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Naxal attacks a nightmarish experience for tribal families

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IN SELF-DEFENCE: Salwa Judum activists of the tribal settlement at Maraigudem in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh undergo training in handling .303 rifles to fight naxalites.
IN SELF-DEFENCE: Salwa Judum activists of the tribal settlement at Maraigudem in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh undergo training in handling .303 rifles to fight naxalites.

Staff Reporter

Camp houses 1,600 tribal families

  • Attacks lasted for four consecutive days
  • Police station targeted

    MARAIGUDEM: The raids by the CPI (Maoist) on a police station and adjacent Salwa Judum base camp, housing about 1,600 tribal families, at Maraigudem in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh from March 24 to 27 has caused considerable alarm.

    The families were displaced in the wake of confrontation between the extremist group and the State-sponsored Salwa Judum campaign.

    The raids were spearheaded by an assault group of 70 naxalites, accompanied by about 1,000 members of the party's village level "sanghams."

    The naxalites, camping in nearby forests, launched attacks only after nightfall. They hurled petrol and soap bombs and resorted to heavy firing.

    It was a nightmarish experience for the inmates of the tribal settlement, which lacks basic amenities. There is no power supply either at the camp or in the police station.

    Dantewada Collector K.R. Pisda visited the camp on Tuesday and assured the inmates that all steps to protect their lives. They made a representation him, urging that the camp be shifted either to Gollapali or Konta, division headquarters. Mr. Pisda said their request would be looked into.

    The first attack was launched in the early hours of March 24. The Salwa Judum activists responded quickly and retaliated with bows and arrows.

    About 60 youths, designated as special police officers and armed with .303 rifles, thwarted the attack. The fierce fighting lasted for about three hours.

    A Central Reserve Police Force unit camping in the village and some 30 personnel of the State civil and armed police joined the SPOs in beating back the Maoists. A CRPF officer said the naxalites suffered heavy casualties. Explosives, a .303 rifle and Rs. 27,000 were recovered.

    The second night

    Maoists laid siege to the village again the next night. There was sporadic firing all through the night, with the naxalites retreating to the forests at 5 a.m.

    So was the case on the third and fourth day. No reinforcements could be sent to Maraigudem as the area lacked proper roads.

    Some of the panic-stricken camp inmates have started migrating to safer places. The youth, shouldering the task of fortifying the camp, were engaged in the last few days in putting up wooden barricades to block the free passage of intruders.

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