Condemn the Attack on Burji Anti-Camp Protestors, Bijapur

Forum Against Corporatization and Militarization

On the intervening night of 15-16 December 2022, the soldiers of District Reserve Guards (DRG) came to the Burji Anti-Camp Protest site in Bijapur District of Bastar, Chhattisgarh and started removing tents of protestors. According to the protesting villagers, when they resisted such forceful removal of tents, they were attacked with lathis (batons) as a result of which, many protestors including women and children sustained injuries. Burji Anti-Camp movement, opposing the establishment of paramilitary camps forcefully set up without the consent of Gram Sabha and continuing for more than one year now, is one of more than 20 anti-camp movements, many of them completing one year or more in Bastar, against the forceful occupation of village land and establishment of multiple paramilitary camps. These camps are being built, without the consent of Gram Sabhas (village council) by violating provisions of Panchayat Extension of Schedule Areas Act, as ‘Forward Operational Bases’ under the aegis of Operation SAMADHAN-PRAHAR, in a bid to build carpet security around the mining rich belt of Central India. It is also pertinent to mention that auxiliary forces like DRG, Bastariya Fighters etc., are being formed under this notorious operation, comprising of Adivasis, mostly the forced ‘surrendered naxalites’ and erstwhile Special Police Officers of state backed Genocidal Vigilante militia named Salwa Judum, despite the Supreme Court disbanding it and prohibiting deployment of ‘Surrendered Naxalites and Civilians’ in anti-naxal operations.

The news of this incident was covered in few media portals, only after video recordings of the incident was circulated by the protesting villagers after 5 days and it clearly depicts the widespread media blackout of struggles against corporatization and militarization being waged by the most oppressed and exploited section of our peoples and subsequent state repression on these very movements in areas like Bastar. This media blackout is an extension of widespread suppression of information that started with attack on ground level journalists, spearheaded under the leadership of SRP Kalluri (then IG Bastar Range) in these regions during Operation Green-Hunt. Said widespread suppression of information is an attempt at creating a ‘war without witnesses’ by controlling public perception, which is another facet of SAMADHAN-PRAHAR. Crores of rupees are being spent in the name of “anti-naxal propaganda” to either buy off unethical ‘journalists’ or to prop up some who favour the state narrative on these subject matters.

Last, but not the least, it is very concerning that despite more than a year-long continuing struggles against camps in Burji, Bechaghat, Bechapal as well as illegal minings in Raoghat, proposed mining in Amdai Ghati hills etc., in Chhattisgarh alone, the demands of the movements are not even discussed let alone be accepted by government. What is even more concerning is that opposition parties are also not paying much heed to these movements. The very reason that these movements are continuing for one year and more, facing brutal state repression including killings in a state run by Congress Party, exposes the ‘Bharat JodoYatra’ of Rahul Gandhi and the Congress Party. These very movements, while posing a substantial resistance against Brahmanical Hindutva Fascist BJP government, also raise serious questions on Congress Party regarding what Idea of India it is trying to portray as an alternative to BJP-RSS. Forum Against Corporatization and Militarization condemns in harshest tone, the attack on the protestors at Burji Anti-Camp movement in Bijapur and the attempt to dismantle the democratic protest site of the struggling masses and puts forth following demands:

1. Withdraw Paramilitary Camp Pusnar in Bijapur and many such paramilitary camps being protested against by the villagers.

2. Stop building paramilitary camps in Bastar and elsewhere to loot people’s resources.

3. Register F.I.R against the responsible DRG personnel and take strict action against them.

4. Implement Panchayat Extension of Schedule Areas Act.

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