Himanshu Kumar is a Gandhian activist who, together with his wife, ran the Vanvasi Chetana Ashram in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh for 22 years. He learned the local adivasi language (Gondi) and worked through the Ashram to help adivasis access their rights under the law. Starting in 2005, during the murderous Salwa Judum campaigns of vigilante groups against the adivasis of Bastar in Chhattisgarh, Himanshu worked to try to get villagers back to their homes, get people falsely accused out of jail, and win justice for the victims of police and vigilante crimes. His Ashram was eventually bulldozed and he was forced to move to Delhi, from where he continues to try to follow up with legal cases on the state’s treatment of the adivasis. JUSTIN PODUR interviewed him there in February 2013.
[We are posting below a statement issued by some of us on the Maoist threats and intimidation in Chhattisgarh and its most recent manifestation in relation to the human shields programme of the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram. It is a distressing but undeniable fact that, by and large, the civil liberties and democratic rights movement has fought shy of condemning Maoist violence. This is a matter of deep concern as the absolutely undefensible, nihilistic violence perpetrated by the Maoists violates all tenets of the great revolutions of the twentieth century that they themselves swear by. Despite their subsequent degeneration (after coming to power), neither the Chinese revolution nor the Vietnamese (the Russian, of course happened without a single shot being fired) made a cult of violence. Never, in any case, did they use violence against defenseless civilians. In fact, revolutionaries have been known to court defeat and annihilation, rather than kill ordinary people – whenever they were presented with the choice between the two. The perverse cult that targets ordinary, unarmed civilians simply in order to have its way can only be seen as, to say the least, a kind of Left-wing Fascism. – AN]
We, the undersigned, are distressed to learn that a peaceful movement in the conflict-ridden Dantewada district, Chhattisgarh to help villagers return to their land has been disrupted by the Communist Party of India (Maoist). The villagers had been displaced earlier by the state-sponsored Salwa Judum campaign that began in 2005 and has resulted in horrific violence against ordinary villagers in the area. Continue reading Maoist disruption of the non-violent Human Shields movement in Chhattisgarh→