Tribals protest over proposed police camp in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker
Hundreds of tribals began a protest in Kanker district of Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region on Wednesday, demanding retraction of a proposed police camp in the state’s Chhotebethiya area near the Kotri river.
“We are protesting because the government is planning to set up a security camp without even taking the consent of the Gram Sabha. This is against the law and secondly, we don’t want any such camp in our area,” said Gajju Ram, president of Chhotebethiya block of Sarv Aadivasi Samaj.
The protest is taking place in the jungles of Bethiya village on the banks of the Kotri river.
“We don’t want any camp or a tourism centre in this area. We request the government to retract these proposals otherwise the protest will continue until our demands are fulfilled” said Ram, adding that around 500 villagers have joined the protest till now.
Senior police officers however said there was no official confirmation that a security camp may be setup in the area.
“They are anticipating that a camp will be established to build the bridge on Kotri river which passes through the area, but till now, no official communication in this regard has been done,” said Shalabh Sinha, Kanker’s police chief.
Inspector general of police, Bastar range , Sunderaj P said that villagers were misguided by the Maoists and hence they were protesting.
“In the recent years we have made decisive inroads into erstwhile Maoist stronghold areas in Bastar Region. This could be achieved mainly because of the security camps, which have been established to facilitate development works and connectivity projects. Last year Kamdeta and Katgaon camps were established along Koylibeda-Pratapur road in Kanker. Both these camps were instrumental in fulfilling dreams of hundreds of villages to construct bridges across Medki and Waler river,” he said
He said all the positive developments were irritating the Maoist formations.
“Drastically their area of influence is getting diminished. This situation is making them misguide the villagers to protest against development works. But we are hopeful of convincing the villagers,” said the IG.
It is worth mentioning that in May 2021, three people were killed when security personnel opened fire on thousands of protestors including suspected Maoists on the fifth day of protests against the setting up of a CRPF camp in Bastar’s Silger village- a Maoist stronghold along the border of Sukma-Bijapur districts in Chhattisgarh.
Villagers said they feared the presence of CRPF personnel in the camp would lead to harassment of innocent tribals.