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Clashes erupt between tribal people and local Christians in Chhattisgarh over alleged forest land encroachment

The Inspector General of Police (Bastar range) Sundarraj P said that police force has been deployed in the area to prevent the situation from further escalating.

Clashes erupted in some villages of Kondagaon district of Bastar division in Chhattisgarh allegedly over the issue of forest land encroachment. People from one group reportedly plundered the houses of some families belonging to the other group on September 22 and 23 as informed by the police.

According to some reports, some Christian families were attacked by some local tribal people allegedly for not following the local tribal culture. The tribal villagers have reportedly asked the Christian families to worship the native deities if they wished to continue living with them.

The District police, however, said that the clashes happened over the issue of forest land encroachment between two groups in Kakadabeda, Singanpur and Silati villages. The Inspector General of Police (Bastar range) Sundarraj P said that police force has been deployed in the area to prevent the situation from further escalating.

No FIR has been registered by the police in the matter so far as preliminary investigation is being conducted to ascertain the details of the incidents. He told that there are a few families who have been following Christianity for last 6 years. He added that the tribal community in the villages had some issues with the Christian families who did not follow the local customs.

The IG assured that the police will take all necessary legal action for maintaining peace and order. “After being alerted about the situation, senior officials reached the spot on Wednesday and pacified the villagers. Presently, the situation is peaceful”, he told.

Arun Pannalal, the President of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, claimed that the violence took place in the presence of the police and that the families have run away to Raipur. He said that the villagers were pressurising the Christian families to convert or lose the benefits available to Scheduled Tribes (STs). However, the Kondagaon SP Siddharth Tiwari rejected the claims of the CCF that the violence happened in the presence of the police. He said that this was not a communal conflict but related to the land encroachment.

CCF President Pannalal has demanded a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each for the Christian families along with a high-level inquiry by a retired High Court judge or district judge.

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