'No peace talks, no vote': Bastar villages push Chhattisgarh govt, Maoists for dialogue

Gram Sabhas to pass resolutions that would be sent to government, Maoists

Chaikle Maandi at Bade Dongar 'Chaikle Maandi' at Bade Dongar

Bastar villages will be pushing both the Congress government in Chhattisgarh and the Maoists to hold talks for restoration of peace in the insurgency-hit region ahead of the assembly polls with a slogan of ‘no peace talks, no vote’.

An initiative wherein different gram sabhas (village bodies) in the entire Bastar division will pass resolutions in this respect and jointly send them out to the government as well as the Maoists leaders.

The Sarva Adiwasi Samaj – an organization of all tribal communities in Bastar has taken the initiative – as an initial outcome of the two-month ‘Peace Yatra’ being organised in conflict areas of Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Odisha under banner of New Peace Process (NPP) – an initiative of tribal and supporting groups seeking a peaceful resolution to the Maoist issue.

The initiative started in the Kondagaon district where three ‘Chaikle Maandis’ (peace meetings) were held in the past three days. The initiative is being spurred by Bangaram Sori, Kondagaon district president of Sarv Adiwasi Samaj, who participated in a district level meeting under the ‘Peace Yatra’.

The first of the resolutions – calling for the Congress government to fulfill its 2018 election promise of making best efforts to resolve the Maoist issue peacefully through dialogue and the Maoists to hold talks with the government to ensure implementation of constitutional rights of tribal and give up armed conflict in the lieu – was passed at a Chaikle Maandi meeting in the Bade Dongar village of Kondagaon on May 7.

Shiv Kumar Patra, the Kondagaon district head of the Halba community, said that although the resolution was originally passed by Gondwana Samiti, all tribal communities were in its favour and they will soon try to get this proposal passed through Gram Sabhas and send it forward.

Tej Mandavi, head of the Gondwana community, said that they wanted such proposals to come from all villages. “We are sending this proposal to the District Head of Sarva Adivasi Samaj with a request to forward our request to both the parties. This violence started in our village in 1991 and we are very happy that the attempt to end it is also starting from here.”

Convener of the New Peace Process, Shubhranshu Choudhary said that the passing of resolution in Bade Dongar is significant, because it was here that the Maoists began their bloody history in Dandakaranya on May 21, 1991. “On this day, they blew up an election party vehicle with an IED (improvised explosive device), killing a dozen people. After this, in the coming decades, this IED became the main weapon of the Maoists, with which they attacked repeatedly. They had recently used it a few days ago in Aranpur, Dantewada, where 10 police jawans and a civilian were killed.”

The second such resolution, wherein the call of ‘no peace talks, no vote’ was also mentioned apart from call to both the government and the Maoists to hold talks, was passed at a Chaikle Maandi meeting in Farasgaon on Monday, wherein block level members of tribal organizations participated.

Choudhary said that while Bangaram Sori will be in touch with his counterparts from other districts of Bastar to get similar resolutions passed by gram sabhas of all villages, the 'Peace Yatra' will also take this initiative forward through its Chaikle Maandi meetings.

The ‘Peace Yatra’ that aims to spur citizens’ push for a dialogue between government and Maoists to end violence and killing in conflict areas in Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Odisha, commenced on April 15 and till now 10 Chaikle Maandis have been held in Bhilai, Manipur, Kanker and Kondagaon districts.

The Yatra plans to cover a total 10 districts in what is known as ‘Dandakaranya region’ including seven in Bastar division and the Mohla-Manpur Ambagarh Chowki district of Chhattisgarh, Gadchiroli in Maharashtra and Malkangiri in Odisha.

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