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30 Apr 2009

The views expressed by the Home minister, Mr. P Chidambaram, “Naxals not motivated by ideology, they’re bandits” (Times of India, 18.4.09) reveals a regressive security perspective of a mass movement mobilised by the Naxal movement.

That the roots of the Naxal movement lie in structural inequalities, in issues of economic and social backwardness, and resistance against all this is well documented. That the movement has grown over the years is also an indicator of the support that it enjoys among the underclass. Given the long history of this movement in the country, PUDR finds Union Home Minister’s remarks that “development can take place only when police action has secured an area” as deeply disturbing. It corroborates our apprehension that government pursues policy of military suppression, unmindful of the need to provide guarantee of livelihood, food, land, water for people. Development for India’s rulers has come to mean handing over natural resources to private corporations, setting up of large industries, mining projects and SEZs, many of which are being resisted by the people.

The reference to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) as an example of a ‘fair’ law by the Home Minister is also curious. The UAPA proscribes political ideologies/dissent, gives the authorities power to detain individuals for a period of 180 days on grounds of mere suspicion, and vaguely defines ‘unlawful activities’ thus enabling authorities to incarcerate activists like Binayak Sen, Arun Ferreira, Prashant Rahi…..This indicates a deliberate strategy being followed to criminalise democratic resistance in the name of ‘national’ security and corporate led ‘development’.

While the call for the boycott of elections by the Naxalites is a legitimate form of dissent, PUDR unequivocally condemns recourse to coercion either to force people to vote or to boycott elections. Attacks mounted by Maoists on polling officials, among others, fails to highlight the infirmities of the formal democratic processes and repeated betrayal of people’s mandate. Instead, such attacks offer the government an excuse to de-legitimise a resistance against corporate led development and to escape responsibility for their failure to fulfill basic needs of people. PUDR, therefore, appeals to all concerned to desist from targeting civilians and exercise restraint in the conduct of their activities. We also call upon the Indian government to realise the futility of prosecuting a war against our own people who are both marginalised and oppressed. Wisdom lies in moving towards a democratic resolution of what is a systemic problem.

Gautam Navlakha,

Moushumi Basu

(Secretaries, PUDR)

PUDR c/o Dr Moushumi Basu

[email protected]