Appeal to Political Parties, Visit Bastar, Initiate a Dialogue, Restore Fundamental Rights

Published on: July 11, 2016

A fact finding report by academicians and activists also strongly recommends that the Central government must appoint a high level inquiry into all encounters, arrests, surrenders and other allegations of atrocities by police in south Chhattisgarh since 2005

An all-party delegation should visit Bastar, especially some of the interior villages, and initiate conversation with a wide range of stakeholders to suggest measures for conflict resolution. The parties should demand that the Centre and state government initiate a dialogue with all political parties and the Naxalites, and come up with a comprehensive plan that recognizes the rights and development needs of the people.  The ruling Bharatiya Jnaata Party (BJP) must allow opposition political parties to operate freely without arresting and intimidating their members. These are the additional recommendations of fact finding report by Sanjay Parate, Vineet Tiwari, Archana Prasad and Nandini Sundar who visited the region between May 12-16, 2016.

The rise of a new form of Salwa Judum, Jan Jagran Abhiyan distributing goodies to villagers on the one hand and committing atrocities on the other while Maoists continue to target ordinary Adivasis has accelerated the impossible situation in Bastar said a visiting team that released its fact-finding report on May 18. One day after an intreim report of the team had been released in Chhattisgarh on May 18, Home Minister, Ram Sewak Paikra was quoted by The Times of India as saying that the three Delhi professors "anti-nationals" after they visited Maoist-hit Bastar, triggering a police probe into allegation that they asked villagers to support the rebels. Communist Party of India (Marxist) functionary Sanjay Parate had accompanied the trio. 

Besides this, the complete report also recommends that, apart from the judicial probe into all encounters, government should ensure a prosecution of all these cases and compensation should be paid regardless of who the perpetrators are. The camps should be removed; the forest rights, and land rights of the people should be recognized. No projects should be implemented, including mining, without the full knowledge and consent of the gram sabha; there should be a full accounting with on the ground verification of all works done under government schemes. In particular NREGA should be implemented, and all pending dues must be immediately paid; the harassment of political activists, scholars, journalists, lawyers and others fighting for adivasi rights must be stopped and their freedom of movement and security ensured.
And to the Maoists, the report said that they, the Maoists must allow all development works to take place; they should allow political activity such as standing for elections; they should stop beating people, and killing so-called informers. The report can be read here.

The text of the report can be read here

Caught in an Irresponsible War

Report of a fact-finding team which visited Bastar division, from 12-16 May, 2016.

Sanjay Parate, Vineet Tiwari, Archana Prasad and Nandini Sundar
Bastar division, comprising seven districts, in the state of Chhattisgarh, is one of the most militarized zones in India, owing to the conflict between the State and the CPI (Maoist). This conflict which has been going on since the late 1980s, reached its current peak with the state’s sponsorship of a vigilante movement called Salwa Judum in 2005. This resulted in widespread displacement of villagers into camps and neighbouring states, and the creation of a local counter insurgency force out of young, often minor, civilians. These Special Police Officers (SPOs) became the first line of defense against the ‘Maoists’ and a civil war type situation was created in Bastar. The understanding that the ‘Maoist problem’ is largely a ‘law and order’ and ‘internal security’ problem has been refuted by a committee of the Planning Commission in 2008 which outlined the material and political contexts under which Naxalism has been expanding its influence. The report clearly pointed towards the development challenges in the region and also cautioned against a purely militaristic approach towards Naxalism. It also clearly pointed out that if adivasi rights were not respected than the alienation between the adivasis and the rest of society was bound to grow.

Subsequently, the Salwa Judum was pronounced as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2011, which ordered that local civilian youth under any name (SPOs or otherwise) should not be used to combat insurgency,