Protest Against the Bijapur Massacre (July 31, 2012)


At Parliament Street, New Delhi
11 am – 5 pm, 31 (Tuesday) July 2012

The chilling incident of the premeditated massacre of 20 adivasis peasants of Sirkegudem, Kothagudem and Rajupenta in the Bijapur district of south Chhattisgarh on the night of 28 June 2012 have shocked the conscience of every democratic and freedom loving people of the subcontinent. Till date no action has been taken on the officers responsible for this cold-blooded murder. Worse was the nominal sorry rendered by P. Chidambaram in his dull academic tone followed by a regret by his CRPF chief that too when more and more glaring stories and reports started flooding the media from various independent observers and some of the conscientious journalists.

We are witness to the countless massacres of dalits, adivasis, Muslims and other oppressed sections in the subcontinent by various gangs, landlord armies and private militias in the Indian subcontinent. But what we have witnessed in Bijapur is a continuing pattern of state-sponsored massacres committed by the so-called guardians of law with impunity. Significantly in this case, we come across a scenario in Post-1947 India where the Home Minister would openly defend the criminal act of the paramilitary without batting his eyelids. Rarely do we come across a situation where the Director General of the CRPF would openly come out in defence of the criminal act of his forces. Well this sum up the lawless face of the Indian state personified in the cold and calculated sophistry of a Chidambaram and his able accomplice in Vijay Kumar the CRPF chief. But the democratic and freedom loving people of the subcontinent have seen through the white lies propagated by Chidambaram, Raman Singh the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister and Vijay Kumar the CRPF chief as more and more tell-tale reports started pouring in from independent enquiry teams of civil rights bodies and other citizens who went to the area to get first hand information.

At this juncture it becomes important that we refuse to remain silent to this brutality of the state failing which we are complacent and condemned to be silent accomplices to the terror of the state all being perpetrated in the name of development; a development ostensibly for you and me, but irreversibly and violently wipes out the vast sections of the masses of the people. Yes, it becomes important for all of us to come together and say NO to such premeditated massacres of the state and demand unequivocally that all those responsible for conceiving and executing such acts be brought to book let alone those who vehemently and unabashedly patronise such criminal acts.

• We invite you to be part of this protest demonstration to be held on the 31 July 2012 at Parliament Street from 11 am to 5 pm in which various people’s organisations, civil rights groups, intellectuals and prominent citizens from various states would participate. Your presence is very much needed at this juncture as an act of protest to strengthen the voice of the adivasis in Bastar. Unite with the resilient masses fighting for their Jal-Jangal-Zameen!

A delegation from the Dharna Site at Parliament Street will go and meet the President of India to submit a memorandum on the Bijapur Massacre with the following Demands:

• Constitute judicial enquiry with a sitting or retired Supreme Court judge to look into the massacre,
• Punish the police personnel and politicians like P Chidambaram and Raman Singh responsible for the massacre,
• Stop Operation Green Hunt– Indian State’s War on People Immediately,
• Withdraw military and paramilitary forces from Bastar now, and
• Scrap all MoUs signed with imperialist MNCs and the domestic corporate houses.

Contact: Varavara Rao (President), Rajkishore (Gen. Sec.) | 09717583539
| Email: |

Protest Demonstration Against the Massacre of Adivasis of Bijapur

Join Joint Protest Demonstration Against the Massacre of Adivasis of Bijapur

Date: 17th July (Tuesday) 2012, Time: 11 AM
Place: Chhattisgarh Bhavan, Chanakyapuri, Delhi

Recently the Indian state has intensified its eviction and extermination campaign against the adivasis of central and eastern India under the rubric of Operation Green Hunt. On the night of 28 June 2012 when the adivasi peasants of Sarkeguda, Kottaguda and Rajpenta (Bijapur district of south Chhattisgarh) gathered to plan the performance of the traditional festival Beej Pandum (seed festival), they were surrounded by hundreds of Police and Para-military forces of the Indian state. The armed forces resorted to indiscriminate firing killing 17 adivasis (including 6 minors) cold-blooded. Two other villagers were likewise killed near Jagargunda village of Sukma district in the same night, and predictably, were shown as casualties of an ‘encounter’ between the Maoists and the armed forces.

As the testimonies of the eyewitnesses coming through the Media, Fact Finding Reports of different Civil / Democratic Right Teams and the statements of different social-political forces (including the Congress Party of Chhattisgarh) now confirm that the killing of the adivasis was a heinous massacre committed by the Cobra battalion of the CRPF and the Chhattisgarh Police, under the command of top police officials. Even the Union Tribal Minister Mr. K C Deo has said that ‘17 innocent citizens, who were unarmed, who were wearing just a dhoti or a baniyan and who did not even have a sickle or a knife’ had been killed by the CRPF.

But still the central Home Minister and the top officials of CRPF are claiming that these adivasis have been killed in a “fierce” gunfight in the dense jungles of Dantewada on June 27-28 in a joint anti-Maoist operation by the CRPF and state police. This is really a matter of grave concern for all the justice loving progressive and democratic forces of our country.

We, the under signed progressive, democratic and civil rights organizations working in Delhi have decided to show our anguish and concern in front of Chhattisgarh Bhavan, Chanakyapuri on 17th July 2012 at 11 AM, in the form of a Protest Demonstration.

We earnestly appeal to you / your organization to join us at Chhattisgarh Bhavan to make the protest programme successful. Hope your positive responses.

All India Federation of Trade Unions (New), Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra, Krantikari Naujawan Sabha, Krantikari Yuva Sangathan, Mazdoor Patrika, National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO), Peoples’ Democratic Front of India (PDFI), People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), Radical Notes, Sanhati-Delhi, Students For Resistance, Vidyarthi Yuvjan Sabha

Manufacturing Sedition from Political Dissent: The Judgment against Binayak Sen

P A Sebastian, Analytical Monthly Review


There have been moments when an event catches the public eye, and suddenly illuminates a process of decay and disintegration that has been proceeding in the background, slowly, step-by-step. The outrage and national attention focused on the conviction of, and imposition of life sentence on, Dr. Binayak Sen for “Sedition” is such a case. The process in question is the utter collapse of the majority of the Indian Judiciary into an agency of the political police.

Our reality is that the supposed “rule of law” has decayed into a sinister farce over vast areas: most notably Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, and much of the northeast. A police state regime that arose on the frontiers is slowly, step-by-step, extending itself into the core. The rot of corruption and injustice has now reached the heart. The immense significance of the judgment against Binayak Sen is that it strikes directly at whatever hope remains for a peaceful means of arresting, or even reversing, this deadly process.

Our responsibility is to insist on the right of political dissent, though without illusions. So long as the regime maintains the forms of the electoral exercise, of democratic rights, and of argued “judgments” in its courts, we must, as best we are able, strive to expose the substantive reality.

From this perspective we sought an informed legal opinion on the written judgment issued against Binayak Sen by second additional sessions’ judge, Raipur, B P Verma. P A Sebastian, a Mumbai-based lawyer and democratic rights activist, and a leading figure of the International Association of People’s Lawyers, its Indian constituent, the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers, and the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights, Mumbai, has provided for us the following analysis.

The charge against the accused in the case of Piyush Guha, Binayak Sen and Narayan Sanyal is that they have aided and abetted the Communist Party of India (Maoist), which has been banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The case starts with the arrest of Piyush Guha, a tendu leaf trader. The prosecution says that on 6 May 2007 the police superintendent, Raipur sent a wireless message to all the police stations under him that the police should closely search suspicious persons, suspicious vehicles, hotels, lodges, rest houses and dhabas. They were also directed to search thoroughly the street vendors, detain all suspicious characters and legally proceed against them. In the course of carrying out such a search, B S Jagrit, the inspector of Raipur police station, was told by an informer to keep an eye on all those walking towards the railway station. Then he says that he suddenly spotted Piyush Guha. The police stopped and questioned him on the basis of suspicion, but not receiving satisfactory answers, the police called one Anil Kumar Singh, a passer-by, and took both to the police station and opened the bag of Piyush Guha and found in his bag three magazines, a newspaper and three letters among some other things. Anil Kumar Singh, the passer-by, deposed before the court that he heard Guha say to the police that Binayak Sen used to meet Narayan Sanyal, one of the three accused, in jail and collect letters from him. Binayak Sen passed on the three letters concerned to Guha, who, in turn, passed on them to the CPI(Maoist).

The whole case revolves around this story which has many loopholes. Piyush Guha was produced before a magistrate on 7 May 2007 under Section 167 of the CrPC [Criminal Procedure Code]. He stated before the magistrate that he was actually detained on 1 May 2007, not on 6 May as claimed by the police. He was kept in illegal custody, blindfolded and incommunicado for 6 days in violation of CrPC, which stipulates that an accused should be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours of his arrest. He further said that he was picked up by the police not from the road leading to Raipur railway station as stated by the police but from Mahindra Hotel. The statement of Guha that he was picked up by the police from Mahindra Hotel is supported by the affidavit of the government filed in the Supreme Court while opposing the bail application of Binayak Sen.

However, the judge accepted the police claim that the statement in the Supreme Court (SC) was a “typographical error”. Here are two statements which are different from each other. Both of them were made on oath. A word, a figure or a few letters can be treated as typographical error. It goes against common sense and rationality to say that an important statement made in the SC on oath is typographical error. The second additional sessions’ judge, Raipur, B P Verma, has done a disservice by this statement to the Indian judicial system, which is already sinking under the burden of corruption and other misdemeanours.

The prosecution states that the police recovered three letters written by Narayan Sanyal and addressed to his party comrades from the bag of Piyush Guha. The only evidence produced by the prosecution in this respect is the deposition by one Anil Kumar Singh, the “passer-by” mentioned above. He said that the police called him by gesture and introduced to him a person called Piyush Guha. The police told him that Guha was a suspected person. Then they opened his bag and recovered some CPI(Maoist) literature and three letters, which later on the police claimed were written by Narayan Sanyal. Anil Kumar Singh further said that he overheard Guha say to the police that those three letters were given to him by Binayak Sen. The narration of the event shows that he did not know when the police took Guha into custody. When he saw Guha, he was already in police custody. He did not know whether the police had picked up Guha on 1 May and planted the letters and other articles on him. Yet the whole case rests on this Anil Kumar Singh assertion that he heard Guha say to the police that Binayak Sen had given him the letters. This hearsay has no evidentiary value. The statement made in police custody is not admissible against the accused. Once the police fail to prove that they caught Guha from station road, the whole edifice of the case falls.

Besides, Binayak Sen visited Narayan Sanyal with the permission of the senior superintendent of police. The prisoners are permitted to write letters. The restriction is that the prison authorities will read the letters and censor them, if necessary, before they are sent out. So the presumption is that the letters did not contain anything objectionable unless one concludes that the jail authorities collaborated with Sanyal to carry on illegal activities, in which case the judge should have asked the government to take legal action against the jail authorities. The judgment does not say whether the content of the letters was objectionable or not. No action could have been taken against the accused unless the content was unlawful. A discussion about the central point is missing in the judgment. Carrying letters from prisoners is not unlawful in itself.

Some of the things which the judge says are strange, and they do not go well with a supposed judicial mind. The judge refers to several people as Naxalites and treats them as criminals. There is no law in India or anywhere else in the world which defines the term “Naxalite” and treats them as criminals. However, the burden of the judgment is the term “Naxalite” and the inherent criminality of the term “Naxalite”. The judgment keeps on saying that Binayak Sen and Piyush Guha knew Naxalites and met them. The judgment uses interchangeably the terms “Naxalite” and CPI(Maoist) and concludes that Sen and Guha aided and abetted the CPI(Maoist), which is a banned organisation.

The judgment repeats that some letter or letters recovered from Sen’s house address him as “comrade”. The learned judge takes it for granted that “comrade” meant that Binayak Sen was a member or supporter of the CPI(Maoist). The English dictionaries state that “comrade” means an intimate friend or associate or companion. Does the judge know that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose and Jayaprakash Narayan were addressed as “comrades”? Clement Attlee, the former prime minister of England, was addressed as “comrade”. One can rest assured that he does not know. Can India afford to have such judges to decide the fate of human life? The judgment is arbitrary to the extreme. It does not define the terms; it does not set up a nexus.

Just one instance will demonstrate the whimsicality and ideological bias of the judge: “Amita Shrivastav was a teacher in Daga Higher Secondary School two years ago. She came to the school through Ilina Sen who is acknowledged by Binayak Sen as his wife. She worked in the school for seven months and then stopped coming to the school. Amita had a CD related to the Second World War Nazi camps. This was shown to the students in the school. Later it was found that Amita was connected to Naxalites and had absconded”. It is really shocking that the judge interprets anti-Nazism as Communism. How did the judge know that she was connected to Naxalites and she had absconded? How did he know that she had not been abducted and killed by some criminals like Salwa Judum?

The judgment is full of such absurdities. Two examples will further illustrate the point. One case is the way he deals with a telephone conversation between Bula Sanyal and Binayak Sen. Bula Sanyal is the sister-in-law of Narayan Sanyal. The judge concluded from this that there was contact between Binayak Sen, the family of Narayan Sanyal and CPI(Maoist) supporters. Narayan Sanyal being a Naxalite the judge inferred that his whole family consisted of supporters of CPI(Maoist). Sen’s conversation with one of the family was sufficient proof that he was also a CPI(Maoist) activist. The contentions of this sort are really asinine.

The judge accepts the police version of Salwa Judum and says that it is not a state organised vigilante squad and is a spontaneous reaction of the tribals against Naxalites. The judgment indicates that “terrorism and oppression of the Naxalites increased so much that it became a question of life and death for the tribals of the area. Such reasons led to the launching of anti-Naxalite Salwa Judum campaign”. The judgment tries to explain what the ‘Salwa Judum’ means. “‘Salwa’ means peace and ‘Judum’ means meeting at one place for some specific purpose”. The judge makes reference to some articles seized from Piyush Guha and states that “they have demonstrated opposition to Salwa Judum and praised People’s Liberation Army and paid homage to the killed Maoist comrades”.

On the basis of such facts and logic, the judgment pronounces that Piyush Guha, Binayak Sen and Narayan Sanyal have committed sedition.

The accused have been punished under Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with sedition. It says that “whoever by words, either spoken or written . . . brings or attempts to bring into hatred, contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life. . . .” A literal adherence to the Section makes every opposition to the government an offence punishable with life imprisonment. The Comptroller and Auditor General’s report states that the Indian state has lost 1.76 lakh crore because of the fraudulent dealings in the allotment of 2-G spectrum. A writ petition pending in the Supreme Court alleges that Rs 70 lakh crore has been deposited abroad to evade tax. These are enormous sums which could have made a difference to the quality of life which the Indian masses lead. Free education and free medical treatment are constitutional mandates. However, they have not been implemented on the plea that there was no money. If one articulates such matters, it naturally brings the government established by law into contempt and hatred and causes disaffection towards the government. It means that the vast majority of people can be prosecuted and jailed under this section. But where do we keep them? The whole country will have to be converted into the prison camp. Is this not an irredeemably absurd idea?

The constitutional validity of the Section 124-A the IPC has been challenged in the Supreme Court and the Court has repeatedly said that the sedition as defined under Section 124-A can be constitutionally tolerated only if the prosecution proves that the statement of the accused has led to violence. The judgment in this case does not even discuss the content of the letters allegedly recovered from Piyush Guha and whether he delivered them to the CPI(Maoist). If he delivered them to the party, the prosecution had to further prove that the letters led to such and such specific incidents of violence. The judgment is absolutely silent on such points. The judgment manifests the misuse and abuse of Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code. A law which is so susceptible to misuse and abuse in raw hands or biased minds should be deleted from the statute book of India, which claims to be the largest democracy in the world.

This judgment is one more symptom of the ideological degeneration of the Indian judicial system. The judgment in the Babri Masjid case resorted to rule of faith in place of rule of law. In this case, the judge says that Piyush Guha has to prove that he was arrested from Mahindra Hotel on 1 May, not on 6 May and the letters were planted on him new through the prima facie evidence was in favour of Guha. The judge shifted the burden of proof to the accused, which violated the basics of the criminal justice system. The judgment indicates that the Indian judiciary is moving backward.

This article was first published in the January 2011 issue of Analytical Monthly Review


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.

Peace March in Chhattisgarh from May 5

Azadi Bachao Andolan

The country is in the midst of a civil war. In the estern part, West Bangal, Odisha, Jharkhand and especially in Chhattisgarh, violence, both by Mioists and by the state, has erupted resulting in heavy loss of life of poor people, especially of adivasis.

People, who believe in peace and non-violence, are facing the question : what can be done right now? (At the present moment, we are not discussing the causes like exploitative, iniquitous model of development etc. which has led the country to the present crisis). Out of the meeting with Gandhians like Amarnath Bhai at Sevagram on April 9 and jurists like Justice PV Savant, scientists like Prof Yash Pal, Dr. P.M. Bhargava, Dr. Vandana Shiva, social activists like Swami Agnivesh during Independent People’s Tribunal in Delhi on April 10 and 11 and the senior journalist Kuldip Nayar, an idea has emerged: 50 persons, who are known in the country for their integrity and who believe in peace and non-violence, should take out a peace march in Chhattisgarh as early as possible. These 50 peace marchers will be joined by others also.

The Peace-March will start form Raipur (Capital of Chhattisgarh) on May 5, 2010.

Peace marchers are requested to reach Raipur by noon of May 5.

The details of Peace March, assembly point in Raipur etc will be communicated soon.

Those, who have already given their consent to participate in the Peace March, include Prof. Yash Pal (Former UGC Chairman), Dr. P.M. Bhargava (famous bioscientist), Narayan Desai (Veteran Gandhian and Chancellor of Gujrat Vidyapeeth), Kuldip Nayar (Senior Journalist), Justice Rajender Sachchar (former chief justice of Delhi High Court), Amarnath Bhai and Lavanam (Veteran Sarvodaya leaders), Ms. Radha Bhatt, President, Gandhi Peace Foundation, Prof Anil Sadgopal (Educationist and President of All India Forum for Right to Education), Arvind Kejariwal (Magsaysay Awardee), Prof. Jagmohan Singh (Historian and Nephew of Bhagat Singh).

Lovers of peace and non violence who want to end civil war in the country and , wish to join Peace March should contact Kuldip Nayar (Ph. 09818309444) e-mail or Dr. Banwari Lal Sharma (0532-2466798, 09235406243) e-mail

CPI leader Manish Kunjam contextualises the Bastar violence

Manish Kunjam, a two-time MLA of the Communist Party of India (CPI), contexualises [the Bastar] violence:

“The area is mostly dominated by people of the Gondi Koya tribes, who rely on forest produce to sustain their livelihood. They sell mahua [a local fruit mostly processed to make liquor], tendu patta [a leaf from which bidis are made] and imli [tamarind] in the market. Historically, these people were exploited by Forest Department officials, forced into unpaid labour, and beaten up at the first sign of resistance. I am a witness to such kind of gruesome exploitation.

“They are very attached to their land, but because those lands came under the control of the state after Independence, the tribal people were suddenly seen as encroachers. This led to a great mess, the brunt of which the people are bearing even today. To add to this, the lands of these people were given away to private miners and local contractors. The naxalites fought against this injustice and became the leaders of the tribes here.

“In a phase where all the mainstream Left parties were concentrating only on workers’ issues and parties such as the Congress and the Jana Sangh [later on, the Bharatiya Janata Party] were party to the exploitation of tribal people in Bastar, the naxalites were the only force that spoke up for them and filled that political vacuum.”

He said even today the government did not have a plan to address the real livelihood issues of the tribal people. The implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, which should have given forest-dwellers their historical right to land, was in disarray, he added. “There was a show of distribution of pattas [land ownership documents] in the beginning but even that is not happening now.”

He pointed to the two major memorandums of understanding (MoUs) that have been signed with the Tatas and Essar Steel, which will permit them to extract minerals here. He said: “The Bastar region has an abundance of minerals such as bauxite, tin and dolomite. Apart from this, it is also rich in timber. Instead of empowering the tribal people and giving them their right to these resources, the government is interested in shipping the resources out. In a place like Bastar, which has seen no development since Independence, a reaction against the state’s forces is bound to happen. The naxalites are just the one force but the problems of the tribal people are real. In this spree of violence, however, the naxalites do not realise that the jawans they killed were also poor people working for a livelihood and not class enemies as such. They only assist the class enemies bound by their duty.”

He felt that the increased deployment of security forces to counter the naxalites was a disguised attempt to enter those villages where Salwa Judum (an anti-Maoist vigilante group, meaning people’s peace movement in the local Gondi language) could not enter. “Every day, we see false encounters and physical torture by the police. In such a case, a villager has no choice but to retaliate either with the Maoists or alone.”

Excerpted from Frontline’s report, “In the war zone” by AJOY ASHIRWAD MAHAPRASHASTA (Volume 27 – Issue 09 : Apr. 24-May. 07, 2010)

Independent People’s Tribunal (Day 1)

Press Release: 9th April, 2010

9th – 11th April, 2010, Constitution Club, New Delhi

Stop structural violence against adivasis

Stop destructive development and restore the faith of the adivasis in the Indian Constitution

The Independent People’s Tribunal on Land Acquisition, Resource Grab and Operation Green Hunt, organized by Citizen’s against Forced Displacement and War on People, kicked-off today to a packed hall, consisting of students, academics, activists and the media. The Independent People’s Tribunal is being held in New Delhi, Constitution Club.

Dr. Vandana Shiva, well-renowned environmental activist presented the inaugural address and spoke about the “urgent need to develop democratic spaces”, such as the IPT. She said “the complex issues related land acquisition, mining and exploitation of the tribals as well as mechanisms of state suppression need to be discussed in a open manner by concerned individuals and intellectuals without the threat of arrest”. Advocate Prashant Bhushan, continuing in a similar vein, referred to the mining mafia that was bleeding the nation of its resources. According to him “rampant mining is displacing adivasis from their lands and leading to the ecological ruin of India’s forest land”. He questioned the logic of undertaking such activity ‘in public interest’ when 80% of the profits were pocketed by private companies, while people were left dispossessed and left to suffer health hazards. Mr. Bhushan then introduce the People’s Jury comprising of Hon’ble (Retd) Justice P. B. Sawant, Justice (Retd) H. Suresh, Dr. V. Mohini Giri, Professor Yash Pal, Dr. P. M. Bhargava and retired IPS officer Dr. K. S. Subramanian. (Jury Bios are attached at the end of the press note). The first session was also addressed by Mr. S P Shukla who spoke about the deep injustice being met out to the tribals and the unfair polarisation of the debate in the media and the state. He said that violence by the Maoists was representative of years of injustice suffered by the poor in these lands and that use of excessive force, clamping down on democratic spaces by arrests and detention of activists like Binayak Sen would only exacerbate the situation. He strongly recommended that the State should engage in widening the discussion on the issue if it wanted to solve it. Dr. B D Sharma, a retired civil servant and ex-chairman of the SC/ST Commission, Bastar spoke about the continuous denial of rights of the tribals by the state – in the form of violations of the Vth Schedule of the Constitution, Panchayati (Extension) to Schedule Areas, Forests Rights Act.

Day 1 of the Independent People’s Tribunal focussed on the current situation in Chhattisgarh. Sudha Bhardwaj, lawyer and labour rights activist, Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha deposed on the intricate nexus between the State and Corporations in expropriating the land for industrial and mining purpose. She deposed on the ground situation in Chhattisgarh where in gross violation of the PESA Act, gram sabhas were being manipulated to take decisions on land use and sale, against collective community decision-making process. According to Sudha the scale of corruption was enormous. The district officials were facilitating the transfer of tribal land, flouting all legal and procedural conduct. She recommended that there should be strict enforcement of the Forest Rights Act and procedures of granting environmental clearances. In all cases, corporate acquisition of tribal land was to be stopped to restore the faith of the tribals in the State. Goldy M George, rights activist in Chhattisgarh also reiterated the corporate land grab and pointed out to the number of secret MOUs that were being signed, without adequate public consultation. Activists in these areas were being targeted by insidious campaigns by the State and corporates. The politics of alienation of the tribals was part of a larger strategy to use the politics of genocide in the game of Power. Harish Dhawan, human rights activist, Peoples Union for Democratic Rights spoke about the terror unleshed by the Salwa Judum and its role in the current operations.

The second part of the session focused on narratives by tribals, from the state of Chhattisgarh. The general narratives were different in details but similar in the pattern – atrocities by the police and Sulwa Judum SPOs; torture, interrogation and illegal detention for being an alleged ‘naxal’ supporter. Lingaram who was tortured and forced to join the Judum spoke about how the Gram Panchayats were mute to the cause of the tribals, and in fact, detrimental to their existence. He questioned the enormous amount of money spent since independence on the ‘welfare plans’ for the tribals and the lack of any progress in this regard. Lamenting on the lack of education and health services, he said that tribals needed development on their terms and not of the kind that was being enforced upon them from all quarters. Himanshu Kumar, Gandhian activist, spoke about the advisory, legal and rehabilitation support provided by the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram to the tribals and the consequent attempts by the state to squash the same by terrorizing villagers. Dr. Binayak Sen, offered a different perspective on structural violence that is embedded in the treatment meted out to the tribals. According to him, statistics on malnutrition revealed a severe hunger crisis and are emblematic of the neglect that these regions had been subjected to for long. He derided the state for using the development rhetoric when masses were dying of hunger and malaria.

The Independent People’s Tribunal will continue from 9th – 11th April, 2010, at the Constitution Club, New Delhi. This is organized by a collective of civil society groups, social movements, activists, academics and concerned citizens in the country.

For more information, please contact: Sherbanu (9953466107); Purnima 9711178868

PUDR Press Statement on the death of jawans in Chhattisgarh

6 April 2010

Peoples Union for Democratic Rights believes that the death of 70 jawans in Dantewada on early hours of April 6th, 2010, is an unfortunate fallout of the government’s willful policy of pursuing ‘Operation Greenhunt’. We consider the war against the so called “Left Wing Extremists”, as a wrong policy at a time when the country has been reeling under unprecedented drought, crop failure and price rise. We have been urging the Indian government that war at home against our own people, under any pretext, should be ruled out as an option, for once and for all, and the issues arising out of tribal people’s opposition to MOU’s signed by the state governments with mining and other industrial conglomerates and the consequent land grab, forest displacement, river water privatization needs to be resolved peacefully rather than imposed on the people against their will. On either side of the divide it is our own people who fall victim to the bullets.

Since war remains the preferred option of the Indian government they have no one else but themselves to blame if and when combatants die. We wish to remind them that security forces were returning from three day long operations when the ambush took place. As civil rights organization we neither condemn the killing of security force combatants nor that of the Maoists combatants, or for that matter any other combatants, when it occurs. We can only lament the folly of the Indian government which lacks the courage and imagination to pursue a non militaristic approach which is pushing us towards a bloody and dirty war.

Moushumi Basu and Asish Gupta
(Secretaries PUDR)

Stop war against an alternative model of development

Stop War Against the People
What the State Wants to Destroy is the Alternate Development Model
An Appeal to Thinkers, Intellectuals, Artistes, and Writers

Satnam & Buta Singh
Forum Against War on People (Punjab)

Dear Friends,

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.

In fact the natives of these jungles have been living there for thousands of years and have protected these forests as they ensure life to them and is their only source of livelihood for survival. These tribals are the most poor and wretched in our land. Popularly called adivasis, they are the oldest inhabitants of our country, still living in an ancient age. For thousands of years they have lived an archaic life. In all these years, no one has been able to subjugate them. The British Empire tried to do this in 1910 but their marauding armies were repulsed and forced to beat a retreat. The resistance of the tribal people against the British forces was led by the great warrior Gundadhur. This is popularly known as the Bhoomkal Baghawat. Earlier, they had fought the British under the leadership of Birsa Munda in the famous Munda Rebellion in the nineteenth century.

Since then, no regime has dared to attack and attempt to subjugate them, whether they were the British or the post-British rulers sitting at Delhi. They have remained a free people all along, with their own culture, customs and a unique way of life. The central and state governments have been exploiting their forests and mineral and metal resources at an unbridled pace but have never done anything to provide them with basic requirements like drinking water, education, medical facilities etc. The loot of their resources has been enormous, to the tune of billions of rupees every year, with all the money going to the industrialists, bureaucrats, politicians, contractors and the police. All this was going on smoothly, till the the tribals awakened to their rampant exploitation and inhuman oppression and took to the path of resistance. This resistance has been characteristic of their traditions and in accordance with their nature as an independent people. Their struggle is to put an end to this onslaught which has made their life, hell like. That is why they identified with the ideology of revolutionary Marxism which promises a world free of loot, exploitation and oppression. That is why they found common cause with the revolutionary Maoist rebels, who want to put a stop to every kind of exploitation and tyranny and build an egalitarian, humane society, free of any kind of discrimination.

Of course, as is well known by now, they are living on lands which are blessed with the richest minerals, metals and other natural resources like iron, coal, bauxite, manganese, gold, diamonds, uranium etc. The Indian state has never considered that tribals have a right to their land and jungles, and have constantly tried to usurp them in various ways. The State wants to further intensify this exploitation now, and has invited the foreign imperialist companies and Indian big industrial houses and their collaborations, to set up new projects on these lands. The Indian government has signed Memorandums of Understanding to the tune of lakhs of crores of rupees with the foreign and Indian industrial houses for this purpose. The contents of these MOU’s are secret and confidential and people have no access to them! The current offensive of the Indian state is to wrest back these areas from the control of these people and hand it over to these Companies. All this is being done in the name of development. But this development in fact is in no way the development of the material conditions of the life of the tribals and the people living around these areas. This is amply demonstrated in the earlier projects like Bailladilla, Balco, Bokaro, Bhilai, Jaduguda and numerous others.

Quite recently we have seen the people of Nandigram, Singur, Kashipur, Kalinga Nagar, Lalgarh, Pullavaram, Tehri and Narmada Project areas resisting the setting up of car factories, dams, huge mining pit centers, SEZ’s and other projects which have nothing to do with the development and well-being of the masses of ordinary toiling and poor in these areas or in the country elsewhere. It is meant to enrich the already handful of rich, who live a parasitic life, or to fill the coffers of foreign imperialist capitalists whose only religion is to loot, plunder and exploit. The people here have struggled and fought against the state for their rights over their lands and against the capitalist sharks on whose bidding the government acts.

The government has deployed lakhs of armed forces to destroy the resistance of the people, especially at places where it is strong and formidable and hampers the capitalists from acquiring resource rich lands. When government says it wants to take back the areas controlled by Maoists, in fact, it wants to smash the resistance of the people and snatch their lands to offer these to the mining giants, industrialists and super rich businessmen. Maoism is nothing but the rebellion of the people against injustice, notwithstanding whether the government calls them terrorists or whatever. Millions of people in these regions identify themselves with the cause of the Maoists and when millions become a movement for a just cause, they can’t be called terrorists.

The state admits that there are 223 districts out of a total of 600 where Maoists are active. This means that there are 223 districts where the people espouse this ideology and want an end to exploitation. That lakhs are support this resistance or are up in arms. That it has become a people’s movement. And what of the people in the remaining districts? Are there not workers, peasants, students, employees, petty shopkeepers and toiling masses who have no stake in this system, want a change for the better, and have the same dreams? If the 223 are up against injustice and the rest have the same aspirations then the state loses the right to use the invective of terrorism.

What the Indian state wants to destroy is not just the Maoists, but the aspirations of millions upon millions in this country, the dreams of every oppressed Indian.

It is using the media and all the propaganda machinery available, to denigrate and destroy this. To destroy the resistance of the down-trodden, their movement for change, which is the only thing that can bring them real happiness, in this wretched land of ours called Hindustan. This land, of the hungry. Of the exploited. Of the peasant who commits suicide. Of the youth facing a bleak future. Of the worker who is being laid off and kicked out of the factories. Of the employees of the organized sector who are losing all the rights gained over the years when their jobs are being contractualised. Of the government employees who have been booted out with a few crumbs in the name of VRS or Golden Handshake. Of the petty shop keepers and traders, whose enterprises are being gobbled up by the malls and the SEZs. This is the land crying for justice.

If Maoists are branded by the Prime Minister as the biggest internal threat to the country, then the rulers must think about what they have given to the people in the last 62 years of independence. Why have things come to such a pass? They have been ruling and organizing society and have utterly failed in the six long decades that they have been at the helm. The present state of affairs is their doing. Not that of the Maoists. Their development strategies have backfired and that can’t be blamed on the resisting people and the Maoists. The Maoists have come into the picture only recently, but what has the state been doing about the promises it made to the people at the time of independence? Where has the promise of a Tryst with Destiny vanished? The promise sworn by Jawaharlal Nehru from the ramparts of Lal Quila on the midnight of 14-15 August 1947? People are not to be blamed for that promise not being kept, nor are the Maoists.

So now, Operation Green Hunt is not being executed just because the government wants to wipe out the Maoists in an all out war, in the name of fighting terrorism. It is their attempt to annihilate the yearning of the people, their struggles, their resistance, their resolve for a better life, whether they are led by the Maoists or not. And when the tribal heartland refuses to cow down before such an attack, it deserves admiration. The state intends to bring in the might of the Air Force against its own people. This is the result of the 60 years of misrule and the anti-people policies, they have been imposing. The people have never given them a mandate to carry out these policies. Over these years they have only opposed these policies through petitions, protests, strikes, sit-ins, struggles, resistance and also through hunger strikes and work to rule agitations. And god knows how many times the so-called people’s democratic state has fired on the protesters. How many times they have killed people. How many millions they have cane-charged and how many millions they have put into jails, not to speak of the thousands of custodial deaths and mass scale encounter killings. They never stopped the repression. All these decades, rather than listen to the grievances of the people, this state, which swears by the non-violence of MK Gandhi, has been resorting to never-ending violence. Like a mafia. Yet, the resistance continued and revolts grew.

And now it has created the borders within, against its own countrymen.

The current attack on the poor in central India is nothing but an enhanced and more deadly version of the same state violence that has continued since 1947. It is meant to break the fight back of the people there, the fight of the poorest of the poor, of the tribal peasants, and workers working in the mines. It is meant to tell others everywhere in the country, not to stand up for their rights, not to oppose the policies of the state though they go against the interests of the people and the country.

The centre of resistance is being encircled not just to break it, but also to destroy the new things which the people have created during the course of their struggles and which they have toiled hard to build. The government has started a vilification campaign against those who refuse to budge, who refuse to kowtow and who refuse to be further misled by the never ending empty promises of development and progress. They know that this development is not for them. For a government which has discarded the ideal of a welfare state can’t genuinely embark on a thing which it has abandoned at the behest of imperialist capital, the World Bank and the WTO.

The people under attack have built their own local government, the Jantana Sarkar, at various levels, taking their future into their own hands, for a real tryst with destiny.

Let us have a look in brief, at what the people have built through their Development Committees in the villages in Dandakarnya, and what the State wants to destroy. It will give us a glimpse of what the Maoists hold as a vision for the progress and development of our country – development which is indigenously and self reliantly built, one which is people oriented and is constructed in the course of the people’s democratic participation, and one which cares for this land and its resources. Such development which will free us from the stranglehold of imperialist capital and its dictates. A course of action which can only be executed by the truly patriotic.

* The biggest reform undertaken is that of land. They have distributed lakhs of acres of land among every peasant household. And no one is allowed to keep more land than one can till. Thus doing away with unnecessary hiring of labour in agriculture. Even the Patels who used to oppress people and fleece them through unpaid labour have been allowed to retain land they can manage with their family’s labour. No non-tribals are allowed to own land there.

* Women are also given property rights over land.

* They have developed agriculture from the primitive form of shifting every one or two years, to systematic settled farming. They were taught to sow, weed and harvest the crops. They cultivate both their own private lands as well as co-operative fields for community use. The development of agriculture is being done without using chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

* They have introduced a wide range of vegetables like carrot, radish, brinjal, bitter gourd, okra, tomato etc., which the tribals of remote areas had never seen or tasted.

* They have planted orchards of bananas, citrus fruits, mangoes, guavas etc.

* They have built dams, ponds, and water channels for breeding fish and for the purpose of irrigation. All this has been done through collective labour and the produce is distributed free to every household.

* They have dug wells for safe drinking water.

The industrial projects have destroyed underground water resources, and streams have been polluted to such an extent, that the fish and water life have died as also the vegetation around it. Many fruit trees have stopped flowering around these water resources.

* They have set up rice mills in a number of villages. These mills have freed women from the daily pounding of paddy for extracting grain. Many of these mills have been destroyed by Salwa Judum which was launched by the government, which talks so much about development in these areas.

* They have built a health care system which reaches every tribal peasant in every village. Each village has a Medicine Unit which has been trained to identify diseases and distribute medicines to the villagers. The health of the tribals rates only second in priority to the fight against exploitation and oppression.

* The women participate equally in these developmental activities. Special attention is paid to the issue of patriarchy and that is why they come forward equally to defend their rights and lands.

* They run schools.

The schools built by the government are completely non-functional and are usually used by the police and paramilitary forces when they raid villages. That is one reason the people pull down these pucca structures which have become symbols of repression.

* They have published books and magazines in the Gondi language. As a result, it is for the first time that this language has found a place in the written world. Songs, articles and anecdotes written by the Gond people are published in the magazines brought out by the movement. These are the initial steps to develop this ancient language which has been neglected, just as the people have been. Though there is no existing script in Gondi, they use devnagri script.

* The remunerative prices for Tendu leaf collection and wages for the cutting of bamboo and timber is fixed by the Maoist movement taking into consideration the interests of the tribals.

* Trade in the movement area goes on without hindrance. The traders are not allowed to cheat the tribals in haat bazaars. The movement announces remunerative prices for the jungle produce and paddy which the traders agree to. The presence of guerrillas ensures fair trade practices. On the other hand, the traders feel happy that there is no danger of theft or robberies in the movement controlled areas and they can move about there, freely.

* They have their own justice system. People’s Courts are held to settle various disputes among the people, as well as with the oppressors.

* Theft, robbery, cheatings, murders for property and personal gains have vanished.

* Sexual harassment and rape by the forest department, the contractors and the police has become a thing of the past. Now the women walk freely in the jungle whether it is day or night.

* Democratic functioning has been introduced at the village level onwards. The Gram Rajya Committees (now called Revolutionary Peoples Committees) function at the head of various committees like Development Committees which look after agriculture, fish farming, education, village development, Medicine Units etc.

* The women and children have their own organizations in almost every village. The tribal peasants have their separate organization, with units in every village.

* Almost every village has units of People’s Militia which take up the responsibility of defense of the village.

* Cultural organizations thrive in these jungles as the tribals have great affinity for cultural activities. These organizations propagate through songs, dances, plays and other art forms, on all the issues whether local, national or international.

* The movement has been able to prevent starvation deaths in its areas.

Salwa Judum – the Privatization of State Violence

Salwa Judum was a terror campaign launched by the government, where the police recruited tribal youth at Rs.1500 per month as Special Police Officers (SPOs). The SPOs were given arms and let loose on the villagers in the movement areas. They burned, killed, raped and forced people to flee their homes, with the help of paramilitary forces and specially trained Naga Battalions standing guard.

Salwa Judum restricted and destroyed trade in these areas by closing down the haat bazaars and trying to demolish their economy to force the tribals into submission. From 2005-07, this went on for two years They destroyed standing and harvested crops, burned or poisoned the grain and other jungle produce kept by the tribals for exchange in the haat bazaars to procure other essentials of life. Even all this could not force the tribals to submit. Rather than surrender, they lived on bamboo seeds.

The bloody campaign of Salwa Judum killed hundreds of tribals, burned hundreds of villages, raped hundreds of women, forcing about 50,000 tribals to live in enclosures called relief camps, set up by the police, which the tribals ultimately fled. This campaign forced about 30,000 people to flee their villages for other provinces. Lakhs of people were forced to leave their homes and to roam in the interiors of the jungles. In fact the government tried to destroy their whole economy and sources of livelihood even threatening to poison open water sources in the forests.

But the resistance continued. It could not be broken.

And Now

Bitter with its failure to make the people yield to them, the government has now embarked upon Operation Green Hunt, a military campaign with nearly one lakh personnel. Under various pretexts, the Indian Air Force is weighing its wings to swoop down on the forests, in spite of promises to the contrary by the Prime Minister.

We have been told that Maoists are the biggest internal threat to the country. Who are these Maoists? They are just the people themselves who have taken to the path of resistance, to struggle against the various Indian governments, who one after the other, do not allow them a life of dignity or one of peace. The state is attacking its own people threatening to wipe them out, if they don’t vacate the lands they have lived on for centuries. And we know about the term collateral damage – the killing of the civilian population in a war. Salwa Judum killed the people without a declared war, now they intend to kill on a much huger scale. They want to break the back of resistance by killing people. They want to hand over the resource rich lands of the tribals to the greedy foreign capitalist lords. They want to destroy the alternate development what the people have created with their enormous toil and persistent struggles.

Let us think. Let us awake. Let us spread the word. Let us awaken the people everywhere else. Let us raise our voice against injustice. Let us tell the government that it must stop this war against its own people and instead listen to them, respect their aspirations and attend to their demands.

This is an unjust war which the government has declared on its own people. It must stop.

Signed (up to November 24th) by:
1. Gursharan Singh, Dramatist-Activist, Punjab
2. Prof. Bawa Singh, Guru Sar Sudhar College, Sudhar, Ludhiana
3. Jaswant Kailvi, Ghazalgo, Writer, Ferozepur
4. Baru Satwarg, Novelist-Activist, Rampuraphul, Bathinda
5. Dr. Baldev Singh, Deptt. of Economics, Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa College, Delhi
6. Jaspal Singh Sidhu, Veteran Journalist (Presently Media Consultant with Punjabi University, Patiala)
7. Samual John, Director Peoples’ Theatre, Lehra Gaga, Sangrur
8. Jatinder Mauhar, Film Director, Mohali
9. Megh Raj Mitter (Shiromani Lekhak), Barnala, Punjab
10. Dr. Mohan Tyagi, Poet, B.N. Khalsa Senior Sec. School, Patiala
11. Master Des Raj Chhajli, Lok Kala Manch Chhajli, Lehra Gaga, Sangrur
12. Jagdish Papra, Writer, Lehra Gaga, Sangrur
13. Narinder Nath Sharma, Advocate, Patiala
14. Dr. Tejwant Mann, Literary Critic, Sangrur
15. Prof, Harbhajan Singh, Writer, USA
16. Yadwinder Kurfew, TV Journalist, Delhi
17. Harbans Heon, Writer, Banga, Nawanshahr
18. Ajmer Sidhu, Writer, Nawanshahr
19. Gurmit Juj, Poet, Singer, Krantikari Sabhayachar Kendar, Punjab
20. Balbir Chohla, Activist-Journalist, Taran Taran
21. Prof. Bhupinder Singh (retd), Sociology, Punjabi University, Patiala
22. Satnam, Writer-Freelance Journalist, Patiala
23. Buta Singh, Publisher, Baba Bujha Singh Prakashan, Banga, Nawanshahr
24. Jasdeep, Software Engineer, Delhi
25. Harpreet Rathore, TV Journalist, Delhi
26. Veer Singh, Research Scholar, JNU
27. Narbhinder, Activist-Writer, Sirsa
28. Karam Barsat, Columnist, Sangrur
29. Sukirat, Journalist-Writer, Jalandhar
30. Makhan Singh Namol, Advocate, Sangrur
31. Davinderpal, TV Journalist, Delhi
32. Partap Virk, TV Journalist, Delhi
33. Dr. Bhim Inder Singh, Lecturer, Punjabi University, Patiala
34. Jasvir Deep, Journalist and Social Activist, Nawanshahr
35. Paramjit Dehal, Poet & Literary Activist, Nawanshehar
36. Prof. Jagmohan Singh, Democratic Rights Activist, Ludhiana
37. Dr. Gurjant Singh, Punjabi University, Patiala.
38. Iqbal Kaur Udaasi, Progressive Singer-Activist, Barnala
39. Balvir Parwana, Editor Sunday Magazine, Nawa Zamana, Jalandhar
40. Jugraj Dhaula, Poet-Singer, Barnala
41. Dr. Ajit Pal, Writer-Activist, Bathinda
42. Rajinder Rahi, Writer, Barnala
43. Bhupinder Waraich, State President, Democratic Teachers’ Front, Punjab
44. Didar Shetra, Poet, Nawanshahr
45. Baldev Balli, Poet, Nawanshahr
46. Jagsir Jeeda, Lyricist-Singer, Giderbaha, Bathinda
47. Hakem Singh Noor, Poet-Activist, Barnala
48. Charanjeet Singh Teja, Freelance Journalist, Amritsar
49. Attarjit, Short Story Writer, Bathinda
50. Rajeev Lohatbaddi, Advocate, Patiala
51. Harvinder Deewana, Chetna Kala Kender, Barnala
52. Balwinder Kotbhara, Writer-Journalist, Bathinda
53. B.R.P. Bhaskar, Journalist, Thiruvananthapuram
54. S.S. Azaad, Writer, Mansa
55. Sadhu Binning, Writer, Vancouver, BC, Canada
56. Hiren Gandhi, Ahmedabad
57. Vijay Bombeli, Feature writer, Hoshiarpur
58. Paramjeet Singh Khatra, Advocate, Nawan Shehar
59. Daljeet Singh, Advocate, Nawan Shehar
60. Baldev Singh, Advocate, District Courts Patiala
61. Paramjit Kahma, Doaba Sahit Ate Sabhiachar Sabha, Jejon (Hoshiarpur)
62. Dr. Ramesh Bali, Nawanshehar, Activist
63. Puneet Sehgal, programme executive, DoorDarshan, Jalandhar
64. Harkesh Chaudhry & Other Artists, Lok Kala Manch, Mandi MulanPur, (Ldh)
65. Prof. Ajmer Singh Aulakh. Dramatist, Mansa
66. Dr. Maninder Kang, Writer, Jalandhar
67. Charanjit Bhullar, Journalist, Bathinda
68. Dr. Anand Teltumbde, Human Rights Activist and wirter, Mumbai
69. Dr. Puneet, Patiala
70. Taskeen, Critic, Kapurthala
71. Chanda Asani, social researcher and activist, Mumbai
72. Sanjay Joshi, convener, THE GROUP, film group of Jan Sanskriti Manch
73. Alok Kaushik, Photographer, Delhi
74. Nisha Biswas, Kolkata
75. Ravinder Goel, Associate Professor, Delhi University
76. Saroop Dhruv, Poet, Ahmedabad
77. Shamsul Islam & Neelima Sharma (Nishant Natya Manch), Delhi
78. Manu Kant, Journalist, Online Media, Chandigarh
79. Dr. Pyare Mohan Sharma, Retd. Professor, Medical College, Patiala
80. N K Jeet, Advocate, Bathinda
81. Mejar Singh, Senior Journalist, Jalandhar
82. Ram Sarup Ankhi, Punjabi Novelist, Barnala
83. Manmohan Bawa, Sharomani Punjabi writer, New Delhi
84. Dr. Krantipal, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh
85. Balwinder Singh Barnala, Tarksheel Society Punjab, Barnala
86. Jasvir Singh Rana, Punjabi Writer, Amargarh (Distt. Sangrur)
87. Neel Kamal, Journalist, Barnala
88. Narain Dutt, President, Inqulabi Kender Punjab, Barnala

Support Us:
Add your Name, Occupation and City, in comments , to Support Us
For detail of update list, please see:
Contact: Satnam: 98727-13759,
Buta Singh: 94634-74342,

Press Release: Women activists not allowed to enter Dantewada

Campaign against Sexual Violence and State Repression

On 12-13 December, 2009, about 120 people from numerous women’s and democratic organisations representing 10 states participated in the Campaign against Sexual Violence and State Repression meeting held at Raipur, Chhattisgarh. On 13th evening a representative group of 39 members set out from Raipur to Dantewada to extend support and solidarity to the adivasi women who had filed complaints before the NHRC and also filed private complaints of rape and sexual assault and are pursuing these valiantly.

The groups set out in 4 vehicles at around 10 p.m. The team was stopped at Charama Police Station, Kanker, at around 12.30 p.m. by D.S.P. Neg and his juniors; personal details were recorded while the drivers were whisked away separately inside the thana. Team members were forbidden to accompany the drivers and threats of ‘goli mar denge’ were repeatedly called out to us. Under the guise of interrogation the drivers were threatened with grave danger if they proceeded with us. Police confiscated one of our vehicles and forbid one driver from driving on allegations of improper documentation. The police finally allowed 3 vehicles to proceed to Makdi tola, the next junction, to procure a replacement vehicle for further journey. This entire episode lasted for about 2 hours.

After a twenty minute journey, the team was again stopped at Makdi on the grounds that the documents acceptable at Charama were now improper. Meanwhile our drivers succumbed to fear of further police action and refused to drive us further; we had also been followed by police in plain clothes. Around 3 a.m. the team somehow managed to board two buses going to Jagdalpur. These two buses were again stopped for passenger identification- first at Keshkal and then at Farusgaon; individual details noted were again noted each time and the halts were prolonged.

After a drive of 2 hours, the 2 buses were again stopped at Kondagaon police station; personal details were noted yet again. The passengers and driver were informed by policeman Awdhesh Jha that the buses would be allowed to proceed on condition that they offloaded the 39 passengers who had boarded at Makdi. Around 6 a.m., we were forced to disembark and wait at Kondagaon police station for the S.P. Khan M. Khan. DSP Vishwaranjan, when contacted by one of our team members, claimed lack of knowledge of our detention and promised to respond after finding the reason. Not only did he not call back but he did not take our further calls. S.P Khan, after he finally arrived at about 8 a.m., claimed that we’d been offloaded for our own protection. He also informed us that 4-5000 people were blocking the roads at Korenar and Dantewada in anticipation of our arrival. On further probing he claimed that we were free to leave and he would facilitate our travel to Dantewada with private vehicles.

We decided, however, to take public transport to Jagdalpur from the Kondagaon bus stand, primarily to consult with SP at Jagdalpur to assess the situation before further travel. Not surprisingly, the bus drivers at this bus-stand refused to take us; they claimed that they had been warned by the police. By this time the atmosphere was getting increasingly intimidating and oppressive as lots of motorcycles with youth cruised in front of us. Two trucks full of armed security personnel unloaded in front of us.

By this time many of our members had begun the process of contacting friends across the country and media both from Kondagaon and from Jagdalpur began arriving at the Kondagaon bus-stand. The team now began interacting with members of the public and press. We answered their queries and experienced no hostility; some of the local press narrated that the police were all-powerful in each locality and were instrumental in the suppression of free speech.

Given that we were unable to proceed to Jagdalpur, at around 10.30 we decided to return to Raipur by bus. This time though, our bus was met at Kanker bus stand by 10-15 men who initially blocked the entrance with placards, shouted anti-naxal slogans to intimidate us, and our co-passengers. As the bus left the bus-stand it was brought to a halt in the middle of the market; we again had men at the windows shouting at us. A man claiming to be a Haribhoomi journalist deflated a tyre; while it was being replaced two men boarded and shot us on camera at close quarters. We proceeded towards Raipur at about 11.45 a.m.

What we witnessed today has convinced us that all the reports of rampant violence, especially against women and their families could well be true. The state appears to be trying to hide the heinous crimes committed in this region by not letting independent teams enter the region and by the way it has tried to curb people’s efforts to reach there. It is disturbing to imagine what would be the situation inside the zone for women and for people’s movements and organisations.

The recent situation in Narayanpatna in bordering Orissa has also been similar where a fact-finding team of 10 women from across the country investigating allegations of molestation were bullied, intimated and roughed-up; their vehicle’s glass was broken and the driver was rounded up by the police at the behest of local liquor mafia, landlords and mining companies.

We hold the state responsible for our diminishing democratic spaces and demand an independent inquiry into this matter.

We further demand that people’s organisations have free and safe entry into these militarized areas for independent inquiry.

The Campaign is not deterred by the state’s efforts to subsume and threaten democratic rights groups and activists reporting state atrocities against women with the label of “naxalite” and “naxalite-supporters” and “undertaking anti-government activities”. Unquestioned, the state’s use of sexual violence as a method of repression would remain uncovered and increase. If justice is to be served, we – individuals, organisations and various sectors of civil society including the media- should join hands in protesting against state repression.

Women against Sexual violence and State Repression as currently represented by: AIPWA, AISA (Delhi), Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan, Chhatisgarh Mukti Morcha (Chhatisgarh), CAVOW, Dalit Stree Shakti (Andhra Pradesh), HRLN (Madhya Pradesh), Human Rights Alert (Manipur), IRMA (Manipur), IWID, Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (Madhya Pradesh), Kashipur Solidarity (Delhi), Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch (Madhya Pradesh), Nari Mukti Sanstha (Delhi), Navsarjan (Gujarat), NBA (Madhya Pradesh), Pratidhwani (Delhi), PUCL (Karnataka), Saheli (Delhi), Sahmet (Madhya Pradesh), Samajwadi Jan Parishad (Madhya Pradesh), Sangini (Madhya Pradesh), Vanangana (Uttar Pradesh), Vidyarthi Yuvjan Sabha, Women’s Right Resource Center (Madhya Pradesh), Yuva Samvaad (Madhya Pradesh), Stree Adhikar Sanghatan (Uttar Pradesh), and individuals.