Posts Tagged ‘Dantewada
COURT SAYS PARAMILITARY APPROACH IS A PROBLEM NOT THE SOLUTION
ALL SIDES AGREE ON NEED FOR HIGH LEVEL MONITORING COMMITTEE – DIFFER ON ITS COMPOSITION
PRESS RELEASE ON HEARING OF SALWA JUDUM MATTER
7th January 2011
The Salwa Judum matter was heard in Court 9 of the Supreme Court today by Justice Sudershan Reddy and Justice SS Nijjar. This time all the main parties to the court were present – the last few times, the Solicitor General had asked for adjournments. The petitioners were represented by Senior Counsel, Mr. Ashok Desai (who is arguing the case pro-bono), the Centre by the Solicitor General, Mr. Gopal Subramanium and the State of Chhattisgarh by Mr. Harish Salve and Mr. Manish Singhvi.
Read the rest of this entry »
For the People’s Right to say No to displacement and Tribal Genocide And to demandthe right to live with justice and peace
Raipur / Dantewada
1 December 2009
You are aware that the tribals of Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh State are continuously facing large-scale displacement from their homes, fields and forests a well as a genocide in the last five years. The first aggressive onslaught was by the state sponsored vigilante group called the Salwa Judum. In the last five months, the people of this region are victims of a war called the Operation Green Hunt. Paramilitary troops along with the state armed police deployed in very large numbers by the Central and the state governments are carrying out operations against the tribals in the name of curbing Maoists and reclaiming territories from them.
In order to build public opinion and to support the tribal people in their demand to stop this displacement and genocide and to reclaim their right to live with justice and peace, several community based and people’s organisations, union and human rights groups from Chhattisgarh and outside are planning a series of activities in Dantewada in Chhattisgarh.
This letter is being sent to you so that you can block the dates between 14 December 2009 and 7 January 2010 and come to Dantewada in support of tribal people. The list of events and dates are as follows:
Read the rest of this entry »
The New Indian Express
DANTEWADA(CHHATTISGARH): The authorities call it Operation Green Hunt, going by the conventional wisdom that the Maoists being chased — in Chattisgarh in this case — fight from thick jungles. But many of the victims appear to have nothing to do with the insurgency.
Witness accounts, in one instance among others, show that security forces killed seven people in Goompad village of Konta Block in Dantewada district in the concerted action that began six weeks ago. Two more people were killed from the neighbouring Bandaarpar village the same day.
In Goompad, Madvi Yankaiya (age 50) was hacked to death with an axe, his brother Madvi Joga said. Madvi Bajaar (50), his wife Madvi Subhi
(45), their daughters Madvi Kanama (20) and Madvi Mooti, (8) were killed, as their home was closest to the approaching forces. Also killed were their neighbours, Soyam Subaiya (20) and Soyam Subhi (18). They had been married only for a year.
The Adivasis of Bastar have little or no use for the Roman calendar; so it is hard to calculate the date of the attack, or the exact age of the victims. But surviving witnesses put it around the first week of October — which was the time that Green Hunt commenced. The Dantewada SP said an encounter took place at Goompad on October 1. They produced no bodies of alleged Naxalites at the police station. It was claimed that the villagers carried away the bodies of the dead.
Read the rest of this entry »
Maoists and Government Forces Should Not Repeat Past Abuses
November 5, 2009
Human Rights Watch
(New York) – Government forces and anti-government Maoist fighters should ensure that civilians are protected during armed operations in central India and elsewhere, Human Rights Watch said today.
“Government and Maoist claims to be acting on behalf of India’s poorest people can be undermined by the atrocities by both sides against these very same people,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Local people are at risk of being caught in the middle of the fighting – killed, wounded, abducted, forced to take sides, and then risk retribution.”
On November 4, 2009, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, noting the “systematic exploitation and social and economic abuse” of tribal communities, said that “more could be done; more should be done.” However, he also warned that the threat of violence by the Maoists will be countered with “determination.” The Indian government’s new counter-insurgency measures, “Operation Green Hunt,” has deployed national paramilitary forces, along with state police forces, to end armed resistance by the Maoists, also called Naxalites, and to secure areas that had been under rebel control.
The Maoists claim that they are fighting for the rights of the poorest of the poor in India, particularly tribal groups, Dalits, and landless peasants. The government, while agreeing that there is a desperate need for development in Maoist-dominated areas, says that the Naxalites are blocking government development initiatives and should engage in peaceful advocacy. A key factor in the dispute is access to natural resources, particularly huge mineral deposits in many of the states suffering conflict.
The Naxalites operate in nearly 200 of India’s 600 districts and recruit local villagers to support the combatants, leaving the villagers vulnerable to arrest and torture by government forces. Villagers accuse the Naxalites of forced recruitment, including the recruitment of children, and widespread extortion. The Naxalites attack government installations, including schools, raid police stations and armories, and use landmines and improvised explosive devices. In recent attacks, the Naxalites have hijacked a passenger train, abducted police officials, attacked employees of industry or mining companies, and beheaded police and suspected informers.
“The Maoists have used violence to highlight the government’s failure to address poverty and the harm caused by big infrastructure projects,” Ganguly said. “But their own abusive methods call into question the sincerity of their claims.”
Human Rights Watch and others have documented widespread abuses by Indian government forces, including arbitrary arrests, torture, and unlawful killings, all of them unpunished, during previous operations against Maoists.
In Chhattisgarh, the state government has backed a vigilante movement called the Salwa Judum, leading to killings, rapes, and the forced displacement of tens of thousands of civilians. Human Rights Watch supported a statement on October 30 by Home Minister P. Chidambaram condemning the Salwa Judum, in which he said that the government does not “favor non-state actors like Salwa Judum taking to arms.”
Human Rights Watch urged the government to ensure that Salwa Judum members and state forces responsible for human rights violations are properly prosecuted. Yet with large numbers of paramilitary forces also being deployed, there is reason to be concerned that the abuses will increase.
“While senior officials have been saying the right thing, the real test is what happens on the ground,” Ganguly said. “The government needs to send a strong message to Operation Green Hunt forces that human rights violations will not be tolerated and prosecute those responsible for past abuses.”
Human Rights Watch called on the Indian central government and state governments to protect freedom of expression and to avoid conflating sympathy for concerns expressed by the Maoists with criminal complicity in acts of violence or intimidation. The state government of West Bengal has recently accused some filmmakers, writers, and activists of supporting the Maoists merely because they supported groups protesting police violence.
Human rights activists have repeatedly come under attack or been arbitrarily arrested on unsubstantiated accusations of Naxalite links. Binayak Sen, a physician and human rights activist, was detained from 2007 to 2009 for allegedly acting as a courier for a Naxalite leader in jail, even though Dr. Sen had visited the leader under the supervision of jail authorities. In 2008, Dr. Sen was awarded the prestigious Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights; rights groups, doctors, and ordinary citizens all over the world signed petitions for his release.
While the Supreme Court order to release Dr. Sen on bail in May was a positive step, days earlier, the police surrounded the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, a nongovernmental organization run by the human rights activist Himanshu Kumar in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district. Himanshu, who has criticized the Salwa Judum and atrocities by state forces, was given half an hour to move out, and then bulldozers were brought in to destroy the center. The reason given was that the center, which had been there for two decades, was encroaching on protected forest land.
“The government should ensure that those who stand up for human rights are not branded criminal collaborators with the Maoists,” Ganguly said. “This is not how a democracy behaves. Above all, both sides need to understand that a continuing cycle of abuse will not solve the problems faced by India’s most impoverished people.”
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.
Police claimed on 12th August that it has killed six dreaded naxalites in an encounter near Bhairamgarh reserve forest & they named it operation ‘Green Hunt’. According to the police sources in this operation CRPF, dist police & STF combined of both Dantewada & Bijapur district were included. Police sources further claimed that they have smashed a naxal camp.
As per preliminary reports received from tribes of these villages, in fact these forces reached Vechapal village first to teach them a lesson for opening their mouth a month back about burning& looting of their houses & rape, killing of their fellow villagers. This time these forces captured all the houses of Vechapal village & made holes in the walls to use them as bunkers. Forces stayed in the village for three days. All the tribes of the village hide in the forest during the period. Police forces fired mortar grenade on fleeing tribes killing one boy Modu s/o Bhima. They caught two boys of Ettepad village while they were going to participate in a cock fight at Hurrepal village. They caught two more tribes of Kawadgaon. These forces also caught one women named Somali of village Tinenar & on 11th of August when these forces went back they killed all five people whom they had caught alive and killed them on the way back to the police station. They threw Somali’s dead body
in a stream on the way near Cherli village. Villagers recovered her dead body naked, suspecting rape before she was killed.
We request a national level fact finding team to investigate into this matter & bring out the truth to ensure right to live to these left alone tribals.
by Sandeep Pandey
Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 26, June 13, 2009
Akin to George Bush in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attack who, while declaring his war on terror, proclaimed that if one is not on the side of US Government then one is with the terrorists, the Chhattisgarh Government thinks that if one is not with the Salwa Judum, the state sponsored tribal militant group meant to counter the Naxalites, then one would be considered a sympathiser of the Maoists. Binayak Sen paid the price for criticising the Salwa Judum. Now, it the turn of Himanshu Kumar. Encouraged by the recent success of the Sri Lankan Government against the LTTE, the local administration moved in three JCV machines and 500 police personnel on the morning of May 17, 2009, to finish off the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, the centre painstakingly created by Himanshu over the last 17 years in Kanwalnar village of Dantewada district.
Himanshu Kumar was presently engaged in a very important task of resettling tribals who had left their villages amidst violent confrontations between the Naxalites and Salwa Judum since 2005. Some of them were living in camps run by the Salwa Judum, under strict para-military supervision, and some of them had escaped to as far as neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. People of Lingagiri in Bijapur district have returned from Cherla in AP after three years. Similarly, people of nearby Basaguda have returned from a Salwa Judum camp across the river from their village, a river which nobody dare cross for the last three years due to fear of violence from both sides. The government-backed Salwa Judum wants people in camps, most of them on the roadside, but there is a Supreme Court directive that the government must help people resettle in their original villages. Around three lakh people were internally displaced during these violent years, of which 56,000 landed in the camps. But now their number has come down to less than half. More people yearn to return to their villages. The reason is simple. How long can one be dependent on government dole and live under armed security? Life has to start again in villages. That is where the agricultural fields and cattles are. Himanshu, who like the common people, is equidistant from both the Naxalites and Salwa Judum, was helping the people realise their dream of returning to normalcy. The government is certainly not in a position to undertake this perilous and arduous task at the moment.
The government, instead of being grateful to Himanshu, has been vindictive because Himanshu has been raising the cases of human rights violations of tribals by the security forces, SPOs—the 3500 adhoc tribal police force—and the Salwa Judum, the most recent being the killing of 19 innocent people in Singaram who were declared to be Naxalites in January, 2009, in a false encounter by the police. The government and the local administration were obviously not happy with him. They gave him a notice a day before the demolition to vacate the land, which they claimed the VCA was encroaching upon. The land was obtained by the VCA from the Gram Sabha based on a resolution in its favour. Even though it is a tribal area the government refused to recognise the right of the Gram Sabha.Campaign for Peace and Justice in Chhattisgarh
Dear Mr. Singh,
As an elected representative sworn to uphold the Constitution, we would like to ask you why you support the illegal burning of houses and property, displacement of villagers as well as the killing and rapes that have been carried out by the Salwa Judum and security forces in Dantewada district, Bastar. Now that it has been clearly established by the NHRC and accepted by your government as shown by your own affidavits to the Supreme Court that Salwa Judum is an armed organization which has burnt houses and destroyed property, how do you continue to publicly justify and praise the Salwa Judum? Is it constitutional to support a vigilante movement which has caused such destruction? Naxalite illegality does not justify state illegality.
Since October 2008 we have been waiting for your government to fulfill its promise to the Supreme Court that it would rehabilitate all villagers who had been affected and displaced by Salwa Judum and Naxalite violence. The SC had asked you to act on the NHRC recommendations to compensate and rehabilitate all victims of Salwa Judum and Naxalite violence, to ensure the safe return to their villages of all displaced persons, whether in camps, Andhra Pradesh or elsewhere, to remove security forces from schools and civilians buildings, to identify the large numbers of missing persons and freely register FIRs on complaints. At first you cited the excuse of the election code in the assembly elections for not giving compensation, even though this did not prevent you from promising rice at Rs. 3. Later, you used the excuse of the parliamentary elections to avoid replying to the Supreme Court and managed to get the hearings postponed after the monsoons, despite knowing that if people are unable to come home and cultivate during the summer, they will lose another year. For almost a whole year, you have tried to evade your responsibility to the affected people and to the Court. The affected people are among the poorest in the country. You talk of development but have no concern for those whom your own government has rendered destitute.
Read the rest of this entry »
Dear Mr. Ganapathy,
We are very disturbed by the abduction of Nagesh Jhari (Panchayat Secretary) and Punem Honga (Former Sarpanch) on the night of 2nd of June, 2009 which happened between the villages of Basaguda and Avapalli in Bijapur District in the State of Chhattisgarh.
The demolition of Gandhian Himanshu Kumar’s 17-year-old Vanvasi Chetna Ashram in Dantewada on May 17 shocked everyone acquainted with its work in the backward tribal area of Chhattisgarh. Magsaysay Award winner Sandeep Pandey, who led an all-India fact-finding team to Dantewada, tells Jyoti Punwani what his team found:
Why was the Vanvasi Ashram demolished?
Himanshu had become an irritant for the Chhattisgarh government. He was doing a lot of development work, which is really the job of the government. In fact, the SP himself told us that they used to take Himanshu’s help on various occasions. But the ashram was also providing legal aid to the adivasis oppressed by Salwa Judum. In the last two years, Himanshu has filed 500 FIRs on their behalf. His most recent activity was to help resettle in their original villages, those adivasis who had been forcibly displaced by Salwa Judum.