On Wednesday, Forum Against Corporatization and Militarization (FACAM), a collective of student groups, held a protest gathering at Delhi University Art Faculty against anti-tribal actions in East Indian states including the alleged killing of a 6-month-old infant in Bastar region, Chhattisgarh on 1st January 2024.
The protest also addressed the cutting of trees and landgrab in Chhattisgarh’s Hasdeo and the establishment of a tiger reserve in Bihar’s Kaimur, the press release stated.
“The protest stood in opposition to the Indian government’s Operation SAMADHAN-Prahar, which furthers militarization for the sake of intensifying corporate loot in resource-rich regions by building multiple paramilitary camps and deploying thousands of paramilitary forces in these regions, all in the name of anti-Maoist operations.”
The protest was addressed by Delhi University’s Dr Jitendra Meena, Dr Saroj Giri of the Political Science Department and Dr Nandita Narain of St. Stephen’s College.
Meena raised his astonishment as to how forests in Hasdeo which were once declared a “No-Go” zone for human activities are now being cut down for the interests of Adani’s mining project right after the BJP government came to power in Chhatisgarh.
He expressed his concern regarding how displacement of people in the name of environmental conservation and building a tiger reserve such as in Kaimur, is being justified through amendments in Forest conservation and wildlife protection laws.
“108 villages in Kaimur have been given a notice for displacement. The same story is being seen in Rajasthan, in the Kumbhalgarh area where more than 50 villages have received the same notices for displacement. In Karoli, Dhaulpur, more than 50 villages have received notices by the government to leave. Where will these Adivasi peasants go, what will happen to their lives? Nobody knows. But the story of displacing them from their lands has already begun, whether it be in Kaimur, Hasdeo, Bastar or Rajasthan.”
Dr Giri pointed out that the struggle of “Palestinian people in Gaza against the Zionist Israeli state is linked with the struggle for land and resources in Bastar and other parts of the country”.
He pointed out how the Indian state has been unleashing an undeclared and undocumented war on the Adivasi people of the country since Salwa Judum and Operation Green Hunt which has now intensified into Operation SAMADHAN-Prahar.
He condemned the killing of a 6-month-old infant in Bijapur by security forces and drew a contrast with previous such massacres in Gompad, Sarkeguda and Eddesmetta. He pointed out that despite judicial enquiry reports finding the paramilitary personnel responsible for fake encounters in Edesmetta and Sarkeguda, no action has been taken.
Nandita Narain reminisced regarding the campaign led by Dr GN Saibaba against Operation Green Hunt which culminated in his incarceration, thereby exposing the state’s attempt to silence any voice that questions this undeclared war.