When an old contact from CRPF camps in Bastar came online after a long time and messaged me, I hurriedly asked, what was the reason for killing those 4 adivasis outside your Silger camp?
Police had opened fire on protesters outside a CRPF camp in Silger in Chhattisgarh on 17th May. Protesters want the camp to be removed. Protests have continued on the site since.
“CRPF did not fire in Silger” he replied. “It was the untrained policemen and DRG( District Reserve Guard) who could not handle the situation and committed this mistake”.
“So you are accepting this was a mistake? And those who committed it should be punished?” I asked
“Yes, there is a process of investigation, if proven guilty they must be penalised.”
I said, “I am keeping this conversation safe and will write about it”. “Please do not write my name but do write about it”, he replied.
Government of Chhattisgarh and police officials have maintained their story from day one that Maoists fired at police first and they had to retaliate. They also said all the people killed were Maoist cadres.
“CRPF is a professional force”, he continued, “In Minpa, the previous camp, there also around 2500 people came along with ration for many days but we talked to them patiently and they went back after a while”.
“When I asked some young people who were leading the agitation they told me Naxals ordered them so they have no choice but to protest”.
“There was a big crowd in Kamarguda also. That crowd was there only for show though. They were only interested to go back and tell the Maoists that they went for the agitation and police beat them back”.
So what was new this time? I asked.
“This time also people were not that agitated. But some plain clothed unarmed Naxals were in the crowd and were continuously pushing the people to be aggressive”.
“People have no option. If they don’t listen to Maoists they will be asked to leave the village or may get killed after being labelled as an informer”.
“But are you also against making these roads” he asked, “like quite a few urban people are saying these days? Camps are needed because Maoists are not allowing road building. These are old roads. Please tell me if this old road connecting Basaguda to Jagargunda, connecting two districts of Sukma and Bijapur, should be rebuilt or not?”
Yes, the road should be built, I replied, but please say that again that you are confirming that it was a mistake on the police’s part and those who have committed mistakes should be punished?
“Yes, now an investigation has also started. But if Maoists allow roads, electricity and mobile towers then these camps will not be needed. Maoists captured these roads a few years back. They were operational before Salwa Judum and they are just getting repaired.”
In a democracy, no one can oppose a democratically elected government making roads for its people but as per its own constitution for tribal areas, if they asked the people before, that would be better, I replied. Or the Government can declare it a disturbed area then the constitution can be suspended for some time.
And if the government sends an untrained police force, and does not even criticise its severe mistakes then this impunity will have serious future repercussions. Like it is difficult to support maoist efforts to stop roads and bridges to save its politics, unconstitutional acts of security forces must be punished. The legal status of untrained DRG after the Supreme Court verdict on Salwa Judum case is doubtful anyway.
How do you see it panning out, he asked
Taking a lead from farmers agitation in Punjab Maoists also are preparing for a long haul it looks. But no governments in India have any respect for any peaceful long movements any more, it seems. Rain is coming so the movement may get fizzled out anyway.
Maoists have done rehearsals of such movements in Dantewada, Kanker and Narayanpur before. Most of the demands of these movements are constitutional but they are basically movements to stop roads to keep the maoist movement alive. Security forces have made significant inroads in the Maoist controlled areas in the last few years.
What should ideally happen as per you, he asked.
In Nepal also, there were huge pro-democracy demonstrations if you recall. There were allegations that Maoists were behind them and it is their strategy of Sanyukta Morcha (united front) at work. In the peace talks after the agitations Maoists did not raise revolution or communism and Nepal got a full fledged democracy.
It will be interesting to see if these movements widen and can force start a dialogue here too and if talks can give the Indian constitution to adivasi areas as they gave democracy in Nepal. If pro adivasi autonomy laws are sincerely implemented, that will give Jal, Jangle, Jamin to Adivasis and this will be a historical contribution of Maoists.
CRPF higher officials have not replied to the request of an official confirmation of the allegation till writing these lines.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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