Abujmarh (Abujhmar) is a hilly forest area, spread over 1,500 square
miles (3,900 km2) in Chhattisgarh, covering Narayanpur district,
Bijapur district and Dantewada district. It is home to indigenous
tribes of India, including Gond, Muria, Abuj Maria, and Halbaas. It
was only in 2009 that the Government of
Chhattisgarh lifted the
restriction on the entry of common people in the area imposed in the
early 1980s. Geographically isolated and largely inaccessible, the
area continues to show no physical presence of the civil
administration, and is also known as "liberated-zone" as it is an
alleged hub of Naxalite-Maoist insurgency, the banned Communist Party
of India (Maoist) and its military wing, People's Liberation Guerilla
Army (PLGA), who run a parallel government in the area.
In 2007 the area was proposed as a biosphere reserve by Ministry of
Environment and Forests, Government of India.
5 See also
7 External links
Abujmarh means "the unknown hills" ("abuj" means "unknown"
and "Marh" meand "hill) in the
Gondi language native to the
Forest, about 35,600 square miles (92,200 km2) equivalent to the
present Bastar division. Dandakaranya, literally meaning "the abode of
the demon Dandaka", also finds mention in Hindu epic, Ramayana.
The dense forests of
Abujmarh have long been isolated from the outside
world, inhabited largely the indigenous people, and accessible only
via forest pathways starting from Narayanpur, Bijapur and Basroor.
Geographically, the Indravati river segregates it from Bastar region,
adding to its isolation. Recently the access to area has been
further marred by heavy use of landmines by the insurgents at entry
points. During the British rule in India,
Abujmarh remained in
isolation and constitutionally "excluded", though a land survey was
done in 1873. After independence of India, its isolation continued,
except when in 1958 the government refugees from
East Bengal in the
Dandakaranya area in the present Bastar division, and later the hills
started getting exploited for its mineral wealth, like the Bailadila
Hills excavated for its deposits of high-grade iron ore. The
tribals remained backward and exploited by prevalent feudalism in
India, majority of them started cultivation only recently, and
education was undertaken only at small schools run either by NGOs and
missionaries. All these conditions, after 1967 gave rise to the
Naxalite movement, which grew and spread over the coming decades.
Abujmarh has been termed as "liberated zone", as due to its
inaccessibility it remained untouched by any government presence and
civil administration for the past 60 years and has developed a
stronghold of Naxal-Maoist insurgents of the banned Communist Party of
India (Maoist), which ran a parallel government, known as Janta Sarkar
(People's government). Besides running its own military wing,
People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) and training camps,
Moaoist also runs small irrigation projects, courts known as jan
adalat (People’s courts) and schools. The Times of India
reported the existence of one such schools, known as "Janta Sarkar
Bhoomkaal School" at Metapada, where besides elementary education, the
students were also taught Naxal ideologies. After being pushed out
of Andhra Pradesh, post 2003, Naxals made these forests their hub, and
even established a revenue generation system which includes land
sharing, cooperative farming and running foodgrain and seeds
The state government had no records about the Muria tribes living in
the region or land ownership or revenue records. Thereafter, nearly
132 years after the previous survey, in 2005, the Government of
Chhattisgarh initiated a project to map the area through an aerial
survey at the cost of ₹55 million (US$840,000). Prior to 2006 a
permit was required to enter the area. In June 2009, after a
nearly 30-year restriction on the entry of outsides into the area,
imposed by then Government of Madhya Pradesh, triggered by a
controversial documentary made by a foreign channel, the Government of
Chhattisgarh, a state carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000, eased the
On the night of 19 May 2005, Naxals made a coordinated attack on two
police outposts adjoining the hills, one at Chhota Dongar in
Narayanpur and another at Dhau Dai, 8 km away, subsequently
senior police officials managing the response were trapped in
Pharasgaon near Narayanpur and 6-hour gun-battle, later an army
helicopter had to be called in for their rescue. The attacks revealed
use of sophisticated communication instruments, landmines and
coordination amongst the Naxals. The next big attack came on 18
March 2007, when the Maoists attacked a police camp at Ranibodli,
killing 55 policemen, including
Special Police Officers (SPOs).
"Operation Green Hunt" was launched in area in April 2010, but on 7
April, in an ambush by People's Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA), 76
security persons were killed in Chintalnar.
This area of dense forest, mountains, and several rivers is spread
over 1,500 square miles (3,900 km2), an area larger than the
state of Goa. Known for its rich in mineral deposits, it covers the
Narayanpur district, Bijapur district and
Dantewada district of
Chhattisgarh state and is close to the borders of neighbouring Orissa,
Andhra Pradesh and
Maharashtra states. The Indravati river, which
originates from Orissa, and is a tributary of the Godavari River,
separates the area from Bastar. Even today, most of tribal
villages in the area remain inaccessible for six months in a year.
In 2008, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India
proposed to designate
Abujmarh as a biosphere reserve.
The area has population density of less than 10 persons per square
mile, and is home to nearly 27 per cent entire tribal population of
Chhattisgarh state, dominated by Gond, Muria, Abuj Maria, Maadia
and Halbaas tribes. A total population of 34,000 tribal inhabits 233
villages. As this area is largely uncharted, in 2009, satellite
mapping of region was done by the Indian Space Research Organisation,
(ISRO) to locate villages.
Majority of the tribals live under dire poverty, and survive of the
traditional shifting cultivation or slash-and-burn known locally as
"Penda kheti" for six months in a year, they cultivate a small grained
rice korsa and for the rest of the period survive by selling the rice
along with forest products' like the Tendu leaves, and occasionally
come out to the weekly markets, haat bazaar of near by towns to sell
^ "Maoists butcher". Indian Express. 7 April 2010. Retrieved 2 June
2013. the so-called liberated zone, including the Abujmarh
^ a b c d Tusha Mittal (12 May 2012). "Inside
Abujmarh The Mythic
Citadel". Vol. Volume 9 no. Issue 19. Tehelka. Retrieved 1
^ R. R. Prasad (1 January 1996). Encyclopaedic profile of Indian
tribes. 1. A - E. Discovery Publishing House. pp. 349–.
ISBN 978-81-7141-298-3. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
^ "Dandakaranya". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 3 June
^ Ramachandra Guha (28 June 2006). "Tribe Against Tribe, Village
Against Village". The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
^ a b c d e "30 years on, curbs on entry to tribal heartland lifted".
Indian Express. 10 June 2009. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
^ a b Sudhi Ranjan Sen (20 May 2005). "Defence chopper to rescue of
SP, cops trapped by Naxals". Indian Express. Retrieved 1 June
^ a b c d
B G Verghese (2010). First Draft. Westland. p. 501.
^ a b c "130 yrs later, Raman govt to map Naxal-hit Abujhmar". Indian
Express. 17 January 2005. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
^ a b "Army training hub in Maoist stronghold". NDTV. 27 January 2011.
Retrieved 1 June 2013.
^ a b c d Satarupa Bhattacharjya (1 February 2008). "Red terror".
India Today. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
^ Soumittra S Bose (24 February 2012). "Orphans being targeted by
Naxals". The Times of India.
^ "'Unlike Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand Has Multiple Maoist Outfits':The
former CRPF DG, who has been given charge of the Jharkhand home
department, on Maoists". Outlook. 11 March 2013. Archived from the
original on 30 June 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
^ a b "A "learning experience" for Pranab at Narayanpur". The Hindu. 8
November 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
^ "Status of Bioshpere reserves in India" (PDF). ENVIRO NEWS, Ministry
of Environment and Forests, Vol. 14. January–March 2008. p. 9.
Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 January 2013. Retrieved 1 June
"India Matters: The Other
Chhattisgarh (documentary feature)". NDTV.
31 May 2013.
Coordinates: 19°32′24″N 80°48′22″E / 19.540°N
80.806°E / 19