Sunday, October 09, 2005

Tribe survey suspended following Maoist 'ban'

Monday October 10 2005 00:00 IST


RAIPUR: A government institute has been forced to suspend a survey of an endangered tribe after Maoist guerrillas "banned" the study in Chhattisgarh.

The Abujhmadia tribe, which has 19,401 members and is classified as endangered, lives in thick forests bordering Maharashtra. The Abujhmad forest is spread over 6,000 sq km and it has never been surveyed and accessed by anyone including the British.

The thick forest has become a hub of Maoist guerrillas. They reportedly run several training centres there, according to intelligence reports.

"We were forced to wind up the survey last month because of the Maoist orders. They asked us not to come to Abujhmad forest under any circumstances," Tribe Research and Training Institute (TRTI) joint director T.K. Vaishnav told IANS.

The city-based institute receives an annual fund from the central government for survey and study of five endangered primitive tribal groups of Chhattisgarh including Abujhmadia with a view to saving them from total extinction.

Vaishnav said the institute was to begin what would have been the first study and research on the endangered tribe.

"Our investigators had gone to Abujhmad forest for survey work but were forced to return," Vaishanv said. He feared that the Maoists' diktat would seriously affect the understanding of tribals.

The institute has worked on a number of health and education schemes for the welfare of the state's five endangered tribal groups: Abujhmadia, Baiga, Pahari Korba, Birhor and Kamar.

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