Chhattisgarh’s Maoist-affected Bastar region has seen several Adivasi-led movements over the past 20 years since its birth on issues of ‘Jal, Jangal, Jameen’
Three villagers were killed while protesting against a CRPF camp on Monday in Sukma district, about 500 km from Chhattisgarh Raipur.
Chhattisgarh’s Maoist-affected Bastar region has seen several Adivasi-led movements over the past 20 years since its birth on issues of ‘Jal, Jangal, Jameen’. Caught in the crossfire between armed guerrillas and state forces, local Adivasis have often come out to fight for their survival.
However, in December 2020, this jungle region witnessed three major protest movements against security forces, in one of which 21 gram panchayat officials resigned from their posts to show their anger against the administration’s apathy. To be precise, the anger is against the rising number of new camps being set up by the security forces as they push the cornered red extremists deeper into the jungles.
According to data obtained by News18, seven new camps were opened by various paramilitary forces in 2018, 10 were opened in 2019 and 14 were opened last year.
Thousands of Adivasis, who have sat on hunger strikes and blocked state highways against the rising network of security forces’ camps in December 2020 alone, say they have a number of unaddressed complaints against the forces.
Leaders of the Congress, the ruling party, feel the Adivasis are “misinformed", police officers suspect Maoists to be behind these protests and civil society leaders feel the ever-growing presence of police and paramilitary to be behind the unease among locals. In this ground report, News18 tries to find the reasons why Adivasis are upset with the state forces.
There were about 4,000 villagers in 35 villages in protest against the Silger Camp on Bijapur/Sukma border, in which young men and women and some children participated. It is being said that they mobilised and protested for the demand for removal of the camp continuously from May 12, the villagers kept shouting slogans near the camp, but police did not try to negotiate in any way at any level, they are accused of opposing the villagers. It was run by the villagers for five consecutive days.
The people of Bijapur who made arrangements for proper treatment of the injured villagers were sent to Basaguda-11 villagers and seven people of Bijapur.
Uaike Murali was 22 years old, resident of village Tippapuram.
Ursam Bhima was 45 years old, resident of Gundam village, who also has 5 small children.
Kovasi Vaga, aged 55, he has 8 children.
There is massive outrage among the villagers about this whole inciden t. This reporter spoke to the villagers and to the family of the villagers who were killed in the shootings. Villagers said all those killed were innocent villagers and the same movement will now take the form of aggression as they continue until their demands are met.
Why Is This Road Important
Source told News18 that this road connects Dantewada, Sukma and Bijapur and there used to be a very big market here.
Silger village, in Konta block of Sukma district, was once a bustling market for forest produce until, 18 years ago, Maoists demolished bridges and cut off road access up to Jagargunda, another key marketplace.
Police Inspector General Bastar Range Sundarraj P. and IG CRPF D. Prakash, DIG CRPF Komal Singh along with Bijapur Collector Ritesh Agarwal, Sukma Collector Vineet Nandanwar, SP Bijapur Kamalochan Kashyap and SP Sukma KL Dhruv and CRPF officials on Tuesday visited the Silger Camp and the site of the incident. During this, they asked soldiers about the camp’s incident related to the villagers protests and asked them to be vigilant.
Tribal leader Soni Sori said the opening of camps amid the pandemic is not good for both the tribals and the security forces.
“The government should ask the people of Bastar what they want. Many villagers are injured in the attack on villagers in Siliger camp. The police gave notice to me to not visit the area. if necessary, I will go there by foot. I will comment over the exchange of fire only after meeting the villagers but there is no need for establishing camps in Bastar for now," said Sori.
Inspector-General of Police, Bastar Range, Sunderaj P, refuted the allegations and claimed that Maoists were taking the villagers as their shield during the protest.
“This was a Maoist-compelled protest against the police camp because they don’t want camp in their core area. The protest ended on Sunday night but the Maoists forced the innocent villagers to return on Monday," said Suderaj, claiming that the identification of the deceased is underway but the police have reasons to believe they were Janmilitia members of CPI (Maoists).
Denying the claims of police assault, the IG said that first aggression and fire came from the Maoists of Jagargunda and Pamed Area Committee who were hiding among the villagers and the police was forced to fire in return