We need to protest and protest peacefully. But over what?

Gautam Navlakha, Sharmila Purkayastha & Asish Gupta

Any democratic response to end the war which has been initiated by the Indian State is welcome. However, there are a few questions in the light of write up for the planned peace march in Raipur on 5th May 2010.

1) Why is peace delinked from ‘causes like exploitative, iniquitous model of development etc’? More urgently, what is this peace about? Undoubtedly, war is undesirable, but to believe in peace marches without a thought to justice, is rank bad faith. Clearly, those who wish to march in Raipur (to where?) saying no to violence, cannot bear too much reality.

2) By saying no to violence, the participants and organizers have equated the two sides. It is one thing not to care for Maoist violence but to equate state violence with that of the Maoists is to willfully ignore the coercive nature of state power. The government has been cagey in telling the total paramilitary strength that has been deployed in the wake of Operation Green Hunt. Unofficially, it is known that no less than 67 battalions have been sent to 9 states, which means at least 67000 armed personnel. The elite COBRA force has been created to fight the Maoists. Besides, 20 more schools will be set up to train the paramilitary under the army. Why will a peace march not protest this heavy militarization in the name of countering Maoism?

3) Undoubtedly, there are many who do not agree with the Maoists. But they should have the courage to come out and criticize the Maoists for their ideology and actions. Why do they take this confused road which shows neither courage nor conviction?

4) The stated purpose of the march is to end the ‘heavy loss of life of poor people, especially of adivasis’ arising out of the crossfire between the state and the Maoists. If this is so, it is a very serious matter. Can some details be provided to understand this, particularly since the extensive reports in the Indian People’s Tribunal did not confirm this? By repeating the sandwich theory, the advocates of this peace march have created a theory which satisfies the middle class distaste for violence and patronizing belief in the passivity of the poor. Why is it so hard to understand that the poor may not wish to conform to the middle class dictates of passivity?

5) How does Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (VCA) manage and synthesize these confusions mentioned above? It would be instructive to recall that when the December padayatra in Dantewada was planned here in Delhi (sometime in early November), the purpose of the padayatra was to visit the different villages which had been emptied out over the last few years. The purpose of the padayatra was to understand how people were coping in the present condition of operation green hunt. How does VCA forget its own initiatives?

6) We need to protest and protest peacefully. But over what? We need to protest against Operation Green Hunt, against Operation Mine Hunt, against Operation Land Grab. It is only then that peace can be meaningful.

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