A Quiet Revolt: Women Resist Indigenous Structures of Oppression in Gadchiroli

Abstract: The story that I am going to narrate is that of an ordinary woman who lived and died in a small village a thousand kilometres away from the bustling city of Mumbai. 2 It speaks of the struggles of tribal women and the overwhelming odds faced by the development workers in their effort to empower poor women through the Self Help Groups (SHGs) movement.3 Initiated to enable women gain economic independence as well as to collectively challenge the prevailing structures of oppression, the movement in Maharashtra is spread over 42,000 villages.4 This narrative uncovers some of the difficulties encountered by the programme to bring about socio-economic change in the forgotten corners of rural India.5 It also celebrates the courage of indigenous women and the development workers in their struggle against patriarchy, in a dangerous political milieu. The story shows how the life and death of an ordinary woman is erased from the living memory of the community through a process of collective denial; and the conspiracy of silence imposed upon the community by the power elite in the village to forever wipes out the truth about an ordinary woman’s attempt at self-assertion. This bald tale is set in a poor tribal village in the heart of the forest, which at one time was part of the Dandhakaranyya forest mentioned in the Ramayana.

Keywords: Tamil Nadu, village workers, women’s movement, Self Help Groups (SHGs), development workers, rural development, women’s empowerment, women’s subordination

The village, in which the protagonists live, is in Gadchiroli, one of the poorest districts of Maharashtra. Located in the North Eastern part of the state, it is a thickly forested, largely inaccessible region, especially during the monsoons (GOI 1973). The dense jungles in the eastern part of Gadchiroli and its rugged hills provide cover for the Naxalites—a revolutionary movement. Ideologically committed to class struggle and the violent overthrow of the state, propagated by the writings of Marx, Lenin and Mao, the movement is spread over the Bastar and Raipur districts of Chattisgarh State and the Telengana region of Andhra Pradesh. The poor economic growth and the exploitation of the tribes by the forest contractors, the forest guards, the petty bureaucrats and political leadership fuel the Naxalite movement.

Gadchiroli is a sparsely populated multi-ethnic and multi- linguistic district. The most important ethnic group in the region is the Gond tribe comprising the Raj Gonds, the Madias, the Dhurves and the Khatulwar Gonds. There are also the Koyas, and the Gaitas (certain sub-groups of the Gonds) as well as various castes such as the Komatis, the Dhangars, the Velama, the Madgis, the Camras, the Pradhans and the Gowaris living in Gadchiroli. The languages spoken in Gadchiroli are Gondi, Madiya, Marathi, Hindi, Telugu, Bengali and Chattisgadi. Although broadly classified as Dravidian languages, the Gondi dialects indicate the influence the dominant languages of Hindi, Marathi and Telugu, with whom the various groups interact. The village under study here is predominantly a Madia Gond village. (GOI 2001:123)

Taking a realistic view of the challenges of empowering women through the SHG movement, this narrative underscores how the programme could be derailed by local politics, the village leadership and even the radical movements claiming to liberate the downtrodden and the dispossessed. It argues that while the programme has potential for changing the prevailing gender equations, there is need for caution while interfering with indigenous customs. A cogent plan and coordination with various other support systems are needed before any attempt is made to change the status quo.

The Prelude to the Story

In search of the story of how a group of tribal women challenged some of the age-old customs, we reached Gadchiroli town from Nagpur.

The village Bagul, inhabited by the Madias, is about 151 kms from Gadchiroli town. Located in Etapalli taluka (an administrative sub division of a district), the village is about 7 kms away from Etapalli, the taluka headquarters. The region inhabited by the Madia Gonds is extremely wild. Their villages are usually situated deep in the jungle near some wide shallow stream, which offers facilities for cultivation and the surrounding jungle supplement the dietary intake with fruits and meat. Living in the recesses of the forests, the Madia Gonds are good-looking, lithe and active.

To reach the Bagul village, we decided to take a road less travelled through the dense forest. As we were crossing Dhanora taluka through Naxalite infested terrain, we saw a Sumo travelling ahead with a red flag. A little later we saw that the Naxalites had blasted an anti-landmine armoured vehicle and the place was teeming with police personnel. Our subsequent journey was not entirely without danger. We had to be vigilant against any possible landmines placed across the road. It was with a sense of relief that we reached the Traveller’s Bungalow (TB). The other occupants in the bungalow were a few political workers indulging in a booze party. Meera, the Coordinator of the programme in Gadchiroli, was very upset when she accidentally overheard them discuss how money should be siphoned from this programme to their party funds.

After resting awhile in a room, which showed every sign of neglect and lack of basic cleanliness, we went to the village. The village is part of the Dattu Gram Panchayat (village council). The village-level data indicates that the village comprises 270 households; out of which, 96 households are Below Poverty Level, 22 are in the absolute poverty bracket and 152 households are Above Poverty Level. The village is neatly laid out with narrow pathways and drains. All the houses in the village are wooden structures plastered with mud and the roofs are covered with shingles. Each house with its courtyard is fenced with wooden planks. Near a cluster of houses are various rock memorials carved for those long dead and the village shrine exists a little outside the main cluster of houses.

The village has a primary school, a crèche and a community centre. These public utility spaces are ugly concrete structures constructed without imagination or understanding of the indigenous cultures. The Community Centre or Gotul, which in the tribal culture plays a central role in the education and transmission of indigenous knowledge to the young boys and girls, has been built for them by the forest department; it remains locked most of the time and is used as a storage dump. What became apparent is that despite good intensions, the lack of sensitivity to the tribal customs inevitably leads to the erosion of community life.

The village has electricity, two bore wells constructed by the government and a private well. The ration shop in the village has remained closed for some time now. The only means of transport to the village is to either walk or to cycle down. The occupation of the region is rice cultivation, hunting and foraging for minor forest produce. Men, women and children forage in the forest in search of the mahua flowers (which they ferment into liquor) and other forest products (such as, bamboo and tendu leaves) for sale in the local markets. Their staple diet comprises rice gruel, eaten occasionally with forest game and wild berries of the forest. The village has no irrigation and only two persons in the village have paid employment. There is no school after the primary level in the vicinity and the parents wishing to educate their children further are forced to send them away to the tribal boarding schools (ashramshalas). This separation of the children from their families is also eroding the cohesion of the tribal community and undermining the culture.

The development workers of the programme had informed the women that we would be coming and that they should gather near the village school. The women were waiting for us and we were very warmly welcomed by them. After introductions, the women started to talk about some of the problems of the village. They were concerned about the poor educational facilities in the village and the frequent absence of the village school teacher from school. Without proper guidance, they said, children dropped out of school. We were also informed about the various economic activities they wished to undertake through loans from the bank. Before concluding the programme, the women decided to perform a communal dance for us. In the dance, each woman placed her hand on the shoulder of the next woman and together they move in a circle taking three steps, while singing an impromptu song to the chorus of re-la, re-la. Through this song we were welcomed to the village. Nevertheless, under the façade of bohemia, there was palpable fear. It was apparent that we were under surveillance; there were at least fifty Naxalites holed up in the village and they kept a close watch over us. Burdened with the responsibility of ensuring our safety, Meera developed high blood pressure and had to be taken to the hospital in Ettapali.

We assumed that the tensions would have subsided the next day and that we would be able to talk to the women why they decided to challenge certain deeply entrenched cultural taboos in the village. This however could not take place as we were under the surveillance of the Naxalites and the local power elite. The women were subdued and uncommunicative. The Police Patil’s wife constituted herself as our guide and escorted us around the village.6 We visited the forest shrines of the Goddesses Vanashri and Rukshavalli and the Police Patil’s ketul (hut by the side of the paddy fields)7. On our return to the school compound, we sought another meeting with the village women, but they were still not willing to discuss the circumstances leading to Tannabai suicide or their attempts to break menstrual taboos. Meera then suggested that she and I listen to the story inside the crèche while my colleagues talked to the other women in the open courtyard. We could not however talk to the women, as two sullen looking men followed us into the pre-school building and sat through our discussions. We will never know if the two men were Naxalites or just hostile members of the all-male tribal council resistant to our attempt to empower women. Some of the women had informed the development workers that at the council meeting held the previous evening after we left the village, the women were warned not to talk to us.

The Story

The story that we were investigating was the story of how the tribal women had decided to break certain menstrual taboos in the village. The story that emerged was the story of the life and death of a middle-aged woman named Tannabai, which triggered a silent protest by the village women. Tannabai was a mother of two grown up sons and a daughter. As a Madia-Gond woman living in one of the villages that had somehow been by-passed by the processes of development initiated since Independence, her life largely revolved around her family and her community. Surviving on subsistence rice cultivation like the other members of her community, she often foraged into the forests in search of mahua flowers, the tor seed, the charoli fruit, the tendu leaf and other minor forest produces. Her needs, like that of the other members of the community were minimal.

Tannabai, was excited when the development worker came to the village and talked about the programme. Realising the importance of SHG formation, she along with other women, organised themselves into collectives and took the bold step of saving money in the Vanashri Cooperative Bank. This attempt to breakaway from the familiar pattern of existence in the village was, at the outset, looked on with indifference by the village leadership, but with suspicion by the Naxalites who frequented the village. To them, women’s attempts to access government schemes meant a weakening of their own hold over the village. The village, located close to the Naxalite stranglehold in Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, was one of the many villages that offered them a safe haven from the police. To them women’s empowerment meant a threat to their own power and control in the area.

Undeterred by the Naxalite threat, Tannabai and her many friends continued to meet regularly to discuss various issues and to initiate economic change. The Naxalites sought to prevent them from saving their money. The women visited the bank secretly. They did not even dare keep their pass books in their homes, for one never knew when the Naxalites would pay them an uninvited visit and rummage through their scant possessions. Despite this threat about 5 SHGs were established in the village. Tannabai was the member of one of the SHGs, called Mogra Self Help Group. She was excited when the development worker informed her in January 2003, that an important state-level meeting with the Governor of the state was organised in Bramgad Taluk. Tannabai and her friends decided to participate in this meeting. The programme continued through the day and at nightfall the women could not return to their village. They could only return the next day.

A married woman spending a night away from the safe haven of her home was a major breach in the prevailing customary practices of the community. In many ways the norms governing sexual relationships are liberal. There is no taboo regarding pre-marital relationships and the preference is for self-choice marriages with minimum parental interference. Due to the expenses involved in celebrating marriages, the young people are free to live together without the sanction of marriage. When we were in the village we witnessed a custom known as Ghar Ghoosan (elopement)8. A young woman from a neighbouring village had eloped with her boyfriend and had decided to stay in his home. When we visited their home, the parents and relatives of the man were getting ready to go to the neighbouring village to inform the parents of the young woman about her whereabouts.

The wedding feast is an elaborate affair involving the payment of a bride price and a feast for the members of the two villages. It would only take place when the man is in a position to meet these obligations. We were told that there was no stigma attached to living together. The only disqualification involved in remaining unmarried was that the young couple could not perform certain ceremonial functions until they completed the rites of marriage. There have been instances when both the father and son have got married at the same time, thereby reducing the marriage expenses. Paradoxically, despite the permissiveness of pre- marital relationships, there is a great emphasis on conjugal fidelity in the community. A married woman (perhaps because the man pays a bride price to her father) becomes the property of her husband. A woman is, undoubtedly, free to divorce her husband, but this would require that her second husband compensate her former husband.

Tannabai’s husband was extremely angry with her for having spent a night away from the village. He accused her of infidelity and beat her. When her companions came to know of this violence, they decided to protest. They organised a meeting to which the various family members were called and the husband was forced to apologise for his behaviour. They felt that like Tannabai’s husband, their own husbands too could accuse them of infidelity the next time they went out of the village. Faced with the pressure from his relatives and the village women, Tannabai’s husband apologised to her. The matter however did not end there. Seething with anger, he decided to teach Tannabai a lesson. About two months later, he persuaded her that they should sleep that night in their ketul. During the night, he beat her, stripped her of her clothes and forced her to walk naked through the village. Humiliated by this incident, Tannabai committed suicide.

The relationship between the villagers and the police was never a happy one. In their periodic drive to flush out the Naxalites, the police often raid the village and drag a few hapless tribal men to the police station, where they are brutally assaulted. Caught between fears of the Naxalite reprisal if they are suspected to be police informers, and the fears of police atrocities, the villagers prefer to hush up any crime committed in the village. The decision taken by the tribal council was that the antecedents leading to Tannabai’s suicide should not be reported. It should be reported that she died of a snake bite. 9

The SHG women seemingly accepted these explanations about Tannabai’s death. But they were simmering with anger. If Tannabai, a middle-aged woman, could be humiliated after so many years of marriage, they too had no sureties. What happened to Tannabai could also happen to them, Sitabai, a close friend of Tannabai, decided to protest. She organised a women’s meeting to discuss gender discrimination in their village. Collectively, they started challenging some of the prevailing customary practices and decided to speak up in the tribal council meetings. To begin with, they decided in the gathering of women that they would start wearing blouses with their saris or lugada (a loin cloth with one end of the cloth covering the breast) They also decided that each woman was responsible for the safety and well being of all women in the village. Some of the discussions held by women centred on the menstrual taboos in the village.

The customary pollution taboos dictated that a menstruating woman could not stay inside her house during menstruation. She is expected to move into a small shack near her home called kurma loona and cannot touch the village water supply. Deeply superstitious, the belief is that the water would get polluted if a menstruating woman touched it and that the crops would fail. The woman, however, is free to forage into the woods for her food and to collect forest produce although she has to remain isolated from the community functions for three days. Until now the women had unquestioningly accepted the menstrual taboos. Now, they began to wonder why such restrictions were only imposed upon them. The village schoolteacher, the creche worker and the health worker visiting the village are not prevented from touching the bore-well and therefore, why should they be prevented from doing so? It so happened that on an occasion when Sitabai was living in the menstrual hut along with her two friends, she needed water to bathe and there were none nearby who would give it to her. She therefore decided to quietly draw the water herself. Seeing that there was no adverse effect of breaking the taboo, she along with a few other village women decided to continue doing so. This transgression of tribal norms was noticed by the Police Patil’s wife Lakshmibai who complained about the transgression to the tribal council.10 The rebel Sitabai and her companions were called before the tribal council, where they argued their case. Nevertheless, taking a serious view of the transgression, the three women (under the threat of excommunication by the entire village community) were fined Rs. 1000/- and had to host a dinner for the entire village, in which the menu included mutton, chicken, pork, rice and liquor. As a compromise, however, the tribal council decided that there would be some slackening of the pollution norms. The menstruating women would be allowed to take water from the bore-well in the school compound but could not touch any other source of water.

This was a small victory for the women; the story however does not end here. The women got together and decided that they should get the contract to construct the drains in the village under the Jal Swaraj programme. They submitted their application for this contract in the Jadda village council, which is about 17 kms away from their village. Here too they were not entirely successful. Patriarchal bias prevailing in the village communities dictated that the women could not be given the entire responsibility of the drainage contract. It was therefore given to a contractor from outside. Displeased with this decision, the women have argued before the village council that they should have got the contract as they had taken the initiative of submitting the application to the water works department of the district. As a compromise the village council decreed that contractor should employ the SHG women as construction workers for the construction of the drainage system. When we visited the village we found that the contractor had left the work incomplete and the women were in the process of petitioning to the village council to allow them to complete the work. Additionally, the various SHGs have decided to expand the scope of their economic activities. One of the SHG has decided to purchase and store shingles (khavalo) from other villages and sell them when the demand rises. Similarly, another decided to trade in the mahua flowers needed for the preparation of the local liquor.

This story however is not over—we do not know whether the women will be able to challenge patriarchy or will be subdued. The male power elite is obviously feeling threatened by the women’s self- assertion. The men feel that if the women get empowered, it would be difficult to control them. The Naxalites are now issuing veiled threats against the collectivisation of women. They have issued a warning that the programme is attracting too many “outsiders” (like ourselves) and therefore must be stopped. It is apparent that despite all claims to struggle for the poor, the exigencies of sustaining the Naxalite movement– the need to have safe havens — make them oppose all development programmes in the villages. We were told that a few days ago, a young site engineer was brutally murdered and robbed of the money he was carrying to pay wages to the workers who were building a road. As Meera bitterly remarked, the Naxalites as well as the local politicians wish to keep local communities poor and dispossessed. Nobody is interested in the upliftment of the poor. Not even the powerful politicians in the region.


The question that interests us is the process of empowerment. Could we, on the basis of the above narration, argue that the women of the Bagul village are empowered, and that the programme has achieved the desired results? The Self Help Groups have been established in the village over three years. In other districts and in less volatile regions, the time is sufficient for the groups to become self-sufficient and to expand their social and economic activities. It is apparent that the process has not been effective and there is still community resistance to women’s empowerment. This limitation does not arise out of lack of efforts by the development workers. All of them were committed; they work under considerable threat and endure physical hardships as they had to travel long distances to different villages through dangerous terrain. The work load is also heavy as each of them is responsible for the formation of 50 to 100 SHGs. Due to the lack of proper transportation, they often hitchhike to reach different villages. Taking into account these constraints, it may be concluded that there can be no standardised norm for measuring empowerment. Moreover development strategies are constricted by the prevailing socio-economic realities. The understanding of empowerment in the SHG movement is that it has an individual and a collective dimension. At an individual level, it aims to enable a woman to identify her needs and realise the means to achieve her goals. At a collective level, the group should be in a position to address some of their socio-political and economic needs. On this premise, could it be concluded that the change initiated in Bagul village is a success?

To answer this question, it is necessary to locate this initiative in the backdrop of the historical impoverishment of the tribal communities and their cultural bankruptcy as a consequence of the many dispossessions they suffered. The various Gond communities (including the Madias) were historically rulers of this region. The defeat of the Raj Gonds by the Marathas in the 17th century pushed these communities into the forest. The Madias, in particular, moved deep into the interiors into the wild and inaccessible terrain. The advent of the British rule exacerbated their economic plight. For on the one hand, the land revenue policies created a class of landlords and contractors who fleeced the people, on the other, the forest policies curtailed their traditional entitlements to forest resources. Moreover, the demand for timber from the developed countries (especially during the two world wars) depleted the forest resources, making it difficult for these indigenous communities to meet their survival needs. This exploitative economy has continued in the post Independence period, to the detriment of the welfare of these communities. (Hiralal: ND. 13-25). Our journey through the forests has given us an insight into the wanton destruction of forests in the region. The forests around Dhanora and Ettapalli seemed to be relatively young. There was no sign of bio-diversity or thick undergrowth. This suggests that the forest dwellers have steadily been deprived of their forest resources. The resultant poverty is not just material, but also cultural. It is not easy, therefore, to speak of the culture of the Gonds; it varies greatly from area to area and what exists today is but a shadow of what must have existed in the past. Their indigenous art and craft forms, for instance, have declined and they do not weave or carve in wood (Singh 1982:370).

It often happens that the insecurity experienced by any community translates itself to a reinforcement of cultural controls over women. This is not to suggest that the prevalence of menstrual taboos is a sign of women’s subordination in any community. Many anthropologists have connected the prevalence of menstrual taboos with cultures that had elements of female domination in them (Bhattacharya 1980:9). The point being made here is that the prevalence of menstrual taboos or attempts to break them are not necessarily indications of women’s empowerment or otherwise. It is more important to consider the threat of violence that forced women to comply with the punishment imposed on them by the tribal council for breaking the cultural taboos. The women were made to pay a hefty fine and host a feast for the entire community under the threat of excommunication. The question is why did the women submit themselves to the punishment? Is it only the fear of excommunication or was there a more serious threat implied?

Anthropological records indicate women did get hunted down as witches among the Gond tribes. The resurgence of such practices usually happens when the community faces threats from outside. The destruction of the forests has deprived the community of access to herbs and other indigenous medicines. At the same time, the faulty economic development in the country has not enabled them access to modern methods of health care. Such deprivations and existential anxiety make people superstitious and fall a prey to the manipulations of the witchdoctor. Women, who question and challenge male authority, may be accused of being witches and attacked by the community. The various agents of social change must take into account such possible dangers while working in the field. In this context an important question that arises is why did the rebel Sitabai who was so vocal in her opposition of male power in the village, avoid us? The development worker had primed her about the importance of our visit and had asked her to meet us. Yet she avoided us on the second day of our visit. We were told that she had gone into the forest. It is true that the tribal women are very independent and they love nothing better than to forage into the forests.

Yet could this be the only reason? Where there any other threats that she faced that made her cautious?

Another equally important concern is the question of violence against women. Tannabai was forced to commit suicide when, with the support of her friends, she questioned her husband’s right to beat her. The violence that she faced in her marriage was because the man felt humiliated by the interference of the other women in his home life. Therefore, how and when do the women in the SHG group decide what is permissible interference and what is not? Again was suicide the only option available to Tannabai, when divorce was permitted in the community? Why did Tannabai not walk out of an unhappy marriage? What could have been the compulsions that prevented her from leaving her home? Was it because of the custom of bride price, which requires that the ex-husband be compensated for the bride price he paid her father at the time of the wedding? Or could it be because of the values that the development workers communicate to the women through their interactions? It may so happen that the development workers because of their innate prejudices about tribal customs may critique customs, norms and beliefs during their interactions. This may make women feel that it is better to live in an unhappy marriage than out of it. Having thereby imbibed an alien value system of conjugal bonds, could Tannabai have felt that death was a better option than divorce?

Against this backdrop it is apparent that the challenges to the SHG programme are manifold, particularly when working in areas that are under various forms of political threats. We can never forget that, feeling trapped between the threat of the police interference and the Naxalite reprisal, the village community sought to erase the story of Tannabai’s life and death from their collective memory. It is apparent that patriarchal powers appear in different garbs to contain women’s growing power. The women of Bagul village are now at a crossroad: Will they continue their self-assertion? Or will be succumb to the reactionary pressures of the men?


1 The names of the village, the village council, the coordinator of the programme and the villagers have been changed to protect identity. As abridged version of this paper was published in the International Feminist Journal of Politics 2010 (Vol. 12. No. 1)

2 I would like to thank Mrs. T.F. Thekkekara (Managing Director, MAVIM) for this opportunity to undertake this study. I am equally grateful to my colleagues Mr. Usha Lalwani and Ms. Parul Khanpara and the development workers, in Gadchiroli for having helped me with the fieldwork.

3 Organising women into Self-Help Groups is seen in current development literature as an efficient mechanism to change the prevailing gender relations and to initiate socio-economic changes in developing countries. The strategies of the programme can be divided into three parts: At the outset grassroots development workers organise women into small collectives of 10 to 20 women, teach them to save in micro-finance institutions and obtain bank credits to improve their economic conditions. This is realised through a series of training programmes including new accounting bookkeeping and vocational skills. Subsequently through training and sensitisation programmes, women are encouraged to challenge the prevailing gender relations and other forms of social oppression. Finally, women are encouraged to participate in the local political institutions and exercise leadership positions.(Poonacha 2008:4- 5)

4 Similar such programmes are initiated in other states of India and in other parts of the developing world. The best known programme is the Grameen Bank, in Bangladesh, founded by Dr. Mohammed Yunus, the Nobel Prize winner of 2006. Despite similarities, it may be noted that self help movements initiated in India are different from the Grameen Bank model.

5 This movement under study is organised by the Mahila Arthik Vikas Mahamandal, a women’s development corporation established by the Government of Maharashtra. Although it is a government programme, it is designed to function like a non-government organisation. This story was an attempt to evaluate the possible socio-cultural change that could be brought about through the movement and to critically examine the strategy for empowerment.

6 The Police Patil has the responsibility of maintaining law and order in remote villages. The Police Patil’s wife said that her father held the post earlier and as she was his only child, the post was given to her husband after her father’s death.

7 A ketul is a small hut built by the side of their paddy fields. The families often stay in such huts, rather than in their house in the village.

8 The literary meaning of the term ghar goosan is forceful entry into a home. In the cultural context of the Madia community it refers to the woman forcefully entering a man’s house and claiming sexual rights with the man. It was because of this connotation with sexual partnerships, we (as women) were not allowed to enter the Madia homes.

9 In the subsequent versions of the story, Tannabai was said to have died of an illness. In another she is said to have committed suicide because of depression. The point to be noted here is the overwhelming anxiety of the people to prevent the police from entering the village.

10 The Police Patil’s wife Lakshmibai was also a member of the Mogra Bagathgad group to which the rebel Sitabai belonged. Therefore the question arises as to why did she betray her companions? The answer to this question could perhaps be found in the factional politics of the village which emerged from the story she told me as she escorted me through the village. She too is a middle-aged woman, a mother of two daughters and a son. She was the only surviving daughter of her parents. Her father who was the Police Patil in the village, ensured that her husband became the Police Patil after his death. A few years ago her only son was murdered by her kinsmen in the fields. The motive for the murder was not clear from her narration, although she said that she knew who were the murderers were. It is likely that the murder was due to a family feud or the result of a local power struggle or it could have been perpetrated by the Naxalites as she said that her son was educated and articulate. She also narrated her struggle to get the murderers booked. The police at the outset refused to file an FIR. Subsequently, there was police enquiry and the murderers were jailed for a couple of years. She said that they were now released and they continued to live in the village. The mother’s anger had not yet subsided.


Bhattacharya, Narendranath. Indian Puberty Rites. Manoharlal Publishers. 1980.

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Government of India. Gazetteer of India. Maharashtra State, Chandrapur District

(Revised Edition): 1973. Bombay. Government Press

Government of India. Census of India 2001 (Maharashtra) Primary Census Abstract,

Series 28. Vol. LII. Pp.1, XIII, P.273.

Hiralal, Mohan Hirabai. Village Forest: Gateway to Sustainable and Participatory Community Forest Management: Gadchiroli: Vriksamitra. N.D. Pp.13.25.

Poonacha, Veena et al. Destablising Structures of Inequality through the Self Help Group Movement. Mumbai: Research Centre for Women’s Studies, SNDT Women’s University. 2008 Pp4-5)

Singh K.S. (Ed). Economies of the Tribes and their Transformation. New Delhi: Concept Publishers. 1982. P.370


VEENA POONACHA. Is currently the Professor and Director of the Research Centre for Women’s Studies, Hon. Director of the Centre for Rural Development and Project Director, AWA, Archives for Women at the SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai.

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Is currently the Professor and Director of the Research Centre for Women’s Studies, Hon. Director of the Centre for Rural Development and Project Director, AWA, Archives for Women at the SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai.

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