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Archive for October 20th, 2009

Arundhati Roy urges Centre to drop armed action against Maoist

Posted by Admin on October 20, 2009


Arundhati Roy, a rights activist and Booker prize-winning novelist speaks at a press conference in New Delhi. Roy voiced her concerns about the government’s proposed military offensive against Maoist rebels in the tribal-dominated areas.

Arundhati Roy, a rights activist and Booker prize-winning novelist speaks at a press conference in New Delhi. Roy voiced her concerns about the government's proposed military offensive against Maoist rebels in the tribal-dominated areas.
Bombay News.Net

Monday 19th October, 2009 (ANI)

Left-leaning organisations such as the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) and Sanhati spoke out against Operation Green Hunt, the offensive against the Maoists, at the Press Club of India in New Delhi.

The two-hour meeting was addressed by Gautam Navlakha of PUDR, writer Arundhati Roy and Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan, among others.

At a moderate gathering this afternoon, Sanhati released a letter to the Prime Minister stating that a military offensive against the Maoists “would deliver a crippling blow to Indian democracy”.

PUDR activists and a small number of students and faculty from Delhi University largely made up the audience which listened to a discussion moderated by Gautam Navlakha.

Arundhati Roy warned against the government’s intention to go ahead with any military offensive against the Maoists. “There is nothing positive to say about the situation at present. Military action against Maoists is not the solution,” she said.

Reading out a Planning Commission report which indicated that the Maoists were a political movement, she said the movement was evidence of the loss of faith in democratic institutions.

“Displacing millions of people is going to have repercussions,” she said. Referring to Mahasweta Devi’s comment that India was like a cloth part silken and part tattered, she said, “The parts that were tattered are torn, and in the holes are falling the poor of this country.”

There was an overwhelming consensus on issues and the lack of internal debate. Abhijeet Phartiyal, a student of Delhi University said discourse was required to chart out new directions though he was supportive of the objective behind the meet.

Civil rights activist and lawyer Prashant Bhushan agreed with the assessments of many of his fellow speakers. “There is a swirl of fake propaganda about the Maoists. Anyone questioning the government’s claims is immediately labelled anti-national,” he said.

Bombay

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Activists target PC for ‘war on Maoists’

Posted by Admin on October 20, 2009


OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

New Delhi, Oct. 19: A group of activists has cautioned the government against launching a “war on Maoists” and alleged that the security offensive was being mounted to favour Indian and multinational corporate interests keen to exploit the natural resources of Naxalite-held areas.

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who was among many who addressed a protest gathering today, made a pointed conflict-of-interest allegation against Union home minister P. Chidambaram.

Bhushan said: “He has represented many companies with business interests in Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, he was a director of Vedanta (a multinational with mining ambitions in Orissa) until the day he became finance minister in 2004. The idea of this war by the government seems to be to use propaganda to get tribal areas vacated for corporate companies, just as George Bush used a false campaign on weapons of mass destruction to grab Iraq’s rich oil wells for American business houses.”

Bhushan sounded a shrill alarm on the threat to civil liberties, saying: “The government is leaving no space for democratic dissent, it is behaving like Bush, either you are with the government or against it. This is a frightening trend that must be stiffly opposed.”

An open letter to the Prime Minister released on the occasion urged the government to “immediately withdraw the armed forces and stop all plans for carrying out military operations, which have a potential for triggering a civil war”.

The government is currently preparing for a multi-pronged offensive against armed Naxalites in parts of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Maharashtra, but maintains it is neither waging a war nor intending to use the armed forces in the operations. The Indian Air Force, though, will be used for “logistical” purposes and has permission to fire in self-defence.

Human rights activists have argued that this amounts to a “licence” to fire. “Let there be no confusion about this, what the government is going for is nothing but a full-blown war on its own people,” said Gautam Navlakha, who anchored the protest meet.

The open letter itself made no accommodation for the government’s stated position and said: “We are deeply concerned by the Indian’s government’s plans for launching an unprecedented military offensive by army and paramilitary forces in the adivasi regions…. the geographical terrain where the military offensive is planned to be carried out is very rich in natural resources and has been the target of large-scale appropriation by several corporations.”

The letter has been issued under the aegis of Calcutta-based rights group Sanhati and among its signatories are author-activist Arundhati Roy, Noam Chomsky and academics Sumit Sarkar and Tanika Sarkar.

Roy chose a subtle tack and played on what she called “differences” within the ruling establishment. “There seems to be some unease within the government over what is going to happen, there is a divide between the hardliners and those who think otherwise and I think Rahul Gandhi has been articulating that position. That is a sign of hope,” she said.

Roy endorsed the co-speakers and held that the radical-extreme element today was not the Maoists but the “military muscle flexing of the government”. TT

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Farmers stage road blockade in Orissa to protest suicides

Posted by Admin on October 20, 2009


BHUBANESWAR – Farmers staged a 12-hour road blockade on a national highway in Orissa Monday to protest farmer suicides in Jharsuguda district, bringing vehicular traffic to a halt.

The agitation coincided with yet another farmer suicide in Pipilkani village in Lakhanpur block of Jharsuguda district where the farmer suicides had been reported on Oct 4. But the fresh case of farmer suicide, officials said, is “yet to be confirmed”.

The opposition parties Monday visited the spot where the farmers were holding agitation to express solidarity with them and have demanded resignation of Agriculture Minister Damodar Rout.

“We demand the resignation of the agriculture minister. The minister has hurt the feelings of the farmers by ruling out that the suicide reported on Oct 4 from Lakhanpur block was due to crop loss. He should resign owning moral responsibility,” said Suresh Pujari, Orissa unit Bharatiya Janata Party president.

However, Damodar Rout has rejected the demand, saying the reason behind the farmer’s suicide was yet to be confirmed.

“Let the reason for the death come out clearly – whether the farmer has committed suicide due to crop loss or not. There was no reason for the farmer’s death as the loan the farmer had taken was not to be repaid immediately,” said Rout.

Meanwhile, the state government has decided to conduct an assessment of the crop loss in the district by divisional officers from the revenue department and agriculture department jointly before announcing relief measures.

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India adopting Israeli policy in Kashmir: Syed Ali Shah Geelani

Posted by Admin on October 20, 2009


Srinagar, Oct 19 (ANI): Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the Chairman of the hardline faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), on Monday alleged that India is following policies of Israel and trying to change the demography of the Himalayan region.

Addressing reporters here, Geelani accused India of occupying agricultural land for setting up army camps there.

“India is following footsteps of Israel and trying to convert majority community into minority. Locals have been deprived of their lands. Deforestation is taking place. India is trying to change the demography of the region,” said Geelani.

He also pointed out that tens of thousands acres of lands have been occupied by Indian forces for their camps and headquarters.

Geelani added that Hurriyat would hold strike and shutdown to protest against illegal occupation of Indian army.

“We will observe a shutdown and protest in every district, including the northern and southern region of the valley,” he said.

Geelani also informed Shopian town would observe the first shutdown on October 23.

Asiya (17) and her sister-in-law Neelofar (22) were raped and killed in Shopian during the intervening night of May 29-30.

After the news conference, Hurriyat supporters tried to hold a demonstration before the police prevented them. Police also arrested several people for breaking law and order. (ANI) The Telegraph

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