Tribals starve in relief camp in Naxal-hit Bastar

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Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, Jan 4 (UNI) Nearly 3,000 tribals, housed in a state government run relief camp in naxalite infested Bastar region, are on the verge of starvation due to non-supply of foodgrains and even salt during the last one month, officials said today.

As many as 2,911 tribals, belonging to five villages, were given shelter in the relief camp located about 130 km from here in Jagargunda sub-tahsil, one of the backward region worst affected by naxalism.

Official sources said supply of food grains, salt and other essentials to the relief camp could not be maintained properly during the last one month in the absence of security arrangements.

''The tribals, including about 400 children, are forced to eat leaves, roots and wild fruits'', an official said on condition of anonymity, adding that earlier food stock required for about two months was delivered at the relief camp and they used this stock for about four months.

Food grains and other essentials have to be brought to the relief camp under tight security cover as the Maoist rebels were opposing supply of food grains to the relief camps.The present situation arose as the security forces were not available to escort those who bring food grains to the relief camp.

About 400 tribal children in the relief camp are the worst hit. Twelve Anganwadi centres are attached to the relief camp where there are 60 Anganwadi assistants and workers. Most of these children are suffering from skin diseases like itching and other problems.

The situation of the security personnel, guarding the Jagargunda relief camp, is no different for the last 20 days as their food stock has been exhausted, the sources added.

Earlier, food grains and other essentials for them were brought to the relief camp by a helicopter available with the state police. But, the arrangement could not continue as the chopper developed a technical snag and is under repair for the last 20 days.

Except the security personnel, nobody from any other government department is present in Jagargunda sub-tahsil region.

More than 58,000 people are residing in 17 relief camps being run by the state government in South Bastar region since last three years after they deserted their native villages following threat from the Maoists.

Trouble for these tribals began in June 2005, when a group of local people launched ''Salwa Judum'', a movement against the rebels, asking the people to keep themselves aloof from the Maoists and to isolate them in the villages. The Naxalites retaliated with violence against people participating in Salwa Judum rallies and meetings, forcing more than 58,000 people to take shelter in the relief camps.

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