By Gladson Dungdung
21 March, 2010
After a long preparation, debate and politics, finally the Indian government launched the ‘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 the OGH declines it calling the Operation Green Hunt but 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 over the forests, schools are converted into military camps, forests are sealed and the combing operations are being carried out in the forests 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 was huge media hype on the operation green hunt therefore the Maoists fled from the vicinity much before arrival of the security forces in the region. As a result, the security forces are targeting to the innocent villagers. The operation has created uncertainty, brought threat to life and seized the freedom of the villagers mostly the 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, the water sources are captured, the villagers are unnecessarily harassed, children are denied their right to education and women are also misbehaved by the security forces. However, the billion dollar question is, is it really the operation for hunting the Maoists?
The concept of operation green hunt is itself a questionable term. Theoretically, it is supposed to be the ‘Operation Red Hunt’ rather than ‘Green Hunt’ as the Maoists neither look green nor depend on forests for their survival but it is the Adivasis who completely depend on Agro-forest (greeneries). The government has been telling us for the several years that the Palamu region of Jharkhand is the most Maoists infested area. Presently, Simdega district comes under the same category but it is strange that the anti-Naxal operation was firstly launched in the Kolhan region. Needless to say that the Jharkhand government has signed most of the MoUs with the corporate houses for establishing the mining industries, the power projects and the 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) where either the villagers are opposing the proposed development projects or the government foresees as the 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, the 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 the operation green hunt, 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. The 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 the series of meetings with P. Chidambarm on the issues of the operation green hunt on one hand and they are also attending the similar kind of meetings with the 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 clear for the Corporate Houses rather than cleansing the Maoists from the region.
Of course, the state is essentially batting for the corporate houses in the name of the Maoists and instead of creating peace the government is creating insecurity in the region. Therefore, the Adivasis are in the state of uncertainty precisely because the way they have been treated in the country despite being the indigenous people, who always live with peace and paid the heavy price for the development of the nation. However, the Adivasis are not against of the development but they would never like the foundation of development lay 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 and Jasmi Mardi and Bahadur Mardi of Gurabandh village of Ghatshila were found innocent after reviewing their cases therefore they were released. Ironically, 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 sever criminal acts? The chief Minister of Jharkhand has also publicly accepted that there are many innocent people put in jail after branding them as the Maoists. The question is that is it the role of state towards its own people?
Ironically, the country faced series of massive terrorists’ attacks including Parliament, Akshardham, Hyderabad, Ahmadebad and 26/11 however our corporate Home Minister has 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 it easily. The Jehadi terrorists have nothing to do with the minerals but the Maoists, who are very much associated with it. Since, the national and multi-national companies are eying on it but not able to establish their projects in the so-called red corridor due to the people’s protests and the Maoists never hesitate to take its credit. That’s the main reason why the India 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, the history suggests that the Adivasis dominated areas were never the matter of concern for the Indian state but after the liberalization these areas were identified as the heaven for investment and propagated as the mineral corridor. Meanwhile, the Indian state attempted to convert these areas into the corporate corridor by allowing the corporate sharks to enter into the mineral corridor. 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, which emerged in 70s but the Indian state was not much concerned about it. However, when the villagers attacked to West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and then the union steel and mines minister Ram Vilas Paswan while they were returning from the inauguration of the Jindal’s Project at Salboni in West Midnapore district of West Bengal in November 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, the operation green hunt is a license to kill the Adivasis who oppose the unjust development process, protest against the state suppression and 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 India state sees the Maoists as a severe threat to the investment climate rather than the security threat to the nation. Therefore, our ruling elites want to suppress, shoot and bury the dissent 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 the India’s operation green hunt must be clear, at least now, it is not the operation to cleansing the Maoists but it is to hunt the minerals for the corporate sharks therefore it is the ‘operation mineral hunt’ my friends.
Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights Activist and Writer from Jharkhand. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org