Monday, April 12, 2010

Independent tribunal wants Operation Green Hunt to stop

Aanchal Bansal Posted online: Monday , Apr 12, 2010 at 0136 hrs

New Delhi : In the backdrop of the killing of 76 security personnel by Naxals in Dantewada, a three-day public tribunal ended on Sunday with panelists recommending that Operation Green Hunt be suspended, forced acquisition of forestland be stopped and an empowered citizen commission be constituted to investigate and recommend action against people perpetrating atrocities against tribals. The tribunal also urged members of the civil society to contest elections.

The final day of the Independent People’s Tribunal — meant to give an overview on the crisis in Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal — had former justices Hosbet Suresh and P B Sawant, scientist and former member of the National Security Council P M Bhargava, former UGC chairman Professor Yashpal and former chairperson of the National Commission for Women Mohini V Giri as the panelists. The debate on “land acquisition, resource grab and Operation Green Hunt” on Sunday ended being a lesson in history and rhetorical speeches, with members of the civil society deciding to network and contest elections to end violence and suppression of tribals.

Following presentations made by activists Binayak Sen and Himanshu Kumar over the past three days, on Sunday Operation Green Hunt was compared with the witch-hunts ordered by Senator McCarthy in the US in the 50’s and the Vietnam War of the 70’s. Operation Green Hunt was seen akin to a war on the environment, the atrocities inflicted by the colonial powers during the freedom struggle, and the crisis inflicted by the developed world on Latin American countries in the 80’s and 90’s.

Author Arundhati Roy, who is also a member of the tribunal, took the discussion back to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan that she said ‘opened the doors’ for Hindu fundamentalism and India’s economic policies after it ceased to be ‘non-aligned’. Retired DGP K S Subramanium blamed the current crisis on the consumerism of the middle class. “The middle class is a grave threat to national security right now,” he said and added that the crisis was getting out of the hands of the government because the Home Ministry does not have enough information.

As the discussion meandered through history, politics and economic policies, including the ‘insensitivity’ with which squatters and slum dwellers are dealt with by the state machinery in Delhi and Mumbai, Justice Sawant clarified that the tribunal was not sympathising with the Maoists or endorsing violence. “We are speaking for the poor, the tribals who are suffering,” he said.

Referring to senior advocate Shanti Bhushan’s presentation on Maoist insurgency and his reservations regarding the intentions of the tribunal, expressed earlier during the sessions, Sawant said, “We equally condone the deaths of the 76 jawans and request the government to cease violence and come to the negotiation table.”

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