Operation Green Hunt was in the dock at a people's tribunal in the capital over the weekend and the verdict of the jury was loud and clear: Guilty.
Organised by civil society groups, the “Independent People's Tribunal on Land Acquisition, Resource Grab and Operation Green Hunt” heard the testimonies of tribal people, activists, academics and experts from Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. The final recommendations of the jury advised the government to “Stop Operation Green Hunt and start a dialogue with the local people.”
Among the jury members were Justice P.B. Sawant, Justice H. Suresh, Yash Pal, V. Mohini Giri, P.M. Bhargava, and K.S. Subramanian. In their observations, they noted that “state violence has been accentuated by Operation Green Hunt in which a huge number of paramilitary forces are being used mostly on the tribals. The militarisation of the state has reached a level where schools are occupied by security forces.”
They also warned that if peaceful resistance was violently crushed, the government “could very well be sowing the seeds of a violent revolution demanding justice and rule of law that would engulf the entire country.”
The jury recommended that all compulsory acquisition of agricultural or forest land be stopped. The forced displacement of tribal people needs to end, and rehabilitation started immediately. It called on the government to declare the details of all MoUs and industrial and infrastructural projects proposed in these areas and stop all environmentally destructive industries.
The paramilitary and police forces need to be withdrawn, and dissenters must not be victimised, said the jury. It also recommended the formation of an Empowered Citizen's Commission to investigate and recommend action against those responsible for human rights violations of tribal communities.