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Gujarat Tribal Leader Questions Arrest of Three 'Naxals' by ATS, Says Ploy to Silence Dissenting Voices

Representative image.

Representative image.

Saamu Oreya, Birsa Oreya and Babita Kachhap - were arrested by the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) in Gujarat on Friday for trying to instigate tribals in Tapi and Mahisagar districts to resort to violence against the government

Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) chief and Gujarat MLA Chhotu Vasava has come out in support of three Pathalgadi movement activists arrested by the state ATS, and said that labelling a tribal a 'Naxalite' was a ploy to silence them from demanding their rights.

Three alleged Naxals from Jharkhand - Saamu Oreya, Birsa Oreya and Babita Kachhap - were arrested by the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) in Gujarat on Friday for trying to instigate tribals in Tapi and Mahisagar districts to resort to violence against the government, police have said.

Vasava, who represents Jhagadia Assembly constituency in Bharuch district of Gujarat, has put out dozens of tweets in the last two days questioning the arrest of the trio. He also demanded the release of Babita Kachhap.

Through his tweets, he has demanded the definition of Naxalism after the three arrested accused were termed as "Naxalites" trying to incite tribals in the two districts of Gujarat to resort to violence.

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However, Vasava's open support for the accused has drawn sharp reaction from another tribal leader from the ruling BJP, Mansukh Vasava, a Member of Parliament from Bharuch Lok Sabha constituency. He said that the tribal community in Gujarat believes in development and not separatism and Naxalism.

Chhotu Vasava said that people dying from hunger cannot be terrorists.

"It is the people in the government who spread terrorism and Naxalism. Otherwise, people do not have any desire...How can people dying from hunger be terrorists?

"It is a ploy to mislead the people so that a situation is created wherein they are not able to speak or demand anything. There is neither terrorism nor Naxalism in the country," he said.

He put out several tweets with the hashtag "Naxali ki paribhasha batao (define a Naxalite), saying that people working to spread awareness among tribals about the 5th Schedule of the Constitution were being labelled as Naxals.

"Is it Naxalism to talk about the Article of the Constitution when the land of our ancestors is being snatched away unconstitutionally?" he said in one of his tweets on the issue.

He also tweeted with the hashtag freebabitakachhap, releasebabitakachhap.

Reacting to this, Mansukh Vasava said, "People from Jharkhand who were spreading separatism and Naxalism in Tapi and Mahisagar districts were arrested by the police after it came to their notice. They have several FIRs against them in Jharkhand and this fact is on the police record."

"Chhotubhai is trying to link the entire tribal community...whosoever is trying to spread anti-national and terrorist activities should not be connected to a community. Those who are indulging in anti-national or terror activities are terrorists and Naxalites and do not belong to any community. Tribals in Gujarat believe in development and not separatism and Naxalism," he added.

According to the ATS, the accused trio was arrested from the tribal-dominated districts of Tapi and Mahisagar on charges of sedition, waging war against the government, etc.

BTP has two MLAs in Gujarat and two in Rajasthan.

first published:July 26, 2020, 19:40 IST