If the tribals veer towards the armed rebels, it is because they want food, clothing, education, health facilities and legitimate rights over the land that is theirs. HT Photo/Ajay Aggarwal
At every step, surrounded by the armed CRPF troops, as we moved closer to the village Goraram in the forest area of Bijapur, crossing an uninhabitable jungle, one got a sense of why this area has turned into a Naxal hotbed. We were accompanying the CRPF in their search operations in the remote land of Bijapur in Chhattisgarh.
As we reached the village, after four hours of walking in the moonlight, we met some villagers and their kids. The presence of security forces didn’t seem to take them by surprise. It is routine for them to see Maoists and the security forces on alternate days, but we perhaps seemed like aliens... as they looked with amazement at the camera.
In a bid to gain the confidence of the villagers, the CRPF gives them food and clothing. At first, the kids hesitated in accepting food from the jawans, but then hunger took over the shyness.
Only a couple of CRPF jawans could manage to speak to the villagers as language becomes a barrier between the security forces who come from different parts of India and the villagers who have never ventured out of these jungles for generations.
After an hour of questioning the villagers, the troops get ready to head back to the base but this time they plan to take a different route — the idea is to thwart any possible ambush attacks from the Maoists.