Around 50 Panchayat representatives here resigned in protest against the opening of two BSF camps in Koliabeda area of Chhattisgarh’s Kanker district. There are 38 sarpanches among those who resigned. These people were protesting against BSF camps since last Wednesday.
Thousands of people living in 103 villages of Kanked are demanding the removal of these camps. The Adivasi community living here says that this area comes under the Panchayal Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act and the gram panchayat’s approval was not taken before these camps were built. They say that encroachments have also been made in place of local tribal deities in making the camps.
A tribal leader Tillu Ram Usendi told our colleague Hindustan Times, ‘Since Wednesday, we have been demonstrating here but no good news has come yet. Senior officials came for talks but did not give any assurance. On Sunday, around 38 sarpanches, seven Janpad Panchayat members, one Upsarpanch and one Zilla Panchayat member have submitted their resignations and demanded action.
The villagers say that they do not have trouble with these camps but they have been built in the place where their deities reside. Villagers have also submitted a memorandum to the Governor and local administration to remove these camps.
On the other hand, the Bastar police say that seeing the loss of their land, now the Maoists are tricking the innocent tribals into demonstrating them against the BSF camps.
Senior officials said that in the year 2020, the government set up 16 new base camps in areas which were once considered to be Maoist strongholds. The BSF camps of Katgaon and Kamdera are among these. These base camps can prove to be game changers for peace and development in this area.
Kanked Collector Chandan Kumar says that the issue will be resolved soon. He also said that at first glance it seems that the villagers are performing this under pressure from ‘violent elements’.