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BackYou are here: AnalysisOpinion Is It Operation Maoist Hunt?

Opinion

Is It Operation Maoist Hunt?

Gladson Dungdung

After a long preparation, a lot of debate and politics, finally the Indian government launched 'Operation Green Hunt' (OGH) in Jharkhand on March 10 with the objective of cleansing the Maoists from the state. Though P. Chidambaram, the CEO of OGH, declines calling it by that name, his officers are using the term shamelessly.

Nearly 10,000 security forces consisting of CRPF, Cobra, Jaguar, STP and other groups have been deployed in the forests, choppers are roaming in the skies, schools are converted into military camps, forests are sealed and combing operations are being carried out with the support of local Adivasi youth who are named as the Special Police Officers (SPO), duplicated from the Salwa Judum theory of Chhatisgarh.

Since there had been huge media coverage on OGH, the Maoists fled from the vicinity much before the arrival of the security forces in the region. As a result, the security forces are targeting innocent villagers. The operation has created uncertainty, brought threat to life and seized the freedom of the villagers (mostly Adivasis) in different parts of the state.

The Adivasis who live in or around the forests and depend on it for their survival, are not allowed to enter or roam in the forests, their water sources are captured, the villagers are unnecessarily harassed, children are denied their right to education and women are also misbehaved towards by the security forces.

However, the billion dollar question is, is this really an operation for hunting the Maoists?

The concept of OGH is itself questionable. Theoretically, it is supposed to be 'Operation Red Hunt' rather than 'Operation Green Hunt' as the Maoists neither look green nor depend on forests for their survival - it is the Adivasis who completely depend on Agro-forest (greeneries). The government has been telling us for several years that the Palamu region of Jharkhand is the most Maoist-infested area. Presently, Simdega district comes under the same category but it is strange that the anti-Naxal operation was first launched in the Kolhan region.

Needless to say the Jharkhand government has signed most of the MoUs with the corporate houses for establishing mining industries, power projects and steel plants in this region. It is obvious that the anti-Naxal operations are being carried out in those districts (East Singhbhum, West Singbhum, Khunti, Gumla, Bokaro, Giridih, Chatra, Latehar, Ramgarh and Hazaribagh) whereever either the villagers are opposing the proposed development projects or the government foresees an investment corridor.

Ironically, the government of India has launched another operation on March 17th in Chotanagpur region of Jharkhand where the anti-Naxal operations are being carried out, which can be called the "Operation Mineral Hunt". According to the latest report, choppers are being engaged for conducting an aerial survey to find out the existence of minerals in the region. Both the operations are being carried out simultaneously in the region by the government of India. Secondly, just after a week of flagging off OGH, the world's second largest steel company POSCO has announced for shifting its 12 MT proposed steel project from Orissa to Jharkhand, where it will invest Rs. 54 thousand crore in a joint adventure with the SAIL in Bokaro. POSCO will have 60 percent share and would get the Chiria Mines (2000 MT reserved) easily for which the Arcellor Mittal Company was also bargaining hard.

Similarly, the Chief Ministers of the so-called red corridor are attending series of meetings with P. Chidambarm on the issues of the OGH on one hand and with corporate houses for investment on the other. Of course, there is an investment competition going on among the chief ministers of several states as the present era of development is measured on the basis of the investment. Now the decline of hunger, illiteracy and malnutrition do not matter for the state.

Therefore, one has every reason to believe that the so-called Operation Green Hunt or anti-Naxal operation is to get the Adivasis and other local settlers lands cleared for Corporate Houses, rather than for cleansing the Maoists from the region.

Of course, the state is essentially battling for the corporate houses in the name of fighting the Maoists and instead of creating peace the government is creating insecurity in the region. Therefore, the Adivasis are in a state of uncertainty precisely because the way they have been treated in the country despite being indigenous people - they paid a heavy price for the development of the nation. However, the Adivasis are not against development - they would simply not like the foundation of development laid down over their graves. In the present circumstances, the Adivasis are being targeted from each and every corner. They are the victims of either kinds of violence (Maoists or State).

After kidnapping of Dhalmugarh BDO Prasant Kumar Layak, the Maoists had demanded for release of innocent villagers from the Jail. In response to their demand, the Zonal Inspector General of Police, Regi Dungdung publicly announced that the police have inflicted false cases against the innocent villagers. Jasmi Mardi and Bahadur Mardi of Gurabandh village of Ghatshila were found innocent after reviewing their cases therefore they were released. The police had portrayed them as the Maoists, thrown them behind the bars and charged them under the sections 302, 120b, 349 of IPC, 27 of Arms Act and 17 CLA Act. But now the same police found them innocent.

The question is how can an innocent person be charged under such severe criminal acts? The chief Minister of Jharkhand has also publicly accepted that there are many innocent people put in jail after branding them Maoists.

The country faced a series of massive terrorists' attacks including Parliament, Akshardham, Hyderabad, Ahmadebad and 26/11. However our corporate Home Minister has a different view about the Jehadi terrorists now. In his latest discovery he has found that the 'Maoists are more dangerous than the Jehadi terrorists for the country' therefore the UPA government envisages to eliminate the Maoists before completion of its present term. Of course, one can understand the situation easily. The Jehadi terrorists have nothing to do with the minerals but the Maoists do, they are very much associated with it.

The national and multi-national companies are not able to establish their projects in the so-called red corridor due to the people's protests. That's the main reason why the Indian government is always ready to go for unconditional talk with the Pakistan whereas it wishes to eliminate the Maoists rather than going for a peace talk with them. It merely proposes for a pre-condition peace talk with the Maoists to mislead the people of India.

Perhaps history suggests that the Adivasis dominated areas were never a matter of concern for the Indian state, but after liberalization these areas were identified as heaven for investment and propagated as the mineral corridor. The Indian state attempted to convert these areas into the corporate corridor by allowing corporate sharks to enter. In 2005, Indian government brought a legislation for establishment of the corporate corridor, which is called the 'Special Economic Zone' (SEZ) but it failed in implementation of the Act due to the mass people's protest. Finally, these areas were coined as the 'Red Corridor' so that the state can used the power of gun to convert these areas into the corporate corridor as the licensed killings are very much welcomed, appreciated and even rewarded in our democratic setup.

In fact, the issue of Naxalism is four decades old, it emerged in 70s but the Indian state was not much concerned about it. However, when the villagers attacked the former Union Fertilizer Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and West Bengal Chief Minister Budhdev Bhattacharjee while they were returning from Bhumi Pujan (inauguration) of Jindal's project in Midnapur district of West Bengal in 2008, the issue of Naxalism was brought into the centre stage of the public debates. Finally, the joint operation was called off in the name of cleansing the Maoists from the country propagating it as the biggest security threat to the nation.

Indeed, Operation Green Hunt is a license to kill the Adivasis who oppose the unjust development process, protest against the state suppression and are determined to protect their ancestral heritages. It is to transform the Adivasis lands into the corporate corridor, where these corporate sharks will swallow the minerals and produce money for the country and the India will become the super power with the blood of the Adivasis and other local settlers. All three economists of India Montek Sigh Ahluwalia, Manmohan Singh and P. Chidambaram are working toward the vision 2020 and they would do anything for it.

Obviously, the Indian state sees the Maoists as a severe threat to the investment climate rather than a security threat to the nation. Therefore, our ruling elites want to suppress, shoot and bury dissenting voice. They are more worried about the corporate houses than the communities, they are more concerned about the GDP growth than feeding the country's hungry people and they are more worried about the investment climate than the impact of the climate change. Therefore, those who are still confused about India's Operation Green Hunt must be clear, at least now, it is not an operation to cleansing the Maoists but to hunt minerals for corporate sharks.

Therefore it is appropriately 'Operation Mineral Hunt', my friends.

(CounterCurrents, 22nd March)