Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dalit students battle prejudice and violence

Times of India

Siddarth Varadarajan

NEW DELHI: Vikram Ram, a Dalit student at the UniversityCollege of Medical Sciences (UCMS) in east Delhi, got a rudeshock when he sat down for his first meal at the hostel mess.``Bloody Shaddu'', he was told fiercely by a group of upper castestudents (using an abusive term for Scheduled Castes), ``youcannot eat with us''. Hurt and bewildered, he made his way to therow of tables where the Dalit students normally sit.

According to the Dalit students, even the hostel has de factobeen ghettoised, with most of them on two floors. When RakeshKumar, an SC student, was assigned a room elsewhere, aneighbour said: ``We will not let you stay here, Shaddu. Yourkind of person cleans our toilets.'' Faced with the prospect ofconstant harassment, he asked to be shifted.

When this reporter asked some upper caste boys at UCMSabout the term `Shaddu', they denied the word was ever used,except during arguments. After some prodding, one student,Anand Bakshi, said: ``It is only a pet name.''As for separate dining and living areas, the upper caste studentsthis reporter spoke to say there is no such policy. ``If at all theyeat and live together'', said Sudhir Kathuria, ``it is because theylike sticking to their own community''.

Today, Vikram, Rakesh and several other Dalit students are ondharna. After years of discrimination, they say they have hadenough. The last straw was the violent attack on them by someupper caste students on February 22. UCMS authorities insist itwas a run-of-the-mill fight between students but the fact is severalDalits were badly beaten. The hostel PA system was used to asall `general category' students to assemble.

The turban of DrJaswant Singh, a gentle, small-built Dalit, was pulled off and hewas punched and kicked. Another Dalit intern, Balwinder Bhatti,hid himself but the mob ransacked his room.When this reporter went to talk to the Dalit students, they weresuspicious. It was only gradually that their complaints poured out.Stubbornly, reluctantly. More than anything, it is the perceiveddiscrimination from the faculty that rankles. A tall, intensetwenty-something, Vikram had topped his school and had neverbefore experienced casteism. ``My parents say `thoda seh lo;but become a doctor at any cost','' he said, wistfully twisting hisstethoscope this way and that.The son of a driver, Vikram hasn't graduated despite being atUCMS for eight years. Like many SC students, he has frequentlybeen made to repeat exams.

If the intake of reserved students is22, only four graduate on time.``We study as hard as anyone else but it is the faculty's casteismwhich is holding us back,'' said a Dalit student. Ram Das, a finalyear student, had just appeared in an exam. ``The first questionthe examiner asked was `Are you a bania?'.

When I said no, hesaid `Then what? Are you from reserved category? What is yourcaste?'.``If an exam begins like this'', said Ram, ``we get demoralised,nervous. How are we supposed to cope?''

(The names of the students have been changed.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


TATA chemicals is drawing flak from conservation groups and environmentalists in Africa over its plan to set up a soda ash factory in collaboration with the Govt. of Tanzania.
It is feared that this project(for which a MoU has been signed) may drive the worlds rarest bird (Phoenicopterus) to extinction.

TATA -after disrupting the peace of Singur, Bastar and Munnar has now widened its zone of destruction to overseas-Tanzania....

The plant is proposed to be set up on the shores of Lake Natron in North Tanzania at its border with Kenya, will mine soda from the lake to prepare soda ash (Calcium Carbonate).Conservationists claim that this will disturb the lake's chemical composition and fragile ecosystem that is protected as "Ramsar Site" since 2001.

Thi project may also create a rift between tanzania and its neighbouring country, Kenya.Kenya is vehemently resisting the project saying that tanzania prevented it from Building a dam on river Swaso Nyiro, the main freshwater source for the salty lake, in 1990.Tanzania had raised concerns about the dam's impact on the lake's ecosystem.

Uganda and Ethiopia also oppose the move, arguing that the project will ruin the Flamingo tourism industry in the entire region.

It will also disrupt the region's indegenous Masai tribe that freely travel over Kenya-Tanzania border in search of Pastures for their livestock.

According to the terms of the agreement ,the plant will be operational by 2010.The soda ash facility will also generate associated units producing glass, soap and detergent- leading to more air and water pollution.Such a project is not viable on a sensitive ecosystem like Lake Natron.It's impact on biodiversity, community livelihoods, natural resources and tourism in Eastern African region will be adverse and long term.

It will also pump out about 530 cubic mts. of brine out of the lake every hour.Water is a critical resource for local Masai community whose lifestyle centres on their livestock that is their primary food source. In 15 hours the plant will consume water to meet needs of approx. 40,000 heads of livestock.Influx of people once the plant begins ,will create more pressure on natural resources.

Is it a mere coincidence that TATA is targetting tribal areas, forests, sensitive ecosystems and the poor man's land?First in India and now overseas....

Is It because the poor man has no voice?At the cost of wiping out natural vegetation and the habitat of animals and humans alike, a project will take birth-to ruin, to destroy, to denude the earth of its natural glory.

Source:Down to Earth

Friday, September 21, 2007

Salwa Judum & tale of 644 deserted villages

Tribals in 644 deserted villages in Chhattisgarh don't exist, at least on paper. These villages don't have citizens and hence there is no National RuralEmployment Guarantee scheme for them or any health services or cheap rations.

These villages, located in the state's Dantewada district, have been allegedlyevacuated by the government-backed private army Salwa Judum. All villagers are supposed to be "well settled" now in 20 relief camps.But testimonials by tribals from the district and also footage from a filmmade for Channel 4 of the BBC prove otherwise. People still live in thesedeserted villages, where almost all houses have been burnt by the invading SalwaJudum mob armies. They hide in the jungles most of the day and come back now andthen.

Tribals question the government figure of 50,000 people lodged in 20 reliefcamps. Are they the whole population of 644 villages, asks Lingoo Markam, a wardpanchayat member from Balood panchayat of Dantewada block."If the entire population of the 1,354 villages in the district is seven lakh,how can 644 villages have only 50,000 residents," he asks, adding that nearlytwo lakh people are on the run.

Many are hiding in the forests, while many have fled to neighbouring AndhraPradesh.Manish Kunjam, a former Communist Party of India legislator from Dantewada,agrees that half the tribals in the villages attacked by Salwa Judum have fledto Andhra Pradesh. He says that he organised a rally in Cherla in Andhra Pradeshin which tribals who had fled from Dantewada were present in thousands. Theywere demanding an end to Salwa Judum terror.

The BBC film Unreported World shows a few families taking shelter in the onlysurviving house in a village. One of the tribal had his back mawed by a bear. Hewas in pain. The villagers come and look after him in that house saying that allthe other houses have been burnt. They could not go to a doctor, as they wouldbe caught by the Salwa Judum and killed on the way.Shubrangshu Kumar, who assisted in the making of the film, says that the crewhad no means to reach the deserted villages as they could be caught by the SalwaJudum. So they walked three days taking the jungle route, assisted by two tribal boys from the village they met in a Raipur hostel.What do people in these deserted villages eat? Do they cultivate their lands?Chomuru had left Salwa Judum a few days after he was forced to join it. He says about his own village of Bechapal, which was raided and officially evacuated:"We survive on the burnt rice left in the village. We spend our time in theforests and eat whatever is available there."Himanshu Kumar, activist of the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram in Dantewada, says thatthe tribal areas are now split into three.

There are 644 villages, which havebeen evacuated while the remaining 600-odd villages are being targeted forevacuation. This is the enemy zone as far as Salwa Judum is concerned. Theirgoal is to capture these and burn the houses.The third zone is the Naxal-dominated areas where, of course, no one enters.So, in all the three zones, health, education and employment generation is nil.Worse still, people can't move in and out for fear of being killed.

Chattisgarh Home Minister Ramvichar Netam agrees: "The representatives of thegovernment cannot go to the villages following Naxal threats. The rebels havedestroyed the schools, government buildings and are terrorising the teachers anddoctors. How can the government provide relief when Naxals are not allowing us to enter?"He added that even the roads had been damaged to cut off the villages.

Netam acknowledged the fact that all the 644 villages are not deserted. Thereare many villages which house 20 to 30 families.According to Dantewada collector K R Pisda, not a single village is completelydeserted.Only those who fear Naxals have taken shelter in the camps, while the othersare still staying in the villages.

The 644 villages are not the ones that are abandoned. These are the villages where the Salwa Judum campaign has reached,Pisda clarifies."Most of the villagers, who had earlier fled, have returned to the villages andthose who have gone to the neighbouring states are part of the tradition as theygo there every year for work," Pisda explained.

Himanshu Kumar, however, contested this: "If the villages are not abandoned,then why the government has shifted schools to the camps and pulled out otherfacilities?

"Dharmo Rakshati RakshataIf you protect Dharma, Dharma will in turn protect you

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


By Sanjeeb Baruah, Raipur, Sep 18: Chhattisgarh's state animal, thewild buffalo, is on its last legs. Only seven of the animals areregistered in the official records, and authorities are now thinkingof implementing drastic conservation measures.

The Udanti and Indravati wildlife sanctuaries in the state are theonly places in central India where genetically 'pure' wild buffaloes(bos bubalis) are to be found.Though some wild buffaloes are also found in Assam, Arunachal Pradeshand Meghalaya, it is not known how 'pure' they are genetically.

Wild buffaloes have become rare across India due to crossbreeding withdomestic buffaloes.Incidentally, despite the wild buffalo being the state animal, there are no previous records about its population figures. The first censuswas carried out this year.

Another sanctuary in Chhattisgarh known to have been home to the animals was Pamed, but there are no wild buffaloes left there."The matter is very serious. We have to start something soon," saidR.N. Mishra, principal chief conservator of forests.The Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) is to submit a report to thegovernment on the conservation measures being taken up."WTI has lined up a number of activities. These will be sent to thegovernment for approval. The forest department will initiate the work once it is approved," Rahul Kaul of WTI told IANS.Of the seven wild buffaloes in Udanti, only one is female."We need to take urgent steps to protect them since they are in verysmall numbers and may quickly become extinct," warned Prabal Sarkar ofWTI.He pointed out that population studies were never conducted at theforests in Indravati due to fear of attacks by Maoists. So it is notknown if there are any wild buffaloes there, but officials say thepossibility is highly unlikely."We brought the female buffalo and her calf to an enclosure inside theUdanti forests since we are planning to involve her in a captivebreeding programme after the calf stops drinking milk," said Mishra,the project supervisor."Each (conservation) activity will have a different timeline; somewill be completed early, while some over a longer period," Kaul added."Cattle grazing, encroachments, loss of natural water sources andfrequent forest fires have affected the habitat, leading to theirdecline," Mishra said.

"Hunting for meat by the locals has alsolowered their population."A state wildlife advisory board meeting was held last week and a plan to conserve wild buffaloes was discussed. The state forest minister,officials and conservation organisations attended the meet.Measures high on the agenda are: conduct a genetic study of wildbuffaloes, restrict domestic buffaloes in the sanctuaries, getadditional manpower to undertake conservation, and study the conditionof the animal's habitat.

Praveen Manikpuri

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Congress and BJP Bhai-Bhai.....

A jobless BJP,RSS,VHP and other Hindu-Fundamentalist groups have been given a non-issue like Ram-Setu by Congress on a platter to again disturb the peace of the country similar to what happend at the time of Aayodhya incident....

Sunday, September 9, 2007



By Mr. Madhu ChandraHuman Rights Activist

Have you heard about Salwa Judum - India’s hidden war in tribal dominatedarea of central Indian state Chhattisgarh? I am sorry! I haven’t until Iattended at a People’s Convention at Hindi Bhavan, New Delhi organized by Campaign for Peace and Justice in Chhattisgarh (CPJC)!

Sociologists, activists and scholars have condemned Salwa Judum as Statemachinery’s license to its people to kill its own people in the name ofcounterfeit encountering Red Corridors.Can you believe it happens in central part of this vast country, known andproud of being world’s largest democratic nation!

Indian Medias of both printand electronic are known of their capability to unearth but it seems they arenaïve on India’s hidden war against tribal communities of Chhattisgarh thatmakes India’s hidden war still hidden from nation’s eyes and ears.

CNN IBN in 2006 March warned the nation provoking the Home Ministry byexposing the Red Corridor of Naxals (Maoists) in tribal dominated areas ofBihar, West Bengal, Jharkhan, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.

A documentary film “India’s Hidden War” produced by reporter Sandra Jordan and Director James Brabazon was screened and left its images of deep wound and violation against the innocent tribal communities of Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh who used to live peacefully in their own world.Sandra and James traveled deep into the Indian jungle to expose how India’saspirations for a superpower economy are resulting in an increasingly bloody civil war. Government funded militias are battling red guerrillas of Naxal forcontrol of India’s mineral resources. Hundreds of thousands of tribal villagersare caught in the crossfire between Red Corridors and Salwa Judum.

(Picture:Salwa Judum Camp)Salwa Judum in Gondi term means a peace campaign merged by capitalists,traders, land owners and elites to fight against Naxalites from mid 2005, oftensupported by state machineries, state police forces and politicians. Ever sinceSalwa Judum merged, the lives of people, particularly Dantewada district ofChhattisgarh, where 90% of its habitants are tribal communities, becameturmoil.

According to CPJC, the leaders of Salwa Judum have empowered sections oftribal communities with bows and arrows, swords, axes and arms, marched fromvillage to villages to ethnic cleanse from Naxalites. Villagers who refuse tojoin Salwa Judum have been treated as members or pro-Naxalites.

Tribalvillagers are forced to relief camps run by Salwa Judum and those who refusedwere severely beaten even murdered by Salwa Judum activist with support statepolice forces and Naga Regiments.

[1]Salwa Judum leadership composes from top political leaders of BharatiyaJanata Party and Congress. They appoint the Camp leaders, mostly fromnon-tribal communities. Under political leaders and non-tribal camp leaders,recruits the hot blood youngsters with indoctrinations of hate campaign intoState Police Officers, who are trained and paid by Government machineries tojoin hands with ordinary innocent tribal villagers to loot, burn and rape inthe name of retaliating Naxalites.

Salwa Judum, Naxalites and Security Forces have killed over 500 lives eversince the merge of Salwa Judum in Dantewada district alone. Violation againstwomen includes the gang rap, custodial rape, mutilation of private parts,murder, continuous sexual abuse in villages, police stations and even so calledrelief camp of Salwa Judum.

The lowest 70,000 to maximum 100,000 Villagers are forced to internal displacement and migration to neighboring states of Orissa, Jharkhan and AndhraPradesh, who there suffer pathetic life situations.Government of Chhattisgarh has setup 20 Salwa Judum camps in Dantewada district where it is reported to have 47,500 villagers taken shelter.

The fact-finding team of CPJC reports that most of the relief camps face acute shortage of food, water and amenities. People are forced to live in extremely unsanitary conditions and did not allow tribal villagers to return back homes.In some of the relief camps, Government is trying to convert into permanentvillages of which many villagers are worried that their villages and cultivation lands with rich mineral resources would be one day turn into the clutches of capitalists, traders and elites to convert into mineral factories.

Challenging the constitution validity of Salwa Judum, the Supreme Court ofIndia issued notice to Chhattisgarh government in May 2007 to stop Salwa Judumcommitting atrocities in the pretext of countering the Naxalite movement andurged to order impartial enquiry into atrocities committed by this group.

[2]The state machinery’s crime against its own people has been desperately kepthidden to the nation and world. The victims testified in People’s Conventionthat state machineries intentionally didn’t allow Medias to come and report onIndia’s hidden war of Salwa Judum.Deep in India’s central jungle, weaker section of India’s tribal societieswho already suffered socio-economic and educational backwardness, remainsunheard of their man made and state sponsored crime on humanity.

The People’s Convention demands from Chhattisgarh Government

1. Disband and disarm Salwa Judum immediately.

2. Stop appointing Special Police Officers

.3. Stop Recruiting children and adolescents below 18 years of age.

4. Allow tribal communities to return to their villages.

5. Government to rebuild burnt and broken homes.

6. Stop harassment and allow free access to journalists, civil societyorganization, and medical camp and education workers.

7. Repeal the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005

8. Create a conductive atmosphere for dialogue to find politicalresolution to political issues.

9. Stop arrest, detention and false implication of Human RightsActivists, Social Workers etc. and release all such persons.

The People’s Convention demands from Government of India1. Stop aiding and abetting Salwa Judum in the name of promoting “localresistance groups.”

2. Institute a high level independent enquiry into all acts ofviolence-rape, arson, loot, murder and disappearances by Salwa Judum andparamilitary forces and initiate criminal proceedings.

3. Recognize the right to live and dignities of internally displacepeople living outside Chhattisgarh and ensure their safety.

4. Create a conductive atmosphere for dialogue to find politicalresolution to political issues.

People’s Convention demands from Naxalite

1. Stop all forms of violence

2. Create a conductive atmosphere for dialogue to find politicalresolution to political issues.

3. Stop recruiting children and adolescents below 18 years of age

4. Allow safe return of villagers to their home including Salwa Judumsupporters.

images courtesy:

Friday, September 7, 2007


विश्वरंजन जी को खुला पत्र
आदरणीय विश्वरंजन जी,

पिछले हफ्तों इस अखबार में कई किश्तों में छपा आपका लम्बा साक्षात्कार पढा । यह पढकर अच्छा लगा कि आप स्वयं उदाहरण प्रस्तुत कर पुलिस बल में सुधार लाना चाहते हैं । आपकी नक्सलवाद के बारे में समझ के बारे में पढकर और भी अच्छा लगा ।
इन्हीं सब कारणों से आज मैं यह पत्र लिखने का साहस कर पा रहा हूं जिसमें मैं छत्तीसगढ पुलिस से अपने कुछ अनुभवों के बारे में लिखना चाहूंगा ।
सबसे पहले जब मैं दंतेवाडा गया तो बीबीसी की हमारी टीम छत्तीसगढ आर्म्ड फोर्सेज़ के साथ कुछ समय बिताना चाहती थी । जॉन लोंगकुमेर जी उस समय बस्तर में पुलिस के प्रमुख थे । उन्होंने भांसी थाने में हमारे लिए एक विशेष दस्ता भेजा जिसका नेतृत्व एक डीएसपी कर रहे थे । उनमें से अधिकतर जवान मिज़ोरम के वारेंगटे के जंगल वारफेयर कॉलेज से प्रशिक्षित थे ।

उस दल में दिलीप नाम का एक लडका था, वह आदिवासी था । उसने मुझसे कहा “ये जो सामने पहाड देख रहे हो, ये सब नक्सलियों से भरे हैं । मुझे 7 साल का अनुभव है जब भी हम वहां जाते हैं पक्का उनसे मुकाबला होता है”।

मैंने पूछा “तुम्हारी उम्र कितनी है” । उसने बताया 21 । और तुम पुलिस में कब से काम कर रहे हो ? “पिछले 7 साल से” ।

ये कैसे हो सकता है? मुझे ताज्जुब हुआ । मैंने साथ चल रहे डीएसपी से पूछा तो उन्होंने कहा “दिलीप सही कह रहा है । छत्तीसगढ पुलिस में बाल पुलिस भर्ती करने का विशेष प्रावधान है” ।

मैंने कहा जो पुलिस कर्मचारी मारे जाते हैं उनके नाबालिग बेटे- बेटियों को पुलिस में भर्ती किया जाता है । इस कानून के बारे में तो मुझे पता है पर दिलीप के पिता तो पुलिस में नहीं थे ।

अपनी शूटिंग खत्म करने के बाद जब मैंने दिलीप से बात करना शुरु किया तो उसकी कहानी और भी रोचक थी ।

उसने बताया जब वह कक्षा पांचवीं में पढता था तब नक्सली उसे अपने साथ ले गये थे।
“मैं उनके साथ ही रहने लगा । मैं उन्हीं के साथ घूमता था, उनकी नाट्य मंडली में नाचता था । पर उनके साथ कुछ साल रहते समय मैंने देखा कि ये लोग पैसे को लेकर आपस में एक दूसरे को मारते हैं, आदिवासी लडकियों का बलात्कार करते हैं, मुझे उन से घिन हो गई । फिर एक दिन मैंने पुलिस में सरेण्डर कर दिया । पहले मुझे थोडे दिन बाल कारागृह में रखा गया उसके बाद से पिछले 7 साल से मैं पुलिस के विशेष नक्सल विरोधी दस्ते में काम करता हूं”!
वापस लौटकर मुझे कोई कानून नहीं मिला जिसकी डीएसपी साहब बात कर रहे थे ।

उसके बाद सरगुजा के सामरी थाने में मेरी धीरज जायसवाल से मुलाकात हुई । उसने बताया “मेरा पुलिस से कोई संबंध नहीं है पर मैं सामरी पुलिस थाने का प्रमुख हूं । मुझे पुलिस से कोई तनख्वाह नहीं मिलती, एसपी साहब जो उचित समझते हैं दे देते हैं और
यद्यपि मैं सबको अपनी उम्र 22 साल बताता हूं पर मेरी उम्र 18 है और मैं पिछले एक साल से इस थाने का प्रमुख हूं” ।

दिलीप की तरह वह भी पहले नक्सलियों के साथ था और अब उनसे घृणा करता है । “जब मैंने सरेण्डर किया तब मुझे पहले बाल बन्दी गृह में रखा गया पर थोडे दिन बाद से मैं नक्सलियों के खिलाफ होने वाले स्पेशल ऑपरेशन में शामिल होने लगा” ।
इन बच्चों की तरह आजकल छत्तीसगढ पुलिस ने बस्तर की आम जनता को नक्सलियों के खिलाफ युद्ध में झोंका हुआ है ।

मुझे यह पढकर आश्चर्य हुआ जो आप साक्षात्कार में कई बार कहते हैं “आप सलवा जुडुम की तरह का कोई भी उदाहरण दुनिया में मुझे दिखा दीजिये” ।

आप टीवी खोलिये बीबीसी पर रोज़ आपको सूडान की सिविल मिलिशिया जंजावीद की कोई ने कोई खबर मिल जाएगी जिसने दार्फूर में कहर बरपाया हुआ है । सूडान की सरकार भी इस बात से इंकार करती है कि जंजावीद के पीछे उनका कोई योगदान है।

पिच्हले एक महीने का अखबार उठाकर देखें तो संयुक्त राष्ट्र की विशेष अदालत ने सिएरा लिओन की सिविल मिलिशिया कामाजोर के 5 नेताओं को उन्ही सब अपराधों का दोषी पाकर उम्र कैद दिया है जिस तरह के आरोप आज सलवा जुडुम पर लग रहे हैं ।

याद करने बैठें तो पडोस के इंडोनेशिया के महीदी, कांगो के निंजास और पेरु के रोंडेरोस मिलिशिया के नाम तो तुरत याद आते हैं । वेनेज़ुएला में तो सिविल मिलिशिया में 20 लाख लोगों के शामिल होने का दावा किया जा रहा है । मेरे मित्र याद दिलाते हैं कि रवांडा के मायी मायी और कोलंबिया के रैचर्स को क्यों भूल जाते हो।

यद्यपि कोई भी दो घटनाएं बिल्कुल एक जैसी तो नहीं होतीं पर मुझे मैक्सिको की भी याद आती है जहां सरकार ने आदिवासियों को मारने के लिये कमांडेंट मार्कोस के नेतृत्व में शहरी लोगों की मिलिशिया बनाई थी । सेना सडकों की सुरक्षा करती थी और सलवा जुडुम की ही तरह मिलिशिया जंगल के अंदर जाकर गांव के गांव जलाती थी ।
सलवा जुडुम की ही तरह सिएरा लिओन में भी कुछ लोग कामाजोर को आदर्शवादी लडाकू मानते हैं । पर संयुक्त राष्ट्र की विशेष अदालत ने अपने फैसले में पिछले ही महीने कहा कि मानव अधिकारों के जघन्य हनन के अपराधियों को सज़ा तो मिलनी ही चाहिये चाहे उन्होंने वे अपराध किसी भी आदर्श के लिये किए हों ।
हां एक खास फर्क सलवा जुडुम और इन उदाहरणों में नज़र आता है वह यह कि बाकी सारे प्रयोग गैर लोकतंत्र वाले देशों में हुआ और इनमें से अधिकतर देशों में प्रेस आज़ाद नहीं था । और एक खास समानता कि इन सारी जगहों पर बस्तर की ही तरह जंगल और खनिज की बहुलता है ।

हर जगह यह बताया गया कि सिविल मिलिशिया को शुरु करना तो आसान है लेकिन बाद में उस पर काबू रखना मुश्किल होता है और वे अक्सर उस समस्या से भी बडी समस्या साबित होते हैं जिनसे लडने के लिये उन्हे खडा किया जाता है ।

जहां तक मुझे समझ में आया साक्षात्कार में आप यह कहना चाह रहे हैं कि नक्सलियों को सलवा जुडुम से तगडी चुनौती मिली है । आप कहते हैं कि नक्सली नेताओं ने कहा है कि सलवा जुडुम के कारण उनके 500 से अधिक लोग मारे गए हैं ।

पर उन्हीं नक्सली नेताओं ने यह बयान भी दिया है कि सलवा जुडुम के कारण पिछले दो सालों में इतने लोग उनके साथ जुडे हैं जितने पिछले 20 सालों में नहीं जुडे थे ।
हमारी समझ है कि जिन 644 गांवों के लोग सलवा जुडुम में “शामिल” हुए हैं उनकी आबादी लगभग 3.5 लाख है और सरकारी आंकडों के अनुसार यदि 50 ह्ज़ार लोग भी कैम्प में हैं तो इन दो सालों में बाकी 3 लाख लोग नक्सलियों के और करीब जाने को मज़बूर हुए हैं ।

मैं आंतरिक युद्ध विषय पर विशेषज्ञ नहीं हूं पर मुझ जैसे पत्रकारों को भी पता है कि सलवा जुडुम जैसे प्रयोगों को मिलिट्री की भाषा में स्ट्रैटेजिक हैमलेटिंग कहते हैं और ऐसे प्रयोग वियतनाम, मलेशिया, पेरु सहित भारत के उत्तर पूर्व में भी किए जा चुके हैं, भारी असफलता के साथ ।

इसके बाद अब छत्तीसगढ पुलिस “4 कट स्ट्रैटेजी” की तरफ बढ रही है । इस रणनीति के तहत यह निश्चित किया जाता है कि गुरिल्ला को 4 चीज़ें : भोजन, धन, भर्ती के लिये नए लोग और सूचना की सप्लाई काट दी जाए । पडोसी बर्मा की सेना इसी रणनीति का उपयोग करती है ।

पर यदि आप सलवा जुडुम के शुरु होने के सरकारी कारणों पर नज़र डालें तो आप पाएंगे कि कहा जाता रहा है कि नक्सलियों ने तेंदू पत्ता तोडने पर रोक लगाई इसलिये लोगों ने सलवा जुडुम शुरु किया । और अगर अखबारों में छप रही खबरें सही हैं तो छत्तीसगढ में भी नई रणनीति के तहत अब तेंदूपत्ता व्यापार का सरकारीकरण कर उसी तरह की कोशिश की जा रही है ।

80 और 90 के दशक में तेंदूपत्ता व्यापारी नक्सलियों के धन के मुख्य स्रोत हुआ करते थे । पर अब जब बस्तर का “विकास” हो गया है और नक्सलियों को करोडों में चन्दा देने वाले लोग मौजूद हैं तब हज़ार रू का चन्दा रोकने से उनका क्या बिगडेगा समझ में नहीं आता ।
छत्तीसगढ पुलिस लगातार ऐसी नीतियों पर चलती नज़र आती है जिससे नक्सली को कोई नुकसान हो या न हो पर लोगों की तकलीफें ज़रूर बढी है । अपने दुश्मनों की तादाद बढाते चलना कौन सी रणनीति का हिस्सा है समझ में नहीं आया ।
आशा है आपके नेतृत्व में ये नीतियां बदलेंगी ।

शुभ्रांशु चौधरी

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Every morning for 22 long years, a frail diminutive man, clad in a loincloth would trudge two kilometres to a hillock of solid rock and chip away at it with a hammer and chisel.

Dasrath Manjhi was building a memorial to his wife Phaguni Devi.A poor man's Taj.Not for its esthetics but for its symbolising human power and spirit of endurance.

Dasrath eked out a living as a farm hand, toiling in the fields of local landlords on bare subsistance.One day,in the early 60's ,his wife Phaguni fell ill and Dasrath set off with her to the nearest hospital .She died on the way.If only there was no hillock blocking the road to the town,Dasraths wife would have made it to the hospital in time, and perhaps survived.

The villagers of Gelaur,in Bihar had to take a circuitous route and travel 19km. to Wazirganj, the nearest district town. It was because of the massive 360ft. long, 25ft. high and 30 ft. wide rock that came in the way of the shortest possible route between the village and the town.

Dasrath decided to alter the topography with a chisel and hammer to cut through the rock.After 22 yrs. of hard work he finished in mid 80's.The mountain had yeilded to man!

The Nitish ministry has promised to make a pucca road to connect the village with Wazirganj town, and a hospital in Gelaur itself.

The recognition that had been denied to Dasrath during his lifetime came after his death.After his death few days ago,the govt. brought his body to Gaya.Dasrath was given a state funeral in presence of dignitaries.

Dasrath Manjhi is remembered by everyone in his village as 'Dasrath Baba'.In caste ridden Bihar he would have never qualified for this title in normal circumstances, which only a Brahmin is entitled to.Dasrath was a Musahar, a caste which traditionally ranks among the lowest of the low.Musahars derive their caste name from thier unusual occupation- they dig through rat holes after harvest, and search for grains stored byt he bandicoots.(moos in local lingo) under the ground.When there is not enough grain they are known to hunt and eat bandicoots to keep hunger at bay.

This modest and selfless man is a fable for our times.An apt sobriquet for him as they know him in Gelaur, "The man who moved a mountain"
Source: Outlook dated 3 sep

Sunday, September 2, 2007


Lokayan Bulletin 11:5, 1995 (pp 82 -86)
To Withdraw Polavaram Dam
We, the people of eight villages of Motu Tehsil (Malkangiri district, Orissa), Konta Tehsil (Bastar district, Madhya Pradesh) and Chintur Mandal (Khammam district, Andhra Pradesh), are writing this letter to, the Chief Secretary/ Chief Minister of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh.

We are Koitor (Koya, a scheduled tribe) people living on the banks of the Godavari and its tributaries - Sileru and Sabari. We have come to know that the AP government is planning to build a large dam across the Godavari river at Polavaram, and that the governments of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh have given consent to it. We have also learnt that the AP government is giving utmost importance to this project and that it is awaiting clearances from the Central Water Commission, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ministry of Welfare, etc.

We are highly displeased that the three state governments have been pursuing this project in secrecy from us - a project that threatens to take away our lands, homes, trees, places of worship and to disintegrate our society.

We also believe that the AP government is trying to get all the clearances on the basis of false information. The information it is giving about displacement, the loss of assets, flora & fauna, and the opinion of the people in the submergence area are false. The project authorities are claiming the submergence of 250 settlements in three states. Actually, around 365 settlements would be affected. A recent study by the Centre for Economic and Social Studies, Hyderabad, made for the AP Irrigation Department, identified 276 settlements coming under submergence in AP alone. The claims of the benefits of the project are also shifting - first, it was primarily to irrigate lands in East & West Godavari districts which are relatively well irrigated, and now the AP government says that it is mainly for power generation.

We, the people of the region that is going to be submerged by the Polavaram project declare that we are not in favour of this dam and that we have never given our consent to it. We do not approve of this project for the following reasons:
1. The project which threatens to submerge about 350 settlements at 150 ft contour would disturb and destroy our habitat and our collective identity and life as Koya people. It would displace about two lakh people out of which the tribal population is around 1,25,000.

2. We, the Koya people, have been already affected adversely by several projects in the past. We have been subjected to severe pressures on our resources as well as dislocation by Dandakaranya Rehabilitation Project (Bangladeshi refugees), Machkund, Balimela project, Sileru Hydro - Electric project, etc. Any displacement or pressure on our habitat and resources would result in the disintegration of our tribe leading to the decimation of our culture and its people.

3. Our habitat is not a wasteland of poramboke as claimed by the Polavaram project authorities. We are not poor and primitive. We are being condemned to backwardness. We are peasants and we grow Jonna (sorghum), Makka jonna (maize), rice, mirch, tobacco, dal etc, of several varieties. We grow a variety of crops with bio-fertilisers and rain water. The crops we grow are not only free from poisonous chemicals, but also give good yields. We do not wish to allow the loss of livelihood and fertile lands.

4. We are people of the forest and nature. Forests are the abode of sacred spirits. They are the source and part of our economy- our daily food, agriculture, livestock, housing, implements; our belief system and worship; our song and dance; and our life world.
Our practices, lifestyles and beliefs protect nature and are shaped by it. We have festivals for the produce of all plants - Chikkudu pandum, Pacha pandum, Ippa pandum, Bhoomi pandum. We consume vegetables, cereals, pulses, mohua and several other things only after conserving the same for the next season.
We do not like to lose our life dependent on nature for one based on and dictated by money.

5. We do not approve of the project also because it has violated our right to decide how we like to live. Projects that affect life and the future of our children and the tribe as a whole cannot be decided by anybody other than us. That some governments attempt to do so is a violation of our fundamental right and we reject such acts.

6. We also declare that it is highly improper for any government to keep this project a secret from the people it affects and not to take our opinion and consent. It is not ethical, moral, and constitutional. This is more so in the light of: 1. The Draft National Policy on Rehabilitation of Displaced Persons as a Consequence of Land Acquisition prepared by the Ministry of Rural Development and submitted to the Cabinet, and, 2. The Dilip Sing Bhuria Commission (constituted by the Government of India) on draft legislation for tribals areas harmonising the provisions of the 5, 6, 11 and 12 Schedules of the Constitution. Both suggest a participatory and democratic mode of decision making about any project on the basis of full knowledge of the project.

7. Our settlements are on the banks of the Godavari and its tributaries. We do not have water for irrigation. We do not have safe drinking water supply. Many of our villages do not have electrification. Our children do not have schools to get primary education. Schools, if there are, do not function. Many of the irrigation schemes proposed for our lands have not been taken up at all. Those taken up have not been completed (i.e., Potteru canal, lift irrigation schemes in Motu & Konta areas, etc.)
We request the State Governments to provide us with basic amenities of safe drinking water, roads, health facilities, lift irrigation for our fields without further delay.

8. We request the State Governments and other bodies related to the developmental activities in our region and/ or Polavaram project to consider our appeal favourably and help us preserve our culture, identity, collective life and help us prosper without displacement.
1. Mrs. Sode Bayamma, Sarpanch, Motu, Malkangiri Dt., Orissa

This Appeal vas drafted and approved on March 18, 1995 at a regional meeting held at Motu village, Malkangiri district. It was translated by Bharath Bhushan.
For further details of the campaign against displacement and the Polavaram Dam, contact:
R Shanta Rao, Chatti, Chintur Mandal, Khamman-507126; M. Bharath Bhushan, Kranthi Dhamam, Rahmath Nagar, Hyderabad – 500045

The forests of India are a critical resource for the subsistence of rural peoples throughout the country, but especially in hill and mountain areas, both because of their direct provision of food, fuel and fodder and because of their role in stabilising soil and water resources.

As these forests have been increasingly felled for commerce and industry, Indian villagers have sought to protect their livelihoods through the Gandhian method of satyagraha non-violent resistence. In the 1970s and 1980s this resistance to the destruction of forests spread throughout India and became organised and known as the Chipko Movement.

The first Chipko action took place spontaneously in April 1973 and over the next five years spread to many districts of the Himalaya in Uttar Pradesh. The name of the movement comes from a word meaning 'embrace': the villagers hug the trees, saving them by interposing their bodies between them and the contractors' axes. The Chipko protests in Uttar Pradesh achieved a major victory in 1980 with a 15-year ban on green felling in the Himalayan forests of that state by order of India's then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi.

Since then the movement has spread to Himachal Pradesh in the North, Kamataka in the South, Rajasthan in the West, Bihar in the East and to the Vindhyas in Central India. In addition to the 15-year ban in Uttar Pradesh, the movement has stopped clear felling in the Western Ghats and the Vindhyas and generated pressure for a natural resource policy which is more sensitive to people's needs and ecological requirements.

The Chipko Movement is the result of hundreds of decentralised and locally autonomous initiatives. Its leaders and activists are primarily village women, acting to save their means of subsistence and their communities. Men are involved too, however, and some of these have given wider leadership to the movement. Prominent Chipko figures include: Sunderlal Bahuguna, a Gandhian activist and philosopher, whose appeal to Mrs. Gandhi results in the green-felling ban and whose 5,000 kilometre trans-Himalaya footmarch in 1981-83 was crucial in spreading the Chipko message. Bahuguna coined the Chipko slogan: 'ecology is permanent economy'.

Chandi Prasad Bhatt, one of the earliest Chipko activists, who fostered locally-based industries based on the conservation and sustainable use of forest wealth for local benefit.
Dhoom Singh Negi, who, with Bachni Devi and many village women, first saved trees by hugging them in the 'Chipko embrace'. They coined the slogan: 'What do the forests bear? soil, water and pure air'.

Ghanasyam Raturi, the Chipko poet, whose songs echo throughout the Himalaya of Uttar Pradesh.
Indu Tikekar, a doctor of philosophy, whose spiritual discourses throughout India on the ancient Sanskrit scriptures and on comparative religion have stressed the unity and oneness of life and put the Chipko Movement in this context.

A feature published by the United Nations Environment Programme reported the Chipko Movement thus: 'In effect the Chipko people are working a socio-economic revolution by winning control of their forest resources from the hands of a distant bureaucracy which is concerned with selling the forest for making urban-oriented products.'

"The solution of present-day problems lie in the re-establishment of a harmonious relationship between man and nature. To keep this relationship permanent we will have to digest the definition of real development: development is synonymous with culture. When we sublimate nature in a way that we achieve peace, happiness, prosperity and, ultimately, fulfilment along with satisfying our basic needs, we march towards culture." Sunderlal Bahuguna

The Chipko movement began as a modest but a powerful effort to save our nature..The rate at which felling of trees for so called 'development'is progressing, there is an increasing need for reinforcing the chipko movement in the cities and in the fast disappearing mustical forests of Bastar.