Start talks, stop Operation Green Hunt: Arundhati Roy

NEW DELHI, April 26 : 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.”

Badshah Mandi from Jangalmahal (Lalgarh) in his speech stated that “Police is resorting to indiscriminate firing, torture, imprisonment and killing of the people of Lalgarh. Rape and torture is being used, people’s health centers built by the PCPA have been occupied by the paramilitary forces, the medicines have been taken away. Lalgarh has created an alternative to the governments run by the CPM, UPA or NDA, since the development policy of these governments is nothing but the policy of genocide. The sufferings of the adivasi people are the result of these government’s policies. The people of this country are suffering from state violence for more than last 60 years. The question of violence should not be reduced to armed struggle alone; the question is much deeper. The struggle is not between the Maoists and the paramilitary forces, but between the people and the Indian govt., between the ‘development’ polices of the government and people’s alternative development.” Aparna of the CPIML (New Democracy), gave more instances of atrocities on the people’s struggles all over the country in the name of fighting Naxalism/Maoism. People fighting for even their constitutionally mandated rights in Kosambi and Ghoorpur in Uttar Pradesh, Kalinganagar, Narayanpatna, Jagat Singhpur and Niyamgiri in Orissa are facing the brunt of this war on people. When people raise their voices against government’s pro-corporate policies, the government led by the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram sends armed forces to crush them.

The meeting also raised its opposition to the wars waged by the Indian state on the people of Kashmir and the North East. Malem of Committee for the Protection of Democracy, Manipur (CPDM) said, “We have been raising our voice against the Indian state’s war on people for a long time. The people’s struggle for freedom in Kashmir, Manipur, Nagalim, Asom and other places against the state is going on for many decades.

The military offensive waged by the Indian state must be immediately stopped.” Prof. Jagmohan the nephew of Shaheed Bhagat Singh pointed out that this war of the people against the anti-people policies against the anti-people character of the Indian government has reached Delhi through Kashmir, North East and the rest of the country as people have risen in revolt.

The disparities between the rich and the poor have become so intense and sharp that the genuine anger of the people cannot be held back for long.

Varvara Rao, the revolutionary poet reminded the audience of the violation of its constitutional obligations by the government. He said that the Naxalites have always showed keenness from 1987 till today to sit for talks with the government to address people’s basic issues like land, irrigation, education and health. But the government’s policies have failed to address the problems faced by the oppressed sections of the society. In comparison, the Naxalites/Maoists have established a pro-people alternative model of development.

Arundhati Roy asked, is the government ready for talks? The government is claiming that it is ready for talks, only the Naxalites are not interested. However the reality is that the government badly needs war, not peace.

The money generated by the mining industry can buy off the government, the political parties, thejudiciary, everything. This war is waged by Mr. Chidambaram on behalf of them. Who are the Maoists? They are the malnourished, hungry and poverty-stricken adivasis going through an acute struggle for survival. The government is using two guns to repress the people: ‘development’ and the media. The government is confident that similar to Telangana, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur or Kashmir, it will be able to crush the ongoing movements of the adivasis as well.

Calling for talks between Maoists and the government, writer Arundhati Roy on Saturday demanded an immediate ceasefire on both sides, formal halting of the combing operations and Operation Green Hunt, and resettling people who were rendered homeless in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district.

Ms. Roy also demanded that details of memoranda of undertaking signed between the government and mining industries, involving tribal regions, be made public.

She was speaking at a public meeting here on ‘Indian state’s War on People and the Assault on Democratic Voices’.

It was organised by the Forum Against War on People, a forum of civil society organisations, parties, individuals and social activists.

While the death of CRPF personnel at the hands of the Maoists was saddening, one could not dismiss the alleged atrocities committed by the security personnel against tribals, Ms. Roy said.

Ms. Roy alleged that the government was not interested in talks as it claimed.

Randhir Singh, head of the Political Science department in Delhi University, said: “The political parties in India seem to have decided that neo-liberal capitalism is the way to proceed. The kind of development the government is practising in tribal areas can be labelled ‘developmental terrorism’.”

The challenge for the Maoists was to provide a viable alternative mode of development as opposed to the modes proposed by the ruling classes, he said.

Giving an account of the situation in West Bengal’s Lalgarh, activists claimed that owing to the presence of the joint security forces, people could not venture out to earn their livelihoods. They were routinely tortured on suspicion of being Maoists, and their women were harassed.
‘Great deal of trouble’

“Operation Green Hunt is causing a great deal of trouble. People are arrested without warrants, peaceful rallies are fired upon, women are insulted and basic health facilities are not available. The government does not allow anyone to enter this zone as it does not want its wrongdoings exposed,” said activist Badshah Mandi, who also claimed that developmental facilities built by the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities were routinely destroyed.

B.D. Sharma, former Commissioner of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Commission, said the basic conflict could be rooted in ownership of resources. “While the government behaves as if it owns the land, the tribals have traditional rights to the land.” According to the Supreme Court, the government did not have the right to hand over tribal land to others, he said.

Poet Varavara Rao said talks should take place between the government and the Maoists, in the same way the exercise was made possible between the Maoists and the Andhra Pradesh government with media and civil society efforts. However, “it is not possible for anyone to condone Maoist violence.”
Slams media

Speakers alleged that the media had not been accurate in reporting and presenting an analysis of the events related to the Maoists. Stress was laid on simultaneously calling a halt to “state atrocities on people” as well as Maoist violence.