The killing fields & The enemy within  

Posted by Praveen in , ,


Pause for a second from the unstoppable coverage of the IPL masala that is going on. Fix the focus on Dantewada, that killing field where 76 of our young country men were mercilessly gunned down by the maoists. There were only 3 survivors in this gruesome tragedy. They managed to escape only because they acted dead as the maoists walked in the blood pool searching for survivors. And, it required some other officers from their camp to arrive after some hours to rescue them braving the maoist bullets. You might be thinking at this juncture that their ordeal had ended. Far from that, this was just the beginning. What followed this, wounded them more than the bullets that had pierced their body. They were taken to a worn down government hospital where the linen on the bed had stains of the previous patients. It was a hovel with a blocked toilet drain. And, to add to the woes there were no doctors or nurses. And there were no dignitaries too to visit, not one from the state or central govt or from the police. Only 2 CRPF SIs who came on their own kept watch over the wounded men. And, as P.Chidambaram arrived one day later for the photo-ops, there were docs, the linen was clean and the toilet was clean. The docs promptly left after PC left. Read more on this shocking neglect of our paramilitary men in this article from last week's Tehelka(which alas became more famous for a badly researched article). Another point to note was that more than half of these guys came here only 2 weeks back. It was a case of bad strategy all over as these jawans were pushed to the face of death.

Coming to the other side of the story, in another superb essay, Shoma Chaudhary has done a root cause study on what is wrong with the way we are tackling the maoist menace. No, its not of the 'Indian democracy is fake' kind of hollow statements that someone like Arundathi Roy makes. Shoma has given out a clear cut strategy for the future, one that may be slow but sure to yield results. The state has been on a witch hunt as far as fighting maoists are concerned. There's no intiative to study the forest using information from satellites or from the maoists who are captured alive. According to reports, the jawans are asked to just go out and shoot. Their strategy is best exemplified in the popular malayalam saying-"kattavane kittiyillengil, kittiyavane thattuka"(If you don't get the one who stole, kill the one you managed to catch). And as a result young boys were dragged out from their houses and charged with crimes like waging war against the state. At the heights of this operation, a bunch of 70-80 year old women who protested against the illegal arrests were also arrested under such charges. The special police officers(SPOs) known as the Salwa Judum in chattisgarh burnt down villages, raped women and killed the men. In Bengal, villagers were forced to leave their cattle and fields and go to relief camps. Those who refused were gunned down. Not surprising considering the leader of the state's words to these happless villagers- "you are either with us or with them".

The origins of discontent among tribals are in the underdevelopment and neglection on the part of the govt. And what government does in the name of development in these areas are further alienating them. The major problems that the tribals are facing now is from the land mafia, mining mafia and the number of SEZs that have sprung up. The govt and some politicians, in its greed for easy money sign MOUs with big corporations to lease out these tribal lands for the multi crore projects. In order to make these projects a reality, the tribals are driven out from their land. The mineral rich tribal forests are sucked of its resources. The tribals who are original owners of the land are not even given employment. They are given a paltry sum as compensation and dumped in some wasteland. This leads to discontent and its this discontent that the maoists carefully take advantage of. Some tribals fall in this trap and join the maoists and fight the Indian state. To prevent such occurences, Mani Shankar Aiyar advises the Govt to go back to the Indian constitution, specifically to the PESA — (Provisions of the Panchayat [Extension to Scheduled Areas] 1996). Two of the most important points in this provision are as follows-

1-"the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be consulted before making the acquisition of land in the Scheduled Areas for development projects and before re-setling or rehabilitating persons affected by such projects in the Scheduled Areas; the actual planning and implementation of the projects in the Scheduled Areas shall be coordinated at the State level"

2-"the recommendations of the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be made mandatory prior to grant of prospecting licence or mining lease for minor minerals in the Scheduled Areas"

With the help of this provision, no MOU can be signed without the approval of the village panchayat. Thus the ownership of the land goes back to the tribal. But, as of now this provision remains mostly in letters as MOUs are signed without ever consulting the villagers. They come to know of it only when they are driven out of their land. This has to change. The PESA has to be implemented strictly on a war footing. And, at the same time the local governments must make sure that the village panchayats are not like the infamous khap panchayats of Haryana which mete out jungle justice. The time is running out for us. Before we send in armies to kill the real enemy, we need to have our own people on our side. We shouldn't allow the terrible tragedy of our army's bullets killing our own people. Its time for simple non-violent steps. Hope voices like this are heard amidst the 'kill them, blast them' rhetoric. And lets not call this voices of reason with the same brand name as we rightfully call such traitors like Arundathi Roy. These deserves to be heard. Because, the idea of India is under question!

image courtesy-thehindu.com, textually.org

your crusader Praveen

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at Wednesday, April 21, 2010 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

3 comments

I'm beginning to doubt the efficacy of Op. Greenhunt and the other plans that the Home Ministry has put together! Simply doesn't hold any water!

And for the media coverage of the IPL fiasco, the less said the better, it seems!

10:58 PM

A sensible post by somebody on Maoism atlast..

A few insights from my part. Most of the MoUs are 'secret' MoUs. The big corporations are notorious for its inhumane approach and environmental destruction they cause....

I am always against army being sent in for fighting internal insurgents.... Police have to be trained for that.

And there was this infamous Salwa Judum which was banned by SC. It was projected as the victory of the government!!

9:28 AM

@rakesh
operation greenhunt is a hunt in the wrong direction...!

@jon
yes.100 MOUs in the last few years in chattisgarh alone...tells a story..

2:10 AM

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