Tribes to the fore in Bastar Dialogue

Queen mother invites traditional leaders from four States for a meeting
The Bastar Dialogue, aimed at furthering peace in the Red Corridor, concluded in Jagdalpur on Saturday with the passing of a resolution and finalising a roadmap towards achieving peace in the Dandakaranya region. Krishna Kumari Devi, the queen mother of Bastar, supported the movement, but cautioned that it should not be politicised after meeting a group of tribal people led by a Gondi-speaking group from Telangana. Following royal tradition, Krishna Kumari Devi (who does not communicate directly) through her spokesperson conveyed, “We completely understand your plight and are with you in initiating peace. However, it should be ensured that this peace process should be above politics with a sincere thought to make it succeed.” In a historic move, Krishna Kumari Devi has also invited 10 tribal leaders from Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra for an annual meeting of Manjhis on October 20. Manjhis are hereditary heads of various parganas in Chhattisgarh. The 10 tribal leaders will speak at the gathering. While concluding the Bastar Dialogue that was preceded by a Shanti Padyatra, or peace walk, Nehru Madavi of the Adivasis Sankshem Parishad, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, called for a sustained effort in achieving their task. “We cannot continue to live in fear. It’s better to not live. This historic act of us will take time to fructify, but we cannot step back. We have to initiate a dialogue with everyone… every single tribal villager living in Chhattisgarh,” Mr. Madavi said. Uttam Atla, a tribal youth from Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra, said that they had been discussing the setting up of community-level discussions with local groups. “A cycle yatra to keep the pressure on is on the cards,” he said.
Strong platform
Telangana tribal leader Sidam Arju said that there cannot be a fight without a strong platform formed. C.R. Bakshi of the Adivasi Mahasabha of the CPI suggested the use of a mix of Gandhiji’s teachings and Marxist learnings to achieve peace. Shubhranshu Choudhury, one of the organisers of the Bastar Dialogue, called upon the government to create an atmosphere for dialogue. “After two days of deliberation we have decided on taking the cultural route forward. A Bhumkal, conglomeration of tribal villagers, is being worked out,” he said. In the event of the government not being responsive, the tribal people have decided to continue the rally to Raipur. “Small groups will be formed from Gond-speaking groups to visit Maoist villages,” Mr. Choudhury said.
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