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Monday, June 09, 2014  
Not Every Maoist a Tribal, But Anyone not with Govt is a Maoist!

"Jasinta – a 25 year old Adivasi woman from a village Ladi (Barwadih Block, Latehar district) in adjoining Jharkhand – who was reportedly killed in crossfire between Indian Security Forces and Maoists. Gladson Dungung, himself an Adivasi and a courageous Human Rights Activist residing in Ranchi, went on a fact finding mission on 13th June with 11 other people and reached the conclusion that Jasinta was killed by security forces which was just a murder and there was no crossfire."

Sadanand Patwardhan

 

 

An image of security force personnel carrying dead bodies of alleged Maoist cadres (like an animal carcass usually carried by tribals after a great hunt) in the front page of a national daily was almost reminiscent of the triumphal return of the British or Native rulers after a successful "Shahi Sikar" (meaning Royal Hunt). Headlined – Crackdown on Lalgarh Maoists – the accompanying report said, “In a fierce gun battle that raged for nearly six hours this morning, security forces eliminated an entire Maoist squad in the Ranja forest of Salboni in west Midnapore district. The report added, “After the fire fight, police claimed to have killed at least 15 Maoists but could recover the bodies of eight….” Madhuparna Das, the journalist, paraphrases only the number of casualties with the word “claim”, but seems to entertain no doubts as to the identities of the dead. Whoever is killed in the forests by security forces must be a Maoist appears to be the accepted wisdom. After all which decent human beings will roam the forests except the dreaded Maoist?

May be, the newspaper reporter was oblivious in its report to the indignity with which the (alleged) Maoists were treated in death. But, doesn’t Mahabharata tell us that all rivalries and fights end with death?, the Union Home Ministry was acutely sensitive to the cruel manner in which the dead Maoists were carried and has ordered a suitable enquiry (face saving?) as to how such thing came to pass. Over 9 years earlier a similar incident occurred in which Border Security Force Jawans met a similar fate. Entire mainstream media rose in outrage then, which was palpably absent this time around.

Security Personnel not only managed to bring back 8 Maoists they had killed, but also had claimed to capture one of them alive. Just after the operation, the cops said, “….the "captured Maoist" was too stunned at the loss of so many comrades to speak”. But now it is emerging that ‘Cops paraded a deranged man as Moist (Times of India)’. TOI reports, “Bankim (Murmu, alleged Maoist’s father) says Rameshwar suffers from congenital epilepsy and developed ENT problems at a very young age leading to loss of speech and hearing. He produced medical records to support his claim. He can only make barely legible sounds. It affected his behaviour and he lost his mental balance”. But cops still stick to their stand that Rameshwar was present alongside senior Maoist leaders Bikash & Akash, and was carrying single barrel gun.

 Then there is a story of Jasinta – a 25 year old Adivasi woman from a village Ladi (Barwadih Block, Latehar district) in adjoining Jharkhand – who was reportedly killed in crossfire between Security Forces and Maoists. Gladson Dungung, himself an Adivasi and a courageous Human Rights Activist residing in Ranchi, went on a fact finding mission on 13th June with 11 other people and reported, “I have seen her crying”. His account is corroborated by Jean Dreze – an activist and economist of note. Both have reached a conclusion that Jasinta was killed and the case was just a murder by the Indian armed forces and there was no crossfire.

BBC world service has hosted a report by British Anthropologist Alpa Shah who visited Jharkhand and stayed there to learn firsthand about the day to day lives of the tribal communities. This account is hardly flattering to the State. Report after report from alternate media and grassroots activists points to gross violations of human rights in Operation Green Hunt by the security forces, both central & state, and often killing and rounding up of tribals on trumpeted charges in the mistaken believe that “Every Maoist is not a tribal, but every tribal who is not with the government is a Maoist’. 

The Indian state is behaving as it must to serve the vested interests it represents, but why is the mainstream media turning a blind eye?, or in fact has become an active collaborator in the grand project by spreading misinformation.

(Author is a concerned citizen based in Pune)

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