Campaign Against War on People: Signature Campaign

To                                                                                
Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister,
Government of India,
South Block, Raisina Hill,
New Delhi,
India-110 011.

Sir,

For some time now, there has been a heated discussion in various public forums on the intentions of your government to deploy 100,000 troops – ostensibly against Maoist insurgents – in 7 states in central and eastern India, including Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh, a vast area inhabited by tribal groups. To this end, forces withdrawn from Jammu and Kashmir (e.g. Rashtriya Rifles) and the Northeast are joining battalions of CRPF commandos, the ITBP, the CoBRA and the BSF, equipped with bomb trucks, bomb blankets, bomb baskets, and sophisticated new weaponry. The IAF has also been called in to provide air support to these ground forces. The actual strength of the intended targets of this massive action – the Maoist cadre – is believed to be no more than 20,000. We, the undersigned, have no option but to believe therefore, that the scale of this military offensive is because the state is unable to distinguish the millions of tribals in this area from the Maoists, and has chosen the quick solution of war on the entire region. We believe that the eventual goal is to throw open the region to exploitation of its mineral resources by big corporate interests.

Central India is rich in mineral wealth that is already being auctioned: Till September 2009, Rs 6,69,388 crore of investment had been pledged toward industry in the troubled areas—14 per cent of the total pledged investments in the country. All that stands between vested interests and this wealth is the tribal people and their refusal to consent to their own exploitation. Even constituent bodies of Indian state machinery acknowledge the gross failure of state in the tribal areas of the country in no uncertain terms. Recently, The Planning Commission Report on Social Discontent and Extremism and The Approach Paper for the 11th Plan have clearly identified equity and justice issues relating to land, forced displacement and evictions, extreme poverty and social oppression, livelihood, malgovernance and police brutality as widespread in the region. They have also clearly identified ‘private interests’ and the state’s culpability in these processes. Again, the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution grants tribals complete rights over their traditional land and forests and prohibits private companies from mining on their land. Despite the above, and in the name of fighting the Maoists the state – in blatant violation of Constitutional rights and against the recommendations of its own committees – the govt is set to evacuate the entire area of the tribals and ghettoise them forcefully in ‘relief camps’, to allow free rein to big business. Instead of addressing the basic rights and needs of the tribals, the state/big business in the face of the stiff resistance from them, is leading a full-scale war on people who are already fighting an everyday battle for livelihood and survival.

This war on the people is in continuance with the Indian state’s repressive measures against all “inconvenient” citizens – as we have seen in the past with the North-eastern states and in Kashmir. As in those instances, this time too, the plan entails a further shrinking of already limited spaces for democratic dissent and articulation of pro people development paradigms. It opens the way for the state to act with force against any form of dissent or struggle, anywhere in the country. Any individual or organization protesting against the policies of the state can be labelled as a threat to ‘internal security’.

We, the undersigned, strongly deplore and condemn your government’s plans in this regard. We call for the immediate cancellation of the proposed military and/or paramilitary action, in the interests of the lakhs of destitute and deprived tribal populace who will be affected by this action. We also demand the immediate revocation and annulment of draconian instruments such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in all parts of the Indian territory, especially in the Northeast and in Kashmir, as well as the Unlawful Activity (Prevention) Act and the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act. We demand that all MoUs signed towards corporate investments in these regions be made public and cancelled. We also demand that your government immediately initiate a broad-based, participatory, people-oriented discussion on economic and social development in these regions, founded on the rights of these populaces to their lands and the products thereof.

Number of Signatories so far:

133

Comments

  1. Just STOP this war on the poor ! STOP ravaging tribal societies and pushing them into extinction !!

  2. Ish Mishra says:

    Stop killing people for Corporatization

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