Janhastakshep, Campaign Against Fascist Designs, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) held a public meeting “No to use of Army & Air Force Against Naxalites” on the 24th October, 2009 (Saturday) at Constitution Club, New Delhi. The meeting was attended by a wide spectrum of people from political parties, intellectuals and political activists such as Mr. Surendra Mohan, Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty, Shamshul Islam and many others. Many attendees had to sit at the aisles because of the large number of people who had come to attend.
Noted poet Pankaj Singh gave the introductory note, he emphasized on how the state and ruling parties are seriously attempting to distort our perceptions and notions in labeling the growing Naxal movement as “the single biggest threat to internal security”. The reality it is that it is the failure of the state and governance in India which are the biggest threat to the life and livelihood of millions and the army and air force are wrongly being used as means to resolve issues of bad governance.
Professor Randhir Singh emphasized, that those who condemn violence do not only condemn excesses but also demand an acceptance of the qualities of the current state. “Radical politics and extra parliamentary tools have to be emphasized, people have a right to choose their preferred method of resisting oppression. Today, the Maoists and Naxalites represent the dream for justice and a better future by those millions who have been marginalized by society and the ruling party’s plans to use the army to fight against them will be disastrous for the country”.
Retd. Admiral Tahiliani, former Chief of Naval Staff was adamant that The Army, Air Force and Navy must never be used against its own people and the government must take remedial measures to create a more equitable society with responsible governance. Denial of land rights to Tribal people, corruption and the failure of existing legal means of justice are solely responsible for growing discontent and violence.
Aparna, Secretary Delhi State Committee CPI(ML) New Democracy spoke on how Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh are wanting to unilaterally hand over India’s mineral wealth and resources for exploitation by foreign MNCs and big corporate houses. Aparna called upon the rest of India to also fulfill their “patriotic duty” in resisting such nefarious designs and also to beware of leaders like Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh who are attempting to obfuscate issues relating to allocation of resources within distorted, biased debates about ‘violence and non-violence’.
D. Raja, National Secretary CPI spoke on behalf of the CPI and A.B. Bardhan. He stated that the CPI was the first to give a strong No! to using the armed forces against its own people and also emphasized on the need to build a united front against state violence. Several states have refused to earmark funds for the development of ST SC’s and he stressed that it is neglect by the government and its anti people policies which are solely responsible for the alienating the tribal communities and growing violence.
G.N. Saibaba from RDF spoke about how this would not be the first time that the armed forces have been used by the state to oppress the people; in the 1950’s and 1960’s the army and air force was used in Telangana, and Mizoram and for decades the army has been used as an occupation army in Kashmir, Nagaland and Manipur. The difference this time is because the army will be deployed in the hinterland of India, not allowing the ruling parties the privilege of using ‘divide and rule’ or the notion of ‘us and the other’ which used for a long time through creating false communal and ethnic divisions. He emphasized that such attempts to stamp out dissidence will inevitably back fire and further unite the people in their struggle against exploitation and state violence.
Himanshu from Vanvasi Chetna Ashram Chattisgarh made a passionate appeal to the intellectuals and the educated middle class to come out in open defense of the poorer people, especially the Adivasis. He was categorical that no amount of killings or threats will prevent the people from standing up against oppression until the question of equity has been completely resolved.
Noted Advocate Prashant Bhushan sent a written note strongly condemning the plans to use the Army and Air Force against the people and Prof K.R. Chaudhary from Hyderabad also spoke at the meeting condemning the same. At the end of the meeting a resolution was unanimously adopted opposing the use of the Army and Air Force against Naxalites.
JANHASTAKSHEP PUDR PUCL