iconimg Friday, August 28, 2015

Ejaz Kaiser, Hindustan Times
Orchha, April 22, 2012
While new India’s hunger for double digit growth remains insatiable, for tribals caught in the middle of a long-drawn war between Maoists and the State, peace has a resonance like never before.
“Development of our society is an issue that concerns us. But what we long for most is to be able to lead a peaceful life,” said Manku, a tribal farmer at Orchha in Chhattisgarh’s Abujhmad area, around 350km south of Raipur.

Manku was interacting with CM Raman Singh who visited the area — termed as the safest zone in the country for Maoists — on Thursday. Singh’s visit was part of the state’s Gram Suraj, a village contact programme. 

The surprise visit saw enthusiastic villagers jostle for a glimpse of the CM who was there to get feedback about his government’s performance, hear the demands of the masses and redress their grievances.

For the tribals who hardly get to see let alone interact with elected representatives, Singh’s visit came as a ray of hope.

“We need to ensure people live in terror-free environments with all basic needs met,” Singh told HT.

The tribals also told Singh they were wary of getting caught in the crossfire between Maoists and security personnel.

“We are always concerned about our safety and security. While the police accuse us of colluding with Maoists, the rebels accuse us of tipping off the police if their colleagues are killed in a police operation,” said Phool Basan, an elderly woman.

The chief minister agreed peace should be restored and also exhorted the tribals not to support the guerrillas. 

“The tribals do not openly oppose the Maoists. We made them understand the crucial role the people can perform in this virtual war,” Singh told HT.

Singh also announced several development projects such as a community health centre, ambulance service, bus stands, roads, playground, solar-lit lamps and hostel for the area. He also announced that 200 students would be taken to New Delhi on an educational tour.