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Tribal Communities getting sandwiched between Maoists and Police
"Life in India continues to be appalling with the country ranked poorly at 134 among 182 countries, 4 lac children die within 24 hours of their birth and 40 percent children under 3 are malnourished. Who are these children? Obviously, they don’t come from the family of sunglasses, shining faces appearing in the television channels and AC lover holy cows but these are the children of Adivasis, Dalits and marginalized communities."
Gladson Dungdung : October 9, 2009
The Police Officer of the CID Special Branch, Francis Induwar was abducted, beheaded and thrown on the roadside on Ranchi-Jamshedpur highway by the Maoists, which was condemned strongly by the civil society, Human Rights Groups and other non-state actors. Ironically, when the news of brutal killing came up, the Home Ministry and the Media suddenly became proactive in condemning and alleging the Human Rights Activists rather than nailing down the Maoists. The opinions were manufactured such a way, which give sense that Induwar lost his life not because of the Maoists but the Human Rights Activists. The Union Home Minister P.Chidambaram even threatened to the Human Rights Groups by saying that the Human Rights Groups have to choose, which side they are. He also questioned, “Why are human rights groups silent now when Naxals attack innocents?” However, he said, “Human rights groups need to speak more strongly against the Naxals.”
After hearing the heartbreaking news, one of my friends told me that Francis Induwar was not protected by the police department because he belongs to the Adivasi (Indigenous/ Tribal) community. One can assume it as a biased statement but it seems to be true because the similar allegations were made by Sunita Induwar the wife of the deceased. She said, “Nothing was done to protect my husband and I was not even informed by the Police Department about the death of my husband. I only came to know about it through the Media.” What does it mean? What was the whole department doing? Doesn’t it give a clear picture about what was happening inside of the Police Department?
The story does not end here. The chairman of the Special Branch Association, Ram Sevak Ray alleges, “The Senior Police Officers were not serious on the matter, they did not visit to the areas and even after five days of kidnapping the Special Branch was not allowed to conduct a meeting in Ranchi because the senior officers were not concerned about it.” The fact is, Francis Induwar was abducted on 30th of September and he was beheaded on October 6, which means he was almost alive for 6 days. But the police department and the government did not do much to save him. Being a Human Rights Activist, I condemn the brutal killing of the sincere police officer, demand for adequate compensation to the family and a high level inquiry so that all the perpetrators can be brought to justice.
However, the government must inform to the people that in what circumstances, the Police Officer Francis Induwar had to pay the price of his life? What kind of actions had been taken by the police department and the government to save him? Why did the Police department fail in tracing him even after 6 days? Why did the intelligence fail? Is it a fact the Induwar had to face such heinous act by the Maoists because of the unjustifiable callousness and irresponsibility of the respective department he belonged to that grossly failed in initiating prompt action to save its staff?The State, the Media and the Middle Class often allege that the Human Rights Groups do not speak out strongly when the Naxalites and Terrorists commit such heinous crime against humanity but they raise their eyes only against the state because they get money from the external actors to do so? As far as the Human Rights Violation is concerned, the Human Rights Groups have always stood up against it. The People are unaware about the work of Human Rights Groups merely because the Media don’t carry the press statements issued by these Groups regularly condemning the human rights violation committed by the State and non-State Actors, which also happened in the case of Francis Induwar therefore the Media is also responsible for manufacturing the opinion against the Human Rights Activists. However, aAll the allegations against these groups seems to be just baseless.
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The interesting question is why the State is afraid of the Human Rights Activists who merely possess pen, paper and mouth? Indeed, the government of India is not afraid of the Human Rights Activists but it is afraid of the big boss (United Nations) as it has signed and ratified the numbers of UN Protocols, Conventions and Covenants but failed to implement these. Therefore, the Human Rights Activists have exposed the government of India in front of the International Community several times. Secondly, the government attempts to bury the impunity enjoyed by the law enforcement agencies, Ministers and the politicians but unable to do so. Finally, the government also wants to hide the inactiveness, insincerity, incapability, ineffectiveness and inefficiency of the legislative, the executive and the judiciary but the Human Rights Groups do not let it go that’s why the state targets them so that they lose the patience and shut up their mouth.
In fact, the state wants to wither away from the responsibility of dealing with the economic, social, cultural, developmental and political issues therefore it attempts to fix the responsibilities on others. There are some serious questions need to be address before alleging the Human Rights Activists. Whose lands have been illegally grabbed, forcefully acquired without compensating them and handed over to the multinationals? Where from those millions displace masses come? Why millions of men, women and children are without nutritious food, education and health facilities? Why the perpetrators not brought to justice for grabbing the money of NREGA and other Welfare schemes meant for the poor?
According to the Human Development Report 2009, the quality of life in India continues to be appalling with the country ranked poorly at 134 among 182 countries, 4 lac children die within 24 hours of their birth and 40 percent children under 3 are malnourished. Who are these children? Obviously, they don’t come from the family of sunglasses, shining faces appearing in the television channels and AC lover holy cows but these are the children of Adivasis (tribals), Dalits and marginalized communities. Who is responsible for the pathetic condition of these people? Is it the Human Rights Activists or the State? Why should not the Human Rights Activists stand with them? Is it a crime to demand justice in India? Would it have been possible to delivery justice to the victims of Gujarat riot, several fake encounters and torture without intervention of the Human Rights Groups?
The rulers have made the system unethical, bias and double standard. Irony is they also justify it. For instance, when a member of the Gandhi family like Priyanka becomes sympathizer of Nalini (a murderer of late Rajiv Gandhi the former Prime Minister of India) is portrayed as Messiah of the people meanwhile the curing the Adivasis of Chhatishgarh makes a humanitarian Dr. Vinayak Sen as the Maoists’ supporter. In another case, the politicians like Sibu Soren saying Naxalites as his brothers and sisters does not make him the sympathizer of the Maoists but when a Human Rights Activists like Sandeep Pandey demands justice for the victims of fake encounters comes under the purview of the Naxals’ supporters. Similarly, the state head of Gujara, Narendra Modi is made hero for killing more than 2000 Muslims but when a Human Rights Activist, Teesta Setalvad demands justice for the victims makes her anti-state. What kind of democracy it is?
However, the real Human Rights Activists would never justify any kind of cold-blooded murder, torture or ill-treatment committed either by the State or non-State Actors. Therefore, the Government, the Media and the Middle Class must not manipulate the public opinion, should not manufacture the consent and stop portraying the Human Rights Activists as supporters of the Naxalites and Terrorists. The Human Rights Activists raise their voices only when the state violates or does not enforce, ensure and protect the Human Rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India, embodied in the UN Conventions, Covenants and Protocols signed and ratified by the Government of India and enforced in the Court. The human rights violation by the non-state actors takes place only when the state is inactive, ineffective and unjust, which also should not be justified.
But as far as the issue of Naxalism is concerned, it will not be addressed through the blame games. The problem deepens by creating wrong perception. The public perception was built up during the NDA government, that every man with the long beard and each woman with the Burkha is a Terrorist. The same theory is being applied to the Adivasis that every man and woman with the black faces, having traditional weapons and living close to the nature is Naxalite. This kind of opinion building is injustice to the total community that is just being sandwiched between police and extremist Maoists. If not the Maoists, the government should understand this reality at least. The root causes of Naxalism lies on growing socio-economic disparity and socio-cultural injustices made to the downtrodden that has always been overlooked by the administration and has still remained unprivileged and unheard. Therefore the solution to check the growth of Maoist extremism lies in tackling these fundamental issues. But who bothers about it as either way the sufferers are only the poor tribal communities who are always unwelcome in India due to their race.
(About the Author: Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights Activist and Writer from Jharkhand)