Tuesday, August 4, 2009

August 4th meeting in Delhi/ Interview with Binayak Sen

Hi all,

The August 4th meeting in Delhi that was mentioned in an earlier interview Binayak Sen seems to be materializing. This is the push by our allies on the ground to start making noise around the promised post-monsoon military offensive against the Naxals. I think the meeting announcement clearly lays out some of these issues.

[They are asking for organizational commitments and contributions of Rs 1000 from each endorsing organization. I am not clear if non-India based organizations can endorse, and will check with Kavita. But are our groups here comfortable in endorsing the Aug 4th meeting? The endorsement fee of roughly $25 will not be a hurdle thankfully...]

Also, another interview with Binayak Sen follows the meeting announcement. This appeared in the Times of India and reiterates many of the earlier points about a peace initiative in Bastar.... It is exceedingly short, but in my opinion, it is one of the BEST interviews. Maybe it has to do with the fact that it is Jyoti Punwani interviewing him--his viewpoint comes across extremely clearly in it.


27 July 2009

Stop! Militarization of Democratic Processes and Space

A Public Meeting

4th August 2009, India Islamic Cultural Center, Lodi Road, New Delhi

3.00 pm to 7.30 pm

Dear friends,

According to newspaper reports, the Union Home Ministry is planning to finish the Maoists in a military action after the monsoons, a move which appears to have the support of all the state governments. This military model is now being practiced all around in South Asia at huge costs to civilian lives. We have seen this happen in the recently concluded war in Sri Lanka. The operation in Lalgarh seems to be a case of testing the waters. The Maoists for their part are also increasingly resorting to major provocative strikes, in which large numbers of police personnel have died.

While the government and the Maoists are engaged in militarism, the real issues that concern the people have been lost. Apart from the issue of land acquisition and displacement, food security, education and health, the right of people to live in peace and dignity has been denied through this conflict. The Home Minister says that development will follow security – this is against all the principles of citizenship as well as most expert analysis of Naxalism. The police and security view of Naxalism as purely a law and order problem, which needs more security forces, more police stations and better weaponry ignores the context which gave rise to Naxalism in the first place, including corruption and harassment by the police, especially when it comes to dalits and adivasis. The militaristic approach of the Government of India and of the state governments to a situation which is an outcome of their own systematic and criminal neglect over the years of adivasi areas, cannot be allowed to take centre stage.

In the past similar militaristic approaches have boomeranged at heavy cost to people. The Salwa Judum campaign, used both armed civilians and security forces to burn villages and force people into camps. The Maoists have used the State offensive to further militarization. This massive militarization on the both sides has resulted in loss of lives and has created huge
problems for adivasi people. More than 1000 people were killed and many women were raped in the Salwa Judum operations and hundreds of thousands still remain displaced five years after the start of that disastrous experiment. By appointing SPOs in Orissa and Manipur and transforming the SPOs into Koya Commandos in Chhattisgarh, the government has refused to learn from the failure of this policy. In continuing to glorify Salwa Judum and refusing to compensate and rehabilitate villagers even ten months after its admission in the Supreme Court, the Chhattisgarh government is in contempt of the Supreme Court. The BJP Government of Chhhattisgarh is not interested in health workers, teachers or grain for its population – it only wants police and more police. At the same time huge tracts of land and resources are being handed over to corporate.

As concerned citizens of this country, who wish for a peaceful, democratic and just resolution of conflicts, we invite you to discuss these issues and help to craft a non-militaristic solution.

We call upon all sides to engage in dialogue, specifically putting the interests of civilians and citizens as their top priority, as against the interests of capitalists, the bureaucracy and the party.

In addition we demand that the Government of Chhattisgarh which has been responsible for serious crimes against humanity, make good its promise to the Supreme Court to rehabilitate and compensate people who have been affected by Salwa Judum, and to move security forces out of civilian spaces.

We also demand a full enquiry into all extra-judicial killings that have taken place in the former undivided district of Bastar since 2005, and prosecution of all those guilty.

Group of organizations, movements and individuals have called for a public meeting on 04th August 2009 at India Islamic Cultural Center (Conference Hall # 1, from 3.00 pm to 7.30 pm) Lodi Road, New Delhi. You are requested to express your endorsement and be part of this as co-organizer and also to support this assembly with minimum contribution of Rs. 1000, which would be
used to meet progarmme costs.

Endorsed & Co- organized by

Campaign for Peace and Justice in Chhattisgarh (CPJC)

People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)

Delhi Forum

The Other Media

Combat Law

Jamia Teacher’s Solidarity Group, New Delhi

Nandini Sunder

Vijay Pratap, Convenor, Socialist Front

Nivedita Menon, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Aditya Nigam, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi

Anhad, Shabnam Hashmi

Manoranjan Mohanty, Retired Professor, University of Delhi

Gautam Mody, NTUI, New Delhi

Rakesh Shukla, Advocate Supreme Court

Mamta Dash, National Forum of Forest People & Forest Workers

Subrat Sahu, Independent Film Maker

Sandeep Pandey, Asha

For information contact: Bipin Kumar (986828 0198), Nandini Sunder (98680 76576) Mamata Dash (98682 59836) Madhuresh (98189 5316), Pravin Mote (93138 79073)

Bipin Kumar
Campaign & Advocacy Desk
J 42, II Floor, South Extension , Part I
New Delhi 110049

Tel -+91-11- 2462 9372/ 73 Fax- +91-11- 2462 9371

Kavita Srivastava
(General Secretary) PUCL Rajasthan

Address for correspondence :

76, Shanti Niketan Colony, Kisan Marg, Barkat Nagar, Jaipur-302015
Tel. 0141-2594131
mobile: 9351562965


'We deplore military approaches to alter social situations'

Since his release on bail after two years in a Chhattisgarh jail on charges of being a Naxalite, PUCL vice-president Binayak Sen has been consumed with the idea of a 'peace initiative' to counter the growing 'military campaign' of the state. Sen explains to Jyoti Punwani why civil society must say no to violence:

What do you mean by the state's 'military campaign'?

Responsible people at the Centre have been making bellicose statements about launching a military campaign against those opposing the state. There's talk of doing what Sri Lanka did. Such talk is an obscenity in the light of the deprivation faced by majority of our people. I won't call it poverty. A lot of energy and discipline have to be extended to keep this poverty in its place. Till now, Adivasis and Dalits have had to face structural violence that deprives them of nutrition and basic survival needs. Thousands of our children are paying with their lives for the economic policies of the state; there's a continuous famine for certain sections of our citizens. But now, they may have to face guns and bombs if they protest.

Why has this happened?

We are at a particular historical juncture where the state acts as the guarantor for those who appropriate national resources for their own profit. The activities of the government should decrease, not increase, inequalities. The use of national resources must be manifestly for the public good. Instead, the government backs the unconstitutional expropriation of resources that leads to increased polarities. The state is engaged in displacing huge masses of population; people with guns provided by the state are getting villages emptied out. What is this if not a military campaign? Unfortunately, many people seem equivocal about state violence. Civil society must assert that military strategies are not a legitimate means of solving social problems. We must all try to establish an imperative for peace and against military confrontation, a peace that comes with equity and justice. We must question those who speak about following the Sri Lanka example.

What about the violence of those opposed to the state?

We deplore all military approaches to alter social situations. There is no legitimate justification for violence except in self-defence. No human rights group true to its mandate can approve of planned violence as a means of solving social problems. Such deployment of planned violence by organisations against the state ties us to a circle of violence from which it's difficult to emerge. We have certain institutions of democratic governance, rights which people have gained over long years of struggle. All are teetering on the brink of collapse. We have to make these institutions work whether it is Parliament, or the devolution of power to gram sabhas. We should draw lessons from our neighbouring countries. If violence is met with violence, these institutions will become defunct.


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