April 20, 1981 Indervelly or Indravelli massacre

The Indravelli or Indervelly massacre was an incident on April 20, 1981 in Indervelly village Adilabad District. 

The Gond tribals of the agency area were largely dependent on agriculture, podu cultivation and collection of the forest produce for their livelihood. In the absence of legal rights on the lands cultivated by the tribals, the landlords held sway over them through their henchmen. The innocent tribals were left with no option except selling their produce to the landlords at throwaway prices. The landlords amassed riches by fleecing the tribals. Hundreds of poor tribals who borrowed money from the landlords for their family needs were caught in a debt trap.

The rally was organised to demand land certificates for Adivasis, and to protest encroachments by non-Adiviasis.

The meeting was called by the Radical Youth League's Girijan Rythu Coolie Sangham led by Kondapalli Sitarayamayya sometime in March and a massive poster campaign was carried out to publicise it.

While initially granted permission to assemble, this was later revoked in fear of agitation by Naxalites
and a "Society for the protection of Rights of Non-Tribals" had complained to the police that the tribals had planned to bum and loot their houses besides harming their person and hence also wanted to hold a counter meeting that very day. 

On April 19 the police went round Indravelli in the evening announcing that section 144 Criminal Procedure Code was imposed in the area, effectively banning the meeting on April 20.

A majority of tribals who already left their villages on foot or on bullock-carts to reach Indravelli, were not aware of the last minute cancellation of permission for the meeting and promulgation of prohibitory orders at the venue. Detention of tribals and preventive arrests were also made to thwart the public meeting.

According to the Chief Minister T. Anjaiah, the Gonds were armed with spears, sickles, sticks; and according to the Adilabad District Superintendent of Police, they also carried with them chili powder.

The SP, Adilabad, claims that the police fired on the crowd after a few rounds of teargassing proved ineffective and after it attacked the 30 policemen and five officials, spearing to death one policeman and seriously injuring all the officials (who were however not treated medically). According to the Chief Minister Tanguturi Anjaiah, the police resorted to firing after the lathi-cliarge proved in- effective; and the Home Minister has claimed that the officials had first persuaded the Gonds to disperse, but that the Gonds had regrouped and attacked the policemen and officials, being insstigated to do so by the 'extremists' hiding in the nearby villages. All these versions were doled out separately on different occasions.

In support of the claim that 'extremists' had instigated the attack, the authorities flaunted copies of pamphlets and the 'extremist' group's official mouthpiece, Kranti. Indeed, the Home Minister has claimed that the residents of Utnoor taluk have been clamouring for declaring the taluq as a 'disturbed area', and that government would favourably consider the request. The Chief Minister too has said that frustrated by the massive efforts of the government to uplift the Gonds through their numerouis development
programmes, the 'extremists' had instigated the Gonds to violence. In fact, pamphlets only demand return of lands snatched away by the non-Gonds and the forest department; right to tree felling and cultivation in forests; and implementation of the 1964 Act banning tribals selling their lands to non-tribals in notified tribal areas. Both the pamphlets and the magazine contain references to the exploiting sections of non-tribals in harsh terms as well as anti-CPI and anti-CPI(M) references and their collusion with the exploiters. But there is no incitemenit to violence even against the non-tribals in the village.

Lies Galore
A week spent by this correspondent in the troubled area and nearby villages gave the lie to all these inconsistent stories doled out by theofficial sources and vested interests.

Contrary to these reports, there were nearly two dozen armed police camps of six to ten platoons each in the district. In fact, an armed camp of seven platoons has been located in the local Zilla Parishad High School on the main road passing through the village, since early this year. 

The entire police force in the district was sumnmoned to Indravelli village on April 19. The alleged failure of police intelligence is also not borne out by facts. The police measures in the virtually detribalised Indravelli village, as also in the nearby taluqs, on the day of the firing are particularly interesting in this context. The shops were,ordered that morning to be closed and the weekly shandy on Moniday was can-
celled. The bus stand was shifted a little away from the village and nobody was allowed to get down except a handful of employees working in the banks and government offices. All the entry points into the village were guiarded by the police and those, especially Gonds, entering the village were beaten up. The fate of Gonds coming to the shandy for their essential purchases from nearbv villages and those coming to attend the meeting was the same in the main junctions and cross country tracks.

While the police prevented the Gonds from entering the village and even fired on them, they personally
escorted some non-tribal leaders of the Congress(I) led by a licensed quack. He and his followers were allowed to proceed towards Adilabad town and instigate the non-tribal traders and lower caste Hindus to come and fight the Gonds "Hirning and looting their houses in Indravelli".

The actual sequence of events that led to firing are even more shocking. The SP asked the Revenue Divisional Officer (who is the ex-offiicio Executive Magistrate) to sign the firing orders after issuing them himself, following his fuitile attempts at pistol-point intimidation. Even as the Gonds, bewildered by the sudden cancellation of permission for the meeting, were pleading and insisting on their right to go ahead with their meeting, the SP forced the RDO to order firing. When they tried to run away in panic and confusion, they were met head on by an open police jeep emerging from the local high school whose
armed police occupants fired at point blank range upon the fleeing Gonds. The policemen hiding in the trees and haystacks nearby also opened up their trained gulls to add to the toll.

How many died
Home Minister has stated that because identification of the victims was not possible since none of them were from villages within a five kilometers radius of the firing spot. 

According to official records, 13 tribals, all Raj Gonds belonging to surrounding villages of the Indravelli mandal centre, were killed in the firing.

However, according to Raghuram's report, witnesses believed that more than 60 bodies were left on the spot that day, later secretly cremated at Abilabad. Many of the seriously injured were piled on top of each other in two vans and taken to the Adilabad District Hospital. Hospital staff claimed that at least ten of the injured died en route with more than 20 dying at the hospital. Witnesses in nearby towns, including Congress(I) members reported dead bodies on the roadside left by the fleeing Gonds, or shot by pursuing police, with totals as follows. Utnoor town (30-40), Ichoda town (25) and Muthnoor village (30). Still others were said to have died hiding in the jungle, with bodies being recovered as late as April 26. 

During the inquiries conducted by the fact finding panels of the Civil Liberties Committee and people’s organisations, it was revealed that more than 60 innocent tribals lost their lives and over 1,000 people were injured in firing and lathi-charge. Many tribals were also injured while they were fleeing by trekking rough terrains and crossing ravines and streams in the deep forest. Some of them succumbed to injuries later due to lack of proper medical aid. The massacre received nationwide condemnation from civil rights groups and people's organisations.

The final death toll was estimated by the Andhra Civil Liberties Committee at over 100, and by EPW at nearly 250. Many contemporary reports cite the death toll at 60. 

According to former People's War Group (PWG) Abilabad district committee member Nayannagari Ravi, the massacre resulted in many Adivasis joining the armed wings of Naxalite groups. For example, the PWG which had been formed only a year prior, saw their formerly largely non-Adiviasi local "dalam" membership increase from a few dozen to over 250. In 1983 a memorial to the victims was constructed by GRCS president Ganji Rama Rao

Tanguturi Anjaiah (1919–1986), popularly known as T. Anjaiah, was an Indian politician who served as the 7th Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh from October 1980 to February 1982.

Chowti Jagannatha Rao (1924 – 23 January 2012) was Home Minister in the Cabinet of T. Anjaiah in 1980

Carnage is French for “bloodshed” and massacre is French for “butchery. A massacre is when many people are killed.

Carnage at Indravelli: A Report
M. Raghuram