March 6, 2010
Dubbing the Centre’s talk of ceasefire and talks with naxals “non-serious,” members of democratic and civil rights organisations on Friday demanded that the state stop the military offensive, Operation Greenhunt, “against its own people” and initiate back-channel talks with the CPI (Maoist).
Addressing a press conference here, writer and human rights activist Arundhati Roy said: “The government’s use of the military to solve political problems is not new. The government has long since followed a policy of extermination against the Maoist movement. But each time the movement has come back stronger and better organised as it is not the people but an ideology under attack and this ideology cannot be wiped out by attacking tribals in the name of defeating Maoism. Moreover, considering the fact that no one has defined the word ‘Maoist’, if the government talks of wiping them out, then it refers to a genocidal language where it could be dispensing with lakhs of people who are anyway fragile and on the brink of survival.”
Ms. Roy said: “We are in a situation wherein corporatisation of natural resources such as coal and iron ore has led to scandals galore and it is this money which can buy governments, elections, courts and media, making our democracy the best democracy that money can buy today. Despite a large number of farmer suicides and a majority of the population living below poverty line, we have the most expensive elections in the world and the money for the same comes from the iron ores of Karnataka and Chhattisgarh and bauxite in Orissa which is then is used to cleverly subvert democracy and wage war against its own people.”
Sumit Chakravartty, Editor, Mainstream magazine, said: “The Union government has undertaken the task of launching a full-scale war against the indigenous tribal population in the vast tribal heartlands. The most important thing for talks to be successful between the CPI (Maoist) and the government is that it has to be a mutual affair of cessation of hostilities. It cannot be one-sided. While asking the Maoists to abjure violence, the Centre should also do the same and initiate back-channel talks, but so far this seriousness and initiative on the part of the government has been lacking.”
Alluding to the treatment meted out to social activists working in naxal-affected areas in Chhattisgarh, he said: “The government’s allegation that the Maoists are not allowing development works to take place is hollow because if that was true, then why would civil society and voluntary organisation representatives working for the uplift of the Maoists be targeted? Since the government is not interested in the development of tribals, a large number of them have joined the Maoists as it is a question of survival for them.”
In a blind alley
By opting to settle the issue militarily, instead of finding a political solution, “the government has already entered a blind alley and there is no win-win situation here as you cannot destroy the tribal’s resolve for survival.”