Friday, May 21, 2010

Interview on NDTV: Response from a member of civil society

Arun Agarwal's letter must be shared on the internet widely. - Anil Sadgopal

Below is Arun Agarwal's brilliant letter to Chidambaram on his taunts towards Civil Society. It should be widely circulated. Warmly, Prashant Bhushan

Dear Shri Chidambaram,

This is in response to your repeated taunts on NDTV that the civil society must respond to the wanton killing by the Naxals. It appears that the interview was tailor made for getting the consent of the Cabinet for more firepower and airpower to combat the Maoist. The diabolic support of Arun Jaitly, be it by describing you an injured martyr, was designed to achieve his ambition through the support of the mining barons of the BJP ruled states.

As a member of society I hope I am being civil in disagreeing with you on your hard line approach against the innocent tribal. I also hope you will not find it too shocking for being accused of being largely responsible for the rise and growth of Naxalism, as the following happened on your watch as Finance minister.

Is it not true that Naxalism grew exponentially in the last ten years to become the present menace? In fact you have yourself identified the time frame of the last ten years in your interview with NDTV.

Is it not true that the rise in popularity of Naxalism is also coincidental with the rise in iron ore mining profits which increased from around Rs50 per tonne to over Rs5000 per tonne in the last ten years?

Is it not true that the map of Naxalism is also the map of the Indian Minerals. These minerals belong to the people of India but have been handed over to mining barons and corporate in a relationship of mutual benefit, more appropriately described as crony capitalism. It is for this reason that Arun Jaitly is your staunchest supporter because the fate of four state government ruled by BJP is dependent on the money from the mining mafia.

Is it not true that during your watch as Finance Minister for four and half years, corporate raked in a profit of over two lac crores through legal and illegal mining, mostly in the iron ore sector? How was this profit shared?

Is it not true that during your entire tenure as FM the royalty on iron ore was not revised and remained at a ridiculous Rs 7 to 27/ tonne (depending on the type and grade of iron ore) with the average of around Rs 15 per tonne. This royalty was neither made ad valorem nor was it revised from year 2000 onwards when the international price of iron ore rose to dizzy levels.

Is it not true that the minerals are owned by the people of the State? Is a meager 0.5% royalty on iron ore profits adequate compensation to the owner of the resources? Would you sell your one crore property for Rs 50,000?

Did your fulfill the oath that you took as a Minister to abide by the Constitution, in particular Article 39 (b) and (c) of the constitution which directs the government to use natural resources owned by the people of the country are used to subserve the common good?

Would the Naxal problem have been there if 25% of the mining profit was spent on the poor and the tribal living in the mining area and whose life was uprooted by the greedy corporate/mining mafia with active connivance of the law enforcers and policy makers?

What prevented the government from nationalizing the iron ore mine industry and handing it over to a PSU or NMDC whose shares of Re1/- was lapped at a premium of Rs300(30000% premium) and using the profit for benefit of the people?

Are you aware that even a resource rich and affluent country like Australia with a low population base is imposing an additional 40% windfall tax on the mining profits? Can a poor country like India afford to forgo these windfall profits?

Will you reveal as to how many times you have defended public interest through PIL and how many times you have defended corporate interest during your professional career as a lawyer? The question is relevant because of your empathy for the corporate sector is in apparent conflict with that towards the toiling masses.

Is it wrong for the civil society to conclude that both as Home Minister and Finance Minister you have been protecting the corporate profiteers (by first allowing them to loot the mineral wealth belonging to the people and now securing these mines for them) and not protecting the interest of the poor and tribal people who are victims of corporate greed and crony capitalism of the political parties? You in particular should have known better having been a Director of Vedanta Resources!

In your appearance on NDTV you talked about the two prong approach and one of them having been weakened. It is the prong of development which has been weakened and is non existent. The royalty collected is not sufficient to pay for the various types of direct damages done by the mining industry (health, environment, water, roads, rehabilitation etc) let alone the cost of security forces.

Is it not true that the killing of innocent security forces and tribal is the direct result of the policy of securing the mineral wealth for the corporate profiteers and political parties who share the loot?

It was shocking to know that you were more concerned about your CV falling short by a few months of completing five years as Finance Minister when you met your maker (refer the NDTV interview) than about the blood of the innocent that has been spilled on both sides as a consequence of corporate profiteering.

It is not surprising that all the State government which get reelected on the money of the mining mafia are interested in using air cover to make mining safe and profitable ever after. You should know better the role of money in elections after having managed to squeak past the post while the DMK MPs romped home with handsome margin. Mr Raja retained his portfolio!

What is at stake is the credibility of the State: that it is using force to benefit the mining mafia and that it has a vested interest in the profiteering of the mining mafia which is prospering because of crony capitalism.

To restore its credibility the Government should resume all the mines which in any case belong to the people and give a solemn pledge that a minimum of 25% of the mining profits will be used for the benefit of the local people. The solution is not only just but one mandated by the Constitution. It is only after restoring its credibility that the State will have the right to act. That one hopes, will not be necessary because honest development based on the resources belonging to the people is the best contraceptive against the Maoist ideology. (One is happy to note that according to newspaper report the Mining Minister has made a similar proposal and not surprisingly facing resistence.)

What happened Mr Chidambaram, you used to be a nice guy? You resigned over the Fairgrowth affair when you were not even guilty.

Life is not about arguing a brief in Court for money. It is about arguing for what is right. You have wrongly accused us being 'clever nor being devious' (refer interview with NDTV), because we are not capable of it. We cannot argue the way you do. Your arguments in Parliament over the oil for food programme while shielding Reliance from being referred to the Pathak Committee were indeed 'brilliant'. Were you being clever or devious in your arguments? (Refer the book Reliance the Real Natwar written by the undersigned for deciding the issue.) Please do not use the civil society as an excuse for your omissions and commissions. We have no vested interest except that what belongs to the people should go to the people and that innocents, whether the security forces or the people forced to join the Maoist, should not die for corporate profits. We are not powerful to tie the State governments with legal cases on police excesses. Those trying to uphold human right violations do so at considerable risk to their life and liberty and deserve our respect and not condemnation as misguided romantics.

On a personal note Sir, Will you resign and argue my PIL before the High Court involving three lac crores of iron ore being gifted by the State to Posco and Arcelormittal (as Palkhivala did to argue the Minerva Mill case). It will be difficult to lose the case because law, facts and most important you will be on the same side.

If you agree to do so, Sir, I am sure He will give you far more credit than He would for the extra six months that you missed out as Finance Minister!

In case you are interested I will send you a copy of the petition.

Looking forward to hearing from you. For far too long you have been shifting the blame on the civil society. We too need answers.

With warm regards

A K Agrawal

E13/2 Vijaykiran Apartments

32 Victoria Road

Bangalore 47

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ajmal Kasab: Guilty? Or Framed

Nearly one and a half year after the Mumbai drama, India has now tightened all the screws to reach the culmination of a malicious at the same time comic conspiracy hatched to portray Pakistan as a ’state sponsor of terrorism’. The 26/11 incident is shrouded in controversy, half baked theories and unproven allegations since the beginning until this day when a ‘guilty’ verdict has been announced against a man said to be the lone gunman captured alive in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks.
Within first hour of the siege, the militants had managed to execute the entire top brass of Mumbai’s law enforcement – namely the ATS (Anti Terror Squad) Chief Hemant Karkare alongwith Ashok Kamte, Additional Commissioner of Mumbai Police and Encounter Specialist Vijay Salaskar. Karkare and his team’s voice was silenced when he was days away from sensationally lifting the lid from Hindu terrorism – Extreme right-wing Hindu militant groups working hand in hand with serving Indian army personnel – involved in terrorist acts such as the bombings on Samjhota Express (in which 70 Pakistani nationals were murdered), Ajmer blasts, Mecca Mosque bombing and many other terrorist acts which India had also blamed on Kashmir based Lashkar-e-Taiba. Many analysts expressed utter disbelief and even more raised questions about the murders of Hemant Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte which appeared to be a bid to stop the ongoing investigation into the powerful Hindu militant organisations and their connections within the Indian armed forces.
Within hours of the start of the Mumbai seige, an ever-expanding cloud of lies, false propaganda, and baseless allegations on Pakistan surrounded the entire coverage of the incident, diverting the general attention completely from the real motives and cover-ups of the incident.
Almost out of nowhere in what seemed like an important breakthrough, one of the alleged gunmen was captured and hailed as ‘proof’ of Pakistani involvement, despite it taking days for the Mumbai Police just to confirm his name. They finally settled on ‘Ajmal Kasab’. Names earlier attributed to the lone captured gunmen included such gems as ‘Amir Ajmal Kasab, Ajmal Kasab, Azam Amir Kasav, Ajmal Amir Kamal, Azam Ameer Qasab, Mohammad Ajmal Qasam, Ajmal Mohammed Amir Kasab, and Amjad Amir Kamaal’.
This person, claimed to be a Faridkot native, wasn’t even known to anyone in this small village. Residents of the small town carried out a public protest directed at the Media, among them Pakistan’s GEO television network, for fabricating reports linking the gunment to Faridkot. Nevertheless, a case was registered against ‘Ajmal Kasab’ and the ‘dynamic’ Indian investigation surprised no one when they revelated that Kasab was a member of the Kashmir based militant group called Lashkar-e-Taiba, and that the attacks were masterminded by none other than Hafiz Saeed – head of the Islamic charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa – alongwith ‘ISI officers’.
The entire case, including the verdict announced today, revolves around Kasab’s own confession – which he revoked during the trial saying it was obtained through torture.
The ‘evidence’ provided by India after the Mumbai attacks and throughout the trials, has been rejected not only by Pakistan but declared insufficient and weak by even the Interpol.
Throughout the trial, damaging information conflicting with the official Indian version of the story kept surfacing. There were reports of Ajmal Kasab being one of the many Pakistanis kidnapped from Kathmandu in 2006 by Nepali authorities and handed over to India to be framed as terrorists in false-flag attacks and implicate
Pakistan. There was a exclusive report by PKKH on January 27th last year reporting for the first time that the person in custody was not the lone gunman originally captured by Indian police in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks. PKKH broke the story that the man called ‘Ajmal Kasab’ had died in custody.
This report was immediately followed by swift denials from the Indian officials. Maharashtra Home Minister Jayant Patil, said in a press conference: ‘Kassab is in Mumbai police custody and very much alive’.
In a separate press conference the next day, the Mumbai Police Commissioner also denied the reports of Kassab’s death.
“Kassab is safe in our custody,” Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor told PTI.
PKKH understands that Mumbai Police had originally intended to announce his death the same week – in a supposed ‘shootout’ at the Arthur road jail – pinning the blame on ‘Pakistan-controlled gangsters’ with links to Dawood Ibrahim. Following PKKH’s report into the lone captured gunmen’s death, denials were swiftly issued. It is important to note that the Mumbai police had failed to produce Ajmal Kasab in court first on December 11, followed by Jauary 19th and then February 2nd. India media went as far as producing an old photo taken immediately after the arrest of Ajmal Kassab, as ‘evidence’ that he was alive, while at the same time linking PKKH to the ISI.
Finally, a man was produced in court who admitted to a carefully written charge sheet against him and implicating the Pakistani military and Intelligence services – only to revoke it at a later stage revealing that he had been forced to sign the confession letter under duress and torture.
Setting aside the fact that the confession alone does not count as incriminating evidence in the Indian legal system, this development ripped the case against Pakistan to shreds.
The story took another interesting turn last Decemeber when the man in custody finally confirmed what PKKH had reported almost a year earlier – that he was arrested days before the Mumbai attacks for violation of his Visa conditions, and subsequently shot in the hand and produced in court – under the influence of drugs and after severe torture – as the lone captured gunman. He categorically denied having anything to do with the Mumbai attacks and said in court that he was being framed as his face resembled one of the gunmen’s.
The Ajmal Kassab tale has a number of twists, doubts, deception, lies and conspiracy on part of India with no solid investigation carried out on the incident or evidence produced. Instead there appears to be major cover-ups and an unknown, unrelated person labelled as a terrorist from Pakistan so as to make another move on the geo-strategic chessboard in the South Asian region.
The Indian Police and authorities have been creating fake terrorists with fake links to Pakistan in the past so as to malign Pakistan’s name and dub it as a terrorist state. One search on ‘fake Indian encounters’ will reveal a long list of innocent Muslim men and women murdered in cold blood and reported as ‘Pakistani terrorists killed in a gunfight with the law enforcement authorities’.
Ajmal Kassab issue was just another episode of this drama, with the aim being to label Pakistan’s armed forces and Intelliigence agencies as sponsors of terror, and to fan the hype about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of extremists within its own armed forces – the likes of which, India alleged, trained Mumbai’s gunmen.
A special session court in Mumbai pronounced verdict on the Ajmal Kassab case today. Ajmal Kassab was convicted and his two Indian aides were acquitted,
Despite the fact the India hammered the last nail in the coffin by convicting the accused with no concrete evidence provided, denial of access to the alleged person, major cover-ups of the incident, it couldn’t manage to “achieve” the objective to implicate Hafiz Saeed and the Pakistani Intelligence services as the masterminds of the incident and Pakistan as terror sponsoring state on the international arena. Saeed stays a free man in Pakistan after being acquitted twice by court citing lack of evidence, while the FBI and other international investigators have rejected any possible role of the Pakistan armed forces or Intelligence agencies in the Mumbai attacks.
While the man known as ‘Ajmal Kasab’ will probably be sent to the gallows, Indian goal of branding Pakistan as state sponsor of terror remains unfulfilled, and there is no guarantee another false-flag terrorist attack will not follow soon to take another pop at Pakistan.

D Qayum

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Hindutuva Brahim Press and the slain Kasab, Is he victim of Hindutuva forces.

Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was killed by the LTTE in Tamil Nadu, as a result the Tamils were butchered in Sri Lanka. Mrs. Indira Gandhi was shot by a Sikh, as a result the Congress massacred thousands of Sikhs. Mahatma Gandhi was shot by a person belonging to RSS but one Brahmin was sentenced to death. And still RSS is not banned in our country, because basically there is no much difference between Right wing politics(BJP,VHP,RSS) and Left wing politics (Congress, CPI etc) in India.
When Ayodhya demolition of Babri Masjid happened in 1992 the centre was ruled by Congress. And the perpetrators are still free. When the Kandhamal carnage happened in Orissa the state was ruled by BJP and the center was ruled by Congress. And the perpetrators are yet to be nailed. In 2006 at the time of Malegaon blast, Maharashtra was ruled by Congress the center was too ruled by Congress.Likewise, Congress was ruling both the state and the centre when the blasts occurred in Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradsesh. So was the case in 2007, when the Ajmer blasts happened in 2007 in Rajasthan.

After Mecca Masjid blast thousands of Muslims were sent to jail. Recently there was a clash in Charminar, and the media blamed it on Muslim terrorists and the BJP too said the same. As a result too many Muslim and some Hindus were arrested by the police. The police forcefully took many young Muslims to custody for enquiry though they did not have any evidence for Muslims involvement. The Muslim organization, MIM based in Hyderabad who supports the Congress in the state and the Centre were not allowed to enter the area to verify the facts, rather they too were arrested. At the same time Right wing people were allowed to enter and walk freely in Muslim areas.
Narendar Modi is still being blamed for Gujarat riot but still in power.Advani is a suspect in Ayodya but still his party BJP is not banned or is he arrested.For killing Sikhs, Congress party is not banned.Any blast in India the first person the media and the politicians say is “Muslim”.

For 26/11 Ajmal Kasab is termed as a terrorist. And the two other persons were pronounced not guilty of the charges. The court said the police have framed the case.
The question we all have to raise is did Kasab get a fair trial and whether the case is closed. Who killed the defence lawyers?

While raising the above question we should have keep in mind the following:

Three lawyers representing Kasab and others resigned because of threats from police and the right wing. Another lawyer was murdered. I think without any local support the terror attack could not have taken place. The case should be reinvestigated.
There were lot of gaps in the case. Like, how can anyone escape the Indian costal guards and drop in Mumbai Sea?

Why wasn’t the Ram Pradhan Committee report tabled in legislature; even if it was, its findings cannot be entirely relied upon since it refused to meet persons such as Vinita Kamte, wife of Additional CP Ashok Kamte. Having gone to great lengths to unearth the circumstances surrounding her husband's killing outside Cama Hospital, she wanted to raise her doubts with the Committee. The Committee has praised the handling of the crisis by Joint CP Rakesh Maria in the Control Room. Vinita Kamte's findings have left Maria red- faced.

What was our Intelligence Bureau and the RAW doing? The case can reveal many thing if it is properly investigated and given a fair trial.

The court said that who killed Karkare is not clear in the case. If we all remember, when Karkare was killed there were a lot of allegations on Right wing involvement in killing him. In such a circumstances how can we expect a fair trial for Kasab in Mumbai? What I mean is Kasab may not have had a good lawyer for defense; when three people resigned how can anyone come out openly and defend him? Our news media is a menance to us. Our news media deemed the accused guilty even before the trail started.

Every one of us know that Gujarat and Maharashtra are states where right wing can openly give threat even to Rahul Gandhi that he should not come to Mumbai and say anyone can live in Mumbai. In such a state can we expect a fair trial.

Some of the following readings are important to understand the case proceedings.

Former IPS officer wants independent probe into Karkare's death
Despite the Mumbai police declaring that two Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorists including Ajmal Kasab killed Anti-Terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare during the November 26, 2008 attacks, a former Indian Police Service officer wants the ATS chief's murder to be re-investigated.
Former Maharashtra Inspector General of Police S M Mushrif -- Karkare's senior in the state police -- has just published Who Killed Karkare-The Real Face of Terrorism in India. He discussed his controversial book with's Vicky Nanjappa.

Sacking Kasab lawyer is wrong
…THE accused has to be almost lifted by policemen to enter the court; the senior defence lawyer is sacked and an obviously unfit junior appointed in his place. A year after Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist of the 26/ 11 attack on Mumbai, was arrested, his trial has gone horribly wrong. No longer can we claim proudly that we gave even a terrorist whom the world saw committing his awful crime, a fair trial……

A murder riddled with holes
the irony is that slain lawyer Shahid Azmi came to fame exposing police lapses, says Rana Ayyub
…police seem to have forgotten that most basic, mandatory practice. The key witness to Azmi’s murder — his peon Inder, who saw three assailants fire at the lawyer — was not even called for identification after police arrested the accused. In a news conference four days after the murder, police produced three men who they said were Azmi’s killers and said they planned to invoke the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (mcoca) against them. But the manner in which police have handled the case and the glaring loopholes in investigation have raised a number of questions, with Azmi’s family, human rights organisations and fellow lawyers calling for a judicial or cbi probe….

Terror suspect is free, thanks to Shahid Azmi
…..The court acquitted him saying the prosecution’s evidence to prove he was part of the conspiracy is “unreliable”. He was arrested for allegedly carrying out an attack on a CRPF camp in Rampur…….

A Grain In My Empty Bowl
A crusader for justice is silenced. Actually not, says AJIT SAHI
……We need to directly ask just who benefits from Azmi’s killing. The answer is a Who’s Who of Indian security: the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, RAW and the Intelligence Bureau, whose grand constructs on terrorism Azmi demolished each time he won a case. Maharashtra Police despised Azmi, for he represented, mostly successfully, many accused in a string of blast cases. Azmi had been preparing for the defence of dozens arrested since 2008 as members of Indian Mujahideen, which has been linked with last Saturday’s blast in Pune that killed 10 people. Azmi was also actively involved in organising legal defence for many arrested in Gujarat on charges of masterminding and carrying out terror attacks.
Last July, Azmi made enemies at Mumbai’s Central Prison winning a historic ruling from the Bombay High Court against jail warders who had assaulted several terror accused. “I grew up seeing the police barge in night and day in our slum, terrorising and kidnapping people,” Azmi told me on December 11 as we sat chatting after office hours, he on his chair, where he was shot dead exactly two months later. “It bred in me a hatred — nafrat — for the police……..

….However, the crime branch was unable to gather or produce original enrolment documents. No attendance sheet was submitted in the court to prove that Ansari ever attended classes at the computer institute. Even the evidence of the estate agent and the alleged landlord of Ansari did not stand in the court as no original document was produced.
The police claimed that Ansari travelled to Kathmandu in February 2007 to hand over the maps to co-accused Ahmed, who in turn gave it to the LeT conspirators. A witness, Nooruddin Shaikh, claims he saw the map changing hands…..

Fahim Ansari acquittal exposes shoddy probe

Lo, I’m here to take up my brother Shahid Azmi’s cause
Submitted by admin3 on 25 February 2010 - 9:24pm.
By Mahtab Alam for,

Media has soft approach towards Hindutva terrorism: CPI (M) Kerala state secretary
Submitted by admin4 on 4 May 2010 - 3:56pm.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The monster in the mirror

The Mumbai attacks have been dubbed 'India's 9/11', and there are calls for a 9/11-style response, including an attack on Pakistan. Instead, the country must fight terrorism with justice, or face civil war

Arundhati Roy, Saturday 13 December 2008 00.01 GMT Article history

We've forfeited the rights to our own tragedies. As the carnage in Mumbai raged on, day after horrible day, our 24-hour news channels informed us that we were watching "India's 9/11". Like actors in a Bollywood rip-off of an old Hollywood film, we're expected to play our parts and say our lines, even though we know it's all been said and done before.

As tension in the region builds, US Senator John McCain has warned Pakistan that if it didn't act fast to arrest the "Bad Guys" he had personal information that India would launch air strikes on "terrorist camps" in Pakistan and that Washington could do nothing because Mumbai was India's 9/11.

But November isn't September, 2008 isn't 2001, Pakistan isn't Afghanistan and India isn't America. So perhaps we should reclaim our tragedy and pick through the debris with our own brains and our own broken hearts so that we can arrive at our own conclusions.

It's odd how in the last week of November thousands of people in Kashmir supervised by thousands of Indian troops lined up to cast their vote, while the richest quarters of India's richest city ended up looking like war-torn Kupwara – one of Kashmir's most ravaged districts.

The Mumbai attacks are only the most recent of a spate of terrorist attacks on Indian towns and cities this year. Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Delhi, Guwahati, Jaipur and Malegaon have all seen serial bomb blasts in which hundreds of ordinary people have been killed and wounded. If the police are right about the people they have arrested as suspects, both Hindu and Muslim, all Indian nationals, it obviously indicates that something's going very badly wrong in this country.

If you were watching television you may not have heard that ordinary people too died in Mumbai. They were mowed down in a busy railway station and a public hospital. The terrorists did not distinguish between poor and rich. They killed both with equal cold-bloodedness. The Indian media, however, was transfixed by the rising tide of horror that breached the glittering barricades of India Shining and spread its stench in the marbled lobbies and crystal ballrooms of two incredibly luxurious hotels and a small Jewish centre.

We're told one of these hotels is an icon of the city of Mumbai. That's absolutely true. It's an icon of the easy, obscene injustice that ordinary Indians endure every day. On a day when the newspapers were full of moving obituaries by beautiful people about the hotel rooms they had stayed in, the gourmet restaurants they loved (ironically one was called Kandahar), and the staff who served them, a small box on the top left-hand corner in the inner pages of a national newspaper (sponsored by a pizza company I think) said "Hungry, kya?" (Hungry eh?). It then, with the best of intentions I'm sure, informed its readers that on the international hunger index, India ranked below Sudan and Somalia. But of course this isn't that war. That one's still being fought in the Dalit bastis of our villages, on the banks of the Narmada and the Koel Karo rivers; in the rubber estate in Chengara; in the villages of Nandigram, Singur, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Lalgarh in West Bengal and the slums and shantytowns of our gigantic cities.

That war isn't on TV. Yet. So maybe, like everyone else, we should deal with the one that is.

There is a fierce, unforgiving fault-line that runs through the contemporary discourse on terrorism. On one side (let's call it Side A) are those who see terrorism, especially "Islamist" terrorism, as a hateful, insane scourge that spins on its own axis, in its own orbit and has nothing to do with the world around it, nothing to do with history, geography or economics. Therefore, Side A says, to try and place it in a political context, or even try to understand it, amounts to justifying it and is a crime in itself.

Side B believes that though nothing can ever excuse or justify terrorism, it exists in a particular time, place and political context, and to refuse to see that will only aggravate the problem and put more and more people in harm's way. Which is a crime in itself.

The sayings of Hafiz Saeed, who founded the Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure) in 1990 and who belongs to the hardline Salafi tradition of Islam, certainly bolsters the case of Side A. Hafiz Saeed approves of suicide bombing, hates Jews, Shias and Democracy and believes that jihad should be waged until Islam, his Islam, rules the world. Among the things he said are: "There cannot be any peace while India remains intact. Cut them, cut them so much that they kneel before you and ask for mercy."

And: "India has shown us this path. We would like to give India a tit-for-tat response and reciprocate in the same way by killing the Hindus, just like it is killing the Muslims in Kashmir."

But where would Side A accommodate the sayings of Babu Bajrangi of Ahmedabad, India, who sees himself as a democrat, not a terrorist? He was one of the major lynchpins of the 2002 Gujarat genocide and has said (on camera): "We didn't spare a single Muslim shop, we set everything on fire … we hacked, burned, set on fire … we believe in setting them on fire because these bastards don't want to be cremated, they're afraid of it … I have just one last wish … let me be sentenced to death … I don't care if I'm hanged ... just give me two days before my hanging and I will go and have a field day in Juhapura where seven or eight lakhs [seven or eight hundred thousand] of these people stay ... I will finish them off … let a few more of them die ... at least 25,000 to 50,000 should die."

And where, in Side A's scheme of things, would we place the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh bible, We, or, Our Nationhood Defined by MS Golwalkar, who became head of the RSS in 1944. It says: "Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The Race Spirit has been awakening."
Or: "To keep up the purity of its race and culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races – the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here ... a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by."

(Of course Muslims are not the only people in the gun sights of the Hindu right. Dalits have been consistently targeted. Recently in Kandhamal in Orissa, Christians were the target of two and a half months of violence which left more than 40 dead. Forty thousand people have been driven from their homes, half of who now live in refugee camps.)

All these years Hafiz Saeed has lived the life of a respectable man in Lahore as the head of the Jamaat-ud Daawa, which many believe is a front organization for the Lashkar-e-Taiba. He continues to recruit young boys for his own bigoted jehad with his twisted, fiery sermons. On December 11 the UN imposed sanctions on the Jammat-ud-Daawa. The Pakistani government succumbed to international pressure and put Hafiz Saeed under house arrest. Babu Bajrangi, however, is out on bail and lives the life of a respectable man in Gujarat. A couple of years after the genocide he left the VHP to join the Shiv Sena. Narendra Modi, Bajrangi's former mentor, is still the chief minister of Gujarat. So the man who presided over the Gujarat genocide was re-elected twice, and is deeply respected by India's biggest corporate houses, Reliance and Tata.

Suhel Seth, a TV impresario and corporate spokesperson, recently said: "Modi is God." The policemen who supervised and sometimes even assisted the rampaging Hindu mobs in Gujarat have been rewarded and promoted. The RSS has 45,000 branches, its own range of charities and 7 million volunteers preaching its doctrine of hate across India. They include Narendra Modi, but also former prime minister AB Vajpayee, current leader of the opposition LK Advani, and a host of other senior politicians, bureaucrats and police and intelligence officers.

If that's not enough to complicate our picture of secular democracy, we should place on record that there are plenty of Muslim organisations within India preaching their own narrow bigotry.

So, on balance, if I had to choose between Side A and Side B, I'd pick Side B. We need context. Always.

In this nuclear subcontinent that context is partition. The Radcliffe Line, which separated India and Pakistan and tore through states, districts, villages, fields, communities, water systems, homes and families, was drawn virtually overnight. It was Britain's final, parting kick to us. Partition triggered the massacre of more than a million people and the largest migration of a human population in contemporary history. Eight million people, Hindus fleeing the new Pakistan, Muslims fleeing the new kind of India left their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Each of those people carries and passes down a story of unimaginable pain, hate, horror but yearning too. That wound, those torn but still unsevered muscles, that blood and those splintered bones still lock us together in a close embrace of hatred, terrifying familiarity but also love. It has left Kashmir trapped in a nightmare from which it can't seem to emerge, a nightmare that has claimed more than 60,000 lives. Pakistan, the Land of the Pure, became an Islamic Republic, and then, very quickly a corrupt, violent military state, openly intolerant of other faiths. India on the other hand declared herself an inclusive, secular democracy. It was a magnificent undertaking, but Babu Bajrangi's predecessors had been hard at work since the 1920s, dripping poison into India's bloodstream, undermining that idea of India even before it was born.

By 1990 they were ready to make a bid for power. In 1992 Hindu mobs exhorted by LK Advani stormed the Babri Masjid and demolished it. By 1998 the BJP was in power at the centre. The US war on terror put the wind in their sails. It allowed them to do exactly as they pleased, even to commit genocide and then present their fascism as a legitimate form of chaotic democracy. This happened at a time when India had opened its huge market to international finance and it was in the interests of international corporations and the media houses they owned to project it as a country that could do no wrong. That gave Hindu nationalists all the impetus and the impunity they needed.

This, then, is the larger historical context of terrorism in the subcontinent and of the Mumbai attacks. It shouldn't surprise us that Hafiz Saeed of the Lashkar-e-Taiba is from Shimla (India) and LK Advani of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh is from Sindh (Pakistan).

In much the same way as it did after the 2001 parliament attack, the 2002 burning of the Sabarmati Express and the 2007 bombing of the Samjhauta Express, the government of India announced that it has "incontrovertible" evidence that the Lashkar-e-Taiba backed by Pakistan's ISI was behind the Mumbai strikes. The Lashkar has denied involvement, but remains the prime accused. According to the police and intelligence agencies the Lashkar operates in India through an organisation called the Indian Mujahideen. Two Indian nationals, Sheikh Mukhtar Ahmed, a Special Police Officer working for the Jammu and Kashmir police, and Tausif Rehman, a resident of Kolkata in West Bengal, have been arrested in connection with the Mumbai attacks.

So already the neat accusation against Pakistan is getting a little messy. Almost always, when these stories unspool, they reveal a complicated global network of foot soldiers, trainers, recruiters, middlemen and undercover intelligence and counter-intelligence operatives working not just on both sides of the India-Pakistan border, but in several countries simultaneously. In today's world, trying to pin down the provenance of a terrorist strike and isolate it within the borders of a single nation state is very much like trying to pin down the provenance of corporate money. It's almost impossible.

In circumstances like these, air strikes to "take out" terrorist camps may take out the camps, but certainly will not "take out" the terrorists. Neither will war. (Also, in our bid for the moral high ground, let's try not to forget that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the LTTE of neighbouring Sri Lanka, one of the world's most deadly terrorist groups, were trained by the Indian army.)

Thanks largely to the part it was forced to play as America's ally first in its war in support of the Afghan Islamists and then in its war against them, Pakistan, whose territory is reeling under these contradictions, is careening towards civil war. As recruiting agents for America's jihad against the Soviet Union, it was the job of the Pakistan army and the ISI to nurture and channel funds to Islamic fundamentalist organizations. Having wired up these Frankensteins and released them into the world, the US expected it could rein them in like pet mastiffs whenever it wanted to.

Certainly it did not expect them to come calling in heart of the Homeland on September 11. So once again, Afghanistan had to be violently remade. Now the debris of a re-ravaged Afghanistan has washed up on Pakistan's borders. Nobody, least of all the Pakistan government, denies that it is presiding over a country that is threatening to implode. The terrorist training camps, the fire-breathing mullahs and the maniacs who believe that Islam will, or should, rule the world is mostly the detritus of two Afghan wars. Their ire rains down on the Pakistan government and Pakistani civilians as much, if not more than it does on India.

If at this point India decides to go to war perhaps the descent of the whole region into chaos will be complete. The debris of a bankrupt, destroyed Pakistan will wash up on India's shores, endangering us as never before. If Pakistan collapses, we can look forward to having millions of "non-state actors" with an arsenal of nuclear weapons at their disposal as neighbours. It's hard to understand why those who steer India's ship are so keen to replicate Pakistan's mistakes and call damnation upon this country by inviting the United States to further meddle clumsily and dangerously in our extremely complicated affairs. A superpower never has allies. It only has agents.

On the plus side, the advantage of going to war is that it's the best way for India to avoid facing up to the serious trouble building on our home front. The Mumbai attacks were broadcast live (and exclusive!) on all or most of our 67 24-hour news channels and god knows how many international ones. TV anchors in their studios and journalists at "ground zero" kept up an endless stream of excited commentary. Over three days and three nights we watched in disbelief as a small group of very young men armed with guns and gadgets exposed the powerlessness of the police, the elite National Security Guard and the marine commandos of this supposedly mighty, nuclear-powered nation.

While they did this they indiscriminately massacred unarmed people, in railway stations, hospitals and luxury hotels, unmindful of their class, caste, religion or nationality. (Part of the helplessness of the security forces had to do with having to worry about hostages. In other situations, in Kashmir for example, their tactics are not so sensitive. Whole buildings are blown up. Human shields are used. The U.S and Israeli armies don't hesitate to send cruise missiles into buildings and drop daisy cutters on wedding parties in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.) But this was different. And it was on TV.

The boy-terrorists' nonchalant willingness to kill – and be killed – mesmerised their international audience. They delivered something different from the usual diet of suicide bombings and missile attacks that people have grown inured to on the news. Here was something new. Die Hard 25. The gruesome performance went on and on. TV ratings soared. Ask any television magnate or corporate advertiser who measures broadcast time in seconds, not minutes, what that's worth.

Eventually the killers died and died hard, all but one. (Perhaps, in the chaos, some escaped. We may never know.) Throughout the standoff the terrorists made no demands and expressed no desire to negotiate. Their purpose was to kill people and inflict as much damage as they could before they were killed themselves. They left us completely bewildered. When we say "nothing can justify terrorism", what most of us mean is that nothing can justify the taking of human life. We say this because we respect life, because we think it's precious. So what are we to make of those who care nothing for life, not even their own? The truth is that we have no idea what to make of them, because we can sense that even before they've died, they've journeyed to another world where we cannot reach them.

One TV channel (India TV) broadcast a phone conversation with one of the attackers, who called himself Imran Babar. I cannot vouch for the veracity of the conversation, but the things he talked about were the things contained in the "terror emails" that were sent out before several other bomb attacks in India. Things we don't want to talk about any more: the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, the genocidal slaughter of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, the brutal repression in Kashmir. "You're surrounded," the anchor told him. "You are definitely going to die. Why don't you surrender?"

"We die every day," he replied in a strange, mechanical way. "It's better to live one day as a lion and then die this way." He didn't seem to want to change the world. He just seemed to want to take it down with him.

If the men were indeed members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, why didn't it matter to them that a large number of their victims were Muslim, or that their action was likely to result in a severe backlash against the Muslim community in India whose rights they claim to be fighting for? Terrorism is a heartless ideology, and like most ideologies that have their eye on the Big Picture, individuals don't figure in their calculations except as collateral damage. It has always been a part of and often even the aim of terrorist strategy to exacerbate a bad situation in order to expose hidden faultlines. The blood of "martyrs" irrigates terrorism. Hindu terrorists need dead Hindus, Communist terrorists need dead proletarians, Islamist terrorists need dead Muslims. The dead become the demonstration, the proof of victimhood, which is central to the project. A single act of terrorism is not in itself meant to achieve military victory; at best it is meant to be a catalyst that triggers something else, something much larger than itself, a tectonic shift, a realignment. The act itself is theatre, spectacle and symbolism, and today, the stage on which it pirouettes and performs its acts of bestiality is Live TV. Even as the attack was being condemned by TV anchors, the effectiveness of the terror strikes were being magnified a thousandfold by TV broadcasts.

Through the endless hours of analysis and the endless op-ed essays, in India at least there has been very little mention of the elephants in the room: Kashmir, Gujarat and the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Instead we had retired diplomats and strategic experts debate the pros and cons of a war against Pakistan. We had the rich threatening not to pay their taxes unless their security was guaranteed (is it alright for the poor to remain unprotected?). We had people suggest that the government step down and each state in India be handed over to a separate corporation. We had the death of former prime minster VP Singh, the hero of Dalits and lower castes and villain of Upper caste Hindus pass without a mention.

We had Suketu Mehta, author of Maximum City and co-writer of the Bollywood film Mission Kashmir, give us his version of George Bush's famous "Why they hate us" speech. His analysis of why religious bigots, both Hindu and Muslim hate Mumbai: "Perhaps because Mumbai stands for lucre, profane dreams and an indiscriminate openness." His prescription: "The best answer to the terrorists is to dream bigger, make even more money, and visit Mumbai more than ever." Didn't George Bush ask Americans to go out and shop after 9/11? Ah yes. 9/11, the day we can't seem to get away from.

Though one chapter of horror in Mumbai has ended, another might have just begun. Day after day, a powerful, vociferous section of the Indian elite, goaded by marauding TV anchors who make Fox News look almost radical and leftwing, have taken to mindlessly attacking politicians, all politicians, glorifying the police and the army and virtually asking for a police state. It isn't surprising that those who have grown plump on the pickings of democracy (such as it is) should now be calling for a police state. The era of "pickings" is long gone. We're now in the era of Grabbing by Force, and democracy has a terrible habit of getting in the way.

Dangerous, stupid television flashcards like the Police are Good Politicians are Bad/Chief Executives are Good Chief Ministers are Bad/Army is Good Government is Bad/ India is Good Pakistan is Bad are being bandied about by TV channels that have already whipped their viewers into a state of almost uncontrollable hysteria.

Tragically, this regression into intellectual infancy comes at a time when people in India were beginning to see that in the business of terrorism, victims and perpetrators sometimes exchange roles. It's an understanding that the people of Kashmir, given their dreadful experiences of the last 20 years, have honed to an exquisite art. On the mainland we're still learning. (If Kashmir won't willingly integrate into India, it's beginning to look as though India will integrate/disintegrate into Kashmir.)

It was after the 2001 parliament attack that the first serious questions began to be raised. A campaign by a group of lawyers and activists exposed how innocent people had been framed by the police and the press, how evidence was fabricated, how witnesses lied, how due process had been criminally violated at every stage of the investigation. Eventually the courts acquitted two out of the four accused, including SAR Geelani, the man whom the police claimed was the mastermind of the operation. A third, Showkat Guru, was acquitted of all the charges brought against him but was then convicted for a fresh, comparatively minor offence. The supreme court upheld the death sentence of another of the accused, Mohammad Afzal. In its judgment the court acknowledged there was no proof that Mohammed Afzal belonged to any terrorist group, but went on to say, quite shockingly, "The collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender." Even today we don't really know who the terrorists that attacked the Indian parliament were and who they worked for.

More recently, on September 19 this year, we had the controversial "encounter" at Batla House in Jamia Nagar, Delhi, where the Special Cell of the Delhi police gunned down two Muslim students in their rented flat under seriously questionable circumstances, claiming that they were responsible for serial bombings in Delhi, Jaipur and Ahmedabad in 2008. An assistant commissioner of Police, Mohan Chand Sharma, who played a key role in the parliament attack investigation, lost his life as well. He was one of India's many "encounter specialists" known and rewarded for having summarily executed several "terrorists". There was an outcry against the Special Cell from a spectrum of people, ranging from eyewitnesses in the local community to senior Congress Party leaders, students, journalists, lawyers, academics and activists all of whom demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident. In response, the BJP and LK Advani lauded Mohan Chand Sharma as a "Braveheart" and launched a concerted campaign in which they targeted those who had dared to question the integrity of the police, saying it was "suicidal" and calling them "anti-national". Of course there has been no inquiry.

Only days after the Batla House event, another story about "terrorists" surfaced in the news. In a report submitted to a sessions court, the CBI said that a team from Delhi's Special Cell (the same team that led the Batla House encounter, including Mohan Chand Sharma) had abducted two innocent men, Irshad Ali and Moarif Qamar, in December 2005, planted 2kg of RDX and two pistols on them and then arrested them as "terrorists" who belonged to Al Badr (which operates out of Kashmir). Ali and Qamar who have spent years in jail, are only two examples out of hundreds of Muslims who have been similarly jailed, tortured and even killed on false charges.

This pattern changed in October 2008 when Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) that was investigating the September 2008 Malegaon blasts arrested a Hindu preacher Sadhvi Pragya, a self-styled God man Swami Dayanand Pande and Lt Col Purohit, a serving officer of the Indian Army. All the arrested belong to Hindu Nationalist organizations including a Hindu Supremacist group called Abhinav Bharat. The Shiv Sena, the BJP and the RSS condemned the Maharashtra ATS, and vilified its chief, Hemant Karkare, claiming he was part of a political conspiracy and declaring that "Hindus could not be terrorists". LK Advani changed his mind about his policy on the police and made rabble rousing speeches to huge gatherings in which he denounced the ATS for daring to cast aspersions on holy men and women.

On the November 25 newspapers reported that the ATS was investigating the high profile VHP Chief Pravin Togadia's possible role in the Malegaon blasts. The next day, in an extraordinary twist of fate, Hemant Karkare was killed in the Mumbai Attacks. The chances are that the new chief whoever he is, will find it hard to withstand the political pressure that is bound to be brought on him over the Malegaon investigation.

While the Sangh Parivar does not seem to have come to a final decision over whether or not it is anti-national and suicidal to question the police, Arnab Goswami, anchorperson of Times Now television, has stepped up to the plate. He has taken to naming, demonising and openly heckling people who have dared to question the integrity of the police and armed forces. My name and the name of the well-known lawyer Prashant Bhushan have come up several times. At one point, while interviewing a former police officer, Arnab Goswami turned to camera: "Arundhati Roy and Prashant Bhushan," he said, "I hope you are watching this. We think you are disgusting." For a TV anchor to do this in an atmosphere as charged and as frenzied as the one that prevails today, amounts to incitement as well as threat, and would probably in different circumstances have cost a journalist his or her job.

So according to a man aspiring to be the next prime minister of India, and another who is the public face of a mainstream TV channel, citizens have no right to raise questions about the police. This in a country with a shadowy history of suspicious terror attacks, murky investigations, and fake "encounters". This in a country that boasts of the highest number of custodial deaths in the world and yet refuses to ratify the International Covenant on Torture. A country where the ones who make it to torture chambers are the lucky ones because at least they've escaped being "encountered" by our Encounter Specialists. A country where the line between the Underworld and the Encounter Specialists virtually does not exist.

How should those of us whose hearts have been sickened by the knowledge of all of this view the Mumbai attacks, and what are we to do about them? There are those who point out that US strategy has been successful inasmuch as the United States has not suffered a major attack on its home ground since 9/11. However, some would say that what America is suffering now is far worse. If the idea behind the 9/11 terror attacks was to goad America into showing its true colors, what greater success could the terrorists have asked for? The US army is bogged down in two unwinnable wars, which have made the United States the most hated country in the world. Those wars have contributed greatly to the unraveling of the American economy and who knows, perhaps eventually the American empire. (Could it be that battered, bombed Afghanistan, the graveyard of the Soviet Union, will be the undoing of this one too?) Hundreds of thousands people including thousands of American soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. The frequency of terrorist strikes on U.S allies/agents (including India) and U.S interests in the rest of the world has increased dramatically since 9/11. George Bush, the man who led the US response to 9/11 is a despised figure not just internationally, but also by his own people. Who can possibly claim that the United States is winning the war on terror?

Homeland Security has cost the US government billions of dollars. Few countries, certainly not India, can afford that sort of price tag. But even if we could, the fact is that this vast homeland of ours cannot be secured or policed in the way the United States has been. It's not that kind of homeland. We have a hostile nuclear weapons state that is slowly spinning out of control as a neighbour, we have a military occupation in Kashmir and a shamefully persecuted, impoverished minority of more than 150 million Muslims who are being targeted as a community and pushed to the wall, whose young see no justice on the horizon, and who, were they to totally lose hope and radicalise, end up as a threat not just to India, but to the whole world. If ten men can hold off the NSG commandos, and the police for three days, and if it takes half a million soldiers to hold down the Kashmir valley, do the math. What kind of Homeland Security can secure India?

Nor for that matter will any other quick fix. Anti-terrorism laws are not meant for terrorists; they're for people that governments don't like. That's why they have a conviction rate of less than 2%. They're just a means of putting inconvenient people away without bail for a long time and eventually letting them go. Terrorists like those who attacked Mumbai are hardly likely to be deterred by the prospect of being refused bail or being sentenced to death. It's what they want.

What we're experiencing now is blowback, the cumulative result of decades of quick fixes and dirty deeds. The carpet's squelching under our feet.

The only way to contain (it would be naïve to say end) terrorism is to look at the monster in the mirror. We're standing at a fork in the road. One sign says Justice, the other Civil War. There's no third sign and there's no going back. Choose.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Am I A Maoist?

Am I A Maoist?
Posted by Rajeesh on May 2, 2010

By Gladson Dungdung (Guest Contributor, Sanhati)

I appeared in public life through my human rights works, writings and speeches. However, I reached to a larger audience when I got a chance to appear in CNN-IBN and NDTV-24×7 debates on the issue of Naxalism last year. After these debates, I got immense positive and negative responses from across the country. I was upset for sometime precisely because of the most negative responses I got from youth who are running behind the market forces unknowingly. They ruthlessly questioned me about whether I get money from Pakistan, Nepal or China for speaking against the Indian State. I responded to a few of them with detailed explanations, but many believe P Chidambaram’s theory of this side or that side; therefore they are not ready to accept my rational arguments.

Meanwhile, I continued my work of raising the genuine issues of the marginalized people of India. Amidst, the so-called operation green hunt (OGH) was also launched in the state of Jharkhand in the name of cleansing the Maoists. I passionately attempted to bring out the truth of the OGH, intention of the state behind the OGH and sufferings of the villagers caused by the OGH. As a result, so-called educated people intensified more personal attacks against me. There are also some e-groups where they attempted to coin me as a Maoist sympathizer and supporter. Finally, they have portrayed me as a Maoist Ideologue. I just laugh, laugh and laugh. Precisely, because how can a person suddenly become a Maoist ideologue without having an in-depth study on Maoism? I have never read about Maoism.

I deliberately do not read about any ideology because I know that Maoists teach the Adivasis about Maoism, Gandhians preach them about Gandhism and Marxists ask them to walk on Marxism; but no one bothers about Adivasism, which is the best ‘ism’ among these, which perhaps leads to a just and equitable society. I have been raising questions about how the Indian State has deliberately destroyed the Adivasism. The Adivasi religion was not recognized by the Indian constitution, traditional self-governance was neglected, culture was destroyed, lands were grabbed and our resources were snatched in the name of development. But what do we get out of it? Should we still keep quiet? Are we not the citizens of this country who need to be treated equally? Do they care about our sufferings?

I’m one of those unfortunate persons, who have lost everything for the so-called development of the nation and am struggling for survival even today. When I was just one year old, my family was displaced. Our 20 acres of fertile land was taken away from us in the name of development. Our ancestral land was submerged in a Dam, which came up at Chinda River near Simdega town in 1980. We lost our house, agricultural land and garden but we were paid merely Rs.11 thousand as compensation. When the whole village protested against it they were sent to Hazaribagh Jail. Can a family of 6 members ensure food, clothing, shelter, education and health facilities for whole life with Rs.11 thousand?

After displacement, we had no choice but to proceed towards the dense forest for ensuring our livelihood. We settled down in the forest after buying a small patch of land. We used to collect flowers, fruits and firewood to sustain our family. We also had sufficient livestock, which supported our economy. Needless to say that the state suppression continued with us. When we were living in the forest, my father was booked under many cases filed by the forest department (the biggest landlord of the country) alleging him as an encroacher and woodcutter. There was no school building in our village – therefore we used to study under the trees, and when there was rain our school was closed. But my father taught us to always fight for justice. Though he was struggling to sustain our family, he never stopped his fight for the community.

Unfortunately, on 20 June 1990, my parents were brutally murdered while they were going to Simdega civil court to attend a case and 4 kids were orphaned. Can anyone imagine how we suffered afterwards? The worst thing is the culprits were not brought to justice. Can anyone tell us why the Indian State did not deliver justice to us, who snatched our resource in the name of development? Why there is no electricity in my village even today? Why my people do not get water for their field whose lands were taken for the irrigation projects? Why there is no electricity in those houses, who have given their land for the power project? And why people are still living in small mud houses whose lands were taken for the steel plants? It seems that the Adivasis are only born to suffer and other to enjoy over our graves.

After a long struggle, we all got back to life but my pain and sufferings did not end here. When I was working as a state programme officer in a project funded by the European Commission, a senior government officer and an editor of a newspaper (both from the upper caste) questioned my credentials saying that being an Adivasi, how could I have gotten into such a prestigious position? Similarly, when my friend had taken me to meet a newly wedded couple of the upper caste in Ranchi, I was not allowed to meet them saying that being an Adivasi if I meet the couple, they might become unauspicious and their whole life would be at stake. Was I a devil for them?

However, when I joined another firm, I was totally undermined and not given the position which I highly deserved. I was racially discriminated against, economically exploited and mentally disturbed. Can anyone tell me why I should not fight for justice? Can those so-called supporters of the unjust development process, who have not given even one inch of land for the so-called national interest, coin me as the Maoist ideologue, sympathizer and supporter respond to me: why should I shut up my mouth and stop writing against injustice, inequality and discrimination?

I have lost everything in the name of development and now I have nothing to lose therefore I’m determined to fight for my own people because I do not want them to be trapped in the name of development. I have taken the democratic path of struggle, which the Indian Constitution guarantees through Article 19. A pen, mouth and mind are my weapons. I’m neither a Maoist nor a Gandhian but I’m an Adivasi who is determined to fight for its own people, whom the Indian State has alienated, displaced and dispossessed from their resources and is continually doing it in the name of development, national security and national interest even today.

Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights Activist and Writer from Jharkhand. He can be reached at gladsonhractivist

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