Civil society demands Govt. to kill poverty not the poor

By TCN News - 18 July, 2012

New Delhi: An Open Discussion on the theme Kill Poverty Not The Poor- Stop Killing Innocent Adivasis was held on Monday at Indian Social Institute, Lodhi Road, New Delhi, jointly by Mission Bhartiyam and National Confederation of Human Rights Organisation (NCHRO).

Many students, activists and academicians participated in discussion to share the views and to find out a common strategy to prevent any such incidents in future. Speakers included Swami Agnivesh, Dr John Dayal, Himanshu Kumar, Nandini Sunder, Advocate Mubeen Akthar, Bimal Bhai, Prof Ashutosh Kumar, Dr. Marianus Kujur and youth activist Anisuzaman of Campus Front.

Adivasis or tribals among minorities have always been at the receiving end of the society and establishment. Denial of justice to them and violence directed at them continue even today despite announced official policies and declarations to the contrary. In 1990, the National Commission on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes found that the main causes of ‘atrocities’ against tribals were land disputes, alienation of tribal land, bonded labour, indebtedness, and non-payment of minimum wages. The adivasis are handicapped by poverty, illiteracy, economic dependence and ignorance of the law. In recent years it has been reported that in the combat against armed Maoists and naxals innocent adivasis and tribals are also being killed. The latest incident took place on the night of 28th June 2012 when the adivasi peasants of Sarkeguda, Kottaguda and Rajpenta (Bijapur district of south Chhattisgarh) gathered to plan the performance of the traditional festival Beej Pandum (seed festival). They were surrounded by hundreds of Police and Para-military forces. The armed forces resorted to indiscriminate firing killing 17 adivasis (including 6 minors) and several others were injured seriously. Two other villagers were likewise killed near Jagargunda village of Sukma district in the same night, and were shown as casualties of an ‘encounter’ between the Maoists and the armed forces.

As the testimonies of the eyewitnesses coming through the Media, Fact Finding Reports of different Civil / Democratic Right Teams and the statements of different social-political forces (including the Congress Party of Chhattisgarh) now confirm that the killing of the adivasis was a heinous massacre committed by the Cobra battalion of the CRPF and the Chhattisgarh Police.

Addressing the meeting, Swami Agnivesh emphasized on a common strategy to fight with this problem. He said political solutions of these problems must come from the side of public.

Himanshu Kumar, eminent activist working for adivasis, narrated letters written to him by adivasis and also shared his experiences and viewpoints. He said that President of India is the main custodian of adivasis and thus it automatically becomes his responsibility to react and to come forward on such issue.

Prof Nandini Sunder, who recently visited Bijapur to meet the tribes there described horrible situation there. She said that wounded persons are being treated at hospitals but they are handcuffed and armed personnel are deployed there.

The house passed resolution demanding that all the CRPF and CoBRA personnel who participated in the massacre near Sarkeguda village must be charged under Section 302 of IPC and under the SC, ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and prosecuted, and all the victim families of this massacre must be given appropriate compensation.