Thursday, April 08, 2010

Naxal attack: Rights group criticises government

NDTV Correspondent, Friday April 9, 2010, New Delhi

The Dantewada massacre has stunned civil society and there is a sense amongst human rights groups that a dialogue could have had better results than the violent route the government has pursued against the Naxalites.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram: ''It is the Naxalites who have described the state as an enemy and the conflict as a war. If it is a war, it has been thrust upon the state by those who do not have any legitimate right to carry weapons or kill.''

"What did the government expect when they called it a war? Did they think that there would be no retaliation?", says lawyers and member of Independent People's Tribunal, Prashant Bhushan

As the Independent People's Tribunal gets ready to hold their pre-planned meet three days after the most heinous Naxal attack in the country, the members refuse a rethink on strategy.

This prominent human rights group claims to work for the tribal people caught in the war between the Naxals and the government.

Their approach: Recall the security forces, give the tribals food, infrastructure and development and the violence will automatically de-escalate.

The government says that many members of the group are Naxal sympathizers, prominent citizens who are acting as a pressure group for the Maoists. A serious charge considering the new state offensive has ruled out space for sympathizers and ideologues.

Naturally, on the eve of this meeting everyone is asking where does the Independent People's Tribunal stand after the massacre?

Himanshu Kumar, Social Activist and member of the tribunal, says, "It is sad that in this country whoever tries to fight for justice, who talks about the poor, who brings up the issue of human rights, the government labels all of them as Naxal supporters. The government does not respect them, they try to silence them and attack them as well."

Emotions are running high over the Dantewada attack but should activists and social workers be caught in the cross fire? That's the question they are asking as they are accused of being Naxal sympathizers. But in the present climate, will the government prefer to play safe rather than sorry?

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