Life is hell for my people: Chhattisgarh legislatorJanuary 10th, 2009 - 12:02 pm ICT by IANS
Raipur, Jan 10 (IANS) A Congress legislator who represents one of the worst Maoist insurgency-hit constituencies in Chhattisgarh says the “government has no presence whatsoever” in at least 60 villages in the state and life is “like hell” for people in the area.Kawasi Lakhma, who scored a hat-trick from the Konta constituency in violence-hit Dantewada district in the November 2008 assembly polls, said: “Since early 2005, neither police nor government officials nor I myself have dared to visit the 60 villages where insurgents have total monopoly.”
He said people in his constituency, which has 300 villages, were facing tremendous problems.
“People’s lives in my segment is like hell; they have nothing to eat. About 50,000 innocent tribals in my constituency alone have migrated to neighbouring Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh since June 2005 when the fight between Salwa Judum cadres and Maoists began,” Lakhma told IANS in an interview.
Salwa Judum is a controversial civil militia movement funded and armed by the state government to take on the Maoists since 2005.
“Due to fights between Salwa Judum cadres and the rebels, the local weekly market system, which was a lifeline for the entire Dantewada district, has almost become non-existent,” he said.
A 53-year-old tribal leader, Lakhma is the lone legislator in Chhattisgarh’s 90-member assembly who never attended school and can’t read or write.
Lakhma is perceived here as a rare politician untouched by modern life. None of his three brothers have ever visited the state capital and his 90-year-old father, Kawasi Arma, is yet to travel to the district headquarters in Dantewada town, 70 km from his native village of Nagaras.
He too spends most of his time in the village where the government has deployed 25 policemen due to a Maoist threat to his life.
“Their (Maoists) hold is growing with each passing day; police have no courage to challenge them in large pockets of my segment. To me, it looks like a very dark future for Bastar.”
Chhattisgarh’s southern mineral-rich forested Bastar region that has witnessed a string of deadly Maoist attacks in the past four years comprises five districts - Dantewada, Kanker, Narayanpur, Bastar and Bijapur.
Police estimate that roughly 10,000 highly militarised rebels operate in the Bastar region, backed by another 35,000-40,000 cadres called ‘Sangham’ members.
(Sujeet Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)