AHRC criticizes advertisement campaign against Naxalites
Posted by Admin on October 1, 2009
The following is a statement issued by the Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong:
A newspaper advertisement published by the Government of India on Sunday, September 20, 2009, reads ‘Naxalites are nothing but cold-blooded criminals’. This advertisement is part of the government’s intensified campaign to combat Naxalite activities in the country. It comes a few weeks after the Prime Minister’s declaration–later confirmed by the Union Home Minister–that Naxalite activities are the single largest threat to India’s security.
Naxalite cadres in India have repeatedly resorted to violence, and their armed campaigns have resulted in loss of life and property. Their activities have intensified over the past five years, particularly affecting the entire eastern corridor; the states of Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and parts of Orissa, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.
While exact data regarding Naxalite activities, including its manpower, is limited, it is estimated that at least 63 districts in the country are seriously affected. There is also no clear information regarding the movement’s sources of financial and logistical support. What is clear however, is the movement’s intense operations in India’s tribal areas. It is no coincidence that these areas are the most neglected and exploited parts of the country.
These are the areas where the poorest of the poor live. Primary government facilities like schools and health care centres are practically absent here. Infant mortality rates are among the highest in the world in the region, owing to malnutrition and hunger. Estimates suggest the infant mortality rate to be at 47 per cent in the Naxalite affected regions of the country, a condition worse than Sub-Saharan Africa.
India’s ‘Naxalite problem’ is complex and tends to find its justification in the deep-rooted and centuries-old exploitation of the poor, particularly the tribal community, by local landlords and corrupt politicians. There is a high incidence of crimes committed against the tribal community. These include bonded labour, rape of women and girls, and silencing any opposition or dissent by murder and other violence. Petty landlords who commit these evils escape prosecution and punishment due to the support of corrupt and failing state agencies like the police. The Indian government has made no attempt to reach out to these citizens and address their problems, or to prosecute those who have committed crimes.
Of particular concern is the plight of poor families who are systematically denied official assistance to address issues including food security, unemployment and the depletion of natural resources. Neither the state nor the central government has attempted to identify whether official schemes such as public food distribution shops or government health services are available to people in the region.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has documented several cases outlining the role played by local landlords and corrupt government officials in routinely preventing poor families from accessing government sponsored health and food programmes. The lack of cultivable land and the depletion of the forest