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CPI(M), Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch slam Bhupesh Baghel government’s response to Narayanpur violence

Families continue to remain vulnerable despite the administration’s assurances, and they are unable to practice their faith in peace, delegation members said

January 23, 2023 10:04 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 10:13 am IST - Raipur

Victims camp at an indoor stadium in Narayanpur. Photo used for representation purpose only.

Victims camp at an indoor stadium in Narayanpur. Photo used for representation purpose only. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

A delegation comprising Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat and others on Sunday concluded its visit to Narayanpur and the adjoining district in south Chhattisgarh, where several tribal Christian families were attacked and a church vandalised over the last one month. The delegation slammed the Bhupesh Baghel government over its response to the incidents.

Members of the delegation wrote in a memorandum sent to Mr. Baghel: “We were surprised to learn that no minister or any senior leader deputed by the government has visited the area to meet the victims and affected people. We raise this with you because it reflects an approach which we had noted in our interactions with various officials, which is a gross underestimation of the extent of the violence against the victims, particularly women and children and their suffering.”

After facing coordinated attacks between December 16 and 18, several families fled Narayanpur’s villages and camped at an indoor stadium in the district headquarter for several weeks, before the administration persuaded them to return to their homes. The members of the delegation, however, said that these families continue to remain vulnerable despite the administration’s assurances, and they are unable to practice their faith in peace.

The CPI(M) and the Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch visited these areas from January 20 to 22 and met over 100 people, including the victims, other tribals, and members of the administration in a bid to understand how “such sharp divisions leading to violence could occur among Adivasi communities who had hitherto lived in harmony”.

The letter, which has Dharamraj Mahapatra (acting secretary, CPI(M), Chhattisgarh), Bal Singh (State secretary, Adivasi Ekta Mahasabha), Najeeb Qureshi, and Vasudev Das as signatories, further notes that upon their return, these families are facing the double whammy of social boycott and Hindu religious rituals being forced on them.

“Although assurances have been given for their safety by the administration, we met many families who have been forced to leave their homes again. They are staying with relatives or sheltering in churches To give an example, in village Tembrugaon, when the pickup truck arranged by the administration with the victims reached the village, they were met by a group who were carrying “tilaks”. They told the Christians that they could enter their village if they applied the tilak as a symbol of their “return” to the “Samaj”- ghar wapasi, otherwise they would not be allowed into the village,” the memorandum reads.

Chronicling the series of events that began in November when in north Bastar’s Kanker, protests started over the burial of a Christian woman in their own land, the delegation also questioned the role of the BJP and the Janjati Suraksha Manch in the matter.

“Everywhere the Janjati Suraksha Manch is implicated. The Janjati Suraksha Manch is an outfit with which known BJP leaders are associated. Earlier the ghar wapasi attacks on the Christian community in this region were led by the Bajrang Dal and other associations of the Sangh Parivar. Now the effort is to act in the name of “Janjati” to divide the Adivasi community. In every single case it was told to us by the victims that it was those leaders among the tribals who were affiliated to the BJP, who mobilized and led the attacks,” the letter said.

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