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Chidambaram Vs the Adivasis! January 3, 2011

Posted by Gomathi Reddy in Desi Indian, News and Current Affairs, Politics.
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Chidambaram and the Adivasis –

How One Man Goes About Destroying the Original Dwellers of India!

2010 will go back in my memory as a year filled with enriching-thoughts and burnt-down energy.  Many things in the public domain affected me, but the one that hit my gut most intensely, was the state of the Adivasis, in my land.

When a friend of mine shared a video about Adivasis and their plight, it moved me to tears….and in a way I was ashamed to be an Indian.  While many appreciated the video, which was touching and beautifully filmed, I felt it was meant to stir an outcry in us, and it was not about appreciating film-making or its aesthetics.  It is time we protected the “Adi-vasi,” the original dweller of this land,  from their very own representatives of political power.

While the North and East continue to experience uprisings, and the Maoists – for good or for bad  – are fighting for them, in Andhra Pradesh the PWG has been waging a war ever since the sixties.  Called the Naxalites, Naxals or Naxalvadis, the Maoists and the People’s War Group (PWG) in various parts of the country, their concentration is co-ordinated in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharastra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal –   popularly referred to as the “Red Corridor.”  This is also the nation’s  extremely mineral rich belt.  For instance Chhattisgarh is said to be India’s richest state in terms of mineral wealth, with 28 varieties of major minerals, including diamonds, according to the Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation (CMDC). And it is an open secret that mining companies are well-connected to political parties across the nation, across ideologies.

Union Home Minister P.Chidrambaram, is a front runner to posing the biggest threat to the tribals and their lands, and it is said that there is nothing “green” about his Operation “Green Hunt.”  His military offensive supposedly to quell the Maoists was increasingly referred to as the “war against tribals.” Why would he do this?

Chidambaram, until May 2004, was the non-executive director of Vedanta, a British mining company which has been embroiled in controversies over inappropriate land grabbing methods used against the tribals.  He gave up that position, when he became the finance minister, but Vedanta’s billions come from many such heinous supportive acts from the big-wigs in the government.  And it is just a coincidence that Sterlite Industries a subsidiary of Vedanta which was under the scanner for income tax and customs duties evasions was let off the hook as soon as Chidambaram became the finance minister.

When he took over as the Union Home Minister, his “Operation Green Hunt” was meant to flush out the Maoists, but anyone in the business knew that it was aimed only at helping mining companies.  The military and state sponsored oppression was used to threaten and drive the tribals out of their land, and it was then expected to be a free fall for all the babus, the Vedantas and the Chidambarams!

Chidambaram, the sauve well-spoken, arbitration advocate knows the law well enough to beat it – slap the crime on innocents, and process their spoils as “progress.”  In one of his addresses on NDTV, I watched him make a cool, “do you want tribals not to get education like you?  Do you want them to remain backward? We want them into the main stream.  We want their children to go to school.  We want them to….blah, blah, blah…” stuff, as one student in the audience got highly emotional about how his policies were displacing people in hordes.  What cheek to look at public in the eye, and utter such blatant lies!

Chidambaram should know his act well enough to brush aside such genuine concerns of the ordinary Indian citizen.  According to the Committee on State Agrarian Relations and Unfinished Task of Land Reforms. Volume I, draft report, pg 161. Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, New Delhi, “There was initial resistance to land acquisition and displacement from the tribals. The state withdrew its plans under fierce resistance … A new approach was necessary if the rich loads of iron ore are to be mined.  The new approach came about with the Salwa Judum … [Its] first financiers … were Tata and the Essar … It turned out to be an open war between brothers. 640 villages as per official statistics were laid bare, burnt to the ground and emptied with the force of the gun and the blessings of the state. 350,000 tribals, half the total population of Dantewada district are displaced, their women folk raped, their daughters killed, and their youth maimed. Those who could not escape into the jungle were herded together into refugee camps run and managed by the Salwa Judum. Others continue to hide in the forest or have migrated to the nearby tribal tracts in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. 640 villages are empty. Villages sitting on tons of iron ore are effectively de-peopled and available for the highest bidder. The latest information that is being circulated is that both Essar Steel and Tata Steel are willing to take over the empty landscape and manage the mines.”

Quite obviously he is too much part of the motive and the unfolding drama to bother reading the report.  His Operation Green Hunt was just a continuation of the Salwa Judum, under a different garb, armed with greater offensive, empowering him to kill more civilians and defence personnel, than Maoists.  The harsh truth is, it was only meant to force the tribals out of their land and they did – to escape from such government sponsored attacks.

In one more of his infamous, soft-spoken, clarity-rich-tone he said in an interview that he needed “air cover, to protect the security forces and chief ministers on the ground.” From whom?  From what?  Is this a law and order problem created by the tribals, the Maoists or is it created by the government?  Portraying the Maoists as “violent” and hence the need for  “physically eliminating them” has been an insensitive approach, that not just suppresses, but denies an opportunity for political thought-leadership to be heard and given credence to.  After all, we are supposed to be a pluralistic nation and all stake holders have to be called to the table for discussions.  But, for the Union Home Minister P.Chidambaram, it is that much more easier to go ahead with his agenda, by depicting them as “hostile to urban civil societies,” and continue his aggressive misuse of power.

While there is no supporting any extortionist moves by the Maoists, who claim to represent the tribals, there is no denying the fact that the Adivasis need our support.  They need our protection.  They need their lands, and their livelihood.  They don’t need a babu education that could make them one more chaprasi in an MNC, occupying their land, handed in a platter to them at throw away prices by the very government that is supposed to take care of the “original dweller’s” needs!

Now if anyone points this out, they can be dubbed “anti-national.”  They could be charged with “sedition.” They can be thrown behind bars without any amnesty or scope for a bail.  According to P.Chidambaram and his government, the Arundhati Roys and Binayak Sens are the ones creating the problems, which otherwise didn’t exist! And ironically, P.Chidrambaram who will do anything to advance his, and his family’s personal interests, may go down the history of Independent India as one of its  greatest sons.

Why do we close our eyes, plug our ears and shut our mouth to injustices to our own people, whose water is poisoned, whose homes are destroyed and whose lives are not even a record in the voters list?

Further Reading/Viewing:

Special Article – Chidambaram must quit

Expansion without Regulation

Orissa Mining – Arundhati Roy

Chidambaram Unmasked – Tamil Video

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Comments»

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