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The great mineral hunt in the name of Operation Green Hunt!

"Behind the anti-Maoist campaign and operation started by the government of India in collaboration with the Maoist infested states like Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh, there seems to be a different hidden objective of protecting the interests of a few corporate houses that have eyed upon the mineral wealth reserved in the forest areas. In fact, it’s not ‘Operation Green Hunt’ but the great mineral hunt in the dense green forests of India."

Gladson Dungdung : March 23, 2010

After a long preparation, debate and politics, finally the Indian government launched the ‘Operation Green Hunt’ (OGH) in Jharkhand on March 10 with the objective of cleansing the Maoists from the state. Though P. Chidambaram the CEO of the OGH declines it calling the Operation Green Hunt but his officers are using the term shamelessly. Nearly 10,000 security forces consisting of CRPF, Cobra, Jaguar, STP and other groups have been deployed in the forests, choppers are roaming over the forests, schools are converted into military camps, forests are sealed and the combing operations are being carried out in the forests with the support of local Adivasi (Indian Word used for the Tribal People) youth who are named as the Special Police Officers (SPO) duplicated from the Salwa Judum theory of Chhatisgarh.

Since, there was huge media hype on the operation green hunt therefore the Maoists fled from the vicinity much before arrival of the security forces in the region. As a result, the security forces are targeting to the innocent villagers. The operation 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 survival, are not allowed to enter or roam in the forests, the water sources are captured, the villagers are unnecessarily harassed, children are denied their right to education and women are also misbehaved by the security forces. However, the billion dollar question is, is it really the operation for hunting the Maoists?

The concept of operation green hunt is itself a questionable. Theoretically, it is supposed to be the ‘Operation Red Hunt’ rather than ‘Operation Green Hunt’ as the Maoists neither look green nor depend on forests for their survival but it is the Adivasis who completely depend on Agro-forest (greeneries). The government has been telling us for several years that the Palamu region of Jharkhand is the most Maoists infested area. Presently, Simdega district comes under the same category but it is strange that the anti-Naxal operation was first launched in the Kolhan region. Needless to say that the Jharkhand government has signed most of the MoUs with the corporate houses for establishing the mining industries, the power projects and the steel plants in this region. It is obvious 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 either the villagers are opposing the proposed industrial projects demanding safety to their homeland and livelihood resources. On the other hand, forgetting the rightful demands of the tribal communities, the government foresees the region only as the investment corridor.

Ironically, the government of India has launched another operation on March 17th in Chhotanagpur region of Jharkhand where the anti-Naxal operations are being carried out, which can be called the “Operation Mineral Hunt”. According to the latest report, the choppers are being engaged for conducting an aerial survey to find out the existence of minerals in the region. Both the operations are being carried out simultaneously in the region by the government of India. Secondly, just after a week of flagging off the operation green hunt, the world’s second largest steel company POSCO has announced for shifting its 12 MT proposed steel project from Orissa to Jharkhand, where it will invest Rs. 54 thousand crore in a joint adventure with the SAIL in Bokaro. The POSCO will have 60 percent share and would get the Chiria Mines (2000 MT reserved) easily for which the Arcellor-Mittal Company was also bargaining hard.

Similarly, the Chief Ministers of the so-called red corridor are attending the series of meetings with P. Chidambarm on the issues of the operation green hunt on one hand and they are also attending the similar kind of meetings with the corporate houses for investment on the other. Of course, there is an investment competition going on among the chief ministers of several states as the present era of development is measured on the basis of the investment (and scope of cut for political parties and negotiators). Now the growth of hunger, illiteracy and malnutrition in a so called civilized society do not matter for the states that are spending huge amount in the name of socio-economic development. Therefore, one has every reason to believe that the so-called operation green hunt or anti-Naxal operation is to get the land of Adivasis evacuated for the Corporate Houses rather than cleansing the armed Maoists from the region.

Of course, the state is essentially batting for the corporate houses in the name of the Maoists and instead of creating a state of peace, the government is creating insecurity for the innocent Adivasis now peacefully living in the region. Therefore, the Adivasis are in the state of uncertainty precisely because they have almost lost faith on people in power for the way they have been treated in a so called democratic country. But the irony of fact is, these indigenous people living on forests and nature have paid heavy price for the development of the nation that only benefits the so called civilized people living in the urban milieu. However, the Adivasis are not against development but they would never like the foundation of development laid over their graves. In the present circumstances, the Adivasis are being targeted from each and every corner. They are the victims of either kinds of violence (caused by Maoists or the State).

After kidnapping of Dhalmugarh BDO Prasant Kumar Layak, the Maoists had demanded release of innocent villagers from the Jail. In response to their demand, the Zonal Inspector General of Police, Regi Dungdung made a review of the cases and publicly announced that the police inflicted false cases against the innocent villagers. Jasmi Mardi and Bahadur Mardi of Gurabandh village of Ghatshila were found innocent after reviewing their cases and they were released. The police that had portrayed them as the Maoists and thrown them behind the bars under the sections 302, 120b, 349 of IPC, 27 of Arms Act and 17 CLA Act found them innocent after a review! Does it mean that innocent persons are being charged under such sever criminal acts in the name of Maoists? Again, is it practiced by Indian Police to save its face in the public? The chief Minister of Jharkhand has also publicly accepted that there are many innocent people put in jail by falsely branding them as Maoists. 

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India faced series of massive terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Ahmadabad including Akshardham and the Parliament house. However, our corporate Home Minister has developed a different view about the Jehadi terrorists now. In his latest discovery he has found that the ‘Maoists are more dangerous than the Jehadi terrorists for the country’. Therefore the UPA government envisages to eliminate the Maoists before completion of its present term.

But why the former finance minister, a financial adviser, consultant to many major corporate, and the current Home Minister P Chidambaram is so eager to vacate the forests? Is it because the forest areas of eastern India are rich with minerals and the national and multi-national companies are eying on it? Is it to facilitate the loot of minerals as desired by the companies that are opposed by people who are displaced for corporate interests?

Indeed, operation green hunt is a government sponsored drive to kill the Adivasis who oppose the unjust development process, protest against the state suppression and are determined to protect their ancestral heritages. It is to transform the Adivasi habitations into the corporate corridor, where these corporate sharks will swallow the minerals and, in return, give a few million bucks as tax to the country. Under the leadership of corporate agents, India dreams to become super power by sacrificing its indigenous communities.

India’s economist trio Dr. Manmohan Singh, Montek Sigh Ahluwalia and P. Chidambaram are working for true realization of the vision 2020 and they would do anything for it, even suppressing and burying the descent voice by using armed forces. They are more worried about the corporate houses than the communities; they are more concerned about the GDP growth than feeding the country’s hungry people and they are more worried about the investment climate than the harsh impacts of the climate change. And now, the government is all set to protect the interests of a few corporate houses at the cost of thousands of tribals. Huge mineral reserves are being handed over to the corporate houses in the name of development pushing the tribal communities away from their traditional dominion – the Forest. And, Operation Green Hunt is the formula to make the corporate houses thrive on the resources available in the Forests.

In fact, it’s not Operation Green Hunt, as P Chidambaram rightly says, but the great mineral hunt in the thick green forests where tribal communities have been living since centuries.

(Author Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights Activist and Writer from Jharkhand)




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