Friday, June 20, 2008

Red army, govt sandwich tribals


Red radar
Hyderabad, June 19: An increase in Naxalite activities in the past six months have driven 1.2 lakh Gutti Koya tribals of Chhattisgarh to Khammam, a border district of Andhra Pradesh.

A confidential report of the Intelligence Bureau has cautioned the Andhra Pradesh government of growing unrest among tribals in the border districts as well as increasing instances of violence due to the red army.

Reports state that Koyas are migrating to Andhra Pradesh villages instead of camps set up by Salwa Judum cadre— groups constituted by the state government to resist Naxalite unrest. Koyas are also percolating into Warangal and west Godavari districts.

“Not wanting to face the wrath of the Naxalite army, the tribals are running away from Chhattisgarh into the bordering villages,” said D.S. Chauhan, the Khammam superintendent of police.

Prior to the formation of Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh, tribal residents in Guburu forest belt in Bastar and Bjipur as well as the Gutti Koyas used to give shelter and food to rebels. After the heavy police repression, residents have now shifted base to Dummugudem, Chintur and Bhadrachalam of Khammam following clashes between tribals and supporters of the Salwa Judum.

According to preliminary reporters, nearly 3,236 families of Koyas have made Khammam villages their homes. “The numbers living in the reserved forests away from the villages are not known,” said the police officer.

To wean them away from the red army, the government has unleashed different schemes for the Koyas. “More than 1,500 families have been given ration cards, and provided vaccination, medical care, schools and civil supplies,” said district collector Shashibhushan Kumar.

Following the intelligence reports, the district police and revenue officials have visited the tribal villages and provided them material benefits such as blankets, cloth, salt, chlorine and fever tablets along with spices. “Cattle were also given to introduce milk in their diet,” said a district official.

The district officials of Khammam believe that Koyas are eager to get back to their villages and lands. “But if they return, they would be coerced by the government to join Salwa Judum camps and would not be allowed to live independently,” explained an official.

The red raids on Salwa Judum camps in Errabor, Darnapal and Darbagudem have multiplied their fear.

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