Tag Archives: tribals

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

Adivasi-yagna, The Great Sacrifice – Tribal Communities for ‘Greater’ Hyderabad? R Uma Maheshwari

This is a guest post by R UMA MAHESHWARI

The Andhra Pradesh ministers are fighting like the hooligans they show in Telugu films (one is reminded, in particular, of an old Telugu film aptly named Assembly Rowdy). The fight is all over, and about, investments in Hyderabad and elsewhere. As it is about money. The Parliament fight is with pepper sprays and knives. Back there, on the ground, in tribal villages in AP (yet to be declared as either Seemandhra or Telangana), absolutely unarmed Koyas, Kondareddis, and a few other tribal communities are opposing the construction of the Polavaram dam. And have been marking their protests with dharnas, rasta rooks and burning of effigies of leaders of all political parties. The former have some plum real estate and business interests to protect; the latter have their everything to fight for – homes, land and histories. Not for a while, in the entire debate and fighting over the state of either unification or creation of Telangana have any of these picketers in the Parliament have sought the opinions of the tribal people whose land is today a battleground for investment. One has no qualms of using the peculiar Sanskritic terminology, in the Vedic sense of sacrificial rituals, conducted by the wealthy and upper castes for their benefits, in the name of the ‘common good’. A Former Chief Minister of the state of Andhra Pradesh, YSR, too, used the same Sanskritic term (in spite of his being a Christian) for the irrigation projects (or contractor businesses) he initiated (86 nos.) under jalayagam.  Today the sacrificial ritual continues, and it is a human sacrifice, of more than three hundred thousand tribal people (as it is the sacrifice of animals and birds and every visible or invisible organism), in return for the illusory real-estate-driven world called ‘Greater’ Hyderabad; what if it is going to be a “joint capital for ten years” (and who has seen what the world will look like after ten years, any way? Or what shape it will assume? But these are matters of philosophy and metaphysics, I guess, talking of who knows where we will be, what will be…). Continue reading Adivasi-yagna, The Great Sacrifice – Tribal Communities for ‘Greater’ Hyderabad? R Uma Maheshwari

To Break a Siege: Justin Podur

This is a review by JUSTIN PODUR of  Nirmalangshu Mukherji’s book Maoists in India: Tribals Under Siege (Pluto Press 2012)

The Maoists in India, Nirmalangshu Mukherji
The Maoists in India, Nirmalangshu Mukherji

Central India is a place where all the fault lines of “development” in today’s world converge. Indigenous people, vast stretches of natural forest, mineral-hungry corporations; media, government institutions, and political parties heavily compromised by private interests; people’s struggles, armed insurgency, counterinsurgency, military occupation, paramilitarism – all are present, and until recently, it has all been a well-kept secret.

The struggles play out differently in different parts of Central India. In Orissa, indigenous people’s movements have battled mining companies and stalled projects for years, in Kashipur and Lanjigarh. In Chhattisgarh, in the northern Bastar region, one of India’s billionaires, Naveen Jindal of the Jindal Group (also a polo player and a Congress Party Member of Parliament for a different district), wields tremendous economic and political power. The mines use captive power plants, coal or hydro, so each mine causes massive ecological and agricultural damage. In a profile by Mehboob Jeelani in Caravan Magazine on March 1, 2013, Jindal explained his philosophy: “We don’t control all the raw materials, but we have captive mines for 60 or 70 percent. This is something my father really believed in—that we must control our raw materials. If we don’t, then other people control us. So we made a conscious effort to acquire coal and iron ore mines.” In southern Bastar in Chhattisgarh, a Maoist insurgency is fighting against government forces, police, paramilitaries, and vigilante groups, from bases deep in the forest, in a war that was largely unknown for decades.

In India, the secret of the insurgency was broken by a series of atrocities committed by a group called Salwa Judum, starting around 2005. Salwa Judum in the Americas would be called paramilitaries, but in India is called a vigilante group. Salwa Judum was organized by the state and headed by a Congress Party politician named Mahendra Karma. It burned hundreds of villages, committed murder and rape, and tried to channel the indigenous people of the forest villages into roadside camps, where their movements could be controlled. This was all done in the name of fighting the Maoist insurgency, and it largely failed on those terms: Maoist numbers increased, the indigenous people went deeper into the forest. But it was a human disaster, and that human disaster has continued. The objective is the lands where the indigenous people (in India called adivasis) live – specifically the minerals underneath those lands, which put them in the way of the extractive development model and hence, in the line of fire. Continue reading To Break a Siege: Justin Podur

A Case of Dalit Assertion Over Adivasi Land: Agrima Bhasin

Guest post by AGRIMA BHASIN

“We won’t beat you at your house, we will beat you in the bazaar, in front of everyone!” A common caveat, often hurled at a dalit by an upper caste. But in this case, they were dalit men who spat this warning at a tribal family. A group of dalits in Alampur village, Sagar district, Madhya Pradesh are forcefully asserting their rights (since 2003) over a belt of forest land belonging to Balram, a tribal resident and his family. The family have farmed the five acres of land for 40 years and were finally awarded forest rights over it by the state government of Madhya Pradesh in 2009. Continue reading A Case of Dalit Assertion Over Adivasi Land: Agrima Bhasin

Green Hunt: The Anatomy of An Operation

An operation is underway in Central India, but no one really knows what it is. Variously described as a media myth, a comprehensive hearts and minds strategy, and an all-out offensive by paramilitary forces and the state forces along the borders of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, Operation Green Hunt has become a shoebox of news clippings, police reports, public demonstrations and armed encounters.

Depending on the definition, Green Hunt either began in July 2009, September 2009 or November 2009. Speaking off record, senior policemen confirmed that the intensification of “search and comb” operations in Chhattisgarh began as early as July last year. In September 2009 the press reported on the progress of “Operation Green Hunt”: a massive 3 day joint operation in which the central CoBRA force and state police battled Naxal forces in Dantewada. Continue reading Green Hunt: The Anatomy of An Operation

The Arrest of Shamim Modi at Industrialists’ Behest

Activist Working for Rights of Tribal People Arrested

Ms Shamim (nee Meghani) Modi, a law graduate working among the tribals in Betul district, Madhya Pradesh, has had to pay a heavy price for taking up the cause of tribal people and other industrial workers. Shamim, who works with the Samajwadi Jan Parishad (an organization of socialist-Gandhian orientation) has been put behind bars in Hoshangabad jail for exposing the corrupt nexus between politicians and the mining mafia.  She was arrested in gross violation of democratic rights on 10th February 2009 from her residence at Harda, M.P. The process of attempting to secure bail from M.P High Court is now on.

The arrest was made on false charges, one of instigating tribals to ‘attack forest officials’ and another of ‘kidnapping with the intention to kill’ these officials! These charges were brought against her (and her husband) two years ago in 2007. Subsequently no enquiries were conducted, and no follow-up was done but the fact that these charges hung over their heads was presumably meant to cow them down. These charges have suddenly been resurrected because the administration has been under pressure from industrialist lobbies. Earlier, the trial court had rejected her bail plea despite the fact that the person supposed to have been ‘kidnapped’ was said to be present in court and denied any such thing. Another evidence, if any was still required, of the deep nexuses of power that operate at these levels. Continue reading The Arrest of Shamim Modi at Industrialists’ Behest

Viva ‘Academic Untouchability’ !

Jantar Mantar, a unique historical place in the capital, which today acts as a ‘sanctioned abode of protest’ under a liberal bourgeois regime, witnessed a protest dharna in the first week of February. Looking at the participation level, one could easily say that, it was indistinguishable from similar protest actions held on the same date. But it is incontestable that the raison detre for the dharna carried very large import which pertained to the entitlements of dalits, tribals or OBCs in higher education. It brought forth the surreptitious manner in which the Congress led UPA government is pushing a bill which would do away with reservation at faculty level in institutions of ‘national importance’.

As expected for the media managers and the pen pushers (or byte takers) employed by them the whole protest action was a non event. Question is why the articulate sections of our society, which yearn for justice, peace and progress, has joined the conspiracy of silence about this particular issue.

The return of ‘academic untouchability’ with due sanction of the parliament and the further legitimisation it would provide to the ‘merit’ versus ‘quota’ debate need to be questioned and challenged uncompromisingly. Continue reading Viva ‘Academic Untouchability’ !