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Jharkhand's Indigeneous People Demand end to Green Hunt

A Letter to the Home Minister P. Chidambaram

With due respect, we regret to inform you that the Operation Green Hunt or anti-Naxal operation, which has been launched in the state of Jharkhand on 10th of March 2010, has created uncertainty, brought threat to life and seized the freedom of the villagers mostly the Adivasis in different parts of the state. The Adivasis who live in or around the forests and depend on it for their livelihoods are not allowed to enter/roam in the forests by the security forces, the water resources are captured by them, the villagers are unnecessarily harassed, children are denied their right to education as the schools have been transformed into military camps and women are also misbehaved by the security forces.

We have been told for the several years that the Palamu region of Jharkhand is the most Maoists infested area. Presently, Simdega district comes under the same category but we are surprised to know about the anti-Naxal operation, which was first launched in the Kolhan region, where most of the MoUs have been signed with the corporate houses for establishment of the mining industries, the power projects and the steel plants. It is very clear that the anti-Naxal operations are being carried out in those districts (East Singhbhum, West Singbhum, Khunti, Gumla, Bokaro, Giridih, Chatra, Latehar, Ramgarh and Hazaribagh) where the villagers are opposing the proposed projects for steel plants, mining industries, Power projects, Dams and sponge iron factories.

Ironically, the government of India has launched another operation on March 17th in the same areas where the anti-Naxal operations are being operated, which can be called an Operation Mineral Hunt. According to the latest report, the choppers are engaged for conducting an aerial survey to find out the existence of minerals in Chhotanagpur region. Both the operations are being carried out simultaneously in these areas by the government of India. Therefore, we have every reason to believe that the so-called operation green hunt or anti-Naxal operation is to get the Adivasis and other local settlers lands clear for the Corporate Houses rather than cleansing the Maoists from the areas. It seems that the state is essentially batting for the corporate houses in the name of the Maoists and instead of creating peace the government is creating insecurity in the state.

We the Adivasis are in the state of uncertainty precisely because the way we have been treated in the country despite being the indigenous people and paid the heavy price for the development of the nation. However, we are not against of the development but we would never like the foundation of development lay down over our graves. In the present circumstances, we the Adivasis are being targeted from each and every corner. We are the victims in either kinds of operations (Maoists or State). Therefore, we strongly demand for the withdrawal of the so-called operation green hunt or ani-Naxal operation. We believe that a war is not a panacea to Naxalism. Therefore, if you are sincere in addressing the issues of Naxalism, we suggest you to take the following steps immediately:

1. A micro level house hold survey should be conducted in the villages immediately and the major issues must be addressed then and there, which would surely result in confidence building among the people.

2. To ensure the livelihoods to the villagers and their remaining resources should not be taken away therefore the MoUs signed with the Corporate Houses since 2000 till the date must be withdrawn, the people whose lands had been taken away for the development projects must be rehabilitated in proper manner and in case of signing a new MoU; the traditional Gram Sabhas must be made a party to it.

3. To make sure that the 100% benefit of the development and welfare schemes/programmes reach to the villagers, which is possible by channeling the money directly through the traditional Gram Sabhas and other local bodies?

4. To make sure that the most marginalized people of the state get 100 % benefit from the development programmes and welfare schemes.

5. To ensure justice to the people in the villages in time bound manner without cost or at least very less cost, where the traditional Gram Sabhas can play a crucial role.

6. To uproot the rampant corruption by introducing and implementing a stringent legislation, which can address the rampant corruption in time bound manner so that the money reaches to the villagers.

7. To ensure that the public institutions (Schools, Hospitals, Public Distribution Centers, ICDS, Local bodies) function properly, deliver and benefit the people.

8. The community must be involved in planning, implementation and monitoring of all kinds of the development projects, welfare schemes and the matter of security.

9. The existing land laws must be enforced strongly, address all kinds of land related problems and the Adivasis must be returned their snatched land.

10. The agro-forest based development process should be enhanced in the state with the complete involvement of the villagers rather than pushing the corporate model of development in the state.

Therefore, we would humbly request you to start a bilateral peace talks with the Maoists, where the communities, civil society organizations, Human Rights Groups, Social Leaders and Writers should be the party to it. We would surely walk with you in the peace process without war. We hope to hear you soon.

Thanking you,

Yours Sincerely,

Gladson Dungdung

Jharkhand Indigenous Peoples Forum