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NEW DELHI- Protest against the massacre of adivasis in Bijapur, Chhattisgarh

 

PROTEST AGAINST THE MASSACRE OF 20 ADIVASI VILLAGERS IN ,

 

 

DHARNA AT PARLIAMENT STREET

11 AM to 5 PM, 31 JULY 2012 (Tuesday), New Delhi

  

Almost a month has passed since the heinous massacre of 20 tribal villagers – including six minors – by the Indian state’s armed forces on the night of 28 June 2012 in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh. None of the perpetrators who carried out this planned massacre has so far been indicted of murder, let alone being brought to justice. The culprits continue to enjoy the protection of the state while the affected people of the three villages who are fighting for justice are intimidated, persecuted and put behind the bars. The attempt of the Indian state thereby has been to hide the truth of Bijapur massacre, to pass it off as just another incident of “collateral damage” in its operations against adivasis, and to stifle the voices of those villagers who are affected by the massacre. In such a situation, it becomes the responsibility of the progressive, democratic and revolutionary forces of the country to raise our voice collectively against the genocidal Indian state’s war, to demand punishment of the perpetrators responsible for the massacre, to unite with the fighting masses of Sirkegudem, Kottagudem and Rajupenta villages, and thereby prevent the ruling-class conspiracy to erase the Bijapur massacre from public memory and to push it into oblivion.

The facts of Bijapur massacre are by now well known. Villagers from Sirkeguda, Kottaguda and Rajupenta villages belonging to Dorla Koya tribe who are mostly small peasants, gathered in a meeting on the evening of 28 June in Kottagudem village to plan for the upcoming sowing season. There were around 60 villagers present in the meeting, including children. As the meeting was underway, around 10pm a large contingent of CRPF’s COBRA battalion arrived from Basaguda police station one kilometre away, which is also the base of the battalion. These heavily armed forces surrounded the people in the meeting and fired at them indiscriminately and without warning from three directions, killing 15 of them on the spot. Many of the villagers who did not die of bullet injuries were brutalised and hacked to death by the mercenaries with crude weapons collected from the village. To cover up this heinous crime of genocidal proportions, the killer gangs loaded the dead bodies on a tractor, sent them to the Basaguda police station, and removed the blood-stained earth so that no tell-tale evidence of the massacre remains to speak of the truth. The forces remained in the village for the night and in the morning they shot dead another village youth in cold blood when he came out of his house. These fascist forces sexually assaulted at least three women and threatened them with rape, broke open the houses of the villagers and looted the money they found therein, destroyed grains, and created a reign of terror. On 29 June a villager died of his grievous injuries in the hospital, thus taking the toll of the massacre to 17. In another incident of cold-blooded murder perpetrated by the Indian state’s armed forces in the same region, two villagers were killed near Jagargunda village of the neighbouring Sukma district on the same night of the Bijapur massacre. The familiar cock-and-bull story of an ‘encounter’ between the Maoists and the armed forces were parroted, claiming that the latter fired in ‘self-defense’ killing the two.

            The union home minister P Chidambaram, who is the main architect and orchestrator of Operation Green Hunt, jubilantly celebrated the massacre as a successful assault against the Maoists, who were killed in a “transparent” operation. He congratulated the CRPF force carrying out this daring attack. His lapdog Vijay Kumar – the CRPF Director General – basked in the ‘glory’ of perpetrating the massacre and hailed his “brave soldiers”. Raman Singh, the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister denied that any civilian was killed in the operations, while his home minister Nankiram Kanwar said that anyone who supports the Maoists deserves to be killed like the Maoists. While such lies, slander and intimidation from the ruling-class reactionaries flew thick and fast, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh – the main agent of US imperialism in the government – maintained a studied silence, hoping that the anger of the people will not cascade into a massive outburst of protest. However, as the villagers of Sirkeguda, Kottaguda and Rajupenta came out to the streets to protest against the massacre of their kith and kin, gave fearless testimonies even amidst grave sorrow and anger, and a few conscientious reporters and democratic citizens brought out the truth behind the Bijapur massacre, the ruling classes could no longer defend their white lie and Goebbelsian propaganda that the dead were “dreaded armed Maoists”. Their lie of a ‘fierce encounter’ too got exposed when it was confirmed by the villagers that there were no armed-carrying Maoists in the meeting nor were the CRPF fired upon, and that some of the COBRA personnel were injured by their own men.

Fearing popular reprisal after getting thoroughly exposed, Chidambaram had to swallow his own words and hypocritically declared that he was “deeply sorry” for any civilian deaths, while Vijay Kumar too resorted to duplicity once again by regretting the deaths of the villagers. Neither however gave any indication that the perpetrators of the massacre and their military and political bosses will be charged of murder and brought to justice. After the media brought to light the fact that not even the mandatory post-mortem of the dead bodies were carried out by the government, hastily ordered a farcical judicial enquiry, the purpose of which is to shield the culprits and not to punish them. It is clear that the ruling classes will not punish the foot-soldiers employed to protect their political power and to crush the peoples’ movement which they consider to be the biggest threat to their fascist class rule, unless forced by a strong peoples’ movement.

            Such extreme aggression and brutality undergone by the tribal people of central and eastern India from outside are not new. The people of Bastar have a proud history of fighting exploitation, repression and external aggression that goes back to centuries. From the struggles against predatory feudal states and landlord’s armies in the pre-colonial period through the great Bhumkal Rebellion of 1910 against the colonial regime and thereafter, they have stood up against all attempts in the past aimed at their subjugation and annihilation. After the transfer of power in 1947, when the police firing on landless peasants demanding their rights over land in Darjeeling district in 1967 sparked the prairie fire of Naxalbari, the tribal people of Srikakulam too became the flag-bearers of revolution, a struggle in which hundreds of tribal peasants laid down their lives fighting the repressive state. A police firing on a massive gathering of Gond adivasis at Indravelli in Adilabad district of Telangana on 20 April 1980 led to the massacre of 12 of them, but rather than curbing their fighting spirit, this incident ignited the anger of the Gonds spanning over Telangana and Bastar against the Indian feudal and comprador ruling classes in an unprecedented manner. Indeed, the Indravelli massacre – the largest massacre of tribal people in post-1947 India till the Bijapur massacre of June 2012 – was one of the factors that led the Gond adivasis of Telangana, Gadchiroli and Bastar to espouse the revolutionary movement as their own. In the recent past, the people of Bastar have faced and defeated the notorious Salwa Judum campaign even at the cost of undergoing great losses. In fact, villagers of Sirkeguda, Kottaguda and Rajupenta returned to their homes in 2009 after years of exile, as their villages were destroyed by the state-sponsored Salwa Judum goons. They were still in the process of regrouping their lives when this latest massacre by the Indian state extinguished the lives of 17 of them.

            But unlike in many of the past incidents of cold-blooded execution by the armed forces of the Indian state in central India, the affected people have now come out to tell their tale and to demand justice. The people of Sirkeguda, Kottaguda and Rajupenta – the witnesses to the heinous crime – have bravely narrated the course of events on 28 June and thereafter to the media and various fact-finding teams. They have refused to be silenced by the intimidating presence of the armed forces in large numbers in and around their villages after the incident. The villagers declined the offers of ‘relief’ and ‘compensation’ by the government, and sent back a truckload of food material brought by the district administration for their ‘relief’. They asked in defiance, “If we are Maoists, then why do you bring us this rice? Why did you do this to us?” Fifteen residents of the three villages including eleven children even embarked on a journey to Hyderabad – the capital city of neighbouring Andhra Pradesh – to tell the world about the brutality and repression that they were subjected to on the night of 28 June. However, as soon as they stepped into Hyderabad, the Andhra Pradesh police at the instructions of its political masters abducted all fifteen villagers along with two members of the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) who went to receive them, and took them to an unknown location. It was only after a series of protests that they were produced by the AP police before a court of law. All of them have been sent to prison. All seventeen of them still continue to languish in prison for the ‘crime’ of threatening the Indian ruling classes with the truth of Bijapur massacre.

            The growing frequency of state-orchestrated massacres and the growing number of the dead in such cold-blooded murders show the upsurge of popular discontent against the status-quo as well as the expansion of the peoples’ democratic and revolutionary struggles aimed at changing this status-quo. The intensifying class struggle in the subcontinent in the context of the worldwide economic crisis makes the Indian rulers more desperate by each passing day to remove all hurdles against the ever-growing exploitation of India’s working people and the plunder of the country’s natural resources by MNCs and big Indian corporations – resources which in reality belong to the entire people of the country.  And this regime of exploitation and plunder is being hard-sold by the media-managers of the ruling classes as ‘development’. The entire Bastar region as well as other adivasi-inhabited regions of central and eastern India which are rich in mineral resources has become the most coveted prizes that have been already sold out by the government to various imperialist and domestic companies through thousands of secret MoUs. But since the people all over the subcontinent have stood up to defend their jal-jangal-zameen even at the cost of their lives, the Indian ruling classes have unleashed its fascist repression campaign all over the country in an attempt to crush and decimate all forms of peoples’ resistance. The revolutionary movement of Bastar is one of the fiercest and most militant of such struggles being waged in the subcontinent today, which has defeated each and every military campaign by the Indian state against it till now. Therefore, we now find the exasperated Indian ruling classes executing large-scale massacres of the adivasis and other sections of the oppressed masses to further its anti-people design.

Let us be in no illusion. The ruling classes of India are planning more and more mass executions like that of Bijapur at an ever growing scale in the coming days in the name of countering . , deployment of the Indian Army in Bastar in the name of ‘training’ and of the Air Force in the name of ‘logistics’, establishment of National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) to strengthen the coercive apparatus of the state, promulgation of draconian laws like UAPA, NSA etc., are important components of this larger design. These are integral parts of the Indian state’s war on the people, which will be pushed forward with ever more vengeance and brutality in the future as is evidenced by the Bijapur massacre – the largest massacre of adivasis in ‘independent’ India. Only a united, widespread and resolute mass mobilisation in the subcontinent and outside can desist the warmongering Indian state and the blood-thirsty ruling classes from perpetrating more Bijapurs in the near future. RDF appeals to the democratic and progressive individuals and organisations to unite in protest against the Bijapur massacre by participating in the Dharna on 31 July 2012 at Parliament Street, New Delhi.

 

 

 

REVOLUTIONARY DEMOCRATIC FRONT (RDF)

Issued by: Varavara Rao (President), Rajkishore (Gen. Sec.) | Contact: 09717583539 | [email protected]

 

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