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SOURCE: THE WEEK

An 11-member committee of prominent citizens has been constituted in Chhattisgarh to make efforts towards initiating a dialogue between the government and Maoists for restoring peace in the violence-marred parts of the state.

The committee named Concerned Citizen’s Committee of Chhattisgarh (4C) will try to bring the state functionaries and left wing extremists (LWEs) on a common platform for discussions and expressions (of viewpoints).  The 4C primarily comprises of 11 members who would be the primary actors to lead the negotiations and they have been given the authority to link more members at district levels and constitute core teams.

The members of the committee include ex-Union minister Arvind Netam, former chairperson of the SC/ST Commission Nandkumar Sai, Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Manish Kunjam and executive president of the Sarv Adiwasi Samaj B.S Rawte while former BBC journalist Shubhranshu Choudhary has been made the convener. The other members include journalists Kamal Shukla and Divakar Muktibodh, social worker Indu Netam, Virendra Pandey, Girish Pankaj, and RDCP Rao.

The decision to constitute the committee was taken following a meeting of the members of civil society at Raipur on Monday. The discussions at the meeting centered on creation of platforms and adjuncts to initiate a discourse between state and Maoists to establish peace in the sector which is long due. Netam, Sai and Rawte, along with Shubhranshu Choudhary who is active in the peace movement in Central India for quite some time, were present at the meeting.  

A press statement by the group said that political violence in the southern part of Chhattisgarh was the focal point of the event. One assessment of the participants indicated towards the changing dynamics in the Bastar region and within the LWE congregations.

It was observed that the leadership within the LWE congregation has been debilitating and deteriorating with time. For the moment, the situation could be conceived as a watershed in the Naxalite movement where a large chunk of the congregation wants to move out of the clutches of the exploitation imposed by the Maoist organisation in general and leadership in particular. The time has come when a due process needs to be initiated to establish a discourse between the chunk of congregation who wants to move out and join the mainstream and the state which would manage their inclusion, the press statement said. 

With this line of thought, it was decided in the event that a committee of citizens shall be constituted to catalyse this program. Speaking at the meeting, Netam opined that such initiatives are the real force of democracy. He said that such movements have to involve the state and its principles at various junctures and state must also reciprocate to such formations duly and in all sincerity. 

Sai quoted the precedent of how such commotions were handled in the district of Balrampur in North Chhattisgarh. He said he was a witness to the negotiation strategies opted by the administration in the form of frequent and regular discussions with the Maoist groups. He asserted that the strategies were fairly successful and could be replicated for the case of Bastar.

Rawte insisted on the efficacy of people’s movement in providing recognition to the tribal rights and adjudication of justice which has been held for years and centuries. He reinstated his faith in the potential of citizenry to initiate a peace process for the sake of social justice and inclusive development of tribal geography, the press statement said.