India: Tribal Village Issues Statement Against ‘Operation Green Hunt’
Posted by n3wday on April 1, 2010
This article was published in the progressive Indian publication Sanhati.
A leaflet from villagers of No. 9 Kenddungri Panchyat region, adjacent to Jhargram, West Bengal
Published by Nishith Mahato, March 17, 2010, Translated by Kuver Sinha (Sanhati)
To the officers drawing fat salaries,
We, all the villagers here, are writing this letter of protest directed at you. We are protesting Operation Green Hunt. Protesting against the horrific oppression meted out to us villagers in the name of catching Maoists. Protesting against the deployment of joint forces, under the declaration that any poor black villager may be a Maoist. We are also protesting against the brutal practice, reminiscent of the time of the zamindars, of imprisoning and assaulting any protest that is not satisfied with alms obtained from the government.
None of you stand in elections. But you exercise full control over the partition and allocation of government funds. The Party-babus we elect, the Panchayat leaders, District leaders, State leaders, Central leaders and ministers we vote into power, they are all blind without you. And that is why these leaders consult you and undertake work that benefits their own parties. And you too distribute a few crumbs amongst us, the poor, and then hang the label “development”. You assume the garb of great givers. And yet, all these schemes essentially profit the industrialist-businessman-big landowner-moneylender-dealer; your friends.
Isn’t that how things have been after Independence, since the time of our grandfathers? The Zamindari Abolition Act, the Ceiling Act – you made so many of them. But the zamindars still managed to collude with you and remained the owners of land. Most of us poor are landless or have gotten miniscule pattas, perhaps a few got one or two Bighas. In the land of the black adivasis-Mahatos, you choked the rivers with big dams. The water went to the rich farmers of Bardhaman-Hoogly-Panskura. The region of the adivasi-Mahatos remained torched throughout the year. You did the math and showed an increase in per capita income, production of food and crops. Your schemes are calculated on the basis that it is sufficient if the poor eat 100 days a year. You said that you would hang the black marketeers from lampposts. Yet everything that the farmer makes has to be bought by him at black market prices. Medicine is not available from the hospital for the last ten years. All of the poor do not get enlisted in your 33 point BPL list. Because either the rich take advantage, or the poor get left out to ensure your 33 percent or 27 percent cutoff remains true.
Did we want any of these schemes? We are stupid, so it appears that you have taken up the mantle of our well-being. For this you want god-like respect from us, you belittle us, and on the other hand for your own benefit you show thousands of crores of rupees of government spending.
What if now we say: it is because of those schemes that we are in hell? Why shouldn’t we? We too have the right to eat hearty meals four times a day throughout the year as you do. Instead, we are running to get our names into that BPL list, are we not? The whole year we work for other people, insulted and oppressed, while it is our right to have jobs with respect – forgetting what is rightfully ours, we are begging for jobs with our job cards, are we not? The whole year we are entitled to receive wages on which humans can survive – instead of that right, forgetting about it, we are running after Indira Awas, widow and old age pensions, are we not?
And what has been the outcome? Here’s some data from 1999-2000. You said that if a family spends Rs.512 a month, it’s good. And yet, right then, villagers in the state were spending Rs. 463 and adivasis Rs. 376 a month. 90 percent of adivasis suffer from anaemia. Adivasi children: 95 percent. Every 300 out of 1000 adivasi children die before the age of 5. If we call this your silent terrorism would that be wrong?
On top of it all, you are liars of the first order. In a Panchayat, if 200 people from a booth are given work for 100 days for 100 rupees a day, then that booth needs 20 lakh rupees. From that calculation, just for wages alone the ten booths of the Panchayat should receive 2 crore rupees. With that there is the cost of materials. You don’t allot that much money. In fact, for the 10-12 days of work in the year, just to get paid we have to wade through a hundred rules and harassments. Then how much money is allocated for Indira Awas and other schemes?
We bore all this in silence. But when the adivasi brothers of Lalgarh stood up against the brutal torture of your police, we too got the courage to protest. And we saw that just because we stood up unitedly, the leader-businessman-lender-dealers who had been oppressing us retreated. Yet your democratic laws not only didn’t protect us from these oppressors, rather you protected them.
So we are saying: we regard as a new independence the power to stand up unitedly and resist the hundred oppressions we have been subjected to. That is why we will not accept it if under the pretext of Operation Green Hunt you enter our village and imprison any leader or worker of our poor peoples consolidations. We feel that you are trying to destroy our effort to live independently with respect. Again you have declared war to restore the leader-rich-administration triumvirate and enslave us. 63 years after independence you could not assure us the dignity of human beings. Yet when we try that on our own terms, you want to snatch it away – think how terroristic, how undemocratic that is!
No. 9 Kenddungri villagers