An investigative report by Anti operation green hunt Citizen’s Forum’s (Jharkhand)
Fact Finding Team
On June 13th 2010 a fact finding team of citizen’s forum Jharkhand against Operation Greenhunt, paid a visit to Ladi village under Barwadih Block in Latehar district, Jharkhand.
Members of fact finding team included:-
2. Shashibhushan Pathak
3. Gladson Dung-Dung
4. Sunil Minz
5. Gopinath Ghosh
6. Damodar Turi
7. Rajeev Pandey
8. Elias Ansari
9. Subhash Gyali
10. Tirthraj Biruli
11. Mahadev Oraon
On 27th April 2010 a Tribal Khairwar women was shot dead and one shepherd was wounded in Ladi village. The local police said it was a result of an encounter between police and the Maoists. Points investigated by the fact finding team in this case are listed below:-
1. Truth behind the incident.
2. Condition of the affected family after the incident.
3. Attitude of police and administration in regard to this incident.
4. Assistance provided by the government to the bereaved family members.
Description of victim family
|Sl No.||Name||Age||Sex||Occupation||Relation with the deceased|
|1||Jairam Singh||28||M||Temporary forest guard||Husband|
|5||Kameshwar Singh||48||M||Temporary trekker guard||Father-in-law|
|7||Sitaram Singh||14||M||Student||Brother –in-law|
|8||Baleshwar Singh||12||M||Student||Brother –in-law|
Village Ladi is located 60 KMs away from district headquarter Latehar, in the middle of the Jungle. The distance from Ladi to block headquarter Barwadih is 22 KMs. Village post office is located 2 KMs away and the nearest bank is situated at a distance of 15 KMs. Ladi is inhabited mostly by Khairwars. There are 83 families in the village. Among them 58 families are Khairwar, 2 families are Korva, 1 family is Lohra and 1 is Sao. Total population of this village is around 400; its economy depends on agriculture and forest produce. Agriculture is totally dependent on monsoon. Another important traditional occupation of Khairwar community in this village is to work in stone quarries. The income per family from the quarry is around 60 Rupees daily.
The village has one primary school. Two teachers are appointed here but the school rarely opens. As a result, children can’t get their mid-day meal regularly. The village lacks basic amenities like roads, electricity, safe drinking water and health care facilities. This village has 21 primitive tribe families (Paharias & Korvas). Special govt. schemes are there for them; this includes an order from the Supreme Court to provide them the facilities of “Antyodaya Ann Yojna” which is openly being defied in Jharkhand. Poverty Alleviation Schemes of government have failed to benefit the people of Ladi village.
Details of the incident:
In his speech in 2008, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, termed Maoism as the biggest internal security threat to the country and a challenge for capital investment
Since then around 92,000 Sq. Km. area with a majority of tribal population was identified as “Red Corridor” or Lalgarh. After this, a special police operation was started in the name of elimination of Maoists and it was named “Operation Green hunt”. This operation faced huge opposition in Jharkhand and couldn’t get started but on March 5th 2010 it was formally set in motion in Singhbhum District.
At the same time operation Green hunt came in to force in Latehar District too. During this period an encounter took place between police and Maoist near Ladi village under Barwadih Block. The police entered the village after the encounter. It was 7.30 in the evening, everyone in the village had had his dinner and was about to sleep, then the gunshots were heard. A few moments’ later policemen encircle the house of Village Head Kameshwar Singh, shouting “come out of the house or else it will be brunt down.” Hearing this, nervous family members of Kameshwar Singh came out of the house. Kameshwar Singh and his son Jairam Singh work as temporary staff in forest department and this being the reason they were not present at home. After hearing the policemen, Vishram Singh (18), younger son of Kameshwar Singh, came out opening the door. Policemen took hold of him and tied his hands to his back and pointed a gun at him.
After pinning him down, one policeman asked vishram sing’s sister-in-law Jacinta Devi whether anyone else was there inside the house. She replied “A shepherd, Puran Singh (62) is sleeping inside.” She was told to wake him up and bring him outside. When she was coming out along with the Shepherd, policemen opened fire. A bullet hit her went inside her chest, she fell down and died. Policemen fired again, it hit Puran Singh’s hand and he was wounded as well. Seeing the dead body, family members started crying. The Police told them to keep quiet or else everyone will be shot dead. They also accused saying-“you people provide food to the Maoists.” Immediately after the incident, police took away the entire family including wounded Puran Singh and the dead body with them. They threatened the family that they should tell others that Jacinta Devi was killed in an encounter. They also asked not to take out any rallies.
The villagers didn’t have any idea where the dead body was taken, so on April 28th 2010 they blocked the Mahuadanr-Daltonganj Main Road. After the post-mortem in Sadar Hospital Latehar, the police took Vishram Singh’s signature on a blank paper and handed over the dead body to family members for the last rites. Vishram Singh hired a vehicle paying Rs. 4000/- and brought the body to the village. Barwadih C.O. provided Rs. 10,000/- to them under the family benefit scheme. On April 30th 2010 relatives of the deceased and the villagers went to Barwadih police station to register a case against the murder of Jacinta Devi but Station-In-Charge Ratanlal Saha didn’t register their case, he recorded the information in the diary instead and threatened them to go back.
After the protest by the villagers administration assured them of Rs. 3 lakh as compensation. One local journalist Manoj Vishwakarma (Hindustan) was mediating in this matter at the behest of the police. On May 14th 2010 Manoj Vishwakarma took Jairam Singh, the husband of the deceased to Barwadih Police Station where the Station In-charge Birendra Ram told Jairam Singh to put his signature on a blank paper in order to receive a cheque of Rs. 90,000/- when Jairam Singh refused to put his signature on the blank paper, Station In-charge sent him back empty handed.
After the brutal killing of Jacinta Devi her husband is not only struggling to find the means of livelihood but now has to play the role of a mother too. His three young children, Amrita Kumari (5), Suchit Kumar (3) and vibha Kumari (1) have lost their childhood and their future remains uncertain.
1. Inspection of the house of the deceased makes it clear that there is only one door to enter in the house. A wall of the house has the marks of two bullets which were fired at the direction of the entry door. In case of an encounter bullets should have been shot from inner portion of the house aiming towards the door. After Jacinta Devi was killed, police entered and searched the house. If there were any Maoists inside the policemen would have caught them. Further more absence of any other door in the house rules out any possibility of their escape. Inspection of place of incident, statements of relative of deceased, shepherd and villagers make it very clear that Jacinta Devi was not killed in an encounter but the police murdered her.
2. Police is trying to put this incident as an encounter. For this reason the application submitted by the victim’s family protesting the murder of Jacinta Devi, case was not registered and family of the deceased is being threatened continuously.
3. Earlier administration promised Rs. 3 lac as compensation but when deceased’s husband Jairam Singh wanted to receive the compensation he was told that in order to get Rs. 90,000/- he will have of sign some blank papers first. This highlights the fact that Barwadih police wants to misappropriate the compensation money.
4. After this incident villagers of Ladi are living in constant fear, police may come anytime and can torture anybody. When villagers go to market the police torment them, there too.
5. Puram Singh alias Baleshwar Singh, the shephered of Kameshwar Singh has become handicapped in this shooting incident. He is undergoing treatment in Sadar Hospital Latehar and is kept under the supervision of armed forces. Latehar civil surgeon Arun Tigga doesn’t know anything about Puran Singh.
1. A high level judicial inquiry of this incident must be done.
2. A case of murder should be registered against the policemen involved in this killing and the hardest punishment be awarded to them.
3. Taking legal action against Station In-Charge becomes necessary for not registering a case about this murder.
4. Legal action must be taken against police officials who tried to misappropriate the compensation money.
5. Suspension and legal action should be taken against the Dy.S.P, who tried to white wash and hush up the incident, the then station-in-charge at the time of incident Ratan Lal Saha and incumbent station incharge Birendra Ram.
6. Rs. 10 lacs as compensation be paid to the family of the deceased woman. Govt. job and free education to children. Rs. 5 lacs as compensation be given to the wounded shepherd Puran Singh.
7. Protection to the family of the deceased.
8. Basic amenities should be made available in the village.
9. Police atrocities on villagers must come to an immediate stop.
10. This is not an isolated event such incidents are taking place at a regular interval in Jharkhand. If we stop them then Operation Greenhunt- which is being conducted under the pretence of finishing off Maoism must come to an immediate halt.
FACT FINDING TEAM’S REPORT ON THE MASSACRE IN
BARUHATU VILLAGE UNDER BUNDU BLOCK
19th November 2010- All the newspapers published and all the TV channels flashed prominently the brutal killings of 4 villagers by Maoists in Baruhatu village, under Bundu Block of Ranchi District in Jharkhand. After the incident the villagers called for a bandh under the leadership of Special Police Officers, to protest the killings. They also demanded for protection of Special Police Officers and compensation to the bereaved families as well.
Getting information from TV channels, Newspapers and telephonic conversation with the dignified members of the local society, the human rights activists and intellectuals condemned the merciless killings. It was felt that immediate visit to the place of incident and impartial investigation into the matter was the need of the hour. A team consisting five members was formed for the investigation, which included-
1. Fr. Stan Swamy – Human Rights Activist
2. Gladson Dungdung – Writer & Human Rights Activist
3. Gopinath Ghosh – Social Activist
4. Teerthraj Biruli – Photo Journalist
5. Riju Basu – Journalist, Anand Bazaar Patrika, Ranchi.
On Friday, 26th November 2010, the fact finding team reached Baruhatu village around 10:00 in the morning, under Bundu block. Baruhatu village is situated at 5 kilometers west of Block head office. Nearly 500 houses, divided into hamlets are there in this village. Each hamlet is at least half a kilometer apart from the other. At least 5000 people of 1200 families inhabit these hamlets.
The fact finding team reached near Panchayat Bhavan around 10:00 AM. This Panchayat Bhavan is being utilized as additional Primary Health Centre, at present. Shiv Shankar Bhagat’s house stands just in front of Panchayat Bhavan. Shiv Shankar, aged 40, runs a grocery shop in his house. Members of the team asked him about the incident.
On 18th November 2010, Maoists opened gunfire and killed Pradeep Singh Munda, his daughter Manisha Kumari (6 yrs) along with his two friends- Sanjay Mahto and Sonaram Munda, in his house in Manki Tola, approximately 250 meters away from his shop. Shiv Shankar told that Pradeep Singh Munda’s elder daughter Reshmi Kumari, aged 10, a student of class III is under treatment, after being hit by a bullet in her leg. During the interaction with the team Bayar Patar (40 yrs), neighbour of Shiv Shankar Bhagat, told about his personal problems. Female tubelisation was performed upon his wife on 15th February 2009 at Bundu Referral Hospital. After this operation she delivered a girl child next year on 25th November. He tried to intimate about the negligent attitude of the Doctor and other medical staff. He wanted that action should be taken against such negligent medical personnel. Meanwhile he took the team to Pradeep Singh Munda’s house, where they met his elder brother Kuljeevan Singh Munda. After getting their introduction and the purpose of their visit he offered them to be seated in the courtyard. Kuljeevan told that being the day of “Sat Nahan” the women folk of the family has gone to the river to take bath and only after their return a detailed interaction is possible.
Meanwhile Kuljeevan Singh Munda narrated the incident. It was around 6 o’clock in the evening. I was inside my house as it was drizzling. Suddenly I heard fire shots. Within seconds I heard Pradeep’s wife scream. We rushed to Pradeep’s house. Reaching there we saw the bodies of Pradeep, his third daughter Maneesha and his two friends- Sanjay Mahto and Sonaram Munda, lying in the pool of blood. Sanjay Mahto is the resident of Sarjomdih and Sonaram lived at Hushirhatu. Pradeep’s second daughter Reshmi was hit by a bullet and was moaning in great pain. We were stunned by this sight.
Pradeep’s wife Lakhimuni Devi told me that two persons equipped with firearms, appeared at the entrance door. One of them opened fire indiscriminately, and fled the scene after killing the four. Villagers gathered after this incident and marched together to the police camp. The villagers briefed the police officials. Receiving the information the police arrived at the scene one and a half hours late. The police sent the bodies for post-mortem, while the injured Reshmi Kumari was sent to RIMS for treatment.
Kuljeevan Singh Munda told that “We were seven siblings, three brothers and four sisters. All are married except one sister. All the brothers live separately in this house. Pradeep was the youngest among the brothers and Kuldeep is the middle one. 12 years ago, Pradeep got married and he has four daughters and a son. One daughter was killed in this incident.” He told the team that his deceased brother was working on behalf of police along with few youth of the locality. He said- “Apart from this I don’t have any other information.”
The women folk were back by now. On returning they offered prayers, according to their rituals and customs for the peace of the departed souls. When it was over, they came forward to interact with the team.
Baladevi (32 yrs) deceased’s elder sister-in-law told that she was in the other room, holding Pradeep’s 10 month old son, at the time of the incident. Suddenly she heard bullets being fired. She told- “I was stunned for a few moments with fright. Then hearing my younger sister-in-law (Pradeep’s wife) scream, I rushed to Pradeep’s room and saw four bodies lying on the floor. I also saw Reshmi, who was injured. Reshmi was wailing and shuddering with fear and pain. After a short while the neighbours gathered. We were in a fix and didn’t know what to do as four bodies were lying in front of us while Reshmi was grievously injured. After consulting with the neighbours the eldest member of the family decided to go to the police camp and inform about the incident. All men as well the women of the village, together reached the police camp. The camp, despite being hardly 200-250 meters away from the place of killings, the police arrived one and half an hour late. We were trying to stop Reshmi bleed through traditional medical treatment. The police took Reshmi to the hospital and the bodies to the morgue.
26 years old, Lakhimuni Devi, wife of Pradeep Singh Munda, explained how it happened. “I was cooking meal. My husband was sitting near on a cot, with his two friends chatting with them. All my four daughters were also present there. My elder sister was in other room holding my 10 months old son. Suddenly the door opened and there stood two armed men. One of them came inside with a gun and aiming at my husband and his friends, started firing. My husband, his two friends and one of my daughters sitting on the lap of my husband, were killed. My other daughter sitting on one side of the cot was injured; she got hit by a bullet in her leg. I was startled and before I could understand what had happened, the killers fled the scene. My whole world shattered completely and I screamed aloud. Hearing my scream, members of my family and neighbours came running to my place. I also went to the police camp along with neighbours and the elders of my family. Reaching there we informed the police about the massacre.
After one and a half hours the police team arrived. My injured daughter was sent to RIMS for treatment while the bodies of my daughter, my husband and his two friends were taken away to the morgue. My daughter is relieved from the hospital today itself and she is in the police camp at this moment.” When asked who has killed your husband? She said “Maoists only killed him. Previously my husband worked for the party (Maoists). After quitting the party, he worked as S.P.O. for the police and used to work as police informer. His friends were also police informers and they used to sleep in police camp at night. My husband was given a country made gun by the police, which he used to bring home sometimes.” She told that her husband had three acres of land in his share, which was the main source of their livelihood.
As we were talking to the women of the family, two youths arrived there. One was named Trilok Pahan (18 years) and the other Umakant Patar (17 years). Both of them came to join in the last rites of the deceased. Both live in Manki Tola. They told that “Pradeep Singh Munda, sanjay Mahto, Sonaram Munda and we two work as police spy. Our work is to inform police about who all are coming into the village? Who is going where? Who is linked with the Maoists? Etc. We spend most of our time with the police team and also wander around with them in the locality. Usually we sleep in the police camp at night.” Umakant Patar told us- “Senior S.P. Praveen Kumar has given us the work as the police spy. We were working as police spy since six months. We were told that we would be given Rs. 3000/- per month for working as spy, but we haven’t received a single pie till date. SSP has assured us that we will be given our dues this month.” Umakant told us that he has studied up to matriculation. Before working as a police spy, he was a member of a Maoist squad. “I was arrested by the Tamar police, along with Sripati Munda in January 2009. They let me off after 15 days as I was underage, but sent Sripati Munda to jail.
The day we got caught, we had gone to Tamar area to visit Deema Pahan, brother of Kundan Pahan. He said “The Maoist ideology is not right and that is the reason behind my leaving their party. After my arrest the Maoists didn’t provide any financial assistance either to me or my family. Before joining them I used to run a shop for my bread and butter. By the time I left the party, everything was destroyed. I was looking for some means to meet my both ends need. Meanwhile the police contacted me and I turned to be a police informer. I’m working as a spy since six months. We are 16 boys who work for the police. Thee boys are from other village and rest of them belong to our village. Maoists have killed 3 boys among the 16.” We asked whether they were given any arms to fight against the Maoists. He replied- “We were given just one double barrel gun, which takes in 0.315 cartridges. We were also given 10 cartridges along with the gun, but we can’t move out of the camp with that.”
According to the villagers, there is a police camp set up in the local Rajkiya Madhya Vidyalaya since 2008. Initially the CRPF jawans used to stay here. JAP-1 jawans are camping here at present. After this incident a Battalion of JAGUAR has also been deployed in the camp. Around 300 local children are registered in this school, but the school is being run in the Panchayat Bhavan owing to the stay of police jawans in the school. Since two months only two rooms are being used as class rooms, this situation discourages the children to come to school and their presence has become very less. Most of them graze their cattle and do house hold work. Mid-day meal is not served in the school; even Anganvadi is not working properly. Most of the bore well hand pumps are out of order. Primary Health Centre, PHC building is severely damaged. The PHC is now being run in the Panchayat Bhavan. ANM nurse Pramila Kumari and Compounder Parmeshwar Munda seldom come to the PHC. No doctor has visited the PHC till date. People depend on the quacks for their medical needs. The village was electrified in the year 1993, but the electric wires got theft in the year 1995. The village is not electrified since then.
THE TEAM’S OBSERVATIONS
§ The school building is being used a fort at present. Only the two rooms of the schools are being utilized as class rooms. One separate building for the police camp has been constructed, adjacent to the school building, but the school building is being used by the police instead of Camp Building. Children’s presence was found to be around one hundred, which is very less than the total number of children registered in the school.
§ Primary Health Centre is being run temporarily in the Panchayat Bhavan, but it was found closed, the day we visited.
§ A heap of sign boards and notice boards related to NREGA and other schemes were found lying near the Panchayat Bhavan. As these boards were related to some schemes, they were supposed to be put at the work place. This shows that there is heavy irregularity in the implementation of NREGA schemes.
§ There is total lack of safe drinking water in the village.
§ There is no facility for irrigation.
§ There is no provision for employment.
§ There is no opportunity for clear guidance for the youth as a result the village youth are getting confused; some join the Maoists and the others work for the police as spy.
§ There is reign of terror in the village.
§ The production of country liquor has increased and the police jawans are consuming it a lot, openly. In this situation the villagers are producing more liquor for meager profits. More production results in more consumption by the villagers.
§ Village children are put on household work.
§ All the economic & social activities and cultural harmony is at stake.
RECOMMENDATIONS BY THE FACT FINDING TEAM
§ There should be an impartial and high level investigation into the Baruhatu massacre.
§ The police camp should be removed immediately from the school building.( According to the supreme court orders)
§ There should be immediate ban on the use of local youth as police spy and special police officers. ( According to the supreme court orders)
§ Some youth are kept in the police camp; a high level probe should be conducted in this matter. Stern action should be taken against the guilty police officers.
§ Immediate and appropriate compensation be paid and a member of each of the bereaved families should be given government job as well.
§ Security arrangement of the village should be rectified and also the police camp should be withdrawn from the village immediately.
§ Government should ensure that the villagers and the rural youth get enough opportunities of employment.
§ To confuse the youth and using them for personal gain by the police should immediately be stopped.
§ The youth working for the police as S.P.O. since six months, on just the verbal assurance given by the senior police official, should be paid their dues immediately.
§ The three youth killed in this gruesome incident, Pradeep Singh Munda, Sanjay Mahto and Sonaram Munda were working as SPO for the police. They were not employed through any proper recruitment process. They were working for the police on the verbal assurance given by the Senior Police Officer. Some other youth are working day and night with the jawans of the police camp. The youth who died in this attack should be award the status of martyr by the police department. Equal amount of compensation and government job to the member of the family should be provided as it is provided in the case of martyrdom of police personnel.
Time Not for Impartiality, but Decisions
Book criminal suits against several politicians including the Chief Minister of Karnataka, Sri. Y.S. Yediyurappa. This is not a demand of the Opposition parties in the state, but therecommendation given by Justice Santosh Hegde, the Lokayukta of Karnataka in his report. The report came in the wake of allegations of illegal mining going on in Bellary district of Karnataka.
This report has 25,238 pages. The report names not only BJP and Congress politicians, but also 787 government officers in this matter of illegal mining. This is not just the storyof one state, or just Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Chattisgarh, but it is the reality of mining areas in every region of the world.
The condensation of such an elaborate report is not an easy job. But we will say this for the benefit of the reading public that the mining industry is the mother of corruption and cruelty and it also gets enriched by these. Second, the mining industry is being run by an unholy and shameless nexus between mining mafias and the administrative and political systems in the country. Third, this industry takes pride of place among human rights violators.
Looking at this character of the mining industry, it is difficult to even think that it is mining which introduced humans to the Iron Age and Copper Age Civilisations and cultures and helped human society to lay the foundation for many good values and moresin that period. The purpose of mining, then, was to strengthen the society. If so, which are the elements, which took away those values from mining? Let us discuss this. The kind of mining that is going on in the world today, its systems and techniques were all developed by the colonizer countries in the era of colonization. This has been very well explained in the book, “British Rule in India” by Sunder Lal. He writes, “Through the loot of India and especially Bengal, (Jharkhand was also a part of Bengal at that time) by the end of the 19th century, the industries of England which were very much backward till then started developing and factories started opening in places like Lancashire. This observation of Sundar Lal is supported by a remark made by Lord Dalhousie on the Railway system in 1853. Lord Dalhousie had said that it was necessary to develop the railways to develop India as a market for British goods as well as a source for raw materials. For this process, the British Empire coined a new word, ‘Development of the Resources of India.’
The character of mining industry in India did not change even after Independence. The geographical, social and cultural systems were irrelevant to those controlling the mining industry, since they had no interest in them. On the other hand, the mine owners looked at all these as obstacles in the way of amassing profits. Hence they wanted to be freed of these and till now they have been free.
The mineral resources, which have been freed of all these has been a source of enormous profit to those associated with mining. This profit attracted a small section of human society. This small section changed our centuries-old perceptions and values for the safeguard of their profit. When the perceptions were changed, all of us started running after the glitter and dazzle of the new world they had set up.
There are many in this world, who run after this glitter and dazzle and that majority is the strength of the minority who amass profits. In reality, those who run after the glitter don’t even get the leftovers of the profit from the mining industry. They get displacement, starvation, poverty, migration, grave illnesses, bullets and lathis from police and mafia. But they still hope sometime or the other, a few drops of this elixir in the form of profit from this industry might reach their throats too.
This is that society which plays an important role in forming governments and it is the representatives of this society who are in important positions in government- Prime minister, Chief minister, ministers and members of Parliament and Assemblies. Therefore, the question of ministers and members of government being involved in illegal mining and corruption is not just a question limited to them, but a question of that section of society which they represent.
We will have to think what meaning does corruption have for these fleeing people. What is their relationship with people around them? When we think about this, we realize that these people who live in their own world of make-believe are in the embrace of dying individualism. These individualistic people have no meaning for corruption. They want their interests to be taken care of using any means. Even if they have to hold laws at bay, to this end, it does not matter for them. In these circumstances, the graph of corruption will show an upward inclination, doubtless. Along with this, if there is murderous competition, there will be cruelty, exploitation and repression.
Therefore the problem of corruption and brutality in mining industry calls for an in-depth reflection, without which we can neither get rid of this problem nor can we make anychanges. Hegde’s report is not directed at this senseless society, but appeals to those who have kept their senses and consciousness in tact, how long would this empire of corruption and cruelty continue. Come, let us think if we are people who have lost our senses or we are still in our senses and want to put an end to the corruption and brutality. In this we cannot be impartial and standing on the sides watching, because impartiality means to keep the status quo in tact.
Forced Or Spontaneous Development?
Land grabbing for industries and developmental projects. This land grabbing has become a cause of concern to the government, industrial houses as well as the public. Till yesterday, the people of Jharkhand as well as other mineral rich regions were crying themselves hoarse against this loot of land. But the so-called developed society along with government and companies honoured them with such names as rustic, antidevelopmental, anti-national and what-not. Today, the need for land grabbing has increased to such an extent that they not only need the lands of Nuagaon and Gobindpur in Odisha, they also need the lands of rich farmers in developed areas like Greater Noida. The farmers of both these regions are causing headache to the rulers of democratic India. These farmers are taking bullets and lathis from the police as well as the henchmen of companies, but they are determined and firm. In other words, both sides have locked horns and are ready for battle.
There are two perspectives on this. One group understands land grabbing as beneficial to the people, while the other group considers it as threatening to their interests. On first glance, these two perspectives may look contradictory, but both are products of the same historical context, which gave rise to laws like the Land Acquisition Act. The starting point for both these lines of thinking is colonialism. Unless we are able to understand and emerge out of this, we will not be able to find a solution to this problem. This conclusion is not just for India, but also for all those countries and regions, which have carried the burden of colonialist rule.
The countries or regions, which have suffered from colonial rule, their folk memories, and folk legends, have been so much under pressure from European modernism that they made it the purpose of their independence to usher in this modernity. Several leaders of our independence struggle, including Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru have been adherents of this ideology. As a result the draft for building up of the nascent Indian state was based on the principles of European modernism. The pressure of modernism was so great on us that period in our history, which was a period of transition with numerous upheavals, has been qualified as the most stagnant period in our country’s history. It was during this period that social movements such as the Bhakti movement were strong. The first condition for establishing British colonialism in India, was the destruction of our people’s history. This is the reason why even today, Dr. Manmohan Singh, our present Prime Minister does not get tired of singing praises to the British Empire for their role in making our country educationally and intellectually developed, whenever he is invited to deliver a speech at Cambridge University.
If we need to cope with today’s dilemmas whose roots are hidden deep within European modernism, we need to go beyond this and look into the folk-lores and folk-history of those societies who have kept themselves safely outside the reach of this modernism. This is the consciousness required by the present time, without which our dilemmas will continue to persist and haunt us. We can wipe off a disease only through the annihilation of the germs causing the disease, not through breeding them.
Not only our country, the whole world is distressed with the capitalist system. And is searching for ways to escape. That is why our middle-class intellectual society is searching for an end to corruption, sometimes with the help of Anna Hazare, sometimes through Baba Ramdev. After sixty years of experience, they still do not understand that it is impossible for this system to survive without corruption. This is a game that the ruling class wants to show us and we are happy watching it. We think, come on, now corruption is going to come to an end. When modern capitalism, encountered its second financial crisis, which is known in history as South Sea Bubble in 1711, corruption was the root cause. Even today, not only in India, but wherever capitalism is present, corruption is at its peak, this can be understood just by looking at the recent instances of granting mining leases either to Reddy brothers or Vedanta plant.
If we want to get out of this situation, we need to move forward in the direction of an alternate system, which was envisioned by some of our leaders who were part of the Independence struggle, but did not receive the recognition that Gandhiji and Nehru did. We will have to sift through their dreams and retrieve those principles, which oppose modernism that furthers imperialism. We will have to search in the pages of the past. The histories of Jharkhand and similar other regions have not been properly recorded or understood till now. We need to decide the course of our development, searching through these histories and adopting principles from them. But it is the misfortune of these regions that the ruling classes have been promoting those very models of development, against which their people have been constantly agitating. We have just recently celebrated the martyrdom day of Birsa Munda, who had forced the mighty British Empire to bend down and legislate the first land protection law for Adivasi people, which is known as C.N.T. Act.
But despite this Act, Adivasi land was being looted in this state even after independence and the formation of Jharkhand. The same as in the case of dowry, though there is a strong anti-dowry act in this country, dowry is openly taken and given every day. I have this to ask of those who argue for making strict laws, what happens after? We will have to awaken social and political consciousness against this loot, otherwise, the stricter the laws, the more number of loopholes there will be to escape.
Therefore, let the law be strict. But there should also be people to implement the law, only then can Adivasi land be protected. There will be more businesses opened with the demand of making the laws stricter, but we cannot trust them to save our lands. Ultimately, it is the people here who have to save their lands. They will have to be prepared for that. The people will be prepared only when they locate the road to their development in their folk-lores and folk-history. And that too, such a development, which should be seen challenging the existing models of development. Which is possible.
A Political Abortion
The Anti-Corruption Campaign led by Anna Hazare and his team has succeeded in getting a particular class of people align with his movement, who were till now unprepared to think of anything beyond own profit, which is a positive contribution of the Campaign. But at the same time, this Campaign also pushed many of the important issues to the side burner.
The question now arises, can corruption be solved through the Jan Lokpal Bill? The answer to this can only be negative, which Anna Hazare and his team also know. Then why make so much noise for Jan Lokpal bill? We will be able to understand this only when we put together the incidents behind this and try to understand the movement. Before this Movement started, other issues were in popular discourse, which affected common people like land acquisition, climate change, increasing gap between poverty and riches caused by the industry-centred development and price rise. A wide discussion was taking place in the country on these issues, staring from the local level to the national level. This discussion had begun to make those sitting in government uncomfortable. Because their faces had started falling not only among the people, but also among Corporate houses. Because the government was unable to fulfill the promises it made to investors.
This was because the people had understood that these promises of the government were against their interests. Therefore the people of majority of the states like Jharkhand, Orissa and Chattisgarh were seen out on the streets, in a bid to protect their interests. They held on, despite all kinds of physical, mental and economic exploitation on them. Hundreds of these agitators became victims to police bullets. In Chattisgarh, Salwa Judum, had unleashed a bloody trail of murders and rapes. In other words, this cycle of exploitation and repression along with the nationwide protest of the people had put forward a desire for a broad-based debate.
At the base of this debate was the anti-people character and history of the ruling class. There was a hope from this debate, which had just got sparked off that it would bring in some changes. Footfalls were being heard of the impending changes. The same supreme court of India, which had earlier freed the perpetrators of the heinous rape on Bhanwari Devi, a Dalit woman, on the ground that they belonged to a higher caste, now started giving out verdicts against the illegal means adopted by companies like Jindal, Mittal, Posco and Vedanta groups A process of Review of laws had also started at the assembly and Parliament levels. This was not just a change of heart of the supreme court and Pariamen. But a change was going to happen. It is another matter how much of space would there have been for the voices of the common man in this process, but this could have been corrected under pressure from people’s movements and struggles.
At this critical time, when change was imminent, Anna Hazare’s Anti- Corruption Campaign caused this change to be aborted politically. And this is the reason why those people who are desirous of keeping status quo in tact and who stand to gain by it were coming out in support of the movement in large numbers like flies and insects. Anna’s devotees had started coming out not only in Delhi, but in all cities, big and small towns and even in the small lanes and bylanes of villages. In 13 days, these devotees and disciples had caused such an uproar that that government had to bend before them. I am not saying that corruption is not an issue issue. I am saying that corruption is a product of the political and economic systems, which the present system is nurturing. We cannot finish it off unless we attack the system. But this movement had mobilized the same people who are promoting corruption day in and day out. We have seen that a lot of
noise had been made about corruption even during the JP movement Without going into the fall-outs of that movement, I just want to say that in the name of bringing an end to the ‘licence-permit raj’ in the country, genuine people’s issues have been pushed back. Even if there was a discussion o nthese issues, it was only after weighing advantages and disadvantages carefully. A new system has been ushered in, one which accepts the dominance of market. And we are seeing how this new system promotes corruption.
How much of this corruption will be erased by the Jan Lokpal Bill, only time can tell. But this group of people who have fed corruption have now become aware that they can make the government bend before their supremacy as and when they want. Particularly, when they can take the media in hand. In today’s world, whether it is political change or social change, the role of media is undeniable. Anna Team understood this well and used it in their movement very well.
Finally, I just want to add this, on august 9th, the day Anna started his fast, the same day, three farmers were shot dead by the police in his home state, Maharashtra. These farmers were among the farmers protesting against a water pipeline in Pune district, which would devastate their fields. I was clear that Anna Hazare will not express grief over the deaths of these farmers, not only during the fast period, even after that.
I am forced to say this because, in the whole country when farmers were committing suicide, anna Hazare had kept quiet about it. Likewise, about the atrocitires on Dalits and Adivasis in Posco area or Niyamgiri or Jharkhand, anna would have hardly made any comments, ever. Anna Hazare, does not get tired talking about Gandhi, the same Gandhi who was fighting the rioters at Naokhali, single-handedly at the time when the whole country was celebrating the new dawn of national Independence.