Appeal to Political Parties, Visit Bastar, Initiate a Dialogue, Restore Fundamental Rights

Published on: July 11, 2016
accompanied by machine driven construction of roads in the entire area.

In one case from Sukma district, we heard that the CRPF had organized the villagers to do MNREGA work (apart from free work cleaning up the CRPF camp), along with forcing the sarpanch to attend a mass fake surrender ceremony. The Maoists then detained the villagers, including the Sarpanch, for 12 days as punishment for cooperating with the district administration, and beat up some of the villagers.
In the Kanger national forest we found that the forest department, which used to provide employment in bamboo coupe cutting had stopped that work. The villagers had no work. In the Indrawati National Park area, villager said the forest department had stopped coming to their village.

Land Titles and Government Jobs
Although Chhattisgarh states that it has addressed 100% of the claims made under the forest rights act coming to a total of 8.5 lakh claims, with 3.47 lakh claims accepted and 5.07 lakh claims rejected,[1] we found that many people continue without land titles. For instance, in Tadmendri, only 10-15 households out of 38 households in the village had pattas. Other villages on the roadside like Ambeli and Gattapalli – which incidentally had actively participated in the Salwa Judum – had received pattas. There were many educated youth in the area who had not got any employment and were at home cultivating.
In Soutnar panchayat, one of the causes for resentment with the Maoists was that the police was giving surrendered Maoists jobs as part of the District Reserve Group but when they applied for jobs with the Bastar battalion, they had to wait for years and didn’t get jobs. Across the district, unemployment is a big problem.

Since the schools were earlier used as police camps, schools buildings were destroyed by Maoists in several villages between 2006 and 2010. In Soutnar, the school was destroyed as late as 2013, even after the CRPF had started building their own extensive barracks.

During the Salwa Judum the administration moved all schools to camps and has not restored them even when people have gone back. One such ashram school that we saw is Mukabeli whose ashram school is now housed in Pharsegarh opposite the security camp, more than 20 km away from the actual village. This is effectively a violation of the Right to Education Act of 2009 (RTE). Across the district, the government is building 500-1000 seater portacabin schools and ashrams next to security camps, rather than restoring primary schools to the villages.
One of the contentions made by the State is that the Maoists have been at the forefront in stalling the development of the region by asking the villagers to not cooperate with the government. While this may be a partial truth – as mentioned above, we heard of Maoists threatening villagers in some cases - the study team also found that in areas where there are no Maoists, there is no evidence of the developmental state and Chhattisgarh continues to be at the lower end of the Human Development Index of the country.
The Physical Transformation of the Area-Occupation by Camps
As soon as one enters Kanker it is clear that the conflict zone has arrived. In fact, even the guesthouse overlooking the Keskal pass has been taken over by the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) consisting of the CRPF, the BSF, the ITBP etc. The whole division is heavily militarized with CAPF camps every 5 km, and in the villages around Raoghat in Kanker district, every 2 km. These are being set up in complete violation of the 5th Schedule, Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act, 1996 (PESA) and the Scheduled Tribes and other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 (FRA), under which the consent of the gram sabha has to be taken and the villagers claims settled. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs Annual Report, 2015-16, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has given general approval under Sec 2 of the Forest Conservation Act of 1980, to divert 1-5 ha in LWE affected areas, for developmental purposes. However, under this head it has also smuggled in “police