War and the Lightness of Being Adivasi – Security camps and villages in Bijapur, Chhattisgarh: PUDR

Report produced by PEOPLE’S UNION FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS

Between December 26th and 31st 2014, a PUDR fact-finding team visited 9 villages of Bijapur district, Chhattisgarh to ascertain reports of arrests, intimidation and harassment, including sexual abuse by security forces who are stationed there to fight the Maoists. Predominantly Adivasi villages, the residents of Basaguda, Kottaguda, Pusbaka, Lingagiri, Rajpeta, Timmapur, Kottagudem, Korsaguda and Sarkeguda, narrated the daily acts of violence and violations committed by armed personnel residing in security camps. Apart from documenting the continuance of ‘area domination’ by the security forces, the report draws particular attention to:

  1. The large number of ‘permanent warrants’ issued against the populace, of which a significant number is declared as ‘absconders’. A rough estimate indicates that as many as 15-35,000 people live under the threat and fear of these warrants in Bijapur alone.
  2. The lawless conduct of the armed personnel and Special Police Officers (SPOs) who routinely raid, beat, loot, detain and compel the Adivasi villagers to perform ‘begar’ (free labour) at the security camps. Instances of sexual torture were also noted.
  3. The impossibility of lodging FIRs against the security forces as against the rising number of arrests of villagers who languish in jails. Continue reading “War and the Lightness of Being Adivasi – Security camps and villages in Bijapur, Chhattisgarh: PUDR”

Murdering Democracy in Kerala : the Latest

Secularism and socialism can be thrown out, so says the Hindutvavadi. Among those who protested against this suggestion were, of course, the Congress. But then, increasingly, many of us who live in  Congress-ruled Kerala are unable to tell the Congress from the BJP as they have thrown out not just secularism and socialism but even minimal forms of liberalism. For our rulers seem as adamant as the BJP in forcing down our throats at least a softer version of Hindutva, reinforced with protection to shameless plunder of public resources and repressive police measures. Now young people and activists in Kerala, many of who were active in many protests including the Kiss Protests, are being pursued and hounded by the police. Apparently, a few people who participated in the latest edition of the Kiss Protests, the Lovefest, were hounded by the police for having been seen in the vicinity of a police station repeatedly! The most convenient excuse is pursuing the Maoists, a fear that is easily excited in our fattened and lazy middle classes. By the way, I am actively considering saving some money by ending my subscriptions to newspapers. In fact it is not being on FB which makes me feel out of touch with the world these days. Two leading human rights activists, Thushar Sarathy and Jaison Cooper, have been arrested and the papers are busy covering that shameful and utterly criminal waste of our common resources, the opening ceremony of the National games.

I am not surprised at all, having been an observer of local politics. In Kerala, after the Left-Right differences in politics came to an end, what we have seen is the transformation of our politics into a neofeudal space inhabited by powerful male leaders and their craven followers vying for power. Because the discourse of social development still lingers and the oppositional civil society has not yet given up, entry of predatory capital from national or global sources has not been easy. However, a whole generation of NRI — Malayali –capitalists based in the Gulf countries who essentially manage the wealth of the rulers there have been able to enter Kerala unimpeded.It is this group which is increasingly taking over our resources in overt and covert ways, legally and illegally. These capitalists themselves are interesting — their transnational belonging needs to be studied. They have apparently managed to become part of the non-democratic political systems in the Gulf countries, entering the lower levels of the court there, as juniors who help manage the rulers’ wealth. And from that position of strength, they now work to systematically undermine everything that Malayalis hold dear : our welfarist democracy, social development achievements, our rich ecology. Continue reading “Murdering Democracy in Kerala : the Latest”

Creeping Dictatorship: Concerns from Kerala

Guest post by THUSHAR NIRMAL SARATHY

 Are we living in a democratic dictatorship? ‘Democratic dictatorship’ is a much debated concept in Kerala.  I am referring not to that here but to the dictatorship of the executive led by democratically-elected politicians. Recent incidents seem to indicate that this is now an ever-growing tendency in our democracy.

A few months back, a notice with the photos of well-known public figures, which identified them as Maoists, appeared in the Mananthavady police station at Wayanad.  These were pictures of senior, very well-known activists who have fought battles for democracy in Kerala.  Following widespread protests, the police was forced to remove the notice. On 28th July this year, Jonathan Baud, a Swiss citizen was arrested by Valappad police for attending a commemoration meeting of a Maoist leader, Sinoj, who died in an accidental explosion at the forested Kerala- Karnataka border. Mr Baud was in India on a tourist visa. His arrest was big news in the media which had happily swallowed policespeak, and so he was also projected as a Maoist. The reports claimed that he had come here with the express purpose of attending the meeting, and that he delivered a solidarity speech there. Later, when the Commemoration Committee made public its own version of events, the police sensationalism was refuted and had to be withdrawn. The charge against Mr Baud are apparently limited to violation of visa conditions and it was admitted that he had no Maoist links. Continue reading “Creeping Dictatorship: Concerns from Kerala”

Aam Aadmi, Khaas Politics: Satya Sagar

   Guest Post by SATYA SAGAR                                          

From time to time in the history of every nation there emerges a maverick force that collapses the existing system by taking its logic to the extremes.  Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party are precisely that, a ‘wild card’ in Indian politics, threatening to turn it upside down in ways no one could have imagined before.

Ever since they were born out of the throes of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement, a couple of years ago, everyone has tried to slot the AAP in the regular political categories of right, left and center. Some have dubbed the Aam Aadmi Party as the ‘new Congress’ and others as the ‘B Team’ of the BJP. Supporters of the party have hailed its leader Arvind Kejriwal as a ‘modern day Gandhi’ while one opponent has intriguingly called his party ‘right wing Maoists’! Continue reading “Aam Aadmi, Khaas Politics: Satya Sagar”

Adivasis of Kerala: Citizens or Cannon fodder?

This is a guest post by JAISON COOPER

Notwithstanding the opposition of many Adivasi organizations and progressive forces, the government of Kerala appears bent on moving forward with its project of recruiting Adivasis as home guards, paying them Rs.500 per day, to take on the Maoist guerrillas allegedly active in the Western Ghats. It is obvious that the state government is not learning lessons from the Salwa Judum experience in Central India and is bent on making Adivasis scapegoats in its impending showdown with the Maoists. Continue reading “Adivasis of Kerala: Citizens or Cannon fodder?”

PUCL statement condemning the Maoist massacre in Darbha Valley

This statement was put outby the PEOPLE’S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES on 26 May, and the one below it on 25 May by PUCL’s Chhattisgarh unit

PUCL Condemns Killings of Congress Party leaders, their PSOs and Ordinary Villagers by Maoists in Dharba Ghati of Sukma District, Chhattisgarh

The PUCL strongly condemns the ambush of a Congress party election cavalcade by the dalam of the CPI(Maoist) party at Dharba Ghati area in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh on Saturday, 25th May, 2013, resulting in the death of 28 people including Congress party leaders, their personal security officers and ordinary villagers of the area. PUCL denounces as totally unacceptable, the abduction, kidnapping and subsequent killing in cold blood of the Congress party President of Chhattisgarh, NK Patel, and his son Dinesh. The Maoists also killed Mahendra Karma, the founder of the dreaded Salwa Judum, and his security guards. Continue reading “PUCL statement condemning the Maoist massacre in Darbha Valley”

Statement condemning the Maoist politics of murder Chhattisgarh

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the horrific massacre of leaders and workers of the Congress Party and the security forces accompanying them, carried out by the CPI(Maoist) in Chhattisgarh on Saturday. We also wish to express our deepest condolences to the families of all those killed in the convoy of Congressmen returning from an election rally at Sukma in Bastar dtrict.

The killing of senior state Congress leaders and their cadre is particularly barbaric and reprehensible as they had, in the course of the Maoist ambush, become captives or had surrendered voluntarily. This is tantamount to cold-blooded murder of prisoners in custody, an act that goes against all norms even in a state of civil or international war. The targeting of a political party in this fashion by the Maoists is also highly disturbing. Continue reading “Statement condemning the Maoist politics of murder Chhattisgarh”