‘Public sector created Chhattisgarh’s middle class’
Posted by Admin on January 4, 2010
Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj of the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha and PUCL talks to Jyoti Punwani about Chhattisgarh, where the Centre has announced the
What news of the offensive?
When Operation Green Hunt began in September, notice under Section 95 of the CrPC (which includes sedition) was served on newspapers for publishing the Maoists’ press releases, which said that the only persons to have been killed by the security forces were ordinary Adivasis. Over 100 journalists demonstrated in Jagdalpur saying that in a conflict situation, we can’t print only police handouts. Journalists have been arrested under the State’s Special Security Act. For us, this new offensive is only an intensification of the drive going on since 2005, to clear villages to facilitate a corporate land grab, in the name of fighting insurgency.
Do all parties support this operation?
The CPI’s Manish Kunjam has held massive Adivasi maha-sabhas against the indiscriminate efforts by companies to acquire land. But these have barely created a ripple in the administration. The Congress is divided – while Mahendra Karma is the founder of Salwa Judum, Ajit Jogi has questioned it. When Congress MLA Kawasi Lakhma objected to the Singaram fake encounter in which 19 innocents were killed, the district collector recommended that his security be withdrawn. A BJP MLA alleged that most of the 79 so-called surrendered Naxalites paraded by the police in 2007 were innocent peasants. Some were even BJP cadres! But only a few were released. This refusal by the administration to listen to dissent leaves the Adivasis helpless. It makes it appear as if everyone is against them and on the side of the companies. In fact, it is evident that the state is in the stranglehold of the corporates. People objecting at environmental clearance hearings are lathi-charged. Public hearings are held inside police barricades. When gram sabhas refuse to give land, there’s compulsory land acquisition at gunpoint.
What’s the space for non-mainstream political groups?
Everyone who works with the Adivasis or opposes the corporates is harassed – freedom fighter Ram Kumar Agarwal, Gandhian Himanshu Kumar, environmentalist Jayant Bohidar, Dr Binayak Sen. Every form of dissent is being criminalised. Laws are supposed to define what is a crime. Waging war against the state is a crime. But anyone who protests against the administration is labelled a Naxal supporter. This is McCarthyism.
Don’t you want development?
The Bhilai Steel Plant also took away land and water, but it created 96,000 permanent jobs. Chhattisgarh’s middle class is a creation of the public sector. Today’s mining companies give neither compensation nor permanent jobs. Last year, the state’s sponge iron plants were at a standstill because they had to buy iron ore at Rs 5,800 a tonne. But Japan gets it at Rs 400 from Bailadila mines. This is imperialism, not development. We must be grateful to the Adivasis for saving our resources from this loot. TOI