Anoop Saha is a blogger based in bangalore who recently visited Dantewada district in Chattisgarh with the Independent citizens initiative.
He was horrified and disturbed with what he saw and makes a post about it on
Salwa judum - Mad, Mindless, Brutal, Stupid...
After 20 years of nothingness, something is happenning in Dantewada over the past one year. This is demonstrated by the remarkable increase in the number of search results of the term Dantewada on google. We are told by the state and its organs - the politicians, the police, the officials and the media, that the villagers have finally decided to get themselves rid of the 'naxaliye' . It was propagated as a spontaneous uprising of the adivasis against the oppression by the maoists, it was said that this is a peace movement to defeat the maoists, that the villagers were fed up with the pogrom and violence unleashed by the red rebels.
After reading a favourable report in the frontline, I found it an excellent concept as I had no kind feelings for the maoi. At that time there were around 15000 adivasis staying in camps, because of brutal retaliation by the maoist. The situation is anything but better now. There are an estimated 40000 adivasis in the camps now, their is a complete overturn of traditional social structure. Those who are dead are dead, and those who are alive have lost almost everything.
Last month I got a chance to visit some of the villages and camps, with the Independent citizens initiative that had gone there to investigate the whole scenario. There, I saw it in all its ugliness. Yes, the villagers were complaining about naxal atttocities, the SPO's(Special Police Officers) were all ready to kill them, and local leaders were glorifying the campaign. But beyond it all, there lies severe perversion, the effects of which will be permanent. Taking sides is not always a pleasant thing to do, and especially when you are forced to do so and risk your life and property because of that, there lies impending doom.
Dantewada now resembles those strife-torn African countries (I was reminded of Sierra Leone in particular), we see in movies and documentaries. We see those images in our drawing rooms, do the obligatory tch-tch-very-sad and move on, realising little that such a sorry spectacle represents the current state of the very heart of the country. In the remote areas of Dantewada, everybody is killing and killing is everywhere.
Let's do a background check first. The naxals, around 25 of them, first arrived in Dandakaranya in mid 80s. Their motivation ranged from empowerment of adivasi masses to establishing a safe haven, a liberated zone from where the eventual brush with the mighty state will take place. Not only did they find immediate support among the tribals but also found it a fertile ground for recruitment and support of their ideology. The reds were able to establish a parallel government of their own, long before the state realised about it. They have a name for it as well, Janatana Sarkar they call it. This process of establishing a parallel state was not without its own set of troubles, but more on that later.
When there is a change, there is bound to be dissatisfaction in some sections. The fact the everybody was poor in the Dantewada district is no consolation. The maoists were successful in alienating a small section of the villagers. Most of them were existing land-owners whose land were re-distributed, or the traditional authorities of sarpanches and village headmen.
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