As India witnesses historic farmer protests, resistance has erupted in Chhattisgarh as well. Tribal farmers in Chhattisgarh have been protesting for nearly a month across the state against alleged excessed by security forces. They have also declared a complete Chakka Jam at Borai in Durg district.
Image Credits: Tameshwar Sinha
The protests started nearly a month ago. On November 12, four tribal farmers were picked up from Kadiyameta village, Chota Dongar block, in Narayanpur district. The security forces allegedly arrested them claiming that the farmers had links with the Maoists.
Speaking to NewsClick, a local journalist on the condition of anonymity said, “The area is extremely remote, and random arrests have been an issue in the region. On the day the tribal farmers were picked up, villagers were beaten up brutally.” He further said, “No information has been given as to where the farmers were taken and families were also not informed.”
He added, “In another instance, a pregnant woman was beaten up by the police and suffered a miscarriage later. Because of shame, her details have not yet emerged, but these instances have angered the locals.”
Close to 5,000 tribal farmers are currently camping out, with food supplies and wood stock, and they are spending the nights outside braving the cold to demand the release of those who have been picked up.
The farmers' protests initially started in Kadiyameta, but have now spread across Narayanpur, Bijapur, Konda, and Dantewada.
Meanwhile, activists claim that the excesses by security forces are continuing while no cognisance has been taken of the farmers’ protests.
The Adivasi agitation is not limited to the issue of such arrests; a major issue behind the agitation is the heavy presence of security camps along with the opening up of the region to corporate interests, protesters say.
Speaking to NewsClick, activist Kamal Shukla said, “The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are alike when it comes to tribal farmers. The Congress has forgotten the promises it made to the people; more and more false cases and brutalisation are being seen on the ground. In Narayanpur, specifically, there is widespread anger and resentment as the government is building security camps and looking to corporatise Abujhmar hills (in south Chhattisgarh).” He alleged that the Congress-led state government is “working in connivance” with the central government in the region, which has witnessed tribal interests being consistently neglected.
“It is extremely unfortunate that the national media and the discourse is focused only on farmers from north India while tribal farmers are agitating in the remotest corners of the country,” Shukla said.
Tribals have been continuing their protests against increased militarisation and the excesses that are allegedly being committed under its garb. Protesters are also digging up roads as a mode of resistance.
Amid raging protests by the tribal population in Chhattisgarh, the Bhupesh Baghel-led government has strengthened its push for more militarisation of the Naxal-affected areas. The government has this month announced the creation of eight new security camps in Dantewada, Bijapur, and Sukma districts among other key areas, which are now witnessing an intensification of protests by the Adivasis.
Seven of such security camps have already come up in different parts of the state this year, and five more are expected by next year. While the government states that the camps are meant to protect the Adivasis from frequent Naxal attacks, activists and locals see this as a way of repressing the tribal voices.
Read More: Chhattisgarh: Tribals Dig Up Roads in Naxal-affected Areas to Protest New Security Camps