Tuesday, 20 April 2010

So now adivasis cannot go even to the media. Who will they go to?

Please read part 1: http://nishanthdongari.blogspot.com/2010/04/who-is-culprit-maoists-or-indian-state.html

In the first phase of Operation Green Hunt held in September, the forces had attacked an entire family. First, they stabbed the father, then the mother, then the young daughter. With rifle butts, they broke the teeth of her two-year-old son and chopped off a part of his tongue. Human Rights Commission and Tribal activists wanted the press to hear their stories, so they decided to take them to Raipur. The Raipur Press Club asked  them for proof that they were not Naxalites. They told them even the government is not calling them Naxalites! They decided not to allow them (HRC) the use of their premises. So now adivasis cannot go even to the media. Who will they go to?

All roads are closed for them. The police beat them. The political leaders – be they Congress or Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – are with the Salwa Judum. The courts do not give them a hearing. The media does not care. Where else will they go except to the Maoists? When the police attack them, it is the Naxalites who save them. If you really want peace, put an end to the root cause of the popularity of the Naxalites.

We have tried to create conditions in which violence comes to an end. But in an atmosphere where the police cut off breasts of old women and stab old men, and rape… You can imagine what would be the fate of any policeman who falls into the villagers’ hands. The State should not create such conditions. The political leaders must ask why the Naxalites are popular. Why are our democratically elected governments not popular? If an adivasi goes to the police and says, the patwari took away my money, will the police go and investigate?
The day your police’s guns are raised to defend the rights of the poor, Naxalism will end. If our child is creating havoc, would not we try to find out why he is acting like that? Cannot the prime minister ask the Maoists: why is there so much violence? The Naxalites have been preparing the adivasis for decades, telling them there will be a big fight.

That is why HRC activists tell political leaders of the mainstream parties, do not enter this area. The adivasis are waiting; you will be trapped, they have been telling them. These adivasis are not like people in Uttar Pradesh. They can jump on you and snatch your bodyguard’s AK 47. In Operation Green Hunt the forces will be killed in greater numbers than they have in Jammu & Kashmir. In September, they began Operation Green Hunt. They could not kill a single Maoist. But six COBRA jawans got killed. All they could kill were old adivasis and children. A six-year-old was stabbed; an 85-year-old was bayoneted and killed in his bed… The police are committing cold-blooded murder. Then the government asks – are you with us or with the Naxalites? HRC and Tribal activists can openly say – we are not with your police. We are with those adivasis who are being killed.

Digvijay Singh wrote an article on how development is the counter to the Naxalites’ influence. Himanshu Kumar, the tribal activist wrote to him, putting forward four demands. The first is – withdraw your forces. Seven hundred villages have been cordoned off. The villagers cannot go out; no outsider can enter. If the adivasi goes to the weekly bazaar five km away, she knows the SPOs will catch her. So she goes to a bazaar that is 85 km away. It takes two days to go and two days to come back. So four days of every week was spent walking. One may ask, why do not she buy enough rice for a month? She can buy rice worth only as much as they get for their mahua. If their mahua sells for Rs 20, they can bring rice worth Rs 20.

This situation is because of the State, not because of the Naxalites. Characterising those areas as liberated zones is part of the State’s strategy. They can then complain that the State is not allowed to function there. It is actually the Salwa Judum that has stopped the functioning of the State. No institution of the State functions there, nor does any law. Even Article 21 – the right to life – does not exist there. The adivasis are being hunted. Sometimes violence grows of fear and helplessness.

In these villages that are cordoned off, everything has been closed down by the government. There is nothing there – no schools, no doctors. The government told the high court these are all Naxalites. The police kept saying there is no point distributing rice through ration shops because the Naxalites will loot them. So for the last five years, there is been no distribution of rice. Has any Naxalite died of starvation? The medical officers tell HRC, if their doctors go to treat patients in the jungle, the CRPF beats them up. If teachers go, they beat them up. They are furious – they tell the teachers, you do not get blown up when you are going, why do CRPF? You must be in league with the Naxalites. Teachers and doctors do not go in with weapons like CRPF does!

Vinoba Bhave used to say about the Naxalites: “these youth are motivated by compassion for the poor. I salute them.” When he began his Bhoodan movement, he set back the Naxalites by 30 years. For carrying one bundle of firewood, the forest guards would punish an adivasi woman by raping her. If they did not pay a three-rupee fine, the guards would extort Rs 300. Then in the 1980s, the Naxalites came there. They would capture a forest guard and tie him up and ask the adivasis to beat him. That was the first time the adivasi realised they too had some power. The State should have empowered them by punishing the guards! The State never fixed a minimum price for mahua; the Naxalites did. The adivasis had never been violent. But whenever they tried to raise their voice, the State would send the police.

People talk about Maoist violence against the police, against innocent citizens. You must go to the depth of the violence to understand it. If an SPO is killed, the government declares that an innocent was killed and the media goes to town. If an old adivasi is killed, the police say a Maoist area commander was killed. The adivasis live in perpetual fear. If they feel, this man will inform the police where naxals are hiding… If you are continuously hunted, made to flee your home, and you find a place to live away from the police, then someone comes who you suspect might inform the police about your whereabouts…

We are sowing the seeds of violence and mayhem. Before Salwa Judum, Maoists numbered only 5,000. After Salwa Judum, the Maoist strength grew to 1,10,000 – a 22-fold increase and now may be close to 5 lakhs??. After Operation Green Hunt, every surviving adivasi will become a Maoist full-timer. And when the Maoists increase in number, they expand their base. They will reach Mumbai, Delhi. We feel sorry for the young men in the forces too. They lose either way. If they do not join the paramilitary and police, they will die of hunger. And once they join, they will die too, for sure. Why the goverment is sending these young men to their death so that the wealthy corporations will benefit? You are making young people fight other young people so that those corporations may accumulate more wealth.

Third part will be followed soon......

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