Peace march begins in Chhattisgarh

Raipur, May 6 (IANS) A peace march led by Gandhian Narayan Desai and others left Raipur Thursday for Chhattisgarh’s Maoist bastion of Bastar to hold talks with the tribal people.
The marchers will also cover Dantewada, the site of the April 6 rebel massacre of 76 security personnel, the worst such killing since the Maoist insurgency began in the country over four decades ago.
The marchers, including academician Yash Pal, will reach Bastar, a sprawling and heavily forested region around 300 km from here. On Friday, they will be at Dantewada and talk to local people.
The members held a public meeting here Wednesday and expressed concern over the rising poverty among Bastar’s tribal people. They urged both the police and Maoists to work for a ceasefire.
Social activist Swami Agnivesh was a part of the group, which says that the tribals have hardly benefited from development schemes since India’s independence in 1947.
The Wednesday meeting was marred by protests by a few cadres of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who called the organisers Maoist sympathisers. Congress activists raised slogans like “Outsiders go back”.
The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) commands hundreds of armed guerrillas, young women included, in Bastar’s interiors. Most of Bastar’s people are tribals.