Opposed to Durga Puja at home, Adivasi youth kills himself

31 October 2019
Jitendra Maravi was an active member of the movement responsible for the resurgence of Gond identity and heritage.
Courtesy Rupesh Markam
Jitendra Maravi was an active member of the movement responsible for the resurgence of Gond identity and heritage.
Courtesy Rupesh Markam

This was my moral loss and I could not bear this loss. I have not taken this step out of fear, but only to open the eyes of these people. And the committee members are fully responsible for it. I want to apologise to all my friends, for leaving the fight midway. Remember one thing, that the revolution always demands sacrifice. I hope to achieve this martyrdom. Those who dishonour our ancestors should not be spared. This Durga Puja was breaking me day and night. I felt as if the 55 days of sacrifice had gone to waste. I would like my friends to fight my unfinished battle with much passion. I am always with all of you. I would like to apologise once again to all the people who were associated with me. I also want to apologise to my family members as they had to be ashamed because of me. I am giving you this last trouble. I won’t anymore. My body should not be dissected, this is my wish.
Love Gondwana. Sonu

The suicide note of a 22-year-old tribal youth, Jitendra Maravi or Sonu, is a living document of the tragic times towards which a Hindu majoritarian ideology is aggressively pushing the country.

On 9 October, in Ketaka village of the Surajpur district in the Adivasi-majority state of Chhattisgarh, Jitendra took his own life after a Durga Puja was performed in his house, despite his objections. Jitendra’s friend, Rupesh Markam told me that a Durga Puja committee was formed at the local level. Jitendra’s father, Dhansay Maravi was also a part of the committee. “In the committee’s meeting, Jitendra’s father was pressurised to persuade his son, as he was against Durga Puja” Rupesh said. Jitendra’s father was also asked to “take a resolution to perform Durga Puja in his house.”

According to Rupesh and his friends—Dev Koram and Vijay Singh Marpachi—Jitendra was upset with his father because the Durga Puja was performed in their house despite the son’s opposition to the demonization of Mahishasur and Ravan, and his anti-Brahminical ideology for which he was jailed. Last year, in October, a case was registered against Jitendra at the Surajpur police station for an objectionable social-media post criticising the practice of Durga Puja. The police arrested Jitendra and according to the court’s order, he was jailed for 55 days. In his post, Jitendra had mentioned the greatness of his ancestors, Ravan and Mahishasur.

While at the local level, questions are being raised about Jitendra’s suicide and the absence of a police investigation against the accused, media organisations in the state capital, Raipur, have maintained a stifling silence. The national media, on the other hand, has not even considered this news worthy enough of publishing or broadcasting.

Nawal Kishor Kumar is the editor of Forward Press Hindi.

Keywords: Adivasi community Brahminisation suicide Durga Puja Mahishasur Gonds