[News] Searching for Jake Sully in Indias heartland
news at freedomarchives.org
Mon May 3 12:24:18 EDT 2010
Harsha Walia: Searching for Jake Sully in Indias heartland
By <http://straight.com/archives/contributor/197>Harsha Walia
Building traditional irrigation systems,
practicing forest conservation and cooperative
farming, and providing educational and medical
facilities in the isolated rural forests of
India. This could be the role of any
nongovernmental organization or charity, but is
actually the work of armed Naxalite Maoists. In
addition to community development, Naxalites have
politically to self-govern and have claimed
responsibility for numerous killings of
government officials, security personnel, and
alleged informers. Today, many of the Naxal
(tribal indigenous) and 40 percent are women.
Naxalites have been operating since the 1970s in
20 states around the jungles of Central and Eastern India.
Naxalites recently made headlines, as Indian
prime minister Manmohan Singh declared them the
most serious internal threat to Indias national
security and unleashed Operation Green Hunt.
Under Green Hunt, 250,000 police, armed forces,
and counter-insurgency teams have been deployed,
while the U.S.
military intelligence and tactical guidance. The
jungles are under a heavy siege: checkpoints,
army patrols, helicopter missions, and gunfire
battles that kill
civilians per week. Based on the
model of soft power alongside military might
(charity from the barrel of a gun),
government-sponsored agencies are setting up
rehabilitation camps for the 200,000 already-displaced villagers.
It is easier to fixate on the real and perceived
violence inflicted by armed insurgents. As
political groups in the Middle East, Pakistan,
and Afghanistan are presumed to all be Islamic
jihadis, the caricature of Naxals as fanatic
ideologues is compelling. It behooves us,
however, to ask why the Maoist insurgency
persists, why Adivasis would choose a life that
inevitably leads to confrontation with the
worlds third largest military, why the depths of
the jungles holds a greater promise than the
heavenly slogan of economic development.
The neoliberal model that led to the nine-percent
India Shining growth rate could more accurately
be described as Indias Doom. The statistics are
chilling: although they comprise only nine
percent of the countrys population, more than 40
land for development is Adivasi land; over 60
million Adivasis were
from 25 million hectares of land between 1947 and
2004 including by burning of villages, rape,
illegal detention, mass murder, and
raids; and there have been approximately 200,000
suicides in the past decade. Home to 52
billionaires and a millionaire population that
has grown by 20 percent in the past five years,
India also boasts 230 million people living in
hunger, overwhelmingly Adivasis.
The most convenient distraction of Indias Red
Scare has been that the beneficiaries of the
military occupation of the forests and attendant
terra nullius are corporations. The Maoist
heartland coincides with the mining heartland. In
the words of the prime minister: if Left Wing
extremism continues to flourish in important
parts of our country which have tremendous
natural resources of minerals and other precious
things, that will certainly affect the climate for investment.
The area has been slated for more than 300
tax-and-labour-law-free special economic zones.
Corporations have signed 650 billion rupees worth
of memorandums of understanding for resource
extraction (imagine this: the value of bauxite
ore, just one of the 28 precious minerals, is
valued at almost $6 trillion), and infrastructure
development such as dams and power plants. A
Ministry of Rural Development report has termed
it the biggest grab of tribal lands after Columbus.
In her most recent
Arundhati Roy writes: The Maoists are not the
only ones who seek to depose the Indian State.
Its already been deposed several times by Hindu
fundamentalism and economic
totalitarianism....Almost from the moment India
became a sovereign nation, it turned into a
colonial power, annexing territory, waging war.
There is now a complaint against Roy under the
Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act.
Outrageous but not as gruesome as the arrests,
police shootings, and in-custody torture of
non-Naxal activists including doctors and
journalists. Yet another purpose of Green Hunt
emerges: quelling any dissent by brandishing the
conveniently exaggerated Maoist sympathizer
catch-phrase. Like the other democratic oases
U.S. and Israel, Enemies are necessary (and
easily drummed-up post-9/11) to justify military
crackdowns, corporate looting, and human rights violations.
Still, rural resistance is declaring Jaan denge
par jameen nahin denge (Well give our lives, but
never our land) and mobilizations across the
country are reaffirming the demand jal, jangal,
jameen (water, land, livelihood). A communique
from the Kenddungri Panchyat in West Bengal
reads: You distribute a few crumbs amongst us,
the poor, and then hang the label development.
Every 300 out of 1000 adivasi children die before
the age of five. If we call this your silent
terrorism would that be wrong? We regard as a new
independence our power to stand up united and resist.
The human rights network
has drafted a proposal calling for negotiations
upon the cessation of police-paramilitary actions
and cancellation of development projects. A
Peoples Tribunal on Land Acquisition, Resource
Grab, and Operation Green Hunt released
comprehensive recommendations including:
immediate termination of Green Hunt; ending all
compulsory acquisition of land and forced
displacement; publicly releasing details of all
memorandums of understanding; and transforming to
a sustainable model based on local agrarian
economies instead of extractive industries.
This epic battle of a fattened corporate
capitalism versus a dying land and its
inhabitants, of blood-thirsty robotic
paramilitaries versus a contradictory and living
rebel force is fit for an Avatar remake. Except
Jake Sully may want to add his name to the
struggle by staying home and dismantling North
American mining and investment interests that are
colonizing Indias (heart)land and most of the planet.
Harsha Walia is a local activist and writer who
has been named one of B.C.s 100 most influential
Indo-Canadians. Walia is a member of the
<http://sansad.org/>South Asian Network for
Secularism and Democracy, which will host a film
screening and discussionWhat Operation Green Hunt Mean
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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