Archive for October, 2009
Post Box 3811 Andrews Ganj Post Office, New Delhi-110049
Shri P Chidambaram
Union Home Minister
28 Oct 2009
Subject: Suggestions for Urgent Action in Tribal Areas
Dear Sri P Chidambaram,
We are deeply concerned over the recent developments in the tribal region of central India. The unfolding para-military offensive in that area, we fear, is bound to worsen the prevailing situation there causing widespread killing of innocent adivasis besides increasing the hardships they are already facing. We are also concerned over the loss of lives of security personnel. It is well known that the adivasis have been subjected to deprivations for centuries and they are now confronted with new problems stemming from the manifold attacks on them from the side of the state in the wake of the recent industrialization drive and the resistance to it spearheaded in many areas by the Maoists.
We believe that the following initiatives should be urgently taken to address the situation which is fast developing into a crisis.
1. As a Gandhian activist working in one of the most affected areas of Chhatisgarh I am well aware that the civil administration was prevented from functioning by the Salwa Judum vigilantes and the security forces as a strategy to force the people to vacate the villages and come to the Salwa Judum Camps; that is why some of the major welfare programmes were abandoned and basic amenities denied to the people in the tribal villages. As a result of this a large proportion of the population became dependent on the naxalites for their survival and protection. Characterising the affected areas as a “liberated zone of the Maoists” was a part of that strategy.
Therefore, we suggest that the civil administration be allowed to resume its functions immediately. I believe that the Maoists have no reasons to deprive the tribal people from the basic amenities available through ration shops under the PDS for the BPL families, Anganwadi programme, schools, health services and National Rural Employment Guarentee Act ( NREGA) which must be resumed .
2. All offensive drives by the paramilitary forces,the SPOs and Salwa Judum vigilantes in the tribal areas should be immediately stopped. Police may function to assist the civil administration in carrying out the much-needed development measures.
3. The Supreme Court order to the Chhatisgarh Government to rehabilitate and compensate all tribal people displaced due to Salwa Judum be implemented forthwith.
4. State should create confidence in the minds of the adivasis by prosecuting all those involved in committing severe atrocities like rape, murder, looting their properties and burning houses. It should be noted that none of the criminals habe been brought to book and justice has been denied to the tribals till date despite the reports of the NHRC and orders of the Supreme court.
Chhattisgarh-based doctor BINAYAK SEN was arrested in May 2007 for his alleged links with Naxalites. Following a public campaign for his release, he was granted bail by the Supreme Court in May 2009. In this interview with VINAY SITAPATI, he speaks on the beheading of an abducted police inspector by Naxalites.
Inspector Francis Induwar was kidnapped and beheaded by Naxalites in Jharkhand recently. Whatever your ideology, is this not cold-blooded murder?
I condemn the beheading. It is absolutely unacceptable. There is no way I can approve of the killing. There are some questions about who has carried it out. If the CPI (Maoist) has carried it out, I condemn their action. Having said this, it is important to remember that the violence of resistance is a consequence, not a cause. We have to see it in the background of state violence.
But Induwar was in a market when he was captured and then later murdered. How can this be consequential violence?
I have already said that I condemn this action. It is murder and has no justification. But the general violence is a consequence of the state violence — both structural and direct. The vast majority of the poor people are kept in poverty because of the state. Today, the state violence and the violence of resistance are locked into a tragic cycle. This cycle needs to be broken. Both forms of violence need to be brought to a halt. We need to halt military engagement and start talking.
Naxalites have never executed a kidnapped police officer before. This seems to be much worse than the normal “tragic cycle” of violence and counter-violence you refer to. Has Naxalite violence reached a new level?
I hope this is an aberration. I would like to believe that this is an aberration. But I also don’t think this kind of brutality is new for either side. I think similar incidents have occurred before.