The following statement was formulated during the course of a public meeting in Delhi on August 4 2009, on the impending armed offensive of the government “to wipe out the CPI(Maoist)”. It reflects a certain aspect of civil society response to the issue. – Ed.
Stop Militarization- Engage in Dialogue
4th August 2009, New Delhi
We are a group of citizens concerned about the escalating armed confrontation between the CPI (Maoist) and Government forces.
Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh recently said “dialogue and engagement is the best way forward… Unless we want to go to war with Pakistan, dialogue is the only way out.” Surely, the fallout of waging war on one’s own citizens is as serious, and perhaps more so, than the fallout of war between two states. Yet, from all accounts, the government is planning a major military offensive after the monsoons across several states, in an effort to wipe out the CPI (Maoist). This attempt to replicate the recently concluded war in Sri Lanka, will involve a similar huge cost in civilian lives, which is unacceptable in any country, which claims to be a constitutional democracy.
The military build-up by the government is accompanied by the increasing use of extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, and the enactment of security laws, which penalize ordinary freedom of expression. It has also involved, as in Chhattisgarh, the use of non-state actors like Salwa Judum to terrorise villagers, burn their homes and force them into camps or outside the state. Over a thousand people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced and rendered destitute by the Salwa Judum, SPOs and security forces acting in concert. In the context of Pakistan, the Prime Minister has said: “I was told that Mumbai was the work of non-state actors. I said this gave little satisfaction and that it was the duty of their government to ensure that such acts were not perpetrated from their territory.” What is applicable to the Government of Pakistan must be equally applicable to the Government of India and the Government of Chhattisgarh, which continues to support and promote the illegal activities of the Salwa Judum and Special Police Officers (SPOs). In addition, even when the Supreme Court has ordered that the Chhattisgarh government give compensation and rehabilitate victims of Salwa Judum and security forces, the CG Government has taken no action whatsoever.
The Home Minister’s statement that development will follow security is against all the principles of citizenship. It also views security in narrow terms as the security of the state, ignoring the real need of ordinary people to be secure from arbitrary arrests, killings and displacement. The police and security view of Naxalism as purely a law and order problem, which justifies the need for more security forces, more police stations and better weaponry ignores the socio-economic context which gave rise to Naxalism in the first place, including concerted corruption and harassment of the poor by the police in these areas. The militaristic approach of the Government of India and of the state governments to a situation which is an outcome of their own systematic and criminal neglect over the years of such underdeveloped regions, largely populated by the dalits and adivasis, cannot be allowed to become ‘the solution’ towards the resolution of the ongoing conflict. Indeed, the usual insensitivity of the administration and of the forces often from other states has often given it the character of an ethnic war, as is being witnessed in Lalgarh or Kalinganagar.
The Maoists have responded to the State offensive by retaliating through militarization. They are killing policemen, security personnel and those they deem informants, leading to an escalating spiral of violence. While they claim to draw their support from the people, their actions are putting at risk the very people they are fighting for, a risk that people are virtually being forced to take.
While the government and the Maoists are engaged in militarism, the real issues that concern the people have been lost or are severely neglected. Apart from the issue of affirming peoples rights over land and forests and stopping the widespread land acquisition without the consent of the local people and related displacement and dispossession that is taking place, significant issues related to people’s right to food security, good quality education and health, regular employment, and the ability to lead peaceful and dignified lives on an everyday basis has been seriously undermined due to this ongoing armed conflict.
As concerned citizens of this country, who wish for a peaceful, democratic and just resolution of conflicts, we urge the Central and the State governments and the Communist Party of India (Maoists) to:
1. Enter into a dialogue without pre-conditions
2. Put peoples’ security and welfare above everything else. Concerns regarding food security, unjust and forcible land acquisition that threatens livelihood should be addressed through dialogue and without escalated deployment of forces.
Endorsed by the following organizations and individuals:
Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), N Delhi
Campaign for Peace and Justice in Chhattisgarh
Center for Information & Intervention on Punjab
Hazards Centre, New Delhi
Human Rights Forum
Intercultural Resources, New Delhi
Medico Friends Circle
The Other Media
Panos South Asia
South Asia Forum for Human Rights
Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, Dantewada
Friends of South Asia
Dr. Pushkar Raj, PUCL
D. Bandyopadhaya, Council for Social Development, N. Delhi
Walter Fernandes, NESRC
Sibi Arash, Panos South Asia
Ajay Gudavarthy, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Tapan Bose, South Asia Forum for Human Rights, N Delhi
Aashima Suberwal, University of Delhi
Ananya Bhattacharya, Society for Labour and Development
Vrinda Grover, Lawyer
Jai Sen, CACIM
Vanvasi Chentna Ashram
Amit Bhaduri ,Professor Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University
K.B. Sayane, Council for Social Development, N. Delhi
Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), N Delhi
Faisal, NAPM/Asha Parivar
Akram, NAPM/Asha Parivar
Niraj Kumar, PUCL & Manwadhikar Patrika
Akhil Chowdry, Lawyer
Nadim, Delhi Forum
Harsh Bora, Student
Meghna Bramachari, Student
Subrat Kumar, Independent Film Maker
Shakkir Jameel, Advocate, Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR)
Ram Ratan Chatterjee, Writer & Human Rights Activist
K. Balgopal, Human Rights Forum, Hyderabad
Manoranjan Mohanty, Retired Prof., University of Delhi
Ashutosh Kumar, Student
Suvaid, University of Delhi
Seema Misra, Lawyer
Prof. Suvit Kaul
Pushkar Raj, People’s Union for Civil Liberties
Nivedita Menon, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Nandini Sundar, University of Delhi
Jawed Naqvi, Journalist /DAWN
Ashok Agarwal, Advocate, Center for Information & Intervention on Punjab
Dr.Umkant, Dalit Rights Activist
Dithli, New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI)
Bela Bhatia, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS)
Sarojini, Medico Friends Circle