ICAWPI

International Campaign Against War on the People in India

 

Stop all attacks against the people!

 

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Last updateWed, 25 Sep 2013 1pm

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  • Is Kalpana asking too much? - UAPA marches on

    By Nisha Biswas. Dec 28 2010.

    West Bengal police's Special Task Force (STF) claimed to arrest five persons including Sudip Chongdar alias Kanchan, State Secretary of CPI(Maoist), Kalpana Maiti alias Anu, wife of senior Maoist leader Anil Ghosh alias Akash, Barun Sur alias Bidyut, and Anil Ghosh alias Bijoy, all members of state committee. Arrested too is Shankar Mallick alias Buchu, said to be a Maoist linkman. This happened on December 3, 2010, though it is said that they were picked a week before by state police.

    All five, so far, have been produced in court four times for extension of police remand, which is now extended till December 31, 2010. This is the longest police remand, 30 days at a stretch, so far awarded to any person arrested under UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act). On all these days of Court production, all of them were brought hand tied and blind folded.

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  • Press Statement by Mediator in Odisha Hostoage Crisis

    • Early Implementation of the Points of Agreement Between the Mediators and the Representatives of Odisha Government will Ensure Peace in the State
    • Independent and High Level Enquiry is needed to put a Check on the Warmongers who have been Trying to Destabilize the Present Situation in Odisha

    You are aware that from the day one of the issue arising out of hostage of Malakangiri Collector and Junior Engineer that the most  reactionary forces,  more specifically the sections which are always against the process of peace, have been unleashing a misinformation campaign to defeat the peace process in the state. However they couldn't succeed and ultimately such a situation was defused and the Government of Odisha found itself in a situation to respond positively to the demands of the CPI (Maoist). In this process, the Government was at least understood for the time being not to wage war against the people by taking the name of Maoists.

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  • Two die in protest against proposed power plant

    Press Trust Of India, Feb 28, 2011
    Visakhapatnam: Two persons were killed and five injured when police opened fire to control villagers protesting against setting up of a thermal power plant in Andhra Pradesh's Srikakulam district on Monday.

    "Two persons were killed and five sustained injuries in the incident at Vadditandra village," said Srikakulam SP KVV Gopal Rao, adding some several policemen were also hurt.

    The situation at the project site where East Coast Energy Pvt Ltd is developing a 2,640 MW Super Critical Coal fired power project in Santhabommali Mandal continues to be tense for the past two days after the policemen disrupted the fast undertook by some fishermen and villagers on Saturday.

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  • Swami Agnivesh and friends meet the comrades

    Supriya Sharma, TNN--February 13, 2011
    NARAYANPUR: "Have you seen the film Avataar?," asked Swami Agnivesh, as he trudged along a jungle path this Friday, carefully avoiding sharp edged stones, and the even sharper thorns in the bushes.

    "Isn't this place like the other planet shown in the film? And aren't our adivasi brothers just like the Naavi people? Simple and innocent".

    Clad in his trademark saffron, at striking contrast with the greens and browns of the forest, the 71 year old social activist was on his way to free five policemen held hostage for 18 days by the Maoists. The destination was an undisclosed location somewhere inside Abhujmaad, literally the unknown forest, in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region. And accompanying the Swami, were a group of human right activists, a gaggle of media, and the distraught families of the captured policemen.

    "I want my munna back," wept Amarwati Devi, tears rolling down her creased face, half covered with the pallu of her saree. The old woman had travelled with her daughter from a village in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh by tonga, train, bus, and car. Like the others, she was finally trekking in the jungle to reunite with her 26 year old son.

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  • Nobel laureates rally behind Binayak Sen

    The Hindu, February 10, 2011
    Forty Nobel laureates have given a call for the release of Dr. Sen on bail immediately, and for the expeditious hearing of his case.

    A group of 40 Nobel laureates from 12 countries has signed a petition for the immediate release on bail of activist-doctor Binayak Sen. Following the lead of Amartya Sen, these laureates have also expressed their support for Dr. Sen.

    The senior-most laureate in the group is 91-year-old French scientist François Jacob (Nobel Prize, 1965). It also includes Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, who won the award in 2009, Joseph Murray who pioneered kidney transplantation, and Baruch Samuel Blumberg who identified the Hepatitis B virus

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  • Order on Binayak Sen's bail plea tomorrow

    Supriya Sharma, TNN, Feb 9, 2011
    BILASPUR: Chhattisgarh High Court will pronounce its order on the bail application of Dr Binayak Sen on Thursday afternoon. The civil rights activist has spent a month and half in Raipur jail after the sessions court sentenced him to life term for sedition on December 24.

    On Wednesday, the HC division bench of Justice T P Sharma and Justice R L Jhanwar reserved an order on his bail plea after the prosecution wrapped up its arguments.

    Opposing the bail plea, additional advocate general Kishore Bhaduri, representing Chhattisgarh government, argued that Sen had been convicted guilty on serious charges.

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  • BJP's Ram slams Raman Rajya

    Chhattisgarh High Court will give its order on the bail plea of Dr Binayak Sen and Kolkata businessman Piyush Guha on Thursday, 10th February. Prosecution wound up its arguments on the 9th taking a little over an hour. Ram Jethmalani and Surinder Singh had argued for almost four hours over two days for suspension of sentence earlier in the end of January. Justice T P Sharma, the senior judge in the two bench court was extremely well- versed with the ins and outs of the case and, did give prosecution a few uncomfortable moments. Justice T P Sharma was also the state law secretary when the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act was formulated. On Wednesday, two members from the European Union, one representative of Amnesty International were also present in the court.

    As we await for the order, this is the complete interview with eminent jurist and BJP MP Ram Jethmalani, a part of it has already played. Speaking for the first time after his return from Chhattisgarh, Mr Jethmalani said that the prosecution is ill-advised and unsustainable, the motive is to see Binayak Sen damned and, that he has not mortgaged his conscience to his party.

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  • Naxals set to release 5 abducted cops in Chhattisgarh on Feb 11

    Supriya Sharma & Mohua Chatterjee, TNN, Feb 9, 2011
    RAIPUR\NEW DELHI: A delegation of civil society activists is expected to travel to Chhattisgarh on Thursday to secure the release of five policemen held hostage by Maoists since January 25.

    The initiative comes following a telephonic conversation between Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh and social activist Swami Agnivesh on Tuesday. Swami Agnivesh had been contacted by Maoist leaders, who expressed their willingness to free the policemen in the presence of activists only if the security personnel stay away.

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  • Suspend search ops, will free cops: Maoists

    Express News Service,  Wed Feb 09 2011
    Raipur : Acting swiftly on the Maoists' proposal to release the five policemen held hostage for more than a fortnight, the Chhattisgarh government on Tuesday agreed to suspend search operations for 24 hours - a precondition set by the Maoists.

    "The government has agreed to suspend the search operations for 24 hours as the people involved in the negotiations requested the Chief Minister to agree to such a demand of the Maoists," said a government spokesman, hoping all the hostages would be freed safely within a couple of days.

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  • Maoism, Azad and Binayak Sen a hit at Kolkata Book Fair

    2011-02-06 05:30:00
    Kolkata: A slew of pro-ultra publications, on killed Maoist ideologue Azad and jailed activist Binayak Sen, sold like hot cakes in the two-week long Kolkata Book Fair that concluded on Sunday.

    Activists brought out booklets containing the writings of Azad alias Cherukuri Rajkumar, about jailed paediatrician-cum-rights activist Binayak Sen, and in support of the Maoist movement in the fair held at the Milan Mela ground.

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  • "Our Republic must not kill its own children" - Supreme Court on fake encounter killings of Maoists -

    by Stan Swamy

    The context: The Indian Govt believes in gun, money, bureaucrats, corporates. It does not believe in people and their institutions of self-governance, self-empowerment

    Of late the Indian Govt is speaking a strange language. It only speaks in terms of the money it is allocating (1) for the maintenance of the vast number of troops stationed in the naxal-affected districts of central India (Rs. 724 crores for the year 2010 - 11); (2) for the so-called Integrated Action Plan (IAP) for selected Tribal & Backward Districts to be implemented by the DC, SP, DFO of the respective districts (Rs. 3,300 crores for 2010-11). No one is supposed to ask unwarranted questions such as how qualified, equipped are these officials to undertake rural development work.

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  • PRESS RELEASE (31 January 2011): Scandalous Decision of Jairam Ramesh to OK POSCO project

    POSCO PRATIRODH SANGRAM SAMITI

    Dhinkia, Nuagaon, Gadkujang; Jagatsinghpur District, Orissa

    Environment Minister disregards findings of his own Review and Statutory Clearances Committees

    The decision of Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh to give a comprehensive OK to the POSCO India Steel-Power Production-Captive Port project, based on some additional conditions, is nothing short of a total sell out to the politics of power and international capital. In a climate where each and every Minister of the Union Government is tumbling over with scandals, Ramesh had stood tall taking one brave legally and ethically correct decision after another. An acid test for him to continue this streak of decision making in the wider public interest, keeping in view intergenerational interests as well, was about the POSCO project. By his decision today to clear the project Ramesh has failed not only his own legacy, but has attacked the very rule of law based decision making that he has so often been harping on to be the basis of his functioning.

    It is well known that the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samithi, a peaceful movement of affected communities, has been systematically raising the deep, inter-generational and irreversible impacts of allowing this massive project to come up in the ecologically sensitive Jagatsinghpur district of Orissa.

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  • Error Of Margin: Deft census jugglery renders STs a minority in their home

    Debarshi Dasgupta, Outlook India
    It may seem like an innocuous error but it has nonetheless sent the alarm bells ringing in Chhattisgarh. The administration of Jashpur district, an overwhelmingly tribal area, has been found to have reduced the local tribal population to a minority. It seems to have interchanged the census figures of the local scheduled tribe population with those of the scheduled castes. The 2001 census puts the figure for STs at 63.24 per cent of the total while the SC population is just 4.9 per cent.

    The switch, which was made online, meant that the tribals were officially reduced to a minority. In fact, close to 300 villages in the district were shown to have zero ST population. The district administration said it was a mistake and corrected the data recently after a public furore. But few locals are convinced.

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  • The Magic-Realistic Slaughter Of Azad

    Writing of the death of comrades, Cherukuri Rajkumar foretold his own

    By Amit Bhaduri

    "There has never been a death more foretold," wrote Gabriel Garcia Marquez in his classic little novel, Chronicle of a Death Foretold. The setting is a small seaside town somewhere in South America where virtually the whole town knows that a honour killing of a young man is going to take place one morning. The killers wait with open knives in full view of the public, declaring to all passers-by their intention. Nothing is kept secret; the killing takes place in full view of the town through the public's various acts of omission and commission. Everyone has his or her justification for why they couldn't prevent the killing. Insights into the gripping power of collective prejudice merge with realism and fantasy to create the magic Marquez is famous for.

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  • Revolution and Counter-Revolution--Indian State Bares its Fangs as the Class Struggle Intensifies in Orissa

    "Once they (Vedanta Aluminium Ltd.) get the final clearance and come here for mining, we will have no option but to fight them tooth and nail... We have started preparations for the confrontation and that is when the government will declare us Maoists and unleash CRPF troops on us. But we have nothing to lose. We will fight it out and die but will not let go of our forest..."   -- Lenju, activist of Niyamgiri Surakhya Samiti in an interview to Frontline, 5-18 June 2010.

    by Democratic Student Union (DSU)--Lenju was among the nine people gunned down by the armed forces in Badangmali of Rayagada district last week. After staging this 'encounter' on 9 January 2011, the police claimed that nine 'Maoist ultras', including four women, were killed and advertised it as the biggest 'catch' in its ongoing war against the Maoists in Orissa. The police identified the dead as Ravi, Rajendra, Lenju, Ramesh Kulsika, Rinky, Nirmala, Mamata Sipka, Karuna and Kamala. However, not even a single policeman got injured after this 'fierce encounter' that supposedly lasted for six to seven hours!

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  • Unsaid Words from wife of murdered journalist Hem Pandey

    A woman remembers her best friend, a man dubbed a Maoist and killed by the Republic of India. He happened to be her journalist husband
    BY Rahul Pandita "For the first time in my life," says Babita Pandey, "I had a wifely chat with Hem a night before he was to leave for Nagpur." They discussed how they never took a holiday in their eight years of marriage, she says. "I told him that there were so many things that had been left unsaid in our relationship, and that we needed to plan our lives." She remembers his putting aside the book he was reading and smiling at her. She remembers his words. "He said our life is a part of the larger events that shape this society, and that it cannot be separated from what's happening in India or elsewhere in the world."

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  • Whatever Happened to the ‘Other Binayaks’?

    Democratic Student Union, JNU: "Civil Society's Failure to Stand by the People Targeted by the Indian State"

    The Indian 'civil society' -constituted by the articulate section of the middle class and representing a wide spectrum of ideological affiliations- has been shocked by the recent conviction of Dr. Binayak Sen. There have been vocal protests all over the country against the unfair implication of Dr. Sen in charges under the draconian UAPA as well as Chhattisgarh Public Safety Act, and the recent court verdict handing him a life imprisonment.

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  • Oppose Strongly the Punishment given to Binayak Sen, Narayan Sanyal and Piyush Guha!

    Indian Workers Association, GB:  Raise Voice Demanding the Release of Political Prisoners Who Are in Indian Jails Under Sedition Charges!

    To All Those Who Cherish Democratic Values -- The judiciary of the so-called biggest democracy on this planet has once again shown to the world that it is partisan, undemocratic and oppressive as it is wrongfully punishing renowned Dr. Binayak Sen, a doctor who always served the people, and two others, Narayan Sanyal  and Piyush Guha. The three have been punished under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Public Safety Law of Chhattisgarh (CSPPA), and 124-A and S 120 clauses of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). These special clauses of sedition were introduced by the British colonialist rulers in India to suppress the rightful rebellions of the Indian people against the colonialist rulers. These black clauses are not only retained in penal code of 'free' India, rather, many new laws of such kind are made and being enacted to suppress the will of the people. The rulers are aggressively using these new laws against the people to stifle them.

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  • Condemning the FIR against Dr. Ilina Sen and the Police Strong Handedness Against The Participants of the Indian Association Of Women's Studies

    IAWS PRESS STATEMENT: Demanding the closure of the case against Dr. Ilina Sen. (See text of the FIR below)

    25th January 2011--The IAWS (Indian Association for Women's Studies) is shocked and strongly condemns the entry of the police into Yatri Niwas, at Wardha at 2.30 a.m. on 24th January 2011, where a large number of women  participants, who were mainly students and teachers from Universities across the country, attending the 13th National Conference of the Indian Association for Women's Studies (IAWS) held from 20-24 January 2011 were staying.

    The conference was hosted by the Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya (MGAHV), Wardha, with the IAWS as the organiser.

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  • Binayak Sen's wife booked by "Anti-Terrorism Squad"

    Hindustan Times
    Nagpur, January 25, 2011 -- The Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad on Monday booked Ilina Sen, wife of jailed rights activist Binayak Sen, for not informing the police about the arrival of several foreign nationals for a convention she organised. Meanwhile, the hearing of her husband's bail plea in the Chhattisgarh high court is set to continue on Tuesday.

    The foreigners had come to attend a three-day convention in Wardha, about 80 km from Nagpur.

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  • DNA India: "West Bengal demands additional central forces for Maoist-hit districts"

    Friday, Jan 14, 2011: Kolkata--The West Bengal government has asked for at least three more battalions of central forces in the Maoist-hit districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia in addition to the existing 41 companies there.
    State secretariat sources said here that the demand had already been placed by state home secretary GD Gautama in a communication to Union home secretary GK Pillai.
    The state government, however, is yet to receive any feedback on its demand.
    The three Maoist-hit districts already have 35 companies of CRPF and six companies of the Naga Battalion, the sources said.
    Additional director general of police (law and order) Surajit Kar Purakayastha said that demand for six companies of CRPF, including one company of women personnel, had also been placed before the Centre to combat growing law and order problems in Darjeeling following continuous agitation by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to press for a Gorkhaland state.

    http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_west-bengal-demands-additional-central-forces-for-maoist-hit-districts_1494642

  • The Hindu: "Probe committee found holes in police version of Azad death"

    J. Balaji

    With the Supreme Court coming down on the Centre and the Andhra Pradesh government for the alleged cold-blooded killing of Maoist spokesperson Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad and journalist Hemchandra Pandey, the authorities will finally be forced to answer the series of uncomfortable questions thrown up by an independent investigation into the encounter last year.

    While the State police claimed the alleged encounter with Azad and a large group of Maoists took place in the limits of the Wankadi police station of Adilabad district on the night of July 1, a fact-finding team constituted by the Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO) poked holes in the official account.

    The team, consisting of notable personalities including Supreme Court senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, opined that Azad was likely shot dead from a very close range, not more than a foot, rather than from a distance as the police said.

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  • POLITICS OF FAKE ENCOUNTER IN ODISHA

    Odisha Forest Mazdoor Union statement: Odisha is full of mountains and hills containing a substantial quantity of nation's wealth of minerals. Odisha's resources in percent of India's total mineral resources in parenthesis: coal(25%), bauxite (50%), chromites (98%), iron (27%), nickel(91%), and many other minerals, and exploitation of these mineral deposits is taking place 'legally as well as illegally' at an increasing speed, causing large scale evictions of tribals, dalits, poor peasants from the lands, forests, rivers, mountains etc. In the socalled process of developments the broad masses are denied access to the forests and forest produces, affecting their livelihood adversely as well as causing pollution of entire ecology system. The plundering of natural resources by the national and multi-national companies in the name of mineral based industries is not accepted by the people of state and which has resulted in militant mass movements in different parts of the state.

     

    54 MoUs have been signed with the national and multinational companies and capitalists by the Odisha Govt. to loot the natural resources and minerals. If the said schemes are implemented,  around 1,10,000 hectors  of agricultural land, 10,000 hectors  of forest land and 50,000 hectors  of grazing land will be affected and lakhs of poor people will be displaced from their hearth and home. Since long, people are raising their voice and organizing resistance movements against the anti-people destructive projects in the name of so-called developments . From Baliapal  to Gopalpur,  Gandhamardan to Kasipur, Dhinkia to Niyamgiri, Kaling Nagar to Narayanpatna everywhere the oppressed, poor mainly tribals organizing themselves against the state patronized exploitation and conspiracy , which open the doors for the corporate, multinationals to loot the natural resources . Different forms of of resistance movement are  going on  including armed struggle led by C.P.I (Maoist) party. Instead of addressing the fundamental political economic issues of the broad masses, the state has been persistently continuing terrorism to suppress the dissent voice, politics as well as people's militant resistances.

     

    The fundamental issues like life and livelihood of broad masses are treated as  law and order issues  by the state and  the  state security forces including Border Security Forces, CRPFs etc are deployed in the movement areas. In the process of state terrorism struggling people above 700 have been imprisoned and most of them are under trial prisoners and languishing in the jails for years together. Custodial violence including deaths in the custody has become a policy of the state. Gang rape of tribal women in the custody is not also uncommon in our state. The complain of a gang rape victim is also not properly inquired by the judicial magistrate of R.Udaygiri in spite of mandatory provision enumerated as under section-176(1-A) of Code of criminal procedure.

     

    In the name of combing operation the security forces have obtained 'license' to kill any person under the cover of encounter with Maoists. It has become a general practice in our state that when an innocent person is killed by the police bullets, at that moment the police create a story that the person was a Maoist who died in the encounter. Very recently during 28-12-2010 to 12-01-2011, twenty innocent persons including ten women were killed by the bullets of security forces in the name of encounter with Maoists. Since the militant mass movements are continuing in Kaling Nagar ,Kashipur, Niyamgiri and Gandhamardan areas, the state has adopted d the politics of encounter to create a reign of terror in the said areas to suppress the mass movements and to serve the corporate interests.

     

    It is not out of place to mention that although a number of so called encounter incidents have occurred in the tribal areas of the state, in no case any independent and credible enquiry has been ordered by the state government. In one case only the victim lady of village Birubai under Rayagada district made a complain before the state human right commission that her husband was killed on 7-7-2006 by the security forces in a fake encounter. The commission decided the case in her favour  and came to the conclusion that the husband of victim lady was innocent ,who was killed by police in fake encounter. But the recommendation of Comission regarding taking action against responsible police officer is yet to be carried out.

     

    I have reason to believe that there are only four cases of exchange of fire(encounter) between the arms squad of Maoists and security forces of the state during the period of 2004 to 2011 and which are in  Koraput, RUdaygiri ,Gasama and Damanjodi and all other cases are fake encounters and which require free ,fair  and credible investigations after registration of criminal cases in the respective police stations .

     

    Under the above facts and circumstances, I appeal all concerned persons /groups/forces to condemn  and raise their  voice against the state policy of fake encounter to kill innocent persons as a part of repression and suppression of dissent voice/politics/ideology with a motive to serve the corporate interest.

     

     

     

     

     

    Dandapani Mahanty

    General Secretary, Odisha Forest Mazdoor Union

  • Indian Supreme Court orders Azad killing inquiry

    BBC news, 14 January 2011--India's Supreme Court has given the government six weeks to explain the circumstances under which a prominent Maoist was killed last year.

    Cherukuri Rajkumar was acting as an intermediary to set up peace talks between the Maoists and the Indian government when he was shot dead.

    One judge said the state could not be allowed to kill its own children.

    Human rights activists alleged the victim, also known as Azad, was killed by police after he had been detained.

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  • Press Note--Orissa Forest Mazdur Union and Revolutionary Writers Association, A.P

    On 24th December, 2010, the police raided the village of Lundang in Gajapati District, brutally tortured all village people. The Adivasis there belongs to the catholic christian community. Their preparation for Christmas was totally destroyed. From there, they have taken four young men - Somnath Majhi, Pradeep Majhi and two others to the S.O.G camp inside SPs office, Paralakhemundi and severely tortured. Pradeep Majhi died there because of torture but the SP has concocted a story that he committed suicide in the Police lock up with shoelaces. The villagers blocked the road and protested. The district collector announced one lakh rupees ex-gratia from the Red Cross Fund. The other three were sent to judicial custody to R.Udayagiri after fabricating false cases against them.

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  • RELEASE DALIT WRITER AND EDITOR SUDHIR DHAWALE NOW!!

    Patrakar, Lekhak, Sampadak

    SUDHIR DHAWALE MUKTATA ABHIYAAN ( Release Sudhir Dhawale Campaign)

    Those who tolerate wrongs are greater wrongdoers than the perpetrators themselves

    Press Conference held by the Sudhir Dhawale Muktata Abhiyaan at the Janta Dal (Secular) Office, Mumbai, on January 11, 2011.

    Bhai Vaidya, freedom fighter, former Home Minister of Maharashtra, and

    Leader, Samajwadi Jan Parishad:

    He declared in vociferous and no uncertain terms terms that Sudhir is

    not a Naxalite, and for that matter, nobody espousing the cause of

    Dalits, Adivasis, the poor, marginalised, oppressed, and downtrodden,

    is--contrary to what the State would force people to believe.

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  • The Hindu: "Army begins recce for training ground in Chhattisgarh"

    by Aman Sethi

    May acquire 100 acres of land close to Abujmard

    "The base will be right next to the den of Naxalites"

    Raipur: Senior officers confirmed that the Army had begun a ground survey as a precursor to the establishment of a training facility in Chhattisgarh's Maoist-affected Narayanpur district.

    On Saturday, a team of officers from the Army's Central Command reached Kondagaon, a small town on the Raipur-Jagadalpur road before heading towards Abujmard - a 4,000 sq. km. patch of dense forest land that had been declared a "liberated zone" by the Communist Party of India (Maoist).

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  • Lalgarh: APDR Fact-finding report on Netai Incident

    Jan 12, 2011--A six member team from APDR reached Netai village of Lalgarh at 3 PM on 08th January, 2011 to investigate the incident of firing on unarmed villagers by Harmad Bahini on 7th January at village Netai of Lalgarh block, West Midnapur, West Bengal.

    Villagers told the team that one month ago the camp of CPI(M) formed at the house of the local CPI(M) leader, Rathin Dandapat. Abani Singh and Sovon Mondal, CPI(M) leaders of the same village, had told the villagers that the camp had been made to establish peace in the area. Gokul Maity of this village informed us that instead of establishing peace some trouble had been started at the village. Villagers were forced to cook and wash clothes for the camp. About 20 to 25 armed persons were at the camp according to the villager Pradip Roy. One man was forced to make 40 to 50 chapattis in one day. The members of the camp shouted at villagers for any mistakes in cooking, like more salt or better taste. One day they forced, at gun point, the villagers to participate in the rally of CPI(M). The non armed villagers were compelled to guard the armed men of the camp.

    Unwillingly they were obeying all orders from the camp.

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  • Arrest of three minor school girls in Jharkhand under UAPA, Arms Act, Explosives Act.

    Three adolescent school going girls were picked up by the police and presented to the media as naxal women who had been arrested by the police during an encounter with a Maoist squad in the forest near Eiti village. The three girls were later presented in court as adults and remanded to Judicial custody.

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  • Release Asit Kumar Sengupta and all Political Prisoners Now

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    On the afternoon of 22 January 2008, the notorious Chattisgarh police raided the home of comrade Asit Kumar Sengupta and took him away. The same evening, they again raided in large numbers and searched his house for 2 days. Hiswife was detained for questioning. The police seized all the copies of the revolutionary internationalist journal `A World to Win', publications of `Puravaiya Prakashan', all the books in his personal library and the disk of his PC. Violating the norms laid down by the Supreme Court, his arrest was formally registered only after 2 days. He has been accused of waging war against the state in association with a banned organisation, theCPI (Maoist).

    Who is Asit Kumar Sengupta? Why is he declared as an enemy of the state?

    Awakened to radical politics through the 1960s mass struggles and mobilisations in West Bengal, Asit was attracted to the revolutionary movement through the Naxalbari armed struggle of 1967. Since then, his revolutionary cultural activism and work as a propagandist, begun at the age of 20, has never ceased; up till this arrest. This creativity in the service of the people has, over the past four decades plus, spanned the diverse fields of literature, drama, publishing and journalism.

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  • PUNJAB: PROTEST MARCH & RALLY FOR RELEASE OF Dr. BINAYAK SEN & HIS COMPANIONS

    On a call of the Democratic Front Against Operation Green Hunt, Punjab, a protest march and rally was organized at Bathinda on 8th January 2011. In chilling cold, protestors, including a good number of intellectuals, peasants, agricultural laborers, women, students, youth & children assembled at the local Teachers Home lawn. N.K.Jeet Advocate, State Committee Member of the Democratic Front described in detail, how Dr. Sen and his co-accused were implicated in a false criminal case, as he raised his voice against violation of democratic & human rights of tribals under the Salwa Judam campaign and expropriation of the mineral wealth lying underneath the tribal areas of Chhattisgarh, by imperialist Multi National Companies.

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  • The need to enlarge protests around Binayak Sen to all cases of sedition - PUDR Statement

    Dear friends and comrades, The recent countrywide demonstrations against the unfair verdict in the Binayak Sen case have been really heartwarming. The demonstrations have brought many of us together, who feel enraged and upset over the judgment. Clearly, if our numbers continue to grow, we will soon be in a position of strength and will ensure the release of Binayak and many others.
    The case against Binayak Sen has become a focal point to oppose the attempts by the state to criminalise civil rights activities. Yet, we strongly feel that in order to make the entire campaign into a success we have to enlarge the present focus from the individual, Binayak Sen, to include the co-accused, Piyush Guha and Narayan Sanyal, and also take into consideration the plight of others who are similarly imprisoned in unfair cases of sedition.

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  • Odisha: Nisan Sammelan-2010

    "Combating the impending corporate imperialism backed by the state along with white terrorism in the name of Operation Green Hunt, political as well as cultural resistance is the call of the time in order to protect the life and livelihood and to safeguard the rights of the poorest populace of world's greatest democracy", was unanimously resolved voice of the "Nisan Sammelan-2010", Bhubaneswar on "Cultural Resistance: War on People in Corporate Interest".

    The two tiered conference was attended by more than five thousand people from around 30 co-operating organizations from various corners Odisha, along with progressive intellectuals like writer-activist Arundhati Roy and Varavara Rao.

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  • Dalit Activist Sudhir Dhawale Arrested under UAPA in Maharashtra

    Mumbai Mirror, January 3 2010

    Dalit activist and editor of Marathi magazine Vidrohi, Sudhir Dhawale, was arrested on Monday morning at Gondia and charged with sedition (sec 124) and under Secs 17, 20 and 39 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

    These sections relate to: raising funds for terrorist acts; being a member of a terrorist organisation and providing support to a terrorist organisation.

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  • KANNA: The Insurgent Jurisprudent!

    One of the pillars of the civil liberties movement in the subcontinent has left us in the twilight of 2010. An irreparable loss that the civil liberties movement in the subcontinent will have to weather in the days to come. Kannabiran's life as a civil libertarian, as a human rights lawyer is a constant inspiration for anyone who was ready to walk the unbeaten track.

    It was in the decade and a half from the early 80s to the mid-90s that he worked as the President of Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) and later as National President of PUCL for a decade did Kannabiran initiate and pave the path of radical jurisprudence in India.

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  • Ignoring hunger is nothing short of genocide: Binayak

    Priyanka Borpujari, TNN, Jan 2, 2011

    While human rights activists across the world express their shock and outrage at Binayak Sen's life imprisonment sentence, one of the biggest blows will be felt by his alma mater, Christian Medical College (CMC) Vellore. Until the verdict, the gentle doctor was busy, among other things, with a new project which could usher in a new light for healthcare education in India. Following the Social Determinants of Health report of 2008 by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Sen was appointed by CMC Vellore as a consultant to draft a curriculum model that would incorporate human rights within the ambit of healthcare and thus pave the way for a more socially equitable society.

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  • Prisoners extend support to Binayak Sen in Bihar

    Indo-Asian News Service, Patna, January 01, 2011

    Hundreds of prisoners in Patna's Beur Central Jail in Bihar on Friday staged protests and extended their support to activist Binayak Sen, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Chhattisgarh court last week. According to officials of the high-security jail, the prisoners aired their protest by staging a relay hunger-strike and threatened to launch an indefinite hunger strike if justice was not done to Binayak Sen.

    "The prisoners observed a day-long hunger strike to protest against conviction to Binayak Sen," a jail official, demanding he be not named, told IANS on Saturday.

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  • A British law scrapped in UK thrives in India

    Dec 30, 2010 - By Antara Dev Sen, DNA

    Last week, at his sentencing, Dr Binayak Sen asked, “What is Section 124-A?” The judge replied: “Rajdroh.”

    The human rights activist, head of the state PUCL (People’s Union for Civil Liberties) and a doctor dedicated to the neglected poor in tribal areas, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for sedition. The judgement was based primarily on fabricated evidence, fake witnesses and contradictory statements by the police.

    How can ‘rajdroh’ or rebelling against the monarch be a crime in a democracy?

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  • Dr Binayak Sen's Statement to the Court

    I am a trained medical doctor with a specialization in child health. I completed my MBBS from the Christian Medical College, Vellore in 1972, and completed studies leading to the award of the degree of MD (Paediatrics) of the Madras University, from the same institution in 1976. After this, I joined the faculty of the Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi and worked there for two years, before leaving to join a field based health programme at the Friends Rural Centre, Rasulia in Hoshangabad, MP. During the two years I worked there, I worked intensively in the diagnosis and treatment of Tuberculosis and understood many of the social and economic causes of disease. I was also strongly influenced by the work of Marjorie Sykes, the biographer of Mahatma Gandhi, who lived at the Rasulia centre at that time.

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  • Binayak Sen Case: Condemn the Murder of Justice in Raipur Court!

    CONDEMN UNEQUIVOCALLY THE MURDER OF JUSTICE BY THE SESSIONS COURT IN RAIPUR IN THE BINAYAK SEN CASE!

    LET US UNITEDLY FIGHT TO REPEAL ALL FASCIST DRACONIAN LAWS INCLUDING UAPA AND THE CHHATTISGARH SPECIAL PUBLIC SECURITY ACT!

    The Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) condemns unequivocally the murder of justice in the case of Dr. Binayak Sen, a people’s doctor and one of the first civil libertarians to expose the state sponsored Salwa Judum that was undertaken by the BJP government on the tribal people in Chhattisgarh and ably supported by the Congress which is the opposition party in the state.

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  • Court sentences Binayak Sen to life in prison

    By Sujeet Kumar - RAIPUR | Fri Dec 24, 2010

    (Reuters) - A court sentenced a doctor accused of links with Maoist rebels to life in prison on Friday, a high-profile case involving appeals by Nobel laureates for the world's biggest democracy to uphold human rights. Binayak Sen, 60, was arrested in 2007 in Raipur, capital of Chhattisgarh on accusations he passed on notes from an imprisoned Maoist leader he was treating. Sen denies any wrongdoing.

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  • WikiLeaks cables: India accused of systematic use of torture in Kashmir

    Beatings and electric shocks inflicted on hundreds of civilians detained in Kashmir, US diplomats in Delhi told by ICRC

    US officials had evidence of widespread torture by Indian police and security forces and were secretly briefed by Red Cross staff about the systematic abuse of detainees in Kashmir, according to leaked diplomatic cables released tonight. The dispatches, obtained by website WikiLeaks, reveal that US diplomats in Delhi were briefed in 2005 by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) about the use of electrocution, beatings and sexual humiliation against hundreds of detainees.

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  • BJP seeks Israel help against Naxals

    Indian Express news service - Thu Dec 16 2010 - New Delhi:

    BJP president Nitin Gadkari, who is leading a party delegation to Israel, has said the Israeli homeland security services could explore ways to cooperate with NDA-led state governments facing Maoist menace. Gadkari — who is accompanied by senior BJP leaders, including Vasundhara Raje and Ramlal among others — made this suggestion to the Israeli agencies after a presentation was made to the visiting delegation.

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  • Buried by CBI – the investigation into death of Aasiyan Jan and Neelofer Jaan

    41 organizations supported by 72 individuals have raised a demand for justice in the Shopian case in an open letter as they have shown that there are grounds to believe that the conclusions drawn by the CBI full of lacunae, lapses and biased. They have demanded fresh investigations. We call on you to join them.

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  • Thousands of People Marched to Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly

    Thousands of tribals, farmers and labourers from various parts of Chhattisgarh gathered at Raipur to march on to State Assembly on 8 December, 2010. In spite of unprecedented torrential rain across the State for the previous three days, around two thousand people from Bastar, Dantewada, Sarguja, Jashpur, Kanker, Rajnandgaon, Raigadh, Bilaspur, Durg and Raipur districts reached Raipur station on the 8th morning. Many people from remote places of the northern and southern part of the State missed this protest due to commutation problem arose from unexpected climate change. The teams of people waited at Raipur station till noon for clean blue sky.

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  • Support and express solidarity with the Political Prisoners who are on an Indefinite Hunger Strike

    Support and express solidarity with the Political Prisoners who are on an Indefinite Hunger Strike in Medinipur Central Jail from 10th December(Human Rights Day) 2010

    Nearly 150 political prisoners-mostly under trail--incarcerated in the Medinipur Central Jail-which the government calls 'Correctional Home'-will start hunger strike from 10th December 2010 on the Human Rights Day for an indefinite period-true to the long  tradition of hunger strikes organized by political prisoners in Medinipur as also other jails of West Bengal and outside in near and distant past.

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  • Immediately Produce Ranajit Dasgupta aka “Subhas” aka “Bhai”, a resident of Ushumpur, North 24-Parganas, West Bengal before court!

    06.12.2010. It is increasingly becoming a pattern on the side of the police and other investigating agencies to keep political dissidents under illegal custody for several days and show a fudged date of arrest as and when they are produced before the court. These days of illegal custody are conveniently used to act with impunity by the ‘law enforcers’ flouting all norms and procedures that to some extent can protect the detained from brutal, inhuman torture of all kinds. Thus illegal confinement is increasingly become a tool in the hands of the state to indulge in torture and in many a case also endanger the life of the detained as is evident in cases of political dissidents including the Maoists from the state of Andhra Pradesh.

    The West Bengal police are no exception when it comes to acting with impunity. The most recent case is the abduction of political dissidents such as the Maoists, keeping them under detention illegally without producing them in court within 24 hours of arrest by trampling underfoot all constitutional norms. The cases in mention are those of the Maoist leaders Sudip Chongdar aka “Kanchan”, reported to be the West Bengal State Committee Secretary of the CPI(Maoist), Barun Sur aka “Bidyut”, secretary of Bhagirathi Teesta Regional Committee, Anil Ghosh aka “Ajoyda” and Kalpana Maity aka “Anu”

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  • Police commandoes fire on thousands of Naga villagers, killing 2 and wounding 100

    Zolengthe. net, May 7, 2010

    Naga's Protest Turns Bloody

    Mao Gate | May 6 : Two persons were killed and more than a hundred injured when Manipur police commandoes fired on thousands of villagers staging a protest rally here at Mao Gate, some 32 kms from Kohima. A combined force of Manipur Rifles, IRB and police commandoes fired more than 200 teargas shells and later resorted to blank and blind firing to quell the protestors staging a rally against imposition of 144CrPC in Mao area. While two persons were killed on the spot, another was reported to be in critical condition at Naga Hospital, Kohima.

    Around 10 am, villagers of Mao area congregated at Mao Gate and staged a protest rally at Mao Gate against imposition of 144 CrPC and high handedness” of the police commandoes. “Get out commandoes,” the rallyists shouted and as the volume increased and protestors swelled in numbers, the commandoes first fired more than fifty teargas shells to disperse the rallyists, followed by blank firing.

    The protestors reciprocated by throwing stones at the security personnel and besieging the Town Hall where the police commandoes were quartered. Some of the enraged seized the bedding and clothing of the commandoes and set them on fire. The protestors also damaged at least 6 vehicles of the security personnel. Two youths were shot dead in the Town Hall when some commandoes fired at them at point blank range. According to villagers, the rallyists also beat up two police personnel and snatched one teargas gun.

    The two deceased been identified as one Loshou, son of Daikho of Kalinamai village and a BA 2nd year student of St. Joseph College, Jakhama, and Chakho, son of Neli of Kalinamai village, also a BA 2nd year student of St. Joseph College, Bangalore. According to the Red Cross Society, Nagaland branch, one N Lokho (30), son of Nishini of Songsong village was in critical condition at the hospital.

    As the death of the two students in town hall spread and the commandoes stepping up their firing, the protestors slowly began to disperse, and began to stay indoors. More than an hour after the main street was deserted, the commandoes stationed atop the building near the Taxi parking directed tear gas shells on the houses below.

    Manipur police kills two students at Mao Gate

    The commandoes also aimed their guns at any movement of people even outside their homes.
    Majority of the 74 injured listed at CHC Mao till 2pm were women who were leading the rally in the initial stage. NSF president Mutsikhoyo Yhobu who was also witness to the firing, later visited CHC Mao and donated Rs. 10,000 to the injured. The Nagaland Red Cross also rushed in life saving medicines to CHC Mao besides lifting some of the injured to hospitals in Kohima.

    It was reported that DGP Nagaland K Kire also visited the injured at the CHC. At CHC, the driver of an ambulance who came with some injured at around 2.10pm said that the commandoes fired teargas at even the ambulance.

    Meanwhile, late afternoon at the Mao-Khuzama border, IGP (LO3) V Zathang of the Manipur police told mediapersons and the people from Nagaland side that the commandoes had not resorted to any kind of firing. “We don’t have firing order,” he claimed and also denied that there was any casualty. On the other hand, the IGP alleged that some of his personnel and arms were missing. Meanwhile, fearing the worst almost all villagers of Songsong and Kalinamai villages have fled their homes by late evening and are taking shelter in neighbouring villages including Khuzama on the Nagaland side.

    Meanwhile the management, staff and students of St. Joseph’s college, Jakhama condoled the death of Mr. Dikho Loshuo II. B.A. “B” (sociology honours) who died at the police firing at Mao gate on Thursday, 6th May, 2010. This was stated in a condolence message issued by Fr. Isaac Padinjarekuttu Principal.

    Naga MLAs in Manipur resign

    Dimapur, May 6 (MExN): The Naga independent MLAs of the Manipur Legislative Assembly today resigned on moral ground in the wake of what it termed as the unprovoked firing upon the civilians at Mao Gate this morning killing and injuring many men and women folk in the process. “We share the grief and sentiments of the people who are killed and injured in the unprovoked firing.

    We see no reason why a state government should take such action which would sabotage the Naga peace process. Hence we the undersigned are tendering our resignation as members of the State Legislative Assembly on moral ground”, stated the resignation letter addressed to the Speaker of the Manipur Assembly. The MLAs are stationed in Delhi.

    Those who send in their resignation to the Speaker included W. Morung Makunga, MLA (Tenugopal), Awangbow Newmai, MLA (Tamei), K. Raina, MLA (Tadubi), Dr Khashim Ruivah, MLA (Chingai), M Thohreii, MLA (Mao) and Wungnaoshang Keishing, MLA (Phungyar). The MLAs in their resignation letter pointed out that they had requested the State government to reconsider the Cabinet decision to ban the entry of Mr Muivah, the Chief Negotiator of the NSCN/GPRN in the Indo-Naga peace talk. While appreciating the Centre for allowing Muivah to travel to his native village of Somdal, the MLAs regretted that the Manipur government by stationing security forces along the route had created a war like situation. The MLAs also informed that they had come to Delhi to seek an appointment with the Prime Minister and Home Minister in order to apprise them of the situation but they could only meet RS Pandey, the Interlocutor of the Government of India. The Naga MLAs told Pandey to speed up the peace process so as to bring permanent peace and honorable solution.

    Manipur CM meets Pranab, Chidambaram, Antony

    New Delhi, May 6 (PTI): Manipur Chief Minister Ibobi Singh today met Union ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram and A K Antony and briefed them about the prevailing situation in his state in the wake of NSCN-IM leader T Muivah’s proposed visit. Singh was summoned to the national capital following the tensed situation in Manipur and Nagaland in the wake of now-postponed visit of Muivah to his ancestral village in Manipur’s Ukhrul district. During the 20-minute meeting, Singh is understood to have told the Central leaders that if Muivah is allowed to go to Manipur, the situation in the state may deteriorate as people are against the visit of the Naga rebel leader. The Central leaders are believed to have asked Singh to be cautious and take utmost care in taking any decision in this regard.

    Muivah puts off visit to ancestral village in Manipur

    Visema (Nagaland), May 6 (PTI): NSCN-IM leader T Muivah on Thursday put off his visit to his ancestral village across the Nagaland border in Manipur’s Ukrul district on the request of four Naga NGOs. Speaking to a small gathering in Visema, where he spent the night after arriving from NSCN-IM headquarters at Camp Hebron near Dimapur on Wednesday, Muivah said he was postponing his visit to Somdal village, where he was born, after the NGOs requested him to put off his visit by a day or two till the situation returns to normal in Manipur.

    He reiterated that he did not understand why the Manipur government was opposing his visit. “I am not going to create a disturbance. I am going for peace and to meet my people,” he said.

    Civil groups demand Judicial Probe

    Dimapur, May 6 (MExN): Indian civil society organizations today demanded a judicial probe into the firing by Manipur police forces that left three students dead and about a hundred injured at Mao Gate, Nagaland-Manipur border. The Indian civil organizations met in an emergency press meeting in New Delhi today.

    The organizations, along with Naga MLAs from Manipur urged for peace but agreed that the situation is getting increasingly volatile even as minority communities in Manipur feel presently threatened by the heightened insecurity and historical discrimination. “Independent Naga MLAs from Manipur have resigned…they are demanding a judicial enquiry,” a statement received here said.

    Members of Human Rights, civil society and democratic organizations, including South Asia Forum for Human Rights and Jawahar Lal Nehru University, spoke at the press conference. Condemning the police action and killing, the civil groups said the deployment of large number of security forces at the state borders, the unprovoked destruction of traditional welcome gates by the forces, and the total blockage of transit of all travelers from Nagaland to Manipur have triggered panic and insecurity among the local people.

    These have all unnecessarily heightened tensions between different communities in the region, the statement said.
    The speakers also called for lifting of the blockade of transport of goods and people from Imphal valley to the hills and at the Nagaland-Manipur border that had caused great hardships to ordinary people.

    The speakers also alleged that Okram Ibobi Singh, the Chief Minister of Manipur, was using the situation to communally polarize the people for his own political gains.

    “Naga MLAs from Manipur had earlier asked the CM to withdraw the illegal and controversial decision of the cabinet disallowing Mr. Muivah’s visit. In Delhi, upon not getting an appointment with the central Home Minister or the PM, they have sent in their resignations to the speaker of the Manipur Assembly,” the statement added.

    South Nagas seek PM’s action

    Dimapur, May 6 (MExN): The Naga frontal organizations in Manipur today listed a number of demands to the Prime Minister of India, to be met with prompt action. “So long as the given conditions are not fulfilled, we will have no option but to abstain from receiving the dead bodies of the two innocent students from the Police custody,” stated the memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister of India from the United Naga Council, Naga Women’s Union, Manipur, All Naga Students’ Association Manipur and Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights. ddd

    The demands are that a judicial enquiry into the incident be instated; immediate withdrawal of 144 CRPC; immediate withdrawal of IRB and Police Commandos from the Naga areas; permit entry and safe passage to Mr. Th. Muivah to his native village and to peacefully complete his peace tour.

    The Mao-Gate Tragedy

    The Naga organizations also narrated the tragic turn of events: AN organization, the Mao Women’s Welfare Association under the aegis of the Naga Women’s Union of Manipur had organized peaceful rally at Mao Gate in Senapati district (under the administration of Manipur State) on May 4 and the 5th to protest against the Manipur State Cabinet’s decision banning the entry of Th. Muivah, general secretary of the NSCN (IM) to his native village, Somdal.

    On the evening of May 5, at 6.30 PM one Ashihrii Puni, of Song Song village, a Mao tribal, aged 52 years was brutally assaulted without any reason by the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) of Manipur. On May 6, the public of the area organized a peaceful procession on National Highway 39 to protest against the savage act of the IRB.
    “While the procession was being taken out, the Manipur state armed forces, without any warnings, started firing tear gas and stick bombs on the innocent public.

    Soon after, they started firing randomly on the protestors and in the process two male students were shot dead and more than 80 persons, mainly women, sustained grievous bullet wounds and related injuries. The Manipur armed forces also damaged many vehicles parked on the National Highway, broke windows and kicked open doors of houses, arrested and assaulted 28 innocent boys, who were later released in the evening.”

  • Nagaland rights activist exposes Armed Forces Special Powers Act

    Misguided or Deliberate Policy: Armed Rebellion and Political Conflict

    By Neingulo Krome

    [This paper was presented in a Seminar on “Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act” during the Festival of Hope, Justice and Peace held at Imphal from November 2 – 6, 2010. The author is a former Secretary General of NPMHR]

    At the outset I want to thank the Just Peace Foundation for giving us this opportunity of deliberating issues of common concern in a most befitting and elaborate manner, commemorating it with the completion of 10 years of Irom Sharmila’s Fast unto Death against one of the most draconian and anti-democratic law in India. In this aspect, I also want to salute Ms Irom Sharmila for her courage and ability to demonstrate the highest humanly possible sacrifice for the cause of not only the “ten slaughtered civilians at Malom Village” by personnel of the Indian Security Forces, but for humanity as a whole.

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  • Tribals rally against anti-Maoist operations in Orissa

    Tribals opposing ongoing anti-Maoist operation in Koraput district, where most wanted rebel Ramakrishna is suspected to be in hiding, staged a demonstration at Narayanpatna, about 70km from here, today.

    The rally was organised by the Maoist-backed Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS), which had recently forcibly grabbed money lenders’ lands and attacked a police station at Narayanpatna. The demonstrators also demanded immediate release of tribal men and women who were lodged in jail on charge of being rebels and attacking the police station.

    About 100 tribals allegedly involved in the two counts are lodged in Koraput jail. Two of them have died in prison. The demonstrators submitted a memorandum addressed to chief minister Naveen Patnaik to local block development officer.

    Meanwhile, the police have launched a manhunt for Ramakrishna, who is suspected to have taken shelter in Narayanpatna jungle along with his son Prithvi. The search operation has been stepped up since the arrest of Ramakrishna’s wife Padma on November 14 from an area near Koraput, bordering Andhra Pradesh.

    CMAS marches in Narayanpatna, Orissa

    DNA India, November 24, 2010

  • From Field to Fork: Obama’s agribusiness recipe for India

    US corporate officials explain the "benefits" (to US agri companies) of American agricultural exports, seeds and technology to their Indian counterparts

    By Rahul Goswami, Sanhati

    November 20, 2010

    The government of the USA has planned for India to become an important consumer of its agricultural exports and crop science. India has also been planned as a host country for an agricultural research agenda directed by American crop-seed biotech corporations.

    This is to be achieved through a variety of programmes in India, some of which began their preparation two years ago. This agenda, labelled as US-India cooperation by India’s current UPA-2 government and by the USA’s current Barack Obama administration, has the support of the American farm sector, but not that of India’s farmers and cultivators. The clear and blunt objective is to increase US agricultural exports and to widen as quickly as possible the trade surplus of the US agricultural sector.

    This agenda has become clear following the three business and industry meetings held during the visit of US President Barack Obama-’US-India Business and Entrepreneurship Summit’ in Mumbai on 6 November, ‘India-US: An Agenda for Co-Creation’ with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi on 8 November, and ‘US-India Conclave: Partnership for Innovation, Imperative for Growth and Employment in both Economies’ with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in New Delhi on 9 November.

    The US agri-business view has been projected in India by the US-India Business Council, a business advocacy group representing American companies investing in India together with Indian companies, with a shared aim to deepen trade and strengthen commercial ties.

    In a document titled ‘Partners in Prosperity -Business Leading the Way’ (November 2010), the business council stated: “India requires an ‘Ever-Green Revolution’-a new program which would engage the country’s rural sector, providing water utilization and crop management ‘best practices’ to promote greater food security-this time based on technology to increase efficiency and productivity. The effort to vitalize India’s agriculture sector should be driven by business, and the first step is improving India’s farm-to-market global supply chain.” …………

    Finally, there is the idea of the ‘Evergreen Revolution’ being promoted by both sides, India’s Ministry of Agriculture and the ICAR-led research and agri education system, and the US Department of Agriculture in concert with the US State Department and American agri business. Also called ‘’second Green Revolution” by India’s agriculture sector planners, such labelling has ignored entirely the social and genetic violence to India’s agrarian settlements which has only increased post-Liberalisation.

    At a meeting in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, held to discuss the central government’s ”Green Revolution in Eastern India” programme, a concluding declaration was made by farmers, activists and scientists from more than ten Indian states. ”Food and livelihood security of the poor is subverted by the decision imposed by the Union Government on the peoples of the six Eastern Indian states to push for the new phase of Green Revolution with a thrust on hybrid seeds technology,” said the declaration. ”We question the rationale of the government in bringing in this Green Revolution and strongly believe that techno-centric production models adopted so far do not address real food, nutrition and livelihood security.”

    It is not food, nutrition and livelihood security which are the concerns of the India-US Agriculture Dialogue. This ‘dialogue’ is controlled and directed by the US government’s new National Export Initiative. ”We are pursuing a new trade strategy which looks at nations based on the nature of their marketplace,” stated Tom Vilsack, US Secretary of Agriculture, on 2 September 2010 (he was part of the Obama mission to India). ”These efforts mean that agriculture is one of the only major sectors of the economy with a trade surplus, which we expect to be worth US$30.5 billion this year. Overall, our agricultural exports should be worth US$107.5 billion in fiscal year 2010-up from US$96 billion in 2009-and we expect them to rise again in 2011. More importantly, this progress should create good jobs for Americans: USDA studies show that every billion dollars in agricultural exports supports over 8,000 jobs and generates an additional US$1.4 billion in economic activity.”

    According to a September 2010 ”Report to The President on the National Export Initiative’ by the US Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke (he was also part of the Obama mission to India), the NEI has five components. Three of these apply directly to the new American agriculture hard sell to India: (1) ”We will improve advocacy and trade promotion efforts on behalf of US exporters, so trade missions can introduce the world to American products and advocacy centres can help US exporters pursue opportunities”; (2) ”We will reinforce our efforts to remove barriers to trade, so as many markets as possible are open to our products”; (3) ”We will enforce our trade rules, to make sure our trade partners live up to their obligations”.

    A month after Vilsack’s statement on the importance of agriculture sector exports to the US economy, Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of India, asked the vice-chancellors of agricultural universities to adopt ”innovative approaches” to strengthen agricultural research and education in India. Ahluwalia said India’s agricultural universities ”can play an important role in this direction by providing research based projects with the help of industry” and suggested ”a new mechanism to fund research projects instead of funding universities”.

    Ahluwalia is reported to have urged the scientists working in agricultural research institutes to ”re-orient themselves in next Twelfth Five Year Plan amid the challenges of food security and climate change” and-typically for Indian planning today-referred to the gap in agricultural growth rate and land productivity of China and India, neglecting entirely the chronic depletion of soils and widespread degradation of agro-ecological systems in China which have suffered from high chemical input industrial farming.

    ”America helped bring about a Green Revolution,” said President Obama to the media in New Delhi after a meeting at Hyderabad House. ”The aim is to turn that into an Evergreen Revolution.” A weather forecasting tie-up is being described as the ‘’showpiece of the collaboration” which is expected to ”predict India’s increasingly erratic monsoon”.

    This tie-up was finalised in July 2010, when Planning Commission member Dr. K Kasturirangan (who headed Indian Space Research Organisation) and secretary in the Department of Earth Sciences, Shailesh Nayak, visited the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. The Indian government’s justification for the weather and crop forecasting tie-up is that it combines both oceanographic and atmospheric sciences. From the information now available, crop scientists in the ICAR network and earth scientists at ISRO will be able to use the forecasting model. The US administration says this will help predict sudden breaks in the monsoon cycle. But it will also enable district-level predictions of crop sowing, harvesting and movement to a degree not seen before in the sub-continent.

    This information will first be used by the US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Commerce to determine agri business and trade responses. By then, under the ‘Agriculture Dialogue’ plan, there will be enough collaboration at farm level, in the grain markets and in the retail chain to employ such granular information to the benefit of American food exporters and traders. The risk to India’s food security-quite contrary to the pious statements made by both sides during the Obama visit-has never been greater.

    Rahul Goswami is an agriculture systems researcher based in Goa. He worked for two years with the National Agricultural Innovation Project, Government of India. He is a member of the Indian Society of Agricultural Economics, and Associate, Centre for Communication and Development Studies, Pune.

    For full article, go to: http://sanhati.com/articles/2970/

  • Reports from National Action against Land Acquisition, November 22-26

    Press Release on Day-4, 24th November 2010

    Land Acquisition Act makes mockery of Democracy
    - People’s Movements demand decentralized development planning -

    Ø National Action by Sangharsh[i] continues on day-3
    Ø Anti-displacement groups celebrate scrapping of Renuka Dam, HP
    Ø Scrap Seang and other North East Dam projects; we want development, not destruction, says KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi
    Ø We want ‘Gram Sabha’ over ‘Lok Sabha’, Gautam Bandopadhyay of Nadi Ghatti Morcha
    Ø No more urban displacement; urban working people’s struggle groups demand share of urban spaces and action against land mafia
    Ø Demolish Adarsh Society and the many other violators of law; demands NAPM

    New Delhi – Government of India is acting against the federal nature of the state and the very constitution of India. By centralizing ‘water’, which is a state subject, the government has broken the very centre-state understanding under federal Indian structures, said Akhil Gogoi, inaugurating the Sangharsh Dharna on day-3 against Dams in the North East and rest of India. Seang project and the multiple projects on Brahmaputra and other rivers of NE will not only break the agricultural dependent region’s backbone, it will also displace large chunks of people in the NE states, the KMSS leader added.

    ————————————————–

    The delegation of Sangharsh leaders met with Jairam Ramesh, Minister (Independent Charge) of MoEF and PK Bansal, Cabinet Minister of the Minsitry of Water Resources.

    Mr. Jairam Ramesh announced to the team that the Renuka Dam project stands cancelled from the ministry’s point of view especially with regard to forest clearance. He also stated that he has already written to the Prime Minister about dams in North East India, raising serious concerns regarding social and environmental issues raised by the movement and the local people. He assured the delegation that the MoEF is conducting a study to look at the environmental impacts of the Lavasa Project. He ensured the delegation that strict action will be taken if the project implementers are found violating the laws. On Forest Rights Act implementation related issues, the MoEF minister promised to meet the groups separately on Dec 15th. On Tehri dam related violations, he stated that there is already an investigation that is going on by the ministry and action will be taken on the basis of that.

    Mr. Pawan Kumar Bansal was requested by the delegation to reconsider the several dam projects in different parts of India. Mr. bansal assured the delegation that the ministry will not permit commercial or energy related pressures to override environmental or people’s concerns. Regarding the draft water policy, he announced the ministry’s intent to hold talks with people’s struggles and movements at the ground before finalizing the same.

    ————————–

    Indian Government deals with people of Arunachal Pradesh as if we are Chinese agents and it is unfortunate that we have to remind our own government that we are citizens of India and not China, said Bijay Taram of Forum for Siang Dialogue. He added that the indigenous people based demography of the region will be negatively impacted if workers from other regions were to be brought in for these gigantic construction activities. The worst part of these projects is they the local people do not stand to gain from the power generated from these projects, as it will be diverted to the industrial houses and corporations led projects. We stand together with the people of rest of India in demanding an end to the regime of Land Acquisition Act and in this paradigm of centralized development planning, Mr. Bijay concluded.

    Land Acquisition Act 1894 is a mockery of democratic procedures, said Adv. Sanjay Parikh of Supreme Court. The amendments by the UPA government will make the legislation more undemocratic and anti-people, he added while talking to the more than 3000 people gathered at Jantar Mantar as part of Sangharsh.

    On urban issues and displacement

    Anbovedam of NAPM Tamil Nadu and the Chennai people’s struggle against urban displacement accused that the TN Government has been misusing the LAA to the extent that it has been creating land banks, without even letting the local people know what purpose their lands have been acquired for. The vicious cycle of development induced displacement is such that it first displaces peasants and agricultural workers from their lands, pushes them to cities like Chennai and then their urban development and beautification projects displace these very people many times over again. Ridiculing the government of India for their blind following of the US government’s neo-liberal policies, he pointed at the unemployment in US and asked Indian government not to follow a nation who is unable to feed and employ their own population. For construction of bridges, hotels, highways and flyways, the number of working poor evicted from Chennai alone is close to five lakhs. Why should the poor trust such governments any more, asked Mr. Anbovedam.

    Anita Kapoor of National Domestic Workers Union, Raju Bhise of YUVA, Mumbai, Rajendra Ravi of Institute for Development and Sustainability, Delhi etc spoke at the meeting on urban issues. The speakers ridiculed the Rehabilitation packages and beautification drives under projects like MUTP and JNNURM. These projects, they argued, not only displace people to far away suburbs, robbing people of their jobs, but also make livelihood alternatives impossible. Workers contribution to building of cities is not even taken into account while displacing the very people once the construction phase is over. Mr. Bhise concluded by stating that now the people will not accept anything short of land rights in the urban spaces. The speakers also demanded a separate national legislation for rehabilitation of the urban project affected people.

    Ganeshan of NAPM Maharashtra, representing the struggle against Lavasa project slammed the government for displacing more than 20 villages, cutting huge number of trees, destroying people’s livelihoods and environment – all to complete a project which in no way benefit the local people.

    Displacement, corporations and the proposed Free Trade Agreement between India and EU

    Speaking on the India – EU Free trade Agreements, Leena of ‘Forum against FTAs stated that “India’s vast mineral wealth attracts not only Indian but foreign companies as well. Through Free Trade Agreements such as the EU-India FTA, European Corporations will be facilitated access to Indian minerals, increasing the conflict over the use of land and forests. The European commission has identified the EU-India FTA as a mean to ensure EU companies stable and cheap access to minerals for their industrial use, including chromite and rare earths which are largely found in India. This is to be ensured by including provisions that limit or prohibit export taxes, export quotas, and ‘non-automatic export licenses’ for European companies in India. In addition, the investment chapter in this FTA reportedly contains provisions allowing European investors to sue the Indian Government in secret arbitration tribunals if the government implements a policy or takes an action that decreases the profits that the corporation was expecting from its investment in India. This system is not only out of democratic oversight but also means a de facto overriding the Constitution of India, as the arbitration tribunal is not bound by the Constitution of the land, but only by the FTA. Investment provisions should not dilute the ability of the government to take pro-people actions in cases like POSCO or Vedanta where legitimate environmental and social concerns have been raised.

    Ms. Leena added: Both sides have announced their determination to finalise the deal by the 10th of December, during the EU-India Summit to be held in Brussels. While concerns have been raised on various issues and even parliamentarians have not received proper answers to the questions they have raised, negotiations behind closed doors will be held tomorrow and day after in Delhi.

    Members of Parliament; Joseph Toppo (AGP), Viren Vaishya (AGP) and Kumar Deepak Das (Rajya Sabha, AGP) also visited the Dharna and extended solidarity to the struggle against Land Acquisition. Speakers at the public meeting and rally included: Dr. Manoranjan Mohanty of the Council for Social Development, Swami Agnivesh of Bandhua Mukti Morcha, Nikhil Dey of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Jai Sen of CACIM, Kavita Srivsatava of PUCL.

    The participants at the Dharna took out a rally to the Parliament and reiterated the demand for local, decentralized planning and for implementation of article 243 of the Indian constitution.

    Day-4 of the National Action Week on the 25th Nov will focus on ‘Right to Food’.

    *************************

    Press Release from November 23, 2010

    Enough is Enough; No more displacement – UPA is pushing India to civil war

    Ø National Action by Sangharsh[1] continues on day-2
    Ø Dam displaced peoples demand moratorium till new legislation
    Ø Forest Rights groups demand implementation of FRA prior to land acquisition
    Ø ‘Project Clearance’ should be by Gram Sabhas, not ministries at the centre

    23rd November 2010, New Delhi – Speaking to a gathering of more than 3500 people assembled at Jantar Mantar as part of the Sangharsh led National Week of Action, Ms. Medha Patkar of NBA stated that “the Rivers, water bodies and sources of life are under threat and are being destroyed in the country. The people who live on the banks of these rivers do not benefit at all and instead their lives get destroyed. The Government should understand that new battles will be fought between those who are trying to save and protect the riverine life and heritage of India and those who are trying to destroy them”.

    Ms. Patkar added that; “Energy and electricity have been made out into absolute non-negotiables and every time when people raise genuine social and environmental objections to power projects, they are sidelined by the argument of energy demands (interpreted only as electricity demands) and national growth. New mega projects are cited as the only answer to India’s growing corporate and industrial demands. The three main options of 1) cutting down on the close to 30% electricity loss due to transmission & distribution (T&D) losses 2) increasing the efficiency of existing power projects and 3) investing in alternate energy projects of the solar kind of natural renewable sources, are not even considered seriously by this government, who sheds crocodile tears on the issue of climate change”

    Members of Parliament, Rajen Gohai and Bijaya Chakravarty visited the dharna and declared solidarity to the people’s struggle against displacement.

    Grameen Bhakra Sudhar Samiti Chairperson Shri. Nandlal Sharma stated that: “people displaced in the 1960s by the Bhakra Nangal dam are yet to get any rehabilitation or alternate livelihood. They have also been served with eviction notice from the forest areas where they have settled down on their own. Even the Forest Rights Act has not been implemented in any of these areas. Vimalbhai, representing MATU Jan Sanghattan of Uttarakhand stated that “people are loosing faith in this government, which has become a brokering agency for the corporations and industrial houses.”

    Raju Bhoda, representing the Krushak Mukti Sangram Samiti (Assam): “Our struggles are not any more just against dams or one or two projects; it is for systemic change and for people’s new freedom movement.” Dam affected people from Arunachal Pradesh, represented by Bijaya: “While Arunachal happens to be a less significant, small state the government is trying to build the biggest and largest number of dams in the state. If the 130 MoUs signed for the dams in this state are implemented, people of not just Arunachal but all over NE will be displaced. We will not allow the total destruction and devastation of our people and culture. We will not allow that to happen, even at the cost of martyrdom.”

    Gumman Singh, representing Himalaya Niti Abhiayn and Renuka Dam Sangharsh Samiti of Himachal Pradesh: “Himachal Pradesh and across the Himalayan states, the destruction will be complete if we allow the many hydro projects and mega dams like Renuka to go ahead. On top of that now we are having to deal with hundreds of tourism projects and even thermal power projects by the likes of Jaypee Group, who not only acquire land by force, but also run all sorts of illegal projects with fraudulent clearances. HP is being handed out to land mafia and corporations in bulk today.”

    Meeting with CP Joshi, Union Cabinet Minister for Rural Development: A delegation which met with the minister demanded a white paper on all the land acquisitions and displacement since independence and also that a new comprehensive bill must be brought out to take care of the land requirements, the people’s genuine growth needs and aspirations and a national level consultation with people’s organisations should be organized by the Government. The Minister requested Sangharsh delegation to present the ministry with a new draft of a comprehensive legislation on development planning and land requirements. The delegation in turn requested the minister that amendments to the LAA or the R&R draft in the present form should not be pushed by the Government in the Parliament.

    It was pointed out to the minister that the 2003 and 2007 R&R policies talk about a national committee and commission respectively. However, the minister himself agreed that no meetings or even process towards any R&R monitoring has been undertaken by his ministry or the government as per the policy. Sangharsh leaders demanded that till the time a national level monitoring mechanism comprising of officials and political representation along with social scientists is put in place to monitor land acquisition for projects and also the R&R fulfillment, there should be no acquisition in the country. Any kind of land acquisition, whether for public purpose or for companies’ private profit purposes, the process of land acquisition should be subject to the local gram sabha clearance.

    Meeting with Sushma Swaraj: Delegation briefed Ms. Swaraj about the lack of democracy and transparency of the UPA government in the processes towards the two draft bills on LAA and R&R. It was brought to the notice of the opposition leader that while the 2003 NDA’s R&R policy and the 2007 R&R policy by the UPA talk about minimum displacement, this has not been brought into actuality in any of the project sanctions. It was also shared by the delegation that the recommendations made by Mr. Kalyan Singh led Parliamentary Standing Committee on the two bills have also not been accommodated much in the present drafts.It was pointed out that after the Aligarh firing on peaceful protesters that killed two peasant, all political parties agreed on the need for a pro-people legislation that also will take care of food security and sovereignty of the country. However, this needs to be converted in to a comprehensive development planning legislation.


    Demands on North East Dams and anti-people projects by Sangharsh:

    · A complete moratorium on all clearances (including pre-construction clearances) by the MoEF to large dams/hydropower projects in Northeast India.

    · Immediate withdrawal of clearances granted to the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri project, 1750 MW Demwe Lower and 1500 MW Tipaimukh which were granted environmental clearance without downstream impact assessment and public consent.

    · Commission of a special study group consisting of Independent Reviewers (including scientists, people’s representative) to study the environmental and social impact off all the existing dams in Assam.

    · A complete review of pre-construction clearances granted to projects in the region.

    · Future steps on hydropower projects and dams to be taken only after full, prior and informed consent of the people of the Brahmaputra & Barak river basins.

    · The Brahmaputra River and its tributaries to be protected as a cultural and ecological endowment of the people of the region and the country as a whole. Development plans will need to respect the environmental and cultural sensitivity of the region.

    SANGHARSH PARTICIPANTS MARCHED IN HUNDREDS TO THE MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTS AND DEMONSTRATED IN FRONT OF THE MINISTRY PRIOR TO THE MEETING WITH SHRI. JAIRAM RAMESH SCHEDULED AT 4pm TODAY.

    ***************************************

    Government is backtracking on Forest Rights;
    Declare Moratorium on land acquisition till FRA claims are settled

    Jantar Mantar, New Delhi – Session – 2 of the Sansad Gherao of the National Week of Action against Displacement and Land Acquisition (Act) focused on Forest Rights, community governance and implementation of Forest Rights Act, 2006 in different areas. The communities and movement groups present welcomed the decision of Ministry of Environment and Forests to revoke the clearances granted to British Corporation Vedanta to mine the Niyamgiri hills and forest ranges of Orissa. People at the dharna demanded that strict forest clearance and environment clearance procedures be followed and that FRA claims be prioritized over land acquisition for projects.Condemning the move to give forest and environment clearance to destructive projects like Navi Mumbai Airport, Haripur Nuclear Project, Adarsh Society, Tata (Mundra), Adani and POSCO, despite CRZ violations and FRA pending claims, Ashok Choudhary of the National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW) dared the UPA to withdraw the Forest Rights Act or stop becoming an impediment in its implementation.

    Roma of Kaimur Kshetra Mahila Mazdoor Kisaan Sangharsh Samiti, UP stated that FRA is being sidelined by the Government and many state governments. Implementation is not happening in most places, as per the law. There is a deliberate effort from many of the state governments, including where Congress and BJP are ruling, to misuse and abuse FRA against forest communities. Roma demanded that same status for all communities should be the norm under FRA and that the government should stop pitting Dalits and Adivasis against each other. She also demanded that the forest villages should be converted to revenue villages and that the Forest Rights Committees (FRCs) should be at village level, not at the Panchayat level. Gram Sabha should be the decision making body regarding forest rights claims and not the bureaucracy or the Forest Department, she added while addressing the more than 3500 people who are gathered at Jantar Mantar.

    Madhuri, Adivasi Dalit Mukti Sangattan, MP: From the time FRA has been legislated, it appears that the attack on the forest resources including land has increased from the corporations and companies. FRA has been reduced to a law that gives some pattas to a limited number of tribals in some regions. The law demands that community rights be recognized and democratic and decentralized governance of the forest villages take place.

    On the one hand villagers and forest people who should benefit from the legislation of FRA are being subjected to technicalities and arbitrary rejection of claims and on the other, MoEF and other state departments are going on giving clearances to companies and big transnational corporations to take over more of our forest lands and resources.

    Munnilal, National Convener of NFFPFW (Uttarakhand): FRA is only the beginning of a new phase of the struggle of forest people, it is not the end of our battles. Forest Dwellers and tribals in the sub-continent have been fighting all kinds of infiltrators; from British to the Forest Department and the timber/land mafia for the past close to three centuries. Forest felling is happening in a big way in the country today.

    Ramchandra Rana, Lakhimpur Khiri, UP: It is a direct battle between the forest people and the imperial Forest Department. Forest department is completely sold out to the forest and timber mafia. When traditional forest workers try to stop them from looting the forests, they register false cases on the people and harass them.

    Other speakers at the forest rights session included: Prem Singh, NFFPFW-Dehradun, Jan Mukti Andolan leaders and Dr. Nandini Sundar from Delhi School of Economics, DU.

    ************************************
    [i] Sangharsh is a collective platform of social movements and people’s organisations from across the country struggling against the process of neo-liberal globalisation and capitalist development leading to SEZs, big infrastructure projects, mining, mega dams, etc. leading to massive displacements of the working class people and traditional craft persons, weavers, fisher people, forest workers, farmers, dalits, women, minorities and adivasis/IPs, etc. The key constituents of Sangharsh include: National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements, National Forum for Forest Right and Forest Workers, National Domestic Workers Union, SEZ Virodhi Manch, National Cyclist Union, National Hawkers Federation, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Kaimur Kshetra Mahila Mazdoor Kisaan Sangharsh Samiti, Kishan Sangharsh Samiti, Him Niti Abhiyan, Nadi Ghati Morcha, Adivasi Moolniwasi Asthitva Raksha Manch, Jan Sangharsh Vahini, Jai Yuvak Kranti Dal, Maatu Jan Sangathan, Machhimaar Adhikar Sangharsh Samiti, Renuka Baandh Sangharsh Samiti, Birsa Munda Bhu Adhikar Manch, Pennuruimai Iyyakam, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, Vangram Bhu Adhikar Manch, Tharu Adivasi Mahila Mazdoor Kisaan Manch, Tarai Kshetra Mahila Mazdoor Kisan Manch, Patha Dalit Bhu Adhikar Manch, Delhi Solidarity Group

  • 2 reports on Arundhati Roy’s speech to tribal activists from Orissa

    Mass movements must fight corporates

    Writer Arundhati Roy, who faced an angry protest by Sangh Parivar activists here on Sunday, urged those involved in mass movements to oppose corporates which she said were eyeing the rich natural resources of tribal heartlands. Ms. Roy came here to attend a meeting on ‘Cultural resistance to war on people in corporate interest.’

    As soon as she reached the venue, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and Bajrang Dal activists waved black flags to protest her recent remarks on Kashmir, terming them anti-national. They also started shouting that she should leave the venue immediately. Soon a scuffle broke out. The organisers chased away the agitators. The police took at least 10 of them into custody.

    Unperturbed, Ms. Roy addressed hundreds of tribal activists from different parts of Orissa. “The number of poor people living in India will be more than that of the total poor in 26 African countries. The condition of poverty in Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal is critical. All the attention is, however, trained on these States, as these poor are raising their voice against land acquisition attempts by big corporates of the world,” she said.

    She said the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, prohibited land acquisition in tribal areas. “But now, people in power say it is imperative to acquire land from tribals for development. Those who frame policies are the violators.”

    “Earlier people’s movements had sprouted to get back excess land lying with zamindars. But the nature of the struggle has undergone a change. Now it is a fight not to let the land — whatever is left with the tribal population — be snatched by the corporate-backed government,” she said.

    Ms. Roy alleged that leaders thought development was possible only when 80 per cent of the population started living in urban areas, and they wanted to vacate villages in the interest of corporates. “They are inviting the military to take over the affairs. Our States are becoming military States. Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Lalgarh have already been militarised.”

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  • BJP Protests Arundhati Roy's Trip to Orissa

    Times of India,  November 22, 2010

    BHUBANESWAR: Writer Arundhati Roy was at the receiving end of her own tactic of dissent and protest here on Sunday when ABVP activists tried to stop her from attending a meeting on tribal rights for her controversial remark last month supporting ''azad Kashmir''. 

    The activists of BJP's youth wing, wearing black badges, shouted slogans like ''Gaddar (traitor) Arundhati hai, hai'', and, ''Arundhati go back'' just as she got down from the car to reach the meeting venue, said an eyewitness, and added, ''They waved black flags and also chucked one of them at her.''

    A scuffle between ABVP workers and Roy's supporters, comprising representatives from anti-land acquisition lobby, followed. Her supporters cordoned off the venue at Swadheenta Sangram Manch to stop the ABVP activists from disrupting their meeting. 

    While some of Roy's lathi-wielding supporters chased the ABVP men, said to be around 12 in number, the latter hurled shoes at them. At least two people were injured in the melee that went on for half-an-hour until the cops arrived and picked up eight ABVP men. 

    Talking to reporters, Roy said, ''They (ABVP) have a right to protest, I have a right to speak,'' and added that she was sticking to her opinion on Kashmir. She had said, ''Kashmir was never an integral part of India. It's a historical fact.


  • RED STAR OVER INDIA

    Impressions, discussions and documentation as the Wretched of the Earth are Rising -- by JAN MYRDAL

    "If an indigenous government took the place of the foreign government and kept all the vested
    interests intact, this would not even be the shadow of freedom..."
    -Jawaharlal Nehru, "Whither India?", 1933

    Officially independent India is engaged in a war against poverty. The phrase in itself is doubtful as it was coined by Lyndon B Johnson in 1964 to gain popular support among the underprivileged in the United States as he was stepping up his war of aggression in Vietnam. But the phrase still sounds good as when Simon Denyer reported for Reuters 2009 :

    "India marks 60th anniversary urging war on poverty. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, speaking on the 60th anniversary of independence from British rule, said the country needed to work harder to fight poverty, ignorance and disease despite fast economic growth.

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  • What’s in a name? The demand for political prisoner status

    Radha D’Souza

    On 11 April 2010, 469 inmates in Alipore Central Jail in Kolkotta (Calcutta) in West Bengal went on hunger strike, demanding recognition as political prisoners. The previous April, two prisoners in the district of Cooch Behar went on a fast to demand political status. On 14 September 2009 an unspecified number of inmates in Nagpur, the second capital of the state of Maharashtra in western India, went on a one-day hunger strike to demand political prisoner status.

    What’s in a name? One might ask. It is one thing to ask for fair trial, injunctions against torture and such, but why this insistence on labels – ‘P’ for political, ‘C’ for criminal? Political status does not automatically lead to any special privileges or concessions other than the things civil liberties groups demand for all prisoners: fair and expeditious trial, humane treatment, prohibition of physical and sexual torture, and an end to graft. Yet the very resilience of this demand for categorisation indicates its importance for the civil liberties and democratic rights movements in India today.

    In the first place, categorisation helps to count how many people are in jails for political reasons. A simple head count of ‘P’ category prisoners will deconstruct Indian democracy in ways that academic or legal analysis of security laws, or dissertations on Indian democracy cannot do. The trade unionists, the indigenous people opposed to forced sale of lands to corporations, the villagers opposed to chemical or nuclear plants in their village, the women protesting against rape by soldiers or army occupation, Muslims, Kashmiris, Nagas, Mizos, Assamese and other religious and ethnic minorities demanding cultural and social freedoms, slum dwellers protesting against demolitions or forced evacuations, the list could go on, but all of these would count as ‘P’ class.

    That would reveal the authoritarian and repressive character of the Indian state and the true face of Indian democracy. The CRPP estimates that in the Indian-occupied state of Kashmir alone 75,000 people were detained for political reasons. It is virtually impossible for civil liberty groups to count political prisoners where access is strictly controlled. After the Kolkotta hunger strike this April, the Inspector General of Prisoners announced he would stop interviews of all prisoners (Indian Express 11 April 2010).

    Without such categorisation, the state tars all opposition with the same ‘criminal’ brush. Two consequences follow. First, politics is criminalised, circumscribing democracy to an elite group, the beneficiaries of the system. Criminalisation of politics makes it possible for the Indian state to sanitise democracy for the national and global elite. Second, it delegitimises those struggling for justice in the eyes of the wider society. The concerns they raise about society: the conditions of workers, slum dwellers, indigenous peoples, democratic rights, effects of WTO policies, political corruption and so on become marginalised. Moreover, it creates a rift between those adversely affected by state policies and those who might, potentially, sympathise with the demands for justice.

    There is in India today an internal schism. What kind of society should India be and what does democracy mean in a divided society where half the population is undernourished, and vast numbers of the other half are integrated into the global elite of academics, intellectuals, professionals and business people? According to Planning Commission figures published last year 37.7% of the population suffer from chronic malnutrition and 49.9% from undernourishment.

    This schism is sustained by the very architecture of India’s laws and institutions constructed assiduously since colonial times. One set of repressive laws for those opposed to the state and another set of democratic laws for those supporting it span the post-independence era. India adopted its republican constitution in January 1950 and enacted the Preventive Detention Act 1950; Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958, Maintenance of Internal Security (MISA) 1971; National Security Act (NSA) 1980; Terrorist and Disruptive Practices Act (TADA) 1985; Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act (POTA) 2002, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) 2009 and other state statutes interspersed with numerous special ordinances in between.

    These laws are used routinely to arrest striking workers, political opponents, the poor, and other sections of the population for demanding justice. On the other hand a multiparty democracy and judiciary allows freedoms for those supportive of the state’s approach to the economy and society. The ‘P’ label will lay bare the schism. It will make apparent the scale and scope of exceptional national security and anti-terrorism laws, and the exclusive and limited reach of regular democratic procedures.

    What’s in a name? A great deal indeed!

    http://www.revolutionarycommunist.org/index.php/international/1839-india-whats-in-a-name-frfi-215-junjul-2010.html

  • Khobad Ghandy teaches Maoist classes in Tihar jail

    Cops mull changing Khobad ward every two months


    The battle to control Maoism has reached the Tihar jail’s barracks.

    Exasperated prison authorities are thinking of changing Maoist ideologue Khobad Ghandy’s ward after every two months because he has been propagating ultra-Left ideology among fellow inmates.

    Ghandy, 63, has built a captive audience inside Jail No. 3 at Tihar, his home for the past 11 months. He meets fellow inmates, who revere him, every day during his morning and evening walks and often holds “interactive sessions”.

    He tells them he had fought for the poor throughout his life and that the government had failed to do anything for the people. The prisoners salute him after every session.

    “He is a very good man. He is fighting for the poor and we respect him a lot,” said a 35-year-old inmate of Jail No. 3, a Class X dropout who is facing trial for attempted murder.

    Another prisoner, arrested in a blast case in Uttar Pradesh, said: “He (Ghandy) is a very well-read man. He talks of revolution and makes us feel we too should do something for the country.”

    Ghandy, a CPI (Maoist) politburo member, was arrested in September 2009 and booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

    An inmate of Jail No. 1, who met Ghandy three days ago at a basketball match in the prison, said: “We address him as ‘Sir’ and salute him whenever we see him. We can’t understand why the government is holding him in jail as though he is a terrorist.”

    The convict, serving a life term for murdering a relative, added: “I am paying for what I did, but people like Sir should not be treated this way. We are fans of his. He speaks from the heart about the injustices suffered by the poor. We support him for his movement against the government.”

    Ghandy’s rising popularity among fellow prisoners is worrying Tihar authorities. A jail official said around 1,500 prisoners — 100 convicts and 1,400 undertrials — were lodged in the 12 wards in Jail No. 3. Ghandy shares his ward with many other prisoners.

    “He loves mixing with people and has made several friends inside the jail. But of late his conversation has acquired revolutionary overtones,” the official said. “We are thinking of changing his ward every two months and keeping a watch on his morning and evening walks.”

    The official, however, agreed that Ghandy, who is from an upper class background and went to the best educational institutions, was a thorough gentleman.

    “He is very enthusiastic and agile for his age. During the basketball match, he was joking with jail officials about many things,” said jail superintendent Vijay Kumar Sharma.

    Ghandy had studied at Doon School and St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, before travelling to London to become a chartered accountant. A few years later, he joined the Maoists. He is now believed to be writing a book on his life.

  • In Chhattisgarh’s war zone, no value on an adivasi’s life

    The Hindu, 10 August 2010, Aman Sethi


    After ‘encounter’, police try to buy villagers’ silence with money and snacks

    A cloud of doubt looms large over the scene of last week’s bloody encounter


    Kutrem (CHHATTISGARH): The monsoon skies have cleared over this village in Dantewada district, but a cloud of doubt still lingers over the site of last week’s encounter between the police and suspected cadres of the CPI (Maoist).

    On August 4, according to the official version, the Koya commandos spent 18 hours combing through the rain-soaked forests near Kutrem, during which they broke through a Maoist ambush, engaged in a fierce gun battle lasting several hours and ultimately recovered the body of a uniformed Maoist fighter, a 12 bore shotgun and two improvised explosive devices.

    The Koya commandos are a specialised police team largely comprising surrendered Maoists or Adivasis whose families have been targets of Maoist violence.

    “We were ambushed deep in the jungle and fought the Maoists for about four hours,” said a policeman who was part of the operation, “We fired hundreds of rounds of ammunition … and killed six Maoists, but could recover only one body.” The corpse was identified as Kunjami Joga, a 23-year-old resident of Kutrem.

    Villagers’ account

    At Kutrem, however, the villagers have a very different account of the circumstances that led to Joga’s death.

    About 11.30 a.m. on August 4, the villagers say, a party of the Koya commandos cordoned off Kutrem and took positions outside several houses in its Kotwalpara neighbourhood. Kunjam Hidme, 40, sat quietly in her house when she suddenly heard a policeman scream, “Hold your fire, don’t shoot!” followed by a burst of automatic fire.

    “Kunjami Joga was stepping out of his sister, Karti Budri’s house, when he was shot,” said Hidme. He was unarmed, and was wearing a blue shirt. “I could hear him shouting ‘Ma, Ma’ as he lay on the path.” Hidme says the commandos hurriedly dumped the body on a wooden cot they took from one of the houses and left the village soon after.

    On August 5, the Chhattisgarh police conducted post-mortem, initiated a magisterial inquiry and handed over the body to Joga’s parents. “When I got back his body, Joga was naked except for his underclothes,” said Joga’s father, Kunjami Lakhma, “He had a bullet here [pointing to the small of the back near the kidneys] and knife marks on his chest.” As per custom, the body was cremated the same day.

    On August 7, the villagers say, the Koya commandos visited Kutrem again, this time with a carton of biscuits and sachets of Haldiram’s mixture. “The force called a public meeting outside the primary school,” said Kunjami Aiyte, Joga’s aunt, “They said, ‘If the press comes, tell them that Joga was killed in the forest, not in the village’.” Aiyte says the police then gave Rs. 1,100 to the gathered villagers for “food and alcohol.” The biscuits and mixture were distributed among the children.

    “The Koyas gave me Rs. 2,000 and told me to keep quiet about Joga’s death,” said Kunjami Lakhma when asked whether he had been given any compensation.

    Police surprised

    Senior police officers expressed surprise when The Hindu questioned them about the money paid to Kunjami Lakhma. Sources refused to come on record, citing the sensitive nature of the allegations and the ongoing magisterial inquiry.

    “No one has authorised this [payment],” said a senior policeman speaking on background.

    “It is hard to keep control of the Koyas once they are sent out on operation,” continued the source, “The wireless set is our only link to the patrolling companies.” On the day of the encounter, this link was severed by heavy rain and inclement weather. Police officers said the Koyas were not supposed to go to Kutrem at all.

    “We were just supposed to go up till Hiroli,” admitted a policeman involved in the operation, “But at Hiroli we received information that a Maoist company was moving between Gumiapal and Kutrem village.”

    The patrolling party tried to radio headquarters for permission to pursue the Maoists; when the wireless set stopped working, the patrolling party chose to press on moving to Kutrem without waiting for permission.

    http://www.thehindu.com/2010/08/10/stories/2010081062401000.htm

  • Maoist land reform in India

    [

    MIDNAPORE: It was land distribution under Operation Barga that brought CPM to power in 1977. Thirty-three years later, the Maoists in Jangalmahal are treading a similar route to consolidate their support base in 200 villages from Goaltore to Midnapore town. The 60-kilometre stretch forms the ” Maoist core zone”, where men most wanted by the police like Manoj Mahato, Asit Mahato and Gopal Pratihar have a free run.

    But this new avatar of Operation Barga is different from the one implemented by the CPM. Maoists have set their own parameters for land reform here. Family income and connections with the ruling party get maximum weightage in this reform process.

    The jotedars close to mainstream political parties CPM and Jharkhand Party are the targets, and the beneficiaries are the landless farmers. The Maoists have begun this process in two villages Chandabila and Malkuri under the Midnapore Sadar block, six kilometres from Midnapore town.

    First, they drove out Toton Singh and Naru Singh jotedars of Malkuri village, who have 150 bighas [about 50 acres] of land and own a huge ancestral house. Like CPM zonal secretary Anuj Pandey’s house, this building too was pulled down by Maoist-led labourers of around a month and a half ago. Then the guerrillas took possession of the entire land and distributed it among 53 local landless labourers. Naru Singh’s son Ajit, who is known for his proximity to CPM minister Sushanta Ghosh, could do little to prevent it.

    One such beneficiary is Satrughna Mahato who has been tilling the land as a wage labourer since long. “We are five brothers with a total land holding of one bigha, including our homestead land. That was not enough to run the family. But now, we can make ends meet,” said Mahato.

    However, there are not too many such jotedars in West Bengal where the government has carried out the primary land reforms. In the last 33 years of Left Front rule, villages in the Jangalmahal saw the emergence of a new breed of CPM leaders who have been enjoying vested government lands and even forest land distributed to some non-existent land labourers. Villagers call it kalo patta a false tiller’s deed. Such a practice has been rampant in the villages under Salboni block Rameswarpur, Kolshibhanga, Malbandi, and Madhupur. The Maoist-led People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA) has occupied such lands and has started distributing those among the landless.

    This is not all. Maoists are also distributing seeds and fertilizers to the landless to begin cultivation. Kamal Middya of Chandabila has already received it. “I used to till Singh’s land in Chandabila. Now I have three bighas in my possession,” Middya said.

    Similar is the scene at Belasol village under Salboni block. Here Maoist-led committees have installed deep tubewells and have set up a water reservoir to provide irrigation water to villagers. Other development activities include running of medical camps and also a rural hospital to treat locals. TOI

  • India employing Israeli “pacification” tactics in Kashmir

    A Kashmiri protestor raises his fist to Indian forces during a protest in Srinagar, the capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir, 13 August 2010. (Newscom)

    Jimmy Johnson, The Electronic Intifada, 19 August 2010

    The 2010 summer in the disputed area of Jammu and Kashmir, administered by India, has been marked by popular protests by Kashmiris and crackdowns by India’s military. The stream of violence has left more than fifty dead, mostly young protestors. The situation in Kashmir has some parallels with Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, even borrowing the term intifada to describe the uprising. But the connection is more than analogy — Israel’s pacification efforts against Palestinians have proven valuable for the Indian police, army and intelligence services in their campaigns to pacify Jammu and Kashmir with numerous Indian military and security imports from Israel leading the way.

    India and Israel had a limited relationship prior to 1992. India, as a prominent member of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), had helped to form the NAM political positions on Palestine as part of the “struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, apartheid, racism, including Zionism and all forms of expansionism, foreign occupation and domination and hegemony” (1979, Havana Declaration). Beyond its anti-colonial and Third World solidarity politics, India also had realpolitik reasons for keeping a distance from Israel. The nation had a developing economy with a huge need for petroleum resources, of which it had no domestic source. Good relations with the Arab League and the Soviet Union helped to secure access to resources necessary for India to become the regional and global economic power it aspires to be.

    With the beginning of the Oslo negotiations process between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the mid-1990s and the end of the Cold War, India was free to pursue relations with Israel from a NAM standpoint. An end to the Israeli occupation was assumed a formality under Oslo by most international observers, especially early on — and had, by that time, gained the economic strength to pursue a policy taking it, as described in a US Army War College (USAWC) analysis, “from a position of nonalignment and noncommitment to having specific strategic interests taking it on a path of ‘poly-alignment.’” The report states that India has been in a “scramble to establish ‘strategic relationships’ with most of the major powers and many of the middle powers,” including Israel.

    Israel rendered limited military assistance to India in its 1962 war with China and the 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan. It was not until after the Oslo process began though, that the limited military contacts developed into a fuller strategic relationship. According to The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, in 1994 “India requested equipment to guard the de facto Indo-Pakistan Kashmiri border. New Delhi was interested in Israeli fences, which use electronic sensors to track human movements” (Thomas Withington, “Israel and India partner up,” January/February 2001, pp.18-19). The remaining years of the decade were peppered with arms sales from Jerusalem to New Delhi, most notably unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and electronic warfare systems.

    The strategic military relationship picked up even more steam in the new millennium and annual arms sales average in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The shift of Israel being a major defense supplier to a strategic partner was formalized in a September 2003 state visit by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to India where the Hindu nationalist government then in power, the Bharatiya Janata Party led by then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, hosted the Israeli delegation and coauthored the Delhi Statement on Friendship and Cooperation between India and Israel. The statement’s longest segment is on terrorism. It declares that “Israel and India are partners in the battle against this scourge” and that “there cannot be any compromise in the war against terrorism.” The relationship has expanded drastically since 2000 with, in some recent years, Israel even supplanting Russia as India’s largest arms supplier. Surface-to-air missile systems, naval craft, advanced radar systems and other remote sensing technologies, artillery systems and numerous joint production initiatives ranging from munitions to avionics systems have all further boosted the relationship.

    But as the Kashmiri uprising enters its third decade, the most telling part of the relationship is the export of Israeli pacification efforts against Palestinians to India, and their use in Jammu and Kashmir (and elsewhere as India faces multiple popular revolts). Israel has trained thousands of Indian military personnel in counterinsurgency since 2003. According to a 2003 JINSA analysis, “Presumably to equip these soldiers, India recently concluded a $30 million agreement with Israel Military Industries (IMI) for 3,400 Tavor assault rifles, 200 Galil sniper rifles, as well as night vision and laser range finding and targeting equipment.”

    In 2004, the Israeli intelligence agencies Mossad and General Security Services (Shin Bet) arrived in India “to conduct the first field security surveillance course for Indian Army Intelligence Corps sleuths.” The Globes article on the topic cites an Indian source stating “The course has been designed to look at methods of intelligence gathering in insurgency affected areas, in keeping with the challenges that Israel has faced.” The further acquisition of UAVs, their joint production and the acquisition of other surveillance systems, notably 2010 agreements for both spy satellites and satellite communications systems, have all helped to further India’s pacification campaigns in Jammu and Kashmir. A notable example of how deeply embedded in India the Israeli counterinsurgency and homeland security industries are is the May 2010 agreement whereby Ra’anana-based Nice Systems will provide security systems and a command and control center for India’s parliament. Parliament security head Sandeep Salunke noted the context for the $5 million contract being “In light of the recent increase in global terrorism” (Nice Systems press release, 25 May 2010).

    India’s political trend towards poly-alignment whereby it can have both strategic energy agreements with Iran and strategic defense agreements with Israel is part of a broader strategy the USAWC report noted by which “India will fiercely protect its own internal and bilateral issues from becoming part of the international dialog (Kashmir being the most obvious example).” This hostility towards international engagement with its occupation is not the only resemblance to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Both were born out the the end of the British colonialism, both are seen as front lines of the “War on Terror,” both the Kashmiri and Palestinian armed groups are erroneously seen as illegitimate in their own right, being mere tools of a foreign aggressor (Pakistan for Kashmir and Iran or Syria for Palestine), both have widespread abuses of human rights, and the Israeli public’s general apathy about or hostility towards Palestinian self-determination is surpassed by the domestic discussion in India, where Kashmiri self-determination isn’t even an issue, though pacifying Kashmir and securing the border with Pakistan is.

    The analogy between the two conflicts can only be taken so far, but the direct connection by which Israel’s pacification industry exports tools of control developed for use against the Palestinians (and Lebanese) to be deployed against Kashmiris (as well as against the Naxalites and others in India) shows a deep linkage between the two conflicts and how one feeds the other. So long as Israel seeks to maintain control over Palestine it will continue to develop pacification tools, and so long as India continues its campaigns in Jammu and Kashmir, Kashmiris can expect to taste the fruits of Palestinian pacification.

    Jimmy Johnson is a Detroit-based mechanic and an organizer with the Palestine Cultural Office in Dearborn. He can be reached at johnson [dot] jimmy [at] gmail [dot] com.

    ©2000-2010 electronicIntifada.net unless otherwise noted. Content may represent personal view of author. This page was printed from the Electronic Intifada website at electronicIntifada.net. You may freely e-mail, print out, copy, and redistribute this page for informational purposes on a non-commercial basis.

  • The story of dispossession and criminalisation of the Adivasis of central India

    The dispossessed Adivasi is hunted as a criminal; the looter-outsider has become ‘honourable citizen’

    by Stan Swamy, August 03, 2010

    1. The sad story of impoverishment of the Adivasi : A few examples will suffice. GladsonDungdung is a young human rights activist and writer. His family had 20 acres of fertile land in Simdega district, Jharkhand . It was forcibly acquired by the govt for the construction of a dam at a terribly low rate. The compensation for the 20 acres fertile land the family got was Rs. 11,000. Even by minimal standards, it should have been at least Rs. 20 Iakhs. This is just one example among many many such deprivations. Is this not deliberate impoverishment of a people ?

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  • India is a Corporate Hindu State: Arundhati Roy

    Karan Thapar , CNN-IBN, Sep 12, 2010

    Hello and welcome to Devil’s Advocate. At the end of a week when the Maoists have been on the front pages practically every day, we present a completely different perspective to that of the government’s. My guest today is an author, essayist and Booker Prize winner, Arundhati Roy.

    Karan Thapar: I want to talk to you about how you view the Maoists and how you think the government should respond, but first, how do you view the recent hostage taking in Bihar where four policemen were kidnapped and kept kidnapped for eight days, and one of them – Lukas Tete – murdered?

    Arundhati Roy: I don’t think there is anything revolutionary about killing a person that is in custody. I have made a statement where I said it was as bad as the police killing Azad, as they did, in a fake encounter in Andhra. But, I actually shy away from this atrocity-based analysis that’s coming out of our TV screens these days because a part of it is meant for you to lose the big picture about what is this war about, who wants the war? Who needs the war?

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  • U.S. poised to overtake Russia as biggest arms supplier in India’s rapid military buildup

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO100…-structure.htm

    Rick Rozoff

    A September 8 report by a leading Canadian newspaper cited the Indian branch of the Deloitte consulting firm estimating the world’s second most populous nation plans to spend as much as $80 billion for its defense sector in the next five years. It quoted an Indian journalist, Rahul Bedi, a contributor to Jane’s Defence Weekly, as stating “No one else is buying like India.” [1]

    Earlier this year the authoritative Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) disclosed that India had become the world’s second-largest importer of weapons from 2005-2009, “importing 7% of the world’s arms exports.” Only China imported more weaponry, though that nation is slated to purchase less foreign arms, both aggregate and percentile, in the coming years and the largest foreign supplier of its weapons is a non-Western country, Russia.

    During the five-year period mentioned above, Indian arms imports more than doubled from $1.04 billion in 2005 to $2.2 billion in 2009. Over the past 20 years Russia has been far and away the main provider of arms to India, as the Soviet Union had been in previous decades, though “The United States, currently India’s sixth-biggest arms supplier, seems likely to leapfrog to second position once New Delhi starts paying for a series of recent and ongoing acquisitions.” [2]

    Those contracts include $1.1 billion for C-130J Super Hercules transport planes, $2.4 billion for Globemaster airlifters and $2 billion for P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft. (A version of Boeing’s Poseidon reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare Multimission Maritime Aircraft modified for Indian use.) Reports in both the Russian and Chinese press speculate that when U.S. President Barack Obama visits India in November he “may secure $5 billion worth of arms sales,” a deal that “would make the US replace Russia as India’s biggest arms supplier” and “help India curb China’s rise.” [3]

    The unprecedented weapons transactions could include “Patriot air defence batteries and Boeing mid-air refueling tankers.

    “Observers point out that the role of India’s biggest arms supplier is shifting from Russia to the United States.” [4]

    A Chinese news source added that Washington will also supply New Delhi with howitzers and that “the total cost of the deal may exceed $10 billion….”

    The Economic Times of India disclosed in July that “talks are underway between Indian and US officials over a deal to sell 10 Boeing C-17 [Globemaster III] military transport aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF).”

    Wang Mingzhi, a military strategist at the People’s Liberation Army Air Force Command College, warned “once India gets the C-17 transport aircraft, the mobility of its forces stationed along the border with China will be improved.” [5]

    The C-17 carries a payload of 164,900 pounds for 2,400 miles and 100,300 pounds for 4,000 miles without refueling.

    In late August the U.S. signed a $170 million deal to supply India with 24 Harpoon Block II advanced air-to-surface anti-ship missiles.

    This February the Wall Street Journal revealed that the Obama administration, with a renewed focus on the Asia-Pacific region, intends to massively increase arms sales to both India and its nuclear rival Pakistan. U.S. military sales to Pakistan have risen to $3 billion a year and are expected to nearly double in 2011.

    As for its neighbor, “India is one of the largest buyers of foreign-made munitions, with a long shopping list which includes warships, fighter jets, tanks and other weapons. Its defense budget is $30 billion for the fiscal year ending March 31, a 70% increase from five years ago.” [

  • Government rejection of Vedanta bauxite mine a “landmark victory” for Indigenous rights

    Dongria Kondh protesting Vedanta's bauxite mine project

    Amnesty International: 24 August 2010

    Amnesty International today described the Indian government’s decision to reject the bauxite mine project in Orissa’s Niyamgiri Hills as a landmark victory for the human rights of Indigenous communities.

    India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests today rejected the mine project proposed by a subsidiary of UK-based Vedanta Resources and the state-owned Orissa Mining Corporation, after finding that the project already extensively violates forest and environmental laws and would perpetrate abuses against the Dongria Kondh adivasi and other communities on the Hills.

    “The Dongria Kondh and other local communities have been struggling for years for this decision, which is a very welcome one,” said Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director, Madhu Malhotra.

    “The companies and the Orissa government should now guarantee that they will not attempt to simply move the project to another site without ensuring adequate safeguards – they must ensure they will respect the human rights of Indigenous and local communities wherever the companies operate.”

    Amnesty International also welcomed the government’s decision to suspend the clearance process for the six-fold expansion of the Lanjigarh refinery at the foothills of Niyamgiri, operated by Vedanta subsidiary Vedanta Aluminium, after a government’s expert committee found it to be illegal.

    “The authorities should order a clean-up of the Lanjigarh refinery, which has caused air and water pollution, seriously affecting the rights of neighbouring communities who are finding life there unbearable”, said Madhu Malhotra.

    Amnesty International called on government authorities to establish a clear and transparent process that seeks the free, prior and informed consent of any Indigenous communities who may be affected by such projects, and respect their decision, in accordance with national and international law.

    The Ministry-commissioned expert report that underpinned today’s decisions, documented the companies’ legal violations and human rights abuses. Its findings and the rejection of the project are consistent with Amnesty International’s extensive report published in February 2010, Don’t Mine us out of Existence: Bauxite Mine and Refinery Devastate Lives in India.

    For eight years, the Dongria Kondh and other communities in Niyamgiri have been protesting against bauxite mining plans by Vedanta Resources subsidiary, Sterlite Industries India, and the Orissa Mining Corporation.

    The communities were concerned that the project, which would have been situated on their traditional sacred lands and habitats, would result in violations of their rights as Indigenous peoples to water, food, health, work and other rights to protection of their culture and identity.

    “After years of struggle and visits by committees our voice has finally reached Delhi,” a Dongria Kondh leader today told Amnesty International.

    From http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/indian-government-rejection-vedanta-bauxite-mine-%E2%80%9Clandmark-victory%E2%80%9D-indigen

  • In Shining India, Over 5000 Children Die Every Day from Hunger and Malnutrition

    Kandhamal district of Orissa has the highest Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) i.e. 121 out of one thousand live births among the 593 districts of India.

    By Devinder Sharma

    09 September, 2010

    Ground Reality

    The startling figure still resonates in my memory. Some 25 years back, I remember reading a report in one of the major dailies which said that some 5,000 children die every day in India. Today morning, my attention therefore was automatically drawn to a news report: 1.83 million children die before fifth bithday every year: Report (Indian Express, Sept 8, 2010).

    I immediately took out a pen and paper to find out the per day child mortality rate. I wanted to know whether the child mortality rate has come down, and by how much, in the last 25 years or so. My disappointment has grown. The calculations shows that every day 5,013 children are succumbing to malnutrition. Given that a half of all children in India are under-nourished as per the National Family Health Survey III (2005-06), of which over 5,000 die every day I think every Indian needs to hang his/her head in shame.

    Globally, 14,600 children die every day. This means that India alone has the dubious distinction of having more than a third of the world’s child mortality. This is ironically happening at a time when food is rotting in the godowns.

    Yes, India is surely an emerging economic superpower, but building an Empire over hungry stomachs! Mera Bharat Mahaan!!

    A new global report “A fair Chance at Life” by the international child rights organisation Save the Children is not only a damming indictment of the supplementary nutrition programmes that have been running for several decades now, but also is an eye-opener in many ways. While it tells us how hollow the global claims under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are, nationally it shows us the stark hidden realities. A country which doesn’t get tired of patting itself in the back for creating an impressive list of 50 billionaires, and off and on does bask under the fictitious glow of Shining India, the dark underbelly remains deliberately hidden from the media glare.

    Let us look at what the report says: “Of the 26 million children born in India every year, approximately 1.83 million died before their fifth birthday. “What these aggregate figures do not reveal are the huge inequities in mortality rates across the country, within States and between them, as well as between children in urban and rural areas.”

    Half of these children actually die within a month of being born. In other words, nearly 2,500 children of those who die have not even survived for more than a month. This is an indication of not only the inability of the parents to provide adequate nutrition to their new born, but more than that is a reflection of the impoverished condition of the especially the mother. Does it not tell us to what extent poverty and hunger prevails in this country? Do we need to still work out more effective parameters to measure hunger and malnutrition? Do we really need to find a new estimate of people living below the poverty line (BPL)?

    Madhya Pradesh tops the list, followed closely by Uttar Pradesh. The under-5 mortality rate in Kerala was 14 deaths per 1000 live births. This stood at a sharp contrast to Madhya Pradesh at 92 per 1000 and 91 per 1000 for Uttar Pradesh.

    I am reproducing below a news report from the pages of The Hindu (Sept 8, 2010):

    ‘Children from poorest section 3 times more likely to die before age of 5 than those from high income groups’

    Children from the poorest communities are three times more likely to die before they reach the age of 5 than those from high income groups, Save the Children, a non-governmental organisation has said.

    In a global report titled A Fair Chance at Life, the organisation said the policy to lower child mortality in India and elsewhere appeared to focus on children from better-off communities, leaving out those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

    “The 41 percentage decline in child mortality over the last two decades masks a dangerous expansion of the child mortality gap between the richest and poorest families in India,” Save the Children CEO Thomas Chandy said.

    Child mortality is often described as the best barometer of social and economic progress. Despite being one of the fastest growing economies, there has been no visible pattern between per capita income growth and the rate of reduction of child mortality rates. In 2008, 5.3 lakh children under 5 died in the lowest income quintile in comparison to 1.78 lakh among the wealthy quintile. The rate of decline between 2005-06 and 1997-98 among the lowest income quintile is 22.69 per cent, compared to 34.37 per cent among the high income quintile for the same period.

    Of the 26 million children born in India every year, approximately 1.83 million died before their fifth birthday. “What these aggregate figures do not reveal are the huge inequities in mortality rates across the country, within States and between them, as well as between children in urban and rural areas,” Mr. Chandy said.

    “Every child has the right to survive and the Indian government has an obligation to protect them. Save the Children’s research shows that prioritising marginalised and excluded communities, especially in the States lagging behind, is one of the surest ways that India can reduce the number of children dying from easily preventable causes. The National Rural Health Mission, for example, should have a clear focus on social inclusion of Dalits and adivasis in terms of access to healthcare,” he said.

    Save the Children’s report comes two weeks before a high-level U.N. summit in New York from September 20-22 to assess progress against the Millennium Development Goals.

    By demonstrating a political will and the right policies, MDG4 could be achieved in India. The good schemes in place needed to be matched by effective implementation. And there was enough experience in India proving that low-cost interventions can make the difference between life and death for a child, the report said.

    Huge inequity in child mortality rates: Survey

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/article617626.ece

    http://www.countercurrents.org/dsharma090910.htm

  • Report of torture, sexual assault and illegal detention of adivasis in Chhattisgarh

    Chhattisgarh Police with Lathi

    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC STATEMENT

    14 September 2010

    The Indian authorities should order a prompt, impartial and independent investigation into reports of torture and ill-treatment, including rape and other sexual violence, against adivasis (indigenous people) illegally detained in Chhattisgarh, Amnesty International said today.

    Adivasis from Pachangi and Aloor villages in Kanker district told Amnesty International that paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF) personnel and the Chhattisgarh state police rounded up 40 adivasi men from their villages on 5 and 6 September, stripped them and beat them with sticks. Five men – Narsingh Kumra, Sukram Netam, Premsingh Potayi, Raju Ram and Bidde Potayi were reportedly raped with sticks and are still being treated at the Kanker government hospital.

    These violations followed the 29 August ambush of a BSF-police patrol by members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) in which three BSF personnel and two policemen were killed.

    Seventeen people from the two villages were also detained– blindfolded, split into batches and taken to the BSF camp at Durgkondal in closed trucks. Amnesty International has been informed that at least two of those detained – Dhansu Khemra and Sarita Tulavi – were 16 year old girls while another four were women and girls between 16 and 20.

    During their detention, security forces beat the detainees in an attempt to force them to confess that they were Maoists involved in the 29 August ambush. The interrogators gave electric shocks to at least 10 detainees and sexually assaulted two female detainees.

    Villagers said that on the morning of 7 September the Kanker police released one female detainee Sunita, as she was suffering from malaria, and her father, Punnim Tulavi, a school-teacher, but then arrested two more men.

    The five remaining female detainees were taken to a local court along with two of the adivasi men on 8 September, while the remaining ten male detainees were taken to court on 10 September. All of the adivasis were charged with involvement in the 29 August ambush by the banned Maoist armed group and are presently in Kanker and Jagdalpur prisons, after being denied bail.

    Indian law requires that arrested persons be produced before a court within 24 hours of the arrest. In an attempt to circumvent this requirement, the police claimed the two groups of detainees were arrested only one day before their respective appearances in court.

    Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including sexual violence, are prohibited in all circumstances, including war or other emergency under international law, and in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Geneva Conventions. India is also a signatory to the United Nations’ Convention Against Torture and the Indian Parliament is currently engaged in passing a new law against torture in accordance with the provisions of the Convention before its ratification.

    Amnesty International calls upon the Indian authorities to:

    ·- ensure a prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigation into the allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, including sexual assault, and the illegal detention of adivasis. Those suspected of involvement in the violations, including persons bearing command responsibility, should immediately be suspended from positions where they may repeat such offences, and brought to justice; award the victims of torture and other ill-treatment full reparations. In particular, immediately ensure that all victims of torture and other ill-treatment, including sexual violence, are provided with proper medical care, both physical and psychological, by professionals trained and sensitised to treat such victims; and

    --ensure that, if – as a measure of last resort – those under the age of 18 are kept in prison, they are held separately from adults and otherwise treated in accordance with India’s juvenile justice legislation and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which India is a state party.

    Over the last five years, Chhattisgarh has witnessed an escalation of violence between the banned Maoists who claim to be fighting on behalf of the adivasis and India’s paramilitary forces. At least 600 people have been killed and some 30,000 adivasis continue to be displaced from their homes in the state.

    http://www.amnesty.org
    http://www.asiapacific.amnesty.org

  • Bihar police in no mood to fight the Maoists

    Broken will -- Members of the Bihar Special Auxiliary Police look desolate while taking a break from Naxal ops

    Tehelka Magazine, September 17, 2010

    YOU DID nothing for me. The police and the government did nothing to rescue me. My family negotiated with the Naxals for my release. I am pleading with folded hands, please let me go home. I will not accompany you to the police station. I don’t want to be in the police.” –Sub-Inspector Abhay Yadav to Lakhisarai Superintendent of Police, Ranjit Kumar Mishra, after the Maoists released him on 6 September.

    Eventually Lakhisarai’s new SP forced Abhay, Rupesh Sinha and Mohammad Ehsan Khan, the three surviving policemen from the abductors, to take a detour to the police station for a debrief session. These policemen survived an eight-day ordeal as captives of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) in Lakhisarai, Bihar. The PLGA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), popularly known as Naxals.

    It is unlikely that Abhay will give up his job. Employment in the government service, especially the police, is coveted because it brings in unaccounted wealth. “I want to leave my job. But my family will decide,” he says. “Dheeraj Rakhiye” (Please be patient). These words were used every time a police officer spoke to those in the lower ranks. But each expression brought despair and a sense of inadequacy to the policemen in Lakhisarai, Jamui, Munger and Banka.

    In some areas of the dense hills connecting these districts, several teams of the Bihar Police and the CRPF staged short bursts of combing operations to trace the kidnapped policemen. Some, like Jawaharlal Singh, assistant sub-inspector, Jamui Police Station, berated curious villagers: “Your netas are responsible for Naxalism. They create the problem, they use Naxals for political one-upmanship and we have to face the brunt of it.”

    Several policemen, overwhelmed by the killing of Lucas Tete, admitted that the writ of the government runs dry across a large swath of Lakhisarai. Tete was killed when the state government refused to release eight imprisoned Naxal commanders.

    ‘What am I doing here? I ask this question to myself. I feel like leaving the force. But what will I do if I leave?’ asks SI Prasad

    “What am I doing here? I often ask this question to myself. I feel like leaving the force. But what will I do if I leave? How will I earn? My family wants me to quit police service. But when I am jobless and unable to provide for my family, will they treat me well?” asks SI Rajendra Prasad of Kajra Police Station. The post is barely 15 km from the spot where four policemen were kidnapped after a skirmish with the Naxals on 29 August. Seven policemen were killed and 10 injured.

    With the state government failing to put a rescue plan in action, Abhay’s father, Indu Prasad Yadav, contacted his caste brethren linked to PLGA commander and self-styled spokesperson for Naxal operations in eastern Bihar, Avinash alias Arjun Yadav.

    “The appeal made by all political parties, including Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Lalu Prasad and the pressure mounted by the Yadav community on caste leaders within the PLGA led to the release of Abhay, Rupesh and Ehsan. The government did nothing,” says Sambhu Yadav, Abhay’s uncle, who received the three captive policemen at 6 am in Simra Rari, a Naxalheld region of Lakhisarai.

    POLICEMEN IN Bihar don’t want to fight the Naxals. They have AK-47 and INSAS rifles but aren’t trained for jungle warfare. They are not led by officers who lead from the front. They admit that the Naxal tactics are superior to theirs. “Why would a policeman want to die in the line of duty? I joined the police because it gives me power, influence and prestige. These villagers come to me because I am a bada babu. I joined for law and order duties, not engage Naxals in combat,” confesses Atul Kumar Mishra, the SHO of Chanan Police Station. He was waiting for the Banu Bagicha village chowkidar to return from the Morve Dam area, a stronghold of the Naxals, after they announced they would free the hostages.

    Every rural police circle in Bihar has 23 village chowkidars who are paid Rs. 1,200 and used as informers and spotters. Mishra, camping at Banu Bagicha’s defunct Block Office, felt insecure in spite of 25 well-armed Special Auxiliary Police (SAP) accompanying him. “India can win the Kargil war but not this war, not this way,” he says.

    No comfort The  Kajra Police Station in  its dilapidated glory
    No comfort The Kajra Police Station in its dilapidated glory

    Policemen in Naxal-dominated areas have an informal standard operating procedure (SOP). First, stay out of areas that have Naxal presence. Second, after 6 pm, ensure that the station they are holed up in is well protected from a Naxal attack. The idea is not to fight back, but ensure that they don’t lose their lives. “I have trained 30 stray dogs. They don’t allow anyone inside the premises after dusk,” a policeman says. After 6 pm, any crime within a police station’s jurisdiction goes unattended till daybreak.

    Meanwhile, Prasad can’t shake off his gloomy, introspective mood ever since 29 August. “We have no comforts. We don’t have a place to stay. Several police stations in Naxal-dominated areas are functioning from dilapidated, rented buildings. This police station used to be a Congress party office. We built our barrack by raising funds from local residents.

    Our welfare must be taken care of for us to get mentally attuned to combat duty,” says Prasad.

    Besides, they are trained for regular policing duties, not for combat operations. “I went through police training 25 years ago. Since then I haven’t had the chance to retrain and re-skill. I can aim and shoot, but don’t know what to do in a combat situation. I am not trained for jungle warfare. How can I survive an encounter with the Naxals in the jungles?” asks Prasad.

    BIHAR POLICEMEN are seething with anger. “We will lose our jobs because service rules prohibit us from telling the truth,” says a policeman. There are a lot of uncertainties to be afraid of. “What if we are ordered into combat without planning? Death is certain.” The sight of their dead colleagues provoked the BMP personnel to thrash former Lakhisarai SP Ashok Singh for pushing them into a Naxal ambush. Senior officials, including IG (Operation) KS Dwivedi and ADG (Headquarters) PK Thakur denied that Singh was assaulted. Denials notwithstanding, he was transferred out of Lakhisarai three days after the incident.

    “For 10 days prior to the 29 August encounter, we were alerted almost every day by intelligence reports of a Jehanabad- type attack in Lakhisarai. There are several Naxals imprisoned in the Lakhisarai jail. We were told that Naxals would attempt a jailbreak, attack the District Magistrate’s office and the CRPF camp at Kajra,” says Rajendra Prasad, a distressed sub-inspector of Kajra Police Station. This was corroborated by the commandant of CRPF’s 131 battalion, Bidhan Chandra Patra. “SP Ashok Singh told me that he received an intelligence input of 30 Naxals moving in the Lakhisarai forest. He said there was no specific input, just a generic alert and that he was putting together a team to conduct area domination exercise and get back. There was no intimation of the possibility of a gunbattle. So I passed instruction to assemble a team of 34 CRPF soldiers.”

    Singh put together a force of 43 policemen, 20 from the SAP and 23 from the Bihar Military Police to launch combat operations. “Our intelligence input said that there were at least 500 Naxals in the hills. But the SP, in an unusually strange decision, put together a small combat force,” reveals Prasad. SI Bhulan Yadav, who was killed in the encounter, was inexperienced in counter-insurgency operations. Yet, he was deputed as the leader of the combat unit. Mishra, a close friend of Bhulan, was the last person to receive his call. “Bhulan called asking me to inform the SP to send reinforcements. Then his phone disconnected abruptly. I repeatedly called back but could not get through.”

    Mishra and Prasad revealed that Singh did not follow the SOP laid down after the Dantewada massacre. “A detailed strategy is formulated, GPS coordinates are set before the force begins its movement. But Ashok Singh did not make a plan,” Mishra says. “He knew that we were operating in undulating, hilly forest terrain. He knew the topography. He should have been aware, going by the recent ambushes in Chhattisgarh that the Naxals will occupy higher ground and lure the policemen into a trap.” CRPF commandant Patra concurs. “The SOP was not followed. Once force is assembled the commanders discuss the terrain, topography and intelligence. This is explained to the troops using sand models and Survey of India maps,” he says.

    Bhulan’s inexperience in combat operations resulted in splitting in the team splitting in two different directions. He asked the CRPF contingent to move towards the right and patrol the Ghaghar Ghati area and Morve Dam, while he moved in with his men towards Kanimai and Sitala Kodasi villages.

    As the police party moved into the villages, they came under heavy fire from both sides. Bihar Police officers claim that when their men were ambushed, the CRPF troops withdrew instead of retaliating and providing cover fire to rescue the trapped men. “Our men regained higher ground to provide cover fire, which enabled 36 men to escape,” asserts Patra. That the Bihar Police surrendered is barely mentioned. “After we came under heavy fire, the Naxals kept announcing we should surrender or everyone would get killed. We surrendered because the CRPF withdrew,” says Abhay.

    Bihar Police claim that when their men were ambushed, the CRPF troops withdrew instead of retaliating and providing cover

    “They treated the injured personnel, bandaged those who were wounded, gave water to those who asked for it and asked them to leave. They collected all the weapons and asked four of us to accompany them into the jungle.” Later, the Naxals informed local journalists that they had seized 35 INSAS and AK-47 rifles.

    The Bihar Police is facing a severe crisis of confidence. According to protocol, a deputy commandant of CRPF is equivalent to the rank of an SP. Yet, it is rare for a SP to go out for combat. “Officers don’t lead, they just pass orders. If senior officers can’t lead us on combat duty why should we put our lives in danger?” asks Yadav.

    Naresh Kumar, who teaches at the Janta Mahavidyalaya, Surajgarha, emphasises his primary identity is that of a farmer. Surrounded by friends and villagers of Alinagar, Naresh, loses himself in a tirade against Bihar’s politicians. His list of complaints is long.

    “Ration cards are not issued to people living below the poverty line in Alinagar; the widow pension scheme is on paper and not being implemented by the babus; those who can pay 60 percent commission to the gram sabha are availing subsidised housing loans through the Indira Awas Yojana; there are no free medicines either in public hospitals or primary health centres as promised by the government,” he says.

    “If the bank manager is paid a bribe of Rs.5,000, he will process the land owner-ship certificate and promptly issue the Kisan Credit Card worth Rs 50,000; the Asha scheme for pregnant women with the objective of decreasing the Infant Mortality Rate and Maternal Mortality Rate is not being implemented as well,” he says.

    ‘Senior officers just pass orders. If seniors can’t lead us during combat, why should we put our lives in danger?’ asks Abhay

    THE ALINAGAR locality in Lakhisarai is a microcosm of people’s sentiment in rural Bihar. They are sympathetic to the Naxalites. They don’t trust the State. The angry voices from the ground explain why the Maoist insurgency is expanding in Bihar. Nobody in Alinagar has benefited from the employment guarantee scheme, though it is officially under implementation. “All politicians work for those with money. The bureaucracy is always looking out to loot us. There is no equality. So why is everyone surprised by the growth of Naxals?” says Naresh.

    Perhaps, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has sensed the mood of the people. “The pace of development has to be accelerated and corruption removed in execution of development schemes to uproot Naxalism,” he said at the Patna Medical College Hospital after meeting policemen injured in the 29 August encounter.

    Perhaps, he should visit Banu Bagicha village, which is barely 5 km from the spot where captive policemen were released by the Naxals. The villagers have been waiting for eight years for the fully constructed Block Office to begin functioning. The district administration built an office complex but locked it up for “security” reasons.

    In fact, four days before the 29 August skirmish, Lakhisarai DM Manish Kumar visited Banu Bagicha and told the villagers: “Hand over five Naxals and I will ensure the Block Office is made functional.” Banu Bagicha villagers walk 15 km to Mananpur Block Office for official documentation like land registration and securing caste certificates for jobs and educational purposes.

    Phakira Yadav, a leading opinion maker of the village, quipped: “If the DM demands five Naxals to be handed over, isn’t it better if we join the Naxals? How can we hand over Naxals to the police? We are caught between the two gunwielding groups.”

    PHOTOS: SHAILENDRA PANDEY

  • Pillai to Unlock Maoist Grip on $80 Billion Investments in India by 2013

    Bloomberg Financial News, Sept 17, 2010

     

    Union Home Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai

    Maoist insurgents blocking $80 billion of investments will be subdued within three years as India pours security forces into contested regions, builds roads and opens schools, Home Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai said.

    “The tactic of keeping a hold on areas is working,” Pillai said in an interview at his office in New Delhi’s British-era government buildings yesterday. Security forces have clawed back 10,000 square kilometers (3,860 square miles) of territory where rebels operated almost one year into a major offensive, he said.

    Pillai, 60, and Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram last October started the campaign against leftist rebels who have attacked security forces, railways and mining infrastructure in a third of India’s 626 administrative districts. India needs to clear the so-called “Red Corridor” to access deposits of iron ore, coal, bauxite, and manganese that London-based Execution Noble Ltd. says may secure investments of $80 billion.

    To maintain control, India needs to recruit as many as 30,000 security personnel each year, Pillai, the top bureaucrat in the home ministry, and security analysts say. Ambushes by rebels in the jungles of central and eastern India have claimed 211 police lives up to mid-July this year.

    “We are nowhere near the required policing, training, and technology to check the Maoists’ growth,” said Ajai Sahni, executive director of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management. “There’s no reason to believe that the situation will suddenly improve in the next three years.”

    Uprising’s Epicenter

    The epicenter of the attacks lies in the forests of the eastern state of Chhattisgarh, which has accounted for almost half of the 573 police and civilians killed in Maoist violence in the first half of this year.

    NMDC Ltd., Asia’s third-largest iron-ore producer, operates its biggest mine in the region, and Essar Steel Ltd., India’s fourth ranked producer of the alloy, plans to build a $1.5 billion steel plant there. The Maoists last year blew up Essar’s pipeline built to transport iron ore from NMDC’s mine.

    As the rebels have pursued their revolution, Indian governments “ignored the problem for a decade, thinking it will go away,” Pillai said yesterday, conceding Maoist guerrillas targeted by police may have regrouped elsewhere.

    Pillai said he doesn’t expect the rebels to agree to put down the guns in the next two years. “If you are comfortable, you are expanding and you are making money, why should you come for talks?” he said.

    ‘Peal of Thunder’

    The leftwing insurgents are known as Naxalites after the West Bengal village of Naxalbari where demands for land reform coalesced into a radical uprising in 1967 inspired by Mao Zedong. The Indian revolt was greeted as “a peal of spring thunder” by China’s People’s Daily.

    The Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of poor villagers and tribal communities whose resources are, the rebels argue, being exploited to propel India’s $1.3 trillion economy with few benefits for local people.

    Pointing to what he says are newly opened police stations on a map of Bijapur district in Chhattisgarh, Pillai highlights the expanding area colored yellow, in contrast to a shrinking red region still patrolled by the insurgents.

    In these areas, roads have been built, schools have started functioning and markets have been opened for the first time in years, he said.

    In April, 76 policemen were killed in Dantewada district, the neighboring region to that displayed on Pillai’s computer, in the biggest strike on security forces in four decades of conflict.

    Districts Gained

    “The government strategy of clear-hold-develop is gaining the upper hand in some patches, mainly in Chhattisgarh,” N. Manoharan, an analyst at the Center for Land Warfare Studies in New Delhi, said today. “But the overall spread of the Maoists is increasing” with 10 to 15 more districts coming under their influence in the last year, he said.

    The government needs to improve intelligence gathering, protection for informers and build its forces, Manoharan said.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the Maoists the greatest internal security threat to the world’s biggest democracy and its third fastest growing major economy.

    India’s Insurgencies

    None of the insurgencies at India’s margins — from a 21- year rebellion in Kashmir to even older separatist movements in the northeast — reach into the heart of the subcontinent.

    Pillai, who as secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and Industries from Sept 2006 to June 2009 played a leading role in expounding India’s opposition to developed world farm subsidies at global trade talks, said four Maoist attacks that resulted in large numbers of police fatalities obscured the fact that overall deaths were just below those of a year ago.

    In Dantewada, Pillai says, there are 1,500 police personnel, a fraction of the 45,000 based in the similarly sized northeastern state of Tripura, where a separatist insurgency is now largely dormant.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Bibhudatta Pradhan in New Delhi at bpradhan@bloomberg.net

  • Getting difficult for Indian government to control Manipur

    Obstacles put up along NH-39 and a deserted street in Imphal due to a bandh

    79 bandhs, 10 blockades in recent times take a heavy toll on State

    The Sangai Express, Imphal, September 22, 2010

    From January 2009 till the current month, Manipur witnessed as many as 79 bandhs and highway blockades ten times.These frequent bandhs and blockades have caused loss of 1/9th of the State per capita income.  According to a Government report, normal life was disrupted by 19 State-wide bandhs last year.

    At the district level, there was a district level bandh once in Senapati, twice in Ukhrul, once in Tamenglong, twice in Chandel, once in Thoubal and once in Churachandpur.

    In addition, the State witnessed hill districts bandh eight times. There were no separate district-level bandhs in Bishnupur, Imphal East and Imphal West. There were bandhs on National Highways five times and another bandh in Naga dominated districts.

    At local level, bandhs were witnessed at Moreh, Jiribam, Singjamei, Khurai and some other places.

    NH-39 and NH-53 were blockaded thrice last year while NH-39 was blocked on two occasions.

    This year, normal life was disrupted by five State-wide bandhs called on different dates.

    There were district level bandhs once in Senapati, once in Ukhrul, once in Tamenglong, twice in Chandel, once in Bishnupur and once in Naga dominated districts.

    Till date this year, there has been no district level bandh in Thoubal, Imphal East and Imphal West.

    During the current year, bandhs were called ten times on the three National Highways.

    These was against four bandhs called in hill areas.

    Blockades were imposed on NH-39 and NH 53 together on three occasions while NH 39 alone was blockaded once.

    All the highways of the State were also blockaded once.

    According to the Government report, these frequent bandhs and blockades caused loss of oneninth of the annual State per capita income.

    Notably, the number of recorded bandhs and blockades during 2004-05 was 80 and this figure jumped to 145 in 2005-06 .

     


  • Rural India and Rural China: Both Battling Forced Displacement

     

    Demonstration against the Narmada dam project

    By Devinder Sharma

    18 October, 2010
    Ground Reality

    In a few days from now, the Narmada Bachao Andolan will reflect on the 25 years of struggle  ’questioning displacement, assertion of land and forest rights, right to fisheries, right to food and health, livelihood security, exposure of corruption and navnirman (reconstruction) through the Jeevanshalas (life schools), micro-hydel projects, and solar projects.’ The struggle that began in 1985 questions the flawed policies in the name of development and economic growth. Growth for whom and what cost?

    According to the NBA, rallies and public meetings at both the places — Dhadgaon in district Nandurbar in Maharashtra, and Badwani in district Badwani in Madhya Pradesh on Oct 22 and 23, respectively — amidst adivasis of Nandurbar, Alirajpur and farmers from the plains of Nimad would be reinforced with presence of some of the well-wishers from outside. Some months back, after I returned from the Narmada valley, I had written an analysis: Over 200,000 Narmada Dam oustees still to be rehabilitated; a crime that goes unpunished for 25 years.

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  • DSU report on Kashmir conference in Delhi

    Arundhati Roy & SAS Geelai on the dais in the historic public meeting on 'AZADI: The only way' 22nd October 2010 in LTG auditorium (Delhi)

    A report (and great pictures) from  the Democratic Students’ Union (DSU) at Jawaharlal Nehru University, October 23, 2010

    Azaadi (Freedom): The Only Way Ahead in Kashmir

    Yesterday in a historic convention in LTG Auditorium, Mandi House, many voices representing various peoples’ movements of South Asia reverberated to collectively assert that Azaadi is the only way ahead for Kashmir. Along with the prominent speakers from Kashmir, the struggling nationalities of Manipur, Nagalim, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, as well as activists, writers, intellectuals from India hailed the heroic struggle of the people of Kashmir for their denied self-determination, the aspiration for justice and dignity.

    The communal-fascist lumpen brigade of RSS, ABVP and Panun Kashmir repeatedly tried to disrupt the proceedings, create a ruckus and assault the speakers on the dais, but were successfully resisted by the audience present there. The convention extended an overwhelming support to the ongoing movement against the occupation by the Indian armed forces, and the inalienable right of the Kashmiri’s right to self-determination, including secession from India. Once again, the corporate media today carried more of the news of the disruption with its general misinformation campaign, while purposefully erasing the solidarity which was reasserted in the assembly.

    Varavara Rao & SAS Geelani being flanked by the Kashmiri youth and student volunteers as some right wing miscreants attempt to disrupt the proceedings for a while.

    The media neither cared to report about the deliberations at the convention, nor about the spirit of unity among the oppressed peoples of Kashmir, India and other persecuted nationalities of South Asia. Far from a truthful reporting of the various views kept in the meeting, the Hindu-fundamentalist Indian corporate media demanded the booking of the organizers and speakers under charges of sedition!

    At the same time, having failed to stop the convention from its successful completion, the Sangh-giroh has today gone to the parliament demanding a clampdown on all democratic spaces and platforms of solidarity among the people of India and Kashmir.

    From June this year, Kashmir has witnessed one of the largest mass mobilizations against the Indian occupation. People of Kashmir have come out on the streets in tens of thousands braving the teargas, bullets and batons of the armed forces. With nothing but courage in their hearts and stones in their hands, the youth, men, women and even children of Kashmir continue to defy curfew and relentlessly uphold their aspiration of Azaadi. Since June this year, 111 Kashmiris including two children have been brutally shot dead by the police and CRPF. Neither the Indian ruling class nor the corporate media are ready to hear this clarion call of the people of Kashmir.

    The response of the Indian state to this mass upsurge has yet again been bullets and brute force first, followed by sham committees and promises of ‘dialogue’. A delegation of parliamentary parties who are directly responsible for ordering the killings in Kashmir visited the Valley in the pretext of discussions. All that the Indian state could come up with following this much-hyped visit was to appoint a committee of ‘interlocutors’ who will further ‘interact’ with people in Kashmir to recommend some measures for reconciliation. This shows the complete lack of commitment of the Indian state to the settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

    The people of Kashmir have proposed a five-point charter of demand to the Indian state, which asked for :     1. acceptance of the disputed nature of the territory of Jammu and Kashmir, 2. repeal of AFSPA and other black laws, 3. release of political detainees and prisoners, 4. withdrawal of the armed forces and 5. punishment of those police officers and armed men guilty of taking life in the past few months.

    The fascist Indian state is yet to respond to these demands. What they came up instead is an ‘8 point formula’ which basically included ‘economic packages’. The Indian state is not ready to withdraw Indian Army or even review the draconian AFSPA. And all that the Indian state is doing is to delay any dialogue with the people in Kashmir and in the meantime employ more force to crush the movement of the people. It is not ready to accept Kashmir as even a dispute for that will bring out all ugly facts which are forcibly buried in the past.

    The unfulfillment of the promise for plebiscite in United Nations in 1952, the prolonged suppression of peaceful movement till 1980s, the imprisonment of elected representatives in 1989, the presence of 8 lakh armed forces, the draconian AFSPA and PSA, the 70,000 people killed, the thousands who have simply ‘disappeared’, the thousand of rapes, the torture centers, the fake encounters, the crackdowns, the mass graves, the massacres… do we need more evidence of the real status of Kashmir, which was never an ‘integral part of India’.

    We do not need any more ‘interlocution’ to hear what the people of Kashmir are saying.

    In Solidarity with the brave Stone-pelters of the Valley

    The writing is loud and clear on the walls of Kashmir. Slogans like ‘Go India Go Back’ and ‘hum kya chahte? Azaadi’ are echoing in the streets of the valley every single day!

    With those braving the Indian Occupation Forces in Kashmir

    The deaf Indian state might try to silence it, its corporate media lackeys might try to ignore the reality but this is what the millions of Kashmiris are saying in unison. No might of the colonizing Indian state can dominate this unflinching aspiration of the Kashmiri masses. It is the united fight of other oppressed nationalities along with the oppressed masses in India which can defeat this fascist brahminical state and its oppression.

     

    A human-chain being formed by Kashmiri youth, students and organizers to shield the speakers from the sanghi hooligans who made a failed attempt to disrupt the historic meeting

  • Operation Green Hunt creates huge market for choppers

    The Telegraph (Calcutta)
    Maoist whirr in chopper race
    SUJAN DUTTA
    Bell’s Huey helicopter (top), which was used in the Vietnam war, and Eurocopter’s Fennec

    New Delhi, Oct. 24: The counter-Naxalite drive often called Operation Green Hunt has resulted in a huge demand for helicopters that two global majors are vying to capture for the millions of dollars on offer.

    The market for choppers has suddenly expanded with state and central police forces asking for more rotary-wing aircraft. There is a spurt in the demand because the Indian Air Force has told the Union home ministry it does not have enough to spare.

    The Indian Air Force and the Indian Army are also in the middle of trials to buy hundreds of military helicopters. But global chopper-makers, Bell Textron and Eurocopter, are more enthused by the demand from the police forces because of the tardy process of military procurement.

    Bell Textron is best known for the the UH-1 “Huey” – a legendary flying-machine that the US used in the war against the communist guerrillas (role models for the Naxalites) in Vietnam in the early 1970s – and was quicker off the blocks having sold its first helicopter in India nearly 53 years ago.

    It has now sold more than 100 of different types of helicopters from its stable, increasingly to private and public sector companies. In 2009 alone, the company sold 22.

    This week Eurocopter, part of the European aviation firm EADS, announced that it was setting up an Indian subsidiary. The company estimates that the Indian market will be worth nearly $ 140 million dollars in five years.

    Bell Textron has 50 per cent of the Indian market for helicopters. Eurocopter India’s chief executive officer Marie-Agnes Veve said the company currently has 30 per cent of the market and is targeting a share of half the new demand in five years.

    The market is estimated to be growing at 20 per cent year on year.

    “We are looking only at the civilian and paramilitary markets,” she said. “We think we can sell 25 helicopters each year until 2015 because they are required in the (anti-) Naxalite operations and by private companies and as ambulances,” she added.

    Bell and Eurocopter have been rivals for the military market in India too. In 2007, Eurocopter claimed to have won a bid to supply 197 helicopters for high-altitude tasks for the Indian army outracing Bell. Both Eurocopter and Bell also touched down on Mount Everest to demonstrate the power of their machines in the severe environment.

    But Antony’s defence ministry cancelled that competition after suspicion that it was not conducted by the book. The companies are competing for the same order again.

  • Indian government backs off on filing charges against Arundhati, Geelani

    Writer and activist Arundhati Roy addresses a seminar ‘Whither Kashmir: Freedom or enslavement', organised by the Coalition of Civil Societies, in Srinagar, on Sunday.

    The Hindu

    New Delhi, October 26, 2010

    The Union government has no intention of filing criminal charges against Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, writer Arundhati Roy and others who spoke in favour of ‘azadi’ for Jammu and Kashmir at a seminar here last week, highly placed sources told The Hindu on Tuesday.

    The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party is taking a strident position, insisting that a case of sedition be lodged against those who spoke at the seminar, but the Centre believes that acting on this demand will undermine the fragile dialogue process the government’s three interlocutors have begun in Srinagar.

    With Dileep Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and M.M. Ansari urging those Kashmiris raising slogans in favour of ‘azadi’ to put their thoughts down in writing, the irony of criminalising a mere speech has not been lost on New Delhi.

    “We knew the BJP would try and make the holding of the seminar an issue,” the sources said, adding police permission for the public event was given because the organisers could easily have gone to court had the authorities tried pre-emptively to gag them. The meeting was thus videographed, and the proceedings were scrutinised.

    The sources said permission of the Ministry of Home Affairs was not needed for the police to file a case of sedition, but added that North Block did not believe that charging or arresting Mr. Geelani and Ms. Roy made sense.

    “Geelani himself has said some 70 cases have been filed against him so let there be a 71st,” the sources said. They also admitted — as Ms. Roy herself notes in a statement issued on Tuesday — that scores of people in the Kashmir Valley say every day what the writer and the Hurriyat leader are accused of saying at the meeting. If the two of them are now to be arrested for sedition on the basis of their speech, so would scores of people in Srinagar.

    The sources welcomed the efforts the three interlocutors had made so far and said the Centre’s aim was to begin a broad political process with all sections of the people in the State, but especially with those who say they want autonomy and ‘azaadi.’

     

  • Reactionary mob attacks Arundhati Roy's house

    Neha Alawadhi, The Hindu, Nov 1, 2010

    NEW DELHI: A large group of BJP Mahila Morcha activists protesting Arundhati Roy’s recent remarks on Kashmir broke into the compound of the writer’s residence here on Sunday.

    The mob assembled outside Ms. Roy’s house in the high-security diplomatic enclave of Chanakyapuri around 11 a.m. and shouted slogans against her for more than half an hour. “Curiously, three news channel vans were stationed outside our house even before the protest began…the mob was abusive and broke through the front gate of the house,” Ms. Roy’s husband, Pradip Krishen, said.

    Ms. Roy was not in the house at the time of the attack. In a statement, she said the mob numbered as many as a hundred persons. The activists broke a few flower pots kept outside the house and dispersed before the arrival of the police. They were prevented from entering the house by the guard and servants.

    Mr. Krishen later lodged a complaint at the Chanakyapuri police station, following which police personnel were deployed outside the residence. He said this was the second such attack at their Kautilya Marg residence since June 2010, when some men on motorbikes pelted stones and smashed some windows.

    Though Mr. Krishen had no idea about the identity of the protesters, he suspects that they were supported by a section of the Sangh Parivar “who have already declared their intention to harm and harass Arundhati Roy.”

    Meanwhile, Shika Roy, Delhi unit president of the BJP Mahila Morcha, who led the protest, said: “The protest was organised against Arundhati Roy’s remarks on azadi for Kashmir. We chose to protest on Sunday as it happens to be the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhai Patel who united the whole country.”

    The police have registered a case and are investigating.

    Something for the media to think about

    This is the text of the statement issued by writer Arundhati Roy:

    A mob of about a hundred people arrived at my house at 11 this morning (Sunday October 31st 2010.) They broke through the gate and vandalized property. They shouted slogans against me for my views on Kashmir, and threatened to teach me a lesson. The OB Vans of NDTV, Times Now and News 24 were already in place ostensibly to cover the event live. TV reports say that the mob consisted largely of members of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha (Women’s wing).

    After they left, the police advised us to let them know if in future we saw any OB vans hanging around the neighborhood because they said that was an indication that a mob was on its way. In June this year, after a false report in the papers by Press Trust of India (PTI) two men on motorcycles tried to stone the windows of my home. They too were accompanied by TV cameramen.

    What is the nature of the agreement between these sections of the media and mobs and criminals in search of spectacle? Does the media which positions itself at the ‘scene’ in advance have a guarantee that the attacks and demonstrations will be non-violent? What happens if there is criminal trespass (as there was today) or even something worse? Does the media then become accessory to the crime?

    This question is important, given that some TV channels and newspapers are in the process of brazenly inciting mob anger against me. In the race for sensationalism the line between reporting news and manufacturing news is becoming blurred. So what if a few people have to be sacrificed at the altar of TRP ratings? The Government has indicated that it does not intend to go ahead with the charges of sedition against me and the other speakers at a recent seminar on Azadi for Kashmir.

    So the task of punishing me for my views seems to have been taken on by right wing storm troopers. The Bajrang Dal and the RSS have openly announced that they are going to “fix” me with all the means at their disposal including filing cases against me all over the country. The whole country has seen what they are capable of doing, the extent to which they are capable of going.

    So, while the Government is showing a degree of maturity, are sections of the media and the infrastructure of democracy being rented out to those who believe in mob justice? I can understand that the BJP’s Mahila Morcha is using me to distract attention from the senior RSS activist Indresh Kumar who has recently been named in the CBI charge-sheet for the bomb blast in Ajmer Sharif in which several people were killed and many injured. But why are sections of the mainstream media doing the same? Is a writer with unpopular views more dangerous than a suspect in a bomb blast? Or is it a question of ideological alignment?

  • Bhopal gas victims protest against Obama

    Indo-Asian News Service

    Bhopal, November 07, 2010

    US President Barack Obama’s visit to India seems to have infused a new zeal in the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy survivors who organised a protest in Bhopal on Sunday demanding action against American companies allegedly responsible for the disaster.

    Their campaign started gaining momentum a few days before Obama’s arrival.They demonstrated near the now-shut Union Carbide India factory on Nov 6, the day Obama arrived in Mumbai.

    The survivors staged a demonstration on Sunday at Neelam Park in Bhopal, posing as dead bodies.

    The survivors have always been unhappy with the Indian government’s stand on not taking action against American companies and are now accusing the US president of adopting “double standards” on industrial disasters.

    They are demanding that Obama and the US administration act against the erstwhile Union Carbide, owner of the pesticide plant in the city from which poisonous gas leaked in 1984, and Dow Chemical, which took over Union Carbide in 2001.

    “It is understandable that America will not like to take action against a multinational company that plays a vital role in their economy. But that does not mean that our leaders will not raise concern or shy away from initiating talks with them,” said a survivor-turned-activist Abdul Jabbar of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan.

    Bhopal tragedy survivors want action against Dow Chemical and erstwhile Union Carbide on the same lines as was proposed by Obama administration against British Petroleum whose oil spill contaminated the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year.

    Safreen, a resident of Bhopal’s Gupta Nagar is a victim of the tragedy who now runs an organization called Children Against Dow-Carbide, said: “It’s high time we got justice.”

    “We are expecting Obama to make both the accused companies – Dow Chemical and Union Carbide – accountable for the Bhopal tragedy,” she said.

    Safreen’s mother was partially blinded by the gas leak. The toxic fumes left her father and brother, who was two years of age then, with a chronic heart disease.

    Tonnes of poisonous methyl-iso-cyanate gas spewed out of the now-shut pesticide plant of Union Carbide India located in a congested part of Bhopal Dec 2-3 night in 1984, killing over 3,000 people overnight.

    In the years that followed, people exposed to the gas kept dying or suffered from life-long ailments and complications. The deaths in the world’s worst industrial disaster are believed to have mounted to about 25,000 over the years.

    On June 7, a Bhopal court held seven officials of the Union Carbide India plant and the company itself guilty of criminal negligence and causing the industrial disaster.

    But as the guilty were bailed out within minutes of the verdict, survivors and activists called it a mockery of justice.

    “If the Indian government is at all sympathetic to Bhopal gas tragedy survivors, then officials will talk to Obama on the issue,” said Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal gas tragedy information cell.

    “Obama is only talking about the Mumbai terror attack but the corporations of his country have been terrorizing people of Bhopal for more than 26 years,” said Rashida Bee, a survivor and leader of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, during the Sunday protest.

  • Indian State’s policy towards the Indigenous Adivasi People

    Adivasi women protest government repression in Lalgarh, West Bengal

    by Stan Swamy, November 9, 2010

    Dispossess them first . . .

    Displacement is painful for anybody. To leave the place where one was born and brought up, the house that one built up with one’s own labour can be even more painful. Most of all, when no rehabilitation has been worked out and one has nowhere to go, it is most painful. And when it comes to the Adivasi People for whom their land is not just an economic commodity but a source of spiritual sustenance, it can be heart-rending.

    Displacement in Jharkhand

    Undoubtedly the most pressing problem facing the poor, rural and tribal population in Jharkhand is the constant threat of their displacement from their ancestral habitat. This displacement is being justified by the politicians, bureaucrats and the urbanites, (totaling only 23% of the population of Jharkhand), as necessary for the progress(?) and development(?) of this State. The progress and development is for whom and for whose benefit is a matter that is often left unsaid.

    The figures for displacement resulting in misery for the majority of Jharkhandis are quite revealing – a population of about 17 lakhs [1.7 million] have been displaced so far, out of which almost 85% are tribals and locals and only about 25% have been halfway and half-heartedly resettled. The above figure points out  only the formally displaced for various projects and not the informally displaced.

    A recent report says that about two lakh [200,000] Adivasi young women from Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal are presently working as house-maids in middle-class homes: 61,000 in Delhi, 42,000 in Kolkata, 36,000 in Mumbai, 13,000 in Bangalore, 26,000 in Goa. (Source: ‘Two lakh young adivasi women working as house-maids in big cities’, by Manoj in Hindustan (Hindi, March 24, 2003).

    Land alienation

    During this same period, about 15 lakh acres of land has been alienated from the Adivasi / Moolvasi people for various projects. This again does not include the illegal alienation amounting to about 8 lakh acres in and around the towns & cities of Jharkhand .

    The Permanent Forum of the Indigenous Peoples of the U.N. has spelt out some principles to guide the process of the rehabilitation of the indigenous people when they are displaced: Free, prior and informed consent of the displaced persons/ families/communities must be ensured before displacing them.(Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues-UN- Sixth Session, 25 May 2007)

    Their CONSENT must be

    * Free:  People’s consent has to be free of all coercion, pressure tactics, threats, promise of employment etc. The way the Indian govt and the companies go about the process of acquiring the land of the Indigenous People is the opposite of what it should be.

    * Prior:  The usual practice is first to start the project and when the to-be-affected people gather to protest or stop the project, the concerned company or the govt give them some scanty and incorrect information about the project and make some vague promises in terms of compensation / rehabilitation.

    * Informed:   it is necessary that people give their informed consent because otherwise they are forced to say yes without knowing all the implications and how exactly they will gain or lose.

    * Consent:  First of all, we must be very clear that consultation is not consent. Often the govt or the company go through the pretence of consultation with a few pliable persons from the affected villages, offer them some gifts in cash or kind, and afterwards claim that they have consulted people and the people have agreed for the project, to the compensation/rehabilitation package. This is a cheating game.

    Let it be made very clear that the Indian State and corporate houses are guilty of violating the above norms.

    Plethora of MoUs  [Memoranda of Understanding between the government and the companies]

    * Over the last decade, Jharkhand govt blindly went on signing one MoU after another with national and multi-national companies, totalling to more than a hundred, in complete disregard of existing constitutional provisions in favour of Adivasi People such as the CNT / SPT Acts, the Vth Schedule of the Constitution, the PESA Act, Forest Rights Act etc. Sad but true, neither the concerned company nor the govt ever thought that the people who are to sacrifice their land should also be consulted and their consent obtained. It is an irony of history that the incumbent Chief Minister Arjun Munda, during his two previous avatars as chief minister, signed the most number of MoUs (54 to be precise) .

    Resistance to displacement:

    * Not being able to put up any more with the callousness of the govt, the arrogance of the industrialists and the unsympathetic attitude of the police, people have started to resist displacement & land alienation on their own in and through local & regional level Resistance Movements. More than 100 groups and people’s organisations have come together under three to four umbrella organisations and are expressing mutual solidarity & support to each other’s struggles vs displacement & land alienation by holding big rallies & public meetings in major cities like Ranchi, Jamshedpur to express their unity, renew their resolve and manifest their show of strength.

    Ants driving out the elephant

    * An important achievement of this united people’s action has been that no big company has been able to set up shop in Jharkhand. Even the giant Mittal company was forced to roll up its mat and leave. True, some smaller companies (cement, sponge iron etc.) have succeeded in setting up their production units mostly by wholesale cheating and dividing local communities in connivance with local administration & police.

    . . .and hunt them down as criminals

    Operation Green Hunt

    *  This state of affairs was too much for the corporates to digest. Using their concerted pressure on the central govt and the men at helm such as Manmohan Singh and P. Chidambaram, a new path was found by which all those leading the people’s movements vs displacement & land alienation would be considered enemies of the state and their proper name from now on will be ‘extremist’, ‘naxalite’, ‘maoist’. By the stroke of a genius, the name Operation Green Hunt was invented. Para-military forces from far and wide, known by their stinging names such as greyhounds, cobras, scorpions, have been brought in their thousands to do the hunting. . . not of any animals but of the impoverished and starving Adivasi people .

    *  The Home Minister did not tarry long to assure the nation that all the naxals / Maoists will be physically eliminated in five years time. He went further to announce that all those young men & women who will be suspected as “supporting / aiding” the naxals will be booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act with ten years in jail.

    *  The stage is all set to reach the peak of Operation Green Hunt. Hundreds of young men and some young women have been arrested as being naxals or supporters of naxals. About 50 village schools have been occupied by the para-military forces and another 40 schools on an on-and-off basis, thus halting the education of the little ones. The mid-day meal which for most of the children is the only full meal they get to eat has also been stopped in these schools. Any one found coming from the forest is assumed as having met the naxals, taken for questioning and beaten up. As women and children are forbidden to go into the forest they cannot collect any forest produce. For the first time in adivasi history, weekly village bazaars are closing down for lack of people to buy & sell forest produce. In short, our people are passing from the stage of hunger to one of starvation. Added to it is the state-sponsored programme of treating them as criminals.

    The ‘encounter-killings’

    * During the past five months, three encounter-killings of “naxals” by para-military forces were reported in the media. (1) a 30 year old house wife and mother of three small children by name Jasmintha Devi of Kherwa primitive tribe was killed in Ladhi village, Barvadih Block, Latehar Dist. on 27 April 2010, (2) a 45 year old Etwa Munda was killed near Gunti village, Tamar Block, Ranchi Dist. on 5 July 2010, (3) a 22 [?] year old Rajesh Singh Munda was killed near Heso village, Namkum Block, Ranchi Dist on 1 August 2010.Operation Green Hunt Virodhi Nagrik Manch, composed of some concerned citizens, did a fact-finding study of all three incidents and found none of the three killings were encounter-killings but murder in cold-blood.

    *  The comfortably settled govt bureaucrat babus, the ‘profit-first’ business fraternity, the up-coming amoral professionals, the slumbering self-styled ‘intellectuals’, the consumer-thirsty urban middle class are the least concerned about the harassment and atrocities perpetrated on the meek and humble people living on the periphery of society. Religious bodies know what is happening but will not sully their hands with what they consider ‘dirty politics’ and prefer to look the other way. Social organisations and most NGOs realise the gravity of the situation but would rather not meddle with it lest it jeopardises the copious foreign funds they are receiving.

    So, finally it is a handful few from different walks of life who enter the arena knowing full well the risk they are taking and start blowing the whistle. This small group includes several men and women from the exploited, oppressed communities. The emergence of Op Green Hunt Virodhi Nagrik Manch (OGHVNM) is one such effort.

    Four members of OGHVNM have been arrested during the past three months

    On 25th June 2010 OGHVNM organised a rally & public meeting against Op Green Hunt in Ranchi. Over a thousand men & women who were on their way in about ten buses from some outlying districts were stopped by the police and prevented from proceeding to Ranchi.

    First disposess them then hunt them down is the policy of the state

    *  Most of the Adivasi People living in the far flung villages are an impoverished people. The whole state of Jharkhand has been declared ‘drought-affected’ but no relief packages have been mobilised. Every day a few hundred men, women and children are migrating to far off places without even knowing the destination they are headed to. Young Adivasi women are disappearing by the dozens under a well designed racketeering system.

    *  All this does not seem to be a matter of concern to the govt, the predominantly outsider bureaucrats of local administrations, the industrial & business class, the upper & middle classes. In fact they are all very much for Operation Green Hunt. The print and electronic media do not lag far behind in so far as they vie with each other in highlighting the “success stories” of the police & para-military forces in arresting and killing young Adivasi men & women who have become automatic suspects of either being naxals or supporters of naxals. In short, the Adivasi People of central & east India are perhaps at the lowest ebb of their existence as a people . At least they were never hunted like animals in their own land in any other part of their history.

    http://sanhati.com/articles/2943/

  • 'Trading Kashmir for Boeing,' says Arundhati Roy

    11 November 2010

    NEW YORK CITY, US—India’s renowned activist and novelist Arundhati Roy has made another impassioned plea for Kashmir’s right to self-determination in an op-ed in The New York Times. In her ironic style, she has ridiculed US President Barrack Obama, the Indian military and government, and reintroduced Shakeel to the world, the young Kashmiri whose 22-year-old wife and 17-year-old sister were raped and murdered by Indian occupation soldiers and thrown into a river.

    But the best part of her op-ed, titled, Kashmir’s Fruits’ of Discord, is her take on the Indo-US double blackmail: how the United States is using Kashmir to blackmail India, and how India is using arms purchases to blackmail the US.  This is how she puts it:

    “While [Obama] spoke eloquently about threats of terrorism, he kept quiet about human rights abuses in Kashmir. Whether Mr. Obama decides to change his position on Kashmir again depends on several factors: how the war in Afghanistan is going, how much help the United States needs from Pakistan and whether the government of India goes aircraft shopping this winter. (An order for 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, worth $5.8 billion, among other huge business deals in the pipeline, may ensure the president’s silence.) But neither Mr. Obama’s silence nor his intervention is likely to make the people in Kashmir drop the stones in their hands.”

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  • Speaking out about Kashmir and Palestine

    Yasmin Qureshi, The Electronic Intifada, 9 November 2010

    Kashmiri protesters throw stones at paramilitary soldiers and police during a protest in Srinagar, September 2010. (Rouf Bhat/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom)

    The United States has become a battleground for both the struggles of the peoples of Palestine and Kashmir, for freedom from military occupation and for justice.  Awareness amongst the US public is broadened as the repression of both struggles grows ever more violent, and meanwhile those wishing to stifle debate on these issues in the US resort to harassment and intimidation.

    The same day that renowned activist and writer Arundhati Roy commented that “Kashmir was never an integral part of India,” for which her home was later attacked, I was subjected to harassment here in the US while I spoke about the human rights situation in Kashmir. Though not threatened in the way that Roy was, what we both experienced were attempts to silence us. Forces sympathetic to the same right-wing ideology as those who attacked Roy mobilized their ranks by putting out an alert stating: “An Indian Muslim Woman is speaking about azadi [freedom] of Kashmiris and we should protest.”

    After my presentation at the main public library in San Jose, California last month, I was told by one member of the audience that “You are the very reason why we Hindus hate Muslims,” and that comment was followed by many that were worse. I was called an extremist and told “Your presentation is a lie; this is India-bashing.” The abuse I received will be familiar to those who have been on the receiving end of the backlash when speaking about the Palestinian cause.

    Indeed, a week earlier, Palestinian author Susan Abulhawa was called an extremist by Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz at the Boston Book Festival after she presented well-established facts about Palestine. He resorted to name calling and ad hominem attacks.

    Israel and India are often represented in US media as bastions of democracy in the Middle East and South Asia, respectively. Supporters of the policies of both governments delegitimize any resistance or criticism and discourage revelation of the truth through intimidation and personal attacks.

    Kashmir is the most militarized zone in the world with close to 700,000 Indian troops. According to Professor Angana Chatterji of the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), between the years of 1989 and 2000, “In Kashmir, 70,000 are dead, over 8,000 have been disappeared and 250,000 have been displaced … India’s military governance penetrates every facet of life. … The hyper-presence of militarization forms a graphic shroud over Kashmir: detention and interrogation centers, army cantonments, abandoned buildings, bullet holes, bunkers and watchtowers, detour signs, deserted public squares, armed personnel, counter-insurgents and vehicular and electronic espionage” (“Kashmir: A Time For Freedom,” Greater Kashmir, 25 September 2010).

    Because she has spoken out, Chatterji has become a target of right-wing Hindutva groups — those espousing an exclusivist Hindu nationalist ideology in India that often denigrates and denies the legitimacy of non-Hindus in India. Hindutva groups in the US and India have attacked her because of her work tracking funding to Hindutva groups from the US after the 2002 pogrom of Muslims in Gujarat and more recently as co-conveyer of the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir. Chatterji told me: “I was threatened with rape by Hindutva groups in 2005. Since announcing the Kashmir Tribunal in April 2008, each time I have entered or left India since, I have been stopped or detained at immigration.” Richard Shapiro, her partner and chair and associate professor at CIIS, was banned from entering India on 1 November 2010.

    Hindutva groups try to scuttle any broader discussion about human rights violations in Kashmir, the conditional annexation by India in 1947 or right to self-determination by limiting it to the issue of the displacement and killings of the upper caste minority Kashmiri Hindu Pandits in the late 1980s and by insisting that Kashmir is not an international issue.

    Similarly, Zionists seeking to draw attention away from Israel’s abuses of Palestinians’ human rights often focus exclusively on suicide bombings or the rule of Hamas. Their aim is to silence any discussion of the historic Palestinian demands for the implementation of the refugees’ right of return, an end to the military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and equality for Palestinian citizens in Israel.

    And the front line in the battle to influence US public opinion towards both the Kashmir and Palestine struggles can be found at the university campus.

    “There is a well-orchestrated and funded campaign of intimidation and harassment by Zionist and Hindutva groups on campuses to target academics,” says Sunaina Maira, Associate Professor at the University of California, Davis campus. Zionist academics tried to pressure the University of California, Berkeley to cancel an event last month titled “What Can American Academia Do to Realize Justice for Palestinians,” organized by the Students for Justice in Palestine. In a letter to the school’s chancellor, the groups urged him to withdraw official university sponsorship of the event and publicly condemn the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israeli apartheid at the school’s campus.

    A similar attempt was made in 2006 by Indian American members of AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobby, when they tried to cancel a panel titled “South Asian-Arab solidarity against Israeli apartheid” at Stanford University. The objective was to bring South Asians and Arabs together to take a unified stand against US imperialism and Israeli apartheid and speak up against the Zionist-Hindutva alliances. Despite the attempts by outside groups to stifle free speech, both these events eventually did take place on the campuses and were quite successful.

    The attempts to silence those who speak out in the US are not the only thing that Kashmir and Palestine have in common. Both Kashmiris and Palestinians are struggling for justice and freedom against highly-militarized occupations. The recent protests by stone-throwing Kashmiri youth drew comparisons to the first intifada in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

    And it is perhaps the linking of these struggles that those who stand in the way of freedom for oppressed peoples fear the most. Notably, Zionists and Hindutva advocates have adopted a similar Islamophobic language and worldview that considers any grievances or struggles by Muslims to be simply a cover for “jihadism” or “wahhabism” and thus justifies treating all such movements for justice — however they are conducted — as “terrorist.”

    While the situations in Kashmir and Palestine are not completely analogous, in recent years India and Israel have fostered political and military links, including arms sales, joint intelligence, trade agreements and cultural exchanges.

    Historically India has been supportive of the Palestinian struggle. But in 1992 India established diplomatic relations with Israel and ties were further strengthened in 2000 when India Home Minister L.K. Advani visited Israel; Advani is considered the architect of the rise of the Hindutva movement in the 1980s and ’90s. Today India is the largest buyer of Israel’s arms and Israel is training Indian military units in “counter-terrorist” tactics and urban warfare to be used against Kashmiris and resistance groups in northeast and central India.

    The repressive governments of both India and Israel enjoy a warm relationship with the the US. Bilateral defense ties between US and India — based on the new strategic realities of Asia — is one of the objectives of US President Barack Obama’s current visit to India, according to the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), a Washington-based think tank. The US also gives $3 billion in military aid to Israel annually.

    Such alliances between states, which aim to perpetuate injustice and maintain regimes that are rejected by those forced to live under them, underscore the need for education and solidarity among supporters of those long denied their freedom, equality and self-determination.

    Those in the US who defend the status quo may resort to tactics of intimidation. But just as state repression in Kashmir and Palestine has failed to quell those struggles for freedom, those of us in the US concerned with justice in Palestine and Kashmir — and the US government’s role in each — will not be intimidated into silence.

    Yasmin Qureshi is a San Francisco Bay Area professional and human rights activist involved in social justice movements in South Asia and Palestine. Her article on Kashmir, “Democracy Under the Barrel of a Gun,” was published in June 2010 by CounterPunch and ZCommunications.

  • US rights activists protest ban of scholar from Kashmir

    Protest at the Indian Consulate: Revoke the Barring of Professor Richard Shapiro, End the Isolation of Kashmiris

    On November 8th at 11am, a group of more than 50 students and community members protested India’s banning of Richard Shapiro. The protest took place at the San Francisco Consulate General of India and lasted over an hour. Statements were read attesting to the violations perpetrated by the indefinite ban placed on Professor Shapiro’s travel to India and called for its revocation. A memorandum crafted and signed by students and friends of Richard Shapiro was delivered to, and accepted by, consulate staff.

    On November 1st, 2010, Professor Shapiro was denied entry by the Immigration Authorities in New Delhi. Professor Shapiro is a US Citizen and Chair, Anthropology Department, at California Institute of Integral Studies.

    Professor Shapiro traveled to India with his life partner, Professor Angana Chatterji, a citizen of India and a permanent resident of the US. Professor Chatterji, a prominent and frequent visitor to the region, was granted entry to India while Professor Shapiro was prevented from entering the country. Reports indicate that no legal basis was given for the decision to deny his entry. Professor Shapiro was in possession of a valid passport and visa.

    Given that Professor Shapiro’s work focuses neither on South Asia nor India, it appears that his right to travel has been restricted in an attempt to further intimidate Professor Chatterji, and to discourage her from continuing her work as Co-Convener of the International People’s Tribunal for Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir (IPTK)

    Since 2006, Shapiro has regularly traveled to Kashmir, and interacted with various human rights defenders, scholars, and youth to bear witness and to learn from their experiences. The focus of his scholarship and academic work is not India or Kashmir, but issues of race, class, gender, and alliance building in the United States, and discourses on power and subjectivity.

    Richard Shapiro had written an op-ed on Kashmir in 2009 and another in September 2010. These were analytical pieces based on articles and newspaper reports, and not on primary research that had been conducted by him. Any scholar can do that. This is a matter of academic freedom, and beyond the control of states and their desire to regulate thinking on the injustices they perpetrate.

    The Indian state has regularly targeted those that have been outspoken on injustices and military governance in Kashmir. The Indian state has targeted Professor Angana Chatterji and her colleagues in Kashmir, Parvez Imroz and Khurram Parvez, for their work defending human rights. Recently, writer Arundhati Roy was a target. When academics, writers, and journalists are banned, such actions speak to the intent of the Indian State in maintaining impunity, and in deliberately isolating Kashmiris from the world and the world from Kashmiris.

    Friends and Allies of Richard Shapiro point out that when academics, writers, and journalists are banned, such actions speak to the intent of the Indian State in maintaining impunity, and in deliberately isolating Kashmiris from the world, and the world from KashmirisThis arbitrary and undemocratic act by the Indian government is an affront to academic freedom, the right of families to be together, and further isolates Kashmiris from international solidarity in their struggle for peace and justice. The barring of an international scholar to Kashmir raises?serious questions into the functioning of democratic rights and human rights conditions of Kashmiris. Denying Shapiro entry without due cause impinges upon academic freedom, freedom of movement, and the right to travel with his legal partner and to visit his family in Kolkata.

    The demonstrators called upon the Government of India to:

    * Revoke the entry ban of Richard Shapiro from India.?* Stop obstruction of the IPTK’s work.?* End barring without due cause.?* Support democratic processes, the exchange of ideas.

    For more information on the IPTK, see http://www.kashmirprocess.org.

    For a press note by Scholars at Risk regarding Professor Shapiro, please visit:

    http://scholarsatrisk.nyu.edu/Events-News/Article-Detail.php?art_uid=2454

    The op-eds by Richard Shapiro:?Governing Kashmir (August 2010):

    http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/2010/Aug/29/governing-kashmir-17.asp

    A Just Peace in Kashmir? (August 2009):

    http://www.zcommunications.org/a-just-peace-in-kashmir-by-richard-shapiro.

    .

     

  • Indian-Israel military ties strengthen

    From antipathy to military cooperation–India and Israel: an unlikely alliance

    by Isabelle Saint-Mézard,  Le Monde Diplomatique

    India has the world’s third largest Muslim population, and political and economic ties with Arab nations. It is also buying weapons and military expertise from its new friend Israel.

    India and Israel were born (in 1947 and 1948) through long and violent partition processes, from the ruins of the British empire. Both were caught up in inextricable armed conflicts. Yet this did not make for any particular affinity between the countries: rather the reverse.

    India had its reasons: it was worried that the Muslim world would side with Pakistan over its claim to Kashmir; it was concerned about energy security (India depends largely on the Middle East for its oil); and in the late 1980s and 1990s, when it had a serious payments imbalance, it relied on money sent back home by the many expatriates working in the Gulf states .

    From the 1920s onwards, the leaders of India’s nationalist movement sided with the Palestinian Arabs against British imperialism, opposing the Zionist aim of establishing a Jewish state. India voted against the partition of Palestine at the UN General Assembly of 1947, and only recognised Israel in 1950. Until the 1980s it formed a bloc with the Arab countries at the UN and within the Non-aligned Movement, in defence of the Palestinian people’s right to a sovereign state.

    But the gap between India and Israel has narrowed over the years. As early as the 1960s the two countries established secret military and intelligence contacts. Israel was willing to help the Indian army in its conflicts with China (in 1962) and Pakistan (in 1965 and 1971). In 1978, Israel’s foreign minister Moshe Dayan even made a secret trip to India to propose cooperation.

    In 1992 New Delhi established formal diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv. The decision was facilitated by the end of the cold war and the Madrid Middle East conference of October 1991, which gave hopes for peace. But it was also prompted by India’s disappointment with the meagre results of its foreign policy: it had never managed to neutralise Pakistan’s influence among the Arab countries and its own position on Kashmir had been repeatedly condemned by resolutions of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

    Diplomatic relations with Israel were initiated by the centre-left Indian National Congress (Congress Party) but it was the extremist Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in power between 1998 and 2004, which developed the partnership and gave it meaning. Suspicious of, if not hostile to, the Muslim world, the BJP did not hesitate to show its sympathy for Israel. Unlike the Congress Party, the BJP has never felt constrained by the opinion of India’s Muslim minority in its domestic policy. The post-9/11 situation strengthened the relationship as the BJP-led coalition government eagerly promoted the idea of liberal democracies forming a united front against Islamist terrorism. The BJP invited Israel’s prime minister Ariel Sharon to visit India in September 2003, to commemorate the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in the US.

    This led to the dream of a strategic triangle between Israel, India and the US, an idea first put forward on 8 May 2003 by Brajesh Mishra, then India’s national security adviser, in a speech at a dinner of the American Jewish Committee: “Our principal theme here today is a collective remembrance of the horrors of terrorism and a celebration of the alliance of free societies involved in combating this scourge. The US, India and Israel have all been prime targets of terrorism. They have to jointly face the same ugly face of modern day terrorism”. Later, representatives of the governments discussed defence and anti-terrorism issues. Meanwhile, a decisive rapprochement was taking place between pro-Indian and pro-Israeli pressure groups in Washington.

    Congress in Power

    After the Congress Party’s return to office at the head of a coalition government in 2004 there was less emphasis on the ideology, but the Indian-Israeli relationship was not fundamentally affected because it concerned the priority areas of defence and security.

    The range of links has diversified and there is now collaboration in agriculture, tourism, science and technology. Although largely dependent on the diamond industry, which accounted for nearly 50% of all trade between the two countries in 2008, commercial exchanges between India and Israel rose in value from $200m in 1992 to $4bn in 2008. But defence remains the core of the cooperative relationship.

    Israel’s defence industry relies on exports for its survival. Until the end of the 1990s most shipments were to China. But the US veto on the transfer of sensitive technologies to China forced Israel to look to other markets, including India. This proved fruitful as economic growth allowed India to finance its (considerable) requirements for defence equipment. India was looking for new suppliers, as Russian manufacturers were only able to fill part of the void left by the disappearance of its former Soviet suppliers. (Many Soviet production lines were dismantled or put out of action after 1991.) The US was also moving closer to India, which facilitated technology transfer.

    The Phalcon radar systems developed by Israel Aerospace Industries for the Indian air force are a good example. Having forbidden their sale to China in 2000, the US authorised their sale to India. The conclusion New Delhi drew was that a rapprochement with Tel Aviv would give it access to technology the US was reluctant to export.

    In a decade, Tel Aviv has become a leading supplier of arms to India, now its largest export market. The value of the contracts signed over the last 10 years is estimated at nearly $10bn. Flexibility and responsiveness are Israel’s great strengths. It was able to adapt right away to the needs of India’s armed forces (most of whose equipment is Soviet or Russian) and gained lucrative contracts for the modernisation of Russian equipment: tanks, aircraft carriers, helicopters and fighter aircraft have all been fitted with Israeli electronics; it was able to respond quickly when supplying the Indian army with munitions during the 1999 confrontation with Pakistan in Kashmir, the “Kargil crisis”.

    Industrial cooperation has centred on surveillance radar and drone aircraft, and on missile systems. India and Israel signed a contract worth $1.1bn for three Phalcon radar systems in 2004. Cooperation on missiles began in 2001 with a contract worth $270m for a ship defence system based on Barak missiles. It reached a new level in January 2006 when the countries agreed to jointly develop a new generation of missiles. This brought Israel into competition with Russia, which was also jointly developing cruise missiles with India. In 2007, India and Israel unveiled a joint project worth $2.5bn for the development of a new air defence system based on Barak missiles, for use by the Indian air force and army.

    [The pilotless drones mentioned above and the satellite mentioned below are not just spying on Pakistani forces; they are being used to gather intelligence on the people's uprising in Kashmir and the Maoist-led resistance of the adivasis in eastern and central India.-ed]

    Spy Satellites

    Another area of cooperation is satellite imaging. In January 2008 India launched an advanced spy satellite on Israel’s behalf, capable of providing information on strategic installations in Iran. In April 2009 India launched its own spy satellite, acquired as a matter of urgency after the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 2008 that left 170 dead and revealed serious gaps in its territorial surveillance network. India also spent $600m on Israeli radar to strengthen the warning systems along its western seaboard.

    Israel is certainly a privileged partner in India’s efforts to improve its territorial security systems. The countries are strengthening an already close cooperative relationship on counter-terrorism. Israel has helped India to build a barrier along the “line of control”, its de facto border with Pakistan; it has provided surveillance systems to prevent infiltration by Islamist militants and Israelis are among the few outside consultants to have visited the theatre of operations in Kashmir.

    New Delhi, like most of the international community, still supports the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian state. But the crises between Israel and its neighbours have taught India to hedge its diplomatic bets. It tries to keep the relationship with Israel separate from the Middle East situation – to protect its cooperative relationship with Israel while taking care not to antagonise Arab countries. India’s official statements are carefully worded, condemning in turn the violence of the terrorist attacks against Israel and the brutality of the reprisals.

    While moving closer to Israel, India also began to develop ties with Iran in the early 2000s. Before Ariel Sharon’s visit in September 2003, New Delhi had received the Iranian president Mohammad Khatami. Paradoxically, the rapprochement with Israel has given India new leverage in its Middle East policy: since they cannot be sure of India’s support, Middle East countries pay greater heed to Indian interests.

    The relationship with Israel is a delicate matter for internal even more than external reasons: India needs to consider the feelings of its Muslim minority (14% of the population). It also has to take account of the left wing, heirs to the anti-imperialist tradition, who protest against any overtly pro-Israel policy. Indian decision-makers strive for discretion in their dealings with Israel, but maintaining a balance is much more difficult in times of crisis: during the Lebanon war of 2006, New Delhi at first confined itself to hesitant condemnation of Israel’s actions, then hardened its tone under pressure from the communist parties and Muslim voters. Exasperation eventually led the Indian parliament to the unanimous adoption of a resolution condemning the offensive.

    At a diplomatic level, India’s hesitation over the Middle East is the result of a predictable polarisation between those who take the traditional pro-Arab position and those in favour of partnership with Israel. But it also reveals internal tension between the need to appease a minority of 160 million who make India the world’s third largest Muslim population and a fascination with Israel’s methods, which some in New Delhi would like to try against terrorist movements based in Pakistan.

  • AREVA Nuclear Power Project in Maharasta: 3000 Villagers Court Arrest

    Times of India, October 29, 2010


    MADBAN VILLAGE (RATNAGIRI): This tiny village took on the might of the state on Friday and by the evening, victory clearly belonged to it. Despite preventive arrests, prohibitory orders and road blocks more than 3000 villagers’ courted arrests, as part of their ‘Jail Bharo’ agitation. By 6 pm, the police requested the leaders of the agitation to stop the flow of people.

    The agitation was primarily in response to the government claim that the villagers were quiet and only a handful of outsiders were leading the agitation against the proposed 10000 MW nuclear power project in the village.

    The villagers were angry because the government was refusing to tell them the truth and releasing information in bits and pieces. “After all, we are the ones to be directly affected,” said Sanjay Gavankar, a villager, who runs a cashew nut factory.

    The villagers had steadfastly refused compensation and even lit bon fires of the revised compensation package announced by the state revenue minister Narayan Rane, whose son Nilesh, is the MP from Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri.

    Jail Bharo demonstration in New Delhi

    Retired High Court judge B G Kolse-Patil, who had being served orders preventing him from entering Ratnagiri District, flouted the ban and attended the rally. While the police were looking for him on the road, he took the sea route and appeared dramatically in the temple at 3 pm. “I will oppose this sort of high-handedness by the state tooth and nail,” he said. The police had to physically carry him off to arrest him.

    Retired Admiral L Ramdas and retired Supreme Court Judge P B Samant, who were coming to the rally, were stopped by the police at Hativali junction on the Mumbai-Goa Highway.

    The NPCIL (Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd) is planning to import untested nuclear reactors from French company, Areva. The reactor is not in operation anywhere in the world. US and European nuclear regulators have identified severe flaws in the reactor and none of them have approved the complete details of the design.?To keep India safe from these risky reactors sign the petition to Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh here

  • Why is the ‘adivasis soldier’ silent when the government attacks them?

    Rahul Gandhi, Congress Party leader, momentary self-proclaimed "adivasi soldier"--now inexplicably silent

    By Gladson Dungdung (Guest Contributor, Sanhati)

    http://sanhati.com/articles/2947/

    On August 26, 2010, the Congress leader and self-proclaimed soldier of the Adivasis, Rahul Gandhi visited to Niyamgiri in Orissa just two days after the Indian government denied clearance to the Vedanta Resource’s Rs.4500 crore bauxite mining project in Niyamgiri Hills.

    While addressing a rally of 3000 colourfully dressed Dongria Kondh and other Adivasis at Jagannathpur village who have been fighting to save their holy mountain he said, “I am your soldier in Delhi. Whenever you need me, I will be there for you.” He got a huge ovation when he said, “True development takes place by respecting the interests of the poor and Adivasis.”

    However, just two months later, the migrant Jharkhandi Adivasis were attacked by the Forest Department in Assam but the Adivasis’ soldier is still silent. Therefore, the Adivasis want to know why their soldier is silent. Is he shocked at the incident or is he silent because if he opens his mouth the Congress Government may face severe problems in Assam?

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  • Update on people's struggle against South Korea's POSCO steel project

    POSCO, a large corporation, wants to invest in the mining industry in Orissa (India) and build a steel plant, captive power station and port in Erasama block of Jagatsinghpur district – people’s protest intensifies.

    Police oppressionPolice at the 1st April, 2008 rally

    A Note of POSCO Pratirodh Sangharsa Samiti ( PPSS), Jagatsinghpur, Odisha

    A Brief Background:

    On June 22 2005, Pohang Steel Company (POSCO), a large South Korean corporation, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Orissa in eastern India. This MOU outlined POSCO’s proposal to invest in the mining industry and build a steel plant, captive power station and port in Erasama block of Jagatsinghpur district.

    For the last five years, people living in the villages of the proposed site under the banner of POSCO Pratirodh Sanghrsa Samiti (Anti-POSCO People’s Movement) have been relentlessly protesting against the land acquisition process. More than 4000 families totaling a population of 30,000 will be affected by the project. These include all those persons directly dependant on the betel vine cultivation, pisiculture, cashew nut cultivation, and fishing in the Jatadhari Muhana (estuary) where the port has been proposed.

    Another 20,000 people from Erasama, Tirtol, and Kujang block will be affected if the port comes up at Jatadhari. Loss of self-sustained and thriving local economy, of livelihood and of an entire way of life is the major concern on which the local resistance to the project is based.

    POSCO has applied for prospecting licenses and direct leases for mining. The license would allow the company to mine on 2,500 hectares in iron ore rich Khandadhar in Sundergarh district. These areas are currently covered with dense forest, which is home to a wide variety of wildlife and flora. The Indigenous communities living there are totally dependent on these forests for fuel, fodder, fruits and medicinal plants. The water springs that exist there provide water for drinking as well as irrigation. The proposed steel plant is predicted to have devastating impacts on the environment and ecology in the area. Furthermore, the mining will affect the Khandadhar waterfall – a famed tourist destination in the state.

    The opposition to the plant and port site has rapidly built up. While there were mixed reactions initially, people of Dhinkia, Gadakujang and Nuagoan panchayats soon realized that they faced the threat of losing their land without gaining anything in return. The news of the MoU to be signed was already out in early April 2005. The MoU was signed in June and on July 11 of 2005, the three Panchayats Nuagoan, Gadakujang and Dhinkia came together and formed POSCO Pratirodah Sangram Samiti (PPSS) to oppose the project. Villagers across different party lines and ideology have converged to form the PPSS.

    This lopsided, iniquitous, and environmentally destructive process of development has propelled the people to stand up against the state. The traditional modes of livelihood are seriously threatened. There are no appropriate alternatives in sight. It is at this juncture that PPSS gave expression to the common demand and will of the villagers.

    Organizing the Struggle:

    The Erasama constituency was a stronghold of the CPI in the post-independence period. Loknath Chaudhary, who was a member of parliament from this area in the 1970s and 1980s built local cadre in some pockets such as Dhinkia panchayat. He earned a great deal of goodwill in the area. He had a reputation for his integrity. The CPI thus has a strong base in the area.

    Mr. Abhay Sahu, state secretary of the CPI was sent to the area in July 2005 to lead the anti-POSCO movement and mobilise the party cadres. According to Mr. Abhya Sahu, the CPI does not own the anti-POSCO movement, it merely provides the leadership. He sees it as a people’s struggle. The PPSS has 21 members in its executive committee who are chosen by the people.

    Reactions to the Struggle:

    POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) have peacefully protested for the last five years. They have struggled to protect their life and livelihood despite repression by the state machinery. PPSS activists are also facing intimidation and assault from hired goons of POSCO and members of the United Action Committee (UAC) a pro-POSCO outfit active in the area. On April 20, 2008, people under the banner of PPSS offered Shramadan (Voluntary labour ) by digging at the confluence of the river Jatadhari with the Bay of Bengal.

    This was done to avoid the continuous water logging problem in their agricultural lands.On 21st April, 2010, when the villagers were returning after finishing the dredging work; they were attacked by a few pro-POSCO villagers in Govindpur village. Dula Mandal of PPSS was killed in the bomb attack. Another PPSS member, Dhruba Sahani was critically injured. The leader of PPSS did not allow people to retaliate. Instead, the attackers were held hostage for two days and then handed over to police unhurt.

    Public Support.

    The struggle of the PPSS has received legitimacy from the general public from across the state, from left parties in the state and social and political movements from the state and across the country. It has also received the support of various human and environmental rights groups across globe including South Korea.

    The key strategies of protest used so far include:

    * Sending memorandum to the authorities
    * Picketing at POSCO’s local office
    * Holding rallies and demonstrations
    * Gheraoing the local MLA
    * Blockading the area to prevent the entry of all government and POSCO officials

    The most effective strategy to stall progress of the project has been the setting up of check-posts in the area by the local communities. These check-posts have restricted the movement of local officials and POSCO staff at the project site.
    Now the struggle has reached the decisive stage since both the state and PPSS are determined to have their way.

    Demands of PPSS:

    1. The government puts a stop to such grave human rights violations in the proposed project area.

    2. The government immediately withdraws its police force from the area.

    3. The government ensures that POSCO immediately withdraws from the proposed project for the greater benefit of the state of Orissa, India.

    4. The government comes up with planned and sustainable initiatives for social and environmental development in the area, such as the promotion of paddy cultivation, fishery related activities. These will help to ensure the future livelihoods of communities living there.

    For more information about the people’s concerns about the project, please read the detailed note attached below.

    Prashant Paikray
    Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS)

    womenprotest
    Women at the 1st April, 2008 Rally from Dhinkia to Balithutha

    Official statistics indicate that only 438 acres of the 4000 acres required for the POSCO site is private land. The rest of the land required officially belongs to the government, and this has been recorded as “under forest” in official documentation. Government records do not show that the majority of this land has been under cultivation by the people living in these areas for generations .

    The people of Jagatsinghpur are dependent upon the beetle, paddy and fish for their livelihoods. Around 30,000 families earn about Rs one lakh (approx $ 2000) yearly from these cultivations. There are approximately 5000 vines of beetle in the three panchayat areas, which are tended by about 10,000 cultivators. Many landless families depend on basket making, work as daily labourers on the betel vine farms or are engaged in pisiculture, mostly prawns.

    In response to the claim of this land by POSCO, the local people have submitted applications for claims on titles repeatedly however regularization and settlement of the betel vine lands has not yet been initiated by the government. The Settlement record was prepared last in 1984.

    POSCO began its operations in India by registering POSCO-India. The first attempt by the district administration to acquire land for the proposed plant and port was thwarted by strong local opposition, which began in early 2006 under the banner of ‘POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti’ (PPSS) (Anti-POSCO People’s Movement), based in Dhinkia village.

    *** Scarcity of water for Irrigation

    The volume of water required for the project is predicted to have a detrimental impact on water irrigation for the local population. According to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the Government of Orissa is to permit draw and use of water (near about 12 thousand to 15 thousand crore liters) from the Mahanadi barrage at Jobra and Naraj in Cuttack for construction and operation of the “Overall Project”.

    Concerns have been repeatedly raised over the past two years by citizens of the area and technical experts that this would severely impact the drinking and agricultural water supply of Cuttack and neighboring four districts. These concerns have not been addressed by the government yet.

    Destruction of the Environment

    Threat to Gahirmala Marine Sanctuary

    The proposed port to be built by POSCO at Jatadhari (Estuarine region of Ersamma) has also evoked environment concerns of damage to the coastline Conservationists. They have pointed out that any damage to the coastline by the construction of the port could pose a threat to the nesting habitat of the endangered Olive Ridley turtles. Especially at risk are the turtle-nesting beaches in the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary, where nearly 400,000 Olive Ridleys come to nest every year.

    Jatadhari
    Jatadhari : the proposed port site

    Environmental research has shown that the nesting turtles are already threatened by illegal mechanized fishing, rapid loss of nesting beaches due to casuarinas plantations and industrial pollution. The proposed POSCO port poses a fresh threat. The port if built would also directly displace the livelihoods of several fishing communities as the Jatadhari estuary serves as a spawning and breeding ground for several species of fish. The recent analysis report prepared by Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report of POSCO Captive port at Jatadhar Mohan Creek Paradeep Port points out that the “EIA report has completely missed out on addressing the issues of cumulative impact on people and habitat residing in the close vicinity as well as the land where the project is proposed”.

    Implication of proposed mining in Khandadhar hills

    Waterfall
    Khandadhar waterfall at the mining site

    The mining sites which have been proposed in the district of Keonjhar are also predicted to have detrimental impacts. Communities within these areas are already suffering under the social and environmental impacts of large-scale mining activity. Health problems are rampant in the region, particularly amongst the mine workers and their children. The poor health status of the mine workers and the increasing incidence of waterborne and respiratory diseases have been highlighted in a recent ‘State of the Environment’ report.

    The Khandadhar hills where POSCO is being allotted the mines, spread over 6000 hectares, are covered with forests, inhabited by a wide variety of wildlife and as well as flora. The adivasi (Indigenous people) communities, which form 74% of the population in the surrounding area will be severely impacted by the proposed mining.

    Ongoing Human Rights Violations

    Over the past four years, there have been a number of allegations of government repression from the local community. Local anti-POSCO activists have stated that the Government has filed several false cases against them, and that POSCO has been working to suppress the movement. In October 2008, the leader of anti POSCO movement, Mr.Abhaya Sahoo was arrested and 32 “false cases” were charged against him. To date, the movement has been democratic and non-violent, however, a recently released video reflects that Mr. Abhaya is being kept against his will by the government. You can view this video online at the following link www.youtube.com/watch?v=px3d52vTEuM

    For more information, you can visit the following links

    http://stoposco.wordpress.com
    http://www.freewebs.com/epgorissa/posco.htm

     

    **** Update of the Struggle ****

    On Aug 9, 2010 The Ministry of Environment & Forests constituted a four member Committee to investigate and ascertain status of implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 and Rehabilitation and Resettlement provisions in and around.

    On September 21, 2010, the four member team headed by Meena Gupta visited the area to assess its compliance with the environmental protection act, coastal regulation zone act and other clearances granted to it. Besides, they also reviewed its compliance with statutory provisions, approvals, clearances and permissions under various statutes, rules and notifications.

    On October 18th, 2010 the four-member committee comprising Meena Gupta, Urmila Pingle, Devendra Pandey and V Suresh submitted two different reports on POSCO’s proposal to set up an integrated steel plant and a captive port in Orissa. While Pingle, Pandey and Suresh submitted a joint report, Gupta gave a separate one.

    Both the reports, however, agreed that provisions under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) need to be re-looked at by the Orissa government in a transparent and democratic way and ensure setting of individual and community rights as per the provisions of the Forest Rights Act and Rules made there in.

    The matter will now be discussed by the Expert Appraisal committee on coastal regulation zone (CRZ) of the environment ministry on November 6 and 7.

    The environmental committee felt that the final forest clearance of the ministry of environment and forests has overlooked serious violations of their own directions and the procedures prescribed by law.

    The report submitted by the three members further felt that the ministry should not have granted environment clearances on the basis of rapid environmental impact assessment (EIA) for port which was based on one season data.

    Contending that there have been many serious lapses and illegalities in the EIA process, the report said that the Environmental Clearance given by the MoEF for minor port and for the steel plant should be immediately revoked.

    It felt that POSCO-India Pvt Ltd has not been able to address all the issues relating to CRZ notification. There are a number of serious lapses and violations, including suppression of facts. The environment clearance given should therefore be revoked forthwith.

    However, Gupta differed on this, saying that the existing environment and CRZ clearances should continue and POSCO should be asked to carry out a comprehensive and integrated environment impact assessment which has not been done so far.

    On November 2, 2010 the Forest Advisory Committee, a panel under the Union ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has recommended scrapping of forest clearance given to the project.

    On November 10, 2010, The Ministry of Environment and Forest’ decision on POSCO’s forest land clearance has been deferred by 10 days. The expert appraisal committee on POSCO would meet again to review Environmental Impact Assessment report.

  • Statement of Benita Pandey, Hem Chandra Pandey's wife

    Hem Chandra Pandey's wife protests in a press statement against the raid and false propaganda that Andhra Pradesh Police claim to get Maoist literature in their house four months of killing Azad, Polit Bureau member and Spokesperson of CPI (Maoist) along with a journalist from Delhi. The statement in English is followed by the original statement in Hindi.

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  • On "Justifying The Murder Of Hem Chandra Pandey"

    by Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), Delhi

    Press Release: 15th Nov 2010

    Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) considers the raid and alleged recovery of "banned literature" and correspondence from Babita Pandey's rented accommodation in New Delhi by the Andhra Pradesh State Intelligence Bureau (APSIB) to be an attempt at justifying the cold blooded killing of her husband Hem Chandra Pandey and Cherukuri Rajkumar (Azad). By showing him to be member of a banned organization, the APSIB and its political bosses want to suggest that Hem Chandra Pandey's alleged membership of a banned organisation somehow justifies his execution.

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  • CONDEMN THE ABDUCTION AND ILLEGAL DETENTION OF ANTHONY SHING

    THE HEAD OF THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE NSCN (IM) WHICH HAS BEEN HOLDING PEACE TALKS WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA!

    RELEASE IMMEDIATELY ANTHONY SHING UNCONDITIONALLY!

     

    It is with deep concern that the CRPP has been observing the ongoing tragedy of the deliberate kidnapping and illegal detention of Anthony Shing,  Head of Foreign Affairs of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) with whom the responsible actors of the Government of India has been holding talks for the last 13 years! The farcical nature of the whole incident is evident from the fact that the person who is being kidnapped and kept in illegal detention was on his way to be part of the peace talks with the Government of India to be held in the last week of September, 2010.

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  • State Brutality knows no Frontiers: Kashmiri Prisoner in Kolkata's Guantanamo Bay

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    Amit Bhattacharyya

    Secretary General, Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners(CRPP)

    (On 31 October 2010, the Hindustan Times, Kolkata edition published a front-page report captioned "Kolkata's Guantanamo Bay" where it was reported that on October 15,when the entire city was celebrating Saptami during the Pujas, Sheikh Farhat Mehmood, a 29-year-old Kashmiri under-trial prisoner lodged in Presidency Jail, Kolkata, West Bengal, was stripped, tortured and kept naked throughout the night in his cell: Mehboob's offence: he protested against the quality of food and demanded his basic rights according to jail rule. Following the 'punishment', Farhat observed a two-day hunger-strike in the jail. The matter was hushed up by the Presidency jail authorities. The picture of the prisoner in a naked state was published in the paper.

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  • Contemporary anti-displacement struggles and women's resistance

    Women's exclusion in the present model of development needs to be understood as inherent to a system that benefits from patriarchy. Seen as a reserve force of labour, women, excluded from economic activity are valued for their unrecognized role in social reproduction. The capitalist, patriarchal system that keeps the majority of women confined to domestic work and child rearing uses this as a way of keeping the wage rates low. The limited participation of women in economic activity is also an extension of their traditional gender roles (nursing, teaching,or labour intensive jobs requiring patience and delicate skills) with wages based on gender discrimination. Largely part of the unorganized sector, deprived of the benefits of labour legislation, insecurity leads to sexual exploitation at the workplace. In the paradigm of globalization, these forms of exploitation, in export oriented industries, SEZs and service sector have greatly increased.

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  • Maoists call Bharat bandh to protest Obama visit

    THE HINDU, Kolkata, November 2, 2010

    Maoists today called for a 24-hour nationwide shutdown on November 8 to protest against the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama.

    "The Maoist Central Committee will observe a 24-hour Bharat bandh on November 8," Maoist Central Committee member Kishenji told PTI over the phone from an undisclosed location.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were out to sell the country to American imperialism and Mr Obama's visit to the country was just another step in the process, Kishenji alleged.

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  • Leader of War Mongers Looters and Exploiter of World People, US President Obama Go Back!

    Join  Demonstration at Jantar Mantar At 2 PM on 8 November, 2010

    Dear Friends,  At a time when US imperialism has escalated the war against Afghanistan and is even extending this war by assaults by NATO forces led by it against northern districts of Pakistan, leader of warmongers, looters and exploiters of the world people, President of USA, Barack Obama, is  visiting India from 6th Nov. 2010. Since Obama came to power, US forces have increased their numbers several times over in Afghanistan. There are innumerable proven instances of deliberate targeting of innocent civilians by these forces in the name of "targeted" attacks on "enemy".  In essence, US imperialism under Obama administration is continuing the Bush era attempt of a permanent base in Afghanistan from where it will interfere in central Asia. India should be in the forefront of opposing the US move. Let us use the opportunity of Obama's visit to strongly demand that US and NATO forces immediately withdrawn from Afghanistan.

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  • SEEMA AZAD : NINE MONTHS BEHIND BARS WITHOUT TRIAL NOW

    Dear Friends,
    it is now nine months to the date that our dear comrade Seema Azad, editor of the leftist bi-monthly Dastak and a committed social activist was taken into custody on the the 6th of February 2010, along with her husband and fellow-activist Vishwadeepak and lodged in Naini jail. Despite all efforts of the PUCL, Allahabad whose office-bearer Ravi Kiran Jain is appearing on Seema's behalf, she has not been granted bail. Every fifteen days or so, for the last nine months, she is brought before the judge at Allahabad civil courts and sent back to jail on remand. Even after these long months of incarceration there seems to be no progress in the case.

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  • Arundhati: 'An independent Kashmiri nation may be a flawed entity, but is independent India perfect?'

    As a section of the political class and the media bays for her blood, author Arundhati Roy tells Shoma Chaudhury why her opinions do not amount to sedition.

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  • Campaign starts to arrest Arundhati Roy for support for Azadi Kashmir

    October 24, 2010 , Pioneer News Service

    Serial sedition: Will Govt act this time?

    Under pressure from the BJP to act against controversial Booker prize winner Arundhati Roy for her latest reiteration of Azadi for Kashmir, as the Congress-led UPA Government continues to weigh legal options, it turns out, social networking sites like the Facebook not only had the instant emergence of ‘Arrest Suzanna Arundhati Roy’ — like petitions no sooner than she made her opinion public a couple of years ago but also dished out the course of action.

    The ‘arrest Roy’ petition on Facebook, addressed to the Government of India and the Prime Minister, demands arrest of the 49-year-old author-turned-political activist under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967 (amended in 2008).

    “The offences listed under this law include any assertion or statement ‘which is intended, or supports any claim, to bring about, on any ground whatsoever, the cession of a part of the territory of India or the secession of a part of the territory of India from the Union, or which incites any individual or group of individuals to bring about such cession or secession’,” the petition points out to back its demand.

    Roy’s remarks on Kashmir aren’t new. She has been there and done that on earlier occasions too, only to invite customary rebuttals like “Kashmir is and will remain an integral part of India”.

    But often dubbed by critics as the ‘one-book-claim-to-fame’ author, Roy does seem to have perfected the art of hogging the limelight courting controversies with her opinions perceived by many as “anti-national” and a direct challenge to the law of the land. Be it her espousal of the cause of Kashmir’s azadi or her support to the Maoists; be it her terming as “unconstitutional” the Supreme Court’s death sentence to Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru or her assertion that the Mumbai terror attacks were not akin to US’ 9/11 and could not be seen in isolation.

    Not surprising then that pro-Pakistan websites and organisations have more than lapped up Roy’s remarks. In fact, much before her latest statements on Kashmir they had already gone around to highlight her reported assertions about how “Pakistan will win hands down” in case of a referendum in Kashmir in an interview to David Barsamian, her co-author of Checkbook & Cruise Missile: Conversations with Arundhati Roy.

    Her statement to an English daily in 2008, when she visited the troubled State, that “India needs azadi from Kashmir as much as Kashmir needs azadi from India”, too got circulated big time. Roy has been reiterating this assertion ever since.

    “For the past 60 days or so, since about the end of June, the people of Kashmir have been free. Free in the most profound sense. They have shrugged off the terror of living their lives in the gun-sights of half-a-million heavily-armed soldiers in the most densely militarised zone in the world…. …Hadn’t anybody noticed that in Kashmir even minor protests about civic issues like water and electricity inevitably turned into demands for azadi?” Her opinion in an article in an English weekly magazine the same year saw responses ranging from demands for booking her on charges of sedition to praises of being bold enough to speak out her mind.

    But that didn’t deter her from speaking aloud her mind, even on an issue as sensitive as the Mumbai terror attacks. “November isn’t September, 2008 isn’t 2001, Pakistan isn’t Afghanistan and India isn’t America…. The Mumbai attacks are only the most recent of a spate of terrorist attacks on Indian towns and cities this year. Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Delhi, Guwahati, Jaipur and Malegaon have all seen serial bomb blasts in which hundreds of ordinary people have been killed and wounded…”

    “In much the same way as it did after the 2001 Parliament attack, the 2002 burning of the Sabarmati Express and the 2007 bombing of the Samjhauta Express, the Government of India announced that it has “incontrovertible” evidence that the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba backed by Pakistan’s ISI was behind the Mumbai strikes. According to the police and intelligence agencies the Lashkar operates in India through an organisation called the Indian Mujahideen. Two Indian nationals have been arrested in connection with the Mumbai attacks. So already the neat accusation against Pakistan is getting a little messy,” she wrote in her piece in UK’s Guardian newspaper.

    If she justified the ‘war’ waged by the Maoists against the corporates wanting to have control over natural resources like minerals, water and forests, she termed the Operation Green Hunt against them as a ‘war’ by the Government to move tribal people to ensure the hundreds of “secret” MoUs the States of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and West Bengal signed with the corporates translated into real money.

    Her run-in with the Chhattisgarh police establishment too was much publicised. When asked why the State Government did not act against her, Chhattisgarh DGP Vishwaranjan said, “I don’t want to comment on a person who has been discredited across the nation. She had visited Chhattisgarh and went around meeting hardcore Maoists and their sympathisers in Dantewada and other places. She keeps on refuting her statements and we don’t want to give her that much importance.”

    In 2006, Roy, who was jailed for a day for contempt of court in 2002, yet again took on the judiciary. She said the Supreme Court’s ruling that Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru must be hanged ‘to satisfy the collective will of the nation’ though there is no proof of his involvement is in itself “unconstitutional”.

    With the latest controversy surfacing, whether the Government will or can act now remains to be seen.

  • News of Maoist resistance to Operation Green Hunt

    Gulf Times, October 24, 2010

    Patna: Security was tightened across the eastern state of Bihar yesterday after six policemen died in a blast triggered by suspected Maoist rebels, officials said. A hidden mine targeted a police vehicle over a small bridge in Bihar’s Sheohar district.

    The blast came two days after a six-phase, month-long electoral process to choose the state legislative assembly began. The second phase will be held today, and security was increased across the state after the explosion, police said. “Combing operations were intensified,” Bihar’s additional director general of police P K Thakur said. “Security has been tightened to give a sense of confidence among people a day ahead of polls following the Maoist strike.”

    The attack forced the Election Commission to change the poll timing in Sheohar district. Polling will now be held between 7am and 3pminstead of until 5pm.Bihar police chief Neelmani has urged voters not to panic. “I appeal to the voters to exercise their franchise without any fear...security forces will be available for their security and protection. I will request people to come out of their homes and reach polling stations,” Neelmani said. “There is no need to panic...the police will ensure violence-free polls,” he said. Police officials admit the threat of more Maoist violence looms large over the Bihar assembly polls.

    The rebels had declared early this month they would intensify attacks to disrupt the elections.?Maoists violence was also reported from several others parts of the country.

    An Intelligence Branch officer and an NGO worker were reportedly abducted by the Maoists from West Bengal’s Purulia district.

    In Orissa, about 30 Maoists early yesterday blew up warehouse, police said. “The rebels blew up the warehouse at Niliguda village with land mines,” police officer Debashis Mishra said.

    Meanwhile, life continued to remain paralysed in Chhattisgarh’s Maoist stronghold of Bastar region yesterday, the second and final day of shutdown by rebels, as buses did not ply and shops were closed. The shutdown had a strong impact in five districts of Bastar - Dantewada, Bijapur, Bastar, Narayanpur and Kanker as buses are off roads.

    The rebels called the two-day shutdown to oppose a crackdown launched this month.  Even the only passenger train that connects Kirandul town in Dantewada district to Andhra Pradesh has been restricted to Jagdalpur, fearing disturbances by Maoists. Reports coming in from Bastar also said that truckers are not willing to operate as the rebels had targeted them earlier.

    Security has been further stepped up in Bastar where police say nearly 25,000sq km of its total 40,000sq km area is intensively mined by Maoists. “Security has always been in top gear in Bastar but surely some more bold steps have been taken to bolster security arrangements during the shutdown period in areas vulnerable to be attacked by the rebels,” Bastar range inspector general of police T J Longkumer said.

  • Government Says It Will Break the “Maoist Grip on $80 Billion Investments in India by 2013"

    Bloomberg

    Pillai to Unlock Maoist Grip on $80 Billion Investments in India by 2013

    By Bibhudatta Pradhan and Santosh Kumar – Sep 17, 2010

    Maoist insurgents blocking $80 billion of investments will be subdued within three years as India pours security forces into contested regions, builds roads and opens schools, Home Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai said.

    “The tactic of keeping a hold on areas is working,” Pillai said in an interview at his office in New Delhi’s British-era government buildings yesterday. Security forces have clawed back 10,000 square kilometers (3,860 square miles) of territory where rebels operated almost one year into a major offensive, he said.

    Pillai, 60, and Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram last October started the campaign against leftist rebels who have attacked security forces, railways and mining infrastructure in a third of India’s 626 administrative districts. India needs to clear the so-called “Red Corridor” to access deposits of iron ore, coal, bauxite, and manganese that London-based Execution Noble Ltd. says may secure investments of $80 billion.

    To maintain control, India needs to recruit as many as 30,000 security personnel each year, Pillai, the top bureaucrat in the home ministry, and security analysts say. Ambushes by rebels in the jungles of central and eastern India have claimed 211 police lives up to mid-July this year.

    “We are nowhere near the required policing, training, and technology to check the Maoists’ growth,” said Ajai Sahni, executive director of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management. “There’s no reason to believe that the situation will suddenly improve in the next three years.”

    Uprising’s Epicenter

    The epicenter of the attacks lies in the forests of the eastern state of Chhattisgarh, which has accounted for almost half of the 573 police and civilians killed in Maoist violence in the first half of this year.

    NMDC Ltd., Asia’s third-largest iron-ore producer, operates its biggest mine in the region, and Essar Steel Ltd., India’s fourth ranked producer of the alloy, plans to build a $1.5 billion steel plant there. The Maoists last year blew up Essar’s pipeline built to transport iron ore from NMDC’s mine.

    As the rebels have pursued their revolution, Indian governments “ignored the problem for a decade, thinking it will go away,” Pillai said yesterday, conceding Maoist guerrillas targeted by police may have regrouped elsewhere.

    Pillai said he doesn’t expect the rebels to agree to put down the guns in the next two years. “If you are comfortable, you are expanding and you are making money, why should you come for talks?” he said.

    ‘Peal of Thunder’

    The leftwing insurgents are known as Naxalites after the West Bengal village of Naxalbari where demands for land reform coalesced into a radical uprising in 1967 inspired by Mao Zedong. The Indian revolt was greeted as “a peal of spring thunder” by China’s People’s Daily.

    The Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of poor villagers and tribal communities whose resources are, the rebels argue, being exploited to propel India’s $1.3 trillion economy with few benefits for local people.

    Pointing to what he says are newly opened police stations on a map of Bijapur district in Chhattisgarh, Pillai highlights the expanding area colored yellow, in contrast to a shrinking red region still patrolled by the insurgents.

    In these areas, roads have been built, schools have started functioning and markets have been opened for the first time in years, he said.

    In April, 76 policemen were killed in Dantewada district, the neighboring region to that displayed on Pillai’s computer, in the biggest strike on security forces in four decades of conflict.

    Districts Gained

    “The government strategy of clear-hold-develop is gaining the upper hand in some patches, mainly in Chhattisgarh,” N. Manoharan, an analyst at the Center for Land Warfare Studies in New Delhi, said today. “But the overall spread of the Maoists is increasing” with 10 to 15 more districts coming under their influence in the last year, he said.

    The government needs to improve intelligence gathering, protection for informers and build its forces, Manoharan said.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the Maoists the greatest internal security threat to the world’s biggest democracy and its third fastest growing major economy.

    India’s Insurgencies

    None of the insurgencies at India’s margins — from a 21- year rebellion in Kashmir to even older separatist movements in the northeast — reach into the heart of the subcontinent.

    Pillai, who as secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and Industries from Sept 2006 to June 2009 played a leading role in expounding India’s opposition to developed world farm subsidies at global trade talks, said four Maoist attacks that resulted in large numbers of police fatalities obscured the fact that overall deaths were just below those of a year ago.

    In Dantewada, Pillai says, there are 1,500 police personnel, a fraction of the 45,000 based in the similarly sized northeastern state of Tripura, where a separatist insurgency is now largely dormant.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Bibhudatta Pradhan in New Delhi at bpradhan@bloomberg.net

  • India: Bihar police in no mood to fight the Naxals

    Operation Green Hunt is in disarray. Bihar’s forces are in no mood to fight the Naxals

    BY VK SHASHIKUMAR

    Broken will -- Members of the Bihar Special Auxiliary Police look desolate while taking a break from Naxal ops

    YOU DID nothing for me. The police and the government did nothing to rescue me. My family negotiated with the Naxals for my release. I am pleading with folded hands, please let me go home. I will not accompany you to the police station. I don’t want to be in the police.” –Sub-Inspector Abhay Yadav to Lakhisarai Superintendent of Police, Ranjit Kumar Mishra, after the Maoists released him on 6 September.

    Eventually Lakhisarai’s new SP forced Abhay, Rupesh Sinha and Mohammad Ehsan Khan, the three surviving policemen from the abductors, to take a detour to the police station for a debrief session. These policemen survived an eight-day ordeal as captives of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) in Lakhisarai, Bihar. The PLGA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), popularly known as Naxals.

    It is unlikely that Abhay will give up his job. Employment in the government service, especially the police, is coveted because it brings in unaccounted wealth. “I want to leave my job. But my family will decide,” he says. “Dheeraj Rakhiye” (Please be patient). These words were used every time a police officer spoke to those in the lower ranks. But each expression brought despair and a sense of inadequacy to the policemen in Lakhisarai, Jamui, Munger and Banka.

    In some areas of the dense hills connecting these districts, several teams of the Bihar Police and the CRPF staged short bursts of combing operations to trace the kidnapped policemen. Some, like Jawaharlal Singh, assistant sub-inspector, Jamui Police Station, berated curious villagers: “Your netas are responsible for Naxalism. They create the problem, they use Naxals for political one-upmanship and we have to face the brunt of it.”

    Several policemen, overwhelmed by the killing of Lucas Tete, admitted that the writ of the government runs dry across a large swath of Lakhisarai. Tete was killed when the state government refused to release eight imprisoned Naxal commanders.

    ‘What am I doing here? I ask this question to myself. I feel like leaving the force. But what will I do if I leave?’ asks SI Prasad

    “What am I doing here? I often ask this question to myself. I feel like leaving the force. But what will I do if I leave? How will I earn? My family wants me to quit police service. But when I am jobless and unable to provide for my family, will they treat me well?” asks SI Rajendra Prasad of Kajra Police Station. The post is barely 15 km from the spot where four policemen were kidnapped after a skirmish with the Naxals on 29 August. Seven policemen were killed and 10 injured.

    With the state government failing to put a rescue plan in action, Abhay’s father, Indu Prasad Yadav, contacted his caste brethren linked to PLGA commander and self-styled spokesperson for Naxal operations in eastern Bihar, Avinash alias Arjun Yadav.

    “The appeal made by all political parties, including Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Lalu Prasad and the pressure mounted by the Yadav community on caste leaders within the PLGA led to the release of Abhay, Rupesh and Ehsan. The government did nothing,” says Sambhu Yadav, Abhay’s uncle, who received the three captive policemen at 6 am in Simra Rari, a Naxalheld region of Lakhisarai.

    POLICEMEN IN Bihar don’t want to fight the Naxals. They have AK-47 and INSAS rifles but aren’t trained for jungle warfare. They are not led by officers who lead from the front. They admit that the Naxal tactics are superior to theirs. “Why would a policeman want to die in the line of duty? I joined the police because it gives me power, influence and prestige. These villagers come to me because I am a bada babu. I joined for law and order duties, not engage Naxals in combat,” confesses Atul Kumar Mishra, the SHO of Chanan Police Station. He was waiting for the Banu Bagicha village chowkidar to return from the Morve Dam area, a stronghold of the Naxals, after they announced they would free the hostages.

    Every rural police circle in Bihar has 23 village chowkidars who are paid Rs. 1,200 and used as informers and spotters. Mishra, camping at Banu Bagicha’s defunct Block Office, felt insecure in spite of 25 well-armed Special Auxiliary Police (SAP) accompanying him. “India can win the Kargil war but not this war, not this way,” he says.

    No comfort The  Kajra Police Station in  its dilapidated glory
    No comfort The Kajra Police Station in its dilapidated glory

    Policemen in Naxal-dominated areas have an informal standard operating procedure (SOP). First, stay out of areas that have Naxal presence. Second, after 6 pm, ensure that the station they are holed up in is well protected from a Naxal attack. The idea is not to fight back, but ensure that they don’t lose their lives. “I have trained 30 stray dogs. They don’t allow anyone inside the premises after dusk,” a policeman says. After 6 pm, any crime within a police station’s jurisdiction goes unattended till daybreak.

    Meanwhile, Prasad can’t shake off his gloomy, introspective mood ever since 29 August. “We have no comforts. We don’t have a place to stay. Several police stations in Naxal-dominated areas are functioning from dilapidated, rented buildings. This police station used to be a Congress party office. We built our barrack by raising funds from local residents.

    Our welfare must be taken care of for us to get mentally attuned to combat duty,” says Prasad.

    Besides, they are trained for regular policing duties, not for combat operations. “I went through police training 25 years ago. Since then I haven’t had the chance to retrain and re-skill. I can aim and shoot, but don’t know what to do in a combat situation. I am not trained for jungle warfare. How can I survive an encounter with the Naxals in the jungles?” asks Prasad.

    BIHAR POLICEMEN are seething with anger. “We will lose our jobs because service rules prohibit us from telling the truth,” says a policeman. There are a lot of uncertainties to be afraid of. “What if we are ordered into combat without planning? Death is certain.” The sight of their dead colleagues provoked the BMP personnel to thrash former Lakhisarai SP Ashok Singh for pushing them into a Naxal ambush. Senior officials, including IG (Operation) KS Dwivedi and ADG (Headquarters) PK Thakur denied that Singh was assaulted. Denials notwithstanding, he was transferred out of Lakhisarai three days after the incident.

    “For 10 days prior to the 29 August encounter, we were alerted almost every day by intelligence reports of a Jehanabad- type attack in Lakhisarai. There are several Naxals imprisoned in the Lakhisarai jail. We were told that Naxals would attempt a jailbreak, attack the District Magistrate’s office and the CRPF camp at Kajra,” says Rajendra Prasad, a distressed sub-inspector of Kajra Police Station. This was corroborated by the commandant of CRPF’s 131 battalion, Bidhan Chandra Patra. “SP Ashok Singh told me that he received an intelligence input of 30 Naxals moving in the Lakhisarai forest. He said there was no specific input, just a generic alert and that he was putting together a team to conduct area domination exercise and get back. There was no intimation of the possibility of a gunbattle. So I passed instruction to assemble a team of 34 CRPF soldiers.”

    Singh put together a force of 43 policemen, 20 from the SAP and 23 from the Bihar Military Police to launch combat operations. “Our intelligence input said that there were at least 500 Naxals in the hills. But the SP, in an unusually strange decision, put together a small combat force,” reveals Prasad. SI Bhulan Yadav, who was killed in the encounter, was inexperienced in counter-insurgency operations. Yet, he was deputed as the leader of the combat unit. Mishra, a close friend of Bhulan, was the last person to receive his call. “Bhulan called asking me to inform the SP to send reinforcements. Then his phone disconnected abruptly. I repeatedly called back but could not get through.”

    Mishra and Prasad revealed that Singh did not follow the SOP laid down after the Dantewada massacre. “A detailed strategy is formulated, GPS coordinates are set before the force begins its movement. But Ashok Singh did not make a plan,” Mishra says. “He knew that we were operating in undulating, hilly forest terrain. He knew the topography. He should have been aware, going by the recent ambushes in Chhattisgarh that the Naxals will occupy higher ground and lure the policemen into a trap.” CRPF commandant Patra concurs. “The SOP was not followed. Once force is assembled the commanders discuss the terrain, topography and intelligence. This is explained to the troops using sand models and Survey of India maps,” he says.

    Bhulan’s inexperience in combat operations resulted in splitting in the team splitting in two different directions. He asked the CRPF contingent to move towards the right and patrol the Ghaghar Ghati area and Morve Dam, while he moved in with his men towards Kanimai and Sitala Kodasi villages.

    As the police party moved into the villages, they came under heavy fire from both sides. Bihar Police officers claim that when their men were ambushed, the CRPF troops withdrew instead of retaliating and providing cover fire to rescue the trapped men. “Our men regained higher ground to provide cover fire, which enabled 36 men to escape,” asserts Patra. That the Bihar Police surrendered is barely mentioned. “After we came under heavy fire, the Naxals kept announcing we should surrender or everyone would get killed. We surrendered because the CRPF withdrew,” says Abhay.

    Bihar Police claim that when their men were ambushed, the CRPF troops withdrew instead of retaliating and providing cover

    “They treated the injured personnel, bandaged those who were wounded, gave water to those who asked for it and asked them to leave. They collected all the weapons and asked four of us to accompany them into the jungle.” Later, the Naxals informed local journalists that they had seized 35 INSAS and AK-47 rifles.

    The Bihar Police is facing a severe crisis of confidence. According to protocol, a deputy commandant of CRPF is equivalent to the rank of an SP. Yet, it is rare for a SP to go out for combat. “Officers don’t lead, they just pass orders. If senior officers can’t lead us on combat duty why should we put our lives in danger?” asks Yadav.

    Naresh Kumar, who teaches at the Janta Mahavidyalaya, Surajgarha, emphasises his primary identity is that of a farmer. Surrounded by friends and villagers of Alinagar, Naresh, loses himself in a tirade against Bihar’s politicians. His list of complaints is long.

    “Ration cards are not issued to people living below the poverty line in Alinagar; the widow pension scheme is on paper and not being implemented by the babus; those who can pay 60 percent commission to the gram sabha are availing subsidised housing loans through the Indira Awas Yojana; there are no free medicines either in public hospitals or primary health centres as promised by the government,” he says.

    “If the bank manager is paid a bribe of Rs.5,000, he will process the land owner-ship certificate and promptly issue the Kisan Credit Card worth Rs 50,000; the Asha scheme for pregnant women with the objective of decreasing the Infant Mortality Rate and Maternal Mortality Rate is not being implemented as well,” he says.

    ‘Senior officers just pass orders. If seniors can’t lead us during combat, why should we put our lives in danger?’ asks Abhay

    THE ALINAGAR locality in Lakhisarai is a microcosm of people’s sentiment in rural Bihar. They are sympathetic to the Naxalites. They don’t trust the State. The angry voices from the ground explain why the Maoist insurgency is expanding in Bihar. Nobody in Alinagar has benefited from the employment guarantee scheme, though it is officially under implementation. “All politicians work for those with money. The bureaucracy is always looking out to loot us. There is no equality. So why is everyone surprised by the growth of Naxals?” says Naresh.

    Perhaps, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has sensed the mood of the people. “The pace of development has to be accelerated and corruption removed in execution of development schemes to uproot Naxalism,” he said at the Patna Medical College Hospital after meeting policemen injured in the 29 August encounter.

    Perhaps, he should visit Banu Bagicha village, which is barely 5 km from the spot where captive policemen were released by the Naxals. The villagers have been waiting for eight years for the fully constructed Block Office to begin functioning. The district administration built an office complex but locked it up for “security” reasons.

    In fact, four days before the 29 August skirmish, Lakhisarai DM Manish Kumar visited Banu Bagicha and told the villagers: “Hand over five Naxals and I will ensure the Block Office is made functional.” Banu Bagicha villagers walk 15 km to Mananpur Block Office for official documentation like land registration and securing caste certificates for jobs and educational purposes.

    Phakira Yadav, a leading opinion maker of the village, quipped: “If the DM demands five Naxals to be handed over, isn’t it better if we join the Naxals? How can we hand over Naxals to the police? We are caught between the two gunwielding groups.”

    PHOTOS: SHAILENDRA PANDEY

    Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 37, September 18, 2010

  • As India overhauls homeland security, U.S. firms vie for $billions in business

    By Rama Lakshmi

    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Saturday, September 18, 2010; 8:16 PM

    NEW DELHI – At a sprawling exhibition hall in the capital, Indian military officers browsed displays of modern surveillance systems, sophisticated mine detectors, anti-hacking software and guns. They asked questions, took notes and scheduled meetings with company officials, setting in motion a major shopping spree.

    In recent years, India has secured billion-dollar defense deals with U.S. companies to modernize its military. Now the country is overhauling its homeland security, and U.S. companies are again hoping to be first in line.

    “As far as internal security goes, its strengthening and augmentation, there is going to be no dearth of money or resources,” Ajay Maken, India’s deputy home minister, said at the security conference this month.

    After the terrorist attacks in Mumbai two years ago, authorities demanded better weapons and more sophisticated technology for police forces. Today, surveillance cameras, metal detectors, X-ray machines and bomb squads proliferate in airports, the Metro, malls, multiplexes and high-rises.

    But analysts say the country’s arsenal of domestic security weapons remains woefully inadequate in the battle against terrorism, separatist violence and Maoist guerrillas.

    To upgrade its arsenal, India should turn to a “country which is strategically a friend of India,” Maken said.

    India and the United States have emerged as strong strategic allies since reaching a civilian nuclear accord that is likely to generate more than $100 billion worth of business. The two countries set up a counterterrorism cooperation initiative this year. Last month, Indian law enforcement and the FBI participated in a counterterrorism program that included sessions on improvised explosive devices and post-blast investigations.

    “The two governments have outlined the ‘what’ of homeland security priority areas. The industry will now map the ‘how,’ said retired U.S. Adm. James Loy, a former deputy secretary of homeland security and commandant of the Coast Guard. “The American companies want to make a contribution in the areas of counterterrorism, police modernization, cyber-security and transport safety.”

    Business opportunities for security companies over the next few years will be worth nearly $1.7 trillion, said Loy, who led a U.S. delegation to the conference this month.

    Maken said India is also setting up a national intelligence database and modern crime tracking systems that prioritize cyber-security. “The more we are technologically advanced, the more is the threat of infiltration in our networking systems,” he said.

    India’s internal security department has also bought long-range acoustic warning systems, sound guns and other devices from American companies.

    In recent weeks, the country’s police and paramilitary forces have been widely criticized for firing at stone-throwing teenage protesters in the troubled Himalayan valley of Kashmir. About 85 protesters have been killed this summer.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has directed state police chiefs to find nonlethal means to control mobs. That opened up opportunities for companies such as Taser International, an Arizona-based firm that set up an office in India after the Mumbai attacks and attended the homeland security conference this month.

    In August, paramilitary forces and the Kashmir police department decided to buy Tasers, and the state’s police officers are now learning how to use them. India’s national police training school and commando force have also bought Tasers this year for training.

    “Earlier, our force had weapons that were meant to kill,” said P.M. Nair, inspector general of the Central Reserve Police Force. “But now we have introduced nonlethal weapons to deal with volatile situations in Kashmir or other demonstrations elsewhere in the country.”

  • 78 Chhattisgarh cops evade duty in Maoist areas

    IANS, Sep 25, 2010

    RAIPUR: As many as 78 policemen in Chhattisgarh have been sent show cause notices for refusing to join postings in Maoist-hit areas of the state, a senior police official said Saturday.

    The police headquarters here served notices to 33 inspector-rank officers and other police officers who refused to take postings citing health reasons, mostly diabetes and high blood pressure.

    “The police department can’t afford such kind of gross indiscipline among jawans. The 78 policemen, who have been evading new postings, have been asked to explain within three days, otherwise we will take stern action,” Inspector General of Police (administration) Pawan Deo said.

    The problem of state policemen refusing to take postings in the seven Maoist-infested districts has been rising every month, an official said, adding that new recruits were not joining their duties in such areas.

    The worst-hit districts are Rajnandgaon and Surguja, besides five districts in the sprawling 40,000 sq km mineral-rich Bastar region – made up of Bijapur, Bastar, Narayanpur, Kanker and Dantewaa. The region is known as the nerve centre of Maoist militancy.

    Nearly 40,000 forces, including roughly half of them from paramilitary troopers, have been put in Bastar region to take on Maoists armed with rocket launchers, mortars and AK-47s.

    THE TIMES OF INDIA

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/6625169.cms?prtpage=1#ixzz10apRFVMQ

  • West Bengal: Stories of Unjust Arrests under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act

    Chharadhar Mahato, leader of People's Committee against Police Atrocities in Lalgarh, arrested under UAPA

    Satyarupa Jana: Prize Catch under UAPA

    by Nisha Biswas

    Indian Vanguard, September 25, 2010

    On July 9, 2009 Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, the Chief Minister of West Bengal assured his colleagues in State Assembly that the government would see that Unlawful Activity Prevention Act (UAPA) is not misused.

    He also informed the assembly that from the day of banning of Communist Party of India (Maoist) by the Centre and the imposition of UAPA in West Bengal (June 22, 2009) till that date, only 39 persons have been arrested by invoking this Act, out of which thirty were from West Midnapore, five from Bankura and four from Purulia. However, as his habit is, he did forget (intentionally?) to mention the first arrest of Gour Chakroborty, spokesperson of CPI(Maoist) on the day the Maoist party was banned by the Government of India, without giving him a chance to clarify his stand.

    The exact number of persons arrested so far under this Act is not known but the estimate is that it is not less than a couple of hundreds. However, an RTI inquiry by APDR reveals that, till March 2010, only 30 persons have been arrested from West Midnapore under UAPA. The list begins with unbanned CPI(Maoist) party Spokesperson Gaur Chakroborty, activists Raja Sorkhel, Prasun Chatterjee, Bangla People’s March editor Swapan Dasgupta (who died in custody), PCPA spokesperson Chhtaradhar Mahato, treasurer Sukhashanti Baskey, and other high profile persons, including activists of democratic movement to people like Satyarupa Jana of Pankhai, Khejuri of East Medinipur.

    Satyarupa belongs to the region, which happened to be the ruling party stronghold during Nandigram protest. She is such a politically naïve person that she never bothered to find out what is happening on the other side of Taikhali Bridge. Even today, she is at loss in explaining why so many from Nandigram were murdered. Her life of 48 years has been a struggle to make both ends meet – she has tried to educate her three sons and is proud of the fact that they are doing well and that one of her daughter-in-law is a para-teacher and the other one is doing her graduation. Hers is a normal conventional life of a little ambitious and industrious person who has taken risks and has almost never missed any opportunity of an extra earning. Satyarupa says that she did hear gun shots and the noise of bomb hurling, but has always tried to keep her family and self away from all these political chaos.

    Today the same Satyarupa Jana is languishing in Midnapore Central jail since 24th May of this year and is accused of various offenses including waging and conspiring war against the state, collecting and keeping arms, sedition. Her “seizure list” includes a bag of arms used for killing the Trinamool Congrss Panchayat leader Nishikanta Mondal at Nandigram on September 22, 2009. She is booked under Sections 121/121A/122/123/124A/120B of Indian Penal Code, Sec 25/27 of Arms Act and also under section 20 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. In Khejuri PS Case no. 65/10 dtd 14.05.2010 she is termed as a hard core Maoist; such a hard core Maoist who before her arrests had not heard the name of Mao or his ism.

    Satyarupa is a perfect example of the misuse of a draconian Act to meet the agendas of political parties and their associates. So who is Satyarupa? Satyarupa is one who has never missed any chance of earning money for a better life. She has vended vegetables, fish, sold sarees in the weekly bazars. But she has always treaded the lawful and truthful ways and was never ever lured by illegal means. It was four or five years back when she first heard the name of Self – Help Groups and how it can improve one’s economic status. Being industrious, she was among the first few who took the training and made her own group naming it Ma Durga Self Help Group. Among the few groups that she formed one was named after revolutionary freedom fighter Matangini Hazra, who had been assassinated in front of Tamluk Police Station. Her group includes ex-panchayat President of CPI(M) and wife of ex-panchayat member belonging of Trinmool Congress. Including all colours, she had skillfully tried to avoid any political confrontation.

    Problem started with the government instruction that the Supervisor of NREGA work will be amongst the presidents of the Self-Help Groups functioning in the locality. And there too we find that Satyarupa has already taken seven-day training in BDO office around March end. Therefore the work of renovation of B M School pond at Pankhai, Khejuri costing more than two Lakhs goes to her. Satyarupa, even today in Midnapore jail believes that truth prevails and that as long as her accounts are clear and that she is honest and sincere, she has nothing to be afraid off. She never felt the need to give any commission to any political group or person. This raised a huge discontent amongst the local leaders and their accomplices. They, therefore, tried to stop her work under NREGA and instructed local village people not to work in her projects. But, who can stop Satyarupa? She was growing big to bigger without any political patron. She recruited people from Bartala, a neighbouring village. Work started at 11am of May13, 2010 and the commotion started within three hours, i.e. around 2pm while she was going home for lunch. She was beaten up by the vested interests and was brought to Khejuri PS. She was interrogated there and when in the night, Lutfar Rehman and Somen Mondal of the same village, on the instruction of OC Atanu Santra went to the PS for her release, they too were arrested.

    She and the other two were produced in Court on 15th May and police took them in custody for further investigation for ten days. In these ten days Satyarupa witnessed severe beating of Lutfar and Somen and was taken to Nandigram once. According to police in these ten days she helped them in locating a bag of arms used for killing Nishikant Mondal. She denies knowledge of any such bag and remembers the threat of OC Atanu Santra of Khejuri PS that they are going to put her in jail to rot for the rest of her life.

    I met her in the only Female Ward of Midnapore Central Jail, where I too had to spend 43 days for waging and conspiring war against the State and sedition. Bengali writer Manik Mondal, school teacher Sri Kanishka Chowdhury and myself were arrested from Rameswarpur of Lalgarh on June15, 2010. All through the 43 days of my stay with her, I did not find her interested in politics, she never read newspaper and always asked me who are Maoists and who am I. She does not understand an iota of politics and her only worry is when will she be back with her family and the losses that she is incurring because of her detention. In Jail we were termed Maoists, I used to enjoy the special status and privileges associated with this word, whereas Satyarupa used to get very angry and had repeatedly complained to jail authorities and warned other inmates that if they do not stop calling her Maoist, she too will start calling them by their crimes for which they are arrested or convicted.

  • Obama’s pitch to India: Settle Kashmir and get UN Security Council seat

    Times of India,  September 28, 2010

    WASHINGTON: Go for a Kashmir solution and help bring stability to the region for a ticket to UN Security Council membership and fulfilling your big power aspirations. That’s the broad message President Barack Obama will be bringing to New Delhi during his upcoming November visit to India, preparation for which are in full swing in Washington DC.

    The Kashmir settlement-for-seat at high table idea (euphemism for UNSC membership) is being discussed animatedly in the highest levels of the US administration, according to a various sources. President Obama himself has decided to revive the process of a US push in this direction, albeit discreetly, because of New Delhi’s sensitivities.

    Key administration officials are confirming that the UNSC issue will be on Obama’s agenda when he visits New Delhi. The US President is expected to announce an incremental American support to India’s candidature during his address to the joint session of India’s parliament, depending on New Delhi’s receptiveness to resolving the Kashmir tangle.

    “[UNSC reforms] is something that is under discussion as we prepare for the President’s important visit,” US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake confirmed on Monday during a read-out of the meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Indian counterpart S.M.Krishna, saying the two had agreed the “President’s visit will be a defining moment in the history of our bilateral relations.”

    The clearest insight into Obama’s thinking on the matter comes from Bob Woodward’s latest book “Obama’s War” in which top US policy makers are shown mulling on defusing the Kashmir situation as part of an exit strategy for US from the AfPak theater.

    “Why can’t we have straightforward talks with India on why a stable Pakistan is crucial?” Obama is reported as musing at one meeting. “India is moving toward a higher place in its global posture. A stable Pakistan would help.” Implicit in the rumination is the idea that settling Kashmir would mollify Pakistan, where, US officials say, hardliners are using the unresolved issue as an excuse to breed an army of terrorists aimed at bleeding India.

    But that is easier said than done, according to Bruce Riedel, author of the Obama administration’s Af-Pak strategy, who has canvassed the centrality of the Kashmir issue to peace and stability in the region. The spoiler to any settlement is the hardline Pakistani military and its jihadist proxies for whom attrition and confrontation with India is an article of faith.

    In fact, the solution Washington has in mind (also proposed by Riedel) is likely more palatable to New Delhi than to Islamabad. It’s on the same lines of what Prime Minister Manmohan Singhand Pakistan’s deposed military leader Pervez Musharraf broadly agreed on before the latter was turfed out of office: The Line of Control would become the international border, but it would be a soft, permeable border, allowing Kashmiris on both sides to move back and forth. The rest – safeguards, procedures etc – is a matter of detail.

    “President Obama’s strategy for dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan always needed a Kashmir component to succeed; that need is becoming more urgent and obvious now. His trip to India in November will be a key to addressing it,” Riedel said in a commentary this week.

    “India cannot become a global power with a prosperous economy if its neighbor is a constant source of terror armed with the bomb. A sick Pakistan is not a good neighbor,” he added, echoing Obama’s words (Woodward’s book also suggests he influenced Obama’s thinking).

    Virtually setting the agenda for Obama’s India visit, Riedel says Obama’s challenge is to quietly help Islamabad and New Delhi work behind the scenes to get back to the deal Musharraf and Singh negotiated. “He will have a chance to work this subtly when he visits India in November,” he writes.

    But Riedel and other US policy makers portrayed in Woodward’s book also recognize that the biggest hurdle to a settlement is a hardline Pakistani military. While the civilian leadership in Pakistan would like to embrace the deal “it is unclear if the army chief, General Kayani, is on board.”

    Woodward’s book shows that most top US officials, save Admiral Mike Mullen, believe Kayani to be a closet jihadi and a two-faced “liar” intent on perpetuating war with India. “I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m India-centric,” Kayani is quoted as telling US officials in one exchange.

    Although three top cabinet principals from India — S.M.Krishna, A.K.Antony, and Pranab Mukherjee — are in the US this week and next, exchanges on the UNSC and Kashmir are said to be taking place directly between President Obama and Prime Minister Singh through trusted interlocutors such as National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, who is also in Washington DC this week.

  • Maoists appeal to Naga troops to defy orders in West Bengal


     

    Nagaland Indian Reserve Battalion in transit

    Hindustan Times, September 29, 2010

     

    A top Maoist leader on Wednesday appealed to Naga troopers of the Indian Reserve Battalion [from the northeast state of Nagaland-ed] to defy orders and not take part in the ongoing security operations against the ultra left rebels in West Bengal’s Junglemahal region.

    In an open letter to troopers of the Nagaland Indian Reserve Battalion – who are on duty in the mountainous terrain of Purulia district to fight the ultras, Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) politburo member Kisanji asked them to “revolt against the orders to battle against the people, desist from pumping bullets into the bodies of your brothers and sisters and defy all orders to dispatch you from one place to another at the diktat and whims of superiors to kill people and get killed”.

    “The government considers you as ambush expert Nagas who can easily kill and get killed in the battle zone of the Ayodhya Hills of Purulia district,” Kisanji observed.

    Two companies of NIRB troopers were deployed in the Ayodhya Hills of Purulia district recently to flush out the ultra left rebels from the area as part of the anti-Maoists operations launched June 2009 in Junglemahal (forested Maoist-affected areas of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura).

  • Israel supplies 10,000 assault rifles to India for Operation Green Hunt

    Israeli-made Tavor assault rifle

    Times of India,  October 1, 2010

    Israeli arms give CRPF the edge in Jangalmahal

    KOLKATA: The Army’s special forces were the first to receive them. It was then the turn of security personnel in J&K. Finally, CRPF personnel[Central Reserve Police Force paramilitary force] operating in Maoist-infested Lalgarh have got access to sophisticated weapons imported from Israel.

    Senior officials believe that the 5.56mm Tavor guns, manufactured by Israel Weapon Industries Ltd (IWI), will give their men that much-needed edge over the guerrillas who use the terrain to their advantage. The INSAS, AK-47 or 7.62 mm SLR used by the CRPF till now have not proved to be too effective in close quarter battles (CQB). Indian ordnance factories have been trying to come up with an effective solution, but their latest products have not yet cleared field trials by the armed forces.

    In 2009, Union home minister P Chidambaram cleared the procurement of 10,147 assault rifles from IWI in a `144-crore deal. The defence ministry had also imported similar weapons for use by its special forces.

    “The INSAS is a good weapon for an infantry soldier. However, it is too cumbersome for personnel involved in counter-insurgency operations. The AK-47s are easier to carry, but are not accurate enough. The weapons imported from Israel are not only accurate and lightweight, they also have a rate of fire to match the AK-47s. They are ideally suited for the CQB environment when personnel have only a spilt second to react,” an official said.

    Fitted with special sights, it doesn’t take long to aim the Israeli guns before firing. Unlike the AK-47s and SLRs, these weapons use 5.56mm ammunition, similar to the INSAS. Platoons no longer have to carry different types of ammunition.

    “These are ambidextrous weapons that can be used with both hands. They have integral reflex sights that allows a jawan to aim with both eyes open. They are good for both day and night operations,” the official said.

    According to experts in the defence ministry, the Israeli weapons are unlike anything that have been used by Indian troops. These are the only weapons that have the characteristic ‘Bull Pup’ design. This design makes these weapons extremely useful for special forces and troops involved in counter-insurgency the world over.

    “Unlike weapons used by Indian forces so far, these guns have their magazines behind the trigger. As a result, the centre of gravity is to the rear and the barrels point upward even when the weapons are not in use. In case of emergency, it is far easier to bring the barrel down and fire the weapons. In other rifles, the barrels have a tendency to point downward,” an Army officer involved in the training of special forces said.

  • Maoists tell freed Chhattisgarh policemen to quit their jobs

    After twelve nerve-wracking days, the Chhattisgarh police held a press conference in Raipur to confirm the safe return of Sukluram Bhagat, Narendra Khosle, Subhash Patra and B. Toppo who were abducted by the Maoists.

    On September 19, seven policemen were captured by the Maoists as they travelled between Bhopalpatnam and Bhadrakali in the forests of Bijapur district.

    While the corpses of three policemen were found the next day, the fate of the remaining four remained uncertain till late on Thursday night when they arrived at a police camp in Dantewada district.

    A pregnant woman, Kursam Jyoti who was travelling with her brother Krishna Erpa, was also reported missing. Police said Ms. Jyoti was freed a few days ago and she had returned to her village.

    Police sources said one of the conditions set for the release was that all the four men would resign from the police service. It is understood that four local television journalists escorted the men back to safety.

    At his press conference, Director General of Police Vishwarajan sought to dispel some of the confusion surrounding the hostage crisis.

    Clarifying that the freed policemen were yet to be debriefed after their ordeal, Mr. Vishwaranjan said the Maoist demands suggested that the men had been abducted by lower-level cadres, thereby complicating hostage negotiations. Maoist posters recovered in Bijapur demanded that the police call off Operation Green Hunt, withdraw Central paramilitary forces from Chhattisgarh, release unnamed Maoist leaders and stop police atrocities on villagers in Bijapur. The police said the lack of specificity made it impossible to meet these demands.

    Mr. Vishwarajan’s observations were supported by information gleaned from Maoist sources.

    In a telephone conversation on September 26, CPI (Maoist) spokesperson Gudsa Usendi told this correspondent that he had not received any information regarding the kidnapping, implying that top Maoist leadership was also struggling to ascertain the events surrounding the kidnapping.

    Mr. Usendi said that the monsoon and poor cellular connectivity had made it difficult to keep track of the events in Bijapur, but felt that the men would be released soon.

    The men were finally released after nearly two weeks of search operations, background conversations between the police and Maoists using the local press as mediators and public appeals by the families of the abducted policemen, Chief Minister Raman Singh, Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao, the Chhattisgarh chapter of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties and social activist Swami Agnivesh.

  • Getting Difficult for India to Control Manipur

    79 bandhs, 10 blockades in recent times take a heavy toll on State

    The Sangai Express, Imphal, September 22, 2010

    From January 2009 till the current month, Manipur witnessed as many as 79 bandhs and highway blockades ten times.These frequent bandhs and blockades have caused loss of 1/9th of the State per capita income.  According to a Government report, normal life was disrupted by 19 State-wide bandhs last year.

    At the district level, there was a district level bandh once in Senapati, twice in Ukhrul, once in Tamenglong, twice in Chandel, once in Thoubal and once in Churachandpur.

    In addition, the State witnessed hill districts bandh eight times. There were no separate district-level bandhs in Bishnupur, Imphal East and Imphal West. There were bandhs on National Highways five times and another bandh in Naga dominated districts.

    At local level, bandhs were witnessed at Moreh, Jiribam, Singjamei, Khurai and some other places.

    NH-39 and NH-53 were blockaded thrice last year while NH-39 was blocked on two occasions.

    This year, normal life was disrupted by five State-wide bandhs called on different dates.

    There were district level bandhs once in Senapati, once in Ukhrul, once in Tamenglong, twice in Chandel, once in Bishnupur and once in Naga dominated districts.

    Till date this year, there has been no district level bandh in Thoubal, Imphal East and Imphal West.

    During the current year, bandhs were called ten times on the three National Highways.

    These was against four bandhs called in hill areas.

    Blockades were imposed on NH-39 and NH 53 together on three occasions while NH 39 alone was blockaded once.

    All the highways of the State were also blockaded once.

    According to the Government report, these frequent bandhs and blockades caused loss of oneninth of the annual State per capita income.

    Notably, the number of recorded bandhs and blockades during 2004-05 was 80 and this figure jumped to 145 in 2005-06 .

  • Maoists call for bandh against new Bastar ‘peace’ campaign

    Joseph John, Tue Oct 12 2010

    Raipur : Outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) has given a call for a 48 hour ‘Dandakaranya’ bandh from September 22, demanding disbanding of Bastar’s newly formed “Shanti Sangharsh Morcha”, alleging that it was a new avatar of “fascist Salwa Judum” — the anti-Naxalite campaign which was launched in June 2005.

    The Maoist call for a two day bandh came after a group of tribals, who met on Gandhi Jayanti day in Bijapur district, formed ‘Dandakaranya Shanti Sangharsh Morcha” for launching a ‘non-violent’ people’s campaign to restore peace in the strife-torn Bastar region.

    “Maoists will be observing a 48 hour DK bandh on September 22 and 23 to protest against the newly formed organization as it is a new avatar of Salwa Judum”, CPI (Maoist) Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee spokesman Gudsa Usendi said in a communiqué sent to the media in Bastar.

    The so-called Dandakaranya region — which the rebels term as “DK” state — forms part of forest areas of Bastar, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa. Maoists claim it as their ‘Liberated zone’ while the the civil administration’s consider it as areas dominated by the rebels.

    The initiative for a new peace campaign began last month when a group of people, including a few of those who were associated with the Salwa Judum, met at Karkeli village and decided to formulate strategies to take the campaign ahead for establishing peace in the area. Later, they met again at Kutroo village in Bijapur district on October 2 and resolved to work for peace without carrying any weapons by following the Gandhian path of non-violence.

    Salwa Judum, which began as a small protest from Karkeli village in Bijapur district on June 2005, had turned into frenzy in South Bastar, once the cherished zone of the Maoists. The movement, which the state government described as a spontaneous peoples campaign against the Naxalites, spread far and wide and turned the entire South Bastar into a battle field. The Naxalites unleashed attacks on Salwa Judum cadres, who went on a prowl against Maoist sympathizers, and the conflict led to police and Para-military forces swarming the region.

    Maoist call for two day bandh against the newly formed Dandakaranya Shanti Sangharsh Samiti is being seen as an attempt to thwart the possibility of new campaign spreading into the remote areas where the rebels have their base.

  • 10 injured in police firing in Assam

    Guwahati, Oct 12 : At least 10 protesters were injured in police firing incident in Assam’s Kamrup (Rural) district on Tuesday, officials said.

    According to report, thousands of people from Garo and other communities had gathered to form a human chain for their various demands at Santipur area under Boko police station in the district.

    When the police intervened, the protesters came forward to break the police barricade and damaged the police vehicles. A circle officer and a police official were injured.

    Police used canes and tear gas to control the situation and later opened fire on the mob, in which at least 10 protesters were injured.  The injured were taken to Rangia civil hospital.

    http://www.newkerala.com/news/world/fullnews-61603.html

  • Maoists’ new tactics to counter Operation Green Hunt

    Times of India, October 10, 2010

    Naxals’ new ploy: first blast, then bullets

    NAGPUR: The lull in the Naxal-affected Gadchiroli district, ever since 17 cops were killed in Laheri in October 2009, was left shattered by the recent incidents of blasts in which seven security personnel were killed, nine others were left injured and four civilians, including three students of Sawargaon ashramshala, died in a blast on Friday morning.

    Though guns rattled in a few exchanges in the jungle and the elimination of police informers by the rebels kept the security personnel busy so far, this year witnessed the first major jolt being delivered by the Naxals at Perimili on Monday, when they killed four cops in a blast. They followed up by injuring eight C60 commandos on the following day at Mirkal around 13 km away from Perimili.

    The recent incidents are leaving clear indications that the rebels seem to be more inclined to first trigger the blast and then fire upon the panicked cops. This ploy was adopted by the rebels after sensing that security forces can now be difficult to tame in gun battles, especially after the reinforcement provided by the central government in the form of paramilitary forces.

    Shifting from the preference of intense gunfight, as manifested by the rebels in 2009, the Naxals seem to have made a deviation in their strategy in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh to counter central government’s so-called Operation Green Hunt launched to flush out the rebels from the hinterlands.

    Even the security agencies were aware of the paradigm shift in the rebel strategy. Intelligence agencies, it is learnt, had also alerted the cops about the new strategy.

    The Naxals wanted to curtail the movements of the security deployment in the affected regions. They started planting mines under roads and waiting in ambush. Generally a large posse of cops wanted to attack the Naxals after the debacles of 2009. The rebels switched to landmines to cripple the movements of the cops in the jungles.

    “They aim to take the security forces by surprise with altered techniques of attacks. Their guerrilla warfare is so unpredictable that the paramilitary forces falling easy preys to the Naxals,” said source from intelligence agency.

    The year 2009 had witnessed unprecedented violence as Naxals, killing more than 51 cops. They had merged their several dalams to form a consolidated military dalam, often bringing reinforcement of fighter guerrillas from Chhattisgarh and Abujhmarh to ensure that cops were outnumbered by many in such encounters.

    Changing tactics after the launch of Operation Green Hunt, rebels have started planting landmines this year. “The aim is to trigger more casualties with lesser manpower. Once the blast takes the cops by surprise and leaves them injured, rebels fire on the victims to increase the toll and also to curtail the chances of launching the counter,” said an experienced official.

  • Maoists expand political and military operations in West Bengal

    Maoist road blockade in Lalgarh area of West Bengal. Naxals spread wings, more Bengal districts want LWE-affected status

    Express News Service, October 15, 2010

    Kolkata: The Left Front may be claiming success in the anti-Maoist operations in Junglemahal but an internal government report indicates that the ultras who till now had been confined to Junglemahal — Purulia, West Midnapore and South 24 Parganas — have spread to other nearby districts.

    The police and local administrations of Birbhum, Nadia and Murshidabad districts have submitted a report to the state home department requesting that some police stations in their districts should be brought under the ambit of Left Wing Extremism-affected area considering the increased activities of the Maoists there.

    According to the reports submitted by the state police to state home department, eight police stations in Nadia, six police stations in Birbhum and three police stations in Murshidabad have seen increased Maoist activities in recent months.

    “The reports and the recommendations have been submitted to us and we have forwarded it to the state home department. After scrutinizing the facts, the report will be sent to the Centre for approval from the state home department,” said Surajit Kar Pura Kayestha, IG (Law and Order).

    Police sources said Dubrajpur and Khairashol police stations in Birbhum district, which have been mentioned as Maoist-affected areas, had always been a safe haven for the Maoists. “Several senior Maoists leaders, including Kalpana Ruidas, were arrested from the area,” said a senior police officer.

    The report accessed by The Indian Express further states that the Maoists have formed a regional committee in Nadia and an area committee in Jalangi. There are over 30 members in the area committee. “The Maoists started setting up their base in the area after forming an outfit called Mazdoor Krishak Sangram Samity, which works like a frontal organisation of the Maoists much akin to the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) in West Midnapore,” said a senior police officer.

    “As per the information we have gathered till now, the area committee is led by Prasanta Das alias Raja, a resident of Kotwali,” the officer added.

    “Das is the key person in the area who is strengthening the cadre’s base in Murshidabad and Nadia districts. They have started spreading their influence in the colleges of the district,” the officer said.

  • Forced Evictions Skyrocket due to Commonwealth Games

     

    Results of India's urban "beautification" campaign for the Commonwealth Games

    Housing and Land Rights Network

    New Delhi, October 13, 2010

    Forced Evictions due to Commonwealth Games Violate Human Rights, Contribute to a Permanent Negative Social Legacy

    The preparations for Delhi’s Commonwealth Games (CWG) have witnessed a range of human rights violations of the city’s working poor, including the homeless, beggars, street vendors, and construction workers. The process has also been marred by financial mismanagement, embezzlement of public funds, and lack of accountability. One of the least reported violations, however, has been the forced eviction and demolition of the homes of thousands of Delhi’s residents. These evictions have taken place for various reasons ranging from constructing stadiums, building parking lots, widening roads, city ‘beautification,’ and clearing of streets on grounds of ‘security.’

    Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) has been involved in a study on forced evictions carried out due to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. HLRN estimates that at least 250,000 people in Delhi have lost their homes as a direct result of the Games since 2004. A table of some of the demolished sites is included below.

    While the study is still ongoing, preliminary findings from a few sites reveal the following characteristics of forced evictions:

    1.            Failure to provide notice and reason for the demolition; due process not followed

    In majority of the cases, authorities did not provide a notice for the demolition. The only exceptions were Dargah Bhure Shah Camp, Viklang Basti, and Madrasi Camp (notice pasted two days before the demolition). The usual trend has been of police threatening people to vacate the area on the evening before the demolition. People of the settlement near Shiv Mandir, Sewa Nagar, were very vocal about the fact that they had not been informed about the demolition. Said Ms. Ishwar Kali, “If they had to break our homes, at least they could have told us.” People from various sites reported that their homes were destroyed while they were away.

    The Bengali Camp demolition took place on January 13, 2009, when people were celebrating the winter festival of ‘Lohri.’

    2.            Use of force and large police presence during the demolition

    All slums demolitions took place in the presence of a large police force. Approximately 200 police personnel were present for the Dargah Bhure Shah Camp demolition, 100 at Madrasi Camp, 100-150 for the demolition of 25 jhuggis (homes) in the Sai Baba Camp, and two police buses, eight bulldozers and 8-10 fire brigades for the Gadia Lohar Basti demolition. While women police officials were present during the demolitions, they generally just stood and watched.

    3.            Injury and adverse effects on health

    At Shaheed Arjun Das Camp in East Kidwai Nagar, a woman delivered a baby girl early in the morning, a few hours before the demolition began on January 13, 2009. On seeing the bulldozers she lost consciousness for four hours and could not even be taken to a hospital. The shock of the demolition has left Kamla, aged 40, from the settlement near Shiv Mandir, Sewa Nagar, permanently paralysed on her left side. People in Bengali Camp reported that there was a stampede like situation once the demolition started. An old woman fell to the ground and someone dragged a cylinder over her, and was miraculously saved.

    aMost people from the demolished camps reported that the frequency of illness, especially among children, increased after the demolition. Poor sanitation, lack of access to medical facilities, and living in the open, contributes to the spread of illnesses like fever, cough, and cold, and diseases such as pneumonia, malaria and dengue.

    4.           Loss and destruction of possessions

    Evicted people from all sites expressed their frustration at not being able to salvage their possessions. Women from Bengali Camp mentioned that children’s milk was confiscated, while a woman from Shaheed Arjun Das Camp said that even the food they were cooking got buried under the rubble. A disturbing fact is that whatever possessions people managed to save, including cooking vessels, were later confiscated by officials. Satyadeen Maurya of Sai Baba Camp recounts how all his belongings were crushed under the bulldozer. Dargah Bhure Shah Camp was the only settlement where people reported that they had managed to save their possessions.

    5.            Children adversely affected

    The psychological impacts on children who lose their homes and witness a demolition, are severe and long-lasting. Several children have been forced to drop out of school. Many have lost a year because the demolitions happened immediately before or during examination time. Pyarelal’s son lost an entire school year as the Dargah Bhure Shah Camp demolition took place on May 14, 2007, during school exams.

    6.            Death of persons

    Two homeless persons lost their lives at the Pusa Road Roundabout when the MCD demolished their night shelter during the peak of Delhi’s winter on December 24, 2009. Investigations at various sites have revealed suicidal tendencies and some deaths amongst displaced communities due to adverse living conditions and the lack of any housing. At Bengali Camp, residents mentioned two lives being lost to dengue.

    7.            Loss of livelihood and income

    For most of the affected, demolition of homes also means a loss of livelihood opportunities. Several families of the Sai Baba Camp are now entirely dependent on the temple for their meals. “I have not been able to earn one rupee after the demolition” said Bajrang from Sai Baba Camp. Many others have reported a marked decrease in income. A woman at the Gadia Lohar Basti reported a drop in income from Rs. 100-200 (before the eviction) to Rs. 20-30 per day. Pyarelal of Dargah Bhure Shah Camp owns a barber shop. He said that while previously he earned between Rs. 400 to Rs. 1000 in a day, after the demolition, the maximum he has earned in a day is Rs. 400.

    Demolitions also result in temporary loss of wages for the evicted. Women of the Madrasi Camp who work as domestic help in nearby areas said they lost wages for two-three months when they were living on the streets. Wage labourers find it impossible to go to work when their possessions are lying in the open, as they fear theft. Evicted families at all sites reported a marked increase in expenses on healthcare, travelling and rent.

    It is not just homes but also small shops and other enterprises that have been destroyed for the Games. Daily wage earners, vendors and other informal sector workers across Delhi have lost their livelihoods. The police beat Shekhar, 14, from Sai Baba Camp when he tried to sell flowers near the Sai Baba temple. Authorities demolished around 70 shops in the vicinity of the Gadia Lohar Basti and 10-12 shops in Kotla Pilanji Gaon, adjacent to the Thyagaraja Stadium. Weekly markets have been prohibited and other markets such as the one in Sarojini Nagar have also been cleared of vendors for the duration of the Games.

    8.            No compensation or resettlement provided in all cases but one

    No compensation or resettlement has been provided at any of the sites surveyed. The only exception was the Dargah Bhure Shah Camp, where plots have been allotted in Savda Ghewra to around 80-85 of the 115 families who lost their homes. While the High Court of Delhi has ordered relocation for the families at Gadia Lohar Basti, they have still not received any form of rehabilitation. People of the demolished Shaheed Arjun Das Camp have survived by putting plastic sheets over the broken walls of what was once their home. But every morning they have to remove the plastic sheets, as they are afraid the police will destroy them.

    2

    9.            Violation of national and international human rights law

    All the above characteristics of forced evictions carried out in the run up to the CWG indicate a violation of a range of national and international legal instruments, in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the ChildConvention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. They also contravene the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement, which stipulate that evictions must not take place in inclement weather, at night, during festivals or religious holidays, prior to elections or during or just prior to school examinations. The UN Guidelines call for States to ensure that no one is subject to direct or indiscriminate attacks or other acts of violence and also mandate just compensation and sufficient alternative accommodation, or restitution when feasible, to be provided immediately upon the eviction.1

    The forced eviction and demolition of people’s homes without due process also violates the Indian constitution. The Supreme Court of India has held that the right to adequate housing is a fundamental human right emanating from the right to life. The High Court of Delhi in its February 13, 2010 judgement in the case Sudama Singh and others v. Government of Delhi and others, clearly calls for the protection of the right to adequate housing, minimising of evictions, and adequate rehabilitation.

    Forced evictions, as affirmed by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1993, constitute a gross violation of human rights, including the right to adequate housing. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights encourages State Parties to ensure that “legislative and other measures are adequate to prevent, and if appropriate punish, forced evictions carried out without appropriate safeguards by private persons or bodies.”

    The Delhi authorities responsible for forced evictions have violated people’s entitlements to security of tenure and freedom from forced evictions; access to, and benefit from public goods and services; information, capacity and capacity building; participation and self-expression; rights to resettlement and adequate compensation for violations and losses; and physical security and privacy. All are elements of the human right to adequate housing as recognized in international law.

    While the attention of the media has been centred on lack of preparedness, organizational glitches and financial scandals related to the CWG, the more severe impacts of the Games have largely been ignored. Attention needs to be drawn to the serious human rights violations, especially of construction workers who have been denied minimum wages and decent working conditions, of the homeless and ‘beggars’ who have been arrested, detained and forcefully banished from the city, of women and children who have been trafficked, of over 300,000 street vendors who have been denied their right to work and are going hungry, and of slum dwellers who have been evicted for the Games.2 These abuses have contributed to the creation of a permanent negative social legacy of the Games, in contradiction to the claims of benefits and false notion of ‘national pride’ that the organisers constantly harp on.

    Recommendations:

    ·            Immediate compensation to be provided to all evicted families for loss of their homes, possessions and livelihoods.

    ·            Compensation to be paid to all those who suffered injuries or adverse health impacts.

    ·            Compensation to be paid to families whose members lost their lives as a result of the forced eviction.

    ·            Adequate rehabilitation to be provided to all evicted families, in accordance with international human rights standards, including the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement and judgements of the High Court of Delhi, in particular the Sudama Singh case.

    ·            Improvement of living conditions in existing resettlement sites, including provision of basic services, infrastructure, healthcare, education and transport.

    1 The Guidelines are available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/housing/docs/guidelines_en.pdf. 2 See HLRN press release on human rights violations at: http://www.hic-sarp.org/documents/Press_Release_12_August_2010.pdf.

    3

    ·            Restoration of educational facilities for evicted children, including provision of school books, uniforms and other material destroyed during the eviction.

    ·            Expansion of ongoing investigations by the Comptroller and Auditor General, Enforcement Directorate, Central Vigilance Commission, and Parliament, to include human rights violations.

    ·            Prosecution of all officials who are found guilty.

    ·            Study and audit of the social, economic, and environmental impacts of the Games.

    ·            Moratorium on evictions in Delhi, including of the 44 settlements that have been listed for demolition after the Games.

    The dazzling opening and expected closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games and India’s commendable sporting performance cannot in any way erase the gravity of human rights violations committed by the state and central government in the preparation of the event. The government must accept responsibility for the intense suffering of Delhi’s poor due to the Games, and provide compensation, restitution and rehabilitation at the earliest. The legacy plan of the Games must focus on restoring social justice to the thousands of evicted families, as well as the homeless, beggars, street vendors and construction workers who have witnessed the worst violations of their human rights in the name of the Games. The state must ensure the protection of the human rights of the city’s working poor and marginalised populations. India’s stark socio-economic reality should have precluded the government from bidding for the Commonwealth Games. Given the inability to deal with the colossal costs and consequences of mega events, as demonstrated in the case of the CWG, the country must under no circumstances bid for the Olympics or other such events.

    LIST OF SOME SITES DEMOLISHED DUE TO THE COMMONWEALTH GAMES

    Name of Area and Location

    Date and Time of Demolition

    Purported Reason for Demolition

    Number of Homes Destroyed

    Notice

    1.

    Camp behind Badrinath Temple (opposite Thyagaraj Sports Complex)

    January 13, 2009 – mid day

    - coveringofnallah(drain) and ‘beautification’

    - ‘security’reasons

    50

    No notice provided

    2.

    Bengali Camp

    (East Kidwai Nagar)

    January 13, 2009 – in the morning

    - coveringofnallah(drain) and ‘beautification’

    - ‘security’reasons

    approximately 200

    No notice provided

    3.

    Dargah Bhure Shah Camp

    (Nizamuddin East, near Railway Station)

    May 14, 2007 – around 8 AM

    o constructionofBarapullah elevated corridor

    115

    A formal notice was put up at a temple in the complex in February , 2007

    4.

    Shaheed Arjun Das Camp

    (informally also known as Jhansi Camp, East Kidwai Nagar)

    January 13, 2009

    7.30 am

    - coveringofnallah(drain) and beautification

    - ‘security’reasons

    300 – 350 jhuggis (homes)

    No notice provided

    5.

    Gadia Lohar Basti

    (near Thyagaraj Stadium)

    January 12, 2009

    12.30 – 1 pm

    -            to widen the road and build an underpass connecting Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium with Thyagaraja Stadium

    18 jhuggis (homes)

    No notice provided

    6.

    Indira Gandhi Camp

    (New Khanna Market, Lodhi Colony)

    February 2, 2009

    in the morning

    -            to widen the road to build an underpass connecting Thyagaraj Sports Complex to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium

    -            ‘beautification’ purposes

    100 jhuggis that lined the road and some small shops

    No formal written notice provided. The police instead gave a verbal warning of the impending demolition the night before

    4

    7.

    JJ Camp, Prem Nagar

    January 12, 2009

    -            to widen the road to build an underpass

    -            beautification purposes

    30

    No notice provided

    8.

    Madrasi Camp, Jangpura B

    April 15, 2010

    -            laying of electric wire for construction of Barapullah elevated corridor

    200

    One notice was put up in the camp site. However, children in the slum tore up the notice before anyone had a chance to read it

    9.

    Camp near Shiv Mandir in Sewa Nagar

    January 12, 2009

    1.30pm

    -            to widen the road to build an underpass

    -            ‘beautification’ purposes

    10 – 12

    No notice provided

    10

    Prabhu Market

    (Lodhi Colony)

    January 9, 2009

    around 10 am – 11am

    -            to build a parking lot and link road to connect Thyagaraj Sports Complex to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium

    100

    No formal notice given. The police instead gave a verbal warning that there might be a demolition

    11

    Prabhu Market Extension

    (Lodhi Colony, near Railway Crossing)

    January 9, 2009

    10 -11am

    -            to build a parking lot and link road to connect Thyagaraj Sports Complex to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium

    120 – 130

    No formal notice given. The police instead gave a verbal warning that there might be a demolition

    12

    Sai Baba Camp

    (Lodhi Road)

    21 June 2010, 11 am

    - beautification purposes – security reasons

    25 (although MCD in court says that it destroyed only 13 homes)

    Two days before the demolition police gave a verbal warning

    13 .

    Viklang Basti

    (near Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium)

    January 10, 2010

    - tobuildaparkinglotand link road to connect Thyagaraj Sports Complex to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium

    60 – 70

    Notice given 3 months in advance

    14

    Night shelter at Pusa Round Roundabout (Rachna Golchakkar)

    December 24, 2009

    - ‘beautification’–togrow grass on the roundabout

    250 people

    No notice

    15 .

    Yamuna Pushta

    April – June 2004

    - to clear the banks of the Yamuna river

    35,000 families

    4 – 5 days notice

    HLRN’s report – The 2010 Commonwealth Games: Whose Wealth? Whose Commons? and subsequent press releases are available at: www.hic-sarp.org.

    For more information and to schedule visits to sites contact:

    Shivani Chaudhry (9818 205234), Shalini Mishra (99586 25344), Miloon Kothari (98106 42122)

    Housing and Land Rights Network, A-1 Nizamuddin East, Lower Ground Floor, New Delhi – 110 013, (011-2435-1053), info@hic-sarp.org, www.hic-sarp.org

  • Kashmir: 35 day Pallhalan siege ends

    Indian troops at work in Kashmir

    ‘Wounded village’ heaves sigh of relief

    Asem Mohiuddin

    Pallhalan, Oct 17: With an end to the 35-day siege in the form of curfews, Pallhalan village of Bandipora district of North Kashmir finally woke up Sunday to a comparatively freer atmosphere and  residents quickly went about their normal chores.

    However, as one descends into this hamlet of over 60,000 population through a diversion from the Srinagar-Baramulla highway,  graffiti and slogans on the walls point to the intensity of confrontation between the government forces and locals during the past over four months of unrest in Kashmir.

    One of the most volatile areas of unrest, Pallhalan registered several deaths to the Kashmir unrest. The ‘war of words’ in the form of painted sloganeering on the walls and shop-shutters has both the sides: youth writing ‘pro-freedom’ and ‘anti-India’ slogans and next to these artistically scribbled ‘we want India’ by the uniformed men.

    The walls and shop-shutters are galore with this ‘written’ confrontation, besides the more injuring stone-pelting and the fatal bullets. Someone wrote ‘I am Indian’, but countered by an ‘I am Geelani man’. At the same time, ‘I love my Pallhalan’ has been erased and replaced with ‘I love my India’ or ‘Jai Hind’, and so on.

    This correspondent was a new face to them in a 35-day closed fortress. “It has been a long time we saw someone openly coming down to this village from the main road. Receiving guests are a forgotten thing for us. But, thank God, the siege was finally lifted,” says Ghualm Mohiuddin, a local. However, he is quick to add, “Don’t (authorities) again impose curfew.”

    But once in the village interiors, every soul seems to be wounded and recalling horror of the past four months of unrest. For instance, this villager in his late sixties, sitting outside his shabby house, narrates the horrendous tale of alleged harassment by the paramilitary CRPF.

    “One month back I was at home with my two young sons. All of a sudden I witnessed some commotion, followed by heavy teargas shelling and aerial firing. In the meantime, some troops barged into our house and started searching. My elder son (18) hid himself in the bathroom but the younger one (14) preferred to sit with me. The troopers picked him from my side and began thrashing him. They did not even tell me the reason for their unwarranted action. He suffered a fracture in the arm. When it was my turn, an Army official however came to my rescue and asked them not to hit me,” the elderly villager, pleading anonymity, recalls. The injured boy did not stay in the village after the thrashing and soon fled to his maternal uncle’s house out of fear.

    Next door stays another boy who is bed-ridden. Amir Ahmad (16) received a bullet in his leg on Shab-e-Qadr, the day four people fell to the firing by forces. Amir was off to the mosque for prayers when he met this fate. Worse, he was disheartened when he came to know that his cousin had succumbed to his injuries the same day in forces’ firing. Amir has no sensation in the right leg and doctor’s reports suggest that his injury has little chances of recovery.

    The family of six survives on the meagre earnings of Amir’s old father Ghulam Ahmad, a carpet weaver and Amir was the lone hope for the future.

    Across the lane is another wounded family. Nayeem Ahmad (22), the victim of same day’s troops’ action, who runs a grocery shop at Main Chowk, received two bullets in abdomen and arm.

    “There were protests on the road followed by stone pelting and clashes. The troops resorted to firing and everybody ran for his life. But I got two bullets in abdomen and arm. The troops did not allow ambulance to SDH Pattan which is only three kilometers away. Later I was taken to Sumbal SDH, around 13 kms away. Thank God, I survived although I had heavy blood loss,” Nayeem recalls.

    However, his brother, Ansarul-Haq was not so lucky. Pursuing his PG in English from Kashmir University, he met the inevitable after a week of coming out of Aetkaf during holy Ramdan. Nayeem said on September 18, Ansarul Haq was in mosque to offer Zuhar prayers when troops allegedly fired upon the people. According to him he received bullet in the head and died on the spot.

    Locals say since last two months over two hundred youth have fled the village to evade their arrest.

    Deputy Inspector General Police, North Range, Muneer Ahmad Khan said that all those wanted will be arrested and the deployment of troops in Main Chowk is to avoid blockade of Baramulla-Srinagar highway by protesters.

    “All those who disturbed public order and indulged in stone-pelting are wanted and will be arrested. The deployment on highway is to prevent the closure of road by protesters,” Khan said.

  • Orissa, India: Government enquiry committee finds that POSCO steel project is illegal

    [POSCO is a US-South Korean steel company that has plans to build a multi-billion dollar steel plant and port at Jagatsingpur in the state of Orissa.-ed.]

    Countercurrents, October 18, 2010

    By Abhay Sahoo

    Today, three of the four members of the committee set up by the Ministry of Environment and Forests confirmed that the POSCO project is illegal and that all of its clearances were obtained by breaking the law. The Committee has also found that the project has potentially very dangerous impacts on issues like water, air pollution, and the coastline, and none of this was ever properly evaluated. After a detailed discussion of the huge number of criminal actions by the company and the Orissa government, the Committee says (in the conclusion of the report):

    “The POSCO project is an example of how a mirage of “development” can be used in an attempt to bypass the law. Such attempts, if allowed to succeed, will result in neither development nor environmental protection, but merely in profiteering. This will cause immeasurable harm to the nation and to the rule of law and justice in our society.”

    We particularly draw attention to the fact that the majority found that:

    • The Orissa government and the Central government have violated the Forest Rights Act and tried to grab forest land that belongs to the people. This is the second official committee that has reached this conclusion.

    • The project could cause environmental devastation particularly in regard to water, air pollution, coastal damage, danger of industrial disasters in case of cyclones, etc., all of which was ignored by the government.

    • POSCO suppressed facts and tried to get around the requirements of law.

    • The environmental, forest and coastal regulation clearances obtained by the project were all illegal and should all be revoked.

    • The forest clearance can only be given subject to the recognition of rights and the consent of the gram sabha under the Forest Rights Act.

    Those who keep talking of the POSCO project as one of “national importance” should answer these questions: would any other country in the world tolerate such violations of their law? Would South Korea tolerate an Indian company grabbing their land, breaking their laws and threatening to cause an environmental disaster? Is this what development means – robbing thousands of their lands and threatening lakhs with water shortage and other catastrophes?

    As for the dissenting report of Ms. Meena Gupta, her position reflects her own interests. She was the Secretary that granted the environment clearance, and asking her to review it is like asking a thief to don a police uniform. Naturally she has said that all the clearances should continue. Her report is full of distortions, such as claiming that there are only 700 families in the area (when over 4,000 will lose their lands and/or homes). She tries to cover up crimes by saying that it does not matter if the law was broken; all that is required is to impose some additional “conditions.”

    We call upon the Central government to heed the voice of the people and the findings of the majority report, withdraw all clearances and cancel this unjust, illegal and brutal project.

    Abhay Sahoo, Chairperson, PPSS , POSCO PRATIRODH SANGRAM SAMITI

  • PCPA backs claim of massacre by Communist Party of India (Marxist) cadres

    Times of India, October 1, 2010

    KOLKATA: The Maoist-backed People's Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), on Thursday welcomed Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's demand for a CBI probe into the 'mass killings' at Jhargram villages by armed CPM cadres. PCPA even said they would help the probe team if needed. 

    PCPA spokesman Joydev Mahato said this in response to Mamata's claims that armed CPM cadres in police uniform carried out a Nandigram-style operation in the outskirts of Jhargram to capture several villages between September 25 and 27. 

    A few days ago, PCPA had made the same allegation when joint forces raided Chheraboni and Bandarboni villages of Binpur. A CRPF jawan and a suspected Maoist were killed during that raid. Police claimed that the raid was conducted to nab top Maoist leader Sashadhar Mahato who was reportedly camping there. The PCPA, however, denied the police statement. 

    "Guarded by joint forces, CPM cadres opened fire on unarmed villagers and killed at least 10 people, including Khokon Mahato, whose body was recovered. The CPM cadres ransacked several villages and forced villagers to flee,'' said Mahato. 

    PCPA called a 48-hour strike in Jangalmahal to protest the incident. And Mamata's statement has endorsed the same allegation. 

    On Thursday, the PCPA spokesman said, "We are happy that Mamata Banerjee has raised the issue and demanded a probe. If she comes to Jangalmahal, we will help her find out the truth. People will tell her how armed cadres of CPM are capturing villages. PCPA is even ready to help if any probe team arrives here." 

    Joydev Mahato alleged that CPM is continuing its armed operation in other parts of Jangalmahal. Two women, Basanti Murmu and Ghurmoni Mandi, sustained injuries and several others are missing from some villages in Binpur, alleged PCPA. In protest against this CPM-led violence, PCPA has decided to observe October 2 as Black Day. Chief Minister Budhhadeb Bhattacharjee is scheduled to visit Midnapore on that day. 

    The PCPA found Mamata's comment handy to justify its stance. "For long we have been saying the same thing," said Mahato. 

    Jhargram SP Praveen Tripathi refused to comment on the issue. CPM, however, came down heavily on Mamata. "It now becomes clear that Trinamool has a nexus with the Maoists. As the Maoists and their frontal organisation PCPA are cornered by the resistance of common people and joint forces, Mamata is trying to make the situation more complicated," said Dahareswar Sen, CPM district committee member in Midnapore. All her allegations are baseless, he said.

    Read more: PCPA backs ‘massacre’ claim - The Times of Indiahttp://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata-/-PCPA-backs-massacre-claim/articleshow/6654799.cms#ixzz133Vtqqhy

  • In 72 hour operation in Jharkhand, forces fail to nab Maoist leaders

    Manohar Lal, Times of India, Sep 28, 2010

    RANCHI: Security forces encircled jungle training camps in Jharkhand where some of the top Maoist commanders were present with scores of combatants, engaging the red cadres in a fierce 72-hour encounter. 

    While the four Maoist central committee members — CPI-Maoist No. 2 Kishanda alias Prashant Bose, head of Bengal-Jharkhand-Orissa zone Kishanji, Aravind of Bihar and Mahesh of Assam — reportedly conducting the war training, slipped through the extensive dragnet, security forces on Monday claimed they had killed 10 Naxalites in the dense Saranda forests during the first major anti-Maoist operation in the state. 

    A CoBRA jawan, Jaimal Singh and two Jharkhand Police constables — Jehangir Khan and Rajeev Ranjan — were killed in the encounter while CRPF assistant commandant Nitish Kumar was injured, said Jharkhand DGP Neyaz Ahmad. Only one body of a dead Maoist combatant had so far been located. 

    Although success eluded the forces, the operation demonstrated new levels of coordination between the different arms involved in anti- Naxal operations and a better degree of intelligence gathering. Such operations, clearly aimed at maiming the top leadership, would impede the Naxal surge and prevent them from launching attacks involving hundreds of combatants with impunity. 

    The joint operation was launched following information that Maoists were training since this month at Saranda forest in West Singhbhum district. Senior Maoist leaders had been visiting the camp to train recruits and hold meetings with the cadre. 

    Around 2,000 security personnel from state police, CRPF and CoBRA forces surrounded a 500 sq km swath of sal forests and closed in on the camps on Saturday night. About a fortnight back, West Bengal police had received a tip-off that Kishenji would come to Jharkhand's Ghatshila railway station. But that trail went cold. 

    During the operation, two training camps near Ratamati and Norda villages were destroyed. But senior Maoist leaders managed to escape. 

    A cache of arms, including a country made .303 rifles, a double barrel gun, six grenades, four landmines, four mortar bombs, one claymore mine, packets of explosives, jungle warfare training documents, solar panels, generator sets, UPS, tarpaulin and war fatigues were seized from the camps. The security personnel missed Kishenji narrowly, said sources. They had managed to trap him during the stand-off. But, the forces ran out of rations and had to withdraw, said sources. Forces returned to their base camps at Kiriburu and Manoharpur on Monday as they were exhausted fighting in a difficult terrain.
  • Dispossession of the Adivasis of Jharkhand

    By Stan Swamy
    05 August, 2010,  Sanhati.com

    The dispossessed Adivasi is hunted as a criminal; the looter-outsider has become ‘honourable citizen’

    1. The sad story of impoverishment of the Adivasi [the tribal people of India]: A few examples will suffice. Gladson Dungdung is a young human rights activist and writer. His family had 20 acres of fertile land in Simdega district, Jharkhand . It was forcibly acquired by the govt for the construction of a dam at a terribly low rate. The compensation for the 20 acres fertile land the family got was Rs. 11,000. Even by minimal standards, it should have been at least Rs. 20 Iakhs. This is just one example among many many such deprivations. Is this not deliberate impoverishment of a people ?
    2. The Suvernrekha Project in Chandil, Jharkhand, displaced 120 villages and alienated 43,500 acres of land from the Adivasi, Moolvasi communities. A rehabilitation package was worked out 27 years ago. But it has not been implemented in about half of the villages. Yet people of these villages have lost every thing they had. To add insult to injury, the project management wants to close the radial gates of the dam which will inundate 44 villages awaiting rehabilitation Is this not a deliberate act of deprivation of a people?
    3. Heavy Electricals Company (HEC) in Ranchi displaced 12,990 families and alienated 9,200 acres of land from Adivasi, Moolvasi communities. Of this, about 2000 acres of acquired land has been lying idle during half a century. This surplus land should as per law be returned to the original land owners. But the govt is giving it for real estate housing for the well-to-do. Is this not a deliberate violation of the legal rights of a people?
    4. During the past five decades, about 17 lakh of Adivasis & Moolvasis [1.7 million people] have been displaced and about 24 lakh acres of their land has been alienated from them at minimal compensation. Of the displaced, only 25% have been resettled. The remaining 75% have been neatly forgotten. This whole process of dispossession took place without any rehabilitation policy in place. Is this not a deliberate dispossession of a people ?
    5. The sad story of annihilation of the Adivasi: Now big giants in the form of national & multinational companies are landing in Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Orissa like devouring lions to capture huge tracts of Adivasi /Moolvasi land in view of looting the mineral riches. Over 100 MoUs between the govt and respective companies have been signed in Jharkhand alone, threatening the take over of 1,04,000 acres of land. There is no estimate of how many hundreds of villages, how many thousands of families, how many lakhs of persons will be displaced. All this is done without any reference to the gram sabhas which is a requirement as per the PESA Act. Is this not a calculated move by the ruling capitalist class to further impoverish the Adivasi / Moolvasi
    people ?
    6. Having been pushed to the wall during all these decades, the Adivasi/ Moolvasi people have reached a stage when they cannot be pushed any more. They have decided to take their life back into their hands. Clear Resistance Movements are emerging through which they have begun to tell one and all that they will not part with any of their land to any company. Consequently, big companies demanding big chunks of land have not been able to open shop in Jharkhand. A clear assertion of people’s power.
    7. And this is what the capitalist ruling class, the Indian govt, the corporate houses, the urban middle class, the bureaucracy cannot tolerate. They cannot understand how and why the poor Adivasi / Moolvasi farmers can defy the mighty power of the state and the powerful corporate houses. So they have compelled the Indian Govt to declare Operation Green Hunt against the Adivasi and the Moolvasi. It is actually a hunt for the green fields and green forests of the tribal region of central India, because it is beneath the green fields and green forests lay a treasure of minerals of all kinds. And the corporates want to loot them by all means. This is the last straw on the camel’s back, after which the tribals of central India will be wiped out of existence. Is this not a malicious move against the Indigenous People of India?
    8. Now, how to go about doing this act of annihilation? It has to be done in a cleverly manipulated way so that the general usually unthinking majority of the population can be carried along so that the act of extermination does seem justified. Terrorism, extremism, Maoism, Naxalism and the urgent need to counter them is continuously splashed in electronic & print media and the general unthinking public accepts the state’s action of annihilation as legitimate. The stage is now set for the drama of finishing off the extremists by pouring in thousands of para-military forces equipped with sophisticated weapons especially in those areas where there is an abundant stock of minerals.
    9. The villages inside jungles or adjoining jungles are occupied by these mercenary forces. School buildings are occupied thus putting an end to rural children’s education and by the same action stopping the mid-day meal to the children for most of whom that is the only full meal they get to eat. All the young men in these villages become suspects; they are picked up, abused, tortured, arrested in the garb of being ‘naxalites’. Young women wearing salwar-kamiz clothes are abused as being aides of naxalites and ordered to wear saries or school uniform. Grown up men are also beaten up because they do not give the expected answer to the queries of the occupying forces. People are not allowed to have small meetings by themselves as also not allowed to travel out of their villages. Women and children are prevented from going into the jungle to collect minor forest produce. For the first time in tribal history, the village bazaars are closing down because people cannot bring forest produce to buy and sell. The whole village is tense and a sense of fear prevails.
    10. How long will the people live in such an atmosphere? The sad fact is that poverty is deepening in rural tribal areas. Added to this is the fact that monsoon has failed last two years, and a people who survive on mono-monsoon-crop have nothing to eat. Hunger and malnutrition is a stark reality. The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) done recently by Oxford University points out that the eight central Indian states have more poor people than all the sub-saharan African countries put together. Its estimate of poverty in India is: 81% of Scheduled Tribes, 66% of Scheduled Castes, 58% of Other Backward Castes are poor as per the measures of MPI. Why doesn’t the govt do some thing about this rather than hunting the hungry Adivasi people in the name of ‘naxalites’?
    11. Finally, the police and CRPF are indiscriminately using The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) picking up young men from inside buses, from inside their houses, from village bazaars. Most often one does not know where these young men are taken and what happens to them. The judicial process of producing arrested persons before a magistrate within 24 hours has been dispensed with . The tribal areas of Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Orissa wear the look of ‘police state’. The electronic and press media are playing to tune of the govt. A frightful situation indeed. At the same time, the laws which are in favour of the Adivasi/ Moolvasi, such as The Panchayats (extension to Scheduled Areas) 1996, The Forest Rights of Scheduled Castes and other traditional forest dwellers Act, 2006, are not implemented. So the principle seems to be “starve them, shoot them and finish them”! What is awaiting the Adivasi and Moolvasi People of central India in the near and distant future is difficult to predict. One thing is certain: the corporates, the capitalist ruling class, the Indian State, the urban middle class want to see the end of the Indigenous People of India.
  • Chhattisgarh to Step Up Offensive against Maoists

    Sify News, October 12 2010

    Raipur, Chhattisgarh has decided to step up the offensive against Maoist guerrillas.
    The offensive against the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) had slackened since July as the security forces found it difficult to operate in the thick jungles that serve as Maoist hideouts.
    ‘After a let up during monsoon, we will now step up the offensive in Maoist pockets,’ an official at the police headquarters told IANS.
    Chhattisgarh’s 40,000 sq km Bastar region, a long-time stronghold of the Maoists, is ringed by landmines placed by the guerrillas to prevent the movement of security forces.

    The official said that roughly 40,000 personnel drawn from the state police and paramilitary forces including the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Border Security Force (BSF) have been deployed in the five districts of Bastar region.
    These include Dantewada, Bijapur, Bastar, Narayanpur and Kanker.
    The state police force will also intensify operations in parts of Mahasamund and Raipur districts where rebels have made inroads in recent months.
    Maoists have a presence in 13 of state’s 18 districts, with a dominating presence in seven.
    Officials say roughly 2,100 people have been killed in Maoist violence in the state since it was born in November 2000.
  • PCPA calls 48 hour bandh in Janglemahal area

    United News of India,  September 27, 2010

    PCPA Bandh Hits Life

    Jhargram, Sept. 27 -- PCPA activists raised blockade on State Highway nine at six places between Lodhasuli and Jhargram on the second day today of their 48-hour bandh in the Junglemahal areas.  Official sources said the activists blocked the highway by felling trees. These were removed by the security forces in the morning.

    The bandh paralysed life in the Junglemahal areas of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura districts for the second consecutive day.  The People's Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA) was protesting alleged atrocities against innocent villagers by the combined forces.

    Roads wore a deserted looks, while shops and business establishments kept their shutter down. Educational institutions remained shut and attendence in government offices was thin.  Despite the threat by the PCPA that they would target railways, train services were normal.

    SDO Jhargram C Murugan said, ''Life has been paralysed in West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura districts. No untoward incident, however, has been reported so far.''

    Incidentally, a Maoist and a CRPF jawan lost their lives in an encounter on Saturday.

  • CRPF to Remain in Lalgarh

    Sify News, 2010-10-20

    CRPF Director General K. Vijay Kumar has said the Para- military forces will remain in Lalgarh and operations against Maoists will be intensified if necessary in West Bengal.

    Talking to reporters after meeting force's local commanders and senior Bengal police officers here on Tuesday, Kumar said: "The operations against the Maoists would continue and the central forces would remain. If necessary, the operations will be intensified".

    He further said: "I visited Lalgarh and Midnapore to assess the ground-level situation and see how effective the co-ordination was between the CRPF and the state police. The understanding among the forces is good. We looked at ways to take it forward."

    Meanwhile, Chief secretary Samar Ghosh Ghosh said the State government was ready to allot 10 acres of land for the eastern zone headquarters of the CRPF at Jyoti Basu Nagar.

    He also said the State government was going to allot 120 acres to the CRPF for setting up its operational hub. At present, the CRPF's operational hub for eastern zone is located at Jamshedpur.

    "We kept aside a few plots of land for NSG hub, and we will give one of them to the CRPF," Ghosh added.

    Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has asked for the withdrawal of the para-military forces from Naxal affected areas of West Bengal (ANI)

  • Call for Convention on Kashmir

    COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS

    VENUE: LTG AUDITORIUM, COPERNICUS MARG, MANDI HOUSE, NEW DELHI
    DATE: 21-10-2010, THURSDAY TIME: 2PM-8PM

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  • Forum for Promoting lnclusive Growth, 18-19 October, 2010

    Development -- Maladies and Remedies National Seminar
    18 and 19 October 2010 - 11 AM 6 PM
    Auditorium, India International Centre (IIC)
    40, Lodhi Estate, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi - 110003
    On 18 October, and;
    Speakers Hall, Constitutional Club, Rafi Marg, New Delhi
    On 19 October 2010

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  • Chattisgarh : BSF men torture villagers in Kanker

    The villagers of Panchangi and Aalor of Kanker district in Chhattisgarh are a terrified lot. On 5-6 September, Border Security Force (BSF) personnel allegedly ransacked the villages, thrashed the people and subjected them to electric shocks. The district magistrate and the BSF have ordered inquiries to ascertain the truth.

    The villagers say this was in retaliation for the incident on 28 August, when Naxalites ambushed a BSF and District Force raiding party and killed five security personnel in the nearby Bhuski village. After the ambush, when the BSF jawans were unable to arrest Naxals responsible for the attack, they vent their anger on helpless villagers.

    TEHELKA's inquiries revealed that five villagers were beaten so brutally that they were admitted to the district hospital of Kanker in a critical condition. But when the incident came to light, they were discharged immediately, with no mention of their condition in their discharge report.

    During the TEHELKA team's visit to Aalor, women started crying while narrating their ordeal. Sunita said she was lucky that the BSF jawan left her after torturing her for almost 10 hours. But her father Punem Kumar Telami and sister Sarita weren't lucky. They have been branded Naxals and are in police custody.

    According to Sunita, on 5 September, BSF men surrounded the village. They searched her house and threw out all the belongings. Her father was not at home at that time. The BSF men asked both the sisters and their mother to accompany them to a camp because a senior officer wanted to question them.

    When Sunita's father reached the camp, he was detained and her mother was allowed to go. Later in the evening, both the sisters were taken to a camp located in Durg Kondal where Sunita was asked whether she had attended any Naxal meeting. When she denied having done so, angry BSF officers asked his men to give her electric shocks. She immediately admitted to having attended two meetings called by Naxals. She was later released but her sister had no such luck.

    Meanwhile, Sunita's uncle Suklu was put in jail for trying to rescue his nieces. Others, including, Ramnath Duga and Amrita, were assaulted and arrested by the jawans and later branded Naxals.

    Worse was to follow. On 6 September, BSF jawans raided Panchangi village and, according to the villagers, crossed all limits of decency. Viddey Ram, a victim of BSF brutality, is unable to stand on his feet, while his sister Mangtey has been sent to a juvenile home.

    According to villagers, they were asked to assemble at the anganwadi centre and then one by one they were taken to the nearby hill where they were thrashed and asked where they had kept their SLRs (self-loading rifles). When the sarpanch of the village tried to intervene, he was threatened by the jawans.

    Dhanso's brother Narsingh is still not able to walk on his own. Narsingh had married recently and all his household items were destroyed by the BSF jawans.

    Villagers also allege that while the menfolk were being beaten in the hills, some BSF jawans tried to outrage the modesty of the girls. The family of Laluram Koram alleges that a BSF jawan tried to rape his minor girl child. But the presence of several villagers outside his house forced the jawan to beat a hasty retreat.

    Another girl, Urmila, whom TEHELKA was not able to meet, has testified before the Scheduled Tribes (ST) Commission that BSF jawans tried to outrage her modesty as well.

    THE BSF has arrested several persons from these villages, including six minors, who were sent to a juvenile detention centre. When this brutal incident came to light, the state ST Commission constituted an inquiry. But when the chairperson, Devlal Dugga, went to Durg Kondal for the public hearing, villagers were not allowed to attend the meeting on the plea that heavy firing was going on in a BSF camp near Gumdidih jungle.

    Dugga confirmed that villagers were stopped from reaching Durg Kondal. He also said that as soon as he came to know about it, he ordered policemen to bring all the villagers before him.

    He has also asked for the version of those people who are in police custody. After hearing both sides, the commission will submit its report to the government.

    Kanker Collector Nirmal Khakha has ordered a criminal probe into the incident and the BSF, on its part, has also set up a court of inquiry. However, the securitymen remain defiant. "Allegations have been levelled at the jawans. They are yet to be verified," says BSF DIG Ram Avtar.

    Meanwhile, Kanker SP Ajay Yadav is dismissive of the incident. He claims that all these accusations were made under pressure from the Naxalites and the real picture will emerge soon.

    But until the real culprits are identified and punished, the villagers will continue to live in fear of the uniform.

    (Tehelka, 17th September)

     

  • Development, Maladies and Remedies: A National Seminar

    Auditorium, India International Centre (IIC),40, Lodhi Estate, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi - 110003

    14 September 2010, 11 AM 6 PM

    Forum for Promoting Inclusive Growth which has been addressing issues pertaining to the inclusion of the remotest citizen of the country into our economy. We, through this Forum, aim at reaching the benefits of good governance to the remotest areas. The proposed one day National Seminar on Development, Maladies and Remedies addresses the question of sustainable and inclusive growth.

    The recent times are marked by upsurges across the country on different issues. People across the country having lost faith in the system had been resorting to such methods that find them instant justice and completely ignoring the present system of governance. The resentment towards the government policies has often turned violent. In this whole milieu the most used and abused word is the idea and practice of what we know today as development. Increasingly, development denotes prosperity for a few and misery for the multitudes.

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  • India Maoists release police hostages in Bihar

    British Broadcasting Corporation

    Police in the eastern Indian state of Bihar say Maoist rebels have released three policemen they were holding hostage for eight days.

    Last week, the rebels killed one of the four policemen they had taken hostage in Lakhisarai district. They took the policemen hostage last Monday after a gunfight in which seven other policemen were killed. The rebels had threatened to kill all the policemen unless eight Maoist prisoners were released. Indian security forces have been battling Maoists in several states.

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  • On the hostages in Bihar and the execution of Lucas Tete

    [Note from G N Saibaba: The killing of Lucas Tete, one of the four policemen taken hostage by the CPI (Maoist), is regrettable. Killing people after taking them into custody is a pattern followed by the Indian state, as in the case of Azad, and Hemchandra Pandey, but is uncharacteristic of and unexpected from revolutionaries. It is imperative for the CPI (Maoist) to immediately release the remaining police personnel in their custody, as a gesture of their goodwill, and for the Indian government to respond by initiating talks with the CPI (Maoist) genuinely and seriously.]

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  • On the Killing of Umakanta Mahato

    Report on a Fact-Finding Investigation by Banglar  Manabadhikar Suraksha Mansha (MASUM) on the killing of Umakanta Mahato

    MASUM conducted a fact finding over the incident of Umakanta Mahato's killing. The fact finding came to a conclusion that Umakanta killed by the posted joint force comprising of Central Reserve Police Force, Local Police personnel, aided by armed mercenaries of ruling party (Harmad). Umakanta was not only deprived by his fundamental right to life; guaranteed by article 21 of Indian Constitution but the whole incident was contravening to Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials adopted by Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, in which India was a party. In our domestic legal domain there are several provisions and procedures with specific directives for minimum use of power and firearms with basic tenets that also should be used only for self defense. But in contrary to all, Umakanta was killed on 27.08.2010 at about 1.00 am while he was returning from adjoining village at Parulia forest in a motorbike with two associates.

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  • Faking An Encounter: Killing the Peace Process

    Preliminary Report of the All India Fact Finding Team on the Killing of Azad and H. C Pandey
    Released to the media at Hyderabad on 22 August, 2010

    CDRO put together a team of concerned citizens consisting of Prof. Emeritus Amit Bahaduri, J.N.U., Delhi, Senior Counsel of Supreme Court Mr. Prashant Bhushan, Kavita Srivatsava, Human Rights worker from Rajasthan, Gautam Navlakha writer & from PUDR, Delhi, Kranthi Chaitanya, Advocate and General Secretary of APCLC, D. Suresh Kumar, Advocate, APCLC, Ch. Sudhakar Rao, President of OPDR, D. Venkateswarlu, OPDR.

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  • Press Note circulated in the Press Conference held in Press Club, New Delhi on 7 August 2010

    Concerned Citizens:

    • Institute a Judicial Inquiry into the Killing of Azad, Polit Bureau Member of CPI (Maoist) and Freelance Journalist Hem Chandra Pandey!
    • Stop War on People, Take up Peace Process Genuinely and Sincerely!

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  • Public Meeting in Delhi on 3 August Demanding Judicial Inquiry into the Killing of Azad

    A Report on the Public Meeting in Delhi on 3 August Demanding Judicial Inquiry into the Killing of Azad, the Spokesperson and Polit Bureau member of the CPI ( Maoist), along with Journalist Hem Chandra Pandey

    2 PM, 3RD AUGUST 2010,
    RAJENDRA BHAVAN, DEEN DAYAL UPADHYAY MARG, NEW DELHI

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  • August 4th : Delhi Discussion on Search for Peace and State Violence

    The Department of Political Science, University of Delhi

    Invites you for a DISCUSSION (followed by Interaction)

    On

    THE SEARCH FOR PEACE AND STATE VIOLENCE

    Speakers:

    Swami Agnivesh, Social Activist

    Vara Vara Rao, Revolutionary Poet

    Date: Wednesday, 4th August 2010

    Time: 2 pm

    Venue: Lecture Hall, 2nd Floor, Faculty of Social Sciences Building, North Campus.

  • Central Government proposes Unified Command to fight Naxals

    NEW DELHI: In a bid to give a sharp edge to anti-Naxal operations, the Union government on Wednesday asked Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal, worst affected by Maoist violence, to set up a Unified Command.

    Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram told journalists after a meeting of the Chief Ministers of the Naxal-affected States that the proposed Unified Command would be headed by the four States' Chief Secretaries.

    The Unified Command will have a retired Major General as a member. The four States were asked to appoint an Inspector-General-rank police officer to take care of anti-Naxal operations; and appoint an IG (CRPF) as IG (Operations) for that State to work in close coordination with the IG (Anti-Naxal operations) of that State.

    Assam and Jammu and Kashmir have Unified Commands in place, headed by the respective Chief Ministers.

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  • CRPP statement on state repression in Kashmir

    Condemn the Fascist clampdown of the Indian State on the Kashmiri people!

    Condemn the killings of the Kashmiri youth by the lawless army and police of the Indian state!

    Raise international opinion against the blatant arrests of all the political opposition in Kashmir against the Indian State!

    Scrap immediately the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Public Safety Act (PSA)!

    Every act of repression and incarceration of the Kashmiri people is an attack on their right to determine their own future!

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  • The War is On

    by Rahul Pandita

    ‘Dear Swami Agniveshji…’ Thus began a small step that could have ensured long-lasting peace across India’s Naxal-affected zones, virtually half the country. That letter written by top Maoist leader Azad was addressed to Swami Agnivesh, the social activist chosen by the Centre to hold talks with the CPI (Maoist). Things were moving, and there was the optimism that after an endless cycle of violence, peace could finally be achieved. But before that could happen, Azad was killed by the police in what appears to be a fake encounter. With his death, current hopes of peace have all but vanished. Senior Maoist leader Kishenji reacted immediately to Azad’s killing, calling the ruling Congress party “a big betrayer”.

    Open has now learnt from top Maoist sources that much progress had been made towards holding talks with the Government. Azad, as per these sources, was carrying Swami Agnivesh’s letter to the CPI (Maoist)’s guerilla zone in Bastar to discuss it with the Dandakaranya Committee of the party. He had already discussed it with other regional committees, and was moving fast from one place to another to expedite the talks. “This is what the intelligence agencies took advantage of, and managed to zero in on Azad,” says a Maoist leader. Azad was allegedly nabbed from the Nagpur railway station, taken to the forests of Adilabad in Andhra Pradesh (in a helicopter, believe Maoists), and shot dead in cold blood along with another person. “They had been trailing him since March, when they almost got him,” says Gudsa Usendi, spokesperson of CPI (Maoist)’s Dandakaranya Special Zone Committee, where Azad was headed.

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  • The Undelivered Missive: Azad’s Death is No Man’s Peace

    Social Activist Swami Agnivesh sits in his room at 7 Jantar Mantar, perplexed, battling a strange sense of guilt. For the past few months, he has been mediating a backroom dialogue between the Government of India and the CPI(Maoist). Since May 2010, Agnivesh had facilitated the exchange of two letters between the warring parties. On June 26, he dispatched a third letter to top Maoist leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad. “The peace process was at a critical juncture. A very positive response was expected,”

    Agnivesh told TEHELKA. “I was to receive a date from which talks could begin.” Much to his horror, what he received instead was news that Azad — the receipent of his letter — had been killed in the forests of Andhra Pradesh. “It is possible that Azad let his guard down because of my last letter,” Agnivesh said. “It is a great loss for all of us, including the government. Azad was a key person and most favourably disposed to the peace process. We must ensure that his death does not derail the possibility of peace.”

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  • Azad's killing a blow to talks: Swami Agnivesh

    PTI, Jul 7, 2010

    KOLKATA: The killing of Maoist politburo member Azad alias Cherukuri Rajkumar on July 2 was a "serious blow" to peace talks, Swami Agnivesh, who is mediating between the Maoists and the Centre, said on Wednesday.

    "Azad was to negotiate the date for talks when he was killed along with a journalist Hemant Pandey. This is a serious blow to the peace process being negotiated for the last two months," Agnivesh told a press conference here.

    Reiterating his demand for a judicial inquiry into Azad's death, the social activist said, "I am not in a position to say whether it was a fake encounter or not, but I can say that Azad's death has created an environment of distrust among Maoists and it is the duty of the government create a healthy atmosphere again."

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  • Stop the mass crimes in India!

    The Communist Party of Greece (marxist-lennist) condemns the ongoing murderous crusade of the Indian repressive forces, both official and paramilitary, against millions of peasants and Adivasi (tribal people) in central India. The so-called “operation Green Hunt” that was jointly launched by the Central Government in Delhi governments of Indian states like Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh etc, have turned into a bloodbath with killings, mass arrests, tortures and displacements, moving populations and whole villages is nothing short of a genocide. It aims to eliminate the armed revolutionary movement and to serve the plans of the multinational conglomerates.

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  • US offers top-of-line weapons to India

    NEW DELHI: As India inches closer to finalising the purchase of 126 fighter aircraft, the US has offered India top of the line defence weapon systems.

    The Pentagon has said that three agreements that are currently being negotiated between India and the US would allow the country to share key American technologies. “Pentagon is working with India to put three foundational agreements in place with New Delhi that would allow American frontline technologies to be shared with the country,” top Pentagon official Michele Flournoy was quoted as saying.

    Her comments come as India is in the final stages of finalising the $10 billion deal to buy 126 fighter aircrafts. US companies Boeing with its F-18 super hornet and Lockheed Martin with its F-16 fighting Falcons are among the bidders for the contract. Making a strong pitch for awarding of the contract to the US companies, Pentagon official Michele Flournoy pushed for US solutions for India’s defence needs” and said India should opt for American fighter jets as it would pave the way for “more effective protection of mutual security interest in the future” .

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  • CPI(Maoist) Spokesperson Azad killed by Indian government forces in A.P.

    ADILABAD/HYDERABAD, July 2, 2010

    The Andhra Pradesh police on Friday said it had shot dead top naxalite Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad, along with an unidentified cohort, in an exchange of fire in Adilabad district, close to the State's border with Maharashtra.

    The death of Azad, a member and spokesman of the Central Committee of the CPI (Maoist) and a member of the Polit Bureau, has dealt a big blow to the Maoist movement in India. He was an ideologue who had specialised in field-craft as well.

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  • Letters from P. Chidambaram and CPI(Maoist) to Swami Agnivesh regarding possible ceasefire

    Ever since Operation Green Hunt was launched, there have been efforts by different sections of the civil society to enable a dialogue between the Indian government and the CPI(Maoist). Though several unsuccessful attempts for dialogue have been made, what is striking is that different government officials and ministers have continuously dismissed any positive response from the CPI(Maoist), as empty posturing or attempts to gain time for regrouping. In the midst of all this, Operation Green Hunt has of course continued, bringing misery to the lives of the people in the east-central forested regions of the country.

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  • Do Not Renew POSCO MoU

    The Mining Zone People Solidarity Group

    To: Mr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India; Mr. Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Orissa; Mr. Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment and Forests; Ms. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the National Advisory Council

    We write to express our concern at several violations of legal process in the approval of the POSCO project in Orissa, some of which we address below:

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  • Lalgarh : PSBJC calls for boycott of CBI probe into Jnaneswari case

    The Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC) on Friday called upon the people of Jangalmahal (the forested southwestern part of West Bengal) to “boycott” the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the Jnaneswari Express derailment case.

    This follows the CBI declaring the outfit's spokesperson Asit Mahato one of the key conspirators in the derailment plan.

    Meanwhile, the bandh called by the PSBJC in the Paschim Medinipur, Bankura and Purulia districts partially affected normal life, mainly in the forest fringe areas, with shops, schools and offices remaining closed and vehicles staying off the road.

    The bandh was called in protest against the arrest of 13 persons, including three city-based “intellectuals,” from Mathurapur village of the Salboni block in Paschim Medinipur on June 15.

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  • No role in Jnaneswari tragedy, say Maoists

    Mohua Chatterjee, TNN, Jun 9, 2010,

    NEW DELHI: The CPI (Maoist) has denied that the party or even its fringe group PCAPA had anything to do with the Jnaneswari Express derailment in Jhargram. It said it would take stringent action if the party's central leadership found any of its members involved with the mishap. The party also gave an assurance that there would be no attacks on trains in future.

    In the first official statement on the train accident for which the Maoists were blamed, party spokesperson Azad denied involvement in the incident that killed over 150 civilians. Condemning the act, the party statement dated June 1 said, "The removal of panroles on the railway track near Jhargram in West Bengal leading to the accident of Kurla-bound Jnaneswari Express and consequent deaths of 150 innocent civilians and injuries to over 200 passengers is highly condemnable."

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  • Why the Maoists cannot be accused of being involved in the Gyaneswari Express incident

    by Amit Bhattacharyya

    In the early hours of 28 May 2010, a goods train rammed 13 derailed coaches of the 2012 UP Howrah-Kurla Gnyaneswari Express between the Khemshuli and Sardiha stations in West Bengal, killing more than 150 people and injuring many others as reports last came in. The incident occurred around 1.30 a.m. when most of the passengers were fast asleep.  Immediately after the incident, the West Bengal DGP, Bhupinder Singh lost no time in blaming the Maoists for the disaster stating that the rebels had removed pandrol clips and fish plates from both up and down tracks leading to the accident. Mamata Banerjee, the Railway Minister, initially blamed the Maoists for an explosion on the track; later, however, she retracted and held that some political conspiracy was being hatched by the CPI(M) to malign her, her party and the railways department in order gain political mileage to stem inevitable defeat in the coming municipal elections.

    Large sections of the media (Print and TV) have come all out against the Maoists and started publishing reports, editorials and articles almost every day. A section of the civil rights groups have also, without making any enquiry, have accused the Maoists of indulging in such 'terrorist' acts. What is particularly disturbing is that most of these reports appear to be blatantly biased and have not taken into cognizance the statement of denial of their involvement in the incident issued by the Maoists themselves.  Something like the mediaeval Europe type of witch-hunting has started with actors calling upon the central government to engage as many forces as possible to deal with this Maoist 'virus' and rejected any proposal for dialogue with them.

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  • Trampling tribal rights

    By Rajesh Sinha

    Naxalism is only one – and an extreme – reaction to what is happening, and being done, to the people in these areas. Despite talk of development and the arguments about Naxalism being a hurdle to it, the actual situation on the ground gives the lie to government's claims. 

    Take the example of Forest Rights Act, as "The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006" is commonly called. Touted as a shining example of government's 'aam aadmi' oriented approach, the Forest Rights Act (FRA) aims to restore the rights of forest-dwelling communities to land and other resources which were denied to them under the continuing colonial forest laws which do not take into account the ways of life of tribal communities. It provides for recognition of individual family rights over land it traditionally used which was treated as "encroachment," as well as community rights over land and forest, such as for grazing and forest produce. 

    Over two years after the FRA came into force, a visit to Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh – two of the Naxal-affected states – showed that instead of getting the promised benefits, tribals and forest dwellers are, on the contrary, engaged in a desperate fight to save their home, hearth and source of livelihood. A large number of them face displacement as the land they have lived on for generations is in danger of being handed over to various industrial and mining companies.

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  • Anti-Naxal operations - Army, Ministry differ

    New Delhi : The apex Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) that meets this Thursday to discuss and decide the Home Ministry's rejuvenated plan to deal with the Naxal issue needs to bridge the differences between the Home Ministry and the Armed Forces on the conduct of operations.

    While the CCS paper does not talk about Army or Rashtriya Rifles deployment at any stage at present, the larger picture ultimately has to be addressed by the UPA leadership. It cannot afford to yet again clear a six-line, confused mandate to the Home Ministry, like it cleared at the October 8, 2009, meeting.

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  • Adivasi girls accuse SPOs of rape in Chhattisgarh village

    Two sisters live in a clearing in the forest about 10 km beyond the abandoned houses and empty yards of Mukram village in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada district. A third young girl cowers in the courtyard of her aunt's house in neighbouring Tokanpalli. Between 14 and 18 years of age, Kose, Rame and Hidme (names changed) say they fled their homes in Mukram after they were sexually assaulted by Special Police Officers of the Chhattisgarh Police on May 22 this year.

    "We can't return to Mukram," said Rame, "If they [the SPOs] find us again, they said they would cut my body into pieces and bury it in cement and no one would ever find it."

    Situated in the heart of territory dominated by the Communist Party of India (Maoist), Mukram lies along the only road that links the isolated police camps of Jagargunda, Chintalnar, Chintagupha and Polampalli to National Highway 221. While the road is open to civilian traffic, supplies for the police camps are sent every few months in heavily guarded convoys.

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  • Assam Rifles tipped for Bengal rebel zone

    New Delhi, June 7: The Centre has decided to re-deploy the army-led Assam Rifles from border duties in the Northeast to Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh in a blueprint that is being drawn up for a renewed stage in the counter-Maoist offensive.

    The re-deployment is contingent on three factors: the situation on the ground wherever the forces are currently deployed, the availability of civil police to replace the units that will be re-deployed and the weather (the onset of the monsoon could make a large-scale redeployment tardy).

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  • Army, Air Force wary of getting involved in anti-Maoist operations

    NEW DELHI: Amid indications that the Army and the Air Force are chary of getting involved, the government will soon take a call on the proposal to give the armed forces a role in tackling the Naxalite problem.

    According to highly placed sources, the Home Ministry has prepared a document, outlining various options in the face of the escalating Maoist insurgency in Chhattisgarh and other parts of the country.

    The document was sent to the Defence Ministry for its views and it is still being reviewed there.

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  • Chhattisgarh village caught in a vortex of violence

    by Aman Sethi

    Rumours swirling around Mukram suggest that this adivasi village in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada district may soon be abandoned. “There is talk of going to Orissa or Andhra [Pradesh],” said a prominent adivasi leader with familial ties here. “It could happen in as little as a week. Villagers say there is too much pressure from both the Maoists and the police.”

    A mid-sized village of about 100 houses, Mukram shot to prominence as the site where an ill-fated company from the 62nd Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) rested on the night of April 5. At dawn the next day, the company was ambushed by about 300 cadres of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), resulting in the death of 76 security force members.

    In a statement released after the attacks, the CPI(Maoist) praised the efforts of comrade Rukhmati, a Maoist commander and Mukram resident, who was killed in the ambush. On May 11, TheHindu reported the death of Kunjam Suklu, a Mukram resident who, his family members allege, was beaten to death by the CRPF in a fit of retaliatory rage.

    At the time, Dantewada Superintendent of Police Amresh Mishra denied the claims made by the villagers.

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  • “Capitalism most totalitarian ideology ever”

    It is important to win the war in the so-called Maoist areas of the country because a success there will mean the capitalist machine has been stopped. “That gives hope, but, if we lose this, we surrender everything,” Arundathi Roy, Booker Prize winner and activist, said here on Friday.

    Beginning her over 40-minute speech by declaring herself “an independent, non-aligned writer on the side of the resistance,” Ms. Roy went on to lay the problems at the door of capitalism.

    “Capitalism is actually the most totalitarian ideology ever. It cannot tolerate the co-existence of a non-capitalist society and the only non-capitalist society is tribal,” she said at a meeting organised by the Federation Against Internal Repression.

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  • State forced Maoists’ hand: Arundhati Roy

    Ashutosh Shukla / DNA Thursday, June 3, 2010

    Author and activist Arundhati Roy on Wednesday slammed the central government for forcing the tribals to take up arms and called for a re-look at the government’s policy of development.

    Roy, along with journalist Gautam Navlakha, was talking on the subject ‘War on People’ at a press gathering organised by Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR).

    The two panned the government and said that it was forcing war on people. “The government is trying to create and fashion an enemy so that it can justify war,” said Roy.

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  • Indian government offers ceasefire to Maoists

    [In this article, the Telegraph (UK) discloses a new governmental ceasefire offer, while repeating the police claim that Maoists were behind the attack on an express sleeper train--a claim that the CPI(Maoist) and PCAPA have denied]

    By Dean Nelson in New Delhi

    Published: 10:41PM BST 02 Jun 2010

    Its offer, made in a letter from home secretary P Chidambaram, emerged just days after a Maoist attack on an express sleeper train from Calcutta to Mumbai left more than 140 passengers dead. Almost all were civilians.

    The Indian government has failed to contain rising violence and Maoist influence has spread to one third of India's 600-plus districts. Prime minister Manmohan Singh has described the insurgency as India's greatest security challenge.

    The Maoists, known as 'Naxalites' in India after Naxalbari, West Bengal where their uprising began in 1967, are now a powerful force in Orissa, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand states. Their rebellion is for land reform and to protect tribals and poor farmers forced from their land to make way for mining and other developments.

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  • The Second Statement from CPI (Maoist) on the Train Accident

    (Note:  In view of the train accident that took the lives of more than a hundred passengers  and left many more injured who had been travelling by Gnaneswari Express, the railways have been contemplating of postponing train services along that route at night and re-schedule its timings accordingly. In response, the CPI(Maoist) has issued a statement on 29 May 2010 that came out in a Bengali daily Ananda Bazar Patrika published from Kolkata.  It was published on 30 May 30, 2010 under the caption 'The Maoists ask the railways to ply trains without fear' in page 7.)

     

    "We were not involved in the sabotage in the railway line. Still we are being falsely implicated in it."

    CPI (Maoist) tells the Indian rail authorities to ply their trains

    Let the railway authorities ply their trains on schedule. There is nothing to fear.  On Saturday, on behalf of the State Committee of the CPI (Maoist), Aakash issued this statement to the press. "We were not involved in the sabotage in the railway line. Still we are being falsely implicated in it. There is no need to stop railway service on the plea of Maoist sabotage.  Let the rail authorities ply their trains. Nothing (no harm) will be done from our side".

    The Maoists stated: We gave a call for organizing a 'Black Period' from 23 May to 2 June; it was not directed against the railways. Besides price rise and operation by the security forces, it was also directed against the central government policy of selling out shares of public sector undertakings, taking US assistance for the defence sector and the creation of special economic zones. Our aim was to make propaganda and create awareness on these issues among the people. Wearing black badges, organizing processions comprise part of our programme, but there was nothing against the railways. The Maoists claimed: "Whenever there is any programme against the railways or a call for stopping railway services, there is a formal notification much before that date".

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  • Army may step in, chief to meet Chidambaram

    NEW DELHI: With Army chief General V K Singh meeting home minister P Chidambaram after the latest incident involving Maoists on Friday, the armed forces are finalizing action plans to meet any contingency if their role in the ongoing anti-Naxalite operations is extended beyond the present training, surveillance and logistical. 

    "If the government orders us, we will have to step in and take the lead. Drawing up of concrete contingency plans have gained momentum after the Army commanders' conference earlier this month discussed the likely developments and resources required for the anti-Naxalite operations," said a senior officer. 

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  • Trevor Selvam on the West Bengal Train Crash as a Casus Belli

    By Trevor Selvam

    First, the Ms. Quasimodo of Bengal and Indian politics, Mamata Banerjee announces that it was a “bomb blast” with great bombast. Then, Bhupinder Singh, the Police IG and KPSGill-wannabee (who had earlier smeared and lied about Chatradhar Mahato’s insurance, property etc and never bothered to retract anything) says that two posters were found proving that the Maoist PCAPA had taken “responsibility ”for the train disaster. The two posters, it turned out, merely stated the intent of the local PCAPA the reasons for their on-going struggles. Ms. Bomberjee also claimed that a pilot vehicle had passed by just before. She did not state how “before” it was. One hour, two hours, five hours, one day? After the entire place is “infested” with Maoists. Is it not? 

    Now the tone is changing gradually. A foot and half of fish-plates were found removed. A BBC cameraman has displayed the gap in one of their broadcasts. No evidence of a blast any longer. No evidence of gelatine, dynamite, ammonium nitrate. The foreign press had already expressed some caution, in their statements and terminology. But not the Indian press. They are so free, unfettered and dynamic when it comes to spreading innuendo!

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  • Both the CPI (Maoist) and PCAPA have denied their involvement in the Friday train derailment

    by G. N. Saibaba

    Yesterday's( 28 May 2010) Gnaneshwari Express and a goods train tragedy near Kharagpur in West Bengal  in which 80 people were killed and 200 injured was attributed to CPI(Maoist) and Peoples Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) by the media. The media unscrupulously played false news stories blaming CPI (Maoist) and Peoples Committee for two days. Some political parties like Trinomial Congress and the ruling CPI(Marxist)  also blamed these organisations without any verification.  Significantly Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram has declined to attribute the blame on the CPI (Maoist) and also announced that there was no evidence of any bomb blast in the incident.

    The Union Home Minister has ordered an enquiry to find out any possibility of sabotage. During the day the leaders of CPI (Maoist) clarified through a long statement that they were not responsible for the train tragedy and condemned any possible sabotage work if any force involved behind the incident. They have also expressed their condolences for the families of deceased. The PCAPA also clarified that their activists are not involved in this incident. They suspected the ruling CPI(Marxist) to have been involved in the sabotage desperately trying to tilt the public opinion against the fighting forces.

    Purposefully the media did not cover the statement issued by the CPI (Maoist) while playing the false stories and commentaries blaming the CPI (Maoist) for the incident.

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  • 2nd Letter from Peoples’ Committee Against Police Atrocities to Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) and Lalgarh Mancha

    2nd Letter from Peoples' Committee Against Police Atrocities to Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) and Lalgarh Mancha

    Friends, Hul Johar,

    Hope you did receive the letter that we sent to you around the end of this March. We don't have any of your addresses. Moreover, posting the letter is a great problem. Interior villages do not have post offices. Where there is a posting facility, Harmads or the joint forces or both have camped near it. If the bearer of the letter is caught before it is being posted, it is certain that he/she will not return home. This is the scenario of the democratic establishment of Buddha-Chidambaram in today's Jangal Mahal. We believe that there might be a few days' delay, but you will definitely receive this letter.

    The continuous false propaganda in the papers and on wireless or on TV about people's movement in the Jangal Mahal is creating a misconception about us amongst you living in urban and suburban areas. Only 10 to 45% of our statements that are coming out almost every day are covered. That too is appended with the adverse comments of a variety of people, from local newsmen to top brass of the administration.

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  • Unlawful Activities Prevention Act designed for Intimidating Opponents

    Statement by Human Rights and Civil Liberties Groups

    The recent alert regarding use of Section 39 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), issued by the gov­ernment in so-called "public interest", has brought into the open what had so far been implicit in its anti-Maoist policy. The purpose of the circular is to intimidate voices of protests and dissent over govern­ment policies, particularly with regard to Operation Green Hunt. The statement criminalises dissent and makes a mockery of the spirit of critical inquiry, which is at the foundation of a strong democracy. As members of civil rights groups, we consider the statement as an attack on civil society and reminiscent of the Emergency era.

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  • Fix root causes: Dantewada report author to Govt

    New Delhi : The man the Home Ministry chose to inquire into the killing of 76 CRPF personnel by Naxalites in Dantewada last month has a very different opinion of the Naxal problem than that of the Ministry or Home Minister P Chidambaram.

    Former BSF Director General E N Rammohan, who submitted his inquiry report to Chidambaram, today said the government must address the "root causes" of the Naxal problem without which counter-insurgency operations would not be successful.

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  • Orissa - POSCO : Letter to the Prime Minister

    Dear Sir,

    I am writing in the context of the brutal attack of the Orissa police on the peaceful protesters of the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti in Jagatsinghpur District, Orissa. More than 100 people, including many women, have been injured; those seriously injured are receiving no medical care; the police have burned houses and shops as well as the protesters' tents; and the police are blocking the entry or exit of any person from the area. This kind of atrocity can never be justified. But what makes it doubly criminal is that the Orissa government claims to be doing so as they have rights over the land.

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  • PEACE NOW in Tribal Areas - Open Letter to the President of India

    by Dr. B. D. Sharma

    (Former Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes)

    Dear President,

    1. I, with my life-long association with tribal affairs, beginning with the troublesome days in Bastar (1968) and having the privilege of being the last Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (1986-1991), am constrained to approach you at a critical time when we are witnessing virtual collapse of the constitutional regime for the tribal people while being attacked and suppressed in a war like situation..

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  • Denizens of the Other India

    by D. Bandyopadhyay

    Ms Arundhati Roy's "Walking With The Comrades" (Outlook, March 29, 2010) is one of the finest pieces of political travelogue in the current Indo-English literature. It compares well with the classic socio-political writings about the Chinese Revolution like Red Star Over China, Fan Shen, The Scalpel and the Sword and the like. Any convulsive political event does produce such literature from the pens of sensitive and empathic writers.

    That such a piece would create discomfort and unease in the minds of persons who believe and thrive in the status quo is natural. Hence, I am not surprised to read B.G. Verghese's "Daylight At The Thousand-Star Hotel" (Outlook, May 3, 2010). I would not have joined issues with the doyen among Indian journalists but for correcting some of the wrong information he tried to put forward. In polemical writings a certain degree of sarcasm, banter and derision is permitted. I have no problem with that and Ms Roy is highly competent to handle it if she so desires. I felt a bit uneasy with the word "massacre" used by Verghese in his first sentence. Massacre conveys a sense of indiscriminate slaughter of innocent people who may or may not be involved in any conflict. More often than not, it means the killing of a large number of unarmed persons unable to defend themselves against armed marauders.

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  • Orissa/AP - Adivasis allege torture in anti-Naxal operations

    Aman Sethi and D. Chandrabhaskar Rao

    Koraput/Khammam: Seventeen Adivasi villagers of Samna in Orissa's Narayanpatna block claim that they were brutally assaulted in custody last week, an allegation the police have denied.

    According to the villagers, they were picked up on May 9, as part of a joint operation conducted by the Orissa and Andhra Pradesh police along the inter-State border, airlifted to a police station in Andhra Pradesh and held in custody for three days before being released on May 14.

    "Uniformed policemen surrounded our village on Sunday morning [May 9], when we were leaving for the market," said Nachika Jaddo, one of those who were picked up. "Seventeen men, including two dokras [old men] were rounded up, beaten up and then dragged to a spot 2 km away."

    The villagers were then bundled into a waiting helicopter, blindfolded and flown to the Salur police station in Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh.

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  • PEACE NOW in Tribal Areas--Press Invitation

    Date:               May 18, 2010 (Tuesday)

    Time:               12:00 PM to 2:00 PM

    Venue:            Press Club of India, 1 Raisina Road, New Delhi

    Why is it that the largest democracy in the world as India claims to be is undemocratic to some of the most democratic people-the tribals? Why is it that the Indian government since independence has not kept its word with the tribals who believe in the honour of the word?

    We the concerned citizens would invite you to a Press Conference by Dr. BD Sharma, the Former Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, someone who has spend more than half his life among the tribals in his tireless endeavour to understand them closely so as to make sure the place for the inherently democratic tribal people in the Indian Union after 1947.

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  • On the public statement of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi

    Press Statement, 17 May 2010

    We the undersigned welcome the public statement of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, the President of the Congress Party that the extreme neglect of the tribal areas is at the root of the present crisis in those regions. We hope that this appreciation of the need to go deeper into the question would lead to initiatives for immediate cessation of hostilities and dialogue so that the process of people-oriented development can be made feasible.

    Signatories:

    Justice V R Krishna Iyer, Judge (Retd)  Supreme Court of India

    Justice P B Sawant, Judge (Retd)  Supreme Court of India, former Chairperson, Press Council of India

    Shankar Ghosh, Poet

    Amit Bhaduri, Professor Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University

    Mahasweta Devi, writer

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  • Italian Interview of GN Saibaba, vice-president of the Revolutionary Democratic Front of India

    by Geraldina Colotti for the Italian daily Il Manifesto. (Translation by the International Department of the CARC Party)

    1) May you give me some biographical and professional information about you? Which is your current political role? Do you live and work in Andhra Pradesh State?

    Ans: I started my social activism during my student days, starting from 1989. I was associated with a revolutionary student movement called Radical Students' Union (RSU) which originated in 1980 in the state of Andhra Pradesh. This student body mobilized hundreds of thousands of students on all social and political issues along with that pertaining to students and educational institutions. It gave the historic call of 'Go to Villages' to the students. This call actually revolutionised the urban spaces in Andhra Pradesh. This organization was banned by the government in 1991. A number of revolutionary student leaders were killed in cold blood by the police/armed forces of the state. Later on I started working in an anti-imperialist organisation formed at the all India level called All India Peoples' Resistance Forum (AIPRF). This anti-imperialist organization worked to mobilize hundreds and thousands of people all over the country in major rallies and demonstrations against Dunkel draft, WTO, suicide deaths of farmers, against imperialist wars and all other major pro-imperialist policies of Indian rulers. The AIPRF in 2005 merged with other similar organisations to form Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF). It is a federation of revolutionary people's organizations like workers, peasants, youth, students, women and revolutionary cultural organizations across India in 13 states. In most states, its members and main functionaries are arrested and incarcerated. Hundreds of its functionaries either suffer in prisons or work in different forms. But it still works among the people vigorously. Its members are being branded as having links with CPI (Maoist) just because it also believes in revolutionary transformation of Indian Society. But then an overwhelming majority of the Subcontinent does so.

    Presently our organization is involved in mobilizing democratic voices against a major military offensive that the Government of India (GOI) has initiated on the indigenous people of the country, called the Operation Green Hunt (OGH).

    I am an assistant professor of literature at the University of Delhi. I originally come from Andhra Pradesh but for the last one decade am settled in New Delhi.

    2) What are the activities of the Revolutionary Democratic Front of India?

    Ans. This front, as has been mentioned above, is a federation of revolutionary mass organizations working at grassroots level. While each of the constituent organizations works among the various sections of the people on their issues, to revolutionise them as per the understanding of New Democratic Revolution (NDR), the front focuses on larger political issues pertaining to all these sections at state and country-wide level.

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  • Another Bloodbath in on the Way in Jharkhand

    Gladson Dungdung

    Dear friends,

    It is utterly painful for us to inform you that another bloodbath is ready to take place in the name of Development in Jharkhand. A corporate house "Bhushan Steel and Power Limited" is going to conducted "Bhumi Pujan" (format inauguration) of its project on May 16, 2010. The company has singed an MoU with the Jharkhand government on 7 September, 2006 for establishing an integrated steel plant of 3 Mt and 900 MW power plant with the estimated investment of 10,500 crore. Since, a strong People's Movement against the land acquisition for steel and power plants of the Bhushan Steel and Power Limited has been going on at Potka of East Singbhum district in Jharkhand since 2006. Consequently, the company was unable to materialize its project.

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  • Orissa govt mobilising forces near Posco plant site

    BHUBANESWAR: With Orissa government mobilising forces to start forest survey and land acquisition at the proposed plant site of Posco-India near Paradip, the anti-displacement agitators are planning a rally to be addressed by CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan on May 19.

    Jagatsinghpur district collector N C Jena and Superintendent of Police Debadutta Singh confirmed that mobilisation of forces were taking place.

    "We have mobilised forces in view of the law and order situation in the area. How can the agitators deny government servants and police entry to the area?" Jena told PTI.

    About 25 platoons (750 personnel) of armed police have been deployed as well as ambulances and fire tenders in the area.

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  • Anti-displacement activists guarding Orissa village after clash

    Jajpur (Orissa), May 13 (PTI) Anti-land acquisition agitators today kept a vigil over Chandia village in Kalinga Nagar steel hub, where a tribal died and 24 others were injured during a clash between protestors and police.

    Activists and supporters of Bisthapan Birodhi Jana Manch (BBJM), the body protesting displacement of tribals, were guarding the village and not allowing anybody to enter, police said.

    Meanwhile, the body of Laxman Jamuda (55), killed during the clash yesterday, was handed over to a relative after post-mortem, said his nephew Lalmohan.

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  • Orissa : One killed in police firing in Kalinga Nagar

    Jajpur, May 12: At least one person was killed and several injured in police firing in Kalinga Nagar steel hub today.

    The decaesed was identified as Laxman Jamuda, a resident of Chandia village. Police fired at least 10 rounds, sources said.

    Police opened fire when villagers opposing establishment of a steel plant by Tata Steel and construction of a common corridor road in the locality came out to oppose the entry on policemen into their villages.

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  • The Battle for Dandakaranya

    By Nachiketa Desai

    Bastar (Chhattisgarh): A fierce battle is raging along the Indrawati river in Central India. On one side of the river are deployed the para military forces of the Indian state. On the other side, in dense forest, are the Maoist guerrillas.

    The Indian militia calls the battle, operation 'Green Hunt', which is aimed at flushing out the Maoists from the mineral rich forest land so that Indian and multinational corporations can fatten their bottom line by exploiting iron ore, coal and bauxite. The Maoists are fighting to protect the 40,000 square kilometers of dense forest land known as Dandakaranya from these marauding companies.

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  • Al Jazeera - Avi Lewis interviews Arundhati Roy

    In 1997, Arundhati Roy's first novel The God of Small Things made her the first Indian woman to win the prestigious Booker Prize. More than six million copies of the book were sold worldwide.

    Since then, she has turned her pen to politics. During the Bush years, she was a fierce critic, calling the invasion of Afghanistan "an act of terror on the people of the world".

    In India, she has campaigned against mega dams projects, denounced the rise of Hindu nationalism, and has been imprisoned by the Supreme Court of India for "corrupting public morality".

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  • Supreme Court calls for Chhattisgarh report on NHRC findings

    New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to send a team of rights activists, at this stage, to Chhattisgarh to look into complaints of rights violations. Instead, it directed the State government to submit a report on the action taken on the findings of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

    What steps have been taken?

    A Bench comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices Deepak Verma and B.C. Chauhan said: “As regards the implementation of the NHRC Report, the government is directed to file a detailed report as to what steps have so far been taken regarding the registration of various criminal cases and the progress made in the various criminal cases which are already pending in courts.”

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  • Civil society groups criticize threats against "Maoist sympatheizers"

    Civil society groups take umbrage at MHA's warning to Maoist sympathizers

    GN Bureau | new delhi | May 07 2010

    Civil society groups and individuals have reacted sharply to the Home Ministry's statement warning severe punishment to anyone found supporting the Maoists by propagating their ideology or collaborating with them.

    Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba described it as a clear violation of democratic rights of individuals and civil society groups, many of whom, he said, held political views similar to those of the Maoists though they had no link with the ultras. "There is a possibility of misuse of power as views of people who are against the government's policies may be interpreted as propaganda for the CPI(Maoist)", he remarked.

    Saibaba, who is often seen with civil society groups opposing the government's anti-Maoist security operation, said the MHA directive directly violated the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the constitution.

    Mahipal Singh, national secretary of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), a leading organization fighting against infringement of civil and democratic rights, said holding a political view and political ideology was no crime, even if it was the Maoist ideology.

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  • Demand the release of Mr. Mirza Iftikhar Hussain!

    PRESS RELEASE

    07/05/10

    Condemn the blatant communal prejudice in the matter of delaying the release of Mr. Mirza Iftikhar Hussain!

    We condemn the harassment of Dr. SAR Geelani who has been targeted for a criminal prosecution on the basis of false and extraneous considerations.

    The Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) takes strong exception to the way the media has voiced the story of Dr. SAR Geelani facing criminal proceedings for "furnishing false information" to the court. Given the vitiated atmosphere that media trials have generated, particularly the prejudice caused to those who belong to a certain community , it is important to bring forth certain facts which squarely expose the patent lies that have been carried in the media regarding the case slapped on Dr. SAR Geelani.

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  • The Indian state tries to stifle protests

    (The following is a compilation of important news reports related to the Home Ministry's statement directed towards intellectuals and civil society organisations)

    The Government of India has warned what it calls "sympathisers" of the Maoists / Naxalites in the country that they face action under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. The state's warning that it can take such action simply means that the expectation of inquiry and dialogue into the causes underlying Maoist / Naxalite programmes is a misplaced one.

    The statement by the Ministry of Home Affairs is titled 'Government Asks People to Be Vigilant of CPI (Maoist) Propaganda' (Thursday, May 06, 2010):

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  • Telegraph India: Rebel friends warned

    OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

    New Delhi, May 6: The Centre today issued a public warning to social workers, artists and authors with whom it suspects Maoists are in touch and threatened them with arrest if they helped the banned rebels in their propaganda.

    Human rights activists immediately saw in the warning a precursor to a large-scale countrywide crackdown on civil liberties outfits, writers, lawyers, academics and journalists.

    The move is exceptional in that such a public warning through a media note has probably never been made even against fundamentalist outfits.

    The press note, issued by the Union home ministry, described the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and its frontal organisations as terrorists "whose sole aim is armed overthrow of the Indian state and that they have no place in India's parliamentary democracy". The note warns the public against assuming that the Maoists are a political outfit and asks them to be treated like terrorists.

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  • Supporting Maoists will invite 10 year jail

    NEW DELHI: Those who speak in favour of Maoist guerrillas will face legal action and 10 years imprisonment, the government announced Thursday in a warning to civil society groups who raise voices in favour of Leftwing extremism.

    "Any person who commits the offence of supporting such a terrorist organisation (like Communist Party of India (CPI)-Maoist) with inter alia intention to further the activities of such terrorist organisations would be liable to be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or with fine or with both," a home ministry statement said.

    It said such action would be taken under Section 39 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

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  • An Appeal against the Home Ministry’s Act of Intimidation

    Gladson Dungdung

    This is to inform you that the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Government of India has been monitoring my activities almost everyday, which I got to know from an officer of the Ministry who visited to my office at 11 AM on 29th of April 2010. He informed me that I was taken seriously by the Ministry in 2008 when I had started raising serious questions against the Arcelor Mittal Company, who has signed an MoU for 12 Mt Steel Plant with the investment of Rs. 40,000 crore. Mr. Arjun Munda then the Chief Minister of Jharkhand had shown it as the biggest achievement of his one-year tenure. We the Adivasi youth had protested under the banner of Jharkhand Indigenous People’s Forum against a tie-up between the DON BOSCO ITI and Arcelor Mittal Company. Consequently, they had to break the tie-up.

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  • Chidambaram greeted with black flags, slogans at Jawaharlal Nehru University

    New Delhi, May 5 (PTI) Union Home Minister P Chidambaram was tonight greeted with slogans and black flags by a group of students at the Jawaharlal Nehru University here over the government's approach to combat the Maoists.

    Chidambaram arrived at the JNU campus at around 9:30 pm to attend an anti-Maoist programme organised by NSUI, the students' wing of Congress, at the School of Social Sciences auditorium.

    Activists belonging to All India Students Association (AISA) and Democratic Students Union (DSU) shouted slogans against the Home Minister outside the auditorium as he reached the venue.

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  • Chattishgarh : Project-affected villagers boycott NMDC hearing

    Aman Sethi

    Dantewada: "Is there anyone in this room from Kadampal village?" asked presiding officer Emil Lakra at the environmental public hearing held at the Collector's office in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh. "Anyone from Cholnar? Hiroli? Goomiapal? Madari?"

    Not a single project-affected person stood up, but the hearing for the expansion of mining operations of the National Mineral Development Corporation's Kirandul project continued regardless. NMDC officials briskly went through a power-point presentation filled with tables, bullet-points and contour maps as the gathering of about 50 women and 10 men, collected by the NMDC and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, watched mutely.

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  • Delhi : May 4 Protest Dharna against Assault on Democratic Rights

    PRESS RELEASE May 4, 2010

    In protest against the mounting atrocities and assaults on people and their democratic rights ever since the UPA-2 Government came into power at the Centre almost a year ago with Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister, a dharna was organized by civil and democratic rights organizations, people's organizations, students organizations, trade unions at the Jantar Mantar on the 4th May 2010.

    While addressing the dharna many of the speakers talked about the increasing detention, incarceration and witch hunt of various activists and leaders of people's organizations. Many of the speakers pointed about the complicity of the media in this vicious campaign of the Indian state to stifle all voices of dissent. Among the speakers who addressed included Neelabh, progressive writer, GN Saibaba Forum Against War on People, Mrigank of the Nav Jawan Bharat Sabha, Shoma Sen CAVOW, Arjun Prasad Singh, PDFI, advocate Rajesh Tyagi, Anees Campus Front of India, Vijendra JNU Forum Against War on People, Munishwar CPDM etc.

    All struggles in defence of land, of mineral resources, for defense of democratic rights are the targets of the government. Anyone who are daring to raise their voice against the anti-people, pro-corporate, policies of the government have become the target of state repression in the form of an undeclared emergency.

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  • Natural resources under threat from eminent domain doctrine: Binayak Sen

    Natural resources in the country are under threat as vast tracts of land, forest and water reserves are being handed over to Indian affiliates of international finance capital under cover of the eminent domain doctrine, or the state's pre-eminent ownership of land, Binayak Sen, human rights activist and vice-president of the People's Union for Civil Liberties, said on Monday.

    Dr. Sen cited Chhattisgarh as an example of the dispossession phenomena to illustrate how the hold exercised by the poor over their resources was increasingly coming under challenge with industrial and economic development.

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  • Kalinganagar villages under siege

    Amit Sengupta

    On March 30, they tried yet again to crush this non-violent movement. Since then, tribal villages in Kalinganagar in Orissa are under siege by the police, in symphony with "Tata goons" - as locals call them - and ruling party (BJD) supporters. 'Outsiders' are not allowed to get in, people are not allowed to move out. Food, medicine, relatives, journalists, civil society groups, nobody is allowed. BJP leader Jual Oram and Congress leaders were attacked by "BJD-Tata goons"; three journalists were beaten up badly when they tried to record this attack, their cameras smashed, their valuables looted.

    Here's a report by independent journalists from the ground, confirmed by activists and documentary filmmakers from Orissa who spoke to Hardnews during the Independent People's Tribunal held in Delhi from April 9 to 11: "The March 30 attack was the culmination of months of sporadic aggression by the police and Tata goons. That day the police simply did not try to maintain law and order, rather they first sprayed rubber bullets and plastic pellets on the tribals, entered Baligotha village, set food-stocks afire, poured kerosene in the wells, killed cattle, vandalised the memorials of the martyrs of January 2, 2006 police shootout, looted valuables, stole livestock and destroyed all sorts of electronic machines like TVs, DVD players, sewing machines, etc...

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  • Odisha tribals oppose operation Green Hunt

    Malkangiri, May 1: It was a rare show of strength when more than 10000 tribal men and women gathered in this district headquarters town today to oppose operation Green Hunt against the Maoists.

    The tribals who came under the banner of Malkangiri Zilla Adivasi Sangha took out a rally holding banners and placards opposing the alleged police excesses in the name of action against the Maoists.

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  • A billion-dollar plan to train youth in Red belt

    NEW DELHI: For school dropouts and unemployed tribal youth in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada and Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli, poverty and hopelessness have long been two key binding factors in their lives.

    Now the government wants to lock them, and with them youth in 32 districts spread across seven other states, in one tight embrace to keep them away from the third factor common to these areas: the Maoists.

    Aware that the spreading menace cannot be tackled purely as a law-and-order issue, the government is readying a ‘hearts and mind’ plan to send youth from Maoist areas to industrial training institutes in major cities such as Kolkata and Hyderabad, while simultaneously rolling out a network of brand new training centres in 34 districts across nine states.

    Under this plan, about 5,000 school dropouts and unemployed youth from the country’s so-called “red corridor” districts will, starting August this year, board trains to travel to the country’s best industrial training centres, a senior government official told ET.

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  • Centre mulls equity war against Maoists

    New Delhi, April 28: Given a bloody nose by Maoists, the government is planning to add a new weapon to its arsenal - free shares.

    Companies taking over land for mining will have to allot 26 per cent "free" equity to people whose plots are being acquired, according to a draft bill the Centre is planning to introduce soon. The move comes in the wake of mounting pressure to find ways to tackle the Maoist problem apart from use of force.

    One reason Maoists have succeeded in extending their domain is because they have been able to tap tribal anger over inadequate compensation for land acquired by mining companies.

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  • Allegation of revenge killing by CRPF to be probed

    New Delhi, Apr 29 (PTI) NHRC will inquire into a complaint alleging that security forces killed a villager and branded him a Maoist in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada "in an act of revenge" for the massacre of 76 security personnel by the extremists a day after the Naxal ambush on April 6.

    The Nation Human Rights Commission took cognisance of the complaint filed by a rights activist and lawyer Radhakanta Tripathy. It told its Director General (investigation) to collect "all the requisite reports" within eight weeks.

    Tripathy alleged in his complaint that Chattisgarh police and CRPF personnel picked up one Kunjum Suklu while raiding Mukram village in Dantewada on April 7 and beat him to death "in an act of revenge".

    "Not only this, they also branded Suklu, a poor villager, a Maoist," he charged.
  • CRPP Press Release : Produce Mr. Gopal Mishra, Mr. Pradeep trade unionists and Ms. Anu, wife of Gopal Mishra before the court!

    The Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) would bring before the media the news as per available from civil rights groups Mr. Gopal Mishra, a trade unionist was taken to custody by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police on the 25 April 2010 from Ramnagar, Nathu Colony, East Delhi. They reached his residence along with him at 11 am on 26 April 2010 and waited till evenimg for his wife Ms. Anu to return, according to Mr. Ritesh Kumar the owner of the house in which Mr. Gopal Mishra was staying as a tenant. The house owner was later told by the police that they were taking him to the police station. Later it became clear that along with Mr. Gopal another trade unionist Mr. Pradeep was also taken away by the police. It is also reported that along with another person whose identity is not known was also detained. Even after 24 hours of the detention of all of them they have not been produced in the court. There is no news about the whereabouts of Gopal's wife, Ms. Anu.

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  • Public Meeting on Indian State’s War on People and the Assault on Democratic Voices

    FORUM AGAINST WAR ON PEOPLE

    Public Meeting on

    Indian State's War on People and the Assault on Democratic Voices

    3pm, 24 April 2010, Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi


    PRESS RELEASE

    24th April 2010

    In a public meeting organised by the Forum Against War on People at the Gandhi Peace Foundation on 24th April 2010, various organisations and individuals unequivocally demanded an immediate and unconditional stop to Operation Green Hunt and the plunder of people's resources. Prof.Randhir Singh, prominent political thinker and former Head of the Department of Political Science in University of Delhi, noted that "the present government has armed itself with all kinds of armed forces in its war against people. In many parts of the country the behaviour of the Indian state can only be described as a terrorist state. Much has been made of the recent killing of 76 CRPF personnel in Dantewada. But what were they doing in that place? Is it not to repress the people and take away their land and resources to make way for the big corporations? People's democratic verdict has been repeatedly flouted by the ruling classes. So the people need extra-parliamentary sanctions to pursue the democratic aspirations of the people.

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  • Brazilian Peasants Protest against Operation Green Hunt and the Persecution of People in India

    The demonstration occurred on April 19th, 2010 in front of the Indian Embassy in Brasilia, and was organized by LCP-Liga dos Camponeses Pobres (League of Poor Peasants), as part of the International Campaign Against War on the People in India.The campaign aims to coordinate international support for the resistance of the Indian people against the military offensive of the Indian state unleashed in "Operation Green Hunt."  (See video)

    The Cebraspo (Brazilian Center for Solidarity with the Peoples), organized these demonstrations of solidarity with the resistance of the adivasis, and demands:   The immediate end of the Operation Green Hunt and the attacks on the adivasi people, other nationalities, and the CPI (Maoists);

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  • ‘782 mn Indians would be living on under $2 a day by 2015’

    Washington: A whopping 782 million Indians will be living on less than two dollars a day by 2015, a joint report by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund said here on Friday.

    The report titled 'Global monitoring report 2010: The MDGs after the crisis, however said the number of poor Indians living on less than two dollars would moderately decline to 686 million by 2020. But the report adds that by the turn of the next decade as many as 268 million Indians would be living on less than 1.25 dollars a day, while in 2015 the figure would be 295 million.

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  • Eminent persons condemn attempts to prosecute Arundhati Roy for Walking with the Comrades

    The Director General of Police, Chhatisgarh is reported to be seriously examining whether writer Arundhati Roy should be prosecuted under the Chhatisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA) / Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for having written the article Walking With The Comrades, which was published by Outlook magazine recently.

    The article is a journalistic account of what is happening on the other side of the battle lines in this War in Chhatisgarh which is also called Operation Green Hunt. It provides the readers with the story of what the Maoists are doing and thinking and how they are received and perceived by the villagers living in the areas where they operate. It is a detailed, sensitive and honest account of their history, their motivations, their thinking and their methods.

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  • 24 April Press Statement - Indian State's War on People and the Assault on Democratic Voices

    FORUM AGAINST WAR ON PEOPLE

    In a public meeting organised by the Forum Against War on People at the Gandhi Peace Foundation on 24th April 2010, various organisations and individuals unequivocally demanded an immediate and unconditional stop to Operation Green Hunt and the plunder of people's resources. Prof.Randhir Singh, prominent political thinker and former Head of the Department of Political Science in University of Delhi, noted that "the present government has armed itself with all kinds of armed forces in its war against people. In many parts of the country the behaviour of the Indian state can only be described as a terrorist state. Much has been made of the recent killing of 76 CRPF personnel in Dantewada. But what were they doing in that place? Is it not to repress the people and take away their land and resources to make way for the big corporations? People's democratic verdict has been repeatedly flouted by the ruling classes. So the people need extra-parliamentary sanctions to pursue the democratic aspirations of the people. Without extra-parliamentary sanction to defend, the people will not be able to fight for democracy. What is happening in this country is part of a much larger story unfolding. Whether it is Congress or BJP, they are part of furthering the neo-liberal capitalist path of development. In contrast, the people's alternative path of development has to be pursued and struggled for."

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  • Prime Minister rejects opposing voices within ruling party

    NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, too, has distanced himself from Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh’s stand over the Naxal problem on Wednesday saying that there cannot be any concessions to those challenging the authority of the Indian state.

    The prime minister, who has consistently described Naxalism as the gravest internal security threat to India, told civil servants at a function in the Capital that said that recent events had underscored the need for urgent and considered action to root out the problem.

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  • Lalgarh : PCPA calls for indefinite road blockade

    Jhargram (WB), Apr 22 (PTI) Maoist-backed PCPA today called for a road blockade in West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia, a day after it announced an indefinite bandh in these tribal-dominated districts.

    The road blockade would continue till the Centre and the state government call off the anti-Maoist operations in the three districts, People's Committee against Police Atrocity (PCPA) leader Manoj Mahato said.

    Mahato alleged that the security forces were harassing the locals in these districts during anti-Maoist operations.

    (PTI, April 22nd)

  • Press statement by ‘Campaign against War on People' on repression inJNU

    On 9th April, 2010, ‘JNU Forum against War on People' organised a cultural programme titled ‘A Cultural Evening of Protest against Operation Green Hunt' at Godavari Dhaba in JNU to oppose the sate-military offensive on tribals of Eastern and Central India. The programme included, as its pamphlet clearly states, a play called ‘Sadak' written by Habib Tanvir, screening of documentary and songs, poetry, performances by students from JNU, Jamia and Delhi University. As soon as the programme started, a group of miscreants led by ABVP and NSUI leaders tried to disrupt the event by shouting slogans and abusing the organisers. Apprehending an attack on the performers, students present in the audience formed a human chain around the stage. However, the ABVP and NSUI hooligans broke this human chain forcefully, physically assaulting and injuring students, to clear their way to the stage. They disconnected the electricity, destroyed audio-visual equipments, vandalised the dais and beat-up anyone, who dared to come on their way. Number of students were injured in this attack and had to be taken to AIIMS for medical help. While ABVP-NSUI-YFE goons went on the rampage, the chief security officer of JNU, who was present at the spot, remained a mute spectator. The next day, when students were protesting against this incident, once again some ABVP-NSUI-YFE miscreants started pelting stones at the protesters and tore down the posters of ‘JNU Forum against War on People'.

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  • April 15 Letter to the NHRC by Mr. Kobad Ghandy

    COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS

    We at the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) received a Memorandum addressed to your esteemed office from Mr. Kobad Ghandy-facing trial under UAPA and at present lodged at the Tihar jail-through his lawyer. We believe that the issues he has raised in his letter are of paramount significance especially when we address the question of right to a free and fair trial in a democracy without being prejudiced, intimidated or discriminated.

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  • Permanent Peoples' Tribunal Report on War Crimes in Sri Lanka

    The Delhi Tamil Students Union and the Democratic Students Union jointly organized a convention titled "The Unspoken Genocide: War Crimes in Sri Lanka" in Delhi on the 15th of April. Focusing on the Dublin based Permanent People's Tribunal report that indicted the Sri Lankan government of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the speakers charged the Sri Lankan government with genocide and criticized the international powers for their support to the war crimes committed by the Lankan state. The Indian English version of the report was released by Ajit Singh Bains, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Kolathur Mani.

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  • 100 million more Indians now living in poverty

    NEW DELHI: India now has 100 million more people living below the poverty line than in 2004, according to official estimates released on Sunday.

    The poverty rate has risen to 37.2 percent of the population from 27.5 percent in 2004, a change that will require the Congress-ruled government to spend more money on the poor.

    The new estimate comes weeks after Sonia Gandhi, head of the Congress party, asked the government to revise a Food Security Bill to include more women, children and destitutes.

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  • Gujarat : Rights activists being branded and jailed

    Dangs is the smallest and perhaps the most scenic Adivasi district of Gujarat. As you soak in the beauty and breathe the fresh air, Ashish Pawar, a young Adivasi activist acting as a guide, struggles to explain why his "god", activist Avinash Kulkarni, who has been branded a Maoist by police, was arrested. Fearing a similar fate for himself, he adds, "I don't even understand what Naxalism or Maoism means."

    In south Gujarat, police arrested at least nine "Maoists" in February and March claiming they received information from the Orissa government that Naxals were preparing for a violent movement in the state. But so far, Gujarat Police have not produced any evidence - except alleged confessions by those arrested - that they were involved in any armed, violent or anti- State activity. Before this, police have not registered any Maoist activity in the region since 1998.

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  • We Don’t Need No Thought Control (at JNU)

    Rona Wilson

    JNU'S BID TO CURB FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY IS AN `OPERATION GREEN HUNT' ON CAMPUS

    THEY SAY every major structural shift of the State's policy options is preceded by a commensurate enactment of law. Perhaps what is unfolding in higher education in India, especially in campuses like JNU, are ominous portents of further authoritarianism in university education in India. The HRD minister set to open the huge education market for foreign capital as and when the Foreign Universities Bill is passed — yes, another SEZ is in the making.

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  • ‘War against the poorest' - Arundhati Roy

    KOLKATA: Accusing the Centre of waging war against the “poorest people,” under the pretext of fighting Maoists in the mining belt, with the purpose of creating a “good investment climate,” author and social rights activist Arundhati Roy on Wednesday said creation of an atmosphere conductive to negotiations between the government and left-wing extremists was the only way out of the ongoing violence in the red corridor of India.

    Addressing a press conference here, Ms. Roy said: “Let the State governments make public the terms of the hundreds of memorandums of understanding signed with corporate houses, rehabilitate the thousands of people displaced by the violence perpetrated by the security forces and the Salwa Judum [state-backed vigilantes in Chhattisgarh] and also restore a sense of confidence among the tribal population about their positive intentions. That is the only way out.”

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  • The other side of transactions in a violent system

    Sumanta Banerjee

    It is understandable that human rights/civil liberties organizations should come out with statements deploring the killing of security forces (e.g. PUDR press statement on the wiping out of 75-odd CRPF personnel in Chhattisgarh on April 6) on the purely humanitarian ground that any loss of life is deplorable. But civil society groups or individuals who view the issue from a larger perspective need to take a more rigorous and clear-cut stand. If they agree that the fundamental issues raised by the Maoists are right, even if they do not accept their tactics (in other words, if they are well-disposed towards the basic Maoist critique of the present exploitative system and sympathize with their efforts to build up alternative structures of egalitarian governance in their areas of control, without supporting their tactics of indiscriminate killings of innocent civilians), they have to recognize the stark reality.

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  • 6,000 more CRPF men to be deployed for anti-Naxal operations

    Government will send around 6,000 CRPF personnel to naxal-affected States of the country including Chhattisgarh where 76 securitymen were recently killed in a Maoist attack.

    The six battalions of the CRPF to be sent for anti-Maoist operations will be drawn from units which have recently finished training and are scheduled to go for deployment, sources said.

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  • Lalgarh : PCAPA strike hits essential supplies

    Kolkata : The indefinite strike called by the People's Committee Against Police Atrocity (PCAPA) five days ago has hit the essential supplies in West Midnapore but the PCAPA ruled out calling off strike until the Jawahar Mahato, a quack and an alleged active member of CPI-Maoist, is released from the police custody. Manoj Mahato, the convener of the PCAPA's health wing, said, "Under no circumstances will we withdraw the strike from the three districts till our leader Jawahar Mahato is released." Schools, colleges, shops, hospital, court and most administrative offices remained shut. The Jhargram-Lodhashuli Highway, a key route for trucks, was open but the truckers are sacred of using it. The block development offices are, however, open in West Midnapore district.

    (Indian Express, 13th April)

  • Chhatisgarh Police Mulls Action Against Arundhati Roy

    First came the report in today's Hindi daily Nai Duniya, published from Bhopal, with the dateline Raipur, that the police in Chhattisgarh was considering action against author Arundhati Roy under under Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act-2005. And then came the corroboration from various police sources.

    Apparently, one Vishwajit Mitra, has lodged a complaint at the Telibanda police station in Raipur, pointing out that the contents and photographs of Arundhati Roy's essay "Walking With The Comrades", published in the March 29 issue of Outlook could attract action as an offence under Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act-2005.

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  • Supreme Court will hear rehab-for-tribals plea next week

    New Delhi: The Supreme Court (SC) will consider next week a significant plea for setting up a committee to monitor rehabilitation of displaced tribals in Maoist-affected areas.

    Nandini Sundar, a sociology professor at Delhi University, had filed a petition in 2007 asking for a ban on Salwa Judum, an armed network of civilians created in Chhattisgarh in 2005 to counter Maoists. She also suggested that the court oversee implementation of the rehabilitation plan.

    Nandini’s lawyers argued that the state itself was financing violence rather than defending citizens. The petition quoted official figures and said that Maoist violence had increased many-fold in the state. In the past year, there’s been a fresh escalation of violence due to Operation Green Hunt.

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  • Tribunal: 'How can tribals be silent in face of state terror?'

    NEW DELHI: Retired judges, lawyers, human rights activists and poor tribal villagers were united in their demand for a change in the way the government views development — from a paradigm of increasing the GDP or growth by displacing and impoverishing the poor, to one that means improving the standard of living of every single person in the county, whether he or she lives in hills, forests, plains or in a city.

    This unfolded at a tribunal to look into the rights of tribal people in light of land acquisition, resource grab and ‘Operation Green Hunt’. Over three days, the tribunal heard activists and villagers from the tribal areas of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Orissa recount the atrocities they experienced daily at the hands of local police and central security forces for protesting against displacement or other illegal activities on their land.

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  • Lalgarh - Not received concrete proposal for talks: PSBJC

    While reaffirming its willingness to sit for talks with the Centre, the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC) on Sunday said it had not received any “concrete proposal” for discussions.

    “Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram came here and said he was ready for dialogue with the PSBJC, but he didn't give any proposal on how these talks will be conducted or structured,” PSBJC spokesman Asit Mahato told The Hindu over telephone.

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  • People's Tribunal Jury : Interim Observations and Recommendations

    The jury heard the testimonies of a large number of witnesses over three days from the States of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Orissa as well as some expert witnesses on land acquisition, mining and human rights violations of Operation Green Hunt. The immediate observations of the Jury are as follows:

    Tribal communities represent a substantial and important proportion of Indian population and heritage. Not even ten countries in the world have more people than we have tribals in India. Not only are they crucial components of the country’s human biodiversity, which is greater than in the rest of the world put together, but they are also an important source of social, political and economic wisdom that would be currently relevant and can give India an edge. In addition, they understand the language of Nature better than anyone else, and have been the most successful custodian of our environment, including forests. There is also a great deal to learn from them in areas as diverse as art, culture, resource management, waste management, medicine and metallurgy. They have been also far more humane and committed to universally accepted values than our urban society.

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  • P. Chidambaram, Whose 'Home' Minister? Just Plain Resign And Go!

    Trevor Selvam

    Instead of offering to quit, Mr. Chidambaram should very simply have resigned and walked away. That would have shown some genuine morality, not the play acting and drama associated with trying to salvage his bruised ego by "offering"to resign.

    Real moral people make up their minds, talk to their family and friends the night before, take their special South Indian two yard coffee from stainless steel cups in the morning and then send in their resignation. Khalas! No ifs or buts, sir!--- as you had clearly stated a while ago to the Maoists. No conditions, no tentativeness-please ABJURE from drama therapy. The nation does not need it.

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  • Independent People’s Tribunal : Press Release 10th April

    Social Scientists, Experts and Adivasi representatives depose before the Jury;
    Testimonies on Land Grab and Government/Corporate Atrocities in Jharkhand and West Bengal

    A poignant session (9.4.2010) on Chhattisgarh and the situation of adivasis was presented at the Independent Peoples Tribunal on Land Acquisition, Resource Grab and Operation Green Hunt on 9.4.2010. This was followed by a second session focusing on two other states (where the Operation Green Hunt has recently commenced) with presentations and depositions on 10.4.2010. Speakers from Jharkhand and Orissa testified on numerous violations of laws, relating to land acquisition, tribal protection, pollution, and other violations of the Indian Constitution by corporations and the state governments.

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  • Arrest of prominent human rights activist, Kirity Roy, condemned - UN Human Rights Chief and NHRC urged to intervene

    New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) today condemned the arrest of Mr Kirity Roy, Secretary of Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) by the Anti Terrorist Cell of Kolkata Police this morning as a desperate act to silence dissent in West Bengal and demanded his immediate and unconditional release.

    Mr Roy was arrested from his residence at Serampore, Hooghly in Kolkata at around 9 AM today in connection with Taltala Police Station case no. 134/2008 dated 9 June 2008 under Section 170 (Personating a public officer), Section 179 (refusing to answer public servant authorized to question), Section 229 (Personation of a juror or assessor) and Section 120B (Criminal Conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code against Mr. Kirity Roy and others of MASUM. This case was registered for organizing a People’s Tribunal on Torture on 9-10 June 2008 at Kolkata.

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  • Selling India by the Pound : The Hidden Story of Operation Green Hunt

    Operation Green Hunt was launched in the latter half of 2009 and a large contingent of paramilitary and military forces aided and abetted by mercenaries were deployed in large parts of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal. It is a war supposedly to free the people of these areas from Maoist influence. By repeated declarations and one-sided media statements the Government has made Maoists "the single largest internal security threat to the country".

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  • Rights activists say Government not serious about dialogue

    New Delhi, April 6: Rights activists have blamed today’s Chhattisgarh massacre on the government’s policy of “waging war on its own people” and called for a dialogue with the Maoists.

    They alleged the security forces were killing Adivasis and meant to eliminate the Maoists, who could not be expected not to fight in self-defence.

    “The home minister has expressed shock at 75 paramilitary personnel been killed… he didn’t express any concern when these forces killed 200 Adivasis in Bastar between September 2009 and January 2010,” said G.N. Saibaba, deputy secretary of the Revolutionary Democratic Front.

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  • Activists press for unconditional dialogue

    Sreelatha Menon

    The Dantewada bloodbath of CRPF jawans has shocked civil society. Most feel a dialogue between the government and NGOs could have reaped better results than the violent route the government has pursued against the Naxalites.

    Kavita Srivastava of the People's Union for Civil Liberties and Citizen’s Initiative for Peace — an outfit formed to enable dialogue with the government on tackling the Naxalite movement — says there is no alternative to unconditional talks with Naxals.

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  • Cleansing The Maoists?

    Gladson Dungdung

    In the spring season; trees, plants and herbs turn into greenery with new lovely leaves. It looks like a resurrection of the forest after the autumn. It is one of the most beautiful seasons for birds, animals and insects, and of course, for the Adivasis, which is the beginning of their marriage with the nature. The Adivasis begin to collect flowers, fruits and other forest produces for sustaining their community, which is completely based on the natural resources with the unique features of community living, caring-sharing, equality for all, justice and the need based economic system. The most interesting thing is, it is the spring season when the Adivasis offer their thanks to their super natural God, celebrate together and begin their new journey with the nature.

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  • Lalgarh : PCPA sets pre conditions for talks

    Reciprocating Union Home Minister P Chidambaram's talks offer, the PCPA today declared that it was ready for dialogue provided certain ''preconditions'' were fulfilled, including immediate withdrawal of the combined forces from Junglemahal.

    PCPA convener Asit Mahato Told UNI this morning that they were ready to accept the Centre's offer and would send a message to this effect to the Union home minister after consultation with senior leaders of the outfit who had gone underground.

    ''Most of our leaders have gone underground recently due to police torture and indiscriminate arrests. Let it be known to Mr Chidambaram that the state government and the combined forces have arrested only our people on the plea that they are Maoists, but have failed to arrest the actual insurgents. Not one of the Maoist ultras has been arrested. I firmly declare that we have no connection with the Maoists,'' Mahato said.

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  • CRPP : Release Dr. Sunil Mandiwal, Assistant Professor Delhi University Unconditionally

    COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS

    185/3, Fourth Floor, Zakir Nagar, New Delhi—25

    04/04/10

    In yet another exercise on the side of the Delhi police and the Andhra Special Intelligence Branch to browbeat all forms of dissent against the anti-people policies of the UPA government at a time when the state has declared an all out war on the poorest of the poor in this country—the adivasis and the dalits—Dr. Sunil Mandiwal a Delhi University lecturer, has been arrested in a joint operation for questioning. What one could gather from his wife Dr. Laxmi who is a lecturer in Delhi University is that she was vaguely told that he was being taken away for questioning in relation to Mr. Kobad Ghandy who is in Tihar charged under UAPA alleged as a senior Maoist leader.

    Dr. Sunil Mandiwal, an Assistant Professor at the Dayal Singh College, Delhi University is a well known champion of the people's cause. He is a regular face in all the gatherings in Delhi which raises their voice against all forms of atrocities of the state on the people of the subcontinent. He is in the forefront to unmask the real fascist, pro-corporate face of the state in the Operation Green Hunt, perhaps the biggest land grab ever in history after that of Columbus.

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  • Tribals in Orissa protests against Operation Green hunt

    Hundreds of tribals on Friday staged protests against the operation Green hunt started by the state government and centre government.  The protesters marched towards the district headquarters, holding posters and banners, and demanded halt of  green hunt operation. 

    The protesters, led by Kanda Reddy Unnayan Sangha (KRUS), presented a memorandum to the district authorities that the tribals will be the worst affected in the anti-Maoist operation. Tribals will be caught in the fight. They will not be able to go into forests to collect forest produce. They also demanded supply of drinking water, health care and other basic facilities in tribal villages.

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  • Lalgarh : PSBJC protests Chidambaram's visit

    KOLKATA: In protest against Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram's proposed visit to Lalgarh in West Bengal's Paschim Medinipur district, the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC) held demonstrations in various parts of the Jangalmahal area on Friday.

    Mr. Chidambaram plans to go to Lalgarh for a three-and-half-hour visit on Sunday.

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  • Gujarat, Assam, Orissa, UP: Two Weeks Of Brutal Attacks On People's Rights

    Campaign for Survival and Dignity - 01 April 2010

    Clashes have erupted across the country as the forest authorities and other agencies move to crush those who are trying to uphold democracy, people's control over resources, and the law. In Gujarat, Assam, UP, and Orissa, people are being falsely arrested, police opening fire and houses being burned (on March 21st, March 30th, March 16th and March 30th respectively). They have asked for nothing except their legal rights over their resources, and they have been shot at, beaten up, jailed and killed. Is the government's favorite phrase - the "rule of law" - to mean that the police should act as hired gunmen for the Forest Department and companies?

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  • Operation Greenhunt Starts in Orissa

    Bhubaneswar : The much-delayed anti-Maoist offensive Operation Greenhunt along Koraput-Malkangiri-Dantewada axis on Orissa-Chhatisgarh border has started with Border Security Force police aided by Special Operation Group of Orissa police and the Central Reserve Police Force making deep forays into the jungles of Malkangiri and Koraput since last 4-5 days.

    The offensive which got underway amid little fanfare has so far met with no resistance, a senior police official associated with the operation told The Indian Express. One of the 5 battalions of BSF which have arrived in southern Orissa for the offensive have already participated in the operation along with State police and CRPF.

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  • Orissa : Concerned Citizens Condemn Police Firing at Kalinga Nagar

    BHUBANESWAR: Concerned Citizens Committee (CCC), a forum of civil society leaders, on Wednesday accused police of "brutal use" of force to evict tribals from their lands at Kalinga Nagar in Jajpur district. 

    "At least 30-40 tribals have sustained serious bullet injuries in police firing on Tuesday. Four of them are critical and battling for life in hospital. The district administration says only rubber bullets were fired at the crowd to prevent them from attacking the police. But the bloody wounds do not prove to be handy work of only rubber bullets," Justice Choudhury Pratap Mishra, head of the forum, said at a crowded press conference here.

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  • Govt to Decide if Armed Forces Needed to Tackle Naxals : Chairman of Chief of Staffs

    New Delhi: Pointing out that tackling Maoist violence was the job of police and paramilitary forces, the armed forces on Tuesday said the decision to involve them in the anti-Naxal operations will be taken by the government if the other agencies fail to deal with the menace. 

    "We have to see the scale of Maoist movement. If the scale is so that police and paramilitary forces are unable to handle it, then it will be government's decision to involve the Services. But, by and large, this is a job to be done by the paramilitary and police forces," Air Chief Marshal P V Naik said here after taking over as the Chairman, Chief of Staffs Committee here.

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  • Orissa : Court Nails Police Lie on 'Surrendered Maoists'

    The Orissa High Court Tuesday nailed a lie of the state police who had held two tribal youth of the state's Kandhamal district as 'surrendered Maoists', and ordered the duo's release. According to police, Bishnu Parida and Binayak Parida surrendered to police in Raikia police station area of the district Feb 28. After the 'surrender', police took them in custody.

    Hearing the petition filed by their families, the court found that they were wrongly detained by police.

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  • Orissa : Police Attack Villagers Protesting against Tata Project

    BHUBANESWAR: Armed police on Tuesday allegedly raided a tribal village in the vicinity of Kalinganagar, fired bullets and set houses afire. Panic-stricken villagers of Baligoth fled to the nearby forest to take shelter after nearly seven of them, including a woman, Gurubari Ghagarai, sustained injuries. 

    The administration defended the police action saying such steps became imperative because the villagers continued to oppose construction of a road to the Kalinganagar industrial area. "The villagers did not refrain from opposing the road construction work. I tried to convince them, but in vain. Hence, the police action," Jajpur district collector Pramod Mohanty said. He said the police fired rubber bullets after tear gas failed to calm down the situation.

     

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  • Operation against Naxals Priority : Indian Defence Ministry

    New Delhi, March 29: The operations against Maoists are the main focus of internal security, more important than even the "proxy war" in Jammu and Kashmir, the annual report of the defence ministry said.

    The defence ministry also acknowledged for the first time in several years that relations with Bangladesh had improved but India was concerned with the security situation in Pakistan.

    The text of the defence ministry's 2009-2010 annual report was paraphrased and sent as a media release today but the report itself is likely to be publicly released on Tuesday.

    Reflecting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 2005 statement that Naxalites were the "gravest internal security threat", the defence ministry has probably for the first time knocked Jammu and Kashmir off the top billing it got in its list of priorities for internal security.

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  • Justice Sachar: Development Should Not Violate Rights of Locals

    New Delhi: Noting that industrial development should not bypass masses, former Delhi High Court Chief Justice Rajinder Sachar on Monday said government should ensure that people's livelihoods were not snatched away and human rights not violated while pursuing development projects.

    Referring to the land acquisitions in Singur and Nandigram in West Bengal and elsewhere leading to mass agitation, Sachar said development should benefit the local people and leaving them out of the loop is in a way violating their rights.

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  • In Defence of Arundhati Roy

    Trevor Selvam

    For the past few years, I have seen the hate that has been spewed out at Arundhuti Roy. There are various categories of Indian men and women who do not like her. Let us deal with the men first, as their hatred (camouflaged or obvious) for an intelligent female writer is nearly reflexive. Women on the other hand do not seem to have their hate mongering so mordant and merciless and generally do not spew out sexist hatred.

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  • Is It Operation Maoist Hunt?

    Gladson Dungdung

    After a long preparation, a lot of debate and politics, finally the Indian government launched 'Operation Green Hunt' (OGH) in Jharkhand on March 10 with the objective of cleansing the Maoists from the state. Though P. Chidambaram, the CEO of OGH, declines calling it by that name, his officers are using the term shamelessly.

    Nearly 10,000 security forces consisting of CRPF, Cobra, Jaguar, STP and other groups have been deployed in the forests, choppers are roaming in the skies, schools are converted into military camps, forests are sealed and combing operations are being carried out with the support of local Adivasi youth who are named as the Special Police Officers (SPO), duplicated from the Salwa Judum theory of Chhatisgarh.

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  • Farmers Protest Dharna Programme of PDFI at Delhi on 30th March

    The 30th March 2010 Kisan Dharna Programme of PDFI Sub-committee on Agriculture Crisis (of which Dr. Darshan Pal is the Coordinator) is going to be held as per schedule at Jantar Mantar, Delhi. It will start at 11 AM. More than 1000 people from Punjab, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Delhi and other states are expected to attend the programme. The Dharna Programme is going to be organized on the issues related with Agriculture Crisis, such as Irrigation, Electricity, Agriculture Credit, Guarantee of MSP, Price Rise, Equitable Entitlement of Agriculture Community, Separate Budget for Agriculture etc.

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  • Chhattisgarh: Maoist Strike Disrupts Iron Ore Shipments

    A 48-hour strike called by the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) has hit iron ore shipment by India's largest iron ore miner, NMDC Ltd, in Chhattisgarh, company officials said Tuesday.

    The National Mineral Development Company Ltd (NMDC Ltd) has cut short iron ore transportation up to 40 percent on a daily basis due to rail services disruption between its Bailadila iron ore mining facilities in Dantewada district, some 400 km from state capital Raipur, to Andhra Pradesh's port city Visakhapatnam.

    Railways have cancelled night movements of goods trains since March 21 fearing attacks by Maoists who have strong presence in and around the NMDC's Bailadila's Kirandul and Bacheli mining facilities.

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  • Children at Risk as Schools Become Barracks in Anti-Maoist War

    Aman Sethi

    Chhattisgarh defies the Supreme Court and security forces are still in occupation of school premises despite assurances to the contrary.

    School's out! In Kerlapal, Dantewada, battle-weary soldiers of the B Company of the 2nd Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force peer over barbed-wire fences as skinny schoolboys in sky-blue shirts play cricket. The force has occupied the senior school and with it the basketball court and part of the playing field; but the game must go on.

    As paramilitary troops pour into Chhattisgarh to fight the Maoists, the absence of military barracks has forced soldiers and children to share the only concrete structures in the countryside - the village school.

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  • Police Crack Down in Punjab, Arrest Popular Leader Dr. Darshan Pal

    In the wake of a three day sit up against the I.G. police office, Amritsar, massive arrests by the Punjab police have been made yesterday. The sit up (dharna) is being held by 22 peasant and agricultural laborers organisations to protest against the govt.-gunda-police connivance in the murder of peasant leader Sadhu Singh Takhtupura and brutal killings of peasant in the village Khanna Chamiara recently.

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  • Arundhati Roy : Walking with the Comrades

    by Arundhati Roy - Sunday, 21 March, 2010

     

    Arundhati Roy finds a quiet moment to herself during a punishing visit to the forest where she became the first journalist/writer to break the taboo of of interviewing Maoist guerrillas in their lair.

    Last month, quietly, unannounced, Arundhati Roy decided to visit the forbidding and forbidden precincts of Central India's Dandakaranya Forests, home to a melange of tribespeople many of whom have taken up arms to protect their people against state-backed marauders and exploiters. She recorded in considerable detail the first face-to-face journalistic "encounter" with armed guerillas, their families and comrades, for which she combed the forests for weeks at personal risk.

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  • West Bengal: Joint Forces Harass NREGA Labourers

    JHARGRAM: Mistaking them for Maoists, the joint forces allegedly attacked some labourers working at NREGA project sites in the Hatilot and Lakshmanpur areas of West Midnapore on Sunday morning.

    The forces allegedly surrounded the workers in Hatilot, fired in the air and heckled them on Sunday morning. The security personnel also allegedly snatched the master roll from the project superviser and chased the labourers away.

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  • West Bengal: Special Force to Tackle Maoists

    The West Bengal government is raising a counter-insurgency force to be trained by the elite Greyhounds force based in Andhra Pradesh for specialising in counter-guerrilla activities of Maoists active in certain parts of the State.

    The matter was discussed at a meeting, where Inspector General of the Greyhound Force Anjani Kumar and State's Director-General of Police, Bhupinder Singh, were present here earlier this week.

    Personnel selected from the State Armed Police will receive training at the Greyhounds Academy in Andhra Pradesh that specialises in preparing special commandoes to tackle anti-extremist activity.

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  • Jharkhand's Indigeneous People Demand end to Green Hunt

    A Letter to the Home Minister P. Chidambaram

    With due respect, we regret to inform you that the Operation Green Hunt or anti-Naxal operation, which has been launched in the state of Jharkhand on 10th of March 2010, has created uncertainty, brought threat to life and seized the freedom of the villagers mostly the Adivasis in different parts of the state. The Adivasis who live in or around the forests and depend on it for their livelihoods are not allowed to enter/roam in the forests by the security forces, the water resources are captured by them, the villagers are unnecessarily harassed, children are denied their right to education as the schools have been transformed into military camps and women are also misbehaved by the security forces.

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  • Chhattisgarh: Petitioners Show Up to Expose Gachanpalli Massacre

    Aman Sethi

    Gachanpalli: A frayed umbrella, a half filled bottle of cooking oil and two shopping bags stuffed with clothes constitute the unlikely tombstone that marks Kowasi Ganga's grave. "It's the sum total of his worldly possessions," says his grandson Kowasi Muye, "It's a Muria tradition."

    Kowasi Ganga, 75, died on September 17, 2009. Muye's last memory of his grandfather is of Ganga dying dead outside their home. He had been stabbed multiple times.

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  • Binayak Sen : Green Hunt Adding to Malnutrition Woes

    National Vice-President of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Dr Binayak Sen has said the action against Maoists is only accentuating the problem of malnutrition in tribal areas. He was speaking at the sixth I G Khan Memorial Lecture on 'Violence and justice in our times' at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) on Saturday. Putting figures on the table to drive home his point, Dr Sen said malnutrition should be the most pressing concern of the government.

    "A person with a body mass index of less than 18.5 is malnourished. According to National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau, 33 per cent of adult Indians have a BMI of less than 18.5. If you disaggregate this, over 50 per cent Scheduled Tribes have a BMI of 18.5 or are undernourished.

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  • Vedanta Flouting Laws: Environment Minister

    NEW DELHI - India's environment minister on Saturday accused London-based resource giant Vedanta of violating local laws with a mining project in an area held sacred by a tribal group.

    Vedanta's 125-billion-rupee (2.7-billion-dollar) investment in the Niyamgiri Hills in the eastern state of Orissa has emerged as a test case in India, pitting industrial interests against those of indigenous peoples and the environment.

    The open-caste bauxite mine is intended to feed a nearby aluminium refinery already built by the company and currently supplied with bauxite from other Indian states.

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  • India Govt Says It Has Right to Use Force against Maoists

    New Delhi : The Indian government has said it had the legitimate right to use as much force as necessary to regain control of areas dominated by the Maoists and made it clear that talks with it could only take place if the ultras abjured violence.

    Terming Naxalism as a "graver problem" than jihadi terrorism, Home Minister P Chidambaram on Friday vowed to effectively tackle the threat from Maoists, who have declared a war against the Indian state, before the term of the government ends. Chidambaram said the goal of the Maoists was armed liberation struggle and the sole purpose was to seize power.

    Referring to the offer of talks made by the government to the Maoists recently, he asked, "Why aren't the Maoists making a simple statement that we abjure violence?" He said in such a situation, it was the legitimate right of the government to use as much force necessary to regain the areas and hoped that once the government regains control in two to three years, it would usher in development.

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  • Intellectuals and Civil Society Up in Arms over OGH

    Ranchi: People's Committee against Operation Green Hunt a newly formed group comprising intelligentsia and members of the Jharkhand civil society is up in arms over the anti-Maoist offensive that has been launched in the state.

    In fact, the committee members have questioned why the operation has targeted those districts that boast of huge mineral reserves. "We have been repeatedly saying that the offensive against the Maoists, no matter by what name it is referred to, aims at suppressing people's movement in mineral-rich districts and curb voices that are being raised against displacement," said Tridib Ghosh, convener of the committee.

    Accusing the government of being a puppet in the hands of multi-national companies, Ghosh said by terrorizing innocent villagers, a free passage is being provided to the MNCs so that they can carry out their mining projects with ease.

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  • Jharkhand: The Hunt Is On

    Jamshedpur/Ranchi: Amid a silent build up of forces in various red bastions of the state, DGP Neyaz Ahmed has said that joint anti-Naxalite operations with Bengal were on since Sunday in the Ghatshila sub-division of East Singhbhum, the confirmation coming on a day a huge cache of deadly explosives were seized in Bokaro.

    Ahmed said internal operations had been launched simultaneously and included the Saranda forests in West Singhbhum and the hilly terrain of Jhumra in Bokaro. "The operation has started in three places and we will shortly extend it to new fronts," he told The Telegraph.

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  • BD Sharma: 'For Tribals, Development Means Exploitation'

    Jyoti Punwani

    B D Sharma is one of India's foremost experts on tribal issues. He has served as collector of undivided Bastar district in Chhattisgarh and commissioner for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and has campaigned extensively to protect the rights of tribals. Currently, the coordinator of Bharat Jan Andolan, a network of grass-roots organisations, Sharma tells that current notions of development are at the root of the Maoist insurgency.

    What has changed since you were collector of Bastar?

    That was 40 years ago! Outsiders didn't have so much influence there, except in Bailadila. The presence of the administration also wasn't much. As collector, i didn't sanction any mining lease. When sanctions started being given, discontent grew, and in the 1980s, the Maoists came.

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  • West Bengal Police Shoot on Sight - and We're All Targets

    According to the two women wearing the white clothes of mourning, Lalmohan Tudu was a well-loved husband and son, a man who only wanted to help his village. They say the farmer, a tribal rights activist, was seized near his home by police who then shot him dead in a nearby paddy field.

    But police say the 50-year-old was a dangerous rebel, the head of a Maoist front group that was terrorising the area. He was killed, they insist, in an exchange of fire after his group attacked a police patrol.

    "They had been hunting him since last June," said his wife, Lakhimani, stunned and hushed, as she sat outside the family home where chickens pecked in the dust. "He had tried to come to the house that day but he was kidnapped that night. We heard gunshots and feared the worst. We never found out what had happened until the next morning when we heard his body was in the morgue."

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  • March 5th Briefing to the International and All-India Media

    Press Note based on Reports in the Local Languages involved, Fact-finding Reports of teams of Democratic and Civil Rights Organisations and the Statements issued by the CPI (Maoist)

    The last quarter of 2009 has been quite significant in the annals of history of the Indian subcontinent with the much publicised war, euphemistically called as Operation Green Hunt, of the Government of India on the Adivasis-the poorest of the poor- of the region ostensibly to usher in, what is being time and again termed as Progress, Prosperity and Peace.

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  • The Other Binayak Sens - Attack on Civil Liberties

    Manoj C G

    While the government's security offensive against the Maoists, coupled with statements to those extending intellectual support to the insurgents to condemn their violent ways and disassociate with them, continue, civil rights and citizen groups are claiming that it is they who are feeling the heat. For, they claim that labelling a person as a Maoist is increasingly used as a tactic by the security agencies to silence democratic voices of dissent and stop them from raising issues of forced displacement of tribals or farmers, as incidentally these are the same issues being taken up by the Left-wing insurgents.

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  • Press Statement on December 17 Protest in Delhi

    The Forum Against War on People organised the "Rally Against War on People", to protest against the brutal military offensive of the Indian state on the tribal people of central and eastern India through the Operation Green Hunt where in lakhs of the paramilitary-military as well as various vigilante gangs such as the Salwa Judum, Nagrik Suraksha Samiti, Sendra, Tritiya Prastuti Samiti, Harmad Vahini etc. has let loose on the people. All this is being done under the garb of bringing in development to these regions.

    And it is for any discernible eye to see that for the last 60 years there has been hardly any such intervention from the side of the state in some of the poorest regions of India. Why suddenly the government is concerned about development in these regions is nothing but to give away these resource rich regions to the multinational corporations and local monopolies through various MoUs that the various state governments have entered into with the former.

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  • Delhi Protestors March against Operation Green Hunt

    More than a thousand tribals from across the country today staged a protest rally to save forests, tribals and minerals from the government's anti-Naxalite operations. Under the banner of 'Forum Against War on People', 22 organisations took out the rally from Ramlila grounds to Parliament Street in Central Delhi and demanded that the 'Operation Green Hunt,' started by the Centre against Naxals and Maoists in Naxal-affected areas, be stopped forthwith. "The Government must stop paramilitary forces' action in tribal regions and treat tribal peoples' movements as political movements rather than Naxal movements," demanded G N Saibaba, a senior leader of the forum.

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  • Feb 5th Protest Actions in Front of Indian Embassies in Europe

    {jathumbnail off} Today with the initiative of ATIK (Confederation of Workers from Turkey in Europe) protest actions in front of the Indian Embassies were held in various cities in Europe. These include Den Haag, London, Vienna, Bern, Berlin and Frankfurt. The protests were held to condemn the "Operation Green Hunt" which was first launched in November 2009 by the Indian state against the people in the heartland of India. Until now, there have been few reports in the international media reporting about the extensive violations of the most fundamental human rights in India.

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  • Intellectuals and Rights Groups Urge Centre to Enter into Peace Talks

    New Delhi: Days after the Maoists appealed to intellectuals and human rights groups to play the role of a mediator, a group of civil rights activists - among them were writer Arundhati Roy and Justice Rajinder Sachar - have come forward asking the government to "reciprocate" the offer for ceasefire proposed by the Left-wing insurgents.

    Heeding to the appeal of elusive Maoist leader Kishenji to step in, the intellectuals said they welcomed the announcement by the Maoists to observe a ceasefire and their readiness to enter into talks with the Government. "The Government should halt Operation Green Hunt immediately and respond to the offer made by Maoists," Justice Sachar said.

    In a possible mediation effort, the intellectuals said they have sent a letter to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi pointing out the need for the Government to reciprocate and would be writing to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a day or two placing their views on the issue and seeking an appointment with him.

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  • Dongria Kondh Ask James Cameron to Aid Fight against Vendanta


     

    The Dongria Kondh say plot of James Cameron's blockbuster reflects their plight as they struggle to stop company from opening bauxite mine on sacred mountain.

    The Dongria Kondh tribe from eastern India today appealed to film director James Cameron to help them stop controversial mining  company Vedanta from opening a bauxite mine on their sacred land as they believe that he will understand their plight better than most.

    Like the Na'vi tribe in Cameron's blockbuster Avatar who are desperately trying to stop humans from mining under their sacred 'home tree' in Pandora, the Dongria Kondh are trying to stop Vedanta from opening its mine on the mountain they worship.

    Vedanta plans to construct an open-cast mine on Niyamgiri mountain in Orissa state which activists believe will destroy the area's ecosystem and threaten the future of the 8,000-strong Dongria Kondh tribe, who depend on the hills for their crops and water and who believe the mountain and surrounding forest to be a sacred place.

    Stephen Corry, director of the charity Survival, which campaigns on behalf of indigenous people, said: "Just as the Na'vi describe the forest of Pandora as 'their everything', for the Dongria Kondh, life and land have always been deeply connected. The fundamental story of Avatar – if you take away the multi-coloured lemurs, the long-trunked horses and warring androids – is being played out today in the hills of Niyamgiri.

     

    "Like the Na'vi, the Dongria Kondh are also at risk, as their lands are set to be mined by Vendanta Resources who will stop at nothing to achieve their aims. The mine will destroy the forests on which the Dongria Kondh depend and wreck the lives of thousands of other Kondh tribal people living in the area."

    In an advert in Hollywood entertainment magazine Variety, the Dongria Kondh said: "Appeal to James Cameron. Avatar is fantasy … and real. The Dongria Kondh tribe in India are struggling to defend their land against a mining company hell-bent on destroying their sacred mountain. Please help the Dongria."

    (The Guardian (UK), February 8, 2010)

     

     

     

  • Struggle against POSCO's $12 Billion US-Owned Steel Plant and Port Heats Up

    POSCO: Tribal Dispossession, Environmental Destruction and Imperialism

    by Analytical Monthly Review

    Orissa is the poorest State with an official estimate of 39.9 per cent of people living below the poverty line, yet in regard to proposed investment it stood at second position after Gujarat. According to Assocham Investment Meter, recorded investment proposals in Orissa reached Rs. 2,00,846 crore in 2009. The cause is the availability of rich mineral resources such as coal and iron ore along with cheap availability of manpower. Steel and power were among the sectors which attracted maximum proposed investments in the state.

    The $12 billion POSCO (Pohang Iron and Steel Company) project in Orissa is the largest foreign investment project ever in India.

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  • Rights Activists Get Tagged as Maoists


    Prashant Bhushan, The Hindu


    "For every 100 Maoists eliminated, thousands more are created"

    "Suppression of dissent is fascist and will escalate into civil war"


    NEW DELHI: Human rights activists, journalists and fact-finding committees were being targeted to intimidate them so that there could be no dissenting voices against the State's alleged war on terror, which had degenerated into a war against the tribals, advocate Prashant Bhushan alleged here over the week-end.

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  • Intellectuals, Rights Groups Tell Centre to Reciprocate Maoist Ceasefire Offer

    New Delhi : Days after the Maoists appealed to intellectuals and human rights groups to play the role of a mediator, a group of civil rights activists - among them were writer Arundhati Roy and Justice Rajinder Sachar - have come forward asking the government to "reciprocate" the offer for ceasefire proposed by the Left-wing insurgents.

    Heeding to the appeal of elusive Maoist leader Kishenji to step in, the intellectuals said they welcomed the announcement by the Maoists to observe a ceasefire and their readiness to enter into talks with the Government. "The Government should halt Operation Green Hunt immediately and respond to the offer made by Maoists," Justice Sachar said.

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  • Civil Rights Organizations Denounce Government Attempt to Vilify Them for Opposing Operation Green Hunt

    Dellhi Police produced its charge sheet against Mr Kobad Ghandy in the Tees Hazari Courts New Delhi on 18.02.2010. This document has baselessly alleged unlawful activities against a number of individuals and legitimate democratic organisations working in the public domain. These include Dr. Darshan Pal of the People's Democratic Front of India (PDFI), Mr. GN Saibaba, a professor with Delhi University, Mr. Rona Wilson, Secretary of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP), Mr. Gautam Navlakha of the People's Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), PUDR itself, the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), the Democratic Students' Union (DSU), Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF), the PDFI, the Indian Association of People's Lawyers (IAPL), Anti-displacement Front (ADF) and the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR; wrongly named in the chargesheet as the Association of Peoples For Democratic Rights).

    APDR, PUDR and PUCL in particular have been solely concerned with safeguarding democratic and civil rights in India for over 30 years, and are internationally reputed for their rigorous and scrupulous approach to these issues. Among the charges against these established and respected organisations, is the completely unfounded one that they are playing "a very important role to broaden the base of the [CPI (Maoist)] outfit". The chargesheet has provided no evidence whatsoever to substantiate its allegations.

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  • Lalgarh: PUDR Statement on Murder of PCPA Leader Lalmohan Tudu

    People’s Union for Democratic Rights strongly condemns the cold blooded murder of Lalmohan Tudu, leader of People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities by the Central Reserve Paramilitary Forces on February 23, 2010 at Kantapahari near Lalgarh. It has been reported that Lalmohan Tudu was killed in an ‘encounter’ along with his relatives Yuvraj and Suchitra.

    The IG CRPF, Nageshwar Rao condoned the killing claiming that they were Maoists killed in exchange of fire. But other accounts claim that as he was at his house to meet his younger daughter, CRPF personnel called him out along with his relatives and shot them dead in front of his wife, daughter and mother. His body was then dragged to the nearby fields.

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  • Civil Rights Organisations Say Delhi Police is Targeting Them

    New Delhi:The civil rights organisations, which were named by the Delhi Police in its chargesheet against top Maoist leader Kobad Ghandy, today claimed that they were being targeted for protesting against "undemocratic practices" and threatened to move court. Asking the Delhi Police to withdraw the names from the charge sheet running into over 800 pages, right activists argued that no evidence has been provided whatsoever to substantiate the allegations.

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  • Operation Greenbacks Cartoon

  • CRPP Condemns the Disinformation Campaign against Rights Activists

    By the Campaign for the Release of Political Prisoners

    Expose the vilification campaign of the Investigating agencies-a calculated assault on the democratic rights of political prisoners and all those who defend them!

    In the Charge Sheet filed on Mr. Kobad Ghandy by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi, on the 19-02-10 wild accusations are made about the activities of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) as an organisation to further the cause of the CPI (Maoist).

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  • Cops Claim the Offensive with Killing of PCAPA Leader

    The killing of Lalmohan Tudu, the president of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), at Katapahari in Lalgarh is being not only seen as a body blow to the Maoist-linked organisation but also signals a clear shift in the strategy of the security forces after the Silda attack.
    The forces fighting the Maoist rebels have switched to “offensive aggression” from the earlier softer, cautious approach, according to officials. Though the CRPF claimed Tudu’s was an encounter death, state police officers told The Indian Express that the PCPA leader and two others were tracked down through cellphone intercepts on Monday night and gunned down. The aim is to dismantle the PCAPA, which has worked in tandem with the Maoists.
    From the cellphone intercepts, a CRPF unit in Lalgarh got the lead that Tudu was returning home to see his daughter, who is to appear for the Madhamik examination. Tudu was accompanied by two others — Yuvraj Murmu and Suchitra Murmu — both said to be Maoists. Only Tudu’s body could be recovered.
    (Indian Express, February 25, 2010)
  • Gujarat: 5500 Farmers Detained for Protesting Land Grab

    Over five thousand farmers from the Mahuva area in the Bhavnagar district of Gujarat have been detained and prohibited from taking out a peaceful rally protesting the government's sanction for a Nirma factory and limestone quarry in their area. Chunibhai Vaidya, a veteran Gandhian who founded Gujarat Loksamiti, Kanubhai Kalsaria, MLA of Mahuva, and Sanatbhai Mehta, ex Finance Minister of Gujarat, Ilaben Pathak of AWAG and a senior editor Prakash N Shah are among those detained by the police in this illegal suppression of collective democratic rights.

    The farmers were enroute to the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, from where they intended to start a peaceful march to Gandhinagar to submit their petition, signed by 11,111 affected individuals in their own blood, when the 25 buses they were using were stopped by the police. The farmers have been taken to Shahibagh in Ahmedabad and have been detained in police grounds. Several hundred protestors who reached the Sabarmati Ashram directly were also whisked away in police vans and blocked from taking out the march.

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  • Government Must Engage Maoists in Talks

    Saroj Giri

    With Maoist leader Kishenji's rather bold offer for ceasefire to the Union government, a new situation seems to be unfolding in the red corridor of heartland India. Seeking to place the ball in the Centre's court, the 72-day offer clearly seems to trump Union Home Minister P Chidambaram's 72-hour offer. Moreover, it's the nature of the offer - unconditional, as opposed to earlier Maoist proposals stipulating the release of their key leaders, restoration of land and forests to the tribals, scrapping of Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with big investors etc, all major irritants for the government - which begs a serious consideration.

    Practically the only condition set by the Maoists this time is that the State should reciprocate. This is at a time when reports of the CRPF in Lalgarh killing Lalmohan Tudu of the People's Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) in front of his family members on February 22 are filtering in, over and above the initial propaganda about him being killed during an attack on a CRPF camp.

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  • Labelled as Naxals for Being Vidarbha Supporters?

    Amidst frequent police alerts that Naxal groups are trying to make inroads in the separate Vidarbha statehood movement, two activists supporting the movement were arrested by Chandrapur police last week for suspected Naxal links.

    However, their arrest raises questions as to whether they were real Naxal supporters or are being punished for supporting the statehood cause.

    Bandu Meshram, a tailor from Ramtek was arrested in Nagpur and soon after, Ramkumar Akkapalli alias Masram, an autorickshaw driver was also arrested. The Chandrapur police have claimed that incriminating Naxal literature was seized from both.

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  • Kolkata: 2000 Protest against War Orchestration of Chidambaram and Chief Ministers

    The citizens of West Bengal again came out on the streets, braving state repression, to loudly declare that they will not allow P Chidambaram and the chief ministers to plot their genocidal plans in the heart of the city.

    Around 2000 people participated in a lively and militant march from College Square to the Metro Channel. Many organizations such as MKP, IFTU, APDR, Bandi Mukti Committee, SEZ-Birodhi Prachar Mancha, Lalgarh Mancha, Samrajyabadbirodhi Mancha, various students' organizations and numerous individuals participated.

    Also participating was a large contingent of the people from Nonadanga, who have been evicted there from the slums, and who identify their eviction with the eviction of adivasis from their land and resources.

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  • Maoist 'Melting Pot' Worries Government

    Sankarshan Thakur

    New Delhi: Armed Naxalites could resort to an absence offensive in response to the first security thrust into their strongholds. Intelligence inputs reaching here from parts of Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand suggest that large numbers of cadres may leave their jungle bases and "melt away into urban anonymity" over the next few weeks as part of a thought-out tactic.

    “It makes good sense for them,” said a senior intelligence official based here. “They don’t have the firepower the government is in the process of employing. By vanishing initially, they will not only escape a full-blown assault, they will also be able to draw security forces deeper into their habitat and trap them in a long-drawn guerrilla conflict.”

    Freed of election vigil, more than a dozen paramilitary battalions comprising the BSF, the CRPF and the ITBP are moving into Naxalite-dominated areas in preparation for an integrated offensive christened Operation Green Hunt. But reports that the Naxalites will dissolve their jungle concentrations and slip away are worrying security strategists. “We may actually face little or no opposition in the first flush,” said one. “But that also means we will get no catch. Rather, they will retain the advantage of when and where to confront us.”

    Most Naxalite units have pack-and-carry mobility and possess rat-like familiarity with the forests they hold. Other than the Abujmadh jungles along the junction of Bastar in southern Chhattisgarh and Orissa’s Malkangiri district, Naxalites are not known to have “permanent” bases anywhere; most officers familiar with their ways are convinced of their ability to “vaporise at short notice”.

    The Abujmadh base, said to be located in near-impenetrable wooded hills, will be tougher to put a lid on or dismantle, but then security forces have never been able to so much as approach Abujmadh.

    Not that Naxalites in other parts have been easy to net. As one Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer put it: “They will probably leave behind trails of where they cooked or camped, but beyond the few known faces, they are tough to trace because they are like everybody else, they just mingle, very tough to separate from locals who, for various reasons, usually offer very little help.”

    The officer went on to articulate fears of “substantive collateral damage” if the Naxalites are able to “frustrate” security operations with their disappearing act. “Very often, because of poor on-ground intelligence, the forces conduct harsh search operations,” he said, “innocents get trampled upon and disaffection spreads, things turn counter-productive. Some of that has happened in Lalgarh where the security forces met with little armed resistance because the cadres slipped out. But in the process, locals got hurt and they remain almost violently opposed to the security forces and the state itself.”

    It is with an eye on restricting the movement of Naxalites in the run-up to the security build-up that special emphasis is being given to border regions between affected states. The idea, officials say, is to allow security forces to operate “free of and above jurisdictional constraints” and allow real-time cross-border monitoring along a single chain of command.

    “That is the main reason why we are concentrating the paramilitary forces, rather than the state police, along the borders so that there is no confusion of jurisdiction and command. Also paramilitary forces have the freedom to conduct search and pursuit operations across state borders,” a senior officer said. He conceded, though, that paramilitary forces have another set of handicaps flowing from their lack of familiarity with local people, language, customs and terrain.

    A CRPF officer The Telegraph spoke to last week had said of his Chhattisgarh experience: “It is one thing to be better armed and supplied, but that can add up to little if your jawans do not know left from right. Many of my chaps are just too lost in the Chhattisgarh jungles because they know next to nothing about the place.”

    Despite the rockjawed determination of Union home minister P. Chidambaram to forge ahead with the anti-Naxalite offensive, a fair section of officials and experts remains sceptical about its success for a variety of reasons.

    The manner in which the offensive has been propagandised by North Block is becoming a serious concern. “You do not launch such operations with public declarations that almost sound like war cries,” said a Chhattisgarh police officer. “They are calling it a psychological offensive, but what this daily bugling from Delhi has done is to put the pressure on us. A huge sense of public expectation has built up and if we don’t achieve tangible results quickly, we will be the losers of that so-called psychological offensive.”

    Top cop K.P.S. Gill, who was adviser to the Chhattisgarh government on anti-Naxalite operations for a while, has also criticised the manner in which Chidambaram is marshalling the offensive.

    “Such operations have to be conducted on the ground, with local police and local people, you cannot win such battles by making plans in Delhi boardrooms because reality is ever-changing and strategy needs to be tailored accordingly,” Gill has said.

    Other security experts have questioned the very preparedness of the security forces — men, machines and intelligence — to take the Naxalites head on at this juncture. Most of them have been counselling a more gradualist approach, beginning with a quantum increase in the number of boots on the ground. At the moment, even in the government’s reckoning, the jawan-to-population ratio is far below the recommended minimum.

    The Telegraph, October 19, 2009

  • Press Statement - Government Should Respond to Maoist Offer

    We welcome the announcement by the CPI (Maoist) to observe a ceasefire and enter into talks with the Government of India. Given the government's expressed willingness to engage in talks, we hope that this offer will be reciprocated. This necessarily requires a halt to all paramilitary armed offensive operations (commonly known as Operation Green Hunt) immediately. It is also imperative that there should be complete cessation of all hostilities by both sides during the currency of the talks.

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  • Orissa: Cops in Trouble over Rebel Arrest

    Cuttack, Feb. 23: The police, who arrested Subhashree, the wife of top Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda in Bhubaneswar five weeks ago and claimed it a prize catch, are now in the docks on charges of violating provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and Supreme Court guidelines.

    It follows allegations of arresting the 33-year-old woman after sunset in the absence of a magistrate and leaving behind her nine-year-old daughter helpless, not allowing her to contact her relatives and lawyer and her remand in police custody beyond the stipulated 15 days.

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  • Lalgarh: PCPA Leader Lalmohon Tudu Murdered by Paramilitaries

    Nisha Biswas

    ( CGNet Moderators Note:  We can not confirm the content of this note below from Nisha Biswas. We tried to check it with some local journalists who told us that they have also heard similar versions from the locals. They said that according to locals there was no exchange of fire, only search operation was carried out last night. And when they heard this morning that Lalmohan Tudu is dead in an 'attempted attack on joint force camp', they were surprised. The journalists also added that Mr Tudu is quite aged and not capable of carrying arms and attacking a camp.)

    We all know how good our police is in making stories and killing innocents in the name of encounter. The West Bengal Police is no exception. There was no exchange of fire at Kantapahari as claimed by police. The fact
    is that the Joint security forces entered the house of Sri Lalmohan Tudu, President PCPA (People's Committee against Police Atrocities) around 11hrs in night, while he was preparing to go to bed.

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  • Lalgarh: Police Voice Support for Shoot-on-Sight Strategy

    Kantapahari (West Midnapore), Feb. 23: Police say People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities president Lalmohan Tudu died when they retaliated against a Maoist attack on their camp here.

    The committee, and Tudu’s neighbours, insist he was killed in a “fake encounter” at Narcha village, 3km from the Kantapahari camp.

    If what the villagers say is true and the indications from a section of the police are co-rrect, the crackdown against Maoists is set to see a new strategy emerge from the debris of the Shilda EFR camp, where 24 policemen were massacred by the guerrillas last Monday.

    “The brutal attack at Shilda has firmed up our resolve to strike in equal measure against the Maoists,” a police officer said. “The instruction we have been given is to go for the kill instead of trying to make an arrest if we sense any danger whatsoever.”

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  • Uttar Pradesh: Court Says No Proof to Detain Seema Azad

    The Uttar Pradesh Police received a setback on Saturday when they failed to submit any evidence in court against Seema Azad, the state secretary of People's Union for Civil Liberty (PUCL) and her husband Vishwavijay Azad.

    The Special Task Force had arrested Seema and Vishwavijay on February 8 in Allahabad. They were booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for their alleged links with a banned Maoist organisation.

    Judicial Magistrate Vikas Kumar rejected the application of the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) seeking a week's remand for Seema and Vishwavijay. Dismissing the application, the judged observed that the police have not come up with any concrete evidence against them. "There was no need to accept the request for police remand of the accused and the police did not mention any concrete ground for the remand," the court observed.

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  • Supreme Court Slams Government for Raising Naxal Bogey

    The Supreme Court on Monday slammed the Chattisgarh government for raising the "bogey" of Naxalism to discredit those raising issues of human rights violations even as the Centre said it has evolved a Rs 7,300 crore package to develop Naxal-affected regions of the country.

    The apex court also expressed displeasure at the Chattisgarh government's decision to exhume bodies of 10 tribals allegedly killed by the local police in a village of Dantewada district for fresh post-mortem without its permission.

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  • Police Killed Villagers, Say Gompad Witnesses

    Aman Sethi

    A charred wooden stake and three graves are all that remain of the Madavi family in this remote village in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada district.

    "Madavi Kanni was lying face down in front of the burnt house," said an eyewitness. "She had been slashed with a sword and shot in the chest." The bodies of her father, Madavi Bajar, her mother Madavi Subbhi and her 12-year-old sister Madavi Mutti, were found under a tree, 50 metres away.

    Testimonies collected by The Hindu from Gompad allege that a composite force of Adivasi special police officers and security force regulars appeared on the outskirts of the village in the early hours of October 1, 2009. "We ran away when we saw the force," said the witness, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We found the bodies when we returned."

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  • Member of Parliament to Protest at Lok Sabha Gates

    KOLKATA: First, he circulated CDs with songs in support of Chhatradhar Mahato. Now, Trinamool Congress MP Kabir Suman is set to launch a satyagraha protesting the proposed Operation Green Hunt in Parliament. The session starts on Monday.

    The MP from Jadavpur will also write to the PM, home minister P Chidambaram and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee about his "findings on Jangalmahal" and about the plight of tribals in all Maoist-affected areas of Jharkhand, Orissa and Bihar.

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  • Lalgarh Waits for Development Benefits

    KOLKATA: In July last year, nine top officers of the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government were sent to Lalgarh, Kantapahari, Pirakata and Binpur all in West Midnapore to find out what the locals were most concerned about.

    At the spot, they doled out largesse such as ration and BPL cards. Later, a Rs 400-crore package was announced for Lalgarh and surrounding areas. The nine-member team comprising officers of the secretary rank headed by the then backward classes welfare secretary, R D Meena was sent to the remotest areas and came up with a report. A second batch went there to prepare a detailed report.

    But now, seven months later, no one in the administration seems to know what has been done to ensure development of the region.

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  • Democracy or Demon-cracy in Orissa's Koraput

    Report by K. Sudhakar Patnaik; Koraput (Odisha): Mr. Baria Buti aged about 45 years S/o Baria Dulaba village Patraput of Kumbhari Panchayat under Narayanpatna police station confined in Koraput Jail after 20th November Police firing at Narayanpatna. Mr. Baria Buti belonging to tribal community is blind, police also equally blind who initiated cases against him of snatching arms from the police station and waging war against the Government. Surprisingly the tribal blind man not even seen the arms, so question of attempting to loot arms practically not possible the Advocate Nihar Ranjan Pattnaik opined. The movement of Mr. Baria inside the jail requires the assistance of another man and even out side the jail too. So it makes no difference for him in or outside the jail. The police initiated another case of attempt to murder, arson and looting. It is what the democracy prevailing under Narayanpatna Block in Koraput district.

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  • Chhattisgarh Presents 6 of 12 Missing Tribals Before Apex Court

    The Supreme Court Monday directed a Delhi district judge to record the statements of the six Chhattisgarh tribals presented by the state government in accordance with the order last week to locate 12 missing persons.

    A bench of Justices B. Sudershan Reddy and S.S. Nijjar had last Monday directed the Chhattisgarh government to produce before it 12 people - missing after moving the court for a probe into the alleged killings of over 12 villagers by security forces in Dantewada as a part of the anti-Maoist operation.

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  • PCAPA Releases List of 44 Murdered by Paramilitaries and Police

    Calcutta: The People's Committee Against Police Atrocities has come up with a list claiming that 44 of its supporters have been killed in the past year either in fake encounters by security forces or in attacks by armed CPM cadres in and around Lalgarh.In a four-page booklet, the committee names the dead and mentions their age, address and dates of their "murders".

    West Midnapore police chief Manoj Verma said at least 10 of those mentioned were "hardcore Maoists". "Most of the others are wanted Maoists, but we don't know whether they are dead because we have not seen their bodies."

    The committee alleged that Aswini Mahato, 33, was in his paddy field in Salboni on November 28 when he was killed. On January 2, the forces allegedly fired at a rally, injured a trio, tied them to a jeep and dragged them to death.

    (The Telegraph, 12 February 2010)


     

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  • Police Yet to Chalk Out Strategy against Maoists

    RANCHI: More than 48 hours after Union home minister P. Chidambaram convened a meeting in Kolkata on how to deal with the Maoists in the four states of Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa, the state police are yet to hold a meeting to thrash out strategies on the proposed Operation Green Hunt.

    A serving SP admitted that police have stopped arresting top Maoist leaders despite intelligence inputs on their whereabouts. "Though we do not have written orders, the political bosses appear to be in their favour, thus making the forces reluctant to go all out against the Reds," he said.

    The overall scenario on the proposed Green hunt is paradoxical. On the one hand, police are claiming that the offensive is exclusively its prerogative in which the administration has little role to play. Again, on the other, officials of the same department prefer to use the word "campaign" instead of "operation" to restore civil administration in areas where the Reds have been running a parallel administration.

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  • West Bengal: Red Front Ready to Talk to Trinamool

    Snigdhendu Bhattacharya

    A Maoist-backed organisation in Bengal has offered to discuss peace and development with the Trinamool Congress, which is part of the UPA at the Centre. But it wants to talk to Trinamool MP Kabir Suman only.

    "We appealed to Suman because no one else in the Trinamool Congress seemed to be trustworthy," Asit Mahato of the People's Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) told HT on the phone.

    The PCAPA spearheaded an agitation against an operation to flush out Maoists in the Lalgarh area of West Midnapore district in the latter half of last year.

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  • Wrongly Arrested for Being a Maoist

    Jaideep Deogharia

    RANCHI: The People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), which investigated into the allegations of arrested Maoist Jeetan Marandi's wife that her husband was innocent, has found that the arrest could be a case of mistaken identity.

    Marandi was arrested in Karando village of Peertanr block of Giridih on April 5, 2008, for being a notorious member of the banned CPI(Maoists). Marandi has been in Giridih Jail since then. In December last year, his wife Aparna Hansda, had appealed before the state committee of the Jharkhand unit of PUCL urging it to take up the matter.

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  • Tamil Nadu Campaign: Public Meeting, Chennai, 20 February

    The Indian State has declared a civil war called 'Operation Green Hunt' to crush the Maoists and the Naxalbari movement. This battlefield spreads beyond the jungles of Dandakaranya. The forms of the war may change with respect to the place, but the aim of the war is the same-To Recolonize the Country to serve the interests of MNCs and Imperialists. It's an outright lie that the war is being waged only because Maoists are undertaking an armed struggle. People are seething in anger with the numerous recolonization onslaughts. The state understands this fact and also knows that only Naxalites have the ability and courage to ignite the spark among the masses.

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  • Bengal-Jharkhand-Orissa Maoist Crackdown on Government Radar

    Calcutta: Union home minister P. Chidambaram today indicated that inter-state security operations against Maoists would be launched in Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa soon.

    "We reviewed the progress of the intra-state and inter-state operations and found that there has been significant work (done) in this regard. We also discussed inter-state operations between Bengal and Jharkhand and Bengal and Orissa. We have taken certain decisions about these joint operations that will be implemented after I return to Delhi," Chidambaram said after an 80-minute meeting with chief ministers, deputy chief ministers and senior officials of Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar at Writers' Buildings.

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  • Chidambaram Claims Progress is Being Made in Tackling Maoist Rebels

    India says it is making progress in a massive offensive launched to stem a Maoist rebellion.  The Maoists, who have entrenched themselves in several parts of the country, are the biggest internal security threat confronting India.   
    Home Minister P. Chidambaram says several key Maoist leaders have been detained since thousands of security troops launched a coordinated operation against the rebels in five states worst affected by violence.  

    In these five states - West Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chattisgarh and Maharashtra - the rebels have established a strong presence in remote, rural areas.  Chidambaram said progress in the anti-Maoist offensive has ben "steady but show."

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  • Against Green Hunt: All India Protest on 22nd February

    Committee of Democractic Rights Organisations, which consists of several democratic rights organisations viz PUDR, APCLC, MASS, Loksahi Hak Sangathan, NPMHR, APDR,PUCL Jharkhand etc,  has decided to hold ALL INDIA PROTEST DAY on 22nd of February (The day when the Budget Session of Parliament starts) against OPERATION GREEN HUNT and STATE SPONSORED ATTACK ON RIGHTS ORGANISATIONS across the country. Every state will arrange different programmes as per their schedule to mark this protest day. Please do the needful to make this PROTEST DAY a great success.

    Co-ordinators

    Kranthi Chaitanya, APCLC
    Ningreichon, NPMHR
    Asish Gupta, PUDR

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  • PUCL - Seema Azad is a Human Rights Worker

    Letter to the National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi

    We want to acknowledge you that Seema Azad, journalist, human rights worker and executive member of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), her husband former student leader Vishwavijay, and friend Asha, were detained by the police on Allahabad Railway Junction without any proper reason on Saturday(6th Feb 2010).  Both of them were returning from World Book Fair, New Delhi by the Reewanchal Express.  According to police they all are Naxalite.

    Sir, the organization wants to highlight the background of detention.  PUCL has continuously raised the voice against the atrocity done by the police-Bahubalies nexus in kachhari region of Allahabad and Kausambi district on the sand mining labours.  Due to the pressure of politician and Bahubalies, DIG of Allahabad has framed many fraud cases against the labour movement leader.  DIG had banned the 'Lal Salam' cited it as against the nationality.  PUCL had condemned the ban saying that it was natural address of Communist party.  According to PUCL 'Lal Salam' is a common address of labourer across the world.

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  • Threat of Attack on Anti-POSCO Movement Grows

    As many of you are aware, the Korean Steel giant, POSCO (Pohang Steel) is touted to be moving forward with its plans building a steel mill in Jagatsingpura in north-east Orissa. The mill also involves mining at Keonjhar and a new port just north of Paradip.

    In all, over 30 villages are targets for forced displacement and have been in continuous protest in one form or the other for the last two years or more under the leadership of the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti. Currently the govt of Orissa has issued a Feb 10th deadline on filing for compensation and there has been a rapid build of police forces over the last 48 hours.

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  • Uttar Pradesh: Civil Liberties Activists Arrested

    News has just come that Seema Azad, editor of  the left-wing journal DASTAK published from Allahabad was taken into custody by the police yesterday 6th February, soon after she alighted from the train on her return from the Book Fair at Delhi. She along her husband and left-wing activist Vishwa Vijaya have been detained at the Khuldabad Police Station.

    A large number of  intellectuals as well as social activists are protesting against this police action. It is to  be noted that this action comes soon after Seema Azad published a collection of articles criticizing the government for its Operation Greenhunt. The booklet contains articles by noted authors and media-persons such as Arundhati Roy, Himanshu Kumar, Anil Chamaria, Punya Prasoon Vajpeyi, Sunita Narayan and others. Details of the charges leveled against Seema Azad and Vishva Vijaya are awaited.

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  • Observe BLACK DAY on 9/02 in Kolkata

    The combined forces are firing on peaceful masses. People are dying. Children don't go to school. They are hungry. Schools are police camps. All with taxpayer's money. Asim Dasgupta allots 30 crs to combined forces. Our money kills  the poor .  Chidambaram will meet Buddha.to kill more. Everyone protest. Observe BLACK DAY on February 9.
    All come to rally at College Square at 11.30 a.m. Bring placards and posters, not organizational banners.

    Mahasweta Devi


  • Guns, Gags and Lies in a War that No One Sees

    Javed Iqbal

    Aaj kal bandook se zaada khatra laptop mein hai. (In today's world, the laptop is a lot more dangerous than the gun)," the thaanedaar of Dornapal camp in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada district says, checking my bags on one of my visits to the war zone. He knows the war against the Maoists is not being fought by guns alone. The greatest weapon, which both sides utilise well, is silence and misinformation. And what if there's no information or just selected bits released now and then?

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  • No Access to Judiciary or Media in Chhattisgarh

    Javed Iqbal

    Operation Green Hunt, launched last November, was supposed to provide  security from the Maoists, but security for whom? It is unlikely to be the tribals who live in the jungles of Chhattisgarh. They have suffered the attentions of the authorities for years. Equally, they also have to deal with the Maoists on their ground.

    At the same time, there's no one to listen to them. They don't have access to the judiciary or the press. If they complain, they risk harassment and torture. If they persist, they might simply disappear. For mainstream India it's as if they don't exist. The following stories illustrate their plight.

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  • Ground Zero at the Anti-POSCO Struggle

    Dilip Bisoi

    From Bhubaneswar, it takes us five hours to reach Patna village, at the heart of Posco-India's planned 12-million tonne steel plant. We find children playing with pebbles, but they aren't at an innocuous game-they arrange tiny stones across the road when they see an approaching vehicle, imitating elders who routinely put up road blockades or gates to prevent entry of unknown vehicles. Patna falls within the core area of the proposed 4,004 acre plant site, and villagers, who are against the project, keep round-the-clock vigil on the movement of outsiders.

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  • Swapan Dasgupta --first victim of UAPA in West Bengal

    Amit Bhattacharyya

    Swapan Dasgupta, the editor of Bangla People's March, published from Kolkata, died in jail custody as the first political prisoner to die as a UAPA/Unlawful Activities Prevention (Amended) Act of 2008 prisoner. He breathed his last on 2 February 2010 in the ITU, Mackenjee ward of SSKM hospital, Kolkata as a result of physical and mental torture in the police lock-up since his arrest on 6 October 2009 and utter negligence on the part of the government to give him proper medical treatment both inside Presidency Jail, Kolkata as also in the SSKM hospital.

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  • February 11th Delhi Seminar Against Operation Green Hunt: Displacement and Genocide of Tribals

    Campaign Against War on People, Delhi University
    is going to organise a seminar on
    Operation Green Hunt: Displacement and Genocide of Tribals
    11th February; Room No. 56, Arts Faculty, DU; 11a.m.-3p.m.

     

    Speakers:

    Amit Bhaduri (JNU)

    Sudha Bharadwaj (Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha)

    Venuh (NPMHR),

    Tridib Ghosh (PUCL, Jharkhand)

    Kumar Hassan (writer, Orissa)

     

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  • February 5 Protest Actions in Front of Indian Embassies in Europe

    Today with the initiative of ATIK (Confederation of Workers from Turkey in Europe) protest actions in front of the Indian Embassies were held in various cities in Europe. These include Den Haag, London, Vienna, Bern, Berlin and Frankfurt. The protests were held to condemn the "Operation Green Hunt" which was first launched in November 2009 by the Indian state against the people in the heartland of India. Until now, there have been few reports in the international media reporting about the extensive violations of the most fundamental human rights in India.

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  • Condemn the Arrest of Veteran Revolutionary Leader Gananath Patra

    The leaders of mass movements and democratic political organizations condemned today the shocking incident of undemocratic arrest and possible torture of veteran Marxist leader Com Gananath Patra by the State police in Bhubaneswar on 27 January 2010. Com Gananath Patra has been in the forefront of the anti-displacement struggles throughout the state. He is one person who was able to articulate the issues related to rapid industrialization quite well and could share this with masses in a convincing manner. Be it Baliapal or Kalinganagar or Narayanpatna he supported the struggles without any hesitation and as a true revolutionary always wanted to be with the victims of injustice. He supported Nachika Linga and the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh when he realized that these liberated bonded laborers were fighting against the liquor Mafia, land grabbers and tried to get justice for the victimized tribals.

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  • India's Farm Suicides: A 12-Year Saga

    P. Sainath

    The loan waiver year of 2008 saw 16,196 farm suicides in the country, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. Compared to 2007, that's a fall of just 436. As economist Professor K. Nagaraj who has worked in depth on farm suicide data says, "the numbers leave little room for comfort and none at all for self-congratulation." There were no major changes in the trend that set in from the late 1990s and worsened after 2002. The dismal truth is that very high numbers of farm suicides still occur within a fast decreasing farm population.

    Between just the Census of 1991 and that of 2001, nearly 8 million cultivators quit farming. A year from now, the 2011 Census will tell us how many more quit in this decade. It is not likely to be less. It could even dwarf that 8 million figure as the exodus from farming probably intensified after 2001.

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  • Chhattisgarh Attracts Investments Worth Rs 4,000 bn

     

    RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh, which came into existence in 2000, has received Rs 4 lakh crore (Rs 4,000 billion) investment from core industries alone,the state's Chief Secretary P Joy Oommen said on Thursday.

    The state will also create three mega-industrial parks to attract fresh investment proposals, Oommen said while inaugurating a conference on minerals and metals, organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham).  "The state will ensure zero power cut for investors and improve infrastructure, which is not only being strengthened but intensified in semi-urban and rural areas," he said. "The government will set up gems and jewellery, metal, herbal, IT and bio-technology parks and has invited investors."

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  • Swapan Dasgupta: First Fatal Victim of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in WB

    MASUM PRESS RELEASE, February 3, 2010

    Swapan Dasgupta, becomes the first fatal victim of UAPA in West Bengal even before any trial, as he succumbs today (2nd February 2010) at about 5am to growing illness at SSKM Hospital, Kolkata. He was arrested under this Act on 06th October 2009 for publishing 'Peoples March' (in Bengali version), though the publication is still not banned. He was denied bail and detained under jail custody in appalling conditions. As he was a chronic asthma patient, distressing treatment at custody aggravated his illness. UAPA undoubtedly proves its cruel futurity.

    As we informed that the inquest was done by Mr. Swapan Kumar Ghosh, Additional Commissioner of Police (4), South Division, Kolkata Police under Bhowanipur Police Station Inquest number 141. This very act was a gross violation of criminal procedure code of India. The government of West Bengal purposefully violated the section 176 (1A) of Cr. P.C. where it is mandatory that in case of any custodial death, the inquiry should be made only by a judicial (Metropolitan) Magistrate.

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  • The Parallel War on Rights Activists

    Jyoti Punwani

    There are things I haven't forgotten about that October night 30 years ago, like the shock of discovering that my knees were shaking as the banging on the door grew louder. The voices, coarse and angry, were asking for P.V. Bhaktavatsalam, the lawyer who had dared to defend those charged with being Naxalites in a state obsessed with eliminating them. The parallels with modern-day Chhattisgarh couldn't be greater.

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  • India for Selective Assassination of Its Own Citizens

    Trevor Selvam

    Recent statements from Indian leaders and police officers gives away the new strategy on the war on Naxalism: To make the movement "headless" by carrying out selective assassination of its leaders with the help of Israeli operatives.

    Plucky savvyness combined with unnecessary bravado has recently marked the attempts at media interface by some Maoist leaders. There are benefits to reap and a price to pay, as a result. On the one hand, it has been a long time coming for the Maoists to come out of their jungle bases and give press conferences, or invite selected correspondents to visit their bases under armed escort. They correctly understood that their political program (and not their military campaign only) needed to be promoted and publicized.

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  • Doctors Without Borders Banned from Chhattisgarh Villages

    In what is conceived as a counter-insurgency action, the government of the state of Chhattisgarh in central India, where Maoists are leading tribal peasants in armed rebellion, has told Doctors without Borders (Médecins sans frontiers - MSF) to stop providing medical and humanitarian aid to tribal villages, the Asia Tribune said on 8 August, following reports by the Daily Chhattisgarh newspaper. Instead, the authorities want the organisation to provide aid solely in the camps run by the Salwa Judum, a state-sponsored paramilitary movement.

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  • Jharkhand: Maoists Set Terms for Peace Talks

    SHERGHATI: In a turnaround after the installation of coalition government headed by JMM leader Shibu Soren in Jharkhand, banned CPI (Maoists) on Friday accepted the state government's offer to come to the negotiating table.

    Holding a rare press conference at Sherghati, 160 km from Patna, Bihar-Jharkhand North Chhattisgarh Special Area Committee CPI (Maoists) spokesperson Gopal while welcoming the Jharkhand government's offer, expressed doubt over its sincerity.

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  • Jharkhand: Troops Descend for Operation Green Hunt

    Ranchi: A day after chief minister Shibu Soren cleared the air over his government's stand vis-à-vis Maoist rebels, a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) battalion comprising more than 1,200 personnel reached the state capital today for the proposed Operation Green Hunt.  The battalion arrived from Tripura and Assam where it was earlier deployed to fight separatist forces.

    Speaking to The Telegraph, CRPF deputy inspector general Alok Raj said the entire battalion would be posted in Jharkhand till further orders.

     

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  • There is No Constitution in Chhattisgarh Anymore

    Dantewada/Delhi: Nobody knows the whereabouts of Sodi Sambho, a 28-year-old tribal lady who was brutally attacked by CRPF jawans of the Cobra Battalion, SPOs (special police officers) and members of Salwa Judum (State-sponsored militia against the Maoists in Chhattisgarh) when they descended on her village Gompad in Tehsil Konta of Dantewada district on October 1, 2009.

    "An 80-year-old visually handicapped man was stabbed on his back, a 70-year-old woman, unable to walk, was killed, along with a 25-year-old youngster and two girls of 8 and 12. Four people who were passing by were shot dead. Nine people were killed that day," said Himanshu Kumar, a Gandhian activist involved in social work in Dantewada, currently hounded by the police, his life in constant danger.

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  • Chhattisgarh: 19 Government Mining Trucks Set Ablaze

    State-run coal mine, Jharkhand

    NEW DELHI—Over 100 Maoist guerrillas stormed into a mining complex of the state-run NMDC Ltd in Chhattisgarh’s restive Dantewada district and set 19 trucks on fire in the early hours of Wednesday. The armed Maoist separatists raided the mining complex of India’s largest iron ore miner at Kirandul, about 400 km south of here, at around 2 am.

    “The rebels sneaked into Kirandul’s 11-B deposit of the NMDC and burnt 19 trucks hired by NMDC for iron ore transportation. This resulted in panic amongst the hundreds of NMDC staff engaged in mining in the hilly area,” Lakhan Thakur, in charge of the Kirandul police station, told media.

    Earlier a large number of ultras separately attacked two security forces’ camps at Chandapathar and Satnala under Barikul police station in the district, 165 km from the capital, at around 11 pm leading to a heavy exchange of fire between the policemen and the Maoists for over one and a half hours, police sources said. The five injured personnel belonged to the Indian Reserve Battalion of the West Bengal police.

    Daily Mail, January 27, 2010

     

     


  • Haiti and Bastar: Two Disappeared Peoples

    Siddhartha Mitra

    200,000 or more dead in Haiti. Many more wounded and left homeless.

    200,000 or more missing in Bastar. Nobody knows where they are. And many more living in Salwa Judum camps under atrocious conditions.

    Wait, you might ask. Missing is better than dead, is it not so? After all, they must be somewhere, and there must be hope that they will be able to live?

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  • Tamil Nadu: Postcard Campaign and Cycle Rally Push Off

    Speaking out against the State-sponsored killings and rapes of adivasis of Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh, Campaign for Justice and Peace--Tamil Nadu launched a post-card campaign and cycle rally from Salem to the constituency of Home Minister P Chidambaram in Sivaganga. Human rights activist Prof Marx and feminist poet Kutti Revathi announced the launch of the campaign at Chennai.

    The month-long cycle rally will start from Salem on the 26th of January and will cover a distance of 900 kms going through Namakkal, Karur, Dindigul, Madurai to Sivaganga and finally come full circle to Chennai via Pudokottai, Trichy, Perambalur, Cuddalore, Pondicherry, Villipuram, and Kanchipuram. Cycling through villages and small towns, the cyclists will inform Tamil people about the killings and rapes of innocent tribals in Dantewada district in southern Chhattisgarh.

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  • Lalgarh and the Radicalisation of Resistance

    From Victims to Political Subjects?

    Saroj Giri

    One image stands out from the Lalgarh resistance.  Chattradhar Mahato, the most visible leader of the People's Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), distributing food to ordinary villagers -- not as a high-up leader doing charity but as one among them.  Is this the 'new' image of the Maoist?  But maybe Mahato is not a Maoist -- he himself denies being one.  But if he is not, given his power and influence in the area, the 'dictatorial' Maoists must have eliminated him by now?  Then maybe he is only being used by them, following their 'diktat' out of fear.

    But a man with the kind of popularity and love from the masses would fear the Maoists?  So, is he a Maoist, or like a Maoist, after all?  But a Maoist who is this popular among the masses and who does not seem to terrorise them?

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  • Fact Finding Report on Lalgarh by JNU Students

    A fact finding team of nine students from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) recently visited Lalgarh, to probe into the reality of the ongoing movement of the people in the area. Here we are enclosing the preliminary details of what we saw. We would like to appeal to your daily/ news channel to also highlight on certain issues of the movement, which we feel are not coming to the forefront, as much as it should have.

    We heard through various media and other sources that there had been massive state repression in Lalgarh and other adjacent areas in November 2008, after the attempted mine blast on the convoy of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. We heard of incidents of rampant police atrocity especially on women and school children in Chhotopelia and Katapahari. We also heard that post that rampage the people there have formed the Pulishi Santrash Birodhi Janasadharoner Committee (PSBJC) and have blockaded Lalgarh and other areas out of police and other administration.

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  • Debate on Violence and Non-Violence in the Lalgarh Movement

    The ongoing Lalgarh movement in West Bengal has accomplished many things. It has taken people's movement on to a higher stage where resistance against state repression in various forms is tied up with the struggle for the development of the adivasi languages and script, a new pro-people model of development and a determined fight not to hand over the natural resources of the region to foreign and domestic big capital for plunder and loot in the name of 'industrialization'.

    This historic movement has also led to controversy as to its nature, the nature of the involvement of the Maoists in it, the relation between the People's Committee Against Police Atrocities and the Maoists and the problems faced by the civil rights bodies and various sections of the people in responding to the movement in the different stages of its development. Many articles have been published in the dailies from Kolkata, most of which are not available to people in other states.

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  • 5000 Lalgarh Villagers Raze Government Building to Keep Cops Out

    Nearly 5,000 tribals in Salboni, wielding shovels, axes and hammers and allegedly led by Maoists, today demolished a government building that till last week was a police camp. The structure at Kalaimuri near Lalgarh in West Midnapore — the first government building to be torn down by the tribals — took three hours to destroy.

    Chhatradhar Mahato, who leads the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities that is at the forefront of the Lalgarh tribal resistance, said: “We had appealed to the villagers not to demolish the building as we planned to set up a health care centre there, but we could not persuade them.” He added: “The people have lost faith in the police and they feared the security forces would return.”

    Today, neither Chhatradhar nor the secretary of the committee, Sidhu Soren, was present at Kalaimuri when the villagers rained blows on the building.

    One of the tribals who helped bring the building down was 35-year-old Paritosh Mahato, a farmer from Gadra near Lalgarh. “When we started our agitation in November last year, the police withdrew several camps, including this one in Kalaimuri. But the camps started functioning again in December,” Paritosh said. “Had the building remained standing, the police would have returned with reinforcements. That’s why we demolished it.”

    Bimal Tudu, a 40-year-old labourer who too was in the demolition team, echoed Paritosh’s fears. “Now the police won’t be able to return to Kalaimuri,” he said.

    The policemen stationed at the camp used to patrol parts of Lalgarh, an area the tribals have made inaccessible to the force after alleged excesses on villagers following a blast on the chief minister’s convoy route last year. The 90 policemen stationed at the camp left it on April 27 after the tribals pushed them to the brink of starvation by preventing them from buying provisions for several days.

    Manoj Kumar Verma, the West Midnapore superintendent of police, said he had received news of the demolition and had informed his superiors. We will not move into Kalaimuri now because it may lead to untoward incidents. We don’t want a confrontation with the villagers at this moment. Today’s demolition of the camp was led by Maoists,” he said.

    The police said that around 11am, a group of Maoists gathered in front of the camp, one of four in Salboni. “They (the Maoists) contacted people in the neighbouring villages and asked them to assemble near the camp,” a police officer said. “Nearly 5,000 villagers with bows, arrows, axes, iron rods and shovels gathered within half an hour. Some in the demolition squad were women.”

    The officer added: “The Maoists held an hour-long meeting with them and the demolition began around 1pm. The camp building was completely destroyed by 4pm.” Police sources said the tribals had come from about a dozen villages.

    Sanhati, May 2009

  • Many Police Fear Duty in Jangalmahal

    No, it is not in fear of the Maoists, but being unable to cope with the pressure from the government. They do not want to be a party to the state-sponsored terrorism. They cannot support the random and mindless killing of poor tribal people by branding them as ‘Maoists’. Some are forced to take transfer. Some of the junior officers had to resign as they could not follow the order of seniors.

    One officer who has worked in the tribal belt of Bengal for some time said – it is more to please the ruling party that some of the police officers are unnecessarily torturing the jungle people. And as a consequence of this torture many of the common men have joined the ‘Maoist’ group.

    Another sub-inspector of police who joined duty at Jangalmahal in 2002 and is posted at another thana [precinct] at present recounts his tale of horror. “Our camp was at an old mansion in Belpahari. One day while returning from our usual round through an almost deserted village, we saw an old man on the verandah of a hut. On the instruction of our senior inspector three or four of us picked up this old man and literally carried him to our van. Some of the policemen even kicked him in the stomach calling him ‘Janajuddho’ (People’s war group). But I know the old man was doing nothing but boiling some leaves in a vessel. All of us knew that this bent old man could never be a militant terrorist. But he was anyway sent to the lock up as a man of the people’s war group.”

    Soon after the explosion in the Jhitka jungle, the then additional Police Superintendent Sumeet Chaturvedi abruptly took a transfer from West Midnapur to Delhi. In his two years’ tenure in the state before he was posted at the jungle, he was under constant pressure. This young officer had witnessed how the CPM party was using the police force to keep the tribal people under pressure and was branding them as ‘Maoists’. These more humane officers had seen what enormous atrocities could be meted out to the starving or ill-fed poor people by the ‘loyal’ policemen always trying to please the ruling party. Before taking transfers, these men had expressed their painful tales of woe to their near ones.

    Parveen Kumar, who was the Superintendent of police in W. Midnapur earlier for a long time was well-known for his strategies to counter Maoist insurgencies. He was close to the leaders of the ruling party and managed to get favorable postings. This Parveen Kumar on his return as the DIG [Deputy Inspector General of the police], Midanapur range supposedly had some difference of opinion with the government’s decisions. In June this year, soon after leading the attack by joint forces in Lalgarh, he abruptly took a transfer from this state. It is heard that he does not intend to return to W. Bengal before 2013-2014.…

    …Another police officer who has worked many years in the tribal area blamed the police atrocities along with lack of development in the region for the rise of today’s ‘Maoists’.

    Many junior officers faced the wrath of seniors as they refused to follow their unethical orders. Additional police superintendent Sisir Das had to resign under such circumstances when he could not bear the pressure of unjustifiable instructions by his seniors. Most of these orders were not written down. So whenever there were any untoward incidents as results of these verbal orders, the junior had to bear the brunt, said one such officer.

    All the trouble started when there was a small blast near the Kolaichondi canal on the chief minister’s convoy on 2 November, 2008. The police started severe action in Chhotopelia village. They picked up school boys from this village 70 kilometers away from the incident, tortured women and humiliated teachers. A veteran officer posted in Jangalmahal argues [that] there are many who had been wrongly arrested as ‘Maoists’ and detained, who later really turned into Maoists.

    Who is responsible for this?

    Many police personnel who kept quiet in fear of seniors for so long are now expressing their opinion. They are agreeing that as in Lalgarh, even in Nandigram they had to launch severe action from the beginning only to please the CPM.

    ‘iCore EKDIN’, Bengali daily newspaper, November 2, 2009

     

  • Democracy and Ban Cannot Go Together

    Amit Bhhatacharyya

    In the recent days, two important developments took place in the national scene-both of which have far-reaching implications. One, of course, is the battle for Lalgarh. The second-that has some bearing on the Lalgarh movement also--is the banning of the CPI (Maoist) after it was tagged to the long list of what the central government described as 'terrorist organizations'. It implies that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2008 (UAPA) would henceforth be applied to the members of the Maoist party or people sympathetic to their cause.

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  • Wadeka Singala, President of Orissa CMAS, Murdered by Police

    The Orissa government led by Naveen Patnaik has unleashed a fresh wave of fascist attack on the people's movements. Two members of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS), including its president Wadeka Singana were killed in police firing on 20th November 09 during a protest by its members in Narayanpatna Tribal Panchayat region. The other deceased member is yet to be identified. At least six were injured in the incident. CMAS is an organisation of adivasi peasants which have been fighting for the rights of tribal communities over land and forests. It has come in conflict with the government and its armed forces which is facilitating the plunder and loot of natural resources by the Indian and multinational corporations. The CMAS has also been fighting against alienation of tribal lands, and to stop their encroachment by non-tribals.

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  • Manoranjan Mohanty on Central-Maoist Talks

    Manoranjan Mohanty

    Public opinion in India seems to be building up strongly in favour of a dialogue among the government and the Maoists. This is despite the clear indications that the Central Government is going ahead with its preparations for launching the armed offensive in the Naxalite movement areas. Yet there are signs from both the government and the Maoists that they were amenable to the idea of talks.

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  • Operation Green Hunt Easier to Draft than Implement

    Raipur: Perhaps the best way to understand the security offensive mounted to defeat the Maoist challenge is not to seek answers but to merely ponder the many questions that riddle the project.

    It’s well-nigh impossible to script a “Green Hunt Made Easy” because, quite simply, it isn’t an easy undertaking; “Green Hunt Made Tough” is more readily done, and it serves as a better reckoner of what lies ahead.

    Many of those who’ve put Green Hunt into motion and will shortly join forces with the paramilitary to upgrade the push against armed Maoists are themselves balked by the steep degree of difficulty they have undertaken to manoeuvre.

    “It’s like an impossibly revolving door,” says a police officer currently working the logistics of operations. “You go in looking for answers and you are pushed right out under a barrage of questions there are no answers to.”

    Did you know, for instance, that Chhattisgarh can afford only one policeman per four square kilometers?

    Did you know that in Bastar, the core and fount of Maoist militancy, that ratio gets drastically thinner — only one policeman per nine square kilometers?

    Did you know that eight out of 10 jawans — police or paramilitary — drafted for the frontlines will have little or no knowledge of the territory and people they are meant to establish domination over?

    Did you know that no more than 800 of the 5,000 jawans specially trained in jungle warfare by the Chhattisgarh government last year are deputed to counter-insurgency tasks? (The rest are, where else, manning VVIP security)

    Did you know that the 35 new anti-Naxalite battalions the government is meant to raise for operations will take a minimum of three years to turn into functioning boots on the ground?

    Did you know that the security forces have virtually no real-time intelligence to work on because the Maoists’ jungle bases defy air surveillance and the human information network is in a shambles?

    Did you know that 95 per cent of the area that the security forces need to “reclaim” from Maoist control has no roads, not even kuchcha tracks? And that they have very little sense of the lay of the land in Maoist-controlled areas?

    Did you know that for fear of the Maoists, building contractors have refused to undertake construction work in interior Bastar — key roads, new police stations, paramilitary camps — even though the government has offered them ten times the going rate?

    Did you know that malaria is felling as many jawans in the jungles as Maoists and the government often has no means of evacuating those taken ill in the interiors?

    Did you know that Orissa, a key Naxalite-affected state, has politely begged off the joint security operations, stating its police force is currently not up to the challenge? And that operations in Jharkhand too will have to remain virtually suspended because of impending Assembly elections?

    Those that are participating — a new joint command centre has been set up at the Police HQ in Raipur and the first induction meetings with paramilitary forces held — are not making Green Hunt yet tougher.

    Consider, for instance, that among the priority requirements the Chhattisgarh police brass are scrambling to meet in the midst of battling the Maoists are R & R (rest and recreation) facilities for paramilitary bosses who are leading their men into jungle locations --- commodious accommodation, which means the bar cannot go lower than cable television and air-conditioning (even though this is the onset of winter and the weather has already turned rather pleasant).

    The care-and-comfort demands provoked a senior police official enough to say: “Instead of giving the Maoists a run, these para guys are putting a run on the air-conditioner market in off-season, what do they assume they are here for, a paid picnic?”

    Another officer spoke of the “palpable disinterest” among some paramilitary brass in the “mandatory requirement” of orienting themselves to the job ahead. “Bastar has been the Waterloo of many a reputed force, the Naga Armed Police came here and everybody thought they would saw through the Maoists because they come from a proven jungle combat experience. They’ve returned, the Maoists are still flourishing. People who come here thinking they know it all will provide us rude shocks, nothing more,” complained an officer who has engaged with newly arrived paramilitary bosses on preparations for the joint offensive.

    The Chhattisgarh government runs a singular jungle warfare and counter-terrorism training facility at Kanker, midway between Raipur and the Bastar heartland, but the sense emerging from initial interactions between the state police and paramilitary officials is that the latter are reluctant to train in specific combat requirements for engaging Maoist guerrillas.

    Brigadier B.D. Ponwar, who runs the Kanker training college — a sprawling and quite impressive centre almost single-handedly erected by the former army man — is openly dismissive about the “know-alls” in the security establishment who are reluctant to train.

    “I have been here several years now, and I can tell you that the highest security casualties happen because people are not trained to meet requirements of this terrain and of fighting Maoists,” Brig Ponwar says.

    “Look up the records and you will find that the very few who have trained here have been killed in combat. It’s about task-oriented training, that simple. And a pity that people are not bothered to take advantage of an institution that will provide them that expertise. Arrogance will lose us this campaign if nothing else will.”

    Did you know that senior security personnel have, in the past, declined jungle warfare courses at Kanker only because it provides only tented accommodation — no air-conditioning, no cable TV — for the very logical reason that it is a jungle warfare school, not an R&R retreat?

    No wonder ‘Green Hunt Made Tough’ is easier to draft.

    Raipur Live, November 4, 2009

  • Maoists Ready to Talk, but with Gun in Hand

     

    NEW DELHI: For the first time since they held talks with the Andhra Pradesh government in mid-2004, the Maoists have in a formal statement offered a ceasefire if the government dropped its pre-condition that the ultras lay down arms and abjure violence.

    While ruling out accepting the demand that they must end violence, the Maoists said, ``An agreement could be reached on by both sides on a ceasefire if Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram give up their irrational, illogical and absurd stand that Maoists should abjure violence.''

    The statement, dated November 3, was released by CPI(Maoist) central committee member and party spokesperson Azad on Thursday and is seen as a response to the Centre's concerted effort to use the threat of massive anti-Naxal operations, its offers of a peaceful settlement to coax the ultras to the negotiating table and as a sign that the publicity offensive against Maoist violence may be working.

    There was immediate concern that the Maoists might be falling back on their time-tested gambit of buying time to recoup and rearm as they did when the talks with Andhra Pradesh government dragged on. Yet, the preparedness of the Maoists to reach for the olive branch held out by the government is indicative of the pressure they are experiencing, with the Centre joining forces with state governments and, to boot, embarking on a serious propaganda war over Maoist atrocities.

    The Maoists, however, have taken care not to give the impression of any weakness or flagging commitment to the cause. Their Central Committee cockily said, ``Asking Maoists to lay down arms as a pre-condition for talks shows the utter ignorance of Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram regarding historical and socio-economic factors that gave rise to the Maoist movement.''

    The calculation not to suggest that they were under pressure - something that the battle-hardened class warriors would not appreciate - was evident from the list of patently impossible demands made as the pre-condition for an engagement - from withdrawal of security forces from Naxal-affected states to repeal of anti-terror laws.

    It is of course clear that the government is unlikely to accept demands like withdrawal of security forces from Naxal-hit areas but the statement provides a glimpse of a possible churn within the Maoist movement where some voices have spoken of the need to explore the political process as did the ultra movement in Nepal.

    "The party made it clear that laying down arms means a betrayal of people. We have taken up arms for defence of peoples' rights and for achieving their liberation from exploitation and oppression," the statement said.

    In 2004 too, Maoists were allowed to keep their arms as their leaders held talks with the state government. The difference this time could be that the Centre appears dead serious about its operation "green hunt" and has roped in even reluctant states like Orissa and Jharkhand to join the battle. The success of recent operations in Chhattisgarh and West Bengal have also indicated that the Maoists are vulnerable.

    The demands thrown by Maoists include stopping "illegal abductions" of Maoists and suspected supporters of the ultras, halt to "torture and murder" of unarmed people, instruction to security forces to desist from "raping women in Maoist-dominated areas", halting destruction of property, withdrawal of police and paramilitary camps from interior areas and disbandment of vigilante efforts like Salwa Judum.

    The Maoists have also asked for a repeal of laws like Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Chhattisgarh Special Powers Act, Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) etc.  Clearly, even while offering to engage, the Maoists have been practising the propaganda warfare.

    Times of India, November 6, 209

     

  • Amnesty International Calls for Investigation into Narayanpatna Killings

    Amnesty India: Probe killing of two adivasi leaders and release detained activist in Orissa

    December 2, 2009

    Authorities in the eastern Indian state of Orissa must ensure independent, credible and impartial investigation into the killings of two adivasi (indigenous community) leaders by police and paramilitary personnel in Narayanpatna on 20 November 2009, Amnesty International said today.

    The deceased - Singanna and Andrew Nachika - were peacefully protesting outside the Narayanpatna police station in Koraput district along with 80-100 other members of an indigenous people's movement - Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS). The protestors demanded that the police stop harassing the adivasi communities who have been campaigning for an end to illegal mining in the area.

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  • Supporters of Telangana Shut Down Large Parts of Andhra Pradesh

     

    Large parts of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh have shut down in a strike called by the supporters of a new state. Strict security has been imposed in 10 districts of the state and more than 100,000 security personnel deployed. Fearing violence, the authorities have cancelled 9,000 buses and 165 trains.

    The strike, called for the creation of a separate Telangana state out of AP, is also supported by students groups and the outlawed ultra-Left Maoists.

    Earlier this month the government announced that it would allow the creation of Telangana - irrespective of opposition. But last week, the authorities said that decision would be considered after consultation with all parties. An estimated 35 million people will live in the proposed new state.

    K Chandrasekara Rao of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), which is spearheading the protest for a Telangana state, has resigned from the lower house of parliament, along with two other MPs from the region. Fifty lawmakers from the Telangana region and belonging to the Andhra Pradesh assembly have also handed in their resignations.

    Warning

    The BBC's Omer Farooq in the AP capital, Hyderabad, says that the latest protests have cast a long shadow over new year eve celebrations in and around the city. Our correspondent says that the state remanins gripped by tension and political instability - made worse by the security threat posed by Maoist rebels who say they support Wednesday's strike.

    Groups of protesters have closed down several important highways connecting the state capital, Hyderabad, with other cities.Burning tyres are being used to block roads and in many places protesters are squatting on highways, leading to massive traffic snarls. "Two hundred and ninety two people have already been taken into preventive custody as a precautionary measure," Andhra Pradesh police chief R Girish Kumar said. He warned the protesters against forcibly enforcing the strike and asked the police force to be on alert against violence, specially in major cities and towns.

    Fearing violence, the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation has cancelled its entire service of 9,000 buses in the region. Railway authorities have cancelled as many as 165 trains criss-crossing Telangana region and linking it to other parts of the state and the rest of India. Several long-distance trains have been delayed by several hours by the protesters. Most schools and colleges in the region, including in the state capital Hyderabad, are closed. Shops, markets and business centres are also shut.

    PROPOSED TELANGANA STATE

    * Population of 35 million

    * Spread over 10 districts of Andhra Pradesh, including Hyderabad city

    * Landlocked, predominantly agricultural area

    * One of the most under-developed regions in India

    * Culmination of 50-year campaign

    * More than 400 people died in 1969 crackdown

    The protests follow federal Home Minister P Chidambaram's statement last week that all political parties will be consulted before deciding on a new state.

    Mr Chidambaram explained the government's change in stance by saying that the situation in Andhra Pradesh had "altered" since he had made an announcement on 9 December on the formation of a Telangana state.

    Politicians from Telangana reacted sharply to Mr Chidambaram's statement, saying that the government had put the demand in "cold storage". About 50 lawmakers from the region also handed in their resignations in protest.

    Telangana region, which includes Hyderabad - an IT hub of southern India and home to firms like Microsoft, Google and Dell - is spread over 10 northern districts of Andhra Pradesh.

    Campaigners say Telangana's economic development has been neglected in favour of the richer and more powerful Andhra region - and that a new state is the only solution.

    India has 28 states - the last three new states were formed in 2000: Chhattisgarh was created out of eastern Madhya Pradesh; Uttarakhand was created out of the hilly areas of northern Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand was carved from Bihar's southern districts.

    BBC News, December 30, 2009

     

  • Ground Offensive against Maoists Begins in Maharastra and Chhattisgarh

    Nagpur/Raipur: The first major ground offensive against Naxalites has started, with police forces in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh launching a joint operation. The offensive was being kept in abeyance for the end of the Jharkhand elections.

    The first part of the offensive, which will include searching for Naxals in the interiors of Gadchiroli in Maharashtra and in Maoist-dominated areas of Chhattisgarh, was launched on December 25 as part of what is being termed as Police Week (December 25 to January 1), sources said.

    It is for the first time that something like a Police Week is being observed in these areas. However, CRPF’s Special DG Vijay Raman, commanding the anti-Naxal operations said: “There is nothing like starting or end of an operation. It’s on since beginning itself.”

    Sources said the operation is being conducted jointly by the CRPF, regular Gadchiroli police, the Special Action Group (SAG) created specially for anti-Naxal operations in Maharashtra, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), BSF and the regular Chhattisgarh police.

    The ITBP and BSF have taken up position at strategic locations in the forest areas of Rajnandgaon and Kanker districts in Chhattisgarh, cutting off supply lines of Maoists from Maharashtra. The forces are trying to establish their dominance in this area, which had seen a major attack on security forces in July last year, in which 32 security personnel, including superintendent of police V K Choubey, had lost their lives. DG Raman has already visited these areas.

    Chhattisgarh director general of police Vishwaranjan said the objective of the joint operation by the state and Central forces was to station security forces in the area for a reasonable period to allow civil administration to take up development initiatives there. However, there will be surgical strikes wherever necessary.

    Confirming that Maoist supply lines have been cut off at many places, he refused to divulge details, saying “you will come to know about it once the forces make advancements”. The plan is to extend the operation further to Jharkhand, now that the state has a government. “Taking the state government on board is mandatory,” officials said.

    While the forces were deployed immediately after the Maharashtra Assembly elections two months ago, they have been using the time till now to get acclimatised to the terrain, and conducting their operations separately. The past few days they started long range patrols (LRP) deep into the interiors.

    “The real coordinated exercises have been started as part of the special week being observed,” sources said. “The nature of the operation (earlier) was to search for Naxals hiding in the forests on the basis of intelligence reports. Now, a massive hunt is on generally in the forests.” Officials claim that the Naxals are already feeling the heat. “This is seen from the appeal to lower-rung policemen and officials to revolt against their superiors, with Naxals calling them fellow-sufferers,” said an official.

    He also claimed that while they had plans for a big strike during the recently-concluded winter session of Maharashtra Legislature at Nagpur, they backtracked because of forces sealing off the entire area.

    Police sources said at least 10 more battalions might be needed for extending the joint operations to Bastar region in Chhattisgarh, which will be started after the operations in Rajnandgaon and Kanker.

    Financial Express, January 2, 2010

     

     

     

  • Resolution of Mumbai Convention on Operation Green Hunt

    January 16, 2010:  The Central Government has declared a war  -- not against any external enemy - but against our own people in central and eastern India, peopled primarily by adivasis, covering the states of Chattisgarh, AP, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Orissa and West Bengal. More than 100,000 personnel of the police and the para-military forces have been deployed in these regions. This war is being fought by the Indian government at the behest of multinational and Indian corporations and covertly supported by the US security establishment, to forcibly displace the adivasis to hand over their ancestral homelands and forests to the corporations for plunder of the rich natural resources of these regions in pursuit of the policies of liberalization and privatisation.

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  • 74 Members of Human Rights Organisations Arrested on Way to Lalgarh

    Midnapore: About 74 members of seven Kolkata-based human rights organisations were arrested at Kharagpur railway station this morning. Members of Association for Democratic Rights (APDR), Suraksha Samiti, West Bengal Bandi Mukti Manch, Lalgarh Manch, and Legal Service Centre, were on their way to Lalgarh when they were arrested. About 15 students of Presidency College were also in the visiting team.

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  • Central Role of Women in the Struggle for Telangana

    Kalpana Kannabiran

    At the time when the movement for the State of Telangana reaches its peak, and even as the leaders of this movement craft the contours of this state that is one step towards liberating the people of this region from a history of economic, political and cultural oppression, it is important to think about which way we would like to go. As somebody who believes in Telangana statehood, not as part of a general argument about the efficacy of smaller states alone, but as indispensable to the dignity of the region, I raise these questions with the aim of pushing for a greater democratization of the movement. There are unresolved issues that need to be addressed and there are leaders of integrity, with a radical vision and political astuteness like Kondandram and Ratnamala, who have the capacity to take difficult questions on board and turn them into strengths.

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  • Dalits Rescued Last in Floods

     TRIVENIGANJ-- In the two weeks since a monsoon-swollen river burst its banks, ancient prejudices have run just as deep as the floodwaters. India’s “untouchables” are the last to be rescued – if at all – from a deluge that has killed dozens and made 1.2 million homeless.

    Dalits, the social outcasts at the bottom of the Hindu caste ladder, have borne the brunt of the devastation as the rampaging Kosi River* swamped hundreds of square miles in northern India after it overflowed and shifted its course dozens of miles to the east.

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  • Arundhati Roy Interview with David Barsamian: Brave New India

    ARUNDHATI ROY is the author of The God of Small Things. She is known for courageously standing with the pooret people of India in their growing struggles with the state and international capitalism. Her latest books are The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile, with David Barsamian, and An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire.

    DAVID BARSAMIAN interviewed her in New Delhi on December 29, 2007. David Barsamian is the producer ofAlternative Radio, based in Boulder, Colorado.

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  • Indian Parliament Rushes through Repressive "Anti-Terror" Laws

    Barely three weeks after the Mumbai terrorist attack, India’s Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government pushed draconian new “anti-terror” laws through parliament. Amidst an unrelenting din of hysteria over reputed “Pakistani-sourced terrorism,” all sections of India’s political establishment—including the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena and the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front—unanimously joined with the Congress and its UPA allies on Dec. 17 to adopt the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendments Act 2008 and the National Investigating Agency Act.

    The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendments Act 2008 introduces harsh amendments to the already draconian provisions of a similarly titled 1967 act, including doubling the time “terror” suspects can be held without charge and forcing accused in certain cases to “prove” their innocence. The second bill authorizes the creation of a National Investigating Agency (NIA) akin to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). According to the Indian constitution “law and order” comes under the purview of the state governments. However the new agency will have the authority to probe “terrorist acts” directly without the authorization of local state governments. The National Investigating Agency Act also establishes special courts to try terrorism cases.

    Pressing for unanimous passage of the two bills in the Lok-Sabha (the lower house of India’s parliament), Home Minister P. Chidambaram claimed the legislators had “captured the mood of the nation” by agreeing to set aside normal parliamentary procedures to rush through emergency, “consensus” legislation. Chidambaram claimed that the bills were needed to confront the threat of “Jihadi-terrorism,” yet hypocritically urged the legislators not to look at the legislation through a “communal prism.”

    While the UPA government and corporate media have claimed the bills are a response to the three-day commando-style attack on Mumbai in late November, the Hindu right and large sections of India’s security establishment have long been pushing for new powers for the state in the name of combating terrorism. UPA Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has himself repeatedly referred to terrorism—by which he means not just the bombings and commando raids mounted by Islamacist groups, but a whole series of national-separatist and Naxhalite (Maoist) insurgencies—as the greatest threat to the Indian state.

    The hypocritical and reactionary character of the ruling class debate over terrorism is underscored by the fact that entirely excluded from discussion are the atrocities that the Hindu right, with the complicity of much of state apparatus, has perpetrated over the past two decades—most infamously in the wake of the 1992 razing of the Babri Masjid mosque in Ayodhya and the 2002 Gujarat pogrom. In so far as there has been a rise of Islamicist terrorism in India, it has come largely in reaction to the Indian bourgeoisie’s connivance with, and sponsorship of, the Hindu right.

    That the target of the legislation is far more than the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack and like atrocities is above all demonstrated by the sweeping definition of terrorism set out in the Unlawful Activities Act (2008). The multi-part definition declares guilty of a “terrorist act,” “Whoever does any act with intent to threaten or likely to threaten the unity, integrity, security or sovereignty of India or with intent to strike terror or likely to strike terror in the people or any section of the people in India or in any foreign country” using any “hazardous substance” likely to cause injury or property damage or disrupt essential services; or by using “criminal force” or threatening criminal force to “overawe” any public official; or who seeks to compel the Indian government, any state or foreign government to do anything by detaining or kidnapping anyone.

    The bill goes on to make it a crime liable to a minimum of five years and a maximum of life imprisonment to raise, collect, or provide funds, “directly or indirectly,” “likely” to be used to “commit a terrorist act.”

    It also provides, according to an analysis carried out by Amnesty International, “no clear and strict definition of what constitutes ‘membership’ of a ‘terrorist gang or organization.’” This opens the door to the witchhunting of large numbers of people who support the objectives of an organization deemed by the Indian state to be terrorist, but who are in no way involved in violence.

    The bill’s definitions of terrorism and support for terrorism provide the legal framework for the Indian state to greatly intensify its attempts to crush through state violence the ethno-separatist insurgences in Kashmir and the north-east and the insurgencies being mounted by several Naxalite groups. (According to the Indian government, Naxalite insurgents are active in about 180 administrative districts or more than one-fifth of the entire country.)

    The Naxalites are a retrograde, nationalist political tendency. But they have been able to gain support in some of the poorest and most remote areas of India because of the tremendous agrarian crisis and because the mainline Stalinist parties, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India, have politically paralyzed the working class.

    The Naxalite movement enjoys the support of a layer of students and has a network of support and cultural organizations, some of them patronized by well-known intellectuals and artists. Such activities have now been criminalized and there is every reason to expect that the ruling elite will utilize these new laws to launch a dragnet against Naxalite-aligned groups and their supporters.

    The legislation could also be invoked in the future directly against the working class, as almost any form of resistance to the state could be labeled a threat to the “unity, integrity, security or sovereignty of India.” Sections of the corporate media have long denounced hartals (political strikes) and gheraos (in which protesters surround and detain a government official or corporate boss) as violent acts, based on “terrorizing” opponents.

    Overturning of key juridical principles

    Of no less importance is the fact that the legislation overturns longstanding juridical principles, laying the basis for further attacks on democratic rights.

    Police are now empowered to arrest “terrorist suspects” and detain them for 180 days without filing any formal charges. Under the 1967 Act the maximum period of imprisonment without formal charges was 90 days.

    Foreign “terror suspects” or indeed almost any foreign national accused of entering the country illegally will have no right to bail. Even for Indian nationals, bail will be difficult if not impossible to obtain, as it is subject to the consent of a judge of the special “terrorist” court. The state is empowered to freeze, seize or attach funds and other financial assets or economic resources reputedly held by “suspected” individuals on behalf of terrorist organizations.

    If a suspect is caught with “weapons,” the law will presume the accused is guilty; in other words the burden of proof will be shifted from the state to the accused, thereby violating one of the most essential principles of civil liberty—”innocent until proven guilty.”

    The special courts established under the National Investigating Agency Act will try terror suspects in camera, denying the public knowledge of the proceedings and thereby greatly facilitating convictions on the basis of flimsy or concocted evidence.

    The UPA government’s adoption of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendments Act 2008 and the National Investigating Agency Act constitutes a further major shift to the right on the part of the Congress Party, the Indian bourgeoisie’s traditional party of government. In July, the Congress-led UPA broke with the Stalinist Communist Party of India (Marxist) and its Left Front (which had been providing the minority government with the parliamentary votes needed to remain in office), so as to press forward with the Indo-US civilian nuclear treaty and, more broadly, a “global, strategic” partnership with US imperialism.

    In passing the twin “anti-terror” bills, the Congress is adapting and giving succor to the Hindu right. In a communally-laced propaganda offensive, the official opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has long accused the Congress of being “soft on terrorism” because it wants to attract Muslim votes. This Hindu communalist party, which was swept from the power by the Congress-led UPA in 2004, has particularly lashed out against the UPA government for its repealing of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), legislation the previous BJP-led government adopted in 2002 following a terrorist attack on India’s parliament and in the midst of a massive military mobilization and threats of war against Pakistan.

    The Congress Party made much of its repeal of POTA after it came to power in 2004, conceding that it was anti-democratic, had resulted in police dragnets in which large numbers of innocent people, especially Muslims, had been victimized, and had been used by various state governments to witchhunt political opponents.

    The Congress Party has now come full-circle. The new laws adopt the key elements of POTA, including long detentions without charges, a broad definition of terrorism, placing the burden of proof on the accused, and closed trials in special courts. Only a few provisions are different. Unlike POTA, the new law does not allow prosecutors to use “confessions” made to police officers. (India’s police and security forces have an appalling human rights record, including routine use of summary executions and torture.)

    The Times of India in its article entitled “POTA Back as New UAPA?” concluded that the new legislation is indeed “old wine in new bottle.”

    The BJP welcomes the Congress’ “U-Turn”

    The Congress Party’s lurch to the right was acknowledged by BJP leader L.K. Advani, but he made sure to once again admonish the Congress for having repealed POTA and to demand even more repressive measures, such as making police-elicited “confessions” admissible in court.

    Said Advani, “I cannot express happiness but I express satisfaction today. You have today admitted that the government was wrong for 10 years and will rectify mistakes. You have woken up from Kumbhakarna’s sleep. (Kumbhakarna is a character in a Hindu epic who is always in deep sleep.) I want that you admit that you were wrong. . . . You attacked us as if we had committed a crime when we ushered in the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).”

    Having lectured the Congress for having termed POTA as “anti-minority,” Advani concluded by proclaiming, “Today I am happy with your U-turn.”

    The Congress-Party led UPA government has used last month’s Mumbai attack to ratchet up tensions with Pakistan, India’s historic rival, and thereby force it to cut off support for the anti-Indian insurgency in Kashmir, to divert popular attention from the fallout within India of the world economic crisis, and now to mount a sweeping attack on democratic rights.

    In the process, the self-avowed “secular” Congress has joined hands with the BJP, while competing with the Hindu supremacists as to which party is the most resolute against terrorism and Pakistan.

    The Congress has now leveled its own “soft on terrorism” charge against the BJP, repeatedly referring to a 1999 incident in which the BJP-led government of the time authorized the release of some Kashmiri separatists from prison in India to secure the release of hostages on a hijacked plane.

    Deepal Jayasekera, World Socialist Website, 29 December 2008

     

     

     

  • Lalgarh Police Force Youth to Search for Mines

    PIRAKATA: The message from Writers’ Buildings to show a human face while dealing with the warring populace in Lalgarh apparently hasn’t reached
    the force. Why else would a section of the state armed police (SAP) — terrified of IED explosions – catch hold of local youths and force them to poke around for hidden mines and explosives?

    Acts like this will trigger more calls for vengeance and lead people to doubt the sincerity of the government’s attempts to pacify the tribal villagers. It also exposes the lack of preparedness of the administration.

    There are just two CID bomb disposal experts stationed at Lalgarh. A second team is kept in reserve in Midnapore town to be deployed in case of ‘VIP movement’. A third is cooling its heels in Kolkata. There is not a single explosives expert with police forces anywhere else in the war zone.

    Ever since Friday evening’s blast at Kuldiha, in which the Domkal SDPO’s vehicle was hit and three policemen were injured, police have been wary of such attacks. The moment they come across any culvert, many policemen are scared to cross, fearing that Maoists might have planted an IED.

    Four blasts and half a dozen gunbattles have been reported ever since forces started their march to Lalgarh. Though no policeman has died, the guerrillas have scored a psychological victory — they have sown the seeds of fear and anxiety. It’s this fear that has led some policemen, who are themselves not trained to detect explosives, to force local youth to do the dangerous job for them.

    Eighteen-year-old Shambhu Ghosh, Madan Mahato (20) and Shakti Ghosh (23) from Dhangori village were among the unlucky locals. They have been on the run since last Thursday when security forces entered the village searching for Maoists.

    On Sunday morning, they were having breakfast at a roadside eatery, close to the Pirakata camp, when a team of policemen surrounded them. One of them asked if they were from Dhangori village.

    “When we said yes, they asked us where we had been hiding for the last three days? We didn’t give any answer. One of the policeman grabbed us by our collars and threatened to arrest us of we didn’t work for them,” Shambhu said.

    The two were taken to Pirakata camp and given three-foot-long S-shaped rods (possibly taken from a construction site). They’re then told to scan for any suspicious object — say, an abandoned bag or a box — lying on the roadside and use the rod to poke around and see if it triggers an explosion.

    Times of India, June 22, 2009

  • Indian Police Abuses Condemned on Al Jazeera

    India’s police force has been accused of extrajudicial killings, torture and carrying out illegal detentions, human rights campaigners have said. “India’s status as the world’s largest democracy is undermined by a police force that thinks it is above the law,” Brad Adams, Asia Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), said on Tuesday. “The police continue to use their old methods: abuse and threats … It’s time for the government to stop talking about reform and fix the system.”

    A report – titled Broken System: Dysfunction, Abuse and Impunity in the Indian Police -collated from interviews with 60 alleged victims and about 80 police officers of various ranks detailed various abuses.

    Several officers admitted in private that suspects were often tortured and beaten to extract confessions, the report said. A female suspect was killed in custody in one case and her killing passed off as suicide, a police officer said. Some also spoke of manufacturing “encounters” during which a suspect was killed and the death passed off as taking place during a shootout.

    ‘Stripped naked’??In the city of Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal state, Ghaissudin Mohammed Mondal told Al Jazeera that he was tortured after being arrested for refusing to pay bribes. “They picked me up by my legs and crashed me onto the floor. Then they stripped me naked,” he said. “The policemen forced me to bend over a table and then inserted some chemical in my backside – I started shouting in pain.”

    The HRW report said that India’s police system needed a major overhaul, noting that officers were poorly trained and overworked. It said that many officers work as many as 16 hours a day, rarely have days off and live in tents or cramped and crumbling barracks.

    K.P.S. Gill, a former police chief of Punjab state who has written widely on reform, said the problem was wider than just the police force. “The resources in the country are not that large and there are unlimited areas crying for attention, so [officials] have to make a selection of what they would spend how much on,” he told The Associated Press news agency. “Policing doesn’t figure very high on the list.”

    ‘Public fear’

    Naureen Shah, the author of the report, said that the police force was largely geared towards controlling the population in order to prevent crime. “The police count on the public’s fear, rather than their co-operation, to keep order,” she said.

    Najma, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, told Al Jazeera that she was gang raped by police in her home after another officer had been killed in her village. “I have been tortured by the police and now I can’t even go back to my village as I am scared,” she said.

    Ajay Maken, India’s home minister, told parliament on Tuesday that the government was moving to address the issue of police atrocities, including supporting judicial investigations into every suspected custodial death.

    Official figures showed 23 police officers have been charged with carrying out atrocities since 2005, but none have been convicted.

    August 5, 2009

  • 25 Farmers Commit Suicide in Andhra Pradesh, CM Expresses "Dismay"

    farmers_suicide_india_revolution_andra_pradesh_CPI_Maoist

    HYDERABAD: The Andhra Pradesh government is facing its worst challenge as the death toll is on the increase in the wake of the recent unprecedented drought. Official figures said that 25 farmers had ended their lives in the last 50 days.

    Expressing dismay over suicides by farmers, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy said he would hold District Collectors and “Adarsh Rythus” (model farmers) partly responsible for any continuation of such deaths. It is pertinent to mention here that despite the announcement by the government for a compensation of Rs150,000 to the families of each farmer who committed suicide within three days, the Collectors failed to disburse a single rupee to them. In the same regard, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister has demanded a confirmation report from the local Revenue Development Officer, Deputy Superintendent of Police and District Agriculture Officer within 24 hours.

     

    Ajahind, August 25, 2009

  • Why Villagers Join the Maoists

    India--Adivasi women

    Being neutral is the biggest crime

     

    VECHAPAL, INDIA : The staccato rattle of gunfire startled Poneym Pandroo from his sleep. He reached for his bow and arrow, quickly gathered his four children, and fled into the nearby jungle, away from the only home he had ever known.

    He remembers the confusion as villagers ran for their lives as their houses were set ablaze behind them. Those who were not quick enough were chased down by the gunmen and savagely killed. When the villagers returned four days later, Mr Pandroo, 40, found his home destroyed. The gunmen had torched the paddy farmer’s thatched hut, looted his food grains, and slaughtered his chickens.

    “They call us Naxalites,” he said, sitting outside his gutted home, gaunt, withered and trembling. “Because we refused to join Salwa Judum, we are automatically equated to Naxalites.”

    Suspected of having links with Naxalites, or Maoist rebels, about 700 villages, such as Vechapal, in the Maoist heartland of southern Chhattisgarh, have been burnt down by the Salwa Judum, a state-sponsored anti-Naxal vigilante militia set up in 2005. Since then, its relentless attacks have forced 50,000 people to move into squalid government camps and another 250,000 people to flee into the deeper reaches of jungles, living a life of fear, hunger and misery.

    Vechapal, located in the state’s Bijapur district, has been torched more than a dozen times in the last three years – recently in August. Tribals cower inside their huts at night, clutching axes and bows and arrows, fearing more attacks. Some tribal families have lost their homes so many times in arson attacks that they have given up on rebuilding all together. They sleep in tarpaulin tents in the nearby jungle at night.  In rebel-controlled or “liberated villages” as the Maoists call them, like Vechapal, perhaps lies a plausible answer to why India is losing its war against the rebels.

    The Salwa Judum attacks, the Chhattisgarh government claims, are meant to cleanse the countryside of Maoist influence. But far from breaking the Naxal web of support, this reign of brutality has transformed the region into a fertile Maoist stronghold and recruitment ground.

    Those who visited Vechapal before the Salwa Judum was formed, testify that this was not always a Naxal-supporting area. Its loyalties shifted away from the state only to protect itself from repeated invasions.

    “If the state wantonly kills villagers, they’re giving them a message that it has the power to do so only because it wields guns,” said Himanshu Kumar, a human rights activist. “The state is thus inspiring villagers to embrace guns.”

    The rebels actively exploit the anger of such people who now view the state as their enemy and the rebels as modern-day Robin Hoods sympathetic to their woes. Armed Naxalite guerrillas boldly roam the village in battle fatigues for their signature monthly meetings and freely come and go from the nearby jungles for nightly rests and daytime meals.

    They have managed to create a state within a state. Villagers travel to the nearby jungle to attend Jan Adalats – the “people’s courts” of the rebels – to settle local disputes.

    The Naxalites have told the villagers that the persistent attacks on their homes are a conspiracy by multinational mining companies which, in connivance with the state, want to take over their land to gain access to the mineral-rich tribal belt. The villagers tend to believe them.

    They now greet outsiders with “Lal Salaam”, or Red Salute, the traditional greeting of the Maoists. “They are our protectors from oppressors,” Mr Pandroo said of the Naxalites. “Now we don’t salute the Indian flag, but only the Red flag.”

    Comrade Vijay, the deputy leader of the local Naxal squad that controls 70 villages in Bijapur district, said in an interview that public support for the rebels had increased threefold since the Salwa Judum came into existence. “Our cadre strength has gone up, our area of operation has expanded,” he said.

    His men, he revealed, were training villagers on tactics to “protect themselves” from the invading forces more effectively with their traditional weapons, mainly bows and arrows. Young boys are plucked and trained to plant detonators in the ground for improvised explosive devices.

    Previous government fact-finding missions agree with the view that the Naxal movement is spreading rapidly because of rising support from tribals caught up in the crossfire between the government and Naxalites. A fact-finding committee in October 2008 comprising senior bureaucrats, activists, and intelligence officials said the main support for the Naxalite movement came from dalits – people belonging to the “lowest” castes – and Adivasis, India’s tribal population.

    But Raman Singh, Chhattisgah’s chief minister, dismisses the view, claiming that Salwa Judum is a “spontaneous reaction of the people” against growing Naxal tyranny. He likens Naxalism to a disease, the only antidote to which is cutting off the source of the disease: Adivasis living in Naxal villages. Salwa Judum, he insists, will only be disbanded “once the Naxal menace is eliminated”.

    Himanshu Kumar, the rights activist, says this is comparable to the American counterinsurgency strategy of “draining the water and killing the fish”. “The state forgets that Adivasis are not fish, and the villages they inhabit are not fish bowls.”

    For years, the state has punished “liberated” villages for harbouring Naxal sympathies. The administration has long stopped providing social and welfare support to villagers, already among the poorest, most disadvantaged people in India.

    Vechapal’s tribals endure pitch darkness at night because the village is not connected to the power grid. The government-run higher-secondary school was burnt down by Salwa Judum three years ago. Weekly health check-up camps have long been discontinued. Instead, villagers rely on a local shaman, who chants prayers to exorcise evil spirits.

    Vechapal is full of stories of dispossession and deprivation. Hunger and illness are endemic. The village is full of naked, chronically malnourished children with distended bellies and fly-covered noses.

    Most tribals, who belong to the Gondi tribe, one of the aboriginal tribes in Central India, sweat all day long in the fields in the broiling heat wearing tattered lunghis, sarong-like lengths of cloth, doing the laborious work of thinning the rice plants. When agriculture fails, as it did this year as a result of a delayed monsoon, they are forced to scavenge in the forests for seeds, berries and wild vegetables.

    Human rights activists warn about the forthcoming military counter-offensive being planned by the state to flush out Naxalites. There could be a potential genocide, they say, with the villagers of places such as Vechapal trapped in the middle between the military and the Maoists.

    “This will only mean an indiscriminate massacre of tribals, a full-scale war against hundreds of thousands of people, against the people at large,” said Mr Kumar.

    He suggests another solution. “To wean people away from Naxalites, don’t send in soldiers,” he said. “Send in doctors and teachers instead.”

     

    Anuj Chopra, The National, November 6, 2009

     

     

     

  • West Bengal: Evicted Dalit Starves to Death

     

    Government of West Bengal must act to prevent further starvation deaths

    Asian Human Rights Commission, November 18, 2009.

    E.M. Parvati died yesterday. Parvati was a resident of Belgachhia Bhagar, a municipal dumping ground of Howrah in West Bengal. The doctor who examined Parvati’s body certified that the cause of death was pulmonary tuberculosis aggravated by severe malnourishment and anaemia.

    Parvati is not the first person in her family to die in this manner. Her daughter E.M. Lachhmi, died of starvation at the age of five on 11 March 2005. Her two sons, E.M. Shiva, died in December 2003 and E.M. Gaddama alias Chhottu, died in November 2004. Shiva was three years old and Gaddama was about a month old.

    Parvati’s death is further proof to the despicable apathy of the West Bengal state government and that of the government of India to the plight of the poor and marginalised in the country. It is also part of the continuing saga of an estimated 7000 Dalits who were evicted from Bellilious Park on 2 February 2003 by the Howrah Municipal Corporation (HMC).

    The HMC carried out the eviction with police threatening and assaulting those who tried to protest. HMC evicted the residents from Bellilious Park with the support of an order obtained from the Kolkata High Court. The court issued the eviction order without hearing the residents when a person approached the court as an environmentalist. It is alleged that this person was acting in connivance with interested persons within the state government, HMC and a businessman engaged in property development. They argued in court that the HMC wanted to develop Bellilious Park into a public park, which the court believed and issued an order in favour of eviction.

    Having no other place to go, many of the evictees had to settle down in Belgachhia Bhagar and some others in open lands beside the railway track. Living in a dumping ground and having had their lives’ earnings and assets lost in the eviction, the evictees fell prey to diseases contracted from poor living conditions, in particular, toxic wastes and fumes. None of them received any assistance from the government.

    The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) have issued several urgent appeals seeking assistance for the families evicted from Bellilious Park. Most of the evicted families are engaged in manual scavenging in Kolkata and Howrah. The Dalit identity of the evictees prevented them from leading a decent life. It also makes it difficult for them to find any other job other than what is often ‘marked up’ for Dalits in India — cleaning filth.

    Frustrated by the neglect of the local administration and that of the state government, MASUM held a protest meet in front of the UNICEF Kolkata office and the state legislative assembly on 23 March 2005, in which Parvati participated and at which she spoke. Parvati also spoke to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Mr. Jean Zeigler when he visited India on 31 August 2005.

    Neither UNICEF nor the state government did anything to ameliorate the living conditions of the evictees. The only humane consideration Parvati received was from the State Governor, Mr. Gopal Krishna Gandhi. Gandhi ordered the payment of 100,000 Rupees for the family as emergency assistance. Other than this gesture none of the 7000 evictees received any support from the state administration or UNICEF. MASUM however through its continued effort was able to persuade the District Magistrate of Howrah to issue an Antyodaya Card (ration card that allows the card holder to obtain rations at subsidised price) to Parvati.

    As of today, most of the families that were evicted from Bellilious Park continue to live at Belgachhia Bhagar. They continue to live and die in this abandoned part of the city, scavenging in the garbage with pigs and dogs.

    The state administration that has ruled West Bengal for the past 32 years in the name of the downtrodden and the labouring class has abandoned them.  The HMC meanwhile developed Bellilious Park into a commercial property. As of today it is no public park as was claimed in the High Court to obtain the eviction order. Today, Bellilious Park houses upper middle class shopping malls and an entertainment park for the children of the rich and privileged.

    On 14 January 2009 a similar eviction of 5000 people from Belgachia Bhagar was proposed. The High Court sanctioned this eviction too. The eviction was suspended after a concerted effort by civil society organisations and the residents. The risk of further eviction is still high for the residents of Belgachhia Bhagar. While it is mandatory for the administration to provide adequate measures for rehabilitation of the evictees, the AHRC and MASUM are concerned that the administration will repeat what it did in Bellilious Park in 2003.

    E.M. Parvati’s death will not be an eye-opener for the state administration, since the evictees of Bellilious Park have no clout to move the corrupt and neglectful state administration or those who run it. Today the evictees do not live with the belief that one day the place they called home for several generations will be returned to them. Yet they have not forfeited their right to demand and to anticipate the minimum assistance the poor in India must expect from the state government.

    The former residents of Bellilious Park need a decent place nearby to resettle than continue living with pigs and dogs, scavenging for food in a dumping ground. Many of them require documents like a ration card that would entitle them to get subsidised or free rations from the public food distribution shops. They need the state government to set up regular health camps where they can get medical treatment.

    If these minimal requirements are not met urgently, many more will perish, like Parvati and her children. Neither the state government nor the government of India have any excuse to ignore the plight of these 7000 or so persons, living in appalling conditions for the past six years. At very least, the government cannot plead ignorance.

     

     


  • No More Bhopals! 35,000 Killed Over 25 Years

    25 years ago, on the night of 2-3 December 1984, a terrible gas leak from the American multinational Union Carbide's pesticide factory resulted, over the years, in the death of over 35,000 people and the chronic illness of over 3 lakh [300,000] people, of whom over 1 lakh were permanently maimed.

    The victims continue to fight for proper compensation, rehabilitation, livelihoods, decontamination of soil and water and criminal action against those responsible. We are reprinting an article from March 2008 describing the efforts of survivors to receive justice, and the announcement of a 25th anniversary program in Bhopal sponsored by the Jan Sangarsh Morcha (Madhya Pradesh).

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  • Operation Green Hunt Drives Adivasis into Andhra Pradesh

    Internally displaced persons from Chhattisgarh before their shack of sticks and palmyra leaf in Andhra Pradesh’s Khammam.

    Homeless Wanderers in Their Own Country

    As Operation Green Hunt gathers steam in Chhattisgarh, state violence is also going up steadily. The result is that more people, mostly tribals, in the state’s Maoist-dominated areas are crossing the border to find sanctuary in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh as Internally Displaced Persons.

    Each of them fled their homes either after a raid or because they feared for their lives. The stories these people tell of their ordeals are also beginning to provide a picture of the true extent of the destruction.

    Gachanpalli is a small village some 30 km from the town of Konta in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh. According to witnesses, the security forces raided Gachanpalli sometime in late October. They allegedly killed Madvi Admaya, Madkam Sulaya, Madvi Joga, Kovasi Gangaya, Madkam Moiyi. Witnesses say four of the five men were past 60 and too old to escape into the jungle. Madkam Moiyi was apparently crippled and incapable of walking.

    They were said to have been bayoneted and shot to death in the middle of the village.Nineteen homes were also burnt down. This was the second attack on Gachanpalli.In 2005, the Salwa Judum burnt down 65 homes in the village.“ I have so much land at Gachanpalli, but no one to work on it now.” Kovasi Jogi, 60, lived in Gachanpalli. Now she inhabits an Internally Displaced Persons settlement in Khammam. Her village is almost empty now, peopled by ghosts and memories.

    Most of the people have scattered. Some have retreated further into the jungle, while others are in Khammam.Sodi Rani (real name withheld) left her village of Pallecharma with her two children for Andhra Pradesh. She relies on the charity of her relatives. According to her, three people were killed from her village of Pallecharma by the security forces. Sodi Sanausi, Tunki Chinnay and Dodhi Adma were killed sometime in late October.The police apprehended them in the morning as suspected Maoists and shot them dead the same evening.

    The people of Pallecharma were unaware of the killings for some time. But when the news of the deaths reached them, they fled to Khammam district. On the same day as the attack on Pallecharma, the security forces arrested Vaika Madvi (name withheld). He was held captive along with an unidentified Pallecharma villager. Vaika Madvi managed to escape, leaving behind the villager. He has no idea what happened to the man. Vaika Madvi now lives in Khammam district.Near Pallecharma is the village of Batiguda where Sodi Venka (name withheld) was regularly harassed by Special Police Officers as well as Maoists. He was detained over a year ago by security forces and asked to relocate to the Maraiguda Salwa Judum camp, abandoning his five acres of land.

    At the same time, the Maoists threatened him with dire consequences if he left the land. Drinking water is a big problem in Batiguda where four hand pumps were installed about 12 years ago. Three of them don’t work anymore. So the villagers approached the authorities at Konta for help to fix the pumps. But their appeal was turned down flat.“Go ask your Naxalites to fix your hand pumps,” the officials jeered at them.

    The dejected villagers could only repeat this piece of advice every time anyone asked them whether they had got any assistance from Konta.“ And what do the Naxalites say?” Venka asks with a fatalistic chuckle. “They say, ‘go to Bhadrachalam and buy the materials and we shall fix it’. But the problem is we don’t have any money!”

    Sodi Venka also lives in Khammam district now. He earns around Rs 60 a day working as a landless labourer — for about 10 to 20 days a month. Back at his village, he used to sell a kilogram of tamarind for five rupees, each mango for two to three rupees. He also sold mahua for twelve to fourteen rupees a kg. He left his village soon after he heard about the killings in Pallecharma.

    Muchki Deva, 65, was picked up by Gondi- speaking SPOs from his village of Oonderpad near Bhejji and taken to jail.He says he was repeatedly beaten and given electric shocks. He was incorrectly reported as being burnt with oil by some publications — in fact, he had no idea what they were doing to him. He was released after four days, when a superior police officer found him in the company of young Special Police Officers who were beating him.

    The officer chastised the SPOs and ordered them to release the old man. He was neither booked nor asked to give a statement. He soon left his village for Khammam district.The stories seem never-ending and each one is harrowing.

    Take, for instance, the case of Maroodbacka village in Usur Block of Bijapur district in Chhattisgarh. On October 24, the security forces raided the place. They picked up Katam Kistaya (20) and Bhandavi Bhimaya (18). Bhimaya was suffering from a high fever and hence incapable of escaping. Both of them are now reportedly languishing in Dantewada jail.Soon after, some 15 families of Maroodbacka left for Khammam district.Others, like Madkam Mooti from Bijjamariaguda, did not bother to wait for the raids. They left their villages for Andhra Pradesh with their families well before that.

    When news of the attacks on Tatemargu, Pallodi, Doghpar and Pallecharma spread across the tehsil, villagers from Paytalguta, Ampeta and Dormangum from Kistaram panchayat also left their villages, afraid of what the authorities might do to them. They are all now living in Khammam district. They have survived but in Khammam they have no land, no ration cards, no schools, no angaanbadi. They also suffer the risk of being branded as Maoists or sympathisers by the Andhra Pradesh authorities.

    Their difficulties are compounded by inter-tribal conflicts. For instance, the Gotti Koya from Chhattisgarh and the local Koya villagers find themselves at odds at times, fighting over meagre forest resources.Despite the tensions, many settlements have been built with permission from the local gram sabhas and there is no confrontation as the IDPs also work as landless labour for them. Many more IDPs are living with their relatives.

    There are disturbing reports that party members from New Democracy (CPI-ML) have been demanding that the local Koya villagers evict the Gotti Koya and send them back to Chhattisgarh.

    The Andhra Pradesh police and forest officials are also considering a similar proposal and have reportedly approached the Collector’s office for provisions to ‘pack off ’ the IDPs back to Chhattisgarh. There are some dissenters from this view, however. Gandhibabu of the Agricultural and Social Development Society, who has been interacting with government officials and the IDPs is against any forced repatriation.“ First, it is their constitutional right, freedom of movement. Secondly, how can you send them back to Chhattisgarh where they’d end up in Salwa Judum camps and thus be in danger of being killed by the Naxalites, or to their villages where they’re in danger of being killed by the security forces? They really have no place to go back to at the moment.’

    The Solidarity Committee for Internally Displaced Tribals, Andhra Pradesh has raised similar concerns. After meeting IDP families in Khammam district, the committee held a press conference in Hyderabad earlier in the week. It demanded that the Union government and state governments concerned be responsible for the safety of the tribals. Also, the refugees should be provided with rehabilitation packages.

    The committee also demanded that IDPs be given NREGAS job cards, temporary ration cards, with pensions for senior citizens and disabled people; and that the government should help set up schools and mini-angaanbadi centres as a majority of the fleeing tribals are children. They are safe now, but what happens next is anybody’s guess.

    Express Buzz, November 29, 2009

     


  • Orissa: Interview with CMAS Leader on Police Killings

    Narayanpatna: An Inteview with Gananath Patra

    On the 20th of November three adivasis, including a leader of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS), were gunned down near the police station of Narayanpatna. The CMAS has been struggling for the redistribution of land among tribals in the region. Nachika Linga and Gananath Patra have been spearheading the movement since its inception. The police alleges the CMAS of conducting violence.

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  • Unrest in Gurgaon, Hub of India’s Auto Industry

    Background, features, chronology and economic notes on India's automobile industry

    Disputes about recognition of unions at two companies (Auto Rico and Sunbeam) and a three-year wage agreement at another (Honda HMSI) has recently led to workers unrest in Gurgaon [Haryana state], India's main automobile cluster. The disputes have lasted for more than a month between mid-September and end of October 2009. After a Rico worker was killed, the CPI affiliated AITUC union called for one-day-strike, and 80,000 to 100,000 car workers did not work on 20th of October 2009. The dispute at Rico caused factory closures at GM and Ford in the US due to lack of parts.

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  • Buried Evidence: Report on Indian Army Crimes in Kashmir

    International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir (IPTK) announces the release of its report at a press conference on Wednesday, December 02, 2009, in Srinagar, Kashmir

    BURIED EVIDENCE documents 2,700 unknown, unmarked, and mass graves, containing 2,943+ bodies, across 55 villages in Bandipora, Baramulla, and Kupwara districts of Kashmir, based on applied research conducted between November 2006-November 2009.

    The graveyards investigated by IPTK entomb bodies of those murdered in encounter and fake encounter killings between 1990-2009. These graves include bodies of extrajudicial, summary, and arbitrary executions, as well as massacres committed by the Indian military and paramilitary forces. Of these graves, 2,373 (87.9 percent) were unnamed. Of these graves, 154 contained two bodies each and 23 contained more than two cadavers. Within these 23 graves, the number of bodies ranged from 3 to 17.

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  • Maoists Scare Off Investors from Chhattisgarh

    Maoists scare off investors from Chhattisgarh

    Raipur (IANS) The increasing dominance of Maoists in Chhatisgarh’s iron ore-rich pockets have led to the halt of several key industrial projects in the region and scared off potential investors, say businessmen and officials.

    The state’s Bastar region, spread out in about 40,000 square km, has some 20 percent of India’s finest quality iron ore reserves. But industrialists are apprehensive of investing in the restive region, a stronghold of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist).

    ‘The investors who have signed deals for setting up steel projects in the region are not getting their projects moved because of Maoists’ meddling,’ said Ashok Surana, head of an industrial body, Mini Steel Plant Association, told IANS. The association is a forum of 175 steel units based in central India.

    ‘The Maoist dominance is growing in the iron ore-rich pockets of Chhattisgarh. No businessmen want to put money in this region. Even mega projects of Tata Steel and Essar Steel are being held up,’ Surana said.Both Tata Steel and Essar Steel had signed separate deals in June 2005 with the state government for setting up integrated steel units in Chhattisgarh. Tata proposed to set up a 5.5-million-tonne plant, while Essar has plans to build a 3.2-million-tonne plant.

    However, the projects have got stuck as Maoists offered direct support for the families, whose land would be taken over for the plants.

    The worst-hit is the state-run National Mineral Development Corp (NMDC), the country’s largest iron ore producer and exporter, whose mining took a huge hit due to the insurgency. NMDC produces roughly 80 percent of its 27-million-tonne annual iron ore output from Bailadila reserves in the Moist-infested Dantewada of Chhattisgarh.

    ‘Maoists have been expanding their influence every day,’ a senior NMDC official, who did not want to identified, told IANS. ‘I think after five-six years, the iron ore mining in Chhattisgarh would be left for the mercy of Maoists. Now on an average, at least seven days every month, we fail to transport iron ore because of insurgents’ strikes,’ the official said.

    State’s Director General of Police Vishwa Ranjan said Maoists forced businessmen from the mineral rich area to pay extortion money. ‘The cash books and other papers we seized recenty show that the rebels’ all India annual extortion earning is up to Rs.2,000 crore and a major portion of this comes from iron ore and coal businessmen,’ Ranjan said.

    Vani Rao, a senior Congress party leader in the state, also said Maoists’ influence was growing. ‘Maoists are dictating terms in the mineral-rich areas in Chhattisgarh. If urgent steps are not taken by the government, India will lose control over its vast mineral rich areas in five years,’ Rao told IANS.

    Police say over 1,500 people were killed in the Bastar region alone in Maoist related violence since 2004. The Maoist insurgency began in 1967 as a peasant rebellion, but has now spread to large parts of central and eastern states. They have strong presence in the states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said in October this year that Maoism was the ‘greatest internal security threat’.

    Indo-Asian News Service, December 6, 2009

  • Bihar Professor Beaten for Speaking Out against Demolition of Musahar Homes

    Children in a Musahar ghetto

     

    PATNA: Associate professor at Jamia Millia Islamia, Rahul Ramagundam, was assaulted, abused and branded a Naxalite by Bihar police for daring to ask the cops why the hutments belonging to Musahars — among the most backward of Scheduled Castes — were being demolished. [The Musahars, or rat-eaters,  are one of the Dalit subcastes in Bihar. See article below for more information on them.]

    Ramagundam, who teaches at Dr K R Narayanan Centre for Dalit and Minorities Studies at JMI, was thrashed and abused and called a Naxalite by Khagaria police at Amausi village. His local companion was also manhandled and beaten up by lathi-wielding police constables and officers. The incident took place on December 22.  ”How could asking just one question lead to such physical violence? How can one be called a Naxalite and assaulted and humiliated like this,” asked Ramagundam.

    Amausi had hit headlines on October 1 when 16 villagers, mostly OBCs (Kurmi), were killed allegedly by Musahars. The village has some 300 Musahar families who live in thatched huts.

    “On December 22, I rode pillion on the motorbike of Varun Choudhry, a grassroots activist with Khagaria-based NGO Samta, to go to Amausi. When we reached, the village was in turmoil. The cops were breaking thatched houses of people who were said to be absconding. Shankar Sada, whom Varun met in the village, took us to the place where the police party had camped before taking up the rip-and-strip job,” Ramagundam said.

    “Just as we spoke, a police party arrived and pulled down the thatched roof and walls of a hut. I couldn’t control myself. I asked the cops if they had any written orders to pull down the houses of the absconding accused.” A tall uniformed man stared at me. Instead of answering, he asked me my identity. I teach in Delhi,  I told him. ‘Name?’ I told him. ‘Father’s name?’ I told him. But even before I could take out my identity card, he turned hostile.

    By then, I was surrounded by the rest of the cops. They roughed me up and thrashed my colleague, Varun, who suffered a fracture,” said Ramagundam.  ”They had guns. A constable in green fatigues called me a Naxalite and moved menacingly to break the cordon around me,” he said.

    After meeting Khagaria SP Anusya Rannsingh Sodhi, Ramagundam lodged a complaint asking whether people had the right to ask police for written orders before dismantling houses of the “poorest of the poor”.

    The Khagaria SP said she would conduct an inquiry and take appropriate action. She added that she would not take action against anyone merely on the basis of Ramagundam’s statement. Ramagundam is author of two books, ‘Defeated Innocence’ on the Adivasi struggle for land rights in Madhya Pradesh in 2001 and ‘Gandhi’s Khadi: A History of Contention and Conciliation’.

    Bihar to uplift Musahar community by commercialising rat meat

    ThaIndian, August 11, 2008

    Rat meat may soon be available in hotels as a delicacy. Rat farming, akin to rearing poultry, would be given to the poor Musahar community of Bihar as a means for their socio-economic upliftment as well as promote a new kind of food item in urban pockets. The Musahars, known as the traditional rat eating community and still regarded as ‘untouchables’, usually hunt rats in the paddy fields.

    “The government has decided to engage the Musahars in commercialisation of rat meat for their overall development,” Vijay Prakash, principal secretary in the social welfare department, told IANS.  “We will encourage and help the Musahars to organize rat farms in order to commercialise rat meat” he said.

    The Musahars, estimated to number 2.3 million, are among the most deprived and marginalised section of the society in Bihar. They are yet to taste the fruits of development. They are widely known as rat eaters either out of choice or as compulsion to fight hunger.

    Engaging Musahars in commercialisation of rat meat would help create a regular source of income for them. “It will help empower them and change their poor living conditions if the venture is properly designed and clicks,” said Prakash.

    Prakash maintains rat meat has the “potential” to become a popular food. According to dieticians, rat meat is rich in protein and tastier than chicken. Prakash said when Musahars rear rats in farms, on the lines of chicken and fish farming, the age-old image of catching rats being a wild activity will change.

    Eating rat meat is considered a stigma in urban pockets and confined to the poorer sections of society, said Prakash. “However, I discovered during a fact-finding mission about rat meat that it is a popular food item in the Mokama riverine areas and roadside hotels in Danapur in Patna district. It is called ‘patal-bageri’ and its demand is high,” he said.  Many people at toddy shops demand rat meat for its rare taste with spices.

    The state government plans to set up stalls in rural fairs across the state, followed by rat meat centres in urban areas.  Prakash hinted that his department would approach government and private agencies in and outside the country to speed up commercialisation of rat meat. “We’d like to have a network with other experts to boost the rat meat business,” he said.

    Dalits constitute nearly 15 percent of Bihar’s population of 83 million. The poorest Dalits were declared Maha Dalits in Bihar. A government commission has identified 18 of the 22 Dalit sub castes, including Musahar, Bhuiyan, Dom, and Nat as Maha Dalits. They constitute 31 percent of the Dalit population in the state.

    The commission has not included four Dalit castes – Paswan, Pasi, Dhobi and Chamar – in the Maha Dalit category. These four constitute 69 percent of the Dalit population in the state.

    A few months ago Nitish Kumar announced a special package of Rs.3 billion ($76 million) for the socio-economic development of the poorest among Dalits. He set up a commission in August last year for the welfare of certain Dalit castes that are socially and educationally more backward than others.

    Bihar is the first state to constitute a commission to study the status of the neglected sub-castes among Dalits and suggest ways to uplift them. The commission in its first interim report to the government a few months ago painted a bleak picture of the Dalit sub-castes. The report said there were no high school teachers for senior officials from these castes in the state despite reservations in government jobs for them.

    (Pranava K Chaudhary, Times of India, 26 December 2009)

     


     

     

  • Adivasis Commemorate 14 Killed by Orissa Police at Kalinga Nagar

    Victims of the police firings at Kalinga Nagar

     

    Kalinga Nagar relives memories of police firing

     

    Jajpur:  A large number of tribals rallied in Kalinga Nagar, the steel hub of India in Odisha’s Jajpur district on Saturday to mark the fourth anniversary of the killing of 14 tribals including three women in police firing while protesting against Tata’s proposed steel project there.

    Four years ago, the police had fired on tribals protesting against forcibly displacement through the construction of a boundary wall by the Tata Steel for its 6 million tonnes steel plant in the steel hub. The anti-industry groups under the banner of Bisthapan Birodhi Janamanch (BBJM) assembled today at Ambagadia, where the tribals killed in the police action were mass cremated in the morning.

    The tribals, mostly women and children, brandishing with sword, lathis and their traditional weapons took out a 7 km long rally from Birbhumi, the firing spot to Ambagadia.? Carrying posters and banners, the tribals marched towards the memorial pillar where the victims were cremated en masse in the Kalinga Nagar industrial complex shouting slogans against the Naveen government and Tatas.

    Other than local tribals, various groups from Jagatsingpur, Keonjhar, Niyamgiri and Puri where the locals are opposing land acquisition, expressed their solidarity with BBJM, which is spearheading the anti industrialization movement in the area sine inception of police firing on 02 Jan 2006.

    “Police have been torturing us both physically and mentally for the last couple of months. We won’t tolerate any torture on the innocent tribals. There shouldn’t be any industry at the cost of tribals and their livelihood. Our fight against industrialisation will continue till the government changes its decision to set up industries on farm land.” Many BBJM leaders said in the meetings.

    “Fourteen of our fellow men sacrificed their lives for tribal’s cause. We are ready to die even in en masse, but will not spare even an inch of land for industry,” said Rabindra Jarika, secretary BBJM.

    President of BBJM Chakradhar Haiburu (Senior) and Secretary Rabindra Jarika, tribal leaders Sukra Munda, Narayan Hembrum, Radhasyam Sethy, Biswanath Chatar and Khandagiri Ghatikia, NAPM leader Prafulla Samantara, CPML (New Democracy) Bhala Chandra Sarangi, CPML Sivaram, Niyamgiri Surakhya Samiti leader Lingaraj Azad, Sheikh Abdul Waliand and others addressed the meeting. The star of the BBJM show was Sukra Munda, grandson of the legendary tribal freedom fighter Birsa Munda.

    In another incident, around 300 people under the banner of Visthapita Parivar Unyayan Parishad participated in the pro-industry rally at Danagadi to mark the anniversary function. Veteran tribal leader and noted social activist Tulasi Munda graced the occasion as guest there.

    Kalinga Nagar: Police arrest 2 of anti-industry brigade

    Express Buzz, January 2, 2009

    JAJPUR: The Kalinga Nagar police yesterday arrested two core committee members of Vistapan Virodhi Jan Manch (VVJM) ahead of fourth anniversary of Kalinga Nagar police firing on Saturday.

    They were forwarded to court of JMFC at Jajpur Road and later remanded in judicial custody after their bail pleas were rejected, officials said. The arrested–Kunja Gagarai and Budansingh Jamuda of Gadhapur–were allegedly wanted by police for the last couple of years. Reports said apprehending a huge gathering of tribals on the fourth anniversary of police firing, the district police conducted a massive raid at Gadhapur village and arrested the duo last night.

    The anniversary function is being organised by VVJM which has been spearheading the tribal agitation in the area since police firing on January 2, 2006, in which 14 tribals died while protesting land acquisition by the Tatas. As many as four platoons of armed police force led by DSP Bipin Behari Mallick conducted the raid.“ About 200 armed police led by a DSP picked up eight persons, including six children, from the village at gunpoint.

    The arrests were made while all were deep asleep,” said VVJM secretary Rabindra Jarika. The arrests were in violation of human rights, he said. District authorities are planning to break the unity of the tribals ahead of the anniversary celebration, he added. Police will have to pay a heavy price if they proceed further, Jarika threatened.

    Contacted, Jajpur SP D.S.Kuttey said, “Both Gagarai and Jamuda were wanted by police for the last two years. While seven cases and two NBWs are pending against Gagarai, two NBWs are pending against Jamuda. Though we arrested eight persons, including some minors, only two of them have been forwarded to court. We are verifying the antecedents of others.”

     

    Kalinga Times, January 2, 2009

     

     

  • PUCL Condemns Detentiion of Gandhian Himanshu Kumar

    Vanvasi Chetna Ashram before it was demolished in May 2009

    The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) condemns the detention of Himanshu Kumar of Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (VCA), Dantewada and PUCL State Executive member of Chhattisgarh at Kanker Police Station today 3rd January, 2010.  This detention has been made on the eve of the Public Hearing that was being organised by VCA on the atrocities being committed by police and security forces in that area.

    According to the VCA, the detention of Himanshu at this stage is to clearly sabotage the hearing. According to PUCL national president Prabhakar Sinha and General Secretary Pushkar Raj  Himanshu’s detention follows a series of harassment that he and his organisation have been subjected to which include:

    · Demolition of his ashram outside Dantewda.

    · Arrest of Sukhnath on 1st August, ’09 and of Kopa Kunjam on 10th December, ’09, both senior activists of VCA , under Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005, who were trying to implement the SC [Supreme Court] orders of implementing the Internally displaced people.

    · Preventing Himanshu from taking out a padyatra [journey on foot] through the villages of Dantewada district in December, ‘09.

    · Intimidation by the police and Salwa Judum activists to harass women’s groups who were prevented from reaching Dantewada on 15 December, ’09.

    · Illegal detention and intimidation of the 5 women who were fighting their own cases of rape by salwa judum members. They were forcibly made to sign papers by SPOs [Special Police Officers] and Police when they were illegally detained after 15 December, ’09 for 5 days at Dronpal Police Station, that they were not wanting to pursue their cases.

    · Intimidation by the administration of the landlord who rented the house to Himanshu following which he is being forced to vacate the premises.

    · Preventing Himanshu and VCA from even booking rooms at the local Dharmashala including forcing one owner to return the money of rooms he had booked for VCA.

    He was arrested, when he was trying to escort Shambhu to Raipur, a victim of Operation Green Hunt who sustained bullet injuries in her leg and had to get to Delhi for treatment.  She was prevented by the Police from undertaking the travel so Himanshu with others boarded the vehicle and were detained at Kanker, Jagdalpur.

    PUCL demands that the Chhattisgarh State Government release Himanshu and Kopa and Sukhnath immediately along with ending all harassment of Himanshu Kumar and other members of the VCA who have a right to exercise their democratic rights.

    PUCL demands that the State Government implement the SC orders of rehabilitation of internally displaced people which was the main work of Himanshu and the VCA which the local administration and the Government did not like. PUCL also demands stopping of all operations like Green Hunt and others that are responsible for human rights violations and letting activists and media to freely move in the areas.

    June 1, 2009

    MEMORANDUM GIVEN TO DANTEWADA SP RAHUL SHARMA AND THE COLLECTOR OF DANTEWADA ON DEMOLITION OF VANVASI CHETNA ASHRAM ON MAY 17, 2009

    BY FACT FINDING TEAM

    • The Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (VCA) was implementing various government schemes in the area including Mitanin health programme , watershed development, water and sanitation programme in villages and Salwa judum camps and Himanshu Kumar was also on various government committees including district legal aid committee. It is inexplicable why an ashram run by him should have been demolished.
    • We think the government should have been grateful to him as he has been doing this constructive work in the region for the last 17 years, without any vested interest.
    • As the matter of land is subjudice the action of the demolition of the ashram by the district administration was unwarranted.
    • The authorities’ contention that the land which was earlier agricultural land in government records was changed to revenue forest land , is unprecendented, We think that the due process was not followed in this case.
    • The VCA was engaged in the important task of resettling the internally displaced persons in their original villages which no government agency had undertaken inspite of the Supreme Courts instruction to the CG government.
    • The team spoke to various persons ( villagers, civil society activists and local media persons ) in Kanwalnar, Lingagiri, Basagudha, Kamaram, Bijapur and Dantewada. All of them confirmed and acclaimed the constructive work that the VCA has been doing in the region
    • The resettled villagers need immediate provision of facilities like PDS, primary health, primary education and ;public transport and also to meet their immediate needs for foing agriculture We hope the government would do the needful in this regard without delay.

    We sincerely hope the authorities would take remedial measures at the earliest to mitigate the problems of the VCA and enable to it continue its constructive work in the area.

    MyNews, January 4, 2010

     

     


     

  • A Visit to the Police State of Chhattisgarh

    Nandini Sundar

    Ujjwal Kumar Singh, Professor of Political Science, Delhi University and I have just returned (January 1st) from a visit to the police state of Chhattisgarh. Ujjwal had gone for research and I had gone for a combination of research and verification purposes to assess the livelihood situation of villagers for our case before the Supreme Court, both entirely legitimate activities.

    In Dantewada, we had checked into Hotel Madhuban on the 29th of December around 2 pm without any problems, only to be told later that night that the management required the entire hotel to be instantly emptied out because they were doing some puja to mark the death anniversary of the hotel owner. We refused to leave at night, and were told we would have to leave at 6 am instead because the rooms had to be cleaned. As expected, other guests checked in the next morning, puja notwithstanding.

    At Sukma, we were detained by the police and SPOs at the entrance to the town from about 7.30 till 10 pm, with no explanation for why they had stopped us, and no questions as to why we were there or what our plans were. We were denied lodging – all the hotel owners had been told to claim they were full and refuse us rooms, and the forest and PWD departments had been advised not to make their guesthouses available, since ‘Naxalites’ were coming to stay.

    Indeed, the police told us that these days Naxalites had become so confident that they roamed around in jeeps on the highways. Since everything was mysteriously full in a small town like Sukma, the police advised us to leave that very night for Jagdalpur, some 100 km away. We decided instead to spend the night in the jeep, since we did not want to jeopardize friends by staying in their homes. Later, we contacted friends and they arranged for us to stay in the college boys hostel, since students were away on vacation.

    At midnight on the 30th, 6-7 armed SPOs burst into our room at the college hostel, guns cocked, and then spent the night patrolling the grounds. Evidently, the SPOs have seen many films and know precisely how to achieve dramatic effect. They were also trying to open our jeep, presumably to plant something. The next morning we were followed by seven armed SPOs with AK 47s from Sukma in an unmarked white car, and this was replaced at Tongpal by twelve SPOs, in two jeeps.

    None of them had any name plates. Given that we could have had no normal conversation with anyone, we decided to do all the things one normally postpones. In twenty years of visiting Bastar, for example, I have never seen the Kutumbsar caves. Everywhere we went, including the haat at Tongpal, the Tirathgarh waterfall and the Kutumbsar caves, as well as shops in Jagdalpur, the SPOs followed us, one pace behind, with their guns poised at the ready. Two women SPOs had been deputed specially for me. The SPOs also intimidated our jeep drivers by taking photos of them and the vehicle.

    DGP Vishwaranjan claimed on the phone that it was for our ‘protection’ that we were given this treatment since there was news of Naxalite troop movement, and has gone on to say (Indian Express, 3rd Jan), “anything can happen. Maoists can attack the activists to put the blame on the police. We will deploy a few companies of security forces for the security of the activists.”

    Clearly all the other tourists in Tirathgarh and Kutumbsar were under no threat from the Maoists – only we, who have been repeatedly accused of being Naxalite supporters, were likely targets. As for the police ensuring that we got no accommodation and trying to send us from Sukma to Jagdalpur in the middle of the night, such pure concern for our welfare is touching. The SP of Dantewada, Amaresh Misra, was somewhat more honest when he said he had instructions from above to ‘escort’ out ‘visiting dignitaries.’ The Additional SP shouted at us to be more ‘constructive’ – not surprisingly, though, with 12 swaggering SPOs snapping at one’s heels, one is not always at one’s constructive best. The next time, I promise to try.

    The SPOs in their jeeps followed us some way from Jagdalpur to Raipur, even when we were on the bus. In addition, two armed constables and an SI were sent on the bus to ensure we got to Raipur. We overheard the SI telling the armed constables to “take us down at Dhamtari” but fortunately this plan was abandoned. Poor man, he narrowly missed getting a medal for bravery, and as the good DGP tells the readers of the Indian Express, it would have been passed off as an attack by Naxalites. On reaching Raipur, the SI was confused. Shouting loudly and forgetting himself, as bad cell connections are wont to make us all do, he said “The IG and SP had told me to follow them, but now what do I do with them.”? The voice on the other end told him to go home. We flew out of Raipur the next morning. In real terms, this was a rather pointless exercise for the CG govt, since we were scheduled to come home the following day anyway. But symbolically, it allowed the SPOs to gloat that they had driven us out.

    The CG government obviously wants to ensure that no news on their offensive or even on the everyday trauma of villagers reaches outside. Many villages have been depopulated in the south, both due to the immense fear created by Op. Green Hunt and the failure of the monsoons this year. All the young people are migrating to AP for coolie work. There are sporadic encounters – the day we were in Dantewada (29.12.09), two ‘Naxalites’ were killed in the jungles of Vechapal and three arrested. A week before seven people had been killed in Gumiapal. Who is getting killed and how is anyone’s guess. The Maoists are blockading roads with trees and trenches, and killing ‘informers’. There is compete terror, fear and hunger throughout the district.

    While the CG govt is busy providing us ‘protection’, it has refused to restored the armed guard that was taken away from CPI leader Manish Kunjam. He has had credible reports that his life is under threat, because of his opposition both to multinationals like Tata and Essar and to the Salwa Judum and Operation Green Hunt, and his independent stance against both state and Maoist violence. Despite Raman Singh assuring the CPI leaders that this would be done, the DGP has refused to act.

    It is also remarkable that a government which can waste so many armed SPOs for an entire day and night on two people who do nothing more dangerous than teach and write, has been unable to catch the SPOs who are responsible for raping six young women. Despite the trial court finding the SPOs and Salwa Judum leaders prima facie guilty of rape and issuing a standing arrest warrant on 30.10.2009, even two months later, they are ‘absconding’. Some of them even give public speeches, but they are invisible to the police.

    In the meantime, when Himanshu reported that the rape victims were kept for 3-4 days in Dornapal thana and generally terrorized, the Chief Secretary’s response was to accuse him of running an ‘ugly motivated campaign.’ All good men these, good fathers, good husbands, good citizens. So was DGP Rathore and all the honourable men who defended him, promoted him and awarded him despite what he did to Ruchika. Unfortunately for these adivasi girls, they are not even middle class.

    Bastar can no more get rid of me than I can get rid of Bastar. In 1992, because I attended meetings to observe the protests by the villagers of Maolibhata against the steel plant that was proposed to be sited there, the government denied me access to the local archives. But it was the government which then fell, and my book on Bastar, Subalterns and Sovereigns, was published by 1997. In 2005, they stopped us as part of the PUDR-PUCL fact-finding on Salwa Judum; in 2006, as part of the Independent Citizens Initiative, we were stopped and searched in Bhairamgarh thana by out-of-control SPOs, and one of us was nearly lynched inside the station, while the thanedar was too drunk to read the letter we carried from the Chief Secretary.

    In 2007-8, the then SP, Rahul Sharma, fabricated photos of me with my arms around armed Maoist women and showed them to visiting journalists and others to try and discredit my independence. He later claimed, when challenged, that the photos were of one “Ms. Jeet’ and it was he who had verified the truth. In 2009, we narrowly escaped a mob of around 300 Salwa Judum leaders, police and SPOs, who, however, took away mobile phones, a camera charger and vehicle registration documents from the jeep we had parked there. The police refused to register our complaint and detained us for questioning for a few hours, even though we had got the consent of the District Collector and the Mirtur CRPF contingent to visit Vechhapal.

    For anthropologists, our professional life is difficult to separate from our personal – our research depends on developing deep friendships with the people we ‘study’. In the twenty years that I have been visiting Bastar off and on, I have acquired a range of friends, acquaintances and people who are like family members, whose concerns are my concerns. This does not in any way diminish one’s commitment to independence and objectivity. As Kathleen Gough said in the 1970s, when the American Anthropological Association was debating whether to pass a resolution against the war in Vietnam, ‘genocide is not in the professional interests of anthropology.’

    Nandini Sundar is Professor of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University, and Co-editor, Contributions to Indian Sociology. She has previously worked at the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi and the University of Edinburgh. This article has been received through the Human Rights Movement group.

    (This article was published on South Asian Citizens Web on January 4, 2010.)

     

  • Chhattisgarh Police Intensify Intimidation before Public Hearing

    Police Intimidation of Adivasi Witnesses, Journalists, Students and Social Workers Ahead of Public Hearing in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh

    One day before the Jan Sunwai (public hearing) planned for 6th and 7th Jan to bring out Adivasis’ concerns in Dantewada, Chattisgarh, the police has unleashed a campaign to intimidate and silence key Adivasi witnesses as well as visiting journalists, students and activists.

    Even as eminent Gandhian Himanshu Kumar of Vanavasi Chetana Ashram (VCA) broke his fast on the 10th day, the Ashram was surrounded by armed police and Special Police Officers (SPOs).  Journalists Satyen Bordoloi and Priyanka Borpujari from Mumbai, Suresh Deepala, law student and AID volunteer from Hyderabad, and Nishtha, a visiting student from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, were forcibly prevented from leaving, placing them under virtual house arrest for a few hours. They were assaulted and their cameras taken away. After public pressure forced the administration to let them free, they were then detained again at the police station on false charges of assaulting journalists. They have been released now and are back at VCA.

    About 25 to 30 Adivasi villagers who had come to VCA for the Jan Sunwai have been taken away by the police to an unknown location on 5th January. Even as eminent social activists, journalists and concerned citizens, including Medha Patkar and Sandeep Pandey, are reaching Dantewada on 6th January for the Jan Sunwai, the administration has adopted increasingly repressive and violent tactics to prevent or scuttle the Jan Sunwai and cover up the excesses going on for the past two years.

    Sodi Sambo, a 28 year old Adivasi woman from village Gompad was shot in her leg on 1st Oct, 2009 by the security forces. She is an important witness in the 1st Oct incident in which 9 Adivasis, including an 8-year old girl, were killed by the security forces. She is one of the petitioners of Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 103 of 2009 in the Supreme Court. She was stopped by the police on 3rd Jan, 2010, as she was on her way to Delhi in very ill health for the treatment of her wounded leg and malaria. She is being held in isolation in the Jagdalpur Hospital where neither journalists nor social workers can meet her. Further, the hospital cannot offer the treatment she needs.

    Intimidation and harassment of VCA volunteers has been going on for over a year in spite of the fact that Himanshu Kumar and VCA have consistently opposed Maoist violence. Volunteer Kopa Kunjam was arrested on false charges on 10th Dec, 2009 along with a lawyer from Human Rights Law Network. Although the lawyer has been released, Kopa continues to be in custody where, according to him, he was tortured by being hung upside down and beaten severely. He has been threatened several times to not work with VCA. At the behest of the police and the administration, the landlord of Himanshu asked him to vacate his house despite having signed an agreement for a year. Nandini Sundar, a Professor of Anthropology in Delhi, was refused a room in all the hotels in Dantewada and her car driver threatened, eventually compelling her to abandon her visit.

    We demand that the rights of civilians in the region be restored, the media have free access to the region and report on the goings on, and the civil society be allowed in the region for the Jan Sunwai. We urgently request NHRC, various human rights group and the Home Minister P Chidambaram and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister to ensure the safety of Sodi Sambo, Kopa Kunjam, Himanshu Kumar, the Adivasis of Dantewada, and all the visiting journalists, students, social workers and human rights activists. We demand an end to the abuse of power by the state in Chhattsigarh and by the Operation Green Hunt through out India and demand that the Centre and State be held accountable for every life that has been lost so far.

    (This article was published on Forum Against War, Punjab on January 8, 2010.)

     

  • Channel 4 Report--Indian Winter: Maoist Rebels in Chhattisgarh

    Nick Paton Walsh, Channel 4 News

    A series of murders, looting, and rapes by a government-backed militia have targeted impoverished tribal people in some of India's most mineral-rich areas, according to witnesses and testimony gathered by Channel 4 News as part of a month-long investigation.

    For video clips that accompany this article please see: 
    http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/world/asia_pacific/indian+winter+maoist+rebels+in+chhattisgarh/3514042

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  • Orissa Tribals Protest Road Work for Tata Steel Plant in Kalinga Nagar

    JAJPUR: The police fired rubber bullets in the air to disperse the tribals, protesting against the construction of a new road in Kalinga Nagar industrial complex area in Jajpur district on Tuesday. Two persons have been detained by the police for interrogation. The trouble began when about 500 tribals, including women and children, in traditional attire and weapons, gathered at Baligotha under Kalinga Nagar police station limits to prevent resumption of the common corridor road, stalled since January 16 following their protest.

    The protesters, mostly supporters of Visthapan Virodhi Jan Manch (VVJM), pelted stones and mounted arrow attack on policemen deployed in the area, prompting the cops to fire rubber bullets in the air. Six tribals sustained minor injuries following a brief clash with the police.

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  • The State's Pretext to Impose Brutal Repression

    The Government's "Offensive" is a Formula for Bloodshed and Injustice

    The Campaign for Survival and Dignity, a national platform of adivasi and forest dwellers' mass organisations from ten States, unequivocally condemns the reported plans for a military "offensive" by the government in the country's major forest and tribal areas.

    This offensive, ostensibly targeted against the CPI (Maoist), is a smoke screen for an assault against the people, especially adivasis, aimed at suppressing all dissent, all resistance and engineering the takeover of their resources.

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  • Operation Green Hunt Intensifies in Chhattisgarh

    Raipur: As the central paramilitary forces launched their ground offensive against the Maoists in two districts bordering Maharashtra, the Chhattisgarh Police are also stepping up their own campaign - Operation Green Hunt - in other areas in order to mount pressure on the rebels in the state.

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  • What Has Driven the Tribals of Central India to Political Extremism?

    B K Roy Burman

    According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, 125 districts spread over nine States in Central India and adjoining areas have come under the influence of Left radical groups, loosely called Naxalites. On June 22, 2009, the Government of India has declared the most important among the Naxalite groups, the Communist Party of India (Maoist), as a terrorist organisation and banned it.

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  • Lumpen Polity and the Silence that Breeds Criminals

    Anand Teltumbde

    The following three incidents reflect the utter lumpenisation of the polity in India today: (1) the manhandling of Abu Asim Azmi, the Samajwadi Party MLA in the Maharashtra assembly by the newly elected MLAs of Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena while taking the oath in Hindi in defiance of the diktat of their leader; (2) the unearthing of the mind-boggling loot by Madhu Koda, the ex-chief minister of Jharkhand, a relatively minor politician belonging to a scheduled tribe, who could so diligently execute such a huge loot in such a short time; and (3) the grant of parole by the Delhi government to the infamous prisoner Manu Sharma, the killer of Jessica Lall, on the ground of ill health of his mother, and for running his business. And yet, these incidents are taken as normal occurrences in this country.  Three recent incidents once again reminded us of the depth to which the Indian polity has descended, simultaneously highlighting the cynical quietude of the people insofar as there has not been any commensurate voice of public disapproval.

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  • The After Kill of Narayanpatna

    The bloodshed may have halted, but violence, fear and the possibility of starvation still haunt. SANJANA of Tehelka reports in December 2009 from the remote Orissa town where police killed two Adivasis last month.

    THE VOICE at the other end of the line is weak and tired. It's past 8 pm. "We are on our way to the village," he says. "We walk six hours every day - three hours at daybreak from our village into the forest and three hours at sundown back to the village. We hide in the jungles during the day and come to the village at night. We don't want to be arrested by the police who come to our villages during the day," says the 24-yearold. A few minutes of conversation later, he asks if his name and village can be kept anonymous. "If the police read the report, they may come to our village and hunt us down," he says. Nothing you say can dislodge the fear.

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  • India Drives Tribals Into Maoist Arms

    Sudha Ramachandran

    KORAPUT, Orissa - Six weeks after police action in Narayanpatna in Koraput district in the eastern state of Orissa left two tribals dead and scores of others injured, tension here shows no signs of abating. Arbitrary arrests of tribals continue with about 109, including at least 12 children, thrown in jail so far on charges that include criminal conspiracy, rioting, sedition and waging war against the state - and police and paramilitary forces have stepped up operations to hunt down activists of the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS), a tribal rights organization active in the area.

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  • The Current Political Struggle in India

    The dangers are great, the possibilities immense

    Saroj Giri

    "What made Spence dangerous to the bourgeoisie was not that he was a proletarian nor that he had ideas opposed to private property but that he was both."- Peter Linebaugh [2]

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  • Possibilities of Civil Society Reaction to Chidambaram

    Dipanjan Rai Chaudhuri

    The Government of India is declaring a war, under the generalship of Chidambaram, on the population of what it describes as Maoist-infested areas, a population comprising the poorest of the poor of this unfortunate country. The stated target of Chidambaram's adventure is the Maoists, but apart from sporadic exchange of fire with these elusive guerrillas, the main thrust of the state will be oppression, torture, mass arrests, rape and murder let loose on the general population most of whom cannot tell butt from muzzle of an AK 47.

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  • Response to Proposal of the Citizens Initiative for Peace

    Nandita Haksar

    I have read the Resolution (entitled "Stop Offensive, Hold Unconditional Dialogue" in Mainstream) made by the Citizens Initiative for Peace very carefully and I would like to raise some questions about the list of six demands that have been formulated in the light of the discussion and debates around the question of the Indian State's decision to deal with the "Naxalite problem" with brute military force.

    The Resolution has put forward six "simple yet urgent demands". The demands are addressed to both the Central Government and the Maoists because it calls upon both parties to stop the "offensive" and the "hostilities", and start a dialogue. However, the Resolution states that the Government should take the initiative.

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  • The Developmental Terrorism of the Indian State

    A document prepared by Sanhati Collective

    It has been widely reported in the press that the Indian government is planning an unprecedented military offensive against alleged Maoist rebels, using paramilitary and counter-insurgency forces, possibly the Indian Armed Forces and even the Indian Air Force. This military operation is going to be carried out in the forested and semi-forested rural areas of the states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand,West Bengal and Maharashtra, populated mainly by the tribal (indigenous) people of India. Reportedly, the offensive has been planned in consultation with US counter-insurgency agencies.

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  • Press Statement on December 17 Protest in Delhi

    The Forum Against War on People organised the "Rally Against War on People", to protest against the brutal military offensive of the Indian state on the tribal people of central and eastern India through the Operation Green Hunt where in lakhs of the paramilitary-military as well as various vigilante gangs such as the Salwa Judum, Nagrik Suraksha Samiti, Sendra, Tritiya Prastuti Samiti, Harmad Vahini etc. has let loose on the people. All this is being done under the garb of bringing in development to these regions.

    And it is for any discernible eye to see that for the last 60 years there has been hardly any such intervention from the side of the state in some of the poorest regions of India. Why suddenly the government is concerned about development in these regions is nothing but to give away these resource rich regions to the multinational corporations and local monopolies through various MoUs that the various state governments have entered into with the former.

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  • Tribal Alienation in India's Central Forest Belt Has Caused the Maoist Resurgence

    A Million Mutinies Now

    Prem Shankar Jha

    '... Across a swathe of land 2,500 km long and 200 km deep, tribals face expulsion from their lands because state governments want to build dams, power stations, roads, and allow private companies to build steel, chemicals, automobile plants and aluminium smelters. ...'

    NOT LONG ago, at Lalgarh in West Bengal, the country witnessed the first fully televised confrontation between the Indian State and its subjects, in which the goal of the insurgents was not to create a separate state or country, but to capture the Indian State itself.

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  • Indian State Declares War against its Poorest

    Naxals: The Poorest People of India

    Mamoona Ali Kazmi

    The people in India's mineral heartland are tribals, who are the poorest of the poor, and the government's war against India's indigenous people is a frightening and unjust one says writer-activist Arundhati Roy. Recently, a newspaper advertisement published by the Indian government reads "Naxalites are nothing but cold-blooded criminals."

     

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  • Lohandiguda, Bastar: The Threat of a Desi East India Company?

    Krishnamurthy Ramasubbu

    Jagdalpur, Bastar district headquarters town in Chhattisgarh, looks like a ghost town. Large areas around the collector's office have been cordoned off. Around 50 tribals sit in a hall waiting for a public hearing of the environmental impact assessment report of Tata Steel's proposed Rs 10,000-crore greenfield steel project in the district's Lohandiguda block.

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  • The Maoists Might Derail Centre’s Hearts-and-Minds Track

    For five years, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been describing the Maoists as the single largest threat to India's security. But it's only after P. Chidambaram became the Union home minister that the government got down to dealing with how to restore the writ of the state in that swathe of the country known as the Red Corridor.

    Clearly, there are no easy solutions. So even as plans to upgrade the anti-Maoist operations are being formulated, the debate within the government on how much force should be used and by whom (there is the fear of collateral damage and its political consequences) remains unresolved.

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  • Orissa Tribals Take to the Streets against Police Atrocities

     

    BHUBANESWAR: Amidst unprecedented security arrangements, hundreds of tribals gathered in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday to warn the state government that it must be ready to face consequences unless it changes policies. Tribals took out a huge rally on Tuesday at Bhubaneswar demanding amendment in land reforms Act and check in mining lease on forest lands.

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  • Orissa Adivasis Warn Government about Repressing Democratic Movements

    Bhubaneswar: Maoist-backed Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh and 14 other organisations today warned the government against repressing democratic movements, while staging a demonstration near the Assembly amid massive police deployment.

    "The sangh and other mass organisations have been fighting for their rights over land, water and forest and against plunder of natural resources by multinationals. But, the state has been trying to crush the movements and thus protect the interest of MNCs," said sangh leader Gananath Patra.

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  • Maoist Guerrillas and Tribal Rebels Threaten India's Industrial Boom

    Plans to develop the mineral wealth of the country could be derailed by Naxalites

    When Tata Steel began building the country's third-biggest steel mill in a plot of the 5,000-hectare (13,000 acre) Kalinganagar industrial area in the dust bowl of eastern India this year, executives thought they would be welcomed.

    After all, they reasoned, the company, with revenues of more than £3bn, was bringing development and jobs to one of India's poorest places. However, by the end of the day, the bulldozers had not moved an inch and 12 people lay dead after what appeared to be a pitched battle between locals, armed with axes and spades, and police who carried guns and tear gas.

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  • Join the Campaign to Bring Peace to Bastar

    Chhattisgarh government should stop treating Adivasi people as its enemy and let them return to their villages!

    The Government of Chhattisgarh admits that since the start of Salwa Judum (SJ) in the year 2005, 644 villages of district Dantewada, whose overwhelmingly adivasi population is about 3.5 lakhs, have been emptied out.  Our common sense understanding that enmasse displacement on this scale could only have been made possible by extreme violence, is vindicated by the horrifying incidents of arson, loot, murder, rape, and widespread arrests by the SJ and security forces that have continuously been coming to light, and which can no longer be ignored.

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  • The Maoist "Problem" and the Democratic Left in India

    Saroj Giri

    One key paradigmatic subtext of Naomi Klein's argument that runs in her The Shock Doctrine (London: Penguin, 2008) is how the supposed undemocratic, violent character of "totalitarian" Marxist movements serve to justify repressive measures by the neo-liberal state. In inviting such a repressive response from the state, "undemocratic" revolutionary left movements are presented as causing the erosion of democratic spaces and the right to dissent. But what if upholding so-called democratic spaces by shunning the undemocratic, revolutionary left is premised on blocking off emerging possibilities of radical transformation, thereby ideologically legitimising capitalist democracy?

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  • Please Sign! Petition against India’s Military Offensive in Adivasi-Populated Regions

    Sanhati, a collective of activists/academics who have been working in solidarity with peoples' movements in India by providing information and analysis, took the initiative to bring together voices from around the world against the Government of India's planned military offensive in central India. A statement and a background note were drafted in consultation with Indian activists, and duly circulated for endorsement.  Readers are encouraged to endorse by mailing sanhatikolkata@sanhati.com with full name and affiliation. Included below are the domestic and international signatories as of November 12, 2009 and a Background Note.

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  • Appeal: State Wants to Destroy the Alternative Model of Development

    Appeal to Thinkers, Intellectuals, Artistes and Writers

    Forum Against War on People (Punjab)

     

    The Indian state has amassed troops in central India on an unprecedented scale, to swoop down on the people. It is the latest of the wars launched by the Indian State against the people living in this country. The government says that it has to move against these areas as Maoists hold sway over it and it is not under the control of central or state authority.

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  • Arundhati Roy: The Heart of India is Under Attack

    By Arundhati Roy - 31 October, 2009, Guardian.co.uk

    The low, flat-topped hills of south Orissa have been home to the Dongria Kondh long before there was a country called India or a state called Orissa. The hills watched over the Kondh. The Kondh watched over the hills and worshipped them as living deities.

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