peoples march

from the people against injustice in the society

Posts Tagged ‘bastar’


Posted by ajadhind on August 17, 2011



Press Release

June 7, 2011




The moment when the process of deploying the Army in Bastar is just underway, the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), one of the biggest Public Sector Units of India, has declared that the Raoghat mines would be privatized. These two acts not just coincided, but there was a conspiratorial coordination between them. Raoghat hills are located just 25 kilometers away from Narayanpur (in Maad region), a district headquarter town, where the Raman Singh government of Chhattisgarh has given permission to the Army to acquire 750 square kilometers (i.e. 185,250+ acres) of land. Now so many notorious MNCs will rush into this area to rob the iron ore which is known for its best quality. From one side, the Army and from other side, the corporate companies are trying to gulp down the whole Maad region which is the motherland of Maria and Gond adivasis, the primitive tribal communities of Bastar.

In 2006, before the Raoghat project is commenced, some accusations were made against the management of BSP that it had illicitly leased out some of the deposits of Raoghat mines to Tata and NECO companies. People believed strongly that the BSP management was acting as paw in the hands of big business houses such as Tata, Essar, Jindal, NECO etc. But then it had cleverly managed it and stated that there was no such thing. But lately the chairperson of the SAIL, Chandrashekhar Verma himself has declared that they are going to privatize Raoghat mines and global tenders would be invited for this. (Source: Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar, May 24, 2011). With this, now the game of hide-and-seek is over! Intentions of the exploitative governments are very clear! With the neo-liberal policies dictated by the imperialist masters getting implemented so openly, the MNCs would capture not just Raoghat mines; they would even buy the BSP or buy the SAIL itself. The recent examples of POSCO, Vedanta etc. of other states also clearly indicate this trend.

It’s believed that Raoghat hills are having 7.4 billion tonnes of iron ore which is known for finest quality with 62 percent Fe grade. BSP is supposed to excavate 511 million tonnes of iron ore. Construction of Dalli-Raoghat-Jagdalpur railway line is underway for this purpose. Government has already started grabbing the lands forcefully from the peasants between Dalli and Raoghat. But it’s facing stiff resistance from the local people.

This project in fact is an old one. In 1992, government was forced to give up implementing this project due to massive protests of people. In Antagarh, ten thousand adivasis had taken a massive procession to register their strong opposition to the proposed mining project. But the state had responded with repressive methods as always happens. A police camp was set up on the top of these hills. That camp is still present there. Our Party has been actively supporting this just struggle.

Local people are opposing this project because 3,278 hectares of forests would completely be destroyed. Apart from this, large portions of adjoining forests would also be destroyed. River Mendhki and so many other streams flowing through the region would get polluted. The farming will be destroyed so much that it is difficult to quantify. Local people see these mountains as their cultural centers and ritual faith. After the opening up of the mines these will be buried for ever. Many environmentalists believe that environment and monsoon from the perspective of Bastar, Raoghat Mountains are extremely important. With Raoghat mining project the existence of 23 villages will immediately be endangered. Further, 13 villages of adivasis might be uprooted in Chargaon area, next to this mine proposed by a private company of NECO Jaiswaals. (And now if you add the proposed massive acquisition of land by the Army – bloated 750 square kilometers – you can’t imagine that the existence of how many villages is going to disappear!)

On the issue of where to setup township for the proposed mines, an ugly tussle is going on amongst the business classes of Narayanpur and Antagarh. These selfish people do not worry at all about how many villages will be destroyed, how many thousands of tribals will be displaced, how much forest will be cut, how many rivers will be polluted and to what extent the tribal culture will be destroyed, when the mining work is started in this region. Overall, they don’t bother about the oncoming destruction in this region. They are supporting the government’s false claims of ‘Bastar development’ because they think that their own business will grow with this at the price of whatsoever.

Government still makes the argument in support of railway line and mine that the digging up of Raoghat mines is necessary as the mines of Dalli Rajhara which are supplying the raw material to the Bhilai steel plant are going to end up.  It’s making dubious propaganda that if the mining will not start in Raoghat, BSP could be stopped due to the scarcity of raw material, threatening the future of the thousands of BSP workers. Thus, such an environment is created that anybody dares to oppose Raoghat mine will immediately be labeled as ‘anti-development’. In fact, in the guise of this promotion, the government and administration have put a veil over many realities.

Dalli town today is in a position of almost desolation only because of the wrong policies of the BSP, particularly of indiscriminate mechanization. All rivers and streams of this area have been badly polluted. In Dalli and several surrounding villages, as red dirt coming of mines and roads turned on to the fields of farming, and the farming has been fully destroyed. In Dalli where 16 thousand workers used to work earlier, today the number has decreased drastically to 1200. Can the businessmen of Narayanpur and Antagarh and the contractors sitting in Raipur and Jagdalpur give the guarantee that after 20-25 years this region will not become another Dalli?

If the government is really worried that the ‘BSP will be closed if it won’t get raw materials supply’, then why doesn’t it stop selling iron ore of Bailadilla mines to the multinational companies of Japan, China and Korea? In fact, many sponge iron factories in Raipur and Bhilai have closed due to lack of iron ore supplies. They appealed to the government several times for supply of raw material from Bailadilla for them and to stop selling the iron ore to foreign companies. Doesn’t this prove that the interests of big and foreign capitalists are paramount for the spineless rulers of our country? Isn’t the government’s “concern” about the future of BSP workers just a pose? Isn’t this just a ploy being adopted to deal with the opposition putting up against proposed the Raoghat mine?

We urge all the workers, employees and other people who are concerned with the future of the BSP, that they should recognize who actually is a threat to the BSP. In 1960s, when the Bhilai steel plant was founded, the annual production was 1.5 million tonnes and the number of workers was 95 thousand. Today, the production has been increased to 4.5 million tonnes, but the number of workers is reduced to less than 37 thousand. Contracting, mechanization and partial privatization process are in full swing in BSP. Many facilities for workers have been taken back. New recruitment and compassionate appointment is closed. BSP is planning to increase the production to 7.5 million tonnes by 2012-13, taking up further modernization and expansion. This means even more layoffs and ‘retirements’ of workers will take place. And even there is a talk of selling out of BSP to Tatas, Mittals or Jindals! BALCO experience is before us. Overall, the policies of imperialist globalization which have been implemented by governments are responsible for this situation. So, you must fight against the anti-worker and pro-capitalist policies of the governments to protect the BSP. You should not fell prey to the designs of the ruling classes to inflict destruction to the Jal-Jungle-Zameen by opening mines in another area. You should fight against this too. Entire people of Dandakaranya will support your struggles.

The Special Zonal Committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) calls upon all the workers and farmers of Chhattisgarh and democratic and patriotic forces of our country to demand the closure of Raoghat project; to register their protest to mechanization, contracting and all other anti-worker policies being implemented in Bhilai steel plant and other industries; to demand to stop selling the high quality iron ore to the foreign companies from Bailadilla; to lend support to the people of Dandakaranya who are fighting for the right over their Jal-Jungle-Zameen; and to oppose the Army deployment in Bastar to suppress their just struggles.



(Gudsa Usendi)


Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             CPI (Maoist)

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Communist Party of India (Maoist) ‘OPPOSE THE ARMY DEPLOYMENT IN BASTAR!’

Posted by ajadhind on August 17, 2011



Press Release

June 3, 2011






As the first column of the Indian Army arrived in Kanker, the formal process of Army deployment in Bastar has commenced. But hiding this fact from the eyes of the people, the rulers are propagating falsehood that the Army was coming here just for training and not to fight the Maoists. It’s being said that in the name of `self defense’, the ministries of Defence and Law had issued `guiding principles’ for the Army, but nobody is ready to reveal the details. It’s noteworthy that the Air Force was already given the right to attack in `self-defense’.

The Central and State governments have been hiding the fact that this was obvious deployment and have been telling the world that they were just coming here for a training as part of their ploy of deceiving the people and pacifying those democratic forces who have been outrageous against Army deployment. The glaring fact is that the Army is now deployed in the ongoing war against people of our country. After Kashmir and North-East regions, now the Indian Army is going to wage a brutal war against most oppressed people of India. Now the apprehensions seem to be realized that the draconian law – AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) would also be proclaimed in Bastar.

In fact the government gave free-hand to the Army and Air Force to attack the people in the name of `self-defense’, as there are no measures defined for clear-cut demarcation between a Maoist combatant and an ordinary citizen. Since 2005, first in Salwa Judum and now in Operation Green Hunt, state armed forces set ablaze more than 700 villages; murdered more than 1500 people; raped hundreds of Adivasi women; burnt down the crops; looted the villages; and forced tens of thousands of people to flee from their native places. Recent carnage of Chintalnar was just an example of ongoing state terror in Dandakaranya. And now, with the Army taking part in this onslaught and with all powers granted to it in the name self-defense, the massacres of Adivasis and brutalities would increase manifold. This would pose a big question mark on the very existence of the Adivasi community. Particularly, the Jal-Jungle-Zameen and the ancient cultural heritage of the Mariya tribes, the indigenous residents of Maad, would be vanished.

A heated discussion is going on across the country on the issue of land grab these days. Particularly, in the context of Uttar Pradesh incidents, all political parties belonging to the ruling classes including Congress and BJP have been portraying themselves as the `champions of peasants’ and vaguely speaking against the forceful land acquisitions as part of promoting their vested political interests. But all these `champions’ are keeping themselves mum on this huge land grab taking place in one of the most backward Adivasi areas of the country in the name of Army training. BJP’s Raman Singh government has decided to uncaringly give away as much as 750 square kilometers of land in the Maad area of Narayanpur district for one of the three proposed training schools to be set up. Raman Singh, the man who has been trumpeting his cheap tactic of selling one kilogram of chana per month for 5 rupees to each adivasi family in Bastar region, is completely unmasked now. There has neither been any debate nor been any discussion about the decision of giving away such a huge portion of precious land and forest. Laws like PESA (Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas) and 5th Schedule have become a joke here. The local Mariya people of Maad region are completely unaware that the land on which they have been living for thousands of years and the forest with whose support they have been able to survive till this day, are no more of them. One fifth of the total 4,000 square kilometers area of Maad region would now be given away to the army. It would be expanded further according to the reports coming in media. As Army vehicles started moving into Bastar, the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) has declared that the Raoghat mining project would be privatized and a global tender notice would be issued. This makes the picture very clear now. On one side there would be a vast Army base and on the other side of the Maad region the MNCs would fall in line in a rush to plunder the precious iron ore from Raoghat hills. The mining mafia would become active with their pending mining projects and the lands of the tribal people would be acquired forcefully. Now it’s not at all difficult to realize who is coming with what intension and what the interrelation between them is!!

Politically, today the Maoist movement is posing a serious challenge to the pro-imperialist neo-liberal policies being implemented by the servile rulers of our country. The struggles of Adivasis and the Maoists who are leading them have become gravest threat for the ruling classes of India and their imperialist masters, who are hell-bent on looting huge deposits of precious minerals from the Adivasi regions in particular. In Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and other states, hundreds of MoUs that were signed by state governments and the corporate houses are not getting implemented due to the opposition posed by people. Particularly in Dandakaranya, several projects of big corporate houses, such as mines, big dams and heavy industries have been held up due to organized protests and resistance struggles of the people. To sum up, in Dandakaranya the exploiters’ juggernaut of `development’ has not been able to move forward. That’s why they have been waging this brutal war against the people in which now the Army is involved.

The Bastariya Adivasis have never bowed their head to exploitation, injustice, suppression and alien rule. They have a glorious history of several rebellions against the British colonialists. In 1910, at the time of Mahan Bhumkaal, a great tribal uprising, the British rulers had deployed the army against the people of Bastar. Now, after a hundred years, the rulers have once again sent the Army so that their just struggles could be crushed cruelly. We call upon the people of Dandakaranya to face this challenge boldly. People are the creators of history! So, the ultimate victory will only be theirs!!

Our Special Zonal Committee appeals to all democrats, human rights organizations, anti-displacement movements, Adivasis’ organizations, and well-wishers of Adivasis, intellectuals, writers, Artistes and media persons to raise their voice against setting up of Army training schools in Bastar and the proposed huge land grab meant for this purpose. Come forward to build agitations with the slogan – “Indian Army, Go back from Bastar”. Oppose the deployment of the Army in the ongoing war against people in the name of training schools. Demand to scrap all those MoUs signed by the government of Chhattisgarh with big corporate houses and all those projects of forceful land acquisition.


(Gudsa Usendi)


Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee

CPI (Maoist)

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73 killed as 700 Maoists entrap CRPF team in Chhattisgarh

Posted by ajadhind on April 6, 2010

Seventy-three security personnel were killed Tuesday when over 700 Maoist guerrillas in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region ambushed a 120-member contingent of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) by first bombing and then opening fire. In what is one of the biggest Maoist attacks in the country, the guerrillas triggered multiple blasts and then fired indiscriminately at the CRPF team in the Chintalnar forested hamlet of Dantewada district, about 450 km south from here, in violence-hit Bastar. More than two dozen personnel were injured. According to Dantewarda Superintendent of Police Amaresh Mishra, the dead included 72 troopers from the 62nd battalion of the CRPF and one state police officer. ‘A massive contingent of heavily armed Maoists ambushed a CRPF team in a hilly stretch. They first triggered blasts from all directions and followed by indiscriminate firing,’ Vishwa Ranjan, director general of police, told IANS. He said it seemed to be a meticulously planned attack. A chopper has been sent from Jagdalpur, headquarters of Bastar district, to move the injured troopers to hospital. A strong contingent of state police force has also been rushed to the site. A counter terrorism expert posted in Dantewada disclosed on the condition of anonymity that the CRPF men had flouted guerilla warfare guidelines and rushed to an interior location to track down insurgents in a vehicle. This, he said, was totally ‘disallowed’ for search and combing operations in the vast interiors of the Maoist stronghold of Bastar which is riddled with landmines. ‘There is a clear-cut instruction for paramilitary men as well as state police force to not use vehicles for any kind of offensive in forested interiors. They are to go only on foot and also not in groups but in two-three members squad. On Tuesday, the CRPF men grossly neglected warfare manuals and finally paid the price,’ he said. The attack has been seen as a retaliation to Chhattisgarh government’s famed anti-Maoist drive Operation Green Hunt, launched in July 2009 that has killed 90 Maoists till date. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, who convened an emergency meeting of senior officials, labelled it an act of ‘cowardice’. Home Minister Nankiram Kanwar said it was the result of ‘intelligence failure’. Chhattisgarh’s mineral rich Bastar region spread out in about 40,000 sq km is made up of five districts – Bijapur, Kanker, Narayanpur, Bastar and Dantewada. It has witnessed a string of deadly attacks since year 2005 that have claimed over 1,600 lives. SEARCH

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Peace can come to Bastar only when the State stops treating the adivasis as its enemy

Posted by ajadhind on December 3, 2009

September 17, 2009

Source: Open Space

Peace can come to Bastar only when the State stops treating the adivasi people at large as its enemy and lets them return to their villages.

The Government of Chhattisgarh admits that since the start of Salwa Judum in the year 2005, 644 villages of district Dantewada, whose overwhelmingly adivasi population is about 3.5 lakhs, have been emptied out. Our common sense understanding that enmasse displacement on this scale could only have been made possible by extreme violence, is vindicated by the horrifying incidents of arson, loot, murder, rape, and widespread arrests by the SJ and security forces that have continuously been coming to light, and which can no longer be ignored.

In honest moments, the security experts of the Jungle Warfare School, Kanker admit, that this is the well known American counter insurgency strategy of “draining the water to kill the fish”. Though many of us, who are witness to widespread displacement all over Chhattisgarh for rich mineral resources, believe that there is also considerable evidence, that the motive for ground clearing is acquisition for mining companies. Whatever the motive, what is the situation in Dantewada today?

Recently the Home Minister admitted, that out of the 50,000 “internally displaced persons” who were being housed in the roadside SJ camps since 2005, now barely 8,000 remain, the rest of them have run away. The recent incidents of a trigger happy CRPF jawan killing a woman and baby in the Cherpal camp, or of SPOs beating three persons to death in the Matwada camp, perhaps illustrate why. And yet – all schools, health centres, ration shops, (of course polling booths), which have been totally withdrawn from the 644 villages, (and even gram sabhas for determination of forest rights!) continue to be run from those camps.

The administration openly declares that the people of all those villages who have refused to come to the camps, all those villagers who have not joined/ co-operated with the Salwa Judum, those who are still daring to sow their fields in the affected villages (only to flee when the security forces arrive leaving the vulnerable behind to be killed or arrested), and certainly those, who are living in the forests, are automatically “Naxalites”. All youth found in the abandoned villages, and all persons from these villages who come to markets are beaten black and blue and thrown into jail on mere suspicion. And there is always a stock of uniforms and rusty “bharmars” to show as seizures.

Even conceding that around 50,000 persons might have fled to Andhra Pradesh and maybe another 50,000 to Orissa or Maharashtra, this means that at least 2 lakh people, by virtue of being in the forests or “Naxal stronghold” areas, have now been declared “Naxalites” by the State, and therefore it is considered legitimate that they can be starved of food, medical supplies and access even to village markets. No doubt “anti-Naxal operations” against them have, and would further result, in swelling the ranks of armed militants. For now, the ever present issues of land and livelihood have turned into the burning issue of the very survival of these lakhs of people. And history tells us, that in those circumstances, the adivasi people have always fought fiercely. Even 14 battalions of paramilitary forces, who, apart from occasional forays for “searching” within a small radius of their base, remain holed up in thanas, jails and schools with electrified barbed wire fencing, are feeling quite helpless against the swarm attacks of hundreds of Naxalite militia. In the past few months, at least 25 jawans have committed suicide after killing their officers and colleagues out of sheer stress.

That the Government of Chhattisgarh is hell bent on demolishing any “middle ground” is amply illustrated by its treatment of the Vanvasi Chetana Ashram, an NGO inspired by Gandhian ideology, which has been trying to implement the recommendations of the NHRC with regard to rehabilitation of the displaced villagers, and to provide legal aid for the filing of FIRs/ complaints in the cases of disappearances and rapes. The Ashram was demolished recently; rice being taken to the villages of Lingagiri, Basaguda and Nendra, which have been resettled by the Ashram, was confiscated as “being supplied to Naxalites”; and a young volunteer of the Ashram – Sukhnath – has been booked under the draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act. The voice of civil liberties is still sought to be silenced: two more supplementary charge sheets, again not disclosing any legally admissible evidence, have recently been filed against Dr Binayak Sen, General Secretary of the Chhattisgarh PUCL, even after unconditional bail was granted to him by the Supreme Court. Apart from the cases filed against Salwa Judum in the Supreme Court, numerous cases filed against fake encounters in the High Court of Chhattisgarh, and private complaint cases in the lower courts drag on without providing substantial relief, despite the best efforts of the Petitioners. Strident demands made in rallies of local adivasi organizations in Bastar, protesting the handing over of their lands to companies, meet with no response, either from the district administration or the Governor – the constitutional authority of the Scheduled Areas.

It is in this context that the implications of “clearing out the Naxalites by military operation” have to be understood. Today, this can only mean an indiscriminate genocide of adivasis, a full scale war against lakhs of people, against the people at large. How can “civilians” and “combatants” possibly be distinguished under such a dispensation? Have not our experiences in the North East and Kashmir told us that there is no “quick end” to such a war? We are already witness to the recent incidents of Singhavaram…Kokawada….Vechapal, cases where people came out on the streets in Bastar to protest that the so-called “militants” killed by the security forces and SJ SPOs were actually only simple villagers.

That is why, it is with a sense of great urgency, and in defiance of the fascist attitude of the Government of Chhattisgarh, that we appeal to all democratic minded people of this country to demand that –

First and foremost, the lakhs of displaced adivasis of Dantewada be allowed to return to their villages and rebuild their ravaged agrarian and forest based economies. Thus their rights to food, to basic health, to land and livelihood, and above all – to life, must be assured.
It is only this, that can ensure a de-escalation of the polarization between security forces on the one hand and the adivasi people at large on the other, and can avoid genocide in the name of counterinsurgency.

If you agree with us, please raise and support this demand.

Sudha Bharadwaj
On behalf of
Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (Mazdoor Karyakarta Committee)
C/o CMM Office, Labour Camp, Jamul,
District Durg, Chhattisgarh.
Mobile No: 09926603877

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Confronting Guns of Peace: Bastar Faces its Worst Crisis

Posted by ajadhind on October 24, 2009

Posted by indianvanguard2010 on October 17, 2009

– Himanshu Kumar, Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, Dantewada      –  Bombay Tragedy

As I write this critical note on the worst ever crisis undivided Bastar is facing, ambushes and gun battles between para-military, Salwa Judum and State Police forces and Naxal cadres are being played out in jungles of Dantewada and Bijapur districts of undivided Bastar in South Chhattisgarh. To understand this crisis one needs to have a brief knowledge of the previous crises that have confronted Bastar. It must be stated upfront that since historically this region has been a forested, tribal dominated and physically difficult terrain, it has also been a malgoverned region ! And this malgovernance manifested itself in injustice and denial of rights for the tribals inhabiting this region with the State eyeing it only for its mineral deposits and forest resources. This somewhere laid the ground for the crisis that is unfolding here since June 2005.

In June 2005, as part of a larger plan to tighten control over the rich mineral and forest resources of Bastar, the State, backed by private capital, launched a major offensive on tribals of this region and called it ironically Salwa Judum or peace movement. On the face of it Salwa Judum was a people’s uprising for peace against Naxal violence but the hidden agenda, as is gradually unfolding, was the corporate grabbing of resources. The sum total of four years of Salwa Judum has been the internal and forced displacement of more than 3.5 lakh people from their villages, a 30 fold escalation of violence and a 22 time swell in support base and area under control by the very Naxals whom the Judum aimed at decimating ! But the State never learns from failures – even after unleashing the loosing battle of horrifying violence on tribals of Bastar in name of Salwa Judum, it has launched a phase two in the name of Operation Green Hunt and Operation Godavari in Bastar and adjacent districts of Malkangiri (Orissa). This confrontation of Bastar’s tribals with the ‘guns of peace’ will unleash the worst crisis this region has ever seen or will ever see … but that is only if remaining tribals ever survive these ‘guns of peace’.

So through this note I am attempting to simply analyse each strategy and act of the State and map its impact on tribals of Bastar and how counter-productively it has benefited the CPI (Maoist) party!

The State launched Salwa Judum in 2005 to counter insurgency by cadres of CPI (Maoist) or Naxalites through civil defense by recruiting and training civilians in ‘armed resistance’

But soon Salwa Judum cadres went beyond the control of para-military and police forces under whom they were supposed to function and began looting, burning, raping, murdering and kidnapping of tribals and remained beyond any accountability due to political support.

The State forcefully evicted tribals from 700 villages and dumped them in 30 odd camps built for them and cordorned by security forces – it was protecting people from Naxal violence ! It was following the American counter insurgency strategy of ‘draining the water and killing the fish’ … State forgot that tribals are not fish and villages are not fish bowls!

But freedom loving and nature-dependent tribals refused to move into camps and fled for fear of being captured, tortured and then deported to camps – reminds one of the Jewish Holocaust. While a meager 50,000 population shifted to camps, about 50,000 fled to the adjacent district in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa where they had relatives and clan families and remaining 2.5 lakh people hid deeper in jungles living a life of fear, hunger and death.

Human rights and civil society groups watching over the State’s warfare, challenged its American copy of counter insurgency. And when they were tried to be silenced, they went up to State High Courts and Indian Supreme Court challenging the notions and strategies of mitigating Naxal violence and restoring peace.

The State retaliated by creating an imaginary divider, obviously through corporate media houses, in the minds of the middle class. If you are in its camps, you are with the State and if you are in the jungles, then you are Naxalite …. thus declaring the 2.5 lakh tribals hiding in the jungles as Naxalites and thereby justifying training its guns of peace on them ! And another divider declared anyone supporting the ‘Naxal tribals’ as Maoist sympathizers or informers and liable to imprisonment and torture under the draconian Public Securities Act. It unjustly put activists who questioned it behind bars or bulldozed their premises, not even soaring sources of drinking water or simply diverted them by bribing them with funds, contracts and opportunities for sharing the great wealth created through Salwa Judum!

The Indian Supreme Court, hearing out petitioners against Salwa Judum ordered the State to reconsider its civil defense strategy and stop evicting tribals from villages. Instead it asked the State to launch a rehabilitation drive to resettle tribals, provide them with basic services and entitlements and asses damages to life and property. This damage assessment was to be followed by compensation and registering of criminal cases against the offenders, in particular Salwa Judum and para-military forces. This was aimed at cleaning up the mess of Salwa Judum and starting afresh all attempts at just and democratic governance.

The State responded by blatantly violating the Supreme Court orders,speaking white lies before Court when questioned about its inaction.

It neither attempted rehabilitation efforts nor set up district and State committees to look into damage assessment or filing of cases against offenders and also it did not make any attempts at rethinking its strategies. Rather it continued its forced evictions, its looting, burning, rape, kidnap and murder and printed in bold letters its justification of continuing Salwa Judum. In fact it even went a step further by sabotaging and blocking any civil society attempts at rehabilitation, damage assessment and filing of cases against offenders. It used the Public Securities Act against volunteers working for the rehabilitation of internally displaced tribals!

Tribals who fled their villages and hid in jungles are still living nomadic and terrorized lives. In the face of an inhuman onslaught on them, they clung to the only support they got in the forests … that of the Maoists who appeared more human to them than persecuting State forces ?! Their attempts at seeking justice and dignity as citizens of this country were met with arrests and abuses. Their faith in the State dwindled and converted into anger and despair. It was therefore natural for them to pick up their traditional weapons in their self-defence because the State had left no option before them.

How did the State respond ? Whenever tribals came seeking justice through democratic and legal means, their FIRs were not registered, their court cases were dismissed without a hearing and they were arrested for being Naxalites. And any sympathetic judge or officer to the tribal cause was either sent on forced leave or transferred out. No one was ready to listen …. not even local mediapersons who benefited from State dole outs of contracts, advertisements and general patronage. National media too ignored the Bastar question or made half-hearted attempts at covering truth because they were bankrolled by corporates eyeing the mineral and forest resources of Bastar ! How could they let the cat out of the bag and lock out opportunities of profiteering ? Tribals were isolated and rendered helpless.

In such a complex situation of denial and injustice, the State has been expecting tribals to show loyalty to it, abide by its laws and support it in restoring peace. These expectations could be justified and binding on tribals had the State shown respect for the same virtues!

The State talks of loyalty when it has itself distrusted its own tribal citizens and branded them Naxals when they have come seeking justice at its doors … State talks of abiding by its laws when it has itself made a mockery of its own laws – holding Gram Sabhas at gun point to coerce tribals into giving away their lands to mining corporations, subverting laws protecting the tribals’ rights to land and forests as stated in PESA, disrespecting Supreme Court’s orders to rehabilitate villages, deliver entitlements and services, co-opting judiciary, executive and legislature to ratify and justify violence and terror by its forces and so on. In fact the State has been attacking its poor to secure the interests of the rich and still it expects the poor to abide by, put faith in it and support it? There are thousands of cases where the law of the land has been bent backwards to accommodate corporate interests but when it comes to tribals State puts on false pretence of legal systems and democracy!

The State wants tribals to help it in restoring peace – but when did the State believe that peace was possible without justice or that tribals could make peace with guns firing around them – does the State believe that tribals will confront its guns of peace without first arming themselves in their self-defence ? And what peace is the State talking of restoring – had it wanted peace it would have allowed rehabilitation, it would have allowed the nation to know the truth of Bastar, it would have respected its laws and would have adhered to the democratic governance systems it has put in place?

Despite all that I have stated above (not that people in the State do not know what I have stated ?), the State has launched its second Salwa Judum through its strategic military operations called Green Hunt (hunting whom ?) and Godavari. But what will be the net impact of this Salwa Judum II ? The same, if not worse. The crisis will just deepen, the tribals will get further terrorized, Naxals will further consolidate their support base and area under control and voices of sanity among civil society and human rights groups will further get silenced and decimated. This military offensive will only isolate the tribals more and they will begin to look upon every non-tribal as an aggressor. And do we believe that in such a situation peace and democracy can prevail ? Thus military operation will simply push democracy further away and endanger the Indian socio-political system.
Thus, as tribals continue resisting corporate grab of land and resources in the garb of Salwa Judum and Operation Green Hunt, State repression will just rise manifold. One must remember that it is not as if repression never happened but it has got heightened with dash of corporates to set up mining and industrial units while the great global market goes booming. Corporates are just making hay while the sun is shining and all this at expenses of the State ! And Governments have also readily complied by disposing off their socialist agenda to follow routes tread by private capital. And to make this a reality, these proxy wars are being fought on tribal territory. But who really will be targeted ? Not Naxals who are deft at guerilla warfare and will escape bullets of Salwa Judum and para military forces. It will be the tribals who will be caught in the crossfire.

Salwa Judum (Phase I) resulted in a near civil war that destroyed over 644 villages and displaced 3.5 lakh tribals in one way or the other and filled the lives of tribals with fake encounters, gangrape of tribal women, looting and burning of livestock and belongings of poor tribals, brutal suppression of any resistance or protest has become the order of the day in the name of combating Naxals. This makes us wonder whether they are still bonafide denizens of this country or have they been obliterated as people of India!?

We have gone to villages to understand the truth behind encounters, have interviewed dozens of tribal women gangraped or enslaved for months by Salwa Judum and para military forces and witnessed the total demolition of my house and office premises because we dared to expose these acts of violence through several cases filed in Chhattisgarh High Court. Is this the democracy and tribal development our Governments want us to espouse? I shudder to think what will be the outcome of Salwa Judum (Phase II) …… yet another fake encounters, yet more gangrapes and yet more souls gone down fighting injustice and repression in the name of peace and democracy?

But for how long are tribals going to bear the brunt of a brutal and inhuman police force? For how long will tribals stand in the crossfire between Naxals, a militarized State and a demonized police? For how long will middle class ‘bhadralok’ remain silent spectators to State’s colonization of tribal territory to subsidize urban growth in the name of ‘tribal development‘ ? And for how long will we look on helplessly as tribals get butchered, raped and exterminated? We believe that some day the tribal specter will rise and fall heavily on those who repress loot and pauperize them. But who will get sacrificed and who will survive? The fittest … as Darwin eulogized evolution? The question is who is fitter – you and me who enjoy privileges of a subsidized consumer culture or tribals whom we have hanged giving them the name of savage, backward and poor ? I guess we all know the answers … but don’t want to articulate it, preferring to ignore it exists. But we cannot so this and so we strive to call the State’s bluff and turn every stone in our path in the attempt to bring justice, peace, dignity and democracy into Bastar so that we never have to confront the guns of peace!

– Himanshu Kumar, Vanvasi Chetna Ashram,  Dantewada,, Mobile – 09425260031

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