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Mudigonda Police Killings

Mudigonda Police Killings

Letters

Social Viciousness

M
any of us have been scandalised by recent events in Hyderabad. The physical assault on Taslima Nasreen was entirely uncalled for. The increase in the number of violent incidents of this kind indicates that the rule of law is ceasing to exist in this country. Any group of people, of whatever affiliation, can take the law into their own hands, and brutally assault those whose opinions they do not agree with and get away with the assault. Threats from groups such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, and there is little to choose between them in terms of their tactics, have pulverised Indian society into accepting violence as a way of countering contrary opinion.

We are equally scandalised that those who are supposedly the protectors of the rule of law seem to be more partial to the perpetrators of violence than to its victims. Are we to assume that this is now the new definition of protecting the rule of law and of dispensing justice?

Perhaps we need to turn our attention away from the daily chorus of our improving rate of growth and pay more attention to what constitutes the quality of our citizenship, a quality that seems to be rapidly eroding. The deafening silence on these physical assaults from those who are the arbiters of citizenship points in only one direction – that the values that we had associated with Indian citizenship are being shamelessly subordinated to the arithmetic of electoral politics. This can only portend the worst form of social viciousness that will come to govern Indian society.

ANDRE BETEILLE, RAJEEV BHARGAVA,

PARTHA CHATTERJEE, DEEPAK NAYYAR,

ROMILA THAPAR

Mudigonda PoliceKillings

W
e the undersigned are shocked and appalled by the police firing at Mudigonda village in Andhra Pradesh during the statewide bandh on July 28, which led to loss of lives and serious injuries to a large number of people. The fact that the firing occurred despite the chief minister’s instructions to the police, according to his own statement, not to use force during the bandh, only underscores the extent of police high-handedness. But such highhandedness cannot be explained without reference to the repressive manner in which the state government has sought to deal with the movement for land by the poor. Over 3,000 cases have been filed against the leaders of the movement, and thousands have been sent to jail.

Instead of dealing with the mass upsurge of the poor with sympathy and in a manner consistent with its own electoral promises, the state government has embarked on a futile and dangerous attempt to crush the movement. We appeal to the state government to desist from this course, we express our total solidarity with the mass upsurge of the poor for land, and we demand that the state government take immediate steps to distribute the 60 lakh acres of land which are in its possession according to the Rangarao Committee Report.

ASHOK MITRA, AMIYA KUMAR BAGCHI,

MALINI BHATTACHARYA, SASHI KUMAR,

UTSA PATNAIK, JAYATI GHOSH,

JAVEED ALAM AND OTHERS.

Lacking Objectivity

A
propos the editorial ‘Nagaland: Needed, a New Direction’ (August 4), it is unfortunate that a respected magazine makes an editorial comment of the Naga issue with factual errors. For instance: “...Swu and Muivah, both Tangkhul Nagas, have dominated since the 1980s”. Swu, however, is not a Tangkhul.

Secondly, the editorial (in the last paragraph) gives an impression that the Naga issue is recent, about two decades old. The NSCN was formed in the 1980s, but the Naga issue is older than Indian independence. The NSCN cannot be seen in separation from the Naga issue. Such a construct at a time when the Nagas are making a serious

(Continued on p 3432)

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Economic and Political Weekly August 18, 2007

Letters

(Continued from p 3346)

effort to solve the protracted Indo-Naga conflict by entering into a ceasefire gives a misleading impression. The commitment of the Nagas to the peace dialogue is demonstrated by their courage to carry on the talks despite the divisive and delaying policy of the government of India (GoI).

Thirdly, interstate disputes and conflicts in the north-east region and other regions are common, a colonial construct that India inherited and continues to follow. The approach of the GoI and state governments of viewing these territorial disputes as mere property disputes rather than as territories of the ancestral domain of peoples has not only promoted ethnic conflicts but also conflicts between the peoples, and states. For instance, the recent call and march of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) at Geleky and Mariani to the Assam-Nagaland border area against the perceived Naga encroachment into Assamese territories was itself thwarted by the people living in the border areas of Assam, forcing the AASU to back off, is indication of the differences between the dominant approach and community understanding.

Fourthly, the border issue vis-à-vis clan ownership of territories is confusingly presented. In case of the Nagas, the notion of land and territory is essentially confined within the premise of village territory. All Naga village territories have distinctive demarcated boundaries, viz, streams, rivers, ridges or stone. The concept of a clan’s land and an individual’s operates within the given village territory. However, the clan’s notion of owning land is absent in many Naga villages. Though there are inevitable inter-village boundary disputes, these are not Naga-specific. The editorial implies that conflict resolution at the community level is somehow uncivilised and that a court adjudicated resolution is superior, faultless and results in a satisfactory resolution of disputes, which is also not true.

Fifthly, Kiphire is a district and not a subdivision. Also, it is well advised to take note that the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation clarified that there is no such demand for a state and requested the public not to be misled by such propaganda.

U A SHIMRAY

Bangalore

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    3432 Economic and Political Weekly August 18, 2007

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