Archive for the ‘Nehru's Panchsheel’ Category


Villagers Rehabilitated Through Apex Court Order Beaten By Security Forces

February 13, 2010

Sukdi, the mother of Pujari Motiram who was allegedly killed by a joint force of SPOs and the CRPF in 2006. She was rehabilitated in her village of Lingagiri in March 2009 along with all the villagers of Lingagiri who lived in abject poverty as landless labour in Cherla, Andhra Pradesh.

This Article Appears in The New Indian Express on the 14th of February, 2010.

The village of Lingagiri of Basaguda Block, Bijapur district was allegedly attacked by members of the COBRA on the 31st of January, 2010 during the panchayat elections held in the village. Six villagers were allegedly beaten for not voting. They duly filed their complaints in Basaguda police station and the Basaguda Police have registered a FIR. Yet there are reports that a few of the villagers have left their village again.

Tokay Ramaiya from Doleguda was the only candidate for Sarpanch in the village of Lingagiri and won by default. He lives in Bijapur town that is 57 kilometres away from Lingagiri. On the day of the polls, COBRA forces found a number of villagers at their homes around eleven in the morning and asked them to show their hands and their fingernails. None of them had voted and they were duly abused and beaten with sticks.

Interestingly, the thanedaar of Basaguda police station had told the villagers of Lingagiri that voting is completely optional and that the villagers needn’t vote if they didn’t want to. He told them that he is aware of their fear of incurring Maoist displeasure.

Earlier, in December 2006, the village was attacked by a joint force of SPOs and CRPF and four people were allegedly killed. Pujari Ramaaih (40), Pujari Motiram (45), Gantal Shridevi and Gantal Kanaiya (50) were killed in broad daylight. Gantal Shridevi was allegedly raped before she was killed, as was Gantal Chandni (name changed) who was allegedly raped but managed to survive. All the villagers left their village in 2006 after burying the bodies of the deceased.

Soyam Ramalu, who was beaten on polling day, was stabbed thrice by security forces in 2006 but managed to survive, being taken to the hospital at Cherla by bullock-cart through the jungle. Gantala Beby was pregnant during the day of the attack, and gave birth to a boy on the way to Cherla through the jungle. The boy was later to be named, ‘Aadavi Ramadoo’, – ‘boy born in the jungle.’

61 villagers of Lingagiri had submitted their testimonies to the National Human Rights Commission’s Enquiry Team at Cherla, Andhra Pradesh in June 2008 yet the NHRC recommended no further need for an investigation. Similar testimonies that detailed Maoists atrocities were accepted by the Enquiry Team that consisted of fifteen police officials. The NHRC eventually visited Lingagiri in 2008 and found all the houses burnt yet could not verify the killings since the village was abandoned.

Eventually, on the 20th of February, 2009, the village of Lingagiri was rehabilitated by social activists and NGOs armed with the Supreme Court recommendation ‘with reference to petitions regarding the Salwa Judum,’ filed before the Supreme Court by Nandini Sundar and others vs. State of Chhattisgarh, Writ Petition (civil) 250 of 2007.

Rights activist Kopa Kunjam who is now in jail was instrumental in the rehabilitation process of Lingagiri and a number of other villagers in Basaguda block, ensuring safe passage to villagers from both the Maoists and security forces.

Since his arrest in December of 2009, the villagers of Lingagiri have lived without any semblance of security from the Maoists or the security forces.

Soyam Ramalu of the village of Lingagiri was stabbed thrice by the security forces in December 2006, and beaten again by COBRA forces on the 31st of January, 2010.

The Fifth Schedule

“The Forest Rights Act gives a guarantee to every tribal for ownership of his land. However, to be given a title (patta) to this land, the tribal must be in possession of it and if not, then it goes to the state. So when villagers are taken at gun point and resettled in Salwa Judum camps, or forced to flee to other areas in fear; they lose possession of the land. Possession of the land then goes to the Government, who merely leases it to mining companies/MNCs.”


Lest We Forget: Nehru’s Panchsheel

January 2, 2010

Into the Heart of Light: Beyond the Indravati.

Nehru’s Panchsheel for Tribal Development is well-known yet it risks falling down the abyss of the Orwellian memory hole. There isn’t anything ambiguous about it, and it stands in complete contrast to Mr. Chidambaram’s idea of industrial development – Vedanta and its desire to eat the bauxite from the Dongria Kondh’s Sacred Mountain.

‘We can respect the fact that they worship the Niyamgirhi hill, but will that put shoes on their feet or their children in school?’ He told  Tehelka a while back, yet I wonder if he ever asked the adivasis if they wanted shoes, and am I wrong or isn’t education meant to be free?

I am reminded of a man I met in just-another-village-that-was-burnt down, who told me what he wanted from the government:

‘We’re fine, we need nothing, just give us a road so we can travel to the market and electricity. The rest we can get by ourselves.’

And a long time ago, in 1955, Nehru had addressed an All India Conference of Tribes in Jagdalpur, Bastar District of Chhattisgarh (Then Madhya Pradesh) and had said: ‘Wherever you live, you should live in your own way. This is what I want you to decide yourselves. How would you like to live? Your old customs and habits are good. We want that they should survive but at the same time we want that you should be educated and should do your part in the welfare of the country.’

And now, here are his five fundamental principles for tribal development –

  1. People should develop along the line of their own genius and we should avoid imposing anything on them. We should try to encourage in every way their own traditional arts and culture.
  2. Tribal rights to land and forest should be respected.
  3. We should try to train and build up a team of their own people to do the work of administration and development. Some technical personnel from outside will no doubt, be needed, especially in the beginning. But we should avoid introducing too many outsiders into tribal territory.
  4. We should not over administer these areas or overwhelm them with a multiplicity of schemes. We should rather works through, and not in rivalry to, their own social and cultural institutions.
  5. We should judge results, not by statistics or the amount of money spent, but by the quality of human character that is evolved.

I’d like to especially stress on the last part, ‘but by the quality of human character that is evolved.’  I’d like to simply avoid unnecessary rhetoric and say, sorry, there’s not much human character in the ‘consumer’ class and its lust for unbridled greed.

The Muria, on the other hand, who I have spent my time with, possess qualities of a long lost humanity that didn’t drown in the nihilistic dirge of mass-produced pop-crap-cultural bankruptcy. The other day I read the old reports that were written by administrators such as B.D Sharma and Noronha and on some of the work that was done by anthropologist Verrier Elwin. They had noted that the Muria who were isolated from the mainstream were far more independent and free-spirited than the ones who were in regular contact with the mainstream populace. It is easy to understand why.

We’re corrupting them with our own weaknesses.

The Muria have survived centuries of violence – they had rebelled against them in 1842, all the way to 1863. They had rebelled in 1876. And of course, there was the Bhumkal Rebellion in 1910, a culmination of all oppression, a desire to reassert their rights over their jungle.

Operation Tribal Hunt, like all counter-insurgencies aim to destroy the spirit and the will of the people.

These, are not people who can be broken so easily. And that, is human character.