Amid raging protests by the tribal population in Chhattisgarh, the Congress government in the state has intensified its bid for more militarisation of the Naxal affected areas. The government has announced this month 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 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 Adivasi voices.
Currently, as a means of protest, tribals in Dantewada are digging up roads to the depth of five feet in order to stop the movement of the security forces.
Speaking to NewsClick, Adivasi activist Soni Sori said, “People are continuously digging up the roads to send a strong message to the state that they do not want the camps. The police camps are leading to more militarisation of the region, which essentially means a brutal crackdown on tribals.”
She added, “The villagers want schools and hospitals and the continuation of their way of life instead of heavy militarisation.”
Villagers claim the camp will lead to them bearing the brunt of police action and also subject them to atrocities.
The camps are slated to come up on the land demarcated under the fifth schedule of the constitution. Speaking to NewsClick, local activist Kamal Shulka said, “The Adivasi movement was ongoing in the times of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s rule as well. The tribals have been protesting for the last 15 years against this militarisation. Locals on the ground feel that under the garb of these security camps, the state administration is attempting to sell off their ‘jal, jangal and zameen’ to corporates. The police camps are not for their security but to label locals as Naxals and trap them in false cases.”
He added, “The current digging up of the roads is a reminder to the Congress of its promises. These protests have been on for the last two months. More importantly, this militarisation is taking place in the areas that come under Schedule 5, and therefore, this approval of the government does not take into account the consent of their gram sabhas.”
The region had witnessed tensions over the security camps last year as well. Back then, the state had unleashed a crackdown on those who had protested; many were injured in lathi-charge, including women and children. The Bastar region has especially remained politically volatile because of the clashes between Maoists and security forces.