No worship in deserted villages

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Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh, Oct 23 (UNI) For nearly three years, worship of Gods remain a distant dream for tribal residents of about 618 villages in Dantewara district.

These villages remain deserted in the wake of increased hostilities between naxalites and security forces after the government-supported anti-naxal movement ''Salwa Judum'' was launched in June 2005.

The affected tribals have been given shelter in about a dozen relief camps started by the government close to police camps and they do not venture out even to offer prayers at 'Devgudi'.

'Devgudi' (abode of God) is a sacred place in every tribal hamlet where the faithful tribals perform rituals and make offerings to appease 'Budadev', an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Even the sacred lamp at 'Devgudi' has not been lighted for three years even on the occasion of Navarati.

According to sociologists, it is a custom among tribals to light the sacred lamp every day in the 'Devgudi', which remain the centre of pious activity in each village. Earlier, the naxalites also used to join the tribals' activities in 'Devgudis'.

Since the 'Salwa Judum' activists forced the tribals to vacate the hamlets and shift to relief camps, no festival was held in the interior areas of Dantewada district.

While all economic activities remain suspended in the ghost villages, tribal residential schools and other educational institutions, besides mid-day meal centres remained closed. However, for record sake, school teachers are on roll and paid full wages, while allotment of foodgrains under mid-day meal scheme also continued.

Incidently, Dantewada has been selected for a national award for achieving success in literacy drive last year.

UNI

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