Posts Tagged ‘tribals
This open letter by SHIV VISWANATHAN, Eminent Social Scientist, has been circulated by Communalism Combat:
Dear Professor Manmohan Singh,
I hope you don’t mind the temerity of this letter. It is written as one scholar to another, one citizen to another. I know you are a PM and people like me may not be influential. However some things must be said and said clearly.
I was against to find that Doctor Binayak Sen has been given a life term for sedition. Let me put it simply. I think it is an appalling act of injustice and a betrayal of an ethical vision.
The point I wish to make is simple. We do not have to agree with Binayak Sen, anymore than we have to agree with Mahaswta Devi or Arundhati Roy or Baba Amte. But these have been voices of conscience. These are people who have care and healed, given a voice to the voiceless. They represent the essential goodness of our society. They are Indians and outstanding Indians and no nation state can negate that. I admit that such people are not easy people. They irritate, they agonize over things we take for granted or ignore. They take the ethical to the very core of our lives. Let us be clear. It is not Sen’s ideology that threatens us. It is his ethics, his sense of goodness. We have arrested him because we have arrested that very sense of justice in ourselves.
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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:
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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.
as told over the Phone to Kavita Srivastava
As many of you are aware Himanshu and Kopa of VCA managed to escape Lingagiri in the early hours today through the forest area of that region and got into Bhadrachallam AP more than a hundred kilometres away. The distance between Bhadrachallam and Dantewada is a good two hundred and fifty kilometres.
The moment he got into range he called up his family, his colleagues and friends and supporters and said that he had escaped to Bhadrachallam and would be soon getting back to Dantewada. This is great news and we are glad that Himanshu and Kopa managed to escape the wrath of the local police and Salwa Judum although there are many concerns that still remain. He has addressed the press in Bhadrachallam with Bal Gopalji of HRF who reached late afternoon.
Himanashu gave me a long dictation over the phone of what happened and wanted people to know about what happened in the last four days. I think there are some facts that we need to act upon urgently.
Noted human rights activist Dr Binayak Sen has said most of the land in Chhattisgarh was acquired at gun-point for big industrial houses. In the packed confines of the historic Students’ Hall in College Square, Sen, released recently on bail from the Raipur Central Jail after two years, made his first public appearance at a seminar on public health on Saturday.
When asked about his acting as a mediator if the Chhattisgarh government and Maoists come to the talking table, he said, “I am willing to promote peace and I want a political solution to the conflict,” Sen said.
From Tehelka Cover Story “Binayak & The Tragedy Beyond”
Activist Himanshu Kumar could not be swayed by the State’s wrath. SHOMA CHAUDHURY speaks to this Gandhian
|Unbent Himanshu kumar, daughters Alisha and Haripriya, wife Veena and father Prakash kumar|
You have two daughters. Does that not make you feel vulnerable?
My father was part of the freedom movement. My uncle was a senior colleague of Nehru’s. I knew men like the scientist Dayanidhi Patnaik, who came back with a PhD from America but gave up everything to join Vinobha Bhave’s Bhoomidan movement. I didn’t even notice when their values were stamped on me. From them, I came to believe that the material world is immaterial. Why should I compromise for my girls? What would I achieve? Two more girls — among lakhs of others — would be brought up to lead a cloistered life. Veena could have pulled me back, but she has never done that. She herself was terrified of wearing bangles and synthetic clothes and being trapped in a marriage that would shut her behind closed doors. She was a social worker before she married me.
What is at the heart of the State’s neglect and abuse of tribals?
I don’t think either the State or the police see them as human. How many officials have even bothered to learn their language? One day a CRPF officer was complaining to me about them. He said, “Oh, these ULFA-Nagas-adivasis — whatever they’re called…” That’s how faceless they were to him. There is such an arrogance in the way the State approaches them. They will not consult them, not communicate with them.
|We are not picking up the gun but are
asking for justice within the system.
Why does that rouse the State’s ire?
P Chidambaram has said he will militarily destroy the Naxals, then bring development in the region.
He can do that. He can kill thousands of his own countrymen attempting that. He has greater might, he is a superior race. And as one Naxal leader said in an interview to TEHELKA, “We do not control all areas. Why don’t they bring development to places we don’t control?”
Tehelka Cover Story “Binayak & The Tragedy Beyond”
Far from the national gaze, the establishment practises a dangerous malevolence when confronted with its anti-people policies, reports SHOMA CHAUDHURY from Raipur and Dantewada. Photographs by SHAILENDRA PANDEY
|Old threshold 2.30pm and Binayak Sen finally closes the door of his home to the stream of visitors who have come to see him after his release|
ONE YEAR ago, before the campaign on his behalf had gained m o m e n t u m , TEHELKA did a cover story on Binayak Sen — doctor and human rights activist, jailed on false charges under the draconian Chhattisgarh (People’s) Public Security Act (See TEHELKA: No Country for Good Men). On May 25, when Supreme Court judges Markandeya Katju and Deepak Verma took just sixty seconds to undo an injustice that had been wilfully perpetuated by the State for two long years, it should have been an occasion for another cover story, more celebratory, documenting among other things, Binayak’s wife, Ilina’s Herculean legal struggle for his release. But Binayak and Ilina’s story is merely symbolic of a much bigger, on-going and faceless struggle. And so, even as the human rights community exploded in joy with the May 25 victory, 400 kilometers from Raipur, another big battlefront was being opened.
It is two days after 59-year-old Binayak Sen got to go home. May 28, scalding, red dust everywhere, a hot loo blowing. A man in a white lungi and kurta sits under a leafy tree, listening to ten Gond tribals tell their story of how two nights earlier their village was looted. Every ration burnt. Every goat taken, every hen kidnapped. Not even a little chick left behind. The tribals have trekked from faraway Kamanar village in the hope that this man in white will help them access the ear of the State. It is a difficult proposition because it is the State that has looted the village: How do you lodge an FIR with the police when it is the police that have stolen your chickens?
Q&A: Dr Binayak Sen, a doctor and an activist
Sreelatha Menon / New Delhi May 31, 2009, 0:20 IST
A military solution to Naxalism is neither possible nor desirable, Dr Binayak Sen, a doctor and an activist, tells SREELATHA MENON, after his release from two years of detention.
You were teaching in New Delhi and could have settled there. What drove you to Madhya Pradesh in the late 70s to practise among tribals? Were the health facilities there as bad as they are at present?
They were not as bad. But, they were similar. There has been no marked improvement as far as healthcare infrastructure or services to the poor are concerned. The Chhattisgarh government did an evaluation of the services by using the Caesarian section facilities in government hospitals as an index. Only three government facilities were equipped to carry out this operation in 2004. Very few health centres are equipped to investigate and treat communicable diseases.
The Hindu - Editorial
It is a symptom of the troubled times Indian democracy is passing through that the release on bail of an eminent human rights activist and medical practitioner, Dr. Binayak Sen — something that is routine for even individuals of questionable repute accused or convicted of heinous crimes — should be an occasion for relief and joy. Nobody is questioning the right of the State police to file a case and to have insisted on the custody of Dr. Sen when evidence first surfaced about his alleged involvement with the banned Maoist party. But the denial of bail was mean and vindictive and intended to serve no purpose other than to punish the accused by the sheer weight of process — he spent two years in a Chhattisgarh prison. Certainly there was no question of Dr. Sen fleeing, since he had voluntarily turned himself in for questioning when he first learned the police were looking for him. The fact remains that none of the witnesses the police produced before court were able to corroborate the official charges. No wonder it took just two minutes for the Supreme Court to set him free on bail.
Welcome though the release of Dr. Sen is, it is essential that public attention continue to remain focussed on the appalling state of affairs in Chhattisgarh. The State government’s vigilante anti-insurgency campaign known as Salwa Judum is currently under the scanner, thanks to a PIL pending before the Supreme Court. A specially commissioned report by the National Human Rights Commission has catalogued scores of gross human rights violations and the apex court, by way of interim instructions, has asked the State authorities to provide compensation to the victims of Salwa Judum and facilitate their rehabilitation. Not only has the Raman Singh government dragged its feet on this crucial matter, it has also targeted the activists and the NGOs that are trying to help the internally displaced tribals who want to return to their native villages. On May 16, for example, the State authorities demolished the premises of the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram in Dantewada run by the respected Gandhian, Himanshu. The pattern that is emerging from the State’s actions is very clear: Chhattisgarh does not intend to tolerate any criticism of its policies. It is imperative for the re-establishment of the rule of law and the protection of the basic rights of the people that Salwa Judum is abandoned so that the tens of thousands of people whose homes and livelihood have been destroyed by the cycle of vigilante and Maoist violence are given a chance to return home.