Archive for December 15th, 2009

Everything is Fair for Raman Singh’s Government.

15 December 2009
When I had first heard the news from Himanshu Kumar that Chidambaram had agreed to attend a public hearing at Dantewada, I had felt a sense of deep apprehension rather than relief. The reaction may have looked strange, but I had voiced my concerns then in an email on 16th November. “This doesn’t come as a surprise as Chidambaram himself made this offer in his interview to Tehalka Magazine. Prima facie the news of public hearing is very welcome. The national media will be present in full strength for ‘breaking the news’. The voices from beyond the margins of society will be heard in full glare of publicity for the first time. But there is also a palpable danger. I have heard umpteen times of instances that project affected people have been and are often prevented from attending public hearings by interested parties & their thugs. Government machinery either acts as a mute collaborator or even participates in such sabotage. What would prevent such attempts from repeating even in the present case? If that happens the ‘Adivasis’ at the public hearing of Chidambaram will be made up of ‘Salwa Judum’ or ‘Sarkari Advasis’. Then only a false counter narrative will again emerge at the meeting in full nationwide publicity. That will be a huge blow for the cause of tribes & poor, because the same prejudices & stereotypes that VCA & others are fighting against will become further entrenched. There are many including VCA who have long experience of fighting State neglect, apathy & depredation. I hope they would come up with solid counter measures to prevent such high jacking of an event that has obvious value for the struggle of the oppressed”.
I had at that time carried an impression that the government of Raman Singh will use subtlety & tact to achieve its aim of discrediting activists struggling for tribal welfare by showing that the stories they tell of atrocities by government machinery are a figment of their imagination, much like Operation Green Hunt is of media’s, as there would be none or few tribals present (read stopped from attending the public hearing) to corroborate those stories. The same venue however will be crowded with Salwa Judum members, who will sing paeans to the benevolence of Raman Singh’s government. But Raman Singh’ government seems free of any such pretenses.  Ma Danteshwari Adivasi Swabhiman Manch (lead by BJP – Vijay Tiwari / Congress – Avadesh Gautam) held rally on 10th December at Dantewada of some 8 thousand people brought from Salwa Judum camps wherein their leaders made wild allegations against Himanshu Kumar & Vanvasi Chetna Manch. Yet they are afraid of letting even less than hundred people to go on a padayaatraa from the 14th December. Read these reports.
Hundreds of Padyatris have been harassed and detained throughout their journey from Raipur to Dantewara, and many of them have been illegally detained at Kondagaon police station in Bastar, while their vehicles have been seized and drivers threatened. It is a matter of yet another concern for peace-loving and democratic citizens and organizations that the Director General of Police (DGP) Sri Vishwaranjan is heading the state police administration which is systematically carrying out this Fascist attack on the padayatris, whose credibility is well-established through their lives and work. Padyatris include Dr. Sandeep Pandey, Megsaysay Award Winner from UP, Madhuri of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, MP, Beena of Navsarjan, Gujarat,  Zulekha Jabeen, Bhartiya Muslim Women’s Organisation, Raipur, Vijay, Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights, Kolkata, Leena Ganesh, Research Scholar, Mumbai, Rinchin of MP Mahila Manch, Bhopal, Bhan Sahu, Jurmil Morcha, Ambagarh-chawki, Meera, Mahila Mukti Morcha, Arti Chaksi, PUCL-Bangalore”.
Stage managed Salwa Judum demonstration outside Himanshu’s Ashram. ….This mob was led by Zilla Panchayat President Chhabindra Karma, son
of the infamous leader of the Salwa Judum Mahendra Karma, Chaitram Atami and Sukhdeo Tati. Himanshu Kumar invited the Salwa Judum leaders for a dialogue. As the leaders had finished making their statements demanding that Himanshu Kumar stop supporting the naxalites and stop making demands for withdrawl of security forces…..
On December 14, Gandhian Himanshu Kumar, director, Vanwasi Chetna Ashram (VCA) Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, will lead a padyatra for peace through the adivasi areas of Bastar. But on Saturday morning, he was asked by the dharamshala which he had booked for those joining him from all over the country, to take back his deposit as the booking had been cancelled by the Collector. On Friday, his right-hand man, tribal leader Kopa Kunjam was charged with murder and arrested.
I find Raman Singh’s BJP government least concerned about niceties in its conduct & public image secure that it is in the knowledge of full support of Manmohan Singh’s Congress government & of mainstream media. Civil & Police administration are working in cohort with political establishment like well oiled machine to bludgeon the voices of dissent into oblivion. The press cuttings of NavBharat and HariBhumi of 11th & 12th December show wide coverage given to Salwa Judum rally and of publishing of wild charges (He Collects tens of millions of rupees in the name of poor tribals and keeps his family in great creature comforts in luxurious bungalows in Bangalore, Delhi & Dehradun) made by speakers against Himanshu Kumar & Vanvasi Chetna Manch without paraphrasing them asalleged”. Brazenness of whole endeavour is breadth taking. What avenue to express injustice on tribals this show of might has left?