Post Box 3811 Andrews Ganj Post Office, New Delhi-110049
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.
In this volatile situation it is imperative for the government to take concrete measures and demonstrate its sincerity of purpose and thereby win people’s confidence in democracy.
We assure you our unstinted support in pursuing these steps.
With warm regards,
On behalf of the Citizens Initiative for Peace
Members of the Citizens Initiative for Peace include:
Rabi Ray, Rajindar Sachar, Mahasweta Devi, PB Sawant, Rajni Kothari, K G Kannabiran, Ajit Bhattacharjea, Kuldeep Nayar, Mahesh Bhatt, Muchkund Dubey, Prabhash Joshi, B K Roy Burman, D. Bandyopadhyay, B D Sharma, S R Sankaran, Binayak Sen, Amit Bhaduri, Randhir Singh, Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy, Annie Raja, Tapan Bose, Sumanta Bannerjee, Sumit Chakravartty, Sujato Bhadra, Teesta Setalvad, Lingaraj, R Ramdas, Manoranjan Mohanty, Ramachandra Guha, Sandeep Pandey, G Haragopal, KB Saxena, Meher Engineer, Harsh Mander, D Narasimha Reddy, Pushkar Raj, Shabnam Hashmi, SC Behar, Bhagabat Prasad Rath, Swadhin Pattanayak, Harivansh, Himanshu Kumar, Praful Samantara, Kavita Srivastava, Saraswati Swain, Rabindranath Sahoo, Madhu Sarin, Nandini Sundar, Ravi Hemadri, S.R. Darapuri, Sudhir Pattnaik, Suhas Borkar, Satya Sivaraman, Apoorvanand, Ajay Dandekar, and many others