Friday, January 31, 2014

Everywhere a Maoist Plot

Everywhere a Maoist plot

By going to town as the Chhattisgarh police and media have recently done on my alleged Maoist links, the real questions have been sidelined. As citizens of this country do we have the right to protest democratically and constitutionally, and as journalists, researchers or human rights activists, are we free to pursue our vocation?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

On Siddharth leaving The Hindu

Monday, September 23, 2013

Interview with Siddharth Varadarajan, By: Rosa Sundar-Maccagno

Interview with Siddharth Varadarajan, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu
By: Rosa Sundar-Maccagno, 7A     (this almost-twelve year old journalist is my cute and brilliant niece, who had to do an interview for a school assignment)
1. How did you decide to become a journalist?
I was always interested in what was happening around the world. I used to live in New York City at the time and I was interested in international affairs, in politics, in economics, and writing about what was happening, and particularly writing about what I believed was the truth about what was happening, you know I felt that was something that was very important, something I would love to do for a living. Because I thought that a lot of the newspapers were not giving an accurate account of what was happening in the world. So I felt that if I could become a journalist then with my perspective I could make a difference. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Reflections on Civil Liberties, Citizenship, Adivasi Agency and Maoism: A Response to Alpa Shah

If Alpa Shah had her way (Shah 2013), civil liberties and democratic rights platforms in India, currently speaking in the name of citizenship or ‘the people’ (e.g. Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), Concerned Citizens Committee (CCC); People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Independent People’s Tribunal for Environmental and Human Rights (IPT)) would abandon their  pretensions and instead give themselves names such as “Committee for the Recognition of Maoist Love and Marriage” (CRMLR) or “Union for the Promotion of the Sacral Parha Polity” (UPSPP), and be in a much better position to advance the cause of the adivasis, in conjunction, of course, with suitably re-educated Maoists. 
            In her article (CofA 33:1:2013), Shah covers three broad themes: The first pertains to the civil liberties movement in India; the second concerns villager support for Maoists, and the third bears on the way Maoists create political consciousness and citizenship in their own areas. The first two are not original, though poor citation gives this impression, while her comments on the third border on the incoherent. 

Read on....


Friday, July 5, 2013

For the love of justice

On July 5 2011, a Bench of Justice B Sudershan Reddy and Justice SS Nijjar of the Supreme Court delivered what is widely regarded as a landmark judgement, banning Salwa Judum by any name, and disbanding and disarming special police officers (SPOs) who had been responsible, along with security forces, for many human rights violations. The only activity that the erstwhile SPOs would be permitted was traffic and disaster management, and that too, only if they were innocent of any crimes. The court ordered that criminal investigations and prosecutions be initiated in Chhattisgarh. Earlier that year, they had also directed that the security forces vacate all schools and ashrams, with the aim of restarting schools in the villages. The Bench asked the CBI to investigate the March 2011 rapes, murder and arson in Tadmetla and neighbouring villages and subsequent events in which Swami Agnivesh was attacked while trying to deliver relief.
As Justice Reddy (now retired) said in a recent interview, had the Supreme Court’s orders been implemented, perhaps the May 25 attack could have been avoided. However, far from obeying the court, the governments in Chhattisgarh and the Centre have done everything possible to flout the order.
The Union of India attempted to have the order overturned through a review petition, but succeeded only in having it limited to Chhattisgarh. The government of Chhattisgarh responded by renaming all the SPOs, ‘armed auxiliary forces’ with effect from the date of the judgement, and giving them automatic weapons and higher salaries.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

24 February 2006, Mahendra Karma leading Salwa Judum rally in Konta

KR Pisda, Collector Dantewada and Mahendra Karma at Salwa Judum rally, 24.2.2006

Mahendra Karma accompanied by Soyam Mooka and Ram Bhuwan Kuswaha, salwa judum leaders
Special Police Officers

One of the hundreds of villages burnt by salwa judum
woman forcibly brought to salwa judum camp, corruption in rations

Saturday, June 1, 2013

On the Killing of Mahendra Karma

Any keen observer of Chhattisgarh could have foreseen Saturday’s deadly Maoist attack at Jeeram ghat in Bastar, though not perhaps its magnitude.  Mahendra Karma’s death was long expected, though politicians like him who flirt with the dark side usually have enough security to keep themselves safe.  With a string of killings of Maoist leaders under their belt, the security establishment thought the Maoists could be written off. However, like other insurgents elsewhere have always done, the Maoists scaled back only to strike hard.
Calls for more concerted military action ignore what has actually been happening. In fact, in recent months, the security forces have ratcheted up operations, densely carpeting Maoist strongholds with CRPF camps. In the 46 km stretch between Dornapal and Chintalnar, there are now 7 camps, with the latest two, Burkapal and Minpa, having come up in the last fortnight.  Overnight, large stretches of forest were cleared in Burkapal, for a helipad on one side and a CRPF camp on the other, and the question of forest clearances for this, or any other security installation, is never even seen as an issue. The biodiverse forests of Bastar – which are national treasures - have been one of the biggest casualties of this war, which rages across trees, roads, transformers, schools and the bodies of men, women and even little children.