RAIPUR: Two years ago there were reports that Maoists were in a leadership crisis. The Bastar combat zone too has witnessed the absence of a strong political or community leadership.
According to sources, the leaders either were not allowed enough space to engage during a crisis or were asked by political bosses to keep away from contentious concerns, giving the police or the administration to assume a centre stage for taking decisions that may stand either in accord or disagreement with the needs or sentiments of the local population.
There have been repeated protests by the tribal villagers against setting up of the security base camps in the districts of conflict zone of south Bastar. In one such demonstration on May 17 at Silger base camp, the security forces opened fire in which three protesters, whom the police later cited as Maoists, were killed leading to strong resentment among the locals.
The camp at Silger was set up on 21 May and the people’s protest began the next day in which over 5,000 people from more than a dozen villages reportedly participated in the demonstration.
The Bastar in recent years has been increasingly witnessing resistance by the villagers against major local projects the locals believe is not in their interest.
And ironically, among these protests the local elected representatives—MPs or MLAs —were nowhere seen getting involved to resolve the issues.
“The spirit of democracy is missing in Bastar. The voice of local representatives doesn’t seems to exist. How could the Maoist who are specified to have been restricted in small pockets, managed to dominate the perception of the tribals or for that matter seems to outdo the existing government system?, asked Manish Gupta, a journalist.