“I felt their deep sorrow and that became my empowerment.” H. Kumar
Activists & journalists are silenced, but the truth will be told.
Below are moving excerpts from activist Himanshu Kumar, addressing the issue of Operation Green Hunt, where the Democratic nation of India is exploiting and oppressing it’s own indigenous tribal people, the adivasi. These are the forest people who have lived in isolation, unaware of and unexposed to the modern government- now facing militant aggression and land dispossession as the goals of economic progress hunger for their mineral rich territories. The full text is available here, voicing heartbreaking stories of structural conflicts, rape and pillaging- all enforced by the state itself. As the underlying source of all wars- from ancient conquering of territories and empires to modern insatiable appetites for fossil fuels and financial power, selfish greed fuels the rhetoric and concepts behind the villain-ization and dehumanizing of the enemy.
If people don’t get justice, there is no way of fighting poverty, no one listens to the people’s problems, then democracy based just on the structural farces cannot last.
If democracy is not applied to the grass root level, then there is no alternative to large-scale unrest
A few days ago the new Operation Green Hunt was started. Sixteen adivasis were killed early one morning by the CRPF, in Gompad. A two year old boy’s – Suresh’s fingers were cut. The boy’s mother was first knifed in her head, she was raped after she died. His eight year old sister was stabbed to death. His father was also killed. A seventy year old man who couldn’t run was also killed. A seventy-year old woman’s breasts were chopped off before she was killed. We took some of the afflicted people to Delhi. We filed a case in the Supreme Court. When all these people came to Dantewada to talk to Chidambaram, they were detained by the police. They are still in jail. This nation’s democracy is silent, as is the Supreme Court and the media. While Suresh and a woman who was shot in the leg are being held in the jail.
For us, everything is good, we eat twice a day, our children go to school. We are respected. All’s well with the world. Then where is the problem? When we think about it, really think about it, all the natural resources of this planet, sunlight, water, should be equally distributed among everyone. But in reality that doesn’t happen. We create our superiority by instilling the feeling of inferiority in others.
For us, everything is good, we eat twice a day, our children go to school. We are respected. All’s well with the world. Then where is the problem? When we think about it, really think about it, all the natural resources of this planet, sunlight, water, should be equally distributed among everyone. But in reality that doesn’t happen. We create our superiority by instilling the feeling of inferiority in others. What started with the caste system thousands of years ago, ostracizing all the people of low caste from respectable society is now being carried on by status due to education or which side of town you were born in. The higher castes and the educated or rich claim more than their fair share of all resources, leaving very little for the poor. All these ways of keeping the disparity alive make sense to us – the beneficiaries of the skewed distribution of resources. We want it to stay that way so that we keep getting our meals without having to work in the fields. After all, we are good, civilized people and “they” are low caste people who don’t work hard enough.
But for the poor man, who lives in Lalgarh or Beriyaghat, this is violence. He works all day and yet doesn’t have enough to eat, while you have never been in a field. His houses are being burned down, his wife is being raped, so that the disparity stays as it is. The government and the police work for the rich to maintain this structural violence, which is deeply rooted in the Vedic system and the value system.
But one day this will all be challenged and this value system will get broken. As Gandhiji had said that if the poor don’t revolt, we should tell them to stop accepting this inhumane treatment and declare war against it. If they don’t then they will get decimated because the twenty percent minority is all set, armed with the media, the police and the army to kill the rest of the eighty percent just to maintain status quo. However, they find ways to camouflage it by stating that all the adivasis are causing unrest. They are beheading government police officers in their villages.
One of my friends is a reporter, she asked me that, if like you say this is “structural” violence, then why is it not happening everywhere? Why is it not there in UP, or Bombay or Delhi? I told her that there are three types of poor. Some of them, who are making a living because of the rich, like your maid or the person that irons your clothes. They are happy that some people are rich so they can also make a living. The second type are those, that think it is their fault that they are poor. They may think it is either their fate or their low caste or their illiteracy or because they live in a village, that makes them poor. They don’t blame the rich for their lot. The third are the type that you affected because you wanted to be rich. They didn’t want anything from you and had been living happily in the forests, until you decided to take their peace and their livelihood away from them without any heed of their welfare. Now, they want revenge. The real problem, for the rich, will arise if all these poor come together and take on the minority of rich people.
Workers association and rickshaw pullers association have invited me to talk. All three types of the poor are beginning to understand that they are poor because of the structural violence. The independence of the country didn’t come just for the rich, it belongs to you more than it belongs to the rich. Until it reaches everyone, we are not going to sit still. We will make every sacrifice that has to be made to bring it to the door of every poor villager. Our fight for true freedom will continue right up until then.
When the Chattisgarh state was formed, the government wanted to use the land for mining and they got many MoUs. Then as an afterthought they remembered there were many Naxalites in the area. One of my friends had gone to a CII meeting. The businessman there were saying that while we have a license to do work, the Naxalites are not letting us progress.An MoU was signed between the government and a very big iron company. Within a day they started Salwa Judum. In Salwa Judum the government said that the villagers were supporting the Naxalites. The adivasis were told to leave their homes and live in the camps around the police station, in order to cure the evil of Naxalites. These adivasis are not used to living in confinement, they live in the open forests.
Many government officials would go to them, carrying guns, to persuade people to leave. People who didn’t want to go to the camps were coerced using guns. Guns were given to a gang of hooligans who would fire at fleeing adivasis. Many girls were raped. Little children were killed. People who ran away were labeled Naxalites. Their homes were burned . The poor adivasis tried to come back and rebuild their houses but they were burned again and again.
When that happened we went against the government. Our ashram was promptly demolished. Our workers were arrested. Seven hundred villages were burnt, about three- four lakh population. 50,000 were taken to the camp, 50000 fled to AP and Orissa or Maharashtra, 3 lakhs fled to the forest where they are still under attack. Our representative, Nandini Sundar went to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ordered the government to rebuild all the villages. Not a single village was rehabilitated by the government. The Supreme Court ordered the government to give compensation to the adivasis, not a single adivasi has received any compensation.