At least 16 Muria Gond tribals have been arrested in the last 48 hours in Bijapur district of south Chhattisgarh for allegedly acting as cultural activists of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist). The arrested alleged activists are aged between 18 and 22 years and were influencing the locals against the administration through song and dance, a release from Bijapur police said.

Local court

According to the district SP Prashant Agarwal, the activists have been produced in a local court.

The alleged activists belong to the Chaitanya Natya Manch (CNM), the cultural wing of the CPI (Maoist). The police release said the first group of 11 activists were arrested on Wednesday, while they were performing near Bidiyabhumi village under Bhairamgarh police station in Bijapur.

Second group

The second group of three boys and two girls were picked up from Kondapal village under Mirtur police station.

Both groups were arrested during a searching operation carried out by the district force.

Drums, musical anklets, green clothes, red head-bands and Naxal literature were confiscated, the release said.

Mass arrest

No Maoist version regarding the mass arrest of CNM activists was available till late evening.

This is the first major arrest of cultural wing activists in the recent years.

Tribals

The CNM activists are normally recruited from the local tribals who have a natural flair for song and dance.

While a section of the CNM activists later join the party or its armed wing, many members leave the cultural wing as they grow up.

The CNM activists are unarmed and never given any training in arms, unless they join the party.

Armed wing

Mr. Agarwal said the CNM members were not carrying any arms and were not connected to the party’s armed wing, the Peoples Liberation Guerrilla Army.