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Archive for June 3rd, 2010

Battle for survival

Posted by ajadhind on June 3, 2010

MAHIM PRATAP SINGH
in Kalahandi

The tribal people of Niyamgiri hills in Orissa are determined to prevent Vedanta Aluminium Ltd from mining the area for bauxite.

MAHIM PRATAP SINGH

Nearly 8,000 of the Dongria Kondh Adivasis, who revere the Niyamgiri mountain as their king and god, fear displacement and disruption of their centuries-old culture once the company gets the clearance to mine the hills.

Niyamgiri in Orissa is all set to become a scene of local community resistance to corporate interests. The hills of Niyamgiri, a Fifth Schedule area under the Constitution of India and home to Dongria Kondh Adivasis, are allegedly under threat from the proposed mining activities of the Mumbai-based Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL), a subsidiary of the British mining giant Vedanta Resources Plc, which owns the majority stake in the now privatised BALCO. VAL is awaiting the second stage of clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for its Niyamgiri project. It got the first-stage clearance from the MoEF in September 2004.

The company has already started operations at its refinery in Lanjigarh, a town downhill from the Niyamgiri forest. The bauxite for the refinery is brought chiefly from Vedanta’s mines at Bodai-Daldali in Chhattisgarh. The refinery requires three million tonnes of bauxite a year. Naturally, Niyamgiri is extremely important for Vedanta because getting the required amount of bauxite transported from outside would not be viable for the company.

The clearance granted to the refinery is also fraught with controversy. The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) constituted by the Supreme Court following a complaint of environmental violations against Vedanta, in its report submitted to the court in September 2005, accused Vedanta of deliberate violations. The committee’s member secretary, M.K. Jiwrajka, belongs to the MoEF. The CEC observed that “out of the requirement of 723.343 hectares for the alumina refinery and 721.323 ha for the bauxite mining, 58.943 ha and 672.018 ha, respectively, are forest land” and “since the project involved the use of the forest land for the alumina refinery itself, the environmental clearance could have been granted by the MoEF only after the use of the forest land was permitted under the F.C. [Forest Conservation] Act”.

The CEC concluded that “M/s Vedanta has deliberately and consciously concealed the involvement of the forest land in the project… so that environmental clearance is not kept pending for want of the F.C. Act clearance”. It further stated that in violation of the Act the project was split into alumina refinery and bauxite mining although the latter is an integral part of the project and that although the MoEF was “fully aware that the use of the forest land for the mining at Niyamgiri hills is absolutely necessary if the alumina refinery is to be established at Lanjigarh, the environmental clearance to the alumina refinery has been accorded by the MoEF by overlooking these facts”.

According to information provided by VAL, the mines of Niyamgiri belong to the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC), with which the company has signed a memorandum of understanding for the procurement of bauxite on a long-term basis – 150 million tonnes from the Lanjigarh bauxite deposits and other nearby mines of the OMC. An MoU was signed by the OMC and Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd, also a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources Plc., in 1997. However, in October 2004, the OMC signed another MoU with VAL for mining bauxite in Lanjigarh and Karlapat. For this mining, the OMC entered into a joint venture with VAL, in which it would hold 26 per cent equity and VAL the rest.

Around 8,000 Dongria Kondh Adivasis, who are a Primitive Tribal Group (PTG) notified by the Union government and who revere the Niyamgiri mountain as their king and god, fear displacement and total disruption of their centuries-old culture once the company gets the clearance to mine the hills. However, the company dismisses all such concerns.

“It has already been clarified by the State’s Minister of Steel and Mines in the Assembly that there is no habitation in the mining lease area and as such no displacement is involved there,” VAL’s chief operations officer Mukesh Kumar told Frontline.

Three-member team’s report

The MoEF, in December last year, constituted a team comprising Usha Ramanathan, a law researcher from the Delhi-based Centre for the Study of Developing Societies; Vinod Rishi, former Additional Director General of the Wildlife Institute of India; and J.K. Tewari, Chief Conservator of Forests (Central), Bhubaneswar, in view of the allegations regarding the violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, and to address concerns regarding tribal rights and wildlife. The team submitted its report to the Ministry on February 25, highlighting, among other things, the gross violations of the Forest (Conservation) Act and the Forest Rights Act (FRA) by the “user agency”, VAL. According to Usha Ramanathan’s observations in the report, which has the most scathing indictment of irregularities and violations committed by the company, the Dongria Kondh people feel that although there is no habitation in the mining area, over 200 villages on a hillside will get affected by the road, vehicles, mining activities and the drying up of perennial streams and that the dongar (hill), which they worship as their king and god, will be dug up and blasted.

Concern is also expressed over the disregard for the forest rights of the Adivasis under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. According to section 5(c) of the Act, it is to be ensured that “the habitat of forest-dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers is preserved from any form of destructive practices affecting their cultural and natural heritage”.

“Until these [forest rights] and allied rights are recognised, recorded and settled under the FRA, it would be unconstitutional and in breach of the FRA to disturb their [the Dongria Kondh] habitat,” Usha Ramanathan notes in her report. The report also observes that “disruption of the habitat and the way of life of this PTG cannot be remediated nor compensated, and may lead to the destruction of the Dongria Kondh”.

The report also expresses concern over the receipt of material assistance and benefits by the district administration from VAL. It says that “two rooms have been added to the BDO office [Block Development Office] in Vishwanathpur and furnished by VAL as a resting place for the Collector when he travels on duty”.

J.K. Tewari’s observations point towards violations of the Forest (Conservation) Act by the company in the construction of 47 pillars for its conveyor belt. Tewari has observed that the area calculated by the State government (45.6 square metres) over which the pillars are constructed is faulty and that the actual area of construction and operation would be much larger. He has also observed violations of MoEF guidelines in the construction of an incomplete mine access road. Apart from environmentalists, human rights activists, the CEC and the MoEF’s three-member team, Vedanta has also faced ire from its own shareholders. In February this year, the Church of England withdrew its £3.8-million share from the company citing no “level of respect for human rights and local communities” on the part of the company. Earlier, in 2007, the Norwegian pension fund, the world’s second largest sovereign wealth fund, sold off its shares worth $13.2 million owing to alleged environmental and human rights violations by the company’s Indian subsidiaries.

Legal ambiguity

There is also a lot of ambiguity regarding whether VAL or Sterlite Industries is the core representative for the mining activity. The Supreme Court order of August 8, 2008, which allowed the diversion of 660.749 ha of forest land for mining, was “in matter of M/s Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd (SIIL)”.

In an earlier order dated November 23, 2007, the court had expressed doubts over the credibility of VAL and noted that “keeping in mind the totality of the above factors (a series of facts and circumstances in relation to M/s VAL having caused environmental damage and human rights violations), we are not inclined to clear the project”. In this order, the court gave the liberty to SIIL to move the court if it agreed to comply with the modalities suggested by the court and categorically stated that “such an application will not be entertained if made by M/s VAL or by Vedanta Resources”. However, all communications with Usha Ramanathan, as mentioned in the report to the MoEF, were handled by representatives of VAL. This, the report has observed, is a violation of the Supreme Court orders. All communication with this correspondent too was by VAL representatives.

REINHARD KRAUSE/REUTERS

Members of The Dongria Kondh tribe dance in a ceremony on top of the Niyamgiri mountain on February 21 to protest against plans by Vedanta Aluminium Ltd to mine bauxite from the mountain.

The Supreme Court’s decisions too have come in for criticism. The new Chief Justice of India, Justice S.H. Kapadia, has been criticised for hearing cases relating to Vedanta while being a shareholder of its subsidiary, SIIL.

“When I brought up this issue of conflict of interest of Justice Kapadia, I got served with a contempt notice,” says Prashant Bhushan of the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Judicial Reforms. Justice Kapadia responded by stating that he had declared that he was a shareholder of Sterlite and had invited objections, and when none was raised, he went ahead with the hearing, and thus acted according to the code of conduct.

The forest and its people

Five kilometres on a bicycle, 10 km on foot, and five streams of water to cross along a steep, rocky passage through dense forest in sweltering tropical heat, often 45 {+0} Celsius or more, means that getting to Jarpa, like most villages of Niyamgiri, is not easy. Rajulguda village at the foothills serves as a night halt, from where Lenju, an activist leader of the Niyamgiri Surakhya Samiti (Niyamgiri Protection Committee), leads one to the villages uphill the next morning.

The residents of Rajulguda greet Lenju and this correspondent with a raised fist and a casual ‘Lal Salaam’. That, Lenju explains, is because of the leadership activities of the Lok Sangram Manch, a frontier organisation of the CPI-ML (New Democracy), which supports the movement in principle.

The entire interaction with the Adivasis is extremely secretive, and Lenju constantly cautions against asking the “wrong questions”. Bitter experiences with journalists and other visitors in the past have meant that the Dongria Kondhs do not allow anybody uphill without prior approval from the committee. Taking pictures is prohibited as they believe that several of their photographs clicked earlier have made their way into the market.

On the way up is Serkopadi village, also home to the Dongria Kondh. “Downhill, water- and air-related problems exist because of the company’s presence. Our committee will make sure that the company does not enter the forest or it will be the same here,” says Indra Sikoka of the village.

Another difficult trek of around 10 km takes us to Jarpa, where the Dongria Kondh Adivasis wait for us. “Vedanta is an enemy, a foreign monster that has come here to destroy us,” says Lahadi Sikoka, a villager, sharpening a wooden stick with his axe. Thousands of others of his tribe, spread across over a 100 villages in Niyamgiri, share the same sentiment.

It is common for the Dongria Kondh to carry some weapon or the other at all times to survive against attacks from wild animals, which are aplenty in Niyamgiri. It could be an axe, a bow and arrows or even a crude gun. Niyamgiri means the mount of Niyam Raja, the law god of the Dongria Kondh, whom they also worship as their king and ancestor. While the company maintains that there is no habitation on the mountain top, which is the proposed mining area, the Kondh people believe it to be the abode of Niyam Raja.

According to the residents of Jarpa village, Niyamgiri is a sacred place for them, a bank that provides them with everything they need. Salt and oil are the only things they need to get from outside.

The CEC report to the Supreme Court in 2005 strongly recommended against allowing mining in the Niyamgiri hills. It observed, among other things, that the rich biodiversity of Niyamgiri (which also happens to be an elephant reserve) would be under serious threat from the company’s mining activities. According to the report, the forest “contains sambar, leopard, tiger, barking deer, various species of birds and other endangered species of wildlife…it has more than 300 species of plants and trees, including about 50 species of medicinal plants”.

Nalli, which is the Kuvi (the language spoken by the Kondh) word for bauxite, is a precious resource necessary for the survival of the forest and its 36 perennial water streams because of its water-retaining characteristics.

In late February, the Kondh held an oath-taking ceremony on top of the hill where they resolved not to allow Vedanta to enter the forest even if it gets the clearance, which they fear is imminent. In such an event, says Lenju, the tribal people will run short of options. “Once they get the final clearance and come here for mining, we will have no option but to fight them tooth and nail,” he says. “We have started preparations for the confrontation and that is when the government will declare us Maoists and unleash CRPF [Central Reserve Police Force] troops on us. But we have nothing to lose. We will fight it out and die but will not let go of our forest,” he says.

In an exclusive conversation with Frontline, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh said the Ministry was not in any hurry to give the clearance. “The team sent by us found that Vedanta has violated the terms and conditions under which the approval was given to them. The project involves forest and non-forest areas. These guys have already started work in the non-forest areas, which is a violation,” he said. The Minister admitted that mining would spell doom for the mountain and its people and also expressed surprise at the fact that the Supreme Court overlooked the recommendations of the CEC.

“If they manage to get the clearance, Niyamgiri will be destroyed forever. But there is no hurry and we are exploring all options. The Supreme Court has given its approval, but I have to say it seems strange as it is the only case where the Supreme Court has not accepted the recommendations of the CEC,” he said.

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Bulldozer regime

Posted by ajadhind on June 3, 2010

PRAFULLA DAS
in Bhubaneswar

source – frontline

Protests against displacement by industries in Orissa show no sign of losing steam.

BISWARANJAN ROUT/AP

Kabita Sahoo inside her house, burnt during clashes between anti-Posco activists and the police at Balitutha village, on May 16.

In a State where more than two-thirds of rural families live below the poverty line and other social indicators are as dismal, the process of industrialisation that began at the turn of the century ought to have been a cause for optimism. But, of late, people have been fighting tooth and nail the many proposed industrial projects in Orissa because they threaten to take away their fertile lands and livelihood sources. The latest flashpoint was on May 15 at Balitutha, the main entry point to the project area of Posco-India Private Limited in Jagatsinghpur district, where the police fired rubber bullets and resorted to lathi-charge against hundreds of men and women who have been holding a dharna against the South Korean company’s steel project since January 26 this year.

The protests against displacement in the State have shown little sign of losing steam despite publicity campaigns by private companies “to be partners in progress” or Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s frequent statements on television about peaceful industrialisation. Highways of the State are replete with billboards of private companies announcing sponsorships, scholarships, health camps or skill development programmes.

The hard sell is no more evident than in capital Bhubaneswar where workshops and seminars on Orissa’s ‘development’ in various sectors have become a regular feature. Both the government and the private sector feed the media with information that suits them the most. Leading editors in the State are invited for exclusive briefings or meetings with corporate bigwigs.

In the far-flung districts where there is much opposition from people to industrial projects, company executives seem to have won over many local journalists; it is not surprising for a visiting journalist to find scribes canvassing for the projects. The Internet is a major tool used by corporate communications departments and public relations firms to issue press releases that squarely blame people’s organisations for the delay in the implementation of industrial projects.

The major projects facing strong anti-displacement protests in the State are Posco, Tata Steel, and Vedanta Aluminium Limited. In Jagatsinghpur district, Posco faces opposition from the people of three gram panchayats for its proposed steel plant with a capacity of 12 million tonnes. In Kalinganagar, Tata Steel is trying to acquire 3,200 acres (one acre is 0.4 hectare) for a six-million tonne steel plant.

Vedanta has plans to extract bauxite from the Niyamgiri hills at Lanjigarh for its alumina refinery situated near by. Besides, a foundation run by Anil Agarwal, the founder-director of U.K.-based Vedanta, is making all-out efforts to establish ‘a world-class university’ alongside the Puri-Konark marine drive. The State government, however, is nonchalant about the anti-displacement agitations. Indeed, the administration seems to have been left free to help the companies acquire land through various means. Using police force against the agitators has become the order of the day.

On January 2, 2006, 14 tribal men and women opposing ground-levelling work on the land allotted to Tata Steel in Kalinganagar were killed in police firing. Later, criminal cases were registered against those leading agitations against various companies in different regions, and many of them were arrested.

The next phase of action against those opposing industry-induced displacement started in Kalinganagar in March this year when the people of affected villages and activists of the Bisthapan Birodhi Janamanch were attacked indiscriminately. More than 700 armed policemen were deployed in the Kalinganagar area to facilitate the construction of a common corridor road. The local people say the road will primarily be of use to Tata Steel if the plant is established there. On March 30, hundreds of policemen entered Baligotha village in Kalinganagar and fired rubber bullets at the residents and beat them up for opposing the construction of the road. Apparently, many people who were injured did not go to hospital fearing arrest. A few days later, members of the pro-industry group attacked workers in the same area. A local journalist was hurt while covering the incident, and his camera was snatched away.

The police action then shifted to villages where people refused to vacate their land and homes for the Tata project. On May 12, the police opened fire in Chandia village and a tribal person was killed. The body of the victim, Laxman Jamuda, was cremated under mysterious circumstances, and the police refuted the villagers’ claim that the death was caused by police firing.

Rabindra Jarika, secretary of the Bisthapan Birodhi Janamanch, is, however, firm about continuing the protest. “We will not allow destruction in the name of development at any cost. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik cannot carry out industrialisation at gunpoint,” he said.

Balitutha incident

As efforts were on in Kalinganagar to carry forward the displacement process, on May 15, hundreds of policemen went berserk at Balitutha when they tried to chase away people who were holding a dharna against the Posco steel project. Many people were injured in the incident, which occurred in the presence of senior administration officials. The police were acting under the instructions of the State government, which was making a desperate attempt to facilitate the implementation of the project, already delayed by five years.

Those sitting in dharna at Balitutha had created a ‘laxman rekha’, resolving to prevent the entry of any official, the police or Posco employees to the gram panchayats of Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadakunjang. The proposed project is likely to affect 20,000 people in these villages.

The local residents who ran for their life on May 15, however, returned to Balitutha on May 19 with the same resolve to resist the project and attended a public meeting organised by the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti. The Samiti has been opposing the steel project since the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the company and the State government in June 2005.

The leaders of six opposition parties – the Communist Party of India (CPI), which is backing the Sangram Samiti; the Communist Party of India (Marxist); the Samajwadi Party; the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Forward Bloc – addressed the meeting. CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan condemned the police repression and warned the State government against using police force to acquire land for the Posco project, which would affect thousands of families. “Use of force will only add strength to the agitation,” he said.

PRAFULLA DAS

Rabindra Jarika, Bisthapan Birodhi Janamanch leader, leading a rally of tribal people against displacement in Kalinganagar area, on May 22.

Sangram Samiti president Abhay Sahoo criticised the State government for not taking the village committees into confidence and for submitting wrong information to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests with regard to the use of nearly 1,200 acres of forest land in order to help the company get the final forest clearance for the project. The government said no one lived on the forest land when there were tribal people living there and cultivating the forest land. Under the existing laws, villagers living on forest land have genuine rights over the land on which they have been living for generations together, he added.

A day after the meeting, the Chief Minister held a discussion with the Lok Sabha Member from Jagatsinghpur, Bibhu Prasad Tarai of the CPI, and four legislators of the ruling Biju Janata Dal from the area. He gave them a proposal that Posco would be asked to exclude 300 acres of private land under Dhinkia panchayat from the 4,004 acres of land earmarked for the steel plant. The CPI rejected it.

Bardhan, who was camping in Bhubaneswar, told the media the next day that the State government should shift the project to another place. Although he welcomed the government’s willingness for talks between senior officials and those opposing the project, he said there would not be any deviation from the demand for the shifting of the site.

He also demanded that the State government issue a White Paper on the Rs.52,000-crore Posco project stating how much Orissa would lose in terms of land, captive iron ore and water from the Mahanadi river; the impact the project would have on the people and their livelihoods; and the impact of the proposed captive port of Posco on the existing major port at Paradip.

Vedanta’s projects

As for the agitation against Vedanta Aluminium’s proposed bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri hills, which is considered sacred by the Dongria Kondh tribal community, and the pollution the company’s alumina refinery is allegedly causing, the Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti is hopeful that the Centre will deny mining clearance to the company in view of the latest reports by three experts who were sent to the area by the Union Environment Ministry. The tribal people of Niyamgiri had failed to resist the construction of the company’s refinery, but they are now united in their fight to save Niyamgiri from being mined (see “Battle for survival”, page 37).

Similarly, hundreds of families and many people’s organisations in Puri are strongly against the acquisition of 6,000 acres of land for the Vedanta University project. While there are many cases pending in different courts against the project, those opposing the venture are sticking to their stand against handing over a vast expanse of land for the establishment of a university in alleged violation of coastal zone management rules. Acquisition of land for the proposed steel plant project of ArcelorMittal with a capacity of 12 million tonnes also faces opposition in mineral-rich Keonjhar district, which has been in the headlines for large-scale illegal mining.

But even as protest continues in different places against the handing over of thousands of acres of land, displacement, diversion of water meant for irrigation to industries, illegal mining and pollution of the environment, the companies, with the help of the local administration and political leaders, are trying hard to divide people in the name of development in order to achieve their goals. The main opposition parties in the State, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, which express their opposition to displacement now and then, have not been able to force the government to resolve the issues of land acquisition and displacement. Meanwhile, the district administrations concerned are making serious efforts to facilitate land acquisition for the industries.

The Chief Minister reiterates that his government favours peaceful industrialisation and warns that no one should take the law into their hands. He has also been saying that not a single drop of water meant for irrigation will be diverted to industries. He has been attending most of the ceremonies organised at the State secretariat for the signing of MoUs to set up new steel plants, alumina refineries, ports, thermal power plants and other such ventures.

He has also been assuring companies and promoters of all cooperation from the government. He also reviews regularly the progress on different industrial projects such as Posco.

But he has not visited any of the villages opposing the industrial projects – even the tribal hamlets of Kalinganagar since the 2006 police firing or Lanjigarh or the coastal villages in Jagatsinghpur where innocent people have been facing the wrath of the police and pro-industry groups.

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Arundhati Roy talks on ‘War of People’

Posted by ajadhind on June 3, 2010

source – rediff

Activist Arundhati Roy spoke on ‘War of People’ at the Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh in Mumbai on Wednesday. Below is the transcript of the talk.

“I think we should reverse the way we see this issue (war against Naxalism) and the way it is being put to us. But the fact is nobody needs this war more than this government. The fact is it is manufacturing an enemy to justify its war. When the PM said Maoists are the greatest internal threat to the country for the first time in 2004, what was the situation?

Maoists were just wiped out in Andhra, but why did the share prices of the mining companies go up? Because it was a message to them saying their interests were taken care of. The government actually made the Maoists seem bigger than they were…

What is that makes it so urgent for the government to fight this war? In 2005, a huge number of MoUs were signed by the biggest corporations in the world, and they have been waiting. If you read the business papers you will understand clearly which MNC is waiting for which land.

Maoists are only the violent end of a spectrum of a dissent in this country that this massive sale of land is just not on. Whether it is Kalinganagar, or POSCO, or Singur, or the Maoist movement, at the heart is land

All these infrastructure projects, the first thing they do is relocate the poor people.

I am not here to defend the killing of innocent people by anybody, not by the Communist Party of India-Marxist, the Maoists or the government. That is not my brief. When the 76 CRPF personnel were killed, there was this tremendous pressure on me, saying you went inside, you romanticised violence, now come and condemn this violence. BUt I ask what were the CRPF people – she lists an array of heavy arms — doing there?

It is not so simple, it is a very thorny, knotty issue. It is not possible for me to go there and see these people with their loin clothes, bows and arrows, and you want to snatch it from them, and you want me on your side, it cant be done, she says

This is the war between the poorest people of the world, against the biggest democracy in the world. And they are winning. They have stopped the corporates on their tracks.

They are asking a serious question. This is questioning the meaning of democracy, of civilisation itself.

These are not questions that are coming from art galleries — they are coming from the millions of people who have put their lives on the line to ask this question. The answers are the key to what is going to become of this planet, this civilisation, the human race.

When Capitalism won against the Afghans in the 1980s, the whole world did a somersault, including India [ Images ]. We became natural allies of the US and Israel, and then digressed to condemn the attack on the flotilla.

When i wrote ‘Walking with the Comrades’, I was happy when I was criticised of romanticising because I believed in the romance of the forests, the romance of the people. We love romance… we like the romanticism of violence in our movies, as long an airhead with biceps and machine gun is doing it. But, when the violence of the poor people is romanticised, we don’t like it.

In the Dandakaranya, where I walked with the comrades, 640 villages were emptied. Many of them live in Andhra, many live in the forests.

The same things — same violence, same terror, same allignment of forces — happened during the Telangana movement of the 50s and 60s.

Pakistan, which was never allowed to have a democracy thanks to the US, is craving for a democracy, while India, a democracy is fighting for a military state.

The media, the middle class is begging for a military state, she says.

When a journalist asked her if she supported violence, she said, “In human nature, there is always violence, and there is always love. When we decide to be violent and when we decide to love is up to the individual.

Today people like me are totally on the side of the resistance; because we think the question the tribals are asking — whether the bauxite can be left in the mountains — is correct.

The adivasis are not fighting for state capitalism, they are fighting for the bauxite to be left in the mountains. They are saying we don’t want advanced weapons, aircraft, etc. Mining bauxite gives alumina, which consumes a lot of water. They have a revolutionary armed resistance but they do not have a revolutionary vision.

It has a totalitarian vision, it does not tolerate dissent. I cannot quarrel with that military strategy right now but then we have to think what is going to happen. So that is why a dialogue is needed…

A rock hard resistance, which is elastic and takes in dissent and argument, will make it stronger. But we need to understand we can’t betray the causes we are fighting for.

All across South Asia, what are the areas under attack? All of them are under assault by a marauding capitalist system. In Afghanistan, the resistance is taking the form of radical Islam; in India, it is communist extremism — but the assaulting force is capitalist everywhere.”

You must talk about these issues because your life will be affected too at the end of it.”

Roy then takes questions from the audience.

A questioner says he shared every emotion expressed today, but what can we do until human nature changes?

Roy: We shouldn’t conclude that human nature is greedy. IT is also sensible. The most successful secessionist movement in this country is the secession of the middle and upper class in this country. They are sitting there and saying ‘What is our bauxite doing in their mountains, what is our water doing in their rivers, they ask from up there’.

A questioner, who introduces himself as a student of Indian economics, says India is the most oppressive society and a revolution is required, but the Maoists are not the revolutionaries who are needed right now. He says it was wrong of Roy to support them.

Roy: What is going in the Congress is an old game, where Sonia and Rahul are playing the good guys, and Chidambaram and Manmohan are the bad guys. Rahul Gandhigoes to Dantewada, but doesn’t say a word about Salwa Judum (an uprising of local indigenous people in Chhattisgarh to fight Naxalites  which was run by a Congress leader and supported by the BJP government.

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