Anj -- Indian and international intellectuals issue Statement against Government of India's plan
Indian and international intellectuals issue Statement against Government of India's plan
by From A World to Win News Service
Tuesday Nov 3rd, 2009 3:47 AM
Indian and international intellectuals issue "Statement against Government of India's planned military offensive in adivasi-populated regions"
October 19, 2009. A World to Win News Service. The Indian government has announced that it is preparing a large-scale military offensive against areas in eastern and central India where adivasi (tribal) people and others have risen up under the leadership of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). Sanhati (http://www.sanhati.com), which describes itself as "a collective of activists/academics who have been working in solidarity with peoples' movements in India by providing information and analysis," drafted and circulated the following statement signed by many prominent Indian and international intellectuals demanding that the government offensive not take place. Dated October 12, the statement (and background note) reflects the views of that 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 U.S. counter-insurgency agencies.
To Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, Government of India, South Block, Raisina Hill, New Delhi, India-110 011.
We are deeply concerned by the Indian government's plans for launching an unprecedented military offensive by army and paramilitary forces in the adivasi (indigenous people)-populated regions of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Orissa and West Bengal states. The stated objective of the offensive is to "liberate" these areas from the influence of Maoist rebels. Such a military campaign will endanger the lives and livelihoods of millions of the poorest people living in those areas, resulting in massive displacement, destitution and human rights violation of ordinary citizens.
To hunt down the poorest of Indian citizens in the name of trying to curb the shadow of an insurgency is both counter-productive and vicious. The ongoing campaigns by paramilitary forces, buttressed by anti-rebel militias, organized and funded by government agencies, have already created a civil war like situation in some parts of Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, with hundreds killed and thousands displaced. The proposed armed offensive will not only aggravate the poverty, hunger, humiliation and insecurity of the adivasi people, but also spread it over a larger region.
Grinding poverty and abysmal living conditions that has been the lot of India's adivasi population has been complemented by increasing state violence since the neoliberal turn in the policy framework of the Indian state in the early 1990s. Whatever little access the poor had to forests, land, rivers, common pastures, village tanks and other common property resources has come under increasing attack by the Indian state in the guise of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and other "development" projects related to mining, industrial development, Information Technology parks, etc.
The geographical terrain, where the government's military offensive is planned to be carried out, is very rich in natural resources like minerals, forest wealth and water, and has been the target of large scale appropriation by several corporations. The desperate resistance of the local indigenous people against their displacement and dispossession has in many cases prevented the government-backed corporations from making inroads into these areas.