The situation in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh today

Published on World Prout Assembly, by Sudha Bharadwaj, Sept. 21, 2009.

The government has made agreements with Jindal, Mittal, Essar and other companies to give them tens of thousands of fertile land for their big industries. But how many jobs would be available to illiterate or semi-literate people of Bastar in the modern computerized mechanized industries? In whose interest Adivasis are being displaced by taking away their means of livelihood? Could the government be able to cultivate grains by the machines of industries after installing them on fertile lands? Why the cottage and small scale industries, based upon the forest products available in Bastar, are not being promoted? Why is there always the talk for big industries? Come, the people of Bastar! The great Bhumkal (1910) will continue the fighting heritage of the martyrs. Together, for the sake of our existence and identity, we’ll consolidate our voices. Against our eviction from zal-jangal-zameen, we’ll agitate shoulder-to-shoulder. We’ll march ahead towards the path of movement for our real vikas (development) …

… The 200,000 by-default Naxalites:  

Recently the Home Minister admitted that out of the 50,000 “internally displaced persons” who were being housed in the roadside SJ camps since 2005, now barely 8,000 remain, the rest of them have run away. The recent incidents of a trigger happy CRPF jawan killing a woman and baby in the Cherpal camp, or of SPOs beating three persons to death in the Matwada camp, perhaps illustrate why. And yet – all schools, health centres, ration shops, (of course polling booths), which have been totally withdrawn from the 644 villages, (and even gram sabhas for determination of forest rights!) continue to be run from those camps.

The administration openly declares that the people of all those villages who have refused to come to the camps, all those villagers who have not joined/ co-operated with the Salwa Judum, those who are still daring to sow their fields in the affected villages (only to flee when the security forces arrive leaving the vulnerable behind to be killed or arrested), and certainly those who are living in the forests, are automatically “Naxalites”.

All youth found in the abandoned villages, and all persons from these villages who come to markets are beaten black and blue and thrown into jail on mere suspicion. And there is always a stock of uniforms and rusty “bharmars” to show as seizures.

Even conceding that around 50,000 persons might have fled to Andhra Pradesh and maybe another 50,000 to Orissa or Maharashtra, this means that at least 200000 people, by virtue of being in the forests or “Naxal stronghold” areas, have now been declared “Naxalites” by the State, and therefore it is considered legitimate that they can be starved of food, medical supplies and access even to village markets. No doubt “anti-Naxal operations” against them have, and would further result, in swelling the ranks of armed militants. For now, the ever present issues of land and livelihood have turned into the burning issue of the very survival of these hundreds of thousands of people. And history tells us that in those circumstances, the adivasi people have always fought fiercely. Even 14 battalions of paramilitary forces, who, apart from occasional forays for “searching” within a small radius of their base, remain holed up in thanas, jails and schools with electrified barbed wire fencing, are feeling quite helpless against the swarm attacks of hundreds of Naxalite militia.

In the past few months, at least 25 jawans have committed suicide after killing their officers and colleagues out of sheer stress.

The demolition of “middle ground” and attack on Gandhian institutions … (full text).

Comments are closed.