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Silger tribals go home, say protest to continue

Almost a month after protests broke out against a security forces camp at Silger in Chhatisgarh’s Sukma district, the tribals gathered at the site have returned to their villages.

Protesters however, said their agitation will continue symbolically and is not being called off.

The decision comes after a panel of civil society members met Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and got his approval to meet a delegation of the agitating tribal residents.

Residents of more than 30 villages from Sukma, Bijapur and Dantewada districts were on agitation against a newly established security camp at Silger since May 14.

On May 17, three men had died of bullet wounds in a clash between the security personnel and protesters at the agitation site. While police claimed that all three men were Maoist operatives, the family members of the deceased have denied the claim.

According to those at the protest site, police opened fire on the crowd which led to four deaths; three men died on the spot, while one woman succumbed to her injuries suffered in the ensuing stampede.

While the villagers are now waiting to hear further about the meeting with civil society groups, most headed back home.

Korsa Sukka, a resident of Gaganpalli village, said they were returning to till their lands, as the rains have begun.

Villagers are also worried about contracting Covid-19 and after being counselled by district administrations of Bijapur and Sukma, have decided to protest in smaller numbers.

At the protest site, only the villagers of Silger remained on Friday. The road between Silger and Tarrem, which was barricaded by tree trunks, has been cleared.

“We had expected the government to take our demands seriously, but it has been proved to us time and again that they don’t seem to care. So, we will continue fighting in our own way. An adiwasi doesn’t have the privilege to sit on protest for ever… But that doesn’t mean that we agree with the camp and other government policies,” Musa Joga, a resident of Chutwai, said.

 

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