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Opinion

Tribals have paid a heavy price in the Maoisal conflict. Now, amend – editorials

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To a extent that could provide some relief to the tribal community in Chhattisgarh, the Congress-led state government has finally begun the process of identifying displaced tribes due to the escalating conflict between the Indian State and the Maoists from 2004-2005. There is no definite account of how many people/families were forced to flee to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in an attempt to avoid being caught in the crossfire between security forces and The Maisians, but some estimates suggest that 16,000 tribes (5,000 families) were uprooted from the state. This is a conservative count.

In the “war” between the state and the Maoism, there were two ways in which the lives of tribal people were interrupted. One, the state moved many tribes from their villages in the forested areas to road camps to prevent them from “helping” the Maoists, thus breaking their ties with their extended families, their lands and culture. This was the notorious and unconstitutional campaign of Salwa Judum. And second, hordes of tribals were forced to emigrate to other states because they did not want to be caught (and killed) in the fight between the two fighters. But while they saved their lives on the run, the tribes faced a difficult time in other states, as India does not have a policy for people displaced by the conflict.

Without a law, IDPs end up without being stateless people who want to accommodate them because they are seen as eating in funds for residents. This left them vulnerable to exploitation by labor contractors and government officials. India needs a law to deal with displaced people due to internal conflicts, who become second-class citizens in their own country. For now, Chhattisgarh needs to properly list the displaced, bring them back and help returnees start a new life.

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