C'garh villagers oppose 2 BSF camps set up on 'sacred land'

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Raipur, Dec 27 (PTI) Over 50 representatives of panchayat bodies in Chhattisgarh's insurgency-hit Kanker district have tendered their resignation protesting the setting up of two Border Security Force camps at sites which are reportedly revered by local residents.

The camps have been set up near Katgaon and Kamteda villages, some 127 kilometres from here, on the strategically important Partapur-Koyalibeda route to provide security to road work underway there, an official said.

Thousands of people from over 100 villages have been staging a protest in Pakhanjore in Kanker since December 23 demanding that the BSF camps be shifted, sarpanch Lachhuram Gavde of Siksod told PTI.

'At least 46 sarpanches, seven Janpad panchayat members, one deputy sarpanch and one zila panchayat member submitted their resignations on Saturday via two letters to the Pakhanjore sub divisional magistrate,' he added.

'We are not against the BSF camps. We are opposed to the acquisition of land where we have been performing rituals for several years now. They even chopped off a tree that we worship, and this is disrespect to our gods and goddesses,' he said.

The camps have been set up at Karkaghat (near Katgaon) and Tumirghat (near Kamteda) on the bank of Medhki river, where people from 35 villages perform rituals for our deities every year, he said.

'This area is under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution and permission from the local gram sabha is mandatory for undertaking works. The administration should have consulted us before selecting the location of the camps,' said Sohan Hichami, a Janpad panchayat member from the area.

Bastar Range Inspector General of Police Sundarraj P, however, said the two camps are among the 16 recently set up in Bastar, and these have rattled the Naxals who are forcing people to oppose the presence of security forces.

He added that all local sentiments are given proper respect when such camp sits are chosen.

Kanker Collector Chandan Kumar said the issue would be resolved soon and claimed that 'prima facie, it seems the villagers have been staging protest under pressure from violent forces'. PTI TKP BNM BNM