#India – Naxal elephant in the drawing room #Chhattisgarh


D. SAMPATHKUMAR

  ·

The institutionalised resistance to State authority, which is really what Naxalite violence is all about, has been around for a very long time.

June 9, 2013:

It isn’t quite the run-of-the-mill elephant jokes that were popular at one time (Google it if you are so inclined), although the elephant figures in it in a major way.

I have in mind a tale about a mother elephant that had calved on top of a hill. It was narrated to me by the manager of a company I worked in for a while. He would insist on coming up with the most comprehensive solution to a problem that the team under him could barely get started on solving. While that is an awful state of affairs, you could go just as terribly wrong by getting started on the first thing that strikes you as the solution.

The story goes that there existed a temple on top of a thickly wooded hill. There was a pathway that was barely enough for people to go up in single file, if they wanted to get to the top. The climb was not just arduous but treacherous as well.

On most days, the temple priest would be the only one to go up the hill and, that too, because it fell upon him to perform the morning rituals. The rest confined themselves to offering prayers only on important festival days.

Cracking the calf puzzle

One morning, when the priest went up to perform his daily puja, he was astonished to find a calf elephant crying out plaintively for help. Soon, all the villagers trekked to the top of the hill. The question in everyone’s mind was, ‘‘How did the baby elephant get to the top when even expert trekkers found the going so tough?’’

The villagers were scratching their heads trying to find an answer. Soon, the village wisecrack hit upon an explanation. He said, ‘‘Look, I think it is like this. The mother elephant must have gone up the hill and given birth to a calf.’’ . The villagers nodded their heads. ‘‘Oh yes, that is really how it must have happened’’, they seemed to be telling each other and dispersed in the secure knowledge that they had cracked a puzzle. But, of course, the real mystery was not how the calf happened to get there, but how a pregnant elephant managed to get to the top of the hill and give birth to a calf.

So it would seem, for the talking heads and writers in the media, when it comes to understanding the Naxalite violence and the role of private militia orsalwa judum as it is called.

If only the Government had not created this monster, the problem of Naxalite violence would not have escalated to the extent of wiping out the entire state Congress party leadership in the manner in which it did.

But the truth is, salwa judum or not, Naxalites have been around for a long time. Also, it isn’t as though they have all of a sudden embarked on the path of violence after being strong adherents of the principle of ahimsa. The reality is a bit more nuanced.

Truckload of charges

Years ago, I was, for a brief while, engaged in nothing more onerous than doling out payments to transport contractors within the finance set up at the Tata’s truck plant in Pune.

Dealing as I did, with truck drivers and assorted other minions in the world of commerce, I acquired a deeper understanding of the politics and social mores of India’s vast countryside existing outside the metros.

The company had engaged the services of the cooperative society of ex-servicemen for driving away fully assembled truck chassis from Pune to various towns where Tata dealers were located.

The transportation charges that were payable took into account the distance involved; the quantity of fuel to be consumed, besides wages and daily allowance to the driver for the duration of time it took him to deliver the vehicle and return. You could say that pretty much everything had been factored in, to the last minute detail. Or at least, so the company thought.

The extra levy

But when the bills were submitted there was an extra item charged at Rs 20 per truck (not a small sum in the 80s) for some destinations which were not built into the contract. The clerk in charge of transport payments would routinely disallow that claim and pay only the balance which was, as per the terms, agreed upon.

Over time, it added up to a sizeable sum which brought the secretary of the ex-servicemen society to my office. He explained that all chassis that passed through the town of Jagdalpur in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh for upcountry destinations, suffered a levy in the hands of the local militia and this couldn’t be incorporated in the contract.

He went on to explain in some detail, the internal security situation in the eastern parts of India. He would know; he was, after all, a retired colonel of the Indian army. Jagdalpur is at the very heart of the Naxalite movement in the State of Chhattisgarh.

It was all a long time ago. But nothing much has changed. One, the institutionalised resistance to State authority, which is really what this is all about, has been around for a very long time.

Two, such organised resistance was defeated only in the plains of Gangetic West Bengal and later in the plains of East Punjab. More specifically, the resistance could never be quelled with any degree of success where the movement operated with the advantage of hills and forests.

It is one thing to evict Naxalites from Jadavpur University which they occupied for a brief while. But it’s quite another to beat down the resistance dispersed around the hills of Chota Nagpur or the forests of Malkangiri in Odisha.

Operating at the margin

That said, no one is quite seriously doing anything about it either. The movement is being sustained because the energy needed to keep it going is generated from within. Both the rebels and the components of the established authority of the State (ruling party and the party in opposition) have no incentive to disturb the status quo.

The rebels are quite content to operate at the margin, collecting a toll on traffic in their domain; much like what warlords did when caravans passed through the Silk Road in the era before sea lanes of commerce were discovered. The political parties too do not want to destroy the rebels.

Each political party thinks that the rebels would be useful at some future date for forming an alliance to outwit the other party/parties contesting for political power.

In any case, the mindset of the rulers, no matter which party is in power, is not dissimilar to that of the rebels themselves.

There is no grand vision for the country where Naxalites stand in the way and, therefore, need to be either reformed or eliminated. They too prefer to make money at the margin from industrial investments, administrative clearances, and so on.

In other words, they operate at the margin sucking out what they can, much like the Naxalites themselves.

If Naxalites operate from the safety of the hills and forests, the ruling establishments prefer to operate from the safety of secretariats in the States and the North and the South Blocks in the Centre.

(This article was published on June 9, 2013,in Hindu )

 

#India – Grassroots Democracy Gasps as Guns do the Talking


Over 70 local government representatives have quit their posts in Malkangiri, a district long under the Maoist shadow. G Vishnu visits remote villages in Odisha to gauge the despair
G Vishnu

G Vishnu , Tehelka

15-06-2013, Issue 24 Volume 10

Anguished Debe Madhi resigned as the Kalimela block chairperson, protesting government apathyAnguished Debe Madhi resigned as the Kalimela block chairperson, protesting government apathy.
Photo: 

There are no roads here. There is no pond in the village. No wells. No drinking water. What does the government want us to do?” laments Era Madkamy, 37, a small-time farmer who grows paddy, groundnuts and vegetables for a living. His wife Mamata Kobasi, 25, has recently resigned from her post as an elected village head. Kobasi is not alone. In the past two months, frustration over the State’s apathy towards the tribal dominated region has made 72 local body representatives quit their posts in a remote corner of , one of the poorest of the 28 states in India. Though the district collector refused to accept the resignations, the despair runs so deep that no one is willing to relent.

 district, 600 km to the south-west of the state capital Bhubaneswar, has always been in the news for the wrong reasons. This is one of the 60 districts in central and eastern India that the government considers to be ‘most affected’ by the .

Malkangiri hit the headlines in February 2011 when the Maoists abducted the then district collector Vineel Krishna. One of the rebels’ demands was the construction of a canal that would ensure drinking water to people across a large part of the district. Nearly two-and-a-half years following the release of Krishna — who currently works in the Union Ministry of Rural Development — there is no sign of the canal yet.

While pressure from the Maoists may have left little choice for the local body representatives but to follow their diktat, many of them say they are so fed up with the State’s apathy towards the tribals that they decided to quit.

The resignation of local body members at all levels — from wards (a part of a village) to blocks (a bunch of villages) — means more than just stagnancy in the local administration. It almost suggests a rejection of everything that the government has to offer.

People in every village that TEHELKA visited in the district seemed to share this sense of alienation.

Among those who have resigned are the chairperson and 21 village heads of Kalimela block. In Koyimetla, one of the villages in this block, it is a hot Sunday morning and the village head Kobasi tends to her kids while her husband Madkamy has breakfast. With no irrigation facilities, it is a tough task for the household to sustain their crops. Even collecting drinking water is a big problem.

This village was once connected by the main road that passes through Kalimela block. It was a pucca road once, but that is difficult to believe by the look of what remains of it. In fact, pucca roads cannot be seen in most parts of the district.

“What’s the point of being a village head when there is little you can do to improve the lot of the villagers?” asks Madkamy. Village head Kobasi and the other villagers too share the same view. But lest you thought it is a village that has been influenced by Maoists, the villagers are quick to clarify that it is not. No one claimed to support the Maoists in any way.

Indeed, it is difficult to reduce the villagers’ views on the Maoists to a binary of ‘support’ and ‘opposition’. So, at the same time as they insist they have nothing to do with the Maoists, some of them say they agree with a few of the rebels’ demands.

“The Maoists were right when they demanded the canal during the Vineel Krishna kidnapping episode… The government does not seem to understand our appeals,” says a villager on the condition of anonymity. Many villages do not seem to have been particularly shaken by the killing of an SPO by the Maoists in a nearby village just a day earlier, or by the killing of Bhagwan Kirsani, the elected head of Kurmannur village, in the same area a month earlier. However, in hushed voices, many villagers admit that Maoist pressure has worked in several villages. But not theirs, they point out immediately.

In another remote village, Undrukonda, where there is absolutely no support for Maoists, the frustration reaches another decibel. Most residents are Koya tribals, and they suffer from the usual problems of lack of drinking water, electricity and roads, besides little access to education and healthcare.

“Every time we have a medical emergency, it takes nearly four-five hours for the ambulance to reach us. There have been a number of miscarriages because of this,” says 24-year-old Wagi Kartami, the elected village head, who has studied up to Class XII. “How can we develop this village? There is no Primary Health Centre here, no high school, and no roads too.”

Twenty-eight-year-old Debe Madhi, who resigned as head of Kalimela block and is a supporter of the Congress party, articulates the problems of the villagers more vividly. “The nearest hospital is more than 25-30 km away from my village, Murbanpally,” she says. “It’s worse for the people in villages like Manyamkonda, Chintalvada, Bejangiwada and Bodigetta, which are in the hills.”

Madhi also points out that social welfare schemes like the MGNREGS — an ambitious Central government scheme that guarantees 100 days of wage employment to every household in rural India — have not been implemented effectively in the entire region. “Unless the government expedites implementation of the welfare programmes that we have demanded, we will stay away from office,” she says. “Though our resignation has not been accepted, we will not relent.”

Ambivalence in the attitude towards the Maoists is a common feature in several villages that TEHELKA visited. Most residents also shared similar views on the failure of the political parties to deliver good governance.

Many villagers point out that the PDS system in Malkangiri has been of little use to the locals. “The Adivasis here do not consume the rice provided through the PDS as they prefer other locally grown cereals. Also, most of them don’t use sugar and use firewood instead of kerosene,” says a volunteer in one of the biggest NGOs operating in the district. “No political party is keen to pursue the issues that matter, as it is not in their interest.” Among such crucial issues, the volunteer adds, is the implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) — a key legislation that recognises the Adivasis’ rights to forestland.

“Just two months ago, there was not even a status-quo report on the FRA. Now, perhaps with the 2014 Assembly polls in mind, the officials have suddenly woken up and are handing out pattas (land deeds) to Adivasis,” says an activist. “But there is no effort to recognise community claims over forestland, which would give Adivasi villages complete control over the nearby forests. Nobody wants that.”

This idea of community rights is fuelling the rebellion elsewhere in Malkangiri too. Nilapari village in Kudumulu Gumma block is inhabited by the Didai tribe (classified as a ‘Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group’). The elected head, Naka Mamudi, recently managed to stop the paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF) from setting up a camp in the village. He did this by citing the rules for tribal areas under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution, which gives the village council the right to decide how community resources are to be used. He had learnt from the experience of villages like Chitapari-3 of the neighbouring Korukonda block, where the BSF has occupied the panchayat building.

While calls for further militarisation of Maoist-affected regions have become louder following the shocking Naxal attack on a Congress convoy in Chhattisgarh on 25 May, Malkangiri is a case study in why that alone may not end the problem. Unless it comes with a simultaneous campaign to strengthen institutions of local governance, so that local body representatives feel safe and are empowered to address the grievances of villagers.

Else we might end up with more Malkangiri-like situations. Already in neighbouring Koraput district, local body representatives in Narayanpatna block are readying to resign en masse to protest the arrest of over 500 innocent Adivasis.

vishnu@tehelka.com

 

#Odisha – In Malkangiri, losing the fight for hearts and minds #Tribalrights


May 15, 2013

Niranjan Patnaik

Last month, 65 representatives of panchayati raj institutions in Malkangiri, Odisha, resigned en masse protesting against the apathy of the State government. All Adivasis, their principal demands have been the extension of an irrigation canal, road repair, and the supply of drinking water to villages. They had been making representations to the State Government and meeting officials but to no avail. Even after they resigned, Bhubaneswar has hardly taken note of the grave constitutional and governance crisis this has caused. What would the reaction have been had this happened in say Jammu and Kashmir?

Tackling Naxals

Panchayat raj institutions are integral to our constitutional edifice. No minister or bureaucrat from Bhubaneswar has decided to visit the district to establish an interface with the elected adivasi leaders. What can be more insensitive?

In early 2009, the Central Government decided on a significant initiative to deal with rising Maoist violence. Here, the deployment of Central forces was increased and States given support to add to their capability in coping with Maoist violence. The expectation was that a grid pattern of deployment of Central forces, supported by special forces with deep penetration capability, would facilitate developmental and governance initiatives. Affected districts were provided assistance under the Integrated Action Plan (IAP), which was one more method of gap-funding after the Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRFG). Besides, the districts were given additional funds under various Centrally-sponsored schemes. The strategy has worked wherever State governments have been able to benefit from Central assistance. Where the State administration is disinterested, the Central effort has yielded limited benefits.

Neither money nor security forces individually or together can win the hearts and minds of people, if money remains unspent and all that people see are large numbers of heavily armed personnel. This is precisely what happened to Malkangiri four years later. The State Government has been unable to create capacity or improve governance. Development schemes can hardly be implemented. Ministers and bureaucrats are unwilling to visit the district to personally take charge, review implementation or assuage the frustration of the Adivasis. There is a case for a rethink on our strategy to deal with what the Prime Minister has termed the biggest internal security threat to India.

Underutilised funds

During a recent visit to Malkangiri I met the Adivasi leaders. They were simple and straightforward in talking about the issues that affected them and expressed a great sense of helplessness at having been cheated by the government. They no longer trust it. Ironically, Malkangiri is among the top three Naxal-affected districts of the country with 60 per cent Adivasis and 81 per cent people below poverty line. The district gets generous funds under Central schemes as well as under BRGF and IAP yet fares poorly on all development indicators besides reporting extremely poor utilisation of Central funds. Malkangiri’s misery is being perpetuated by the insensitivity, inaction and neglect of a callous State government. Unfortunately, civil society has little time for the Adivasis. Innocent children are dying of diseases, youth are unemployed, women are vulnerable, farmers do not have access to irrigation and there is an atmosphere of bedlam and unprecedented institutional decay.

Poor infrastructure

Under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the district has received Rs.35.39 crore till February this year, but only Rs.14.78 crore has been spent. Out of the 3,024 units sanctioned under the Indira Awaas Yojana housing scheme, about 30 houses have been built. Under the IAP, the district has received Rs.85 crore out of which Rs.30 crore remains unspent. Malkangiri has as many as 36 health centres apart from the district headquarters hospital. But they remain non-functional as at least 40 posts of doctors, including specialists, are vacant against the sanctioned strength of 87.

Roads are in bad shape and people have been repeatedly blocking them to voice their anger, but to no avail. Road projects worth Rs.460 crore, of the Public Works Department, and Rs.630 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) are yet to take off. Only 35 per cent of the funds under PMGSY have been used. Ironically, the Chief Minister holds the Works portfolio, which is supposed to maintain all major roads and look after the Water Resources department. Political executives from Bhubaneswar hardly ever visit the district. When they do, they never spend a night even at the fortified district headquarters. When Ministers, secretaries and bureaucrats are unwilling to visit the district and senior police officers move around in helicopters provided by the Central Government for security reasons, we cannot blame the district officials for their unwillingness to visit the interiors, particularly after the kidnapping of two Collectors from the Bastar region. The State Government has failed to build a bridge across the Gurupriya river that separates the cut-off areas from the mainland of Malkangiri district. The cut-off areas are essentially the eight gram panchayats of Kudumulugumma block separated from the mainland district by the Balimela reservoir constructed in 1977. The dam project separated some 33,400 people in 151 villages from the Odisha mainland though they are connected on the other side to Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh.

Rights violations

In 2001, the Collector and Superintendent of Police “ran away” from the district. On the Chief Minister’s request, the Central Government sent four battalions of Central forces as well as a helicopter. Money has also been provided for the modernisation of the police force. The State Government meets the entire expenditure on fighting Naxalites under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme of the Central Government. To this, the Central Government has now sanctioned two engineer battalions to attend to road work in areas where contractors are not taking up work. Instead of providing security cover, the security forces have become the only government agency present or visible. There are repeated allegations of human rights violations. This when the purpose of security cover was to implement development work and sort out governance issues.

The Centre has poured in funds and deployed huge numbers of security personnel. But, what does one do if the State administration fails to implement and tackle governance issues? What if Ministers and bureaucrats do not carry out routine reviews and inspections? Since the kidnapping of Collector Vineel Krishna, governance has more or less collapsed. No development has taken place, fuelling the current crisis that has forced elected Adivasi leaders to resign.

The Adivasis are simple people, who have for long tolerated the highhandedness of the administrators and the police. Now, they have been left to face armed Maoists.

To me, this is a grave constitutional crisis and all efforts must be made to restore grass-roots democracy here.

(Niranjan Patnaik is president of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee.)

Panchayati raj representatives in the Naxal-affected district have resigned

en masse to protest the apathy to their development needs, but the Odisha government remains unmoved

 

Orissa – CDRO Statement on the arrests of Samgram Mohanty and Kailash Mandal


December 6, 2012

CDRO strongly condemns and refutes the official versions touted by the Odisha police regarding the recent arrests of Sangram Mohanty and Kailash Mandal from Berhampur town on 5th December 2012. Both have been shown as Maoists and the police claim to have recovered arms, literature and other items from their possession.

The facts are otherwise. Sangram Mohanty, a thirty year old engineer turned businessman was busy in a motor repairing garage on 5th December in Berhampur town. When returning home in the morning, he was intercepted by plain clothed policemen in a Bolero jeep and hustled into the vehicle. This was corroborated by a local butcher who was a witness to the interception. Mohanty was first taken to the Reserve Police Barrack near Berhampur town and then, in another vehicle, transported to Mohana PS in Gajpati district, not far from the area where the recent fake encounter had taken place. His advocate was refused permission to meet him and late at night he was produced with his face covered before a first class judicial magistrate at R Udaigiri. After production, he was taken to judicial custody where he has started his hunger strike protesting his arrest. Although the magistrate reprimanded the police for covering Mohanty’s face, his bail petition was rejected as the magistrate claimed that it went beyond his purview.

It is necessary to add that Sangram Mohanty is the son of Dandapani Mohanty, convenor of Jan Adhikar Manch who has twice acted as interlocutor for securing the release from the Maoists, the collector of Malkangiri in 2011 and two Italian tourists abducted in 2012. He has been legally fighting for 657 persons lodged in 19 districts who have been arrested as Maoists by the police. He and his family have been repeatedly threatened and intimidated by the police over the last two years. His house was ransacked and raided by the police in 2010 and false cases were foisted under UAPA in February 2012. Most recently, he and his family have been receiving threats after his public condemnation of the fake encounter. Sangram Mohanty’s arrest is clearly a way of intimidating Mr Mohanty and his family.

In another instance, Kailash Mandal, a tribal and cultivator was picked up by the police on 2nd December in the evening from the bus stop at Berhampur town where Mandal had come for business. Mandal’s father contacted Dandapani Mohanty the following day and the latter sent SMSes to all officials in Odisha in connection with Mandal’s disappearance. Coincidentally, Mandal too was produced with Mohanty on the night of 5th/6th at R. Udaigiri.

CDRO demands:

* Immediate and unconditional release of Sangram Mohanty and Kailash Mandal.
* Action against the police for keeping Mandal in illegal detention for over three days, for arresting Mohanty and Mandal without procedure, for producing them with their faces covered, and for refusing permission to Mohanty’s lawyer from meeting him.
* Immediate end of harassment to Dandapani Mohanty and his family from the state forces.

Asish Gupta & Kranthi Chaitanya
Co-ordinator, CDRO

 

Jairam Ramesh launches SADP project in Malkangiri , Orissa


English: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodha...

English: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the ITC Green Centre in Gurgaon, outside of New Delhi. The ITC Green Centre is the world’s largest “Platinum Rated” green office building. Department photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 May 29, ibnlive.com

BHUBANESWAR/MALKANGIRI: As a part of the Centre’s initiative to contain the spread of Maoism by taking up developmental projects in the affected areas, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Monday visited Malkangiri district ahead of launching the Special Area Development Plan (SADP) project by the ministry in the region.

Ramesh, who reviewed implementation of different developmental projects in Malkangiri district, will also visit Sukma in Chhattisgarh. The SADP will be launched in Malkangiri-Sukma region with at an estimated cost of `300 crore.

Security had been tightened in the entire district as Ramesh stayed overnight in  Malkangiri. He will leave for Sukma on Tuesday morning. His proposed visit to Janbai in the cut off area was cancelled due to security reasons following an exchange of fire between the security forces and Maoists in Kalimela area. The Maoists triggered a landmine blast injuring three Special Operations Group (SOG) personnel.

Malkangiri was in the news last year when Maoists kidnapped the then collector R Vineel Krishna. Krishna, who is now the Private Secretary of the Minister, is accompanying Ramesh. Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon was also abducted by the Maoists this year.

Ramesh met elected panchayat representatives, SHGs and beneficiaries of different welfare programmes during his visit to the district and harped on the dignity of tribals. Many tribals are languishing in different jails in Odisha for no fault of theirs and they should be released immediately, he said. The Minister expressed dissatisfaction over the implementation of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) as only 35 per cent of the funds for the district has been spent.

He was critical of the delay in completion of Gurupriya bridge over the  Janbai river. Left wing extremism (LWE) can be tackled effectively if all the political parties work unitedly, he said. He exhorted the youths to join politics. Nine out of every 100 girls are joining the outlawed CPI(Maoist) due to the failure of the political system, Ramesh reasoned.

Malkangiri: Police arrested 3, Have not produced in court in week


Dear friends,

Lalit Chakraborty from Malkangiri in Odisha says police have arrested 3 youth in Padmagiri area on 19th March. They also broke house of one of the person before arresting. More than 200 people marched to collector and district police chief who told them that there was a warrant against the arrested. He asks if there was a warrant then why are they not produced in court so far. For more Lalit ji can be reached at 09438135767

http://www.cgnetswara.org/index.php?id=10160

You can also listen to this post after leaving a missed call on 080 4113 7280. You can also record your own messages/songs the same way using your phone as this user has done

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,234 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,757,187 hits

Archives

August 2019
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  
%d bloggers like this: