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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 18, April 24, 2010

Protect Tribal People, Rework Strategy to Tackle Maoism

Saturday 24 April 2010, by D Raja


The following is the speech CPI leader D.Raja delivered in the Rajya Sabha on April 15 on the Maoist attack on the CRPF’s 62nd Battalion in Chhattisgarh, Dantewada.

Mr Deputy Chairman, sir, at the outset, my Party, the Communist Party of India, condemns the killings of CRPF jawans in the strongest possible terms. My party extends its sympathies to the kith and kin of those victims. Sir, the Home Minister’s statement is a specific statement on the incident in Chhattisgarh. I want to be very specific. The tribal people in Chhattisgarh today are increasingly getting alienated. They are subjected to unimaginable tortures. In the name of mining operations, in the name of projects, in the name of development they are being evicted from their place of living. The forest wealth is being handed over to the corporate sector and to the multinational corporations. These neo-liberal policies which are imposed on the tribal people of Chhattisgarh have created a kind of situation there. This has to be understood first. And, I appeal to all political parties that this issue needs to be discussed dispassionately.

Here, I would like to quote Dr Ambedkar. Sir, Dr Ambedkar in his last speech in the Constituent Assembly said: “If we fail to use the Constitution as an effective instrument to address the concerns of the people and solve their problems, then it can unleash a grammar of anarchism.” This is what Dr Ambedkar warned. Now, what Left-wing extremists are doing is nothing but implementing a grammar of anarchism.

As Communists, we deplore, we disapprove the method followed by the Left-wing extremists, and we don’t agree with their method. That is why even at the time of Lenin, Lenin called Left-wing extremism, Left-wing communism as an infantile disorder. Left-wing extremism is a trend in polity. It has to be fought ideologically, it has to be fought politically, and it has to be tackled at the law and order level. In order to deal with it, the strategy of the government should be appropriate. Now, I find the strategy of the government is a flawed one. It is a wrong strategy, and the government should rework its strategy. The government should rethink its policies, as far as Chhattisgarh is concerned.

Sir, in this House, I have raised several times the issue of Salwa Judum. I am raising this issue today because we are discussing the situation in Chhattisgarh. The statement is related to the incident that took place in Chhattisgarh. On an earlier occasion also, I have raised this issue of Salwa Judum. What is happening today in Chhattisgarh? The failure to give justice and rehabilitate the Salwa Judum victims has increased the recruitment to the Maoists.

The victims of Salwa Judum have not got justice and they have not been given rehabilitation. This has led to more recruitment to the ranks of Maoists. According to intelligence figures, I quote: “Recruitment to Maoists has gone up by at least 22 per cent since the Salwa Judum began.” If I am wrong, the Home Minister can correct my statement. Here, the Government of India should not do politics. It should not do politics in Chhattisgarh, it should not do politics in West Bengal. Neither the Home Minister nor the Railway Minister should do politics on this issue. If that is done, we are damaging the very democratic polity of our country.


Having said that, sir, I must point out that the Chhattisgarh Government had agreed on 17.10.2008 that it would rehabilitate and compensate villagers affected by Salwa Judum burning their houses. It has done nothing so far for two years. This is a fact. Then, sir, on the contrary, the Union Government, despite acknowledging in court that Salwa Judum has burnt houses and committed illegal acts, continues to glorify and praise Salwa Judum. One cannot be silent on violence committed by vigilantes and security forces because poor adivasis were caught between two types of violence. Salwa Judum is also a threat to our parliamentary democracy. If you say Left-wing extremism is a threat to parliamentary democracy, Salwa Judum, a non-state player, is also a threat to democratic politics.

Sir, on 18.2.2010, the Supreme Court asked the petitioners, I name the petitioners because it is before the Supreme Court—Nandini Sundar and

others, Kartram Joda, Manish Kunjam—our own party leader, CPI leader of All India Adivasi Mahasabha—and others; the Supreme Court asked the petitioners to file a comprehensive rehabilitation plan. The State Government in Chhattisgarh took two weeks to file a response but has not done anything even now. The main aspects of this rehabilitation plan are: (a) to identify the affected persons through survey, (b) to hold sittings of district judges in block headquarters etc., (c) to deal with heinous crimes like rape, murder and restore essential services in the villages. All this has to be supervised by a senior retired judge or retired secretary to the Government of India. The only way to bring peace is to restore civil administration and provide justice.

Sir, basic services cannot wait because they are all poor adivasis, tribal people, and they are subjected to such unimaginable miseries and sufferings, I am telling you, their plight is so miserable. But, the basic services cannot wait. The people are in the stage of third-grade malnutrition. I am saying, sir, you listen to anybody coming from Chhattisgarh, who happens to be a tribal or who happens to work among the tribal people, you will come to know that third-grade malnutrition is present. The Food Commissioners have said this to the Supreme Court, it is not my version. The Food Commissioners have made this point to the Supreme Court. The markets have shut down and there is a need to open up the markets. There is a need to restore the public distribution system. That is the only channel for the tribal people to get some foodgrains.

But all your shops remain closed along with schools. Schools also remain closed. Sir, now how to tackle this problem? The Maoists have said that they are agreeable to some kind of a ceasefire and they are agreeable to see that the public distribution system functions in these villages. It has been reported in The Hindu on 14.4.2010. Maoists have also indicated that they are willing to simultaneous ceasefire. Can the government remain adamant? The government says that if they abjure violence, then only they can speak. But ceasefire or giving up violence has to be a matter agreed upon by the two sides. The government should also come with an open mind. We have the experience how we tackled the situation in Nagaland. Now there is an indication, it is again reported in The Hindu on 14.4.2010.

Now, sir, I draw the attention of this House to some of my own experiences. I do meet people; there are people who believe in non-violence, they work among the tribal people in Chhattisgarh. They are not being allowed to work there, they are being harassed, cases have been filed against them and they are being evicted. Now they are outside Chhattisgarh. How can we win the confidence of the tribal people if we do not have a kind of democratic channel to reach out to the tribal people and win the confidence of the tribal people? Sir, it is impossible, I understand, to distinguish between Maoists and ordinary villagers. It is extremely impossible but police response will only increase the killings on both sides.


Sir, life is very precious. The life of a CRPF jawan is precious, the life of a villager, a poor tribal is also precious, sir. We will have to think of these tribal people. That is the primary issue on which we will have to concentrate. Sir, there is a continuous violation of the Fifth Schedule, of the Panchayat extension to the Scheduled Areas and of all other rights guaranteed to the Scheduled Tribes under the Constitution. Why is this violation continuously taking place? That is what I am trying to ask. This is not a one-party issue. I am asking all parties: why should our tribal people live in such a pathetic, wretched condition in our country even after more than sixty years of independence? Who is responsible for that? Is it not the failure of the State governments? Is not the failure of the Union Government? Is not our collective failure? I am appealing to the conscience of everyone sitting in this House; I am appealing to the conscience of the entire Parliament. Is it not our collective failure? Why should our tribal people live a wretched life? This is the primary issue, sir, and this issue needs to be addressed.

Here, I think, the strategy pursued by the Union Government is not correct, it is a wrong one. I do not want to get into the politics of polemics and the statements made by the Home Minister outside Parliament. I do not want to get into polemics because it is not the way the Home Minister should conduct himself. He speaks one thing in Bengal; he speaks a different thing in Delhi. What is this happening in our country? The Home Minister is the Home Minister of the entire country. If the buck stops at the Chief Minister’s table in Bengal, why does it not stop in Chhattisgarh? Finally he says that he takes the moral responsibility and the buck stops at the Home Minister’s table in Delhi. So, why should there be this type of statements? And, then, he declares that within two to three years he will wipe out Maoists in India. What is the strategy about that?

I would like to know from the government. Can you do that? What is the strategy? Unless we win the confidence of the tribal people, sir, unless we stop encouraging the non-state players who divide the tribal people to pitch one section of the tribal people against the other, we cannot win this battle against Left-wing extremism. It is a trend. That trend will continue. As long as we have unprecedented inequalities, disparities in our country, you will always come across Left-wing extremism. We cannot wish away, but, how to fight it? As a democracy we must think of the people at large.

In Chhattisgarh, it is a question of tribal people and their livelihood. It is the question of livelihood and their future. We cannot understand the feelings of the tribal people. We cannot obviously understand the spirit of democracy. Then, what is the meaning of democracy if democracy cannot protect the tribal people in this country? Protection of tribal people is the only safeguard for parliamentary democracy, democracy in our country. The Government of India should re-address all these issues and rework its strategy. The Home Minister has said that he will come up with some Inquiry Report. Let us see what that Inquiry Report is going to tell us. The Inquiry Report should not tell us what the Home Minister has been speaking. It is a serious issue and the whole House should take serious note of this.

What has happened, in fact, should be condemned and it should not recur in the coming days for which we need a proper strategy by the Union Government. Whether the Union Government has the political will to rework its strategy is a question before us. With these words, I conclude.

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