The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rural tryst with rebel destiny

Raipur, Aug. 14: While the rest of the country would celebrate the 60 years of its “tryst with destiny” tomorrow, the Tricolour will not fly high in 600-odd villages in Chhattisgarh that are under the sway of red army.

While official sources claim that more than 250 villages in the Maoist hotbed of Bastar have no palpable presence of government, Vanvasi Chetana Ashram, an NGO, stated that the number was more than 600.

The villages would probably not feel the essence of the 60th Independence Day as Maoists have their “governance and Constitution” in the areas that are tucked away unobtrusively in the dense forest pockets.

Of these villages, most are deserted as people have taken shelters in the relief camps set up by the administration fearing Maoist backlash. More than 50,000 villagers are staying in 24 camps set up in Maoist-hit Dantewada district.

About 200 schools in the area are closed while about 300 panchayat buildings are destroyed by the rebels, where the Tricolour could fly high as symbol of Independence. “The district administration has made arrangement to unfurl the national flag tomorrow in the Maoist-hit villages with the help of security personnel,” Dantewada collector K.R. Pishda told The Telegraph. The villages have been identified and the movement of security personnel would be kept secret till the mission to hoist the Tricolour was completed, he added.

Though the Independence Day celebrations have never been a festive occasion in the territory that rebels claim to be theirs since they stepped in some two-and-a-half decades ago in Chhattisgarh, but the number of villages missing the spirit of freedom this year would be concerning as hundreds of villages now house no population.

Bastar superintendent of police G.P. Singh was hopeful that the jawans would succeed in unfurling the national flag this year. “The pressure of security forces is intense now in the interior areas following counter insurgency operations,” Singh said, adding that the jawans had already left for the villages.

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