Monday, November 19, 2007

Khammam tribals worried over Chhattisgarh conflict spill-over

Khammam tribals worried over Chhattisgarh conflict spill-over
Tuesday November 20 2007 08:53 IST

B Satyanarayana Reddy

KHAMMAM: With the Maoist- Salwa Judum conflict spilling over to Khammam district, the tribal-dominated Bhadrachalam region has turned into a war zone.

The tribals, caught in the crosshairs, are falling victims to the continuing conflicts. The Maoists have so far killed over 600 tribals in Chattisgarh since 2005 for their association with the police and the Salwa Judum, the anti-Naxal vigilante tribal force, being spearheaded by Congress MLA Mahendra Karma and backed by the BJP Government.

As a result, over 50,000 tribals have crossed over from Chattisgarh to Khammam, Warangal and Karimnagar districts. An equal number of tribals have abandoned their homes and hearths to hide in the deep forests of Chattisgarh.

They could also move to Khammam region in the coming days. The Maoists, who operate along the border and change their hideouts frequently, are enjoying a tactical advantage over the badly-outnumbered and under-equipped Chattisgarh police.

They had attacked even the police outposts with impunity and inflicted heavy casualties.

What is worrying the AP police is the Maoist plan to expand activities on this side of the Andhra-Chattisgarh border. The local tribals too are afraid that both the Maoists and the Salwa Judum could fight turf wars on this side of the border and this could adversely affect the local population.

The recent incident in which three tribals were killed by the Maoists on the suspicion of the former being police penny-droppers has only served to heighten the fears.

All the killed tribals had migrated from Chattisgarh. The local tribals feel that this could be just a beginning and more such reprisals could follow in the coming days.

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