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Bastar residents caught in Naxals-government crossfire, live in fear

Bastar residents caught in Naxals-government crossfire, live in fear

<p>As Chhattisgarh prepares to go to polls on November 11 and 19, electricity, medicare, education are just words in Bastar. The locals caught in the crossfire between Naxals and the government forces continue to live in fear.</p>

As Chhattisgarh prepares to go to polls on November 11 and 19, electricity, medicare, education are just words in Bastar. The locals caught in the crossfire between Naxals and the government forces continue to live in fear.

In May 2013 at Jiram Ghati, Naxals brutally attacked on Congress leaders and decimated almost the entire Congress leadership in the state. Salwa Judum architect Mahendra Karma and 29 others were killed in the attack. The Naxals have now issued fresh threats to carry out more attacks if people decide to vote. One of the locals said, "Terrorism thrives in Bastar. People here are afraid to vote."

Another resident Ganesh lost his brother Ganpati in the Jiram Ghati attack. The family does not even have a photo to keep as a memory. "I don't feel like voting. I don't care about it anymore," he said. Bastar has a 70 per cent tribal population and everyone has a story of complete neglect.

A resident said, "We don't have a voter ID card. We don't have a ration card." A local said, "The government says it will help us, but the middlemen make our lives miserable." Mungli Devi, 70-year-old, has never had electricity. Another local said, "If anyone falls ill, we have to go 15-20 kilometers from here to find a doctor." Electricity, medicare, education are just words in Bastar, and Naxalism has thrived on such alienation and deprivation.