Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ramesh remarks unacceptable

19 July 2012

The Editor
Times of India

Jairam Ramesh’s statements as far as they refer to the Bijapur killings in his interview (July 16, 2012) are unacceptable and diversionary, apart from being factually incorrect. Since 2005 activists have been condemning the use of teenagers on both sides of the State-Maoist war. In any case, there is a clear difference between Maoist child soldiers drafted as combatants, and non-combatant children attending a meeting in their own village to discuss sowing. If even senior ministers chose to ignore this basic difference underlying the Geneva conventions, what can we expect from forces on the ground?

Even if the CRPF committed a genuine mistake, what is inexcusable is the cover up that first resulted in the proud claim to have killed Maoists, and then moved on to talk about human shields, and the criminal records of those killed. It is not as if the CRPF checked people’s criminal records before firing at them! And how does attending a village meeting – even if Maoists are present - make you into a human shield? One expects the Government, and its Ministers to ensure this never happens again, rather than obfuscate a deadly attack on unarmed civilians.

It has become fashionable to attack civil rights activists as if demanding the rule of law were equivalent to wielding a gun. Despite repeated efforts by activists to work with government to find a peaceful and just solution to the ongoing conflicts and problems in different parts of the country, the Government seems to have decided to  wage a war on those who stand for the constitutional, democratic and human rights of all citizens, as part of its strategy of media management and manufacturing consent.

Aruna Roy, Nandini Sundar,  Bela Bhatia, Apoorvanand, Harsh Mander, Nikhil Dey, Kavita Srivastava, Sandeep Pandey, Shabnam Hashmi, Kiran Bhatty, Himanshu Kumar, Harsh Dhobhal, S.R. Darapuri, Arundhati Dhuru