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30 May 2017

The Maoist attack of 24th April  in Burkapal village in  Sukma District which  left 25 CRPF jawans  and at least one Maoist dead is the latest  instance in  the cycle of violence and counter-violence between the security forces and the Maoists  in Chhattisgarh, which has resulted in  a regrettable loss of lives over the years.  The incident has understandably generated a great deal of anger and sorrow, as well as the expected political jingoism. The rumours that began circulating in the media added to the frenzy, hiding the real issues. The earliest rumour was that the Maoists had used villagers as human shields, a ridiculous claim given that no injuries or deaths of villagers in cross-firing  were reported by either side. As per one report, the villagers were not even present in the village that day as they had gone to celebrate Biju Podum. The second rumour was that the Maoists had mutilated the bodies of the dead security personnel. First denied as false in a statement by the Maoist party, subsequently the DIG Special Operations too has refuted it since. 

The media outrage on behalf of soldiers has been used by the government to  call  for more  troops, greater militarisation, more sophisticated weaponry, a more concerted anti- Naxal policy ie  more shedding of  the blood of soldiers!  It may be recalled that Bastar is already one of the most militarised regions in the world with a ratio of about one security personnel for approximately every 23 civilians. Armed operations by security forces have been going on in the region since 2004 beginning with Operation Greenhunt. Now thirteen years later we are into Mission Seventeen (2017). The cycle of violence has not ended. The CPI (Maoist) spokesperson has said that the attack in March and now in April are a response to Missions 2016 and 2017. To imagine that increased militarisation and anti-Maoist operations will improve the lives of Adivasis, or prevent the deaths of soldiers, or provide a ‘solution’ is to   wilfully turn a  blind eye to the prevailing reality  of Bastar and its people.

The state in Bastar through looting, arson, false arrests, illegal detentions, physical and  sexual violence against Adivasis perpetrated by security forces, has systematically created a climate of insecurity. The mass rape in Nendra village and arson in Tadmetla recently acknowledged by the Courts are just the tip of the iceberg. The fear of the state thus generated is designed to  deprive the Adivasis off their rights over jal,jangal, zameen by  making   them too afraid to oppose the state’s diktat,  thus easing  the entry of corporates.  The Maoists stand in the way of this loot.  And in this war perpetrated by the state in the interests of capital, besides the Adivasi  the common soldier too is losing,  as we are witnessing.  

The protection of the life and liberty of all its citizens is the responsibility of a democratic government. A government that treat the lives of the many- both Adivasis and soldiers- as expendable in the interests of big capital is not a responsible government.  A responsible government ensures equality before the law and access to legal remedies for all. Such a government would try the killers of the security force personnely; but it would also hold the security forces  accountable for crimes they commit instead of protecting them, as has become the norm in Chhattisgarh.  A responsible government would safeguard tribal and forest rights. A responsible government would look for political and democratic solutions.

A responsible government is what we don’t have. CDRO calls upon all citizens to collectively demand  that the government accepts its responsibilities and looks for political solutions in Chhattisgarh. We  owe it to us the people.

C. Chandrasekhar (CLC, Andhra Pradesh), Asish Gupta (PUDR, Delhi), Pritpal Singh (AFDR, Punjab), Phulendro Konsam (COHR, Manipur) and Tapas Chakraborty (APDR, West Bengal)

(Coordinators,  CDRO).

Constituent Organisations: Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR, Punjab), Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR, West Bengal); Asansol Civil Rights Association, West Bengal; Bandi Mukti Committee (West Bengal); Civil Liberties Committee (CLC, Andhra Pradesh); Civil Liberties Committee (CLC, Telangana); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR, Maharashtra); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR,Tamil Nadu); Coordination for Human Rights (COHR, Manipur); Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS, Assam); Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR); Peoples’ Committee for Human Rights (PCHR, Jammu and Kashmir); Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF, Karnataka); Jharkhand Council for Democratic Rights (JCDR, Jharkhand); Peoples Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR, Delhi); Peoples Union for Civil Rights (PUCR, Haryana), Campaign for Peace & Democracy in Manipur (CPDM), Delhi; Janhastakshep (Delhi)