at times have not even allowed bore-wells to be dug in the region. It is only

recently that these bore-wells have been restored.

Raghav however, strongly denies that Naxalites dont allow children to study. He says that it was
only at the time of Salwa Judum they opposed the schools because the young educated kids were
joining the police as Special Police Officers (SPOs). That is why students were asked not to study
beyond class VIII. Nowhere our books say that students shouldnt be allowed to study beyond
class V or VIII, says Raghav. One of the reasons for imposing a cap on educational attainment was
that to be able to join police force, the basic requirement was education till class X. Had these
children crossed class X, the chances of them being absorbed in the police force increased by a
large percentage because of the large scale unemployment prevalent in the region.

He is however contradicted by his young surrendered comrade Varun who says, Allowing children
to read might lead to them joining the government in some or the other way and becoming leaders
in their region after growing up. They might even oppose the Naxalites orders and that is why the
Naxalites do not allow people to study.

The anger among people, however, is quite palpable. I think that they (Naxalites) have become
more like those politicians who deny education to their people because they fear that they would
then not vote for them or would oppose their policies (once they get educated), said one of the

Jantana Sarkar (Peoples government) School

Villagers situated near Gangalur village road in Bijapur block of the district have been asked by
Naxalites not to allow construction of any government schools. This is because the Peoples
Government is running their own schools in these areas. For every panchayat (comprising of three
villages) there is a primary school run in a kutcha mud building by the Naxalites.

One of the concerns behind running separate schools is that the area in which these schools are set
up are virtually ruled by Naxalites and the entry of any outsider, including a teacher, can
compromise their security. Thus, Maoists employ the local literate men and women as teachers in
these schools, who are paid a monthly salary ranging from as low as Rs 300 to Rs 500 to as high as
Rs 1000 and Rs 2000. These teachers are specifically trained to teach Marxism, Leninism and
Maoism using books written in Gondi language. These books are quite high on ideology and are
mostly anti-government, says Varun. Once the children learn the basics in Gondi and pick up

sufficient Hindi, the language of communication changes to Hindi. If a child wants to go for further
education i.e. beyond primary, s/he is allowed to go to schools in other regions only with the
permission of the senior leaders who extracts an assurance that they would not join the police once
their education is complete.

Varun says says that schools run by Naxalites are far better in all the ways from government schools
as everything there happens with the direct contribution of people. He remembers the primary
school in his village run by the government where two teachers were posted and complains that they
used to come quite irregularly. Each of the teacher used to come on alternate days and used to stay
in school for not more than two hours. Such was the level of teaching that children in class V were
hardly able to write in proper manner. This was because the teachers were hardly able to
communicate with the children as they did not know Gondi and other local languages, he says.

Salwa Judum and Naxalites: Rivers as border

Rivers in the region serve as virtual borders in the region. The area across the rivers Indrawati and
Talperu are controlled by Naxalites, while armed forces have set up their camps on the opposite
side. Such was the hostility between both the sides when Salwa Judum was at its peak that
whosoever tried to cross to the other side was shot down either by Naxalites or by security forces,
depending on which side the person was coming from. Villagers who sided with Naxalites could not
come to the government controlled area, because of the fear of the police, while those living in
government controlled area could not cross over to other side because of the fear of Naxalites. Such
was the condition that the bridge over river Talperu in Basaguda village of Usur block was
popularly referred as Pakistan border by people living there because of regular skirmish between
armed forces and Naxalites who tried to venture into each others territory. It was like a blood
game, says Raghav.

A lot of villagers who tried to escape from this blood game were killed in the process and their
houses were burnt along with their village. Their material losses ran into crores of rupees. People
however tried to migrate by whatever route they could. Many villagers walked deep into the dense
forests so as to cross over to Andhra Pradesh, often climbing steep hills and crossing deep rivers.
Many of them chose to settle in relief camps set up by the government, which not only severely
restricted the comfort and freedom enjoyed by them in their own village but also took away from
them their farms, which was their source of regular income.

Why surrender as Naxalite?

It is the disillusionment with several things that forces one to surrender. Raghav says:

I did not like the work there. Their work was different from what they say (in public
places). It has become a means of earning. Those who are actually fighting in the correct
manner, they would never be able to win. They are making a fool out of the people of Bastar.
They are trying to entice them (the people of Bastar), but they (the leaders) would run

He further says that people are helping Naxalites because they are under pressure to do so. People
are angry with them as Naxalites are not able to get irrigation, electricity and other facilities for
them, which the government can provide. Support for Naxalites is also wavering because of
education. As people are getting increasingly educated, they are questioning the Naxalites and
evaluating their policies more minutely.

Similarly, Varun, who joined Naxalites when he was 16 years old, says, They talk about world
affairs, but how can they bring this huge government down. I thought that this could not be done
(and therefore surrendered). He further states that there was no development happening in villages
from the side of either the government or the Naxalites because of the stand-off between them and
therefore people were left to fend for themselves even in times of great adversity.

He was also angry at the way justice was meted out to people. If a person, who has been faithful to
you throughout commits a mistake, then it is wrong to punish him by severe beating. Also, the
Communist Party is there to work for public benefit. However, they have started using pubic for
their own benefit, he alleges.



What makes adivasi children in Bijapur go to school?

In most of the cases it is teachers who convince the parents to send their children to school. They do
so because they need a minimum number of students to keep the school running according to the
norms set by the government. Also, every year there is an administrative order to induct a minimum
number of children in schools, which makes the teachers make an effort to find out-of-school
children and get them enrolled. In very few cases, the teachers act on the own volition as facilitators
to get children to school.

It requires immense persuasion skills of teachers to make parents understand the benefits of school
education. They take help of educated villagers so to sell the idea to the parents that the child needs
to go to school so as to secure her future and also get material benefits like vehicles, television, etc..
In Ashrams and Porta Cabins, children also get cash scholarship, which is an additional allurement,
for parents. But it is the knowledge of local language which helps in establishing a direct connect
with parents and persuading them that the children ultimately stands to benefit from school
education and would not get harmed in any way.

Parents also play a key role in sending children to school. Kujja, a school teacher, says he was able
to study because his father was able to study till fourth standard and knew what was it like to clear
the examinations conducted by state board for education. His father was subsequently appointed to
the post of Kotwar (police personnel) and was entitled to a piece of land or a fixed salary. He
therefore enjoyed the benefit arising out of education and believed that his child would also be able
to so.

In another case, Kamal, who resides in Naxalite controlled village in Usur block, sent his younger
son to school when teachers from a nearby school asked him to do so. This was despite his elder son
dropping out of school because of being severely beaten by teachers. Taking inspiration from the
educational progress of his young son, who aspires to be a doctor, Kamal's relatives have also sent
their children to his house so as to make sure that they also go to school on regular basis.

Students also get allured to schools because of the curiosity it arouses in them. Many students
vividly remember their first impression of a school and getting attracted by it. Raja, when first came
out from his village situated deep inside the forest to a village situated next to a road, he was
amazed to see children all dressed up in school uniform and wearing shoes and sandals. He got
interested and requested his parents to get him admitted. After facing acute hardship for first few
months he was helped by few teachers and was finally given a place in a residential school. He
further went on to study till college.

An elderly man, Prashant, also recalls seeing the school for the first time much before India got
independence and children going in and coming out of it wearing school uniforms. Out of curiosity
he inquired about it from his father, who was the headman of that area. On being told about the
concept of school, Prashant expressed his desire to go there and was formally admitted. However,
on getting sick after few days, he was taken back to his village. But such was his desire to study that
he continued his education from a nearby school which involved crossing the river Indrawati
everyday. After completing his education, he went on to work in a paper mill but later settled down
to do farming in his native village.

Students are also hopeful that education will bring them jobs which would help them earn money.
They are, however, equally sceptical about the quality of education being offered in schools and
understand that it might not be adequate for them to get them good position in those jobs. They
think that students who study in cities get extra coaching while those in villages are taught in an
irregular fashion. This leads to disillusionment with the education process which leads to child
ultimately dropping out of school.

Many teachers however report that if few kids from the village start going to school, other parents
also take cue from it and send their children too as they do not want their children to be left behind.
In some cases children reported going to school or college because they saw their friends or family
members doing so. Thus there is a wider demonstrative effect, which sets off a chain reaction
among those getting benefited by education, thereby encouraging others to go to school. However,
as an aberration, it has also been reported that parents who are highly educated and send their
children to one of the best schools, do not encourage others to do the same.

Barriers to education
There were 1.2 lakh children who were eligible to go to school in Dantewada district (including
Bijapur and Sukma) when VP Pandey, a senior government official, joined duty in around year
2003. Among them 80,000 children were out-of-school, including drop-outs, implying that they
were not going to school.

One reason for large scale drop-outs was that in order to run a school, a teacher had to show a
minimum number of students attending the school. They would register every child of eligible age
in the village, who would remain absent throughout the year. These names would then be continued
till class IV, after which these students would be shown to have dropped out. This was done so as to
make sure that these names do not get enrolled for class V board examination attracting scrutiny by
senior officials. Therefore, out of 40 students who would officially start their schooling from class I,
only five or ten children would remain till class V.

In recent years the number of out-of-school-children (OOSC) in government records have come
down to just 1300 in Bijapur district and below 1000 in Dantewada district. There are, however,
areas like Konta and Kirandul in Sukma and Dantewada districts respectively where no record
exists of such children because it is not possible to conduct any surveys there because of dense
forest and Naxalite threat.

Some of the major reasons leading to children not going to school or dropping out of it are:

1. Parents
They are the primary stakeholders in deciding whether to send their child to school or not. Most of
the parents do not want their children to go to school. There are broadly two reasons for it.

i. Loss of livelihood
Parents want that their child, including girl child, to contribute to the family income through daily
livelihood activities which include farming, cattle grazing and collection of minor-forest produce
like Mahua, Tora, Tendu leaves, etc,. Their daily chores revolve around the division of work among
the family members. If this arrangement gets disturbed, their life-cycle gets affected.

During the Tendu leaf season (which lasts for a fortnight), which also coincided with the time when
the data for this study was collected, there was not a single grown up child in schools and villages
during day time. Almost all the children went to forest to collect Tendu leaves.

It is common knowledge among tribal communities that if there are four children in the house, then
one child will take cattle out for grazing, other would go to the field for farming, third will look
after household duties and if at all there is a fourth child, she will go to school. The one in-charge of
looking after the house is also the one responsible to look after the younger siblings.

In one of the families living in a remote forest village in Usur block, a child Karan could study
because his two elder brothers were assisting the father to do farming and cattle grazing. Karans,
father says, We will graze cows, plough fields. We will not go to school even if someone asks us
to. We have to work here.

Sangeeta and Mahesh, a couple living in a Naxalite controlled village of Usur block, had their elder
daughter drop out of school to look after their new-born daughter. When the young daughter grew
old enough to be on her own, Sangeeta tried to send the elder daughter back to school. She simply
refused. However, Sangeeta partially rectified the mistake later by sending the younger daughter to
school and not letting her drop-out even in the midst of extreme violence at the time of Salwa

Most of the adivasis own huge tracts of land and require surplus labour for farming. Thus they
withdraw their children out of schools, after they pass out of primary and middle schools, to help
them with farm work. Also, when parents see many students not getting any job after studying till
high school and ultimately taking up farming which does not require any formal education, they feel
that their children need not waste time in school and should instead contribute to farming.

One of the reasons why parents are not willing to send their children to school is because tribes are
content with what they have and often do not worry about future. This comes from their theory of
Aaj ka aaj, kal ka kal, (Things which are available today should be used today and those which
comeone's way tomorrow should be used tomorrow). They are happy with a piece of loin cloth on
their body. Even when they do know that they might face shortage of food in future, they would not
preserve it. Also, whatever they earn, they spend it quite fast, says VP Pandey, a senior
government official. This thinking makes parents averse to investing 12 years of their child to get

education from a formal structure while foregoing the livelihood benefit they can extract from the

For parents the core question becomes -what have those who got education achieved? Earlier
education used to bring some job in forest department or some other government office. The only
job available now is that of teachers and policemen which is also hard to come by for those who
pass with low marks. Thus when parents compare their failed child to those who have passed the
school exam, they find both of them without any job. Parents expect that once the child clears class
XII exams, they should be given a government job. They see no other use of education in their day-
to-day life. They ask, What is the use of it? says Micham, a retired school teacher.

ii. Illiteracy among parents

Manisha, an Anudeshak, says, There are still lot of villages located deep inside the forest in remote
areas, inaccessible to vehicles, where there are no schools. Parents there do not know the
importance of education because of being illiterate.

There were attempts to educate the parents through Saakshar Bharat Abhiyan, a government
program for adult education. It however has failed to take off the ground in a meaningful way,
leaving most of the people in the district uneducated or minimally educated. Therefore, parents
vision for a child remains limited to having him/her acquire the skills and knowledge for sustainable
living, which includes cattle grazing, farming, etc..

My father was uneducated. Had he been educated, would he not have been intelligent (to send me
to school)? says a 21-year-old Irpa, who is illiterate and never went to school. His father died when
he was just 10 years old, forcing him to work for the livelihood of the family.

Illiteracy also leads to ignorance among parents about certain basic rules of school education. Thus
parents sometimes end up admitting their children to school much after they have crossed six years
of age. At times, when a child is transferred from one school to another because of migration by the
family, s/he is admitted to a lower class again, wasting many of the child's precious years.

Harish, a 20-year-old boy, studies in class X, at an age when he should be attending university. This
is because he was admitted to class I when he was eight years old. Subsequently when he was

shifted to another school while he was studying in class III, he was readmitted to class I because of
his parents not providing enough information to the new school.

Teachers say that parents are least concerned about education and knowing whether their child is
regularly attending school or not. They are also not interested in knowing what happens to the child
in school. All they do know is that their child is going to school and hardly bother when the child
drops out.

The situation gets slightly better when someone from the immediate or extended family has had the
experience of formal schooling. This highly increases the chances of others in the family getting
into a school and continuing with education. For example, Varun, a surrendered Naxalite, was in
class II when his father died. He could continue his education only because of his elder brother, who
had studied till class VII, took all the responsibility of farming and therefore feeding the family.

Similarly, parents who have got some education, want their children to study. Shyama, a mother of
three children who has studied till class IV, says, We left school because of conditions were
different at that time, but we won't withdraw our children from school. She is however unsure of
what is being taught to her daughter in school as she cannot read much from her daughters text-
books. Her daughter is also slightly averse or very selective in sharing the contents of her learning
with her mother.

2. Remote villages
Villagers often complain that teachers do not regularly visit schools situated in remote and interior
areas. They attend school according to their whims which means going only once in a week to sign
the attendance register.

This kind of situation arises because teachers, many of those who are not adivasis and do not belong
to the district or region, do not want to live in villages which lack material facilities. This makes
them seek accommodation near block headquarters which is often a ride of more than 20 km from
the school where they are posted in. Churendra, a school teacher posted in an interior village in
Usur block, stays near block headquarters because he wanted his daughter to study in an English
medium school which was possible only in a semi-urban set-up. This however came at the cost of
education of 19 children enrolled in the village school.

Inadequate basic infrastructure in villages, like a pucca school building, further affects the
educational set-up. Why would a literate person live in an interior area where there is no
electricity, television, radio and the person is cut-off from rest of the world, asks Rama Kumar,
another school teacher posted in Usur block.

Educated villagers hardly bother about irregular nature of teacher's attendance as they often send
their children to residential schools far away from the village. Therefore there is no personal stake
involved in the monitoring the functioning of village school. Similarly, monitoring is also not
possible by senior officials as they do not, and often cannot, go to places where vehicles cannot take
them. At the most they make an effort to reach out to these schools once in a year so as to flag off
the annual enrolment program.

Some of the teachers who are interested in performing their duties are hampered by actions of
Naxalites who dig up roads to block the entry of government machinery, especially police, to the
villages. This ends up affecting the movement of teachers and students too. For example, when
there was a blockade imposed by Naxalites and Salwa Judum between 2005 and 2009 on movement
of people in Usur block, one had to had to undertake a journey of two days and 250 kms just to go
to a village not more than 30 kilometres away.

Problem of long distance travel to reach schools equally affects the children too. Elders remember
that going to a school in 1940s meant travelling on foot to a village connected with a pucca road,
which would be quite far. The situation remains true for many villages today too thereby forcing
children to travel long-distances to go to regular and residential schools. Even if people gather
courage to travel to road-side villages, they find all the hostel seats taken by students from nearby
areas, forcing them to either rent a room or go back to their village. This means lot of out-of-pocket
expenditure which ultimately leads to children dropping out of the education system.

The problem of long distance travel is especially true for institutions of higher education as out of
four blocks in the district two do not have a college. Students have to either go to a college in
neighbouring Dantewada district, or to the colleges located in Bhopalpatnam or Bijapur blocks
which might mean a travel of 50 km for most of the villagers.

3. No infrastructure
Many teachers complain that despite lot of funds being allotted for creation of school infrastructure,
very little has materialised on ground. In interior areas where construction cannot happen because
of fear of Naxalites, many teachers have themselves turned contractors who, in order to make
money, construct very poor quality buildings leading to those becoming unusable within few years.

In one of the interior villages in Usur block, the researcher found that a school building was left
halfway through completion of construction with no doors and windows installed. Even worse,
sensing an opportunity, the building was occupied by a family from the village. The teacher posted
there says that the government has not provided any board, slate, chairs and tables and therefore
he cannot conduct any classes there.

One of the senior teacher complained that teachers have to often take combined classes of children
belonging to various standards because of paucity of classrooms. This, combined with shortage of
teachers in schools, leads to children of different ages sitting together and studying the same
syllabus which either they have already read in lower classes or is beyond their comprehension
because of it being from a higher grade.

Rama Kumar says that in one of the village he was posted in for few months, the school hardly
functioned as the school building was in really poor shape. He got himself transferred to another
village which had decent building and good turn-out of students. He however ended up as the only
teacher posted there and was forced to single-handedly teach all five primary classes.

4. Non-availability of teachers
There are not even half as much teachers available as are required in these schools. Where there
should be minimum of five teachers in primary school (one for each class), only one teacher has
been entrusted with the task to teach five classes, says Kujja, a school teacher posted in
Bhairamgarh block. The single teacher mentioned by Kujja also has to attend all the meetings being
organised at block and district level by tribal department officials, has to do all the documentation,
work in his spare time and also attend to election polling duty at regular intervals. This obstructs the
continuity of teaching in schools.

Many teachers complain bitterly about lack of adequate number of teachers in rural areas while
there being surplus teachers in block and district headquarters. The government doesn't know how

to teach. For class I to class VIII they have posted three teachers in interior areas while in block
headquarters there are 10 teachers for just three students. Those who are posted in interior villages
are stuck there for their entire life and cannot even get a transfer, said Raju, a teacher posted in a
remote village of Bhairamgarh block of the district. His statement comes from the fact that most of
the schools located in remote areas are single teacher schools and those teachers who are posted
there to assist these teachers either do not join the school or get themselves transferred to the place
of their choice using their political connections.

In higher classes the situation is equally bad. A school in interior village of Bhairamgarh block has
only two teachers to take care of students from class VI to XII. What would the two men be able to
teach and how would they give result, says Kujja, one of the school master posted there. Two more
teachers, who are native of Jagdalpur and Dondi-Lohara districts of the state, were recently posted
to that school. Within days they submitted their resignation and left the job.

Similar is the case Usur block. While I was posted on an exam duty I found students of class XII
sitting idle and not being able to answer a single question. On asking about it they told me that there
were no teacher for science and mathematics in their school and therefore it was taught by arts
teacher, says Rama Kumar, a teacher posted there.

Conditions in Porta Cabins were also not that good. They had 750 students studying in them at a
time who were being attended by 10 to 15 teachers, including Anudeshaks. The number of students
has gradually come down with new Porta Cabins being constructed and the government trying to
keep the number limited to 250 students per Porta Cabin. The ratio has therefore improved to one
teacher for approximately every 30 children.

Still, the number of students in a section of each class ranges from 50 to 100 which makes it
difficult for the teacher to pay the required attention to every student, especially those with special
needs. In a lecture of about an hour a teacher is generally able to reach out to only 15-20 students
leaving the backbenchers at the mercy of their friends. This becomes a major impediment in
primary classes where children have to be taught how to write. The child then struggles to keep
pace in higher classes and often resorts to use of unfair means, which includes copying from guide-
books, during examination conducted by the state board.

5. Failure in schools
With the introduction of Right to Education Act in 2009 a student cannot be held back in any of the
classes till eighth standard. This makes the teachers and the students complacent towards classroom
education with leads to very little learning taking place. Thus when a child reaches class IX, s/he is
hardly equipped to deal with the basics concepts prescribed in the high school. This handicap
manifests itself in form of large number of children failing in class X board exams. These children
then drop out of school because of their entire year getting wasted.

Harish, a 20-year-old boy, who recently appeared for his class X exam, failed in Hindi subject and
secured just nine marks out of 100. This was despite his claim of him being a fast learner and
learning Hindi in just two years of his initial schooling. He also secured 52 percent marks in class V
and 85 percent in class VIII. But all these high scores could not stand in good stead for him in board

Similar is the case in other schools too. A student from Bhairamgarh block who eventually dropped
out of school, says, There were 99 students in class X when I was in school. Only 40 were able to
pass. In another instance recalled by a student from the same block, out of 97 students only 20-25
were able to clear class X exams. On being asked why people fail, one of their teachers, who
belongs to upper caste, says that it might be because of students not having prepared well for their

One of the young men in Bhairamgarh block, who went on to study till college, says, We did not
know why we were studying in school. We had no aim. We were reading for the sake of it. None of
us knew what to do after class X or what subject to study in higher secondary school. In recent
years people have become slightly more aware about it.

Teachers posted in the area recall their own school days when such was the pressure to clear board
exams that the children used to live in perpetual fear of the teachers who taught them. If a teacher
took a walk around in the village, he was sure to find no child playing around. If someone was
spotted even by accident, s/he got a thorough beating the next day, says Kujja, a high-school
teacher, posted in Bhairamgarh block. Such high-handedness also had an adverse impact as many
students dropped out of school because of fear of physical punishment. A boy in Usur block was so
scared after being beaten in the first week his school that he decided not to go there again and never
pursue any form of school education.

In comparison, a student in todays scenario is comfortable sitting along with the teacher and
sharing the latest gossip because s/he knows that the teacher cannot beat them up because of the
strict laws against it. Therefore there is no fear of the teacher taking student to task for not putting in
enough effort for learning the syllabus taught in school.

Even after failing the exam and dropping out of school some of the students try to clear the exam
through distance learning option. However, Micham, a retired school teacher, alleges that open
schools have led to education becoming some sort of formality. He alleges children who score high
percentage in exams conducted by open schools are not even able to read and write properly. S
Raja, a Salwa Judum leader agrees and says, that once the children drop-out after failing, their mind
gets diverted in wrong direction due to absence of proper guidance. He further implies that because
lack of any meaningful job or livelihood, children are mostly inclined to join Naxalites.

6. Language barrier
It takes a long time for a child to learn Hindi as most of the regular teachers do not know any of the
tribal language. Minimum of six to seven months are required to catch the basics of Hindi and the
duration might stretch to as high as two years for slow learners. However, in recent years, by
coming in contact with Hindi speaking people more often, many adults have learnt Hindi and are
able to speak it with their children, giving them an early exposure to the language. Introduction of
Anudeshaks in Porta Cabins has also led to bilingual teaching taking place in class-rooms. Efforts
have been made by the state to introduce few textbooks in Gondi language. In schools run by
Maoists, Gondi textbooks are already in use so as to make sure that children catch the concepts
more easily.

7. Early marriage/Gender gap

One of the reasons why a child doesn't pursue higher education is that as soon as s/he reaches the
age of 16, their parents start looking for a groom or a bride. Sometimes the marriage takes place
much early, at the age of 14.

School master Kujja gave a very interesting story about a student who one day abruptly stopped
coming to school during exam time. On inquiring it was found that a young girl had forcibly entered
his house expressing her love for him. This is a part of traditional marriage system among tribes

where a girl can go and stay in the house of the man she loves. The boy eventually dropped out of

Similarly, a young boy who was studying in class VIII fell in love with a girl in class VII. They
cleared their examinations, left school and got married. Kujja says that post marriage, the family
cannot bear the burden of an extra member and expects the boy to earn for his wife. The boy is
therefore left with no other option but to leave school and help the family farm their land and do
other productive work.

There are exceptions too. In one of Kujja's class there were three kids who got married while
studying but continued attending school so that they could give their exams and get their certificate.
Their future post-exam was however uncertain.

Young girls get affected the most because of early marriage. Vinaya, a girl living in Maoist
controlled territory, failed in class V and left school. She was then immediately married and has a
two-year-old child now. Many other girls reported getting married much before the age of 16
despite their parents knowing about the law which prohibits any marriage of boys and girls who are
less than 21 and 18 years of age respectively.

Parents of the children often cite their own case to explain that early marriage is a norm among
tribals and even they dropped out of school quite early so as to get married. There wasn't much
education at that time. (Whatever that was there) it was quite weak, says Sangeeta, a mother of
three who has studied till class IV and dropped out so as to married. According to her, post-
marriage, the couple gets saddled with responsibility of taking care of family chores and woman has
to deal with early pregnancy, making it impossible for her to continue school.

However, young girls now are getting conscious about the impact of early marriage on education.
Ramya, the younger sister of Vinaya, who is studying in class X says that she would not like to be
married early as she wants to study till college.
One also finds early marriage saves young boys and girls from forceful induction by Naxalites. This
is because Naxalites generally do not prefer to admit married men and women into their armed
cadre. There was a case of a young boy who was part of Bal Sangham who dropped out of class VI
so as to marry a girl. He did not join the armed cadre of Naxalites because of his commitment

towards his wife, but continued to serve as a Sangham by living with his family and doing farming
to earn his livelihood.

The state police also uses this trick of marrying surrendered Naxalites to stop them from going back
to their cadre. Once a Naxalite surrenders s/he is immediately married off to another surrendered
Naxalite. Senior police officials tell stories about male surrendered Naxalites being found with
vasectomy done so as to make sure that they dont impregnate any women. Officials have
undertaken the help of reverse vasectomy to allow these men reproduce.

8. Rivers
The two prominent rivers in the district, Indrawati and Talperu, get flooded every year leading to
access to villages on the other side of it getting blocked. Boats remain the only source of connection
which are quite dangerous to travel in when the rivers are in full flow. This leads to teachers not
going to those villages for four months of monsoon leading to complete shut-down of those schools.

River also marks the boundary between the areas held by the government and the Naxalites. It
wouldn't be exaggeration if one compares going from one side of rivers Indrawati and Talperu to
other to crossing the border between India and Pakistan. During Salwa Judum days, anybody trying
to cross them was shot down by Naxalites or armed forces, depending on which side the person was
coming from. These rivers were closely guarded round the clock with people regularly being
screened for their antecedents.

When Judum began, all the schools on the other side of the river, controlled by Naxalites, got shut
because of the blockade which the Judum and the Naxalites imposed. This led to shifting of those
schools to road-side villages which were under government control and accessible by road
throughout the year.

Even when the schools turned functional in Naxalite controlled areas after Salwa Judum subsided in
2008, it was hard to say whether regular classes were happening or not because there was no way
one could ascertain that because of the fear of the Naxalites. Even when some enthusiastic senior
official tries to go to the remote schools, teachers are told in advance by their well-wishers thereby
giving them an opportunity to put things in order. Such is the fear of Naxalites among officials that
even during a routine inspection they restrict their inquiry to infrastructure and food requirements
of the school. It is quite rarely that they ask about what is being taught in the school and how much

a child has learnt. In many cases instead of physical inspection, teachers are asked to furnish
photographs of the school, making the entire process of school inspection a mere formality.

Action cannot be taken against a teacher even if they are found absent during an inspection because
they would have a logical reason to justify their absence. At times we were terrorised by the
relatives of the teachers, who posed as Naxalites, so as to stop an inspection by us, says VP
Pandey, a senior government official.

It is alleged by some of the teachers that most of schools in interior villages across the river are
functional only in government records. The researcher found one such school during his field visit
across the Talperu river. When the teacher posted there was interviewed and the situation of the
school was discussed with Block level officials, the teacher offered to bribe the researcher making it
explicit that such practice is common in the area.

Micham, a retired schoolteacher, alleges corruption in running of these ghost schools. He says that
the officials claim a part of the salary of the teacher who is posted in such area. He suggests that
whenever such cases of negligence in duty are found the annual increment of teacher concerned
should be blocked. He gives example of powers that supervisors exercised few years back. They
were learned person and had the authority to stop the pay checks of those teachers who were found
to be absent from duty, he says. Comparing them with Sankul Samanvayaks (cluster coordinators),
posted recently to undertake monitoring work, he claims that they are not even educationally
qualified to guide the teachers and head-masters when they face any problem in explaining certain
concepts to students.

9. Poverty
Government official VP Pandey describes the material poverty among tribes in an interesting way.
While dealing with children in schools we found many children had a burnt hand or a leg. On
inquiring further, we were told that during winters when a mother sleeps with her child near a
burning log of wood to keep herself warm and turns towards the fire in her sleep, these children
would invariably get burnt. Such was the poverty in their house that they did not even have a bed-
sheet or blanket (to keep themselves warm).

Elderly people also remember that they did not have money to buy a shirt, which was necessary to
go to a school. People used to rely on barter (exchange) system and therefore did not have access to
currency notes which were necessary to buy clothes.

Raja, a school teacher whose village is in the Naxalite controlled territory, describes his condition
when he first saw children going to school: (When I was a small kid)...other (school going)
children used to come wearing slippers or shoes. I didn't even have proper clothes to wear. I used a
loin cloth or a towel to cover myself up. He however got admitted to an Ashram school and was
able to get free education till class VIII. He further secured a seat in a hostel and somehow managed
his education till class XII, without even once going back to his village. But when he wanted to
pursue a college degree, he couldn't get a seat in hostel and therefore had to live in a rented
accommodation. When it proved to be too expensive, he had to drop out of the course within three
months of taking admission.

Some parents have found the conviction to send their children to school because of the fact that they
do not have to pay even a single penny till the child reaches class VIII and even school uniform and
books are provided by the government. This they see as an asset for children. However, many
students drop out of the school after class VIII because education is no longer free after that. They
are made to pay for lot of things, which they cannot afford and therefore have no option but to
leave. Many students, who have no interest in studying any further also look at this financial burden
on family as an opportunity to drop-out of school.

Students say that till recently they had to pay a nomination fee of approximately Rs 100 when they
enrolled in high school. Few boys remember paying Rs 500 annually as school fee. Kujja, a school
teacher, remembers paying approx Rs 100 for book and note-books and Rs 25 as tuition fee when
he was in school some 15 years back. With clothes and other things, he paid approximately Rs 250
per annum for his education which included admission fee and examination fee.

Varun, a surrendered Naxalite who dropped out in class VIII, says that he could have studied further
had there been some money with him. I could have financed my own study, he says. Rama
Kumar, a school teacher, concurs with Varun and says that those who have money are able to go for
higher education. Rest all try for government jobs in education, health or forest department. Some
try for vocational courses for technician, etc., but the colleges are far away and require considerable

amount of investment. Many students often opt for degrees from Open College with dubious

However, over the years, with the increase in family income from multiple sources, parents are
finding it much more easier to get better education for their children and are even willing to send
their children to places far away to study in good institutions.

10. Naxalites/Armed forces

Karan, a child living in Naxalite controlled area, says that they are told not to study (by Naxalites).
I do not know why they say so. However it is common understanding among villagers that
induction in the ranks of Naxalites starts at an early age. Children are in no position to challenge
this induction as they fear for their family's life.

Raghav, who was studying in class IX, left his school to join Naxalites when called to do so. He
couldn't refuse despite having a strong desire to continue his education because he has long been
part of the Radical Study Centre run by Naxalites in schools, which tries to inculcate the ideology
preached by Naxalites.

Pressure begins to pile up on the parents as soon as a child crosses class VIII. Raja, whose house is
in Naxalite stronghold area, but who studied in a school located in government controlled area, says
that his parents used to face multiple queries about his future plans when he was studying in higher
secondary school. Afraid of forcible induction into cadre, he did not go to his village for several

Rama Kumar, a teacher serving in the Naxalite controlled area gives an interesting calculation.
According to him, there are 39 Ashram schools in the Usur block with approximately 50 students in
each of them. This gives a total count of 2,000 children. However, very few of these kids reach the
higher secondary level as because of failing in class IX or X exams, they eventually drop-out of
school. These children cannot get government employment because of lack of basic qualification.
Kumar thus raises the question about what these children do after dropping-out. Are they going
back to farming or joining Naxalites? he asks.

Kujja, a school teacher posted in Bhairamgarh block, said that Naxalites do not allow children to
study because they fear that educated people are not likely to listen to Naxalites' propaganda. Also,

educated people might challenge the Naxalite leadership and try to become leaders themselves,
thereby breaking away from the control of cadres from Andhra Pradesh. He alleges that Naxalites
want to rule over people and that is why they do not allow children to study. According to him, with
education consentization of people would happen and they would be in position to deal directly
with both government and Naxalites on several issues.

Also, steps taken by Naxalites to deter the entry of government machinery end up affecting teachers
and students too. They also cannot travel when roads are dug or blockade is imposed. Many of the
schools were closed during Judum because of roads being dug by the Naxalites in order to dissuade
the use of any kind of vehicle by armed forces in those areas.

Raghav, a surrendered Naxalite, leader says that Naxalites destroyed mostly those school which
where non-functional and where CRPF could have established their camps. He claims that in many
places villagers destroyed the school on their own as they did not want their children to study. The
villagers also did not want any camp to come up as they feared that it would lead to their
exploitation by armed forces.

If one counts the number of school buildings that have been destroyed by Naxalites, one can say
that almost all the school buildings falling in their territory got affected and closed down. This led
to many children dropping out, especially girls who could not find the safety of residential schools

Kujja, a school teacher, says that although people left their village and lost their land and cattle
because of conflict at that time, they were able to gain good quality and regular education in the
villages they migrated to. He also adds that there was no break in continuity of education for school
going children as the admission process goes on till the month of September and those who were
affected by Naxalite violence were allowed to join in any of the school of their choice.

11. Salwa Judum

When Salwa Judum began in 2005, people ran to Andhra Pradesh, out of fear of armed forces and
Salwa Judum members, leaving their children behind in residential schools. However, when schools
were forced to shut down, many children did not know where to go. Some took refuge with their
relatives or unknown people in nearby villages, while few travelled on foot to as far as Andhra

Pradesh to trace their parents. In Andhra Pradesh, children could not be sent to local schools
because the state refused to admit them.

Karan, a student in Basaguda hostel situated in Usur block of Bijapur, alleges that Salwa Judum
members attacked his school, forcing it to close down. He had to stay with his hostel superintendent
till the time school remained closed. When the school restarted few years later, only 60 out 100
students returned. Rest all dropped out. Similar was the case with other schools.

Rama Kumar, who teaches in one such interior village, says that the school he was teaching in at
that time when Salwa Judum began, had all 38 students drop out. They ran away to forest, settled in
the hills and survived on whatever they could get from any source. They then walked long distances
to get their ration from far away places, even going to adjoining state of Andhra Pradesh in some
cases because of the blockade imposed by Naxalites and armed forces on movement of people in
their territories. Their primary goal was to survive; education became secondary. Students got stuck
in the class they were studying at that time and were never able to continue their education.

Many of the young boys and girls also dropped out of school and joined armed forces as Special
Police Officers (SPOs). Their educational status can easily be understood by the fact that the when
government tried to regularise them as Chhattisgarh Auxiliary Armed Police Force, after the
Supreme Court of India declared the provision of having SPOs as illegal, it had to relax the norms
for their induction into police from education to class X to primary education (class V).

When a person becomes a SPO, education of his/her family members also gets into trouble. In one
of the cases, a girl was staying with her sister and brother-in-law because her brother was a Special
Police Officer and therefore her family was constantly under the surveillance of Naxalites.

12. Evaji (substitute children)

Children do not like to live in closed spaces. Howsoever much a teacher tries to keep them back in
residential school, a child is likely to run away. A reason behind this might be that in their village,
these children are used to liberty which allows them free movement in the forest and the farms.
When this liberty gets restricted in residential school they feel uneasy and try to wriggle out of its

Also, in residential schools children are not able to meet their parents on regular basis. So in order
to see them, the child does run away. Many a times children they go along with their parents when
they come to meet them during bazar (market) days. Else they walk back the entire distance on their
own, without caring for the risk involved. What is attractive for students in village is that they get
home cooked food and get to participate in celebration of festivals in which they get to dance, sing
and make merry.

On an average if a child stays in school for a fortnight, she would run away to her home for a week
and then return to school on her own. Sometimes she has to be fetched back by their teachers. It is
during Mahua, Tora and Tendu leaves season that children are more likely to run away. Parents are
likely to take them home during farming season, when every pair of hand is of use to them.

In order to keep track of the children a head-count is done every evening in Porta Cabins. The usual
experience is that at least three to four children are found missing every day. When children run
away from Porta Cabins, Anudeshaks try to trace them by looking at the possible routes they could
take to go back home. In case if it is too late to do that, they send message through someone going
to that village that the child should be sent back within two days. When that also fails, they visit the
village to get the child back.

After every holiday season, it used to be a challenge for teachers to make sure that that those who
have gone home return to school. They had to personally visit each village so as to get the children.
Although these instances have reduced drastically, but they still do exist.

There is also this phenomenon of Evaji (child substitute) happening on regular basis. Instead of the
child registered in school, his/her sibling would appear after that child runs away so as to fill the
position left vacant. After few months of the stay, the sibling would also run away sending the
registered child back.

The problem of runaway children is more in Porta Cabins which have been newly established. In
older ones, boundaries have been built and watchmen have been stationed so as to keep a check on
them. Seniors students in the older Porta Cabins have also contributed in helping the young ones
acclimatize to the new environment bringing down the incidents of children running away. Also, in
these Porta Cabins, over the years these students have become used to staying indoors and run away
less frequently. Some students stay back just out of fear of their parents.

Raja, a teacher, categorises students in two ways: those who would want to stay with their parents
till they are 10 to 12 years of age and then move on to Ashram schools and those who would get
comfortable living in Ashram once they are admitted and would not even think about going back
home. However in both the cases children miss out on the communal living with the family and
various festivals celebrated seasonally in the village.

Micham, a retired school teacher, gives a counter-argument. Even in Ashram schools they
(children) aren't tied to one place. Post classes they move out of school and roam around freely, he
says. He also points out to the fact that the cultural practices in villages located near the schools
where these children study are quite similar to the ones practised in child's village and therefore
they don't miss out on anything significant by staying in school.

Steps taken to improve school education

After the Salwa Judum began to subside from year 2008, many district Collectors posted there over
the years took personal interest in getting the closed or destroyed schools reopened. They were
partly successful as schools were reopened only in few villages where people had resettled after
returning back from government run relief-camps or their temporary settlement in Andhra Pradesh.
However, the villagers were not consulted before opening these schools in many of the cases
leading to these schools running with very few children. However, many schools which have been
reconstructed recently have been upgraded to a pucca school with asbestos sheet roof. This had
made them maintenance free and functional in all seasons. One of the major task which remains at
hand for the administration is to shift the schools, which were relocated to relief camps, back to
their original location.

To ease the burden of teachers from traveling to block and district headquarters to convey
information and attend meetings, schools in the district have been divided into clusters of various
sizes called Sankul and a coordinator (Sankul Samanvayak) has been appointed for each sankul.
Their primary job of Sankul Samanvayak is to receive and convey information from that cluster to
the block headquarters and vice versa. They act as an extra hand if the regular teacher has to take
leave in case of any emergency. These coordinators also are in-charge of overall monitoring of these
schools which includes attendance of teachers and students, progress of syllabus being taught,
disbursal of mid-day meal etc.. These coordinators are, however, much junior in position to most of

the Principals and Head Masters manning the schools which leads to ego-clash happening when
these co-ordinators try to suggest any drastic change in the functioning of the school.

In few of the single teacher schools, Anudeshaks, after being trained in pedagogy from professionals
called from Delhi, have been posted so as to improve the teaching process. They are, however, very
few in number. Orders have also been passed recently to repatriate all the teachers to their schools
they were originally recruited for. This is because due to various transfer orders issued over the
years, many have moved far away from their home-village. Thus home-posting is being made to
make sure that there are adequate number of teachers in each of the schools and they stay back in
rural areas in their home and do not waste time traveling to and fro from block headquarters.
However, many teachers who have been posted to urban areas have refused to go back to rural

A model English medium school has also been started in every block to provide quality education to
those who think that learning English is a must to take up a meaningful job. Few Eklavya schools
have also recently come up in the district of Dantewada, which have tribal specific curriculum.
These schools are however yet to open in Bijapur district.

Schools have also been opened under the title of Choo lo aasman (Go touch the sky), which was
initiated at the behest of former Dantewada Collector Mr OP Chaudhary. They have been started in
Bijapur city too so as to bring together meritorious students who are interested in studying science
at higher secondary level. Syllabus is taught by teachers specially hired from private coaching
institutes located in Kota (Rajasthan) who prepare students for competitive exams of institutions
like Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), etc. and
to various colleges in state through Pre Medical Test (PMT), Pre Engineering Test (PET), etc..

In these schools students who feel shy about asking questions are encouraged to ask more and more
questions so as make sure that they understand the concepts quite clearly and are able to answer the
questions related to them with confidence. Such teaching not only help students pass with good
marks at higher secondary level but has led to many students having successfully cracked the state
and national level competitive exams. Some have gone ahead to study in institutes of higher
education across the country.

The district in also reaping the benefit of Sarva Shikhsa Abhiyan (SSA) introduced in 2002 and
Right to Education (RTE) introduced in 2009. Under SSA a primary school has been constructed
within a distance of kilometer from a village situated in plains and within half-kilometer for village
in hilly areas. The schools in hilly areas, known as Gyan Jyoti Schools, can be run even if there are
10 children willing to go to school. Also, since these schools are run by Tribal Welfare Department,
a holistic view is being taken for tribal development. Several schools are also being run through
direct funding by central government under the banner of Kasturba Gandhi Girls School.

Earlier a major issue for children was to arrange for money to buy school uniform and books. With
free and compulsory education introduced under Right to Education Act, the children now get
everything for free, thereby enabling them to spend their meager resources on other necessities and
go to school with any fear of being discriminated on the basis of poverty. Even hostel facilities have
been extended to students for free along with at-least one meal being provided in school through
mid-day meal program. This has led to reduction in drop-out rate.

Right to Education norms also says that no student can be detained till class VIII. Therefore each
and every child is being promoted compulsorily which has kept in check the number of drop-out
rates due to child failing in lower classes. Teachers however are quite angry about this rule. They
feel that students are also not putting any effort to read and practice because of the perception that
they are not going to be detained even if they do not write anything in their exams. They think that
learning level has suffered because of this and students are being promoted to higher classes
without any check on qualitative learning of the child.

S Raja, a Salwa Judum leader, sees a conspiracy behind this rule and says that it is benefiting the
urban students where there are enough resources to monitor child on regular basis to implement
Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE). This is however negatively affecting the
education of tribes who are yet to become familiar with a form of education that is being provided
to them. Because of this policy, Raja alleges, the tribes will always remain poorly educated and
backward because resources equivalent to those being provided in the city are not being allocated to
them and therefore there is no competition among students to learn and excel. According to him
students should not be told that they are compulsorily being passed, thereby encouraging them to
put some effort in learning and remaining disciplined throughout the year in pursuit of knowledge.



History repeats itself. It can be said to be true in case of Salwa Judum in which one can find certain
similarities with Bhumkal rebellion of 1910. Both the movements had wide reach among masses
and were partly a result of economic exploitation by people in power, which in turn affected and
interfered with the social and cultural practices of the adivasis. In both the movements few educated
people mobilized a large number of people to serve their interests and left them to suffer the
consequences. Both the movements had the opening of large number of school in the region as one
of the reasons in backdrop which finally resulted in destruction of these schools.

This is not to say that both the movements were same in nature and scope. Response to both the
movements was different because of the leading actors being quite different. Both the movements
were dealt with differently and had different outcomes.

Post Bhumkal movement, the British administrators were sympathetic to the grievances of the
adivasis and brought about massive changes in the administration and amended the rules to take
care of tribal interests. Despite all this, it was only after a long time that the administration could re-
establish the school buildings, which got were reduced to one-fourth of their original number.

In comparison, post Salwa Judum, we see lot of young administrators sympathizing with the
adivasis and trying to help them pick the broken pieces. However, the development model being
pursued by them still remains to be studied for its effectiveness and its impact needs to be
analyzed to get a holistic picture. What is different from Bhumkal is that the school infrastructure
was restored in almost no time in regions under the control of the state, while alienating the areas in
control of Naxalites.

Howsoever good the intention behind re-establishing the schools, the methods used by the
administration to get the children to schools raise several serious questions. Forcing parents to send
their children to residential schools by imposing a blockade on movement of food items, cramming
the children in Residential Bridge Course Centers and subsequently in Porta Cabins, and using local

boys and girls as contractual teachers to get children from remote areas demand a thorough scrutiny.

Similarly, the policy of Naxalites in destroying schools to keep security forces away is something
which has done immense damage to the cause of tribal education. Although, they have tried to undo
it by introducing their own schools, which are very few in number and whose functioning cannot be
analyzed because of lack of access to them, Naxals have accepted that they do not have the
wherewithal to expand them. Naxals also need to review their reactionary policy of not allowing
students to study beyond elementary level so as to make them ineligible for police selection, as the
state has already relaxed the norms for tribal areas, allowing those with primary education to join

Today, one finds a need for neighborhood schools, regular and residential, in order to make sure
that the students' education is rooted in the context of their village. Confining students within the
walls of residential schools for majority of childhood years, especially for tribes, is an idea which
restricts their freedom and interferes with their cultural identity. It should be seriously rethought to
make sure that the values and traditions cherished by tribes do not disappear into oblivion.

It also needs to be emphasized that the schools are not a site for indoctrination, neither directly nor
through the use of curriculum. What is, therefore, required is barrier free access to school for
children and ideology neutral curriculum. This would require active involvement of parents on
regular basis in teaching process and their sustained inputs in developing and revising the

Initiatives have been undertaken recently to introduce text-books in local languages. These attempts
are in their preliminary stages and more attention and resources are required to broad-base them.
They also need to be made an integral part of the curriculum as they use folk-songs and cultural
tropes to explain the basic concepts, which can be easily assimilated by the children.

Apart from this, there are several allied issues, which needs to be given adequate attention. There
are hundreds of single teacher schools in the region which fail to provide even the minimum basic
education to the students. These schools do become the centers of producing literate uneducated
citizens. A concerted effort needs to be made to remove this anomaly and provide adequate number
of teachers in each and every school.

What is important is that these teachers are recruited locally so that they can be held accountable by
the villagers. Employing local teachers would also imply that the teachers stay back in the same
village where the school is and conduct the classes on regular basis. This would greatly reduce the
cases of teacher absenteeism and would also help improve the daily Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR),
which is skewed in many of the rural villages.

Attention also needs to be given to train these teachers regularly. Especially, after the state has
employed large number of Anudeshaks on contract basis, it becomes necessary to make sure that
they know the basics of teaching and do not end up experimenting with students in terms of using
teaching pedagogy. Therefore, a major push is required to improving the quality of education in all
regular and residential schools.

One also finds that there is an acute shortage of high schools and higher secondary schools in the
region. Even after the recent announcement by the State to upgrade all the Porta Cabins to high
schools, it is not clear whether enough infrastructure exists to accommodate the children for two
more years and whether free food and lodging facilities will be continued for those students.

Also, the policy of not detaining or failing students till class VIII has been vehemently opposed by
almost all the teachers posted in Bijapur. Even the High Level Committee on Socio-Economic,
Health and Education of Tribal Communities in India (2014) has recommended that this provision
be scrapped off in tribal areas. Its pros and cons need to be analysed further as soon as possible so
as to not let it affect the learning of adivasi children adversely.

Several bridges need to be built across the rivers to fill the education gap in the areas with no
school. This can only happen if the hostilities between the State and the Naxalites get greatly
reduced. It is common knowledge that Naxals do not harass workmen providing basic services and
something as fundamental as education cannot be easily opposed by them. Therefore concerted
efforts towards reaching out to the villagers in those areas can work wonders for a generation of
children living there.

As the tribes come in contact with the non-tribal culture, the egalitarian nature of their society has
also suffered. Patriarchy and gender discrimination is establishing its roots firmly among them,
which is also affecting the education of girl child. It needs to be firmly challenged before it becomes
a norm and it can very well be achieved with the help of gender sensitive education. Recent

incidents of sexual exploitation of teenage girls in Ashram schools and Porta Cabins have
highlighted the vulnerability of girl child. Before more such incidents happen, it is important that a
comprehensive framework be devised across various levels to make sure that a gender-just
education is provided to the adivasis.

The food provided in the schools also needs to diversify to include more local cuisines, especially
vegetables. Presently, the food primarily consists of rice, pulses and potatoes. One of the reasons the
child runs away from school is that s/he misses the home cooked food. Intervention of this kind
might help bring down the drop-out rate.

Several other basic barriers to school education remain. The biggest is its inability to provide any
meaningful employment after years of struggle with literature in a foreign language. As the reality
hits the adivasi boy or girl that they are neither eligible for a decent job nor trained enough to earn
their own livelihood, their make-believe dream world gets shattered and they find it hard to go back
to farming and other traditional sources of livelihood. Thus the adivasi is thrown back into the
rough and tumble of the forests where the education gained in school hardly finds any use.

The number of out-of-school children has been quite high despite all the recent efforts. This is
despite the government statistics not covering the villages covered by Naxalites. The existing child
identification and tracking mechanism needs to improved so as to ensure that each child is able to
get education at least till primary level. Several community monitoring mechanisms can be put in
place to make sure that the child goes to school and gets additional support in form of remedial
classes held after school hours.

With regards to violence perpetuated in the area, a young Anudeshak said during Salwa Judum it
were the educated leaders who were controlling the largely uneducated adivasis. The ground level
personnel were merely following orders without properly understanding the implications of their
actions. Therefore she found it important that the ground level personnel be educated so as to be
able to understand what it means to carry out an act of violence and decide whether to participate in
it or not.

It is clear that both, the government and the Naxalites, need to seriously rethink about inducting
children in their armed groups. Human Rights Watch (2008) has reported that these children were
part of several heinous acts, which included killing and beating people, burning the villages and

looting their property. Such acts of violence would scar the child forever for life and might seriously
affect his/her integration in the society. Special schools can help rehabilitate these children,
provided they be declared as Zones of Peace.

At the end I would like to say that the adivasis of Bastar and specifically of Bijapur do not yet see
any benefit arising out of education, except that it helps them learn the rules framed by the non-
tribal administrators and the State. The statement was true in 1910 and remains true even today.
What is required is a major integration of the traditional knowledge system, including the oral
tradition, in the formal school education system.


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