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Chhattisgarh Govt to Bring Back Tribals Who Had Fled Bastar in Fear of Salwa Judum

People from almost 600 villages in Bastar were forced to flee to nearby states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana.

The Bhupesh Baghel-led Congress government in Chhattisgarh is reportedly preparing to facilitate the return of tribal folk who had immigrated to Telangana in 2006 because of the Salwa Judum militia.

As per a report by Deepak Sahu in Patrika, the state’s Minister for Industry, Commerce and Excise Kavasi Lakhma announced on Friday, March 1 that he had met the tribal folk in Telangana who have expressed their desire to return to their villages in Bastar.

Lakhma also said that while he was part of the Opposition, he had made demands for their return, and now the government is ready to welcome them back. He added that in Telangana, the tribal folk had not been accorded the facilities and benefits that are in place for members of Scheduled Tribes.

Raghwendra Sahu reported for News18 that more than three lakh tribal folks from almost 600 villages in Bastar were forced to leave their homes and flee to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana during 2006, when the Salwa Judum militia was most active. Salwa Judum — “Purification Hunt” in Gondi language — was a militia that was mobilised and deployed as part of anti-insurgency operations in Chhattisgarh, aimed at countering Naxalite violence in the region. The militia that consisted mostly of local tribal youth received support and training from the Chhattisgarh state government. In 2011, following a petition by activist Nandini Sundar, the militia was declared illegal and unconstitutional by the Supreme Court court.  

Also read: Imprisoned Innocent Tribals Will be Released: Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel

As per Lakhma, the state government is now trying to win the heart of the tribals of Bastar. He said that he plans to meet CM Baghel and demand that a committee of ministers is sent to the Chief Minister of Telangana.

Further, Lakhma said that while the Congress government does not oppose industry and development, it would not be at the expense of forests. He said industrialisation is not essential for the tribal folk — their land and forests are. Hence, Lakma noted, the government is trying to set up small food processing industries in Bastar.

Earlier in January, CM Baghel had announced that his administration would release innocent tribals who were jailed because of political vendetta.

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