ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Planned Military Offensive

Planned Military Offensive

We are deeply concerned by the Indian government’s plans for launching an unprecedented military offensive by army and paramilitary forces in the adivasi (indigenous people)-populated regions of the states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Orissa and West Bengal. The stated objective of the offensive is to “liberate” these areas from the influence of Maoist rebels. Such a military campaign will endanger the lives and livelihoods of millions of the poorest people living in those areas, resulting in massive displacement, destitution and human rights violations of ordinary citizens. To hunt down the poorest of Indian citizens in the name of trying to curb the shadow of an insurgency is both counterproductive and vicious. The ongoing campaigns by paramilitary forces, buttressed by anti-rebel militias, organised and funded by government agencies, have already created a civil warlike situation in some parts of Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, with hundreds killed and thousands displaced.

Grinding poverty and abysmal living conditions that have been the lot of India’s adivasi population, complemented by increasing state violence since the neoliberal turn in the policy framework of the Indian state in the early 1990s. Whatever little access the poor had to forests, land, rivers, common pastures, village tanks and other common property resources has come under increasing attack by the Indian state in the guise of special economic zones (SEZs) and other “development” projects related to mining, industrial development, information technology parks, etc. The geographical terrain, where the government’s military offensive is planned to be carried out, is very rich in natural resources like minerals, forest wealth and water, and has been the target of large-scale appropriation by several corporations. The desperate resistance of the local indigenous people against their displacement and dispossession has in many cases prevented the government-backed corporations from making inroads into these areas. We fear that the government’s offensive is also an attempt to crush such popular resistances in order to facilitate the entry and operation of these corporations and to pave the way for unbridled exploitation of the natural resources and the people of these regions. It is the widening levels of disparity and the continuing problems of social deprivation and structural violence, and the state repression on the non-violent resistance of the poor and marginalised against their dispossession, which give rise to social anger and unrest and take the form of political violence by the poor. Instead of addressing the source of the problem, the Indian state has decided to launch a military offensive to deal with it: kill the poor and not the poverty seems to be the implicit slogan of the Indian government.

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