ILPS-Canada demands end to Operation Green Hunt and the massive displacement of people in India

Indian government threatens to eradicate popular resistance by March 2010

In late 2009 the Indian government unleashed massive war against its own people under the code name “Operation Green Hunt” involving the deployment of 70,000 military and paramilitary troops. The target is the so-called “Red Corridor” that runs through parts of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal states.

It’s the latest in a series of efforts by the Indian government, labelled the “biggest democracy in the world” by Canada and other western powers, to impose “military solutions” on deep-seated social, political and economic problems,and to clear the way for local and trans-national corporations to plunder this region’s resources. Most of the riches sit on or under land occupied by the poorest populations in India, including the adivasis — the indigenous or tribal peoples.

Hundreds of agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) that allow free plunder of people’s resources have already been concluded by mining and other corporations with the central and state government and Special Economic Zones (SEZs) for multinational corporations have been established. The only barrier that now stands between the local and trans-national corporations and their prize is people’s resistance, both unarmed and in some instances, armed.

India ignores own Constitution

During this military-economic offensive, Indian government is actively ignoring its own Constitution and laws such as PESA and the Forest Rights Act and targeting anyone who dares to speak out against this state repression as a “potential terrorist”.

However, the people have refused to be mere victims of state-sponsored policies of liberalism, privatization and imperialist globalization (LPG) in the name of “development”.

As a result of Operation Green Hunt and renewed aggressions in Lalgarh, hundreds of thousands have been displaced, and the number of burnt villages, persons displaced, injured, arrested or “disappeared” has skyrocketed. Many have been placed in so-called “security camps” similar to the practice in Sri-Lanka, where the government in Colombo, with the backing of Washington and other western powers, bloodily attacked the Tamil population in early 2009.

In a letter to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, dated October 12, 2009, Indian and foreign intellectuals, including Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy and American political activist Noam Chomsky, charged that the government’s offensive was “an attempt to crush democratic and popular resistance against dispossession and impoverishment”. They said that it is a move that seemed to be geared towards facilitating the entry and operation of “large corporations and paving the way for unbridled exploitation of the natural resources and people in the affected regions”.

War waged by “super rich” on “super poor”

Arundhati Roy said, “This is a war waged by the army and paramilitary forces for the super rich corporations against the super poor of India, who have been driven to rebel and resist by years of injustice and mistreatment.” Roy continued: “The Government doesn’t give the people anything else than violence and disrespect. And now they want to take away from them the last thing they have, their land”.

The purported aim of the Indian government is to clear this heavily forested area of resistance forces, including Maoists and other Naxalite organizations. Maoists — also known as Naxalites after Naxalbari district in West Bengal state where they first led a peasant uprising against landlords in 1967 — have a strong presence in this region. The members of the Communist Party of India (CPI – Maoist) the political wing of the Maoists, are now estimated by mainstream Indian media to be 20,000 strong.

The focus of Operation Green Hunt, the Maoist or “Red Corridor”, includes many forest areas including the Dandakaranya forest. Its millions of adivasis were pushed into forest regions by waves of invaders and generally excluded from mainstream Hindu society. They have a long history of rebellion and militant uprisings against British colonial rule starting in the 19th Century and have been a major base for communist organizing.

Plunder of mineral wealth

The forests where the adivasis are concentrated have abundant mineral wealth (iron, coal, bauxite, manganese, corundum, gold, diamonds and uranium). Over the last years foreign and Indian corporations, with the protection of the Indian state apparatus, have been exploiting these resources while violently suppressing the local people.

The Communist Party of India (Maoist) has been active in this area since the 1970s, following the Naxalbari rebellion. The Maoists have helped lead the tribals in their struggles for just demands for land and opposition to police and military repression. The Maoists also have support among the Muslim population and the Dalits (often referred to as “untouchables”). They have helped organize the people to improve subsistence agricultural methods, build wells and schools and struggle against backward feudal practices.

For years the Indian elite left this area in dire poverty and profited from the cheap labour which migrated all over India searching for work. Now, realizing the vast riches that lay in and beneath the vast forests of this region, the Indian ruling elite, with backing from the U.S. and other forces, is trying to clear the way for a new wave of foreign investment.

The Indian government claims that by March 2010 they hope to have eradicated the Maoists and anyone who resists the government’s armed presence.

The military offensive has been accompanied by illegal arrests and detainment of progressive leaders in the area, such as Raja Sarkhel and Prasun Chatterjjee, by the reactionary forces under the CPI (Marxist), an organization apparently Communist in name only, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Activists have been heavily tortured to try to force them to give false testimonies against fellow activists.

Progressive Indian political leader Kobad Ghandy was also abducted, illegally detained and tortured for three days and nights while deprived of medicine and medical treatment for life-threatening health problems. The Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) has been actively campaigning for the release of Ghandy and an immediate end to all illegal arrests, detentions and human rights abuses.

Offensive in Lalgarh

Operation Green Hunt follows on the heels of the vast offensive against the people of Lalgarh-Jangalmahal in West Bengal starting June 2009. An All-India Fact Finding Team which was organized by progressive forces to look into the atrocities being committed by the West Bengal government was prevented from reaching Lalgarh. The members of the fact-finding team were arrested, maltreated and detained. An international team of Amnesty International was also prevented from entering Lalgarh.

The International League of Peoples Struggle Canada chapter (ILPS-Canada), and its member organizations and allies, support the call of the Indian people to demand that their government immediately and unconditionally withdraw its armed forces engaged in the military-paramilitary offensive against the oppressed adivasi people of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Maharashtra, Bengal, Karnataka and other regions.

Furthermore, we support the Indian people who are demanding that their government take concrete measures to stop the plunder of the people’s land, forests, hills and rivers by Indian and multinational corporations. This requires the scrapping of the unfair MoUs and a halt to the SEZs.

We also extend our solidarity and support to the struggle of the tribal people in Lalgarh-Jangalmahal.

Our demands

We join the people of India in demanding:
– an immediate end to Operation Green Hunt and the withdrawal of all military and paramilitary forces;
– an immediate end to the “Lalgarh Operation” against the tribal people of Lalgarh-Jangal mahal and the withdrawal of all military and police-paramilitary forces from Lalgarh and nearby areas;
– the closing of all “internment” camps;
– the immediate release of all political prisoners;
– the Indian government provide due compensation to the people displaced and impacted by Operation Green Hunt and Operation Lalgarh, and punish those military, para-military and police officials responsible for violence, rape, loot and other crimes;
– the repeal of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 2008
– free access to affected areas for fact-finding and solidarity teams and journalists;
– that the Central and State governments in India should initiate a dialogue with the people’s movements and accept their just demands.

Resist imperialist globalization and plunder!
Long live the courageous resistance of the people of India!

ILPS-Canada
February 1, 2010

** Thanks to the following sources for information for this statement: the chairperson of the ILPS, KASAMA, and other sites & blogs.

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