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Archives for : Salwa Judum

Chhattisgarh – Ex-Salwa Judum members face Maoist threat

 

KUTURU (BIJAPUR), July 5, 2014
Updated: July 5, 2014 02:52 IST

PAVAN DAHAT

Salwa Judum founder Madhukar Rao at his barricaded
home in Kuturu with his bodyguards. Photo: Pavan Dahat
Salwa Judum founder Madhukar Rao at his barricaded home in Kuturu with his bodyguards. Photo: Pavan Dahat

Sitting in his barricaded house adjacent to the police station in Kuturu village in Bijapur district of South Bastar and surrounded by heavily-armed bodyguards, Madhukar Rao laughs when he says he is “waiting for death”.

Mr. Rao was one of the founders of the anti-Maoist militia Salwa Judum in Bastar — “a people’s resistance movement” — which was begun under his leadership in Ambeli village.

“If they can kill Mahendra Karma [another founder and face of the Salwa Judum in Bastar], then we are small players,” Mr. Rao said, pointing out that other Salwa Judum functionaries had either been killed by the Maoists or forced, like himself, to live under tight security. “At times, police deploy Road Opening Parties (ROP) for me,” says Mr. Rao.

Following allegations of human rights violations, the Supreme Court in 2011 declared the Salwa Judum illegal and unconstitutional and ordered that it be disbanded. Members of the outfit have been regularly targeted by Maoists for its “anti-tribal” actions. Mahendra Sadgul, who headed Salwa Judum in Bhopalpatnam area, was shot dead in 2008. Budhram Rana, another leader in Bijapur area, was killed some two kilometres away from his house. Chinaram Gota of Faresgad village was killed along with his bodyguards in 2011.

“But the biggest jolt to Salwa Judum was the killing of senior Congress leader Mahendra Karma last year,” says Ajay Singh, who headed the outfit in the Bairamgad area and has now been provided Z category security cover. Mr. Singh and another senior Judum leader Vikram Mandavi managed to escape from Jiramghati attack last year.

“We threw away our mobiles and identity cards to escape identification, but we are named as the main targets in their meetings,” Mr. Singh told The Hindu.

Chaitram Mattami, who actively participated in Salwa Judum activities in the Dantewada area, lives a secluded life and refuses to meet journalists. “He won’t meet you unless he is sure about your identity. He will be in Dantewada, but he would tell you that he is in Raipur or Jagdalpur,” said Bappy Ray, a Dantewada-based journalist.

Even Madhukar Rao has been attacked four times by the Maoists. The most recent attempt on his life was made on April 9 this year.

“ How long will we manage to escape? Only few of us are alive now,” rues Mr. Singh, who charges the Raman Singh-led Chhattisgarh government with being “opportunist”.

“There was a time when the CM shared the stage with us and said he would give complete support, but now we have been left to the mercy of God with a few bodyguards,” said Mr. Singh.

Read more here- http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/exsalwa-judum-members-face-maoist-threat/article6178294.ece

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Open letter to all Speakers at #THiNK2013, Goa, actually the #STiNK2013

bloodhands
Dear Speaker 
We understand that you are scheduled to speak at the ‘Think ‘13 Festival’ being organized by Tehelka at the Grand Hyatt, Bambolim, Goa from 8th to 10th November 2013.
 
We bring to your kind attention the following brief facts regarding the said event:
 
  1. Most of the sponsors are alleged to be involved in major illegal activities such as illegal mining scams, telecom scam, Radiatapes, Sponsorship of Salwa Judum, environmental destruction and displacement of indigenous communities.
  2. The organizer of the event is collaborating with the illegal acts of these corporations. The refusal to expose illegal mining in Goa, in spite of having a story researched by one of their own journalists much before it became Public knowledge, amounts to covering up the illegal mining and allowing the wanton destruction (done by the same corporations who are sponsoring the event now).
  3. The venue is a construction in violation of CRZ laws.
  4. The event is for the very rich only, as is evident from the entry charges.
 
It is very clear that holding this event is only an attempt to create a clean image for the same corporations who are alleged to be involved in massive scams, environmental destruction and displacement of indigenous communities.
 
We therefore request you to kindly boycott the event, or, announce your disapproval of, or, non-association with, the tainted corporations and their anti-people acts.
 
Thanking you,
Members of the Goan Society, including John Fernandes, Benaulim; Zarina Da Cunha, Nuvem; Abhijit Prabhudesai, Curtorim; Sidharth Karapurkar, Navelim; Rony Dias, Cuncolim; Fr. Victor Ferrao, Rachol; Cassian Furtado, Varca and many others

 

 

 

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PRESS RELEASE- Tehelka Not Welcome In Goa- THinkfest 2013 is STiNKfest 2013

Tehelka Not Welcome In Goa

pressrelease

Tehelka, the organisers of the THiNK ‘13 Festival, have been declared to be unwelcome in Goa by Goenchea Xetkarancho Ekvott (GXE) who are outraged by the fact that the THiNK Festival offers a platform to, and acts and collaborates with corporations with a blemished record of working and acting against the interests of the peoples of India.

These same corporations sponsoring the Festival have been involved in major illegal activities such as illegal mining, the telecom scam, the Radia tapes exposure, sponsorship of the Salwa Judum, innumerable environmental violations, and displacing indigenous communities.

Teheleka magazine, who brings Goa this festival, spiked a story by one of its own journalists that would have exposed the illegal mining taking place in Goa. The journalist’s investigation was later confirmed by the Shah Commission, that accused the mining industry, in collusion with politicians and government officials, of illegal mining to the tune of Rs 35,000 crores.

Till date, Tehelka has remained silent on the matter.

The price to register for the festival – Rs 35,000 – reflects the audience that the Festival expects to attract: the rich and the powerful.

It is not an inclusive but an exclusive club even though participation  in previous festivals has been thin.

We call on speakers attending to rethink their presence at this festival. To take part in this STiNKFEST is to commit yourself to the supporting those sponsors and supporters of this so-called intellectual forum that exploits the people of this country.

ISSUED- BY—- Members of the Goan Society, including John Fernandes, Benaulim; Zarina Da Cunha, Nuvem; Abhijit Prabhudesai, Curtorim; Sidharth Karapurkar, Navelim; Rony Dias, Cuncolim; Fr. Victor Ferrao, Rachol; Cassian Furtado, Varca and many others

 

 

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PRESS RELEASE— IADHRI Demands Freedom for Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact: [email protected]

25 October, 2013

 lingaSONIS0RI3

 

On Monday, 28th October, the Supreme Court of India will take up the bail petitions of Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi, adivasi prisoners in Chhattisgarh who have been incarcerated for more than two years. The arrest and the subsequent torture of Soni Sori in October 2011 drew international condemnation [1]. Much less widely known has been the arrest the previous month of Sori’s nephew, Kodopi, who was also subjected to torture by the Chhattisgarh police [2].

False charges were subsequently foisted on both of them, with Sori being implicated in eight cases and Kodopi in two cases. Sori was acquitted in all but two of the cases and Kodopi in one of the two cases. Sori was also granted bail in one of the two remaining cases [3]. The one remaining case against both of them relates to allegations of acting as a courier between Essar, a business conglomerate with steel manufacturing operations in Chhattisgarh, and the outlawed Maoist Communist Party of India. Though two other accused in this case, the general manager of the Essar operations in the state and a contract worker, were granted bail within months of their arrest, the trial court and the state High Court have denied Sori and Kodopi bail earlier this year [4] and it is their appeal against this decision that the Supreme Court is expected to hear on Monday.

Sori was arrested on October 4, 2011 in New Delhi, where she had gone seeking legal help, and taken by the Chhattisgarh police to Dantewada. As detailed in her letters from prison, she was tortured in police custody and sexually abused. Her allegations were substantiated by independent medical examinations conducted in Kolkata under the directions of the Supreme Court. While imprisoned in Raipur, she continued to face abuse and denial of medical care from the police and the jail authorities until the Supreme Court ordered that she be taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences for treatment [5,6].

Sori’s husband Anil Futane died last August 2nd, soon after being released from jail [7]. He was arrested in July 2010 and accused of involvement in the attack on the home of Congress politician and contractor Avdesh Gautam. Sori, Kodopi and fourteen others were also falsely implicated in this case but all of them were acquitted. According to other jail inmates, Futane was beaten so severely in the prison that he was paralyzed. They attribute his death to health complications resulting from torture and the failure of prison authorities to give him medical care.

Kodopi himself has undergone serious abuse and torture since his detention without charges in 2009, when he was locked up inside a toilet in a police station for forty days. He was freed the following year only after the intervention of the Chhattisgarh High Court responding to a habeas corpus petition. Facing continued threats from the police and the Maoists, he went to Delhi where he studied journalism for a year. During his time in Delhi, he spoke out against the atrocities committed by the police on the Adivasi communities. Soon after he graduated from his journalism program in April 2011, he returned to Chhattisgarh where police and paramilitary forces had burnt down the villages of Morpalli, Timmapuram and Tadmetla, killed three people and raped three women. He documented the scenes of these crimes and recorded video testimonies of the survivors [8].

The cases of Sori and Kodopi are not isolated. Especially (but not exclusively) in Chhattisgarh, thousands of other prisoners are known to be held for years on spurious charges, some of them are not charged for many years and held as under trials for long periods of time. The draconian provisions of the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act enable the state police and other security officials to arrest and imprison anyone on dubious grounds, often to silence critical voices. Many of these prisoners are also known to undergo torture, sexual and other abuse at the hands of police and prison officials.

During her more than two years of incarceration, the Supreme Court of India has been the only institution from which Soni Sori has been able to get any judicial relief. We are hopeful, therefore, that this time too, the Supreme Court would decide in her and Kodopi’s favor and grant them bail. However, as we have pointed out many times and as corroborated by human rights organizations and groups such including PUCL, PUDR, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi deserve to be free. Now bereft of their father, Sori’s three young children need to be urgently reunited with their mother. Therefore, we reiterate our demand that the Chhattisgarh government

  • Drop all charges against Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi

  • Compensate them for all the suffering and cruelty inflicted on them,

  • Conduct an impartial and expeditious investigation of all the cases of prisoners in the state and release all those facing spurious charges, and

  • Punish the police and other officials responsible for carrying out torture and for filing spurious cases against them.

References:

[1] IADHRI Statement against the Torture and Politically Motivated Arrest of Soni Sori.

[2] They dared to speak up, but that’s not done in Chhattisgarh, Tehelka, 30 June, 2012. http://www.tehelka.com/they-dared-to-speak-up-but-thats-not-done-in-dantewada/

[3] Activist Soni Sori gets bail in one more case. The Hindu, 31 May, 2012. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-newdelhi/activist-soni-sori-gets-bail-in-one-more-case/article4767974.ece

[4] Soni Sori, Lingaram Kodopi denied bail by Chhattisgarh High Court, The Hindu,  8 July 2013.http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/soni-sori-lingaram-kodopi-denied-bail-by-chhattisgarh-high-court/article4895096.ece

[5] The Government will kill me, Tehelka, 7 April, 2012. http://www.tehelka.com/the-government-will-kill-me/

[6] Reading Soni Sori’s Letters from Prison: An International Women’s Day Video Montage.http://iadhri.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/reading-soni-soris-letters-from-prison-an-international-womens-day-video-montage/

[7] Soni Sori’s Husband, Anil Futane, Passes Away, Tehelka, 3 August, 2013. http://www.tehelka.com/soni-soris-husband-anil-futane-passes-away/

[8] The very right of living in this country has been snatched from me, Tehelka, 4 May, 2012. http://archive.tehelka.com/story_main52.asp?filename=Ws040512country.asp

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Show-cause to Chhattisgarh for flouting orders on Salwa Judum

J. VENKATESAN, The Hindu

Govt. never acknowledged civilian militia’s illegal acts

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Chhattisgarh government to show cause why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against it for its failure to carry out the court directions, issued in July 2011, banning Salwa Judum and asking authorities to vacate all schools and ashrams occupied by security forces.

Acting on petitions filed by social anthropologist Nandini Sundar, Ram Guha, Swami Agnivesh, Kartam Joga and others, the court on July 5, 2011 gave a series of directions to the Central and Chhattisgarh governments and sought a compliance report. The petitioners complained that the State government had not complied with many of the directions.

A Bench of Justices S.S. Nijjar and Ibrahim Kalifulla, after hearing senior counsel Ashok Desai, issued notice on the contempt petition and posted further hearing to October 3.

Prof. Nandini Sundar and others said the State government had negated the court order with impunity. Special police officers were not allowing the CBI to conduct a probe and as a result the investigating agency was now seeking protection from the SPOs. All schools were not vacated by the security forces.

Though a direction was issued to stop all support to Salwa Judum, the State government never acknowledged or punished illegal acts committed by the civilian militia. The court directed registration of FIRs for investigation of criminal cases but only negligible action was taken on cognisable offences cited by the National Human Rights Commission.

Further, nobody had been compensated for property losses, even in camps leave alone villages, the petition said. Nor were victims of Salwa Judum compensated even for loss of life. Only those who were victims of Naxal violence were compensated. The widespread property damage witnessed by an NHRC team was just dismissed by the Chhattisgarh government.

The petition said the State was blatantly false in claiming the SPOs were not being used for combating Maoists and that no erstwhile SPO was in possession of arms. “This claim is both perjury and contempt since all that has been done is to change their names from the SPOs to armed auxiliary forces and they remain erstwhile SPOs.”

  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/india-for-the-love-of-justice-chhattisgarh-salwajudum/" target="_blank"> #India – For the love of justice #Chhattisgarh #Salwajudum

 

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Centre, Chhattisgarh ignoring SC order on Salwa Judum

By Express News Service – HYDERABAD

27th July 2013

  • Audience listening to the speeches in rapt attention at a convention of the Human Rights Forum in Hyderabad on Friday | Express Photo
    Audience listening to the speeches in rapt attention at a convention of the Human Rights Forum in Hyderabad on Friday | Express Photo

Though it has been more than two years since the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court declaring Salwa Judum as illegal and ordering its disbanding, the central and the Chhattisgarh governments have failed to act, Human Rights Forum  general secretary VS Krishna has said.

Speaking on ‘Continuing Tragedy of Adivasi Killings’ at the fourth district convention of the forum here on Friday, he said the violence against Adivasis in the Dandakaranya was continuing unabated.

“The Supreme Court, in its judgment on April 5, 2011, asked the central government to disband Salwa Judum, which is illegal in the first place, vacate the CRPF camps from schools and primary health centres (PHCs), initiate measures to rehabilitate the victims of Salwa Judum violence and file FIRs on complaints lodged by tribal people against atrocities committed on them. The court asked the government to submit an Action-Taken Report in six weeks’ time but the central and Chhattisgarh governments chose to ignore the directives.

‘’When we visited some villages situated in the Gangulur police station limits in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh recently, there were eight CRPF camps, three of them in school buildings. And there was no rehabilitation of the victims as suggested by the apex court,’’ Krishna said.

“The Supreme Court had asked the CBI to investigate the burning of 300 houses, murders and rapes in three villages – Tadimetla, Morpalli and Timmapuram in South Bastar district – which happened in March 2011. When some CBI officers visited the villages for investigation, they were terrorised. Now, they are holding sittings at Jagdalpur, a long way from the three villages. People have no financial or other means to go to Jagdalpur to depose before the CBI,’’ he said.

Giving a grim picture of why justice was not prevailing in the tribal belt of Chhattisgarh, which is caught between the Maoist movement and state-sponsored violence, the HRF general secretary said that magisterial inquiry was ordered in only eight of the 550 cases, and seven of them were still pending. “The Salwa Judum had burnt 644 villages, killed about 1,200 people and committed innumerable rapes,’’ he alleged.

‘’Now, the former SPOs of Salwa Judum are rehabilitated in special armed auxiliary force and provided with automatic weapons with four-fold hike in the salary they used to get previously,’’ he said.

Citing the killings of innocent Adivasis at Sarkeguda in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh on June 28, 2012 and at Edesmeta in the same district on May 17, 2013 during Beej Pondum (seed festival), in which half of the victims were minors, Krishna said the state violence against tribals was continuing unabated.

‘’Violence forced many tribal people to cross over to Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh where they are facing untold harassment from police and forest personnel and others as well. Their temporary huts were being burnt down repeatedly and bind-over cases foisted on them. Police were forcing the Adivasis to work without wages whenever they report to the police station as directed by the police,’’ he said.

The HRF would bring out a report on the violence against Adivasis, which would be discussed at its state convention to be held at Visakhapatnam in October.

  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/salwa-judum-rape-accused-acquitted-as-victims-turn-hostile-vaw/" target="_blank">Salwa Judum rape accused acquitted as victims turn hostile #Vaw
  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/india-a-warning-to-prime-minister-of-india-think-twice-before-jumping-the-gun/" target="_blank"> #India- A warning to Prime Minister of India , think twice before jumping the gun
  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/india-for-the-love-of-justice-chhattisgarh-salwajudum/" target="_blank"> #India – For the love of justice #Chhattisgarh #Salwajudum
  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/06/08/indias-maoist-insurgency-grinds-on/" target="_blank">India’s Maoist Insurgency Grinds On

 

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#India – From war to peace #chattisgarh #Maoists

 
By Binayak & Ilina Sen
Story Dated: Saturday, June 15, 2013 , The Week
Illustration: Bhaskaran

The horrific killings of Congress leaders by armed Maoist guerillas that took place at Jiram Ghati in Chhattisgarh on May 25 have drawn the world’s attention. The latest victim was Vidya Charan Shukla, who succumbed to his wounds on June 11, at the age of 84. The victims included Nandkumar Patel and his son Dinesh, who were shot in cold blood after being led away. The bodies were found with their hands tied behind their backs. Sixteen of the victims were unarmed Congress workers, who were returning from an open political rally organised by the Congress in preparation for the coming Assembly elections.

In a statement issued after the incident, the Maoist spokesperson regretted the loss of lives of the unintended victims, in an argument that chillingly echoed the justification provided by the government for the killing of eight unarmed civilians, including four children, by CRPF commandos at Edesmata a week earlier. The militarisation and existence of dual state power have transformed political discourse into a hall of mirrors.

Many today recognise and accept the legitimacy of the resistance of tribal communities against the forcible acquisition of land, water, minerals and other natural resources by the state for handing over to large-scale corporate interests in the current climate of neo-liberalisation. Displacement and dispossession in the course of these developments have become a threat to the very survival of these communities, dependent, as they are, on their access to common property resources. Many would also accept that in case of widespread militarisation of state intervention in campaigns like Salwa Judum and Operation Green Hunt, these targeted communities had the right to defend themselves and their interests.

However, the reduction of the terms of discourse to military resolution only precludes any other points of view from being articulated. What we would also like to emphasise is that the so-called ‘collateral damage’ of battle is actually the main product of violent conflict, a huge proportion of which is paid for by women, children and other vulnerable sections of society. Thus, while much of the discourse centred on this confrontation is about the legitimacy or illegitimacy of different components of this violence, perhaps it may be more productive to shift our focus on ways and means to get past this current impasse and concentrate instead on the possibilities of inducting a discourse that is centred on the restoration of peace and well-being of the communities that live in conflict areas.

We are more than conscious of the fact that such declarations of peaceful intent are greeted in most circles with raucous laughter. However, people who are thus amused should remind themselves that those opting for a scaling up of conflict have little to show for the strategies they have advocated. Political declarations made by the ruling elite, as well as the advocates of revolutionary violence, that have been made after the Jiram Ghati incident, as a necessary step to ensure justice, do not give much hope for the possibilities of peace. Perhaps, that is why, at this juncture, it is more necessary than ever for those who believe in peace and the possibilities of a strategy based on peace, to declare themselves and commit to work towards creative alternatives.

[email protected]

 

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Salwa Judum rape accused acquitted as victims turn hostile #Vaw

RAIPUR, June 15, 2013

Suvojit Bagchi

Six tribal girls filed rape charges against nine SPOs and three Salwa Judum leaders in 2009

Six of the fifteen men — including former Special Police Officers Kicche Nanda and Kawasi Mangalram — accused of raping six tribal women during the controversial Salwa Judum campaign in south Chhattisgarh have been acquitted by a sessions court in Dantewada after the women turned hostile and refused to recognise their alleged rapists.

As the Dantewada Judge, A.K. Beck, recorded, the complainants, all women from Samsetti, told the court that they “…do not know the accused Kicche Nanda or Kawasi Mangalram. The witness clearly stated that no incident (of rape) took place with them. They have not filed any complaints in the police station” or “in the court of Konta.”

In June 2009, exactly four years ago, six girls from Samsetti and other villages had filed rape charges against nine special police officers and 3 Salwa Judum leaders. The SP Dantewada refused to register a case; in an affidavit to the Supreme Court later, the Chhattisgarh government would say this was because the police had enquired with the accused, Salwa Judum leaders Boddu Raja, Soyam Mooka, and Dinesh, who denied any such charges. Since the word of the accused was what counted with the police, the girls were forced to file their complaints directly with the trial court.

Untraceable

On December 10, 2009, the trial court issued arrest warrants in all the cases, but noted that according to the police, the accused were all untraceable. For example, “In this case, accused Kartam Surya, Kovasi Mangal Ram, Kichche Nanda are absconding. There is no chance of finding them in near future. So, accused Kartam Surya, Kovasi Mangal Ram, Kichche Nanda are declared absconding. There is a permanent arrest warrant committal against them by the court.’

However, Judum leaders Soyam Mooka, Kartam Surya and the others who were allegedly “absconding” continued to be active as SPOs and members of the district force. Kartam Surya was later also accused of being involved in the burning of Tadmetla, Morpalli and Timapuram in 2011, on which the Supreme Court ordered the CBI to investigate.

The police refusal to arrest the Samsetti rape accused was repeatedly brought up before the Supreme Court, and on 25th April 2011, Harish Salve appearing for Chhattisgarh promised to have this looked into. No action was taken.

Kartam Surya, who was killed by the Maoists in February 2012, was given a guard of honour by the police.

This correspondent was in court when Era (name changed), the primary witness, retracted her statement. The adivasi woman, who could not speak or understand Hindi, was clearly confused and perhaps scared as the accused were sitting outside the court room.

One of the women who brought the allegations against the SPOs, Mira (name changed) said that she is “sick of outsiders.” “You do not come when we are in trouble, go away now,” she told this correspondent a few days after retracting the charges in the court. She even denied her existence. “I am not Mira,” she said.

With the men acquitted, the complainants and the accused will now return to the same villages or panchayats where they will live with each other as neighbours. The women of Samsetti, on their way to the market, will meet the men, who “did not rape” them. May be the men will get transferred after a point but the women will still have to meet one of the accused – Kartam Surya, the most feared policeman of Sukma.

Mr. Surya was killed last year but his statue adorns the village market in Sukma. A hundred kilometres north, in Dantewada, a court reader still shouts,‘Kartam Surya hazir ho?’ (Kartam Surya, present yourself), before every Samsetti hearing. In the judgment, however, he is described as “absconding”. The call for Kartam Surya will be heard for a few more months till the case concludes, a court clerk said, as he handed over the order sheets.

 

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#India – Tribal land is Eklavya’s thumb, Dronacharya, the State is demanding as the price for ‘development’

There can also be an alternative universe

PK Vijayan and Karen Gabriel
June 12, 2013, Hindustan Times
Mahendra Karma engineered Salwa Judum (SJ), a vigilante tribal group hired and armed by the State-corporate land and mining nexus to exterminate tribals resisting resource loot. Karma was responsible for the execution of thousands of tribals, and the torture, rape, displacement and destitution oflakhs. This is the man the Congress nurtured, protected and now mourns. The State has never regretted the lakhs of civilian deaths it has caused, whether through Operation Green Hunt (OGH) or otherwise.State and corporate-sponsored violence remains under-reported and frequently justified. The government urges Maoists to eschew violence but itself plans military attacks on civilians. Notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s directives, SJ continues in its new avatar as the ‘Koya commandos’.  Abuse of State power, corporate loot and violation of human rights during OGH (and intensifying in Phase II of OGH) — all in the guise of ‘national security’ and ‘development’ — led to national and international protests and bad press. The State responded with news blackouts. The State’s right to violence is conceded only if the State is regarded as above the law, impartial and anonymous. We need to ask inconvenient questions like, ‘why has the State been violent, since when, and for whose benefit?’ ‘Why are the tribals retaliating?’ They are tired of being “collateral damage” in the intensely violent and unjust privatisation of resources (protected under the Fifth Schedule) and national wealth that is passing for ‘development’.

All areas designated Maoist are also areas in which memorandums of understanding amounting to trillions of rupees have been signed with many MNC’s for mineral extraction. When this looting is supplemented with the mythologies of ‘democracy’ and ‘progress’, the villain becomes the anti-development, non-progressive Maoist tribal. The D Bandhopadhyay report of the Planning Commission notes that the Maoists have undertaken development that the State should have. Genuine pro-poor development should enhance tribals’ productive relations with the land, not disposses them.

The tribals are asked to ‘eschew violence’ and ‘join the democratic mainstream’. But the electoral process that constitutes this ‘democratic mainstream’ is a cynical numbers game. The ‘first-past-the-post’ system has meant that parties need address the demands of only the voting populace of very specific constituencies, differentiated along lines of tribe, caste, religion, etc. And that too, only on the influential sections within them, who in turn will (often coercively) ensure the remaining votes. This has not only created  long-standing traditions of nepotism and inherited privilege, it has meant that, after six-plus decades of independence, the needs of the vast majority remain unaddressed. They have not opted out of the ‘mainstream’: they have been systematically excluded.

This exclusion has resulted in systemic, systematic and mind-boggling poverty, destitution, violence and deaths. This ‘political mainstream’ has failed so completely that even these deaths have no meaning for it. They are inconsequential, never on par with the individual deaths of the privileged who constitute the ‘political mainstream’.

The coveted tribal land is Eklavya’s thumb. This is what the Dronacharya of the State is demanding as the price for ‘development’. Why should Eklavya concede? Dronacharya and Eklavya are nowhere near equal, and well-intentioned if naïve calls for both to respect the Geneva Convention should understand this. The State denies that it is at war with its own people, and given their disparity in strength, the Maoists are hardly likely to endorse the Convention unilaterally.

If the Maoists have an alternative understanding of democracy and development that may prove more inclusive and sustainable, then perhaps it is time to listen to them, rather than banning and ‘encountering’ them. The post-May 25 suggestions to intensify police and military action in these regions will prove disastrous. The State must recognise its own strength and responsibilities, and make the first move toward peace by lifting the ban. It must allow transparent media coverage and observers in these regions. The question — whether one is for or against Maoist ideology —  trivialises, distorts and distracts from the central issues.

PK Vijayan is Assistant Professor, Department of English, Hindu College. Karen Gabriel is Associate Professor, Department of English, St. Stephen’s College
The views expressed by the authors are personal

 

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Maoist violence is not a mere law and order problem: Tribal Affairs minister

Deo said the government needs to be sensible about development in tribal areas, rather than allowing industries to exploit the rich natural resources of these areas

Nupur Sonar

June 10, 2013

The mangled remains of a vehicle at the site of Maoists ambush in Bastar where the Congress partys convoy was attacked. Photo PTIThe mangled remains of a vehicle at the site of ambush in Bastar where the Congress partys convoy was attacked. Photo PTI

Speaking at a press conference  held on the occasion of the launch of his Ministry’s new website, Tribal Affairs minister  said that Maoist violence is a deeper problem and cannot be treated as a mere law and order problem.  “There is rampant exploitation of tribals and the lack of development is also a part of the problem,” he said. The lack of development in these areas is the reason for such attacks, he said, while laying emphasis on the need to get to the root cause of the problem.

In the wake of the 25 May Maoist attack on a Congress convoy in , Deo said that at a time when the tribals are caught between the cross-fire of the paramilitary forces and the Maoists, all tribals cannot be painted with the same brush.  “It is really unfortunate that today,  in democratic India a tribal has no choice. He has to choose between the security forces and Maoists,” he added.

Deo said the government needs to be sensible about development in tribal areas, rather than allowing industries to exploit the rich natural resources of these areas. “Where in India have tribals benefited from mining activities? The impoverished have only become further impoverished,” he said while stating that whether or not his cabinet colleagues were for this kind of development, he is strongly opposed to it.  “This kind of development is a clear violation of our social obligations.”

Tribals are not our enemy but civilians of the country and our paramilitary forces are the ones who are trained to fight the enemy. But Salwa Judum is the biggest threat to peace.  Keeping young tribals in concentration camps and depriving them of their rights is not the answer. It is the worst thing that can happen”, he said.

An all party meeting to fine-tune the state’s policy on tackling Maoist violence is scheduled for later today

 

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