Monday, November 16, 2009

Maoism a local problem, with local solutions: activists

Vaibhav Vats Posted online: Monday , Nov 16, 2009 at 0452 hrs

New Delhi : In a decrepit hall at the Press Club of India, a handful of people watched glimpses of Gopal Menon’s film, When the State Declares War on the People. The 10-minute preview, which began with the tale of a child whose fingers were chopped off, spoke of the atrocities committed by security forces in the Maoist war zone.
The screening is part of a campaign to drum up support against Operation Green Hunt. The short preview of the film was followed by an interaction with the media, where Menon was joined by Gandhian activist Himanshu Kumar.

Kumar, director of Vanvasi Chetna Ashram in Chhatisgarh, said, “If anyone stays in Bastar and Dantewada for a few hours, you can hear several tales of horror from everywhere.”

Describing himself as “a commentator you don’t want to listen to when you’re losing the match”, Kumar was critical of the attitude of the state towards dissenting voices. “People taking up these issues are being labelled anti-national or Naxal sympathisers,” he said.

Menon, who was content to let his film do the talking, added, “Incidents of violence by the state are not getting the same attention as incidents of Maoist brutality.”

Kumar said dialogue was essential between the state and its people. “Forget the Maoists, talk to your own people. Maoism is a local problem with local solutions,” he said.

On why the Maoists had not come to the table despite the offer of talks by the Home Minister, Kumar said the killings needed to come to an end for any meaningful discussion to take place.

Kumar, who will be meeting P Chidambaram, said, “The Home Minister cannot repeat the statement that law and order is a state subject. With gross human rights violations escalating the conflict, sincere efforts from the Centre are required.”

Deeply engaged as a grassroots activist, Kumar stayed clear from any dogmatic positions, but simply stated, “Operation Green Hunt is leading to that stage — the point of no return.”

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