Fearing Maoists, over 1200 flee villages in Madhya Pradesh

March 7th, 2008 - 5:33 pm ICT by admin  

Bhopal, March 7 (IANS) The residents of seven villages in Balaghat district in Madhya Pradesh have fled from their homes due to Maoist threat. The Madhya Pradesh police are putting up a brave face to the Maoist threat to kill top cops to avenge the killing of their ‘commander’ in a recent gun battle in Balaghat district’s Dhiri village, but the people of Dhiri and six other villages have fled their homes.Over 1,200 people, most from the Gond and Baiga tribes, living in the seven villages - Dhiri, Mahoutkhodra, Mundidadar, Raeily, Godradi, Bhave and Malaida - have deserted their places, fearing reprisals from Maoists for the killing of two Maoists, including a woman ‘commander” of Darrekasa ‘dalam’, Sunanda Bai - in Jan 22 gun battle.

Balaghat District Collector Gulshan Bamra admitted that Dhiri and a few other villages have been deserted and the people were refusing to return to their homes. But he denied that this was because of fear of the police.

“It is too early to say why they want to leave the village,” he said, adding, “exodus was mainly due to tough conditions in the village”.

“We assured them all facilities and security but they didn’t budge. We are now putting up makeshift camps for them,” the collector said.

Last week, the Nagpur police recovered pamphlets and literature gthat said Maoists would avenge Sunanda Bai’s killing. This led to Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to deploy two additional companies of forces in the sensitive area.

But that has not helped restore the villagers’ confidence.

“Tribals also rue lack of basic amenities and atrocities by forest officials, which they say have made their life miserable. Last year, they even approached the district authorities to help them migrate to better areas. Their exodus has, however, picked up after Jan 22 encounter during a raid on a training camp of Naxalites from Chhattisgarh,” said Kishore Samrite, Samajwadi Party legislator from Lanjhi.

“Dhiri, 40 km from the Lanji tehsil headquarters, is close to Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh and the police have been frequently questioning the villagers about Maoists’ movements ever since the Maoists from the neighbouring states have started visiting here,” he added.

Besides Bamra, IG (Naxal-affected districts) Anvesh Mangalam, Balaghat Superintendent of Police H.C. Mishra and senior forest department officials visited the villagers last week to persuade them to return to their homes, but to no avail.

Manglam, however, said that the police were on alert and there was nothing to worry about. “I can’t say why they are leaving the village in such a hurry,” Lanji chief executive officer M.M. Prajapathi said.

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