Guest post by NANDINI SUNDAR
Last weekend, I attended a wonderful rally by the Adivasi Mahasabha in Raipur – some 10-15 busloads of people came from Dantewada and Bastar alone, while large numbers came from other parts of Chhattisgarh and even other states like Maharashtra, Orissa and West Bengal. The procession was flagged off by Dhurwa dancers while the rear end was brought up by Marias with their large dhols and bison horns. In between were thousands of militant marchers shouting slogans against militarization, demanding peace talks, the release of their arrested leaders, the implementation of the Supreme Court judgement on Salwa Judum, and all their constitutional rights with respect to land, forest and water. These were men and women who had lost everything to arson and loot by Salwa Judum, who had been interned in camps but managed to return home and pick up their ploughs again, who face the daily threat of arrests, beatings and encounters by the security forces, who have to negotiate with the Maoists everytime they wanted to access panchayat funds, who live a life on the razor edge of survival. And yet here they were, laughing, cheering and vowing to fight till the last breath, fight for their constitutional rights and in a constitutional way.
This remarkable struggle has been waged, not just over one weekend, but over years. Indeed, the Salwa Judum leaders themselves credit the CPI with the destruction of their movement – both through mass actions and through legal means.