About the Plaque
This plaque in Sulenga village in Bijapur district, Bastar is named after villager Hedma Ram, who was killed on February 4, 2016.
His name is painted at the top of the plaque, divided into three panels. The upper panel shows man, presumably Ram, resting while cattle grazes. He is then surrounded by armed men in the second panel. They are policemen with guns in the plaque.
In the third panel, at the bottom of the plaque, Ram is again lying on ground. Hedma Ram, following his death was “dragged by police.” Other animals, including a crocodile, are witnessing the encounter in the plaque.
The villagers of heavily militarised areas of south Chattisgarh have embraced traditional Gond art to narrate their tragedies. The last moments of Gond tribals before they are killed by the security forces, are narrated on Mritak Sthamv [memorial plaque] made of stone. The villagers have captured those moments when security forces have allegedly killed the tribals.
Gond tribals often put up a stone or two to mark the passing away of a member in the village. The plaques, not headstones, are not placed in the burial grounds like in organised religion but mostly in an open space near the village and coloured with pigments extracted from trees. And it’s on these that encounter killings are being documented.
Kamal Shukla is a veteran writer-journalist and activist of south Chattisgarh, who has been documenting such plaques.
Kamal is suffering from cancer and the adivasis of Bastar have joined in an effort to raise funds for him for his treatment for which he has to come to Mumbai regularly. The adivasis are collecting whatever they can individually in their areas. This is an appeal to all artists, photographers, painters and the readers of this site to help contribute towards his medical expenses. Thank you.
His contact no: 9981635944