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India: Statement condemns government military offensive against the Indigenous people

Adivasi women protest in West Bengal.

October 14, 2009 -- Sanhati is a collective of activists/academics who have been working in solidarity with peoples' movements in India by providing information and analysis (see

We have been profoundly disturbed by the Indian government's reported plans to launch an unprecedented military offensive in the huge forested regions of central India, populated by millions of Indigenous tribes (adivasis), for stamping out an alleged Maoist insurgency. We feel that this will be a democratic and humanitarian disaster. Hence we have taken the initiative, in consultation with progressive intellectuals, to draft a statement of protest against the Indian government's military offensive and have circulated it among democratic and peace-loving citizens of India and the world for endorsement.

Below is the statement, the list of signatories (which includes many eminent intellectuals/academics) and a background note which puts the current conflict into perspective.

* * *

To Dr. Manmohan Singh Prime Minister,

Government of India,

South Block, Raisina Hill, New Delhi,

India-110 011.

We are deeply concerned by the Indian government's plans for launching an unprecedented military offensive by army and paramilitary forces in the adivasi (Indigenous people) populated regions of Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Orissa and West Bengal states. The stated objective of the offensive is to "liberate" these areas from the influence of Maoist rebels. Such a military campaign will endanger the lives and livelihoods of millions of the poorest people living in those areas, resulting in massive displacement, destitution and human rights violation of ordinary citizens. To hunt down the poorest of Indian citizens in the name of trying to curb the shadow of an insurgency is both counterproductive and vicious. The ongoing campaigns by paramilitary forces, buttressed by anti-rebel militias, organised and funded by government agencies, have already created a civil war like situation in some parts of Chattisgarh and West Bengal, with hundreds killed and thousands displaced. The proposed armed offensive will not only aggravate the poverty, hunger, humiliation and insecurity of the adivasi people, but also spread it over a larger region.

Grinding poverty and abysmal living conditions that has been the lot of India’s adivasi population has been complemented by increasing state violence since the neoliberal turn in the policy framework of the Indian state in the early 1990s. Whatever little access the poor had to forests, land, rivers, common pastures, village tanks and other common property resources has come under increasing attack by the Indian state in the guise of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and other "development" projects related to mining, industrial development, information technology parks, etc.

The geographical terrain, where the government's military offensive is planned to be carried out, is very rich in natural resources like minerals, forest wealth and water, and has been the target of large-scale appropriation by several corporations. The desperate resistance of the local Indigenous people against their displacement and dispossession has in many cases prevented the government-backed corporations from making inroads into these areas. We fear that the government's offensive is also an attempt to crush such popular resistances in order to facilitate the entry and operation of these corporations and to pave the way for unbridled exploitation of the natural resources and the people of these regions.

It is the widening levels of disparity and the continuing problems of social deprivation and structural violence, and the state repression on the non-violent resistance of the poor and marginalised against their dispossession, which gives rise to social anger and unrest and takes the form of political violence by the poor. Instead of addressing the source of the problem, the Indian state has decided to launch a military offensive to deal with this problem: kill the poor and not the poverty, seems to be the implicit slogan of the Indian government.

We feel that it would deliver a crippling blow to Indian democracy if the government tries to subjugate its own people militarily without addressing their grievances. Even as the short-term military success of such a venture is very doubtful, enormous misery for the common people is not in doubt, as has been witnessed in the case of numerous insurgent movements in the world. We urge the Indian government to immediately withdraw the armed forces and stop all plans for carrying out such military operations that has the potential for triggering a civil war which will inflict widespread misery on the poorest and most vulnerable section of the Indian population and clear the way for the plundering of their resources by corporations. We call upon all democratic-minded people to join us in this appeal.

[See below ``Background notes'' for the list of Indian and international signatories. If you would like to add your name to the statement, please email (Hindi version here, Bengali version here, Telugu version here).]

Background notes (not part of the statement)

It has been widely reported in the press that the Indian government is planning an unprecedented military offensive against alleged Maoist rebels, using paramilitary and counter-insurgency forces, possibly the Indian armed forces and even the Indian air force. This military operation is going to be carried out in the forested and semi-forested rural areas of the states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand,West Bengal and Maharashtra, populated mainly by the tribal (Indigenous) people of India. Reportedly, the offensive has been planned in consultation with US counterinsurgency agencies.

To put the Indian government’s proposed military offensive in proper perspective one needs to understand the economic, social and political background to the conflict. In particular, there are three dimensions of the crisis that needs to be emphasised, because it is often overlooked: (a) the development failure of the post-colonial Indian state, (b) the continued existence and often exacerbation of the structural violence faced by the poor and marginalised, and (c) the full-scale assault on the meagre resource base of the peasantry and the tribal (Indigenous people) in the name of “development”.

Let us look at each of these in turn, but before we do so it needs to be stressed that the facts we mention below are not novel; they are well known if only conveniently forgotten. Most of these facts were pointed out by the April 2008 Report of the Expert Group of the Planning Commission of the Indian Government (headed by retired civil servant D. Bandopadhyay) to study “development challenges in extremist-affected areas”.

The post-colonial Indian state, both in its earlier Nehruvian and the more recent neoliberal variant, has failed miserably to solve the basic problems of poverty, employment and income, housing, primary health care, education and inequality and social discrimination of the people of the country. The utter failure of the development strategy of the post-colonial state is the ground on which the current conflict arises.

To recount some well-known but oft-forgotten facts, recall that about 77 percent of the Indian population in 2004-05 had a per capita daily consumption expenditure of less than Rs. 20; that is less than 50 cents by the current nominal exchange rate between the rupee and the US dollar and about US$2 in purchasing power parity terms. According to the 2001 census, even 62 years after political independence, only about 42 per cent of Indian households have access to electricity. About 80 per cent of the households do not have access to safe drinking water; that is a staggering 800 million people lacking access to potable water.

What is the condition of the working people in the country? Ninety-three percent of the workforce, the overwhelming majority of the working people in India, are what the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS) called “informal workers”; these workers lack any employment security and social security. About 58 per cent of them work in the agricultural sector and the rest is engaged in manufacturing and services. Wages are very low and working conditions extremely onerous, leading to persistent and deep poverty, which has been increasing over the last decade and a half in absolute terms: the number of what the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS) called the “poor and vulnerable” increased from 811 million in 1999-00 to 836 million in 2004-05.

Since majority of the working people still work in the agricultural sector, the economic stagnation in agriculture is a major cause for the continued poverty of the vast majority of the people. Since the Indian state did not undertake land reforms in any meaningful sense, the distribution of land remains extremely skewed to this day. Close to 60 per cent of rural households are effectively landless; and extreme economic vulnerability and despair among the small and marginal peasantry has resulted in the largest wave of suicides in history: between 1997 and 2007, 182,936 farmers committed suicide. This is the economic setting of the current conflict.

But in this sea of poverty and misery, there are two sections of the population that are much worse off than the rest: the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) population. On almost all indicators of social wellbeing, the SCs and STs are worse off than the general population: poverty rates are higher, landlessness is higher, infant mortality rates are higher, levels of formal education are lower, and so on. To understand this differential in social and economic deprivation we need to look at the second aspect of the current crisis that we had alluded to: structural violence.

There are two dimensions of this structural violence: (a) oppression, humiliation and discrimination along the lines of caste and ethnicity and (b) regular harassment, violence and torture by arms of the state. For the SC and ST population, therefore, the violence of poverty, hunger and abysmal living conditions has been complemented and worsened by the structural violence that they encounter daily. It is the combination of the two, general poverty and the brutality and injustice of the age-old caste system, kept alive by countless social practices despite numerous legislative measures by the Indian state, that makes this the most economically deprived and socially marginalised section of the Indian population.

This social discrimination, humiliation and oppression is of course very faithfully reflected in the behaviour of the police and other law-enforcement agencies of the state towards the poor SC and ST population, who are constantly harassed, beaten up and arrested on the slightest pretext. For this population, therefore, the state has not only totally neglected their economic and social development, it is an oppressor and exploiter.

While the SC and ST population together account for close to a quarter of the Indian population, they are the overwhelming majority in the areas where the Indian government proposes to carry out its military offensive against alleged Maoist rebels. This, then, is the social background of the current conflict.

This brings us to the third dimension of the problem: unprecedented attack on the access of the marginalised and poor to common property resources. Compounding the persistent poverty and the continuing structural violence has been the state’s recent attempt to usurp the meagre resource base of the poor and marginalised, a resource base that was so far largely outside the ambit of the market. The neoliberal turn in the policy framework of the Indian state since the mid 1980s has, therefore, only further worsened the problems of economic vulnerability and social deprivation.

Whatever little access the poor had to forests, land, rivers, common pastures, village tanks and other common property resources to cushion their inevitable slide into poverty and immiserisation has come under increasing attack by the Indian state in the guise of so-called development projects: Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and other “development” projects related to mining, industrial development, information technology parks, etc.

Despite numerous protests from people and warnings from academics, the Indian state has gone ahead with the establishment of 531 SEZs. The SEZs are areas of the country where labour and tax laws have been consciously weakened, if not totally abrogated by the state to “attract” foreign and domestic capital; SEZs, almost by definition, require a large and compact tract of land, and thus inevitably mean the loss of land, and thus livelihood, by the peasantry. To the best of our knowledge, there have been no serious, rigorous cost-benefit analysis of these projects to date; but this does not prevent the government from claiming that the benefits of these projects, in terms of employment generation and income growth, will far outweigh the costs of revenue loss from foregone taxes and lost livelihoods due to the assault on land.

The opposition to the acquisition of land for these SEZ and similar projects have another dimension to it. Dr Walter Fernandes, who has studied the process of displacement in post-independence India in great detail, suggests that around 60 million people have faced displacement between 1947 and 2004; this process of displacement has involved about 25 million hectares of land, which includes 7 million hectares of forests and 6 million hectares of other common property resources.

How many of these displaced people have been resettled? Only one in every three. Thus, there is every reason for people not to believe the government’s claims that those displaced from their land will be, in any meaningful sense, resettled. This is one of the most basic reasons for the opposition to displacement and dispossession.

But, how have the rich done during this period of unmitigated disaster for the poor? While the poor have seen their incomes and purchasing power tumble down precipitously in real terms, the rich have, by all accounts, prospered beyond their wildest dreams since the onset of the liberalisation of the Indian economy. There is widespread evidence from recent research that the levels of income and wealth inequality in India has increased steadily and drastically since the mid 1980s. A rough overview of this growing inequality is found by juxtaposing two well-known facts: (a) in 2004-05, 77 per cent of the population spent less than Rs. 20 a day on consumption expenditure; and (b) according to the annual World Wealth Report released by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini in 2008, the millionaire population in India grew in 2007 by 22.6 per cent from the previous year, which is higher than in any other country in the world.

It is, thus, the development disaster of the Indian state, the widening levels of disparity and the continuing problems of social deprivation and structural violence when compounded by the all-out effort to restrict access to common property resources that, according to the Expert Group of the Planning Commission, give rise to social anger, desperation and unrest.

In almost all cases the affected people try to ventilate their grievances using peaceful means of protest: processions, sit-down demonstrations, petitions. The response of the state is remarkably consistent in all these cases: it cracks down on the peaceful protesters, sends in armed goons to attack the people, slaps false charges against the leaders and arrests them and often also resorts to police shootings and violence to terrorise the people. We only need to remember Singur, Nandigram, Kalinganagar and countless other instances where peaceful and democratic forms of protest were crushed by the state with ruthless force.

It is, thus, the action of the state that blocks off all forms of democratic protest and forces the poor and dispossessed to take up arms to defend their rights, as has been pointed out by social activists like Arundhati Roy. The Indian government’s proposed military offensive will repeat that story all over again. Instead of addressing the source of the conflict, instead of addressing the genuine grievances of the marginalised people along the three dimensions that we have pointed to, the Indian state seems to have decided to opt for the extremely myopic option of launching a military offensive.

It is also worth remembering that the geographical terrain, where the government’s military offensive is planned, is very well endowed with natural resources like minerals, forest wealth, biodiversity and water resources, and has of late been the target of systematic usurpation by several large, both Indian and foreign, corporations. So far, the resistance of the local Indigenous people against their displacement and dispossession has prevented the government-backed corporates from exploiting the natural resources for their own profits and without regard to ecological and social concerns.

We fear that the government’s offensive is also an attempt to crush such democratic and popular resistance against dispossession and impoverishment; the whole move seems to be geared towards facilitating the entry and operation of these large corporations and paving the way for unbridled exploitation of the natural resources and people of these regions.

National signatories

Arundhati Roy, Author and Activist, India
Amit Bhaduri, Professor Emeritus, Center for Economic Studies and
Planning, JNU, India
Sandeep Pandey, Social Activist, N.A.P.M., India
Manoranjan Mohanty, Durgabai Deshmukh Professor of Social Development,
Council for Social Development, India
Prashant Bhushan, Supreme Court Advocate, India
Nandini Sundar, Professor of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics,
University of Delhi, India
Colin Gonzalves, Supreme Court Advocate, India
Arvind Kejriwal, Social Activist, India
Arundhati Dhuru, Activist, N.A.P.M., India
Swapna Banerjee-Guha, Department of Geography, University of Mumbai, India
Anand Patwardhan, Film Maker, India
Dipankar Bhattachararya, General Secretary, Communist Party of India
(Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, India
Bernard D’Mello, Associate Editor, Economic and Political Weekly (EPW), India
Sumit Sarkar, Retired Professor of History, Delhi University, India
Tanika Sarkar, Professor of History, J.N.U., India
Gautam Navlakha, Consulting Editor, Economic and Political Weekly, India
Madhu Bhaduri, Ex-ambassador
Sumanta Banerjee, Writer, India
Dr. Vandana Shiva, Philosopher, Writer, Environmental Activist, India
M.V. Ramana, Visiting Research Scholar, Program in Science, Technology,
and Environmental Policy; Program on Science and Global Security,
Princeton University, USA
Dipanjan Rai Chaudhari, Retired Professor, Presidency College, India
G. N. Saibaba, Assistant Professor, University of Delhi
Amit Bhattacharyya, Professor, Department of History. Jadavpur University,
D.N. Jha, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Delhi, India
Paromita Vohra, Devi Pictures
Sunil Shanbag, Theater Director
Saroj Giri, Lecturer in Political Science, Delhi University, India
Sudeshna Banerjee, Department of History, Jadavpur University, India
Achin Chakraborty, Professor of Economics, Institute of Development
Studies, Calcutta University Alipore, India
Anand Chakravarty, Retired Professor, Delhi University, India
Anjan Chakrabarti, Professor of Economics, Calcutta University, India
Subha Chakraborty Dasgupta, Professor, Jadavpur University, India
Uma Chakravarty, Retired Professor, Delhi University, India
Kunal Chattopadhyay, Professor of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur
University, India
Amiya Dev, Emiritus Professor of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur
University, India
Subhash Gatade, Writer and Social Activisit, India
Abhijit Guha, Vidyasagar University, India
Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA, India
Gauri Lankesh, Editor, Lankesh Patrike, India
Pulin B. Nayak, Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi
University, India
Imrana Qadeer, Retired Professor, Centre of Social Medicine and Community
Health, J.N.U., India
Neshant Quaiser, Associate Professor, Jamia Millia Islamia, Central
University, Department of Sociology, India
Ramdas Rao, President, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Bangalore Unit,
Shereen Ratnagar, Retired Professor, Center for Historical Studies, JNU,
Rahul Varman, Professor, Department of Industrial and Management
Engineering, IIT Kanpur, India
Padma Velaskar, Professor, Center for Studies in the Sociology of
Education, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India
Hilal Ahmed, Associate Fellow, Center for the Studies of Development of
Societies, India
Reetha Balsavar
Sriparna Bandopadhyay, India
Chinmoy Banerjee
Kaushik Banyopadhyay, Student, IIT KGP, India
Pranab Kanti Basu, Department of Economics and Politics, Vishwa Bharati
University, India
Harsh Bora, Student, Delhi Law Faculty, India
Kaushik Bose, Reader, Vidyasagar University, India
Shitansu Shekhar Chakraborty, Student, IIT Kharagpur, India
Rabin Chakraborty
Indira Chakravarthi, Public Health Researcher, India
Nandini Chandra, Member of Faculty, Delhi University, India
Navin Chandra, Visiting Senior Fellow, Institude of Human Development, India
Jagadish Chandra, New Socialist Alternative, CWI, India
Pratyush Chandra, Activist, Freelance Journalist, and Researcher, India
Dhiman Chatterjee, IIT Chennai, India
Debarshi Das, IIT Guwahati, India
Probal Dasgupta, Linguistic Research Unit, I.S.I., India
Surya Shankar Dash, Independent Filmmaker, India
Ashokankur Datta, Graduate Student, I.S.I. (Planning Unit), India
Soumik Dutta
S. Dutta, Delhi Platform, India
Madhumita Dutta, Green Youth Movement, India, Based in Chennai
Durga Prasad Duvvuri, Independent Management Consultant, India
Ajit Eapen, Mumbai, India
Sampath G, Mumbai, India
Lena Ganesh
M.S. Ganesh
Pothik Ghosh, Editor, Radical Notes, India
Rajeev Godara, General Secretary, Sampooran Kranti Manch, Haryana
(associated with Lok Rajniti Manch), India (Also an Advocatein Punjab and
Haryana High Courts)
Jacob, South Asia Study Center
Manish Jain, Assistant Professor, Center for Studies of Sociology of
Education, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India
Shishir K. Jha, IIT Mumbai, India
Avinash K. Jha, Assistant Professor of Economics, Shri Ram College of
Commerce, India
Bodhisattva Kar, Fellow in History, Center for Studies in Social Science,
Harish Karnick, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Kanpur,
Sumbul Jawed Khan, Biological Sciences and Bio. Eng. Department, IIT
Kanpur, India
Ravi Kumar, Editor of Radical Notes and Assistant Professor, Jamia Millia
Islamia, Central University, India
Abhijit Kundu, Faculty, Sociology, University of Delhi
Soumik Majumder
Dishery Malakar
Julie Koppel Maldonado
Dr Nandini Manjrekar, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
Soma Marik
Satyabrata Mitra
Siddhartha Mitra
Tista Mitra, Journalist, India
Najeeb Mubarki, Assistant Editor, Editorial page, Economic Times, India
Dipankar Mukherjee, PDF, Delhi, India
Subhasis Mukhopadhyay, Frontier
Sakuntala Narsimhan, Writer, India
Nalini Nayak, Reader in Economics, PGDAV College, Delhi University, India
Soheb ur Rahman Niazi, Student, Jamia Milia Islamia, India
Rahul Pandey
Jai Pushp, Activist, Naujawan Bharat Sabha, India
Divya Rajagopal
Ramendra, Delhi Shramik Sangathan, India
V. Nagendra Rao, Council for Social Development, Hyderabad, India
Sankar Ray, Columnist
Kirity Roy, MASUM and PACTI, India
Atanu Roy
Anindyo Roy
Dunu Roy, Social Activist, India
Sanjoy Kumar Saha, Reader, CSE department, Jadavpur University, India
Sandeep, Freelance Journalist
Dr. K. Saradamoni, Retired Academic
Madhu Sarin, Social Activist
Satyam, Rahul Foundation and Dayitvbodh, India
Jhuma Sen, Delhi
Samita Sen, Professor, Women’s Studies, Jadavpur University, India
Santanu Sengupta, UDML College of Engineering, India
Ajay Kishor Shaw, Mumbai, India
Dr. Mira Shiva
Jagmohan Singh, Voices for Freedom Punjab, India
Sandeep Singh, Mumbai, India
Harindar Pal Singh Ishar, Advocate, Punjab and Haryana High Court, India
Preeti Sinha, Editor of Philhal, Patna, India
Oishik Sircar, Assistant Professor, Jindal Global Law School, India
K. Sriram
Viviek Sundara, Mumbai, India
Saswati Swetlena, Programme Officer, Governance and Advocacy Unit,
National Center for Advocacy Studies, India
Damayanti Talukdar, Kolkata
Divya Trivedi, The Hindu Business Line, India
Satyam Varma, Rahul Foundation
G. Vijay, Lecturer, Department of Economics, University of Hyderabad, India
R.M. Vikas, IIT Kanpur, India

International signatories

Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, M.I.T., USA
David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, The C.U.N.Y.
Graduate Center, USA
Michael Lebowitz, Director, Program in Transformative Practice and Human
Development, Centro Internacional Mirana, Venezuela
John Bellamy Foster, Editor of Monthly Review and Professor of
Sociology,University of Oregon Eugene,USA
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Professor and Director of the
Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, Columbia University, USA
James C. Scott, Sterling Professor of Political Science, Yale University, USA
Michael Watts, Professor of Geography and Development Studies, University
of California Berkeley, USA
Mahmood Mamdani, Herbert Lehman Professor of Government, Departments of
Anthropoogy and Political Science, Columbia University, USA
Mira Nair, Filmmaker, Mirabai Films, USA
Howard Zinn, Historian, Playwright, and Social Activisit, USA
Abha Sur, Women’s Studies, M.I.T., USA
Richard Peet, Professor of Geography, Clark University, USA
Gilbert Achcar, Professor of Development Studies and International
Relations, School of African and Oriental Studies, University of London,
Massimo De Angelis, Professor of Political Economy, University of East
London, UK
Gyanendra Pandey, Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of History,
Emory University, USA
Brian Stross, Professor of Anthropology, University of Texas Austin, USA
J. Mohan Rao, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts at
Amherst, USA
Vinay Lal, Professor of History & Asian American Studies, University of
California Los Angeles, USA
James Crotty, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst,
Haluk Gerger, Political Scientist, Activist, Political Prisoner, Turkey
Justin Podur, Journalist, Canada
Hari Kunzru, Novelist, U.K.
Louis Proyect, Columbia University
Biju Mathew, Associate Professor, Rider University, USA
Balmurli Natrajan, Campaign to Stop Funding Hate and South Asia Solidarity
Initiative, USA
Harsh Kapoor, South Asia Citizens Web
Kim Berry, Professor of Women’s Studies, Humboldt State University, USA
Shefali Chandra, Professor of South Asian History, Washington University
at St Louis, USA
Angana Chatterji, Professor, California Institute of Integral Studies, San
Francisco, USA
Stan Cox, Senior Scientist, The Land Institute, USA
Martin Doornbos, Professor Emeritus, International Institute of Social
Studies, Erasmus University, Netherlands
Robert A Hueckstedt, Professor, University of Virginia, USA
Louis Kampf, Professor of Literature Emeritus, MIT, USA
Emily Kawano, Director, Center for Popular Economics, USA
Arthur MacEwan, Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of
Massachusetts Boston, USA
Bill Martin, Professor of Philosophy, DePaul University, USA
Ali Mir, Professor, William Paterson University, USA
Anuradha Dingwaney Needham, Longman Professor of English, Oberlin College,
Kavita Philip, Associate Professor, University of California, Irvine, USA
Nicholas De Genova, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Latino
Studies, Columbia University, USA
Peter Custers, Academic researcher on militarisation, Netherlands
Radha D’Souza, School of Law, University of Westminster , UK
Gary Aboud, Secretary, Fisherman and Friends of the Sea, Trinidad and Tobago
Mysara Abu-Hashem, Ph.D. Student, American University, USA
Fawzia Afzal-Khan, Professor of English, Montclair University, USA
Nadim Asrar, Ph.D. student, University of Minnesota, USA
Margaret E Sheehan, Attorney at Law, USA
Arpita Banerjee, Lecturer, Whittemore School of Business and Economics,
University of New Hampshire, USA
Oyman Basaran, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA
Deepankar Basu, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of
Massachusetts Amherst, USA
Sharmadip Basu, Syracuse University, USA
Joseph A Belisle
Varuni Bhatia, Assistant Professor, Religous Studies Program, N.Y.U., USA
Anindya Bhattacharya, Faculty, University of York, UK
Sourav Bhattacharya, University of Pittsburgh, USA
Peter J. Bloom, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies, University
of California Santa Barbara, USA
Swati Birla, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA
Sister Maureen Catabian, Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Philippines
Paula Chakravartty, Associate Professor, Department of Communications,
University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA
Ipsita Chatterjee, Assistant Professor, University of Texas, Austin, USA
Piya Chatterjee, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies, University of
California Riverside, USA
Ruchi Chaturvedi, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Hunter College,
City University of New York, USA
Chitrabhanu Chaudhuri, Ph.D. Student, Department of Mathematics,
Northwestern University, USA
Len Cooper,Victorian Branch,Communication Workers Union Australia
Priti Gulati Cox, Artist, USA
Linda Cullen, Canada
Huma Dar, Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of British Columbia, Canada
Koel Das, UCSB, USA
Atreyi Dasgupta, MD Anderson Cancer Center, USA
Grace de Haro, APDH Human Rights Organization, Argentina
Nandini Dhar, Ph.D. student, University of Texas Austin, U.S.A.
Emily Durham-Shapiro, Student, University of Minnesotta, USA
Arindam Dutta, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, MIT, USA
Anne Dwyer, University of Washington, USA
Ilgin Erdem, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. USA
T. Robert Fetter, USA
Kade Finnoff, Doctoral Candidate, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA
Kaushik Ghosh, University of Texas, Austin, USA
Bishnupriya Ghosh, Professor of English, University of California Santa
Barbara, USA
Vinay Gidwani, Professor of Geography, Graduate Center, City University of
New York, USA
Wendy Glauser, MA candidate, Political Science. York University. Toronto,
Ted Glick, Climate Crisis Coalition, Climate Crisis Coalition and
Chesapeake Climate Action Network, USA
Ozlem Goner, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA
Inderpal Grewal, Yale University, USA
Shubhra Gururani, Associate Professor of Anthropology, York University,
Anna L. Gust, University College London, UK
Shalmali Guttal, Focus on the Global South
Arne Harns, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Social and Political Sciences,
Free University of Berlin, Germany
Amrit Singh Heer, Graduate student, Social and Political Thought, York
University, Canada
Helen Hintjens, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, Netherlands
Zeba Imam, Ph.D. student, Texas A&M University, USA
Kajri Jain, University of Toronto, Canada
Dhruv Jain, Graduate student, York University, Canada
Mohamad Junaid, Graduate Student, Department of Anthropology, City
University of New York, USA
Jyotsna Kapur, Associate Professor, Southern Illinois University,
Carbondale, USA
Nada Khader , Executive Director, WESPAC Foundation
Jesse Knutson, University of Chicago, USA
Peter Lackowski, Writer/Activist, USA
Maire Leadbeater (human rights activist Auckland New Zealand)
Joseph Levine, Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of
Massachusetts Amherst, USA
George Levinger, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts
Amherst, USA
David W. Lewit, Alliance for Democracy, USA
Jinee Lokaneeta, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Drew
University, USA
Ania Loomba, Catherine Bryson Professor of English, University of
Pennsylvania, USA
Sanjeev Mahajan
Sunaina Maira, Associate Professor, University of California Davis, USA
Panayiotis “Taki” Manolakos, Writer/Activist, USA
Carlos Marentes,, USA
Erika Marquez, New York, USA
Thomas Masterson, Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, USA
Yasser Munif, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. USA
Jim McCorry, Belfast, N. Ireland
Victor Menotti, Executive Director, International Forum on Globalization, USA
James Miehls, Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts
Amherst, USA
Stephen Miesher, Associate Professor, University of California Santa
Barbara, USA
Raza Mir, Professor of Management, William Paterson University, USA
Katherine Miranda, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras.
Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director, Oakland Institute, USA
Roger Moody, Association for Progressive Communication, UK
Agrotosh Mookerji, Statistician and student, UK
Joshua Moufawad-Paul, Ph.D. student, York University, Canada
Sudipto Muhuri
Alan Muller, Executive Director, Green Delaware, USA
Sirisha Naidu, Assistant Professor of Economics, Wright State University, USA
Sriram Natrajan, Independent Researcher, Thailand
Nandini Nayak, SOAS, University of London, UK
Ipsita Pal Bhaumik, NIH, USA
Shailja Patel, USA
Saswat Pattanayak, Editor, Radical Notes, USA
Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project
Mike Alexander Pozo, Political Affairs Magazine
Kaushik Sunder Rajan, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of
California Irvine, USA
Kaveri Rajaraman, Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, USA
K. Ravi Raman, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Manchester, UK
Leena Ranade, AID India, USA
Nagesh Rao, Assistant Professor, The College of New Jersey, USA
Ravi Ravishankar, Campaign to Stop Funding Hate, USA
Chandan Reddy, Assistant Professor, University of Washington, USA
Bruce Rich, Attorney, USA
Dr. Andrew Robinson, UK
Rachel Rosen, International Workers of the World and OSSTF, USA
Seth Sandronsky, Journalist, USA
Amit Sarkar, Visiting Fellow, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID/NIH, USA
Bhaskar Sarkar, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies, University
of California Santa Barbara, USA
Helen Scharber, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA
Anna Schultz, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology, School of Music,
University of Minnesota, USA
Svati Shah, Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies, University of
Massachusetts Amherst, USA
Shaheen Shasa, USA
Snehal Shinghavi, Assistant Professor, University of Texas, Austin, USA
Tyler Shipley, Department of Political Science, York University, Canada
Samira Shirdel, Community Advocate, Chaya: a Resource for South Asian
Women, USA
Jon Short, Department of Communications Studies, Wilfrid Laurier
University, Canada
Kuver Sinha, Texas A&M University, USA
Subir Sinha, SOAS, University of London, U.K
Julietta Singh, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, USA
Preethy Sivakumar, York University, Canada
Ajay Skaria, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota, USA
Stephen C Snyder
Nidhi Srinivas, Associate Professor of Nonprofit Management, The New
School, USA
Chukka Srinivas
Poonam Srivastav, Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Minnesota, USA
Priyanka Srivastava, Ph.D. candidate, University of Cincinnati, USA
Rachel Steiger-Meister, Graduate Student, Wright State University, USA
Raja Swamy, Campaign to Stop Funding Hate, USA
Usha Titikshu, Photojournalist, Nepal
Wendel Trio, Former Chair, European Alliance with Indigenous Peoples
Shivali Tukdeo, University of Illinois, USA
Sandeep Vaidya, India Support Group, Ireland
Rashmi Varma, University of Warwick, U.K
Nalini Visvanathan, Lecturer in Asian American Studies, University of
Massachusetts Boston, USA
Daphna Whitmore, Secretary, Workers’ Party, New Zealand
T. Wignesan, Editor, Asianists’ Asia, Centre de Recherches, CERPICO and
CREA, France
Daphne Wysham, Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies, USA


Stop the killings.

This exposes the Failure of the UPA governement to solve the basic problems of the poor people in India.
World Forum For Alternatives.

Save the poor tribes

I think the Government of India should view this problem more seriously before the situation worsens. The government should try to understand that an feasible solution on this can save hundreds of life of poor tribes residing in the West Bengal.

this is inhuman ,resentalbe and condemnable .

I am in solidarity with the the poor adivasis ,who are victims of the capitalists ,plunders and whims for vested interests .
please consider my this brief statement endorsing your this signatory compaign drive against the Indian govt decision to resolve the issue through the barrel of the gun .
please endorse my name among the signatories of this compaign .
Dr Shafik . Pakistan .

A Formula for Bloodshed and Injustice

A Pretext to Impose Brutal Repression: the Government's "Offensive" Is a Formula for Bloodshed and Injustice

The Campaign for Survival and Dignity, a national platform of adivasi and forest dwellers' mass organisations from ten States, unequivocally condemns the reported plans for a military “offensive” by the government in the country's major forest and tribal areas. This offensive, ostensibly targeted against the CPI (Maoist), is a smoke screen for an assault against the people, especially adivasis, aimed at suppressing all dissent, all resistance and engineering the takeover of their resources. Certain facts make this clear:

* The government tells us that this offensive will make it possible for the “state to function” in these areas and fill the “vacuum of governance.” This is grossly misleading. The Indian state is very, very active in these areas, often in its most brutal and violent form. A vivid example is the illegal eviction of more than 3,00,000 families by the Forest Departments a few years ago. Laws have been totally disregarded; Constitutional protections for adivasi rights blatantly ignored and their rights over water, forest and land (jal, jangal, jamin) glaringly violated. Every month an increasing number of people are jailed, beaten and killed by the police. If this is the picture of what “absence” of the state means, people are terrified of what the “presence” of the state will mean. It can only mean converting brutalized governance into militarized rule, a total negation of democracy.
* This is not a war over “development.” People's struggles in India today are over democracy and dignity - Meaningful development must contribute to strengthening the right of all people to their resources and their production, and thereby to control over their own destiny. For generations, adivasis have fought for their Constitutional rights and entitlements. More recently, mass democratic movements have fought for new laws and policies, such as the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA), the Forest Rights Act, the right to work and the right to food, in addition to earlier laws like the Minimum Wages Act, the Restoration of Alienated Lands Acts, and land reform and moneylending laws. These laws make it possible for people to fight for greater control over their lives, their livelihoods, their lands and their forests. However these laws are respected more in the breach; if the government wants “development”, let it first stop the blatant disregard of its own laws. Let people determine the path of their own development, in accordance with their rights over their resources and the type of infrastructure they desire. The Constitution itself requires this kind of planning. The claim that “development” can be provided through military force is both absurd and ridiculous.
* This war is not about “national security”; it is about ‘securing’ the interests of global and Indian capital and big business. Any government worried about security would send its troops against mining mafias, the forest mafias, violent vigilante groups like the salwa judum and others. Rather than being curbed, these killers are in fact supported by the police. Have the security forces ever been deployed to defend the people struggling to protect themselves, their forests, their livelihoods and their futures? The answer is no. The notion of “security” being advanced by the government clearly has nothing to do with the people. Rather, it is to enable big business to engage in robbery and expropriation of resources, which they have decided will be one of their main sources of accumulation. Hence, mining, “infrastructure”, real estate, land grabbing, all aimed at super-profits, are being projected as “development” needed by the people. Huge amounts of international and government money are being pumped into so-called “forestry projects” which displace people from their lands and destroy biodiversity (even while they are trumpeted as a strategy for climate change). The UPA is rushing into agreements with the US and other imperial countries to throw open mining and land to international exploitation. But where do the forests, land, water and minerals lie? They are found in the forest and tribal areas, where people - some organised under the CPI (Maoist), some organized under democratic movements, some in spontaneous local struggles, some simply fighting in whatever manner they can – are resisting the destruction of their homes, resources and their lives. The “offensive against the Maoists” is only a subterfuge to crush this citizens’ resistance and to provide an excuse for more abuse of power, more brutality and more injustice.
* The government knows perfectly well that it cannot destroy the CPI (Maoist), or any people's struggle, through military action. How can the armed forces identify who is a “Maoist” and who is not? The use of brute military force will result in the slaughter of thousands of people in prolonged, bloody and brutal guerrilla warfare. This has been the result of every “security offensive” in India's history from Kashmir to Nagaland. So why do this? And why now? Unless the goal has nothing to do with “wiping out the Maoists” and everything to do with having an excuse for the permanent presence of lakhs of troops, arms and equipment in these areas. To protect and serve whom?
* Hence the need for fear mongering and hysteria about Maoist “sympathisers” and their “infiltration” into “civil society.” The government has a very long history of labeling any form of dissent as “Naxalite” or “Maoist.” The Maoists' politics are known; their positions are public; the only secret aspect of their work is their personal identities and military tactics. We who work in these areas do not fear this bogey of “infiltration” in our groups by Maoists, for the different stands taken by our organizations and theirs are clear, and in some areas there are open disputes. This scaremongering is just an excuse to justify a crackdown on all forms of dissent and democratic protest in these areas, a crushing of all people's resistance, and the branding of any questioning, any demand for justice, as “Maoist.”

In the final analysis, peace and justice will only come to India's workers, peasants, adivasis, dalits and other oppressed sections through the mass democratic struggle of the people. A democratic struggle requires democratic space. The conversion of a region into a war zone, by anyone, is unacceptable. In the forest areas in particular, there is now a need for a new peace, one that can only be achieved through a genuine democratic dialogue between the political forces involved. For this to happen, this horrific “offensive” must first be called off. If the government really wishes to claim that it is committed to protecting people and their rights, let its actions comply with the requirements of law, justice and democracy.

Bharat Jan Andolan, National Front for Tribal Self Rule, Jangal Adhikar Sangharsh Samiti (Mah), Adivasi Mahasabha (Guj), Adivasi Jangal Janjeevan Andolan (D&NH), Jangal Jameen Jan Andolan (Raj), Madhya Pradesh Jangal Jeevan Adhikar Bachao Andolan, Jan Shakti Sanghatan (Chat), Peoples Alliance for Livelihood Rights, Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha, Orissa Jan Sangharsh Morcha, Campaign for Survival & Dignity (Ori), Orissa Jan Adhikar Morcha, Adivasi Aikya Vedike (AP), Campaign for Survival and Dignity – TN, Bharat Jan Andolan (Jhar).

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