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Friday, June 25, 2021

Silger deaths: MLA team meets villagers

The police had said Maoist extremists had come with a mob that attacked the police team that day, leading them to fire to keep the crowd at bay, an accusation the protesters have denied.

Written by Gargi Verma | Raipur |
Updated: June 4, 2021 7:37:30 am
The three children (from left) of one of those killed. (Express Archive)

The Chhattisgarh government’s fact-finding team of eight MLAs and an MP met a team reprsenting tribal people protesting over a security camp built in Silger, in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, on Thursday, more than 20 days after the protest began.

Accompanied by district administration and police officials, the team met 10 people representing the protesters around 5 km from Silger, about 50 meters from the protest site. Thousands of people from tribal communities from more than 20 villages have gathered at Silger to protest against the security camp and police action since May 14. Three men died on May 17, after the protestors clashed with the security forces.

The police had said Maoist extremists had come with a mob that attacked the police team that day, leading them to fire to keep the crowd at bay, an accusation the protesters have denied.

“Under the Constitution, we have rights. Gram sabha approval is needed before any new construction in the village. But no one informed us about the camp (that was built). It was just built overnight on our land,” Suresh Korsa, a Silger resident, said.

Korsa Soma, 65, from Silger, said the piece of land on which the camp has come up was his farmland. On Thursday, he raised the issue with the fact-finding team. “He has alleged that his land was taken without informing him. In our records, it is government land. We will investigate,” a district official said.

Bijapur collector Ritesh Agarwal said there was a positive response from the protesting members towards the government’s team. “We have asked them to submit a charter of their demands. Many development issues have already been addressed. We have started work on providing anganwadi and other facilities in the village,” he said.

The police had said Maoist extremists had come with a mob that attacked the police team that day, leading them to fire to keep the crowd at bay, an accusation the protesters have denied.

The villagers also demanded action against policemen who opened fire, killing three people. While police had declared all three men as Maoists, their families claim otherwise. “My uncle was not a Maoist, as declared by the police. We don’t want their compensation…. They aren’t even returning his Aadhar card,” Basanti, niece of deceased Uika Pandu said.

While the team of legislators assured the protesters about taking their allegations about the camp to the top leadership, they refused to comment on the deaths, citing the magisterial probe that’s going on. The team assured the villagers that they would get government facilities such as drinking water and other health facilities.

The protestors also demanded from the visiting team written proof of their assurances and promises. “We have been trying to get the government’s attention for a while now. We want someone to take action, and not just offer us words. We don’t want the security camp here,” Ajay Karam, one of the protestors said.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel had earlier this week announced the visit by the fact-finding team. The team, comprising Congress MLAs and the MP from Bastar division, is expected to submit a report to the Chief Minister soon.

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