Invitation for Public Meeting Against Military Bases in Central and Eastern India
The Indian state’s war on the people in the name of Operation Green Hunt (OGH) is about to complete two years. These two years have left a bloody trail of state brutalities. Soon after the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) started its second term in 2009, it was hell bent in repressing the people’s movements for their land, water, forests, and mountains. Thus it declared war against the people in the name of OGH. In the leadership of the central government, the state governments of Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, and other states unleashed the same war on the people. The adivasi population of central and eastern India has been subjected to extreme forms of state repression and brutalities since the beginning of OGH in the leadership of the Army. More than 2 lakh police and paramilitary forces have been deployed in the above-mentioned states. People in their hundreds have been killed in Chhattisgarh alone in the last two years. There the OGH was carried out by the paramilitary forces consisting of the CRPF, COBRA, Grey Hound, BSF, ITBP, C-60, CISF etc. along with the SPOs. These forces perpetrated mass murder of adivasis in various villages. Adivasis have been forced to flee to Andhra. There too, the illegal vigilante gangs of Chhattisgarh government – the Salwa Judum – have been oppressing the adivasis in various ways. Hardly any civil society bodies, democratic organizations or media are allowed to visit these areas to probe into these instances of atrocities perpetrated by the state. If someone tried to go to these places then the government-backed lumpens of Salwa Judum and Maa Danteshwari Swabhiman Manch have either harassed them or beaten them up in order to restrict them for entering these areas.
In Odisha, the CRPF has been widely utilized in the last two years to repress the people’s movements which are trying to reclaim people’s lands from the illegal appropriation of the landlords and the contractors. Within the last two months the armed forces of the government killed around 20 people related to peoples’ movements in fake encounters. All the dead were part of struggles against forced displacement in various places of Kashipur, Sundergarh, Gandhamadan, Niyamagiri, Kalinga Nagar etc. In the Adivasi areas of north and western Odisha, the people are forced to stay under the perpetual looming terror perpetrated by the state. In Jharkhand too, thousands of deployed forces are repressing the people. There too a number of people have been killed in fake encounters. In Kharasamba and Latehar alone almost 30 cases of harassment and repression by the police and paramilitary forces have been registered. In these incidents the police forces have slapped false cases on the people, they have been tortured with illegal third degree methods, their houses have been set on fire, their forests have been burnt, encroached in social affairs like marriages, and so on. They have even arrested women for the ‘crime’ of wearing salwar kameez. Serious cases have been slapped on persons without any basis who have stood by people’s movements. In addition, the government is using various mercenary gangs like the TPC, JPC, JLT etc. to finish off militant struggles of the masses, particularly targeting their leadership.
The repression ushered in by CPI (M), the ruling party of West Bengal, on the people of Jangal Mahal is known to all. In Lalgarh area more than 50 armed training camps of CPI (M) are being run illegally with the full consent of the state government. There are more than 1600 Harmad goons in these camps who ruthlessly repress the villagers and play the same role as the SPOs of Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh. In West Bengal the Joint Armed Forces, the Harmads and the Gana Pratirodh Committee (GPC) have so far brutally killed more than a hundred people. The leaders of People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), like Lalmohan Tudu, Umakant Mahato, Sidhu Soren have been killed by the CRPF in fake encounters. Hundreds of people have been arrested and jailed under draconian charges. They had put the entire area under section 144 and heavily scuttled the democratic rights of the people in the area. In order to malign the movement the police staged the Jnaneshwari Train ‘accident’ which resulted into the deaths of hundreds of people. In Bihar, as soon as the Nitish Kumar government was elected for the second term, it intensified its repression on militant people’s movement. Following the notorious Andhra model the Bihar government is doing covert operations to exterminate the leadership of revolutionary and democratic movements.
With the objective of intensifying the war, the state has now announced the setting up of Indian Army bases in the adivasi areas. According to the Indian Army, two training camps, one in Narayanpur district of Chhattisgarh and the other in Raygada district of Odisha will be set up soon. Going by the army sources, these so-called training camps will be of the same model as the Jungle Warfare Schools in Mizoram and Kanker. The question is: what is the need of setting up army training camps right in the middle of the country at this juncture? The real motive behind setting up these ‘camps’ is not merely to provide ‘training’, but is aimed to serve strategic purposes for the state. Since the last few years the Indian state which is parroting the phrase “Naxalism is the biggest threat to internal security”, has been trying all means to repress the people’s movements that are growing against its agenda of corporate loot of natural resources. These camps should be seen as a part of furthering that same agenda. Although the Indian Army has so far denied any plan of undertaking direct combat action against the Naxalites, there can be no explanation for establishing such infrastructure for the army other than intensifying the war on the people of these regions.
The setting up of army bases in Chhattisgarh and Odisha is a precursor to Indian Army’s induction into the war on people as direct combatants. If such an extensive scale of state repression has been carried out even before the direct involvement of the army in combat role, one can well imagine the situation after its entry. It is however known that both the Army and the Air Force have been closely involved in OGH from its very inception. Now the Air Force is given the license to shoot and kill, although in the name of ‘self-defense’. It is worth noting that the central coordination of this Operation from its inception has been done by the army. Army officials of the brigadier rank have been appointed in the office of the home ministry to coordinate this operation. Moreover the forces deployed in the operation have been trained in the Jungle Warfare School in Mizoram which is run by the army. The army is also training the forces in the Jungle Warfare School set up in Kanker district of Chhattisgarh.
Operation Green Hunt is a multi-pronged attack on the people and their movements. In the past too, a sub-command of the army was set up in Bilaspur which was directly under the army central command. Moreover, the ‘Unified command Structure’ has been already put in place in order to centrally coordinate OGH in various states under the central Home Ministry. In the pretext of setting up ‘training camps’ the state is preparing the army to confront the struggling people directly. According to The Hindu the army has marked out 600 square kilometers for its camp out of the 4000 sq.km. area of Abujhmad. Thus by carving out such a big area the army will not only clear the forests but will also displace the local people. There will be invariable use of force to displace the people living here. So in the process of setting up of camps the army will attack the people and in the name of land-grab they will perpetrate further atrocities. This is clear from a statement made by the army in ‘Jansatta’ on 23 March 2011, where they clearly stated to have “the right to attack first and not always to wait for their enemy to attack first”. Thus training camp is just a pretext to actually spread state-terror in this region to devastate the forests, grab the land and mineral resources and ravage the people’s movements. The army trainer in Kanker, Brigadier Panwar spoke about his intentions in clear terms by declaring that “this is to tell the Maoists clearly that the lion is waiting right outside your doorstep”.
The incursion of the Army must be opposed. The central government has an undeclared understanding that the central region of the country belongs to foreign corporates. Thus although they sugar-coated their project with terms like ‘training’ etc. they are actually trying desperately to remove the entire adivasi population from this region and hand over the land and resources to the corporates. As a part of the same project they had earlier used Salwa Judum to clear 650 villages and forced its residents to migrate outside or stay in government camps as prisoners. When the force of people’s movements ousted this project of the government, the state is now using army to further its agenda. That is why they are planning to capture this huge area of 600 sq km. Using these bases as their stepping stone, the army would penetrate deep into the forested adivasi areas and ‘clear’ them for the corporate. This will be done by using the might of force and by unleashing violence, thereby pushing the country towards an inevitable civil war. Forum against War on People appeals to the progressive and democratic sections of the society to raise a strong voice of protest and opposition to the Indian state’s decision of setting up these army bases, so as to put a stop to this genocidal war on people.
— Forum against War on People
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