Chhattisgarh government firm on paramilitary camps in Bastar despite protests by tribals

Express News Service
RAIPUR: Amid continuing protests by tribal communities against the setting up of a paramilitary camp in south Bastar, the Chhattisgarh state government has adopted a tough stance, saying not one, but six more camps are to come up in the region.

Thousands of residents from 20 villages have been demonstrating against a CRPF camp in Silger, located along the border with two of the state’s worst Maoist-affected districts of Sukma and Bijapur, for the past 17 days. The camp was set up in Silger on May 12. 

The state government has categorically said that under no circumstances would the Silger camp be shifted or abandoned. The government has called the protesters’ demand “unjustified”. “The government is going to establish six more camps in the same region,” said Ravindra Choubey, senior cabinet minister and the government spokesperson.

Officials say the camps will bring more security to the region and help facilitate its development. However, villagers say the new camp will bring in more forces, which, they fear, will lead to atrocities being committed against them. 

The villagers also claimed they are fighting for their rights over ‘jal, jungle and jameen’ (water, forest and land) that “belong to them”. “We will continue our peaceful protest till the camp is removed from here,” the villagers said.

The Bastar Police have blamed the Maoists for instigating tribal communities to oppose the camp. “It’s a known fact who all are protesting and why at Silger,” said Choubey.  The Bastar police meanwhile are also gathering intelligence inputs about the protesters.

The Bastar administration and the police have repeatedly tried to convince the agitators to stop protesting and return to their villages, fearing such big gatherings could spark a rise in COVID cases.