Yesterday I attended a meeting organised by The Committee for the Release of Binayak Sen (CRBS) as recorded right below my post. (interestingly the event doesn’t find feature in the papers today even as far more frivolous news covers the pages.)
I was already aware of the atrocities being carried out by the Indian state in the tribal regions but hearing the account first hand was sad enough.
The one question I raised during the Q&A was about the status as regards the Forest Rights Act, discussion around which was raging during 2005-06
The FRA then had polarized those in favour of the tribal rights and the environmental community, which feared the worst for the forests in terms of forests ripping away the resources.
Environmentalists also saw this as the worst form of vote bank politics by the UPA – I government.
Now 3 years down the line we see the UPA – II government declaring the tribals and their supporters as terorists and launches Operation Green Hunt. Whats going on?
Votes from the tribals and notes from the industrialists? What can be any other conclusion? As per the FRA the tribals are entitled to 4 hectares of land. Now they are being forced out of their forest homes and being forced to live in designated camps guarded by the police (concentration camps?, genocide?, state sponsored terrorism?). And if they retaliate then they are hunted down, raped, their houses and food stocks burnt.
Is Chidambaram the Gabbar equivalent?
From the first hand accounts it is very clear that the media is completely suppressing the real events taking place in the interiors of the country. It will be upto a few right minded citizens in the city to make up their mind about how far will they let the situation deteriorate before it becomes all out war. The tribals are very determined and dont seem to be in a mood to take things lying down.
The Committee for the Release of Binayak Sen (CRBS)
invites you to a press conference to be addressed by
two prominent personalities from Chhattisgarh
Himanshu Kumar — noted Gandhian who has been running the Vanvasi Chtena Ashram for more than 15 years in Dantewada in Chhattisgarh
Advocate Sudha Bhardwaj — leading member of the Chhattisgarh Mines Mazdoor Sangh that was set up by legendary trade unionist Shankar Guha Niyogi; executive committee member of Chhattisgarh PUCL; and Dr Binayak Sen’s lawyer
Thick in the field of action in the tribal areas of Bastar, Himanshu Kumar and advocate Sudha Bhardwaj have witnessed the effects of the “development” efforts on the adivasis of Bastar by successive governments. They have experienced first-hand the fallout of the government’s anti-Naxalite movement, the Salwa Judum.
In May, Himanshu Kumar’s Vanvasi Chetna Ashram was demolished by the Chhattisgarh government because he was trying to rehabilitate the Adivasis displaced by Salwa Judum. Kumar has tried to file FIRs against every offence committed against the adivasis, but to no avail.
With the Centre all set to launch “Operation Greenhunt” against the Naxalites in the tribal belt that runs across seven states, Himanshu Kumar and advocate Bhardwaj are best placed to enlighten those living far away from Bastar about the actual situation there.
- Will “Operation Greenhunt” destroy or strengthen the Naxalites’ influence?
- Who will be the “hunted” – the armed Naxalites or the unarmed tribals?
- Whose purposes will “Operation Greenhunt” serve – those of the tribals who have lived there for centuries, or the companies eyeing the resources in the region?
- Can peace ever be brought to this rich region?
- What is the context of State violence and Naxalite violence in Chhattisgarh?
For answers to these and other questions, please do attend the press conference and talk on
Saturday, Oct 31, 3 pm -5 pm, Mumbai Press Club, CST
Those wanting to stay on to discuss the situation can join us after the press conference at
Saturday, Oct 31, 6 pm, Shramik Hall, Dadar