Opinion » Lead

Updated: May 28, 2013 13:53 IST

The continuing tragedy of the adivasis

  • Ramachandra Guha
Comment (61)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

The killings of Mahendra Karma and his colleagues call not for retributive violence but for a deeper reflection on the discontent among the tribals of central India and their dispossession

In the summer of 2006, I had a long conversation with Mahendra Karma, the Chhattisgarh Congress leader who was killed in a terror attack by the Naxalites last week. I was not alone — with me were five other members of a citizens’ group studying the tragic fallout of the civil war in the State’s Dantewada district. This war pitted the Naxalites on the one side against a vigilante army promoted by Mr. Karma on the other. In a strange, not to say bizarre, example of bipartisan co-operation, the vigilantes (who went by the name of Salwa Judum) were supported by both Mr. Karma (then Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly) and the BJP Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh.

‘Liberated zone’

From the 1980s, Naxalites had been active in the region, asking for higher wages for tribals, harassing traders and forest contractors, and attacking policemen. In the first decade of this century their presence dramatically increased. Dantewada was now identified by Maoist ideologues as the most likely part of India where they could create a ‘liberated zone.’ Dozens of Telugu-speaking Naxalites crossed into Chhattisgarh, working assiduously to accomplish this aim.

The Naxalites are wedded to the cult of the gun. Their worship of violence is extreme. They are a grave threat to democracy and democratic values. How should the democratically elected State government of Chhattisgarh have tackled their challenge? It should have done so through a two-pronged strategy: (i) smart police work, identifying the areas where the Naxalites were active and isolating their leaders; (ii) sincerely implementing the constitutional provisions guaranteeing the land and tribal forest rights of the adivasis, and improving the delivery of health and education services to them.

The Chhattisgarh government did neither. On the one side, it granted a slew of leases to industrialists, over-riding the protests of gram panchayats and handing over large tracts of tribal land to mining companies. On the other side, it promoted a vigilante army, distributing guns to young men owing allegiance to Mahendra Karma or his associates. These goons then roamed the countryside, in search of Naxalites real or fictitious. In a series of shocking incidents, they burnt homes (sometimes entire villages), raped women, and looted granaries of those adivasis who refused to join them.

In response, the Naxalites escalated their activities. They killed Salwa Judum leaders, murdered real or alleged informers, and mounted a series of daring attacks on police and paramilitary units. The combined depredations of the Naxalites and Salwa Judum created a regime of terror and despair across the district. An estimated 150,000 adivasis fled their native villages. A large number sought refuge along the roads of the Dantewada district. Here they lived, in ramshackle tents, away from their lands, their cattle, their homes and their shrines. An equally large number fled into the neighbouring State of Andhra Pradesh, living likewise destitute and tragic lives.

It was to study this situation at first hand that our team visited Chhattisgarh in 2006. We travelled across the Dantewada district, speaking to vigilantes, Naxalites and, most of all, ordinary tribals. We met adivasis who had been persecuted by the Naxalites, and other adivasis who had been tormented by the Salwa Judum vigilantes. The situation of the community was poignantly captured by one tribal, who said: “Ek taraf Naxaliyon, doosri taraf Salwa Judum, aur hum beech mein, pis gayé” (placed between the Maoists and the vigilantes, we adivasis are being squeezed from both sides).

We also visited the State capital, Raipur, speaking to senior officials of the State government. They privately told us that Salwa Judum was a horrible mistake, but added that no politician was willing to admit this. Then we spent an hour in the company of the movement’s originator, Mahendra Karma. He told us that he was fighting a dharma yudh, a holy war. We asked whether the outcome of this war was worth it. We told him of what we had seen, of the homes burnt and the women abused by the men acting in his name and claiming that he was their leader. He answered that in a great movement small mistakes are sometimes made. (The exact words he used were: “Badé andolanon mein kabhi kabhi aisé choté apradh hoté hain.”)

I was immediately reminded of a politician in another country, George W. Bush. In his holy war, too, there was no thought to the collateral damage that innocent civilians would suffer. Admittedly, the jihadis that Bush was fighting were as bloodthirsty and amoral as the Naxalites. But did a democratic government have to reproduce this amorality and this bloodthirstiness? Should it not fight extremism by saner methods? The tortures, the renditions, the displacement of thousands upon thousands of civilians — in all these respects, Dantewada seemed to me to be a micro version of Iraq or Afghanistan.

Palpable indifference

From Raipur we went to Delhi, where we met the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, and the National Security Adviser. Their indifference to the unfolding tragedy was palpable. So, in 2007, we filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court asking for the disbandment of Salwa Judum. Four years later, the Court issued an order chastising the Chhattisgarh government for creating “a miasmic environment of dehumanisation of youngsters of the deprived sections of the population, in which guns are given to them rather than books, to stand as guards, for the rapine, plunder and loot in our forests.” By arming poor and largely illiterate adivasis, the State government had, said the Supreme Court, installed “a regime of gross violation of human rights in a manner, and by adopting the same modes, as [have] done Maoist/Naxalite extremists.”

The strictures of the Supreme Court were disregarded by the State government, which recast Salwa Judum under another name and form, and by the Central government, which continued to put the interest of mining magnates above those of the suffering adivasis of the land.

The killings of Mahendra Karma and his colleagues are the latest casualties in a bloody war that began a decade ago in Dantewada. What will the State and Central governments now do? The knee-jerk reaction, doubtless encouraged by editorial writers and TV anchors in Delhi, will be to call for the Army, and perhaps the Air Force too, to launch an all-out war on the Naxalites, regardless of the consequences for civilians. One hopes wiser counsels will prevail. The times call not for further retributive violence, but for a deeper reflection on the discontent among, and dispossession of, the adivasis of central India, who are in all respects the most desperately disadvantaged of the Republic’s citizens, far worse off than Dalits even.

In the winter of 2006, after my experiences in Dantewada, I gave a public lecture in Bhubaneshwar. The State’s Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik, was in the audience. I urged that the rash of mining leases being proposed by the State government on tribal land be stopped. As it happened, foreign and Indian mining companies were invited into the State, without any attempt to make adivasis stakeholders in these projects. The consequence is that Orissa, a State once completely free of Naxalites, has seen them acquiring considerable influence in several districts of the State.

The social scientist Ajay Dandekar, who has done extensive research on the subject, observes that the rise of extremist violence is a consequence of “the complete mismanagement of democracy and governance in the tribal areas.” The latest bout of violence, he says, should come as a wake-up call to those “who place still some hope in the rule of law and constitutional governance.”

I entirely concur with Dandekar when he writes that “if even now the policy makers are willing to take the issues of justice to the tribals head-on the extremists will definitely be dealt a bodyblow in the process and their own legitimacy would stand questioned.” A first step here would be for the top leadership of the present government to reach out directly to the adivasis. The Prime Minister and the Chairperson of the UPA should together tour through the strife-torn areas of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Orissa, promising the full implementation of the Forest Rights Act, a temporary ban on mining projects in Fifth Schedule Areas, and a revival of the powers of gram panchayats. That would be a far more effective strike against Naxalites than sending in fighter planes or massed battalions.

(Ramachandra Guha’s books include India after Gandhi. He can be contacted at

More In: Lead | Opinion

It's time that the ruling parties and governments realized that economic
policies need to be favourable to the marginalized people such as
tribals but not to the profiteering MNCs. On the other hand, the
adoption of Gandhian or Ambedkar's path rather than violent path to
bring justice to the people would benefit the country as well as

Posted on: May 29, 2013 at 22:05 IST

The situation of Tribals is very bad in the entire nation. It is not confined to any particular region. The main stream political parties have less concern over them for years.

from:  garlin vincent
Posted on: May 29, 2013 at 16:45 IST

tribals are not seen as citizens but as mere SUBJECTS. states which are so concerned about the SEVENTH SCHEDULE in the present day of neo-mansabdari polity, should turn a few pages before and introspect what they have done to implement the FIFTH,SIXTH SCHEDULES of our constitution. rape of the fifth and sixth schedule of our constitution is the main reason for alienation.

from:  srivatsan
Posted on: May 29, 2013 at 16:25 IST

A lot of people in the media and common man, wonder why adivasis have not used democratic means of protest.
This question needs to be answered and with examples.

1) Do you remember how democratic protests against rape were crushed at India gate, now you can imagine what happens to democratic protests in Dantewada.

2) How the democratic movement for the rights of adivasis , for example Narmada Bachao Aandolan, has been ignored and mocked by the democratic governments.

3) The media and the government have a shameful track record of listening to democratic protests. The latest was Jan Lokpal.

4) The government regularly goes back on its promise to the people. For example, autonomy of CBI was promised in parliament in Aug 2011, but it is still not give. Now you can imagine how much the forest rights act have been implemented, the opinion of panchayats listened to.

from:  Abhinav
Posted on: May 29, 2013 at 14:55 IST

A very poignant article. The author has given a brilliant cause and effect analysis with his proposition of solution. I hope that people in power are reading this article and understanding the root cause of the problem rather than calling reckless bandh in other cities and towns.

from:  Ankita
Posted on: May 29, 2013 at 12:47 IST

Deprivation made them turn voilent . Our constitution provide the privilege and right for each of us ; which in thier case(In case of maoist) it is repressed or even pruned just because of insane potitics being played with them. But this(Voilence)wont make any solution rather they must come to main stream of politics and give their people a choice (to opt). At the same time they are against democracy which impends them to proceed this way but nothing is going to give solution to their problem otherwise, so as per understanding it would be better idea go get their right in the way system approves, which will be handy for either side to give your people a choice in main stream of politics.

from:  vivek bhagat
Posted on: May 29, 2013 at 11:33 IST

Mr Guha, an eminent historian, has rightly identified two root causes for the emergence of Naxalism and naxlite movement as taking the form of terrorism. Mr Guha has in his prestigeous book on India after Gandhi very elaborately presented the comprehensive views of the tribal representative in the constituent assambly appointed to write India's constitution.Unfortunately, exploitation of tribals continues still after 63 years of our independence and over a period of time it has taken the worst form of exploitation by the Government, corporate houses, public sector organizations and private contractors to such an extent that tribals feel they have no right to be indian citizens, by curse they are born in India. Since privatization in 1990s the Government in collusion with business houses has been formulating policy and programs that outright endanger further merciless exploitation. Only the concern of legislators accompanied by political will can solve the problem.

from:  Dr Amrit Patel
Posted on: May 29, 2013 at 08:56 IST

I totally agree with the writter. By depriving the basic rights to our own citizens we should expect more voilence in the country. Unfortunately in our country there are only 2 ways to fight against injustice. 1. Through judiciary only, because the state is for industrialist only and not for common people; and wait for whole life to get any justice( if at all it is delivered) or 2 Take guns in your hand and wipe out all neo capitalists, politicians who are hell bend in selling our precious natural resources to private co's causing damage to local people, envrionment. Its just like selling our own house utensils and saying we have created wealth, our GDP has grown? GDP for whom? This is all disgusting. See the geography- where there is unhindered mining, there is naxalism., and rightyly so.

from:  milind nijsure
Posted on: May 29, 2013 at 07:33 IST

While I agree that the Adivasis have not received adequate attention from the politicians at the Central, State an local levels, it would be naive to think the Maoists are their true friends. India is a democracy, however flawed. It gives people to make a change of leadership peacefully through the ballot box. There is no justification for the violence that the Maoists have used for decades. They are ruthless murderers who are also exploiting the adivasis for their own political gain.

from:  krishna
Posted on: May 29, 2013 at 00:13 IST

I also have serious reservation to the word "civil war" used in the
context of Naxalism. The expression used in the article has different
connotations and meaning, whereas respecting all the scholarship of
writer, I would merely term it as a law & order problem - and the
discontent arisen due to the wrong policies of consecutive Govt. since
independence (Union as well as State), non implementation of
provisions of 5th & 6th Schedule of the Constitution in true spirit.
The cynic vigilantism as propounded by Late Mr. Mahendra Karma in the
form of Salawa Judum (arming civilians to counter menace of Naxals)
would lead to only one solution i.e. Violence.

from:  ravi prakash
Posted on: May 29, 2013 at 00:11 IST

I strongly dissent on the use of expression " killed in a terror attack"
as it cannot be termed. It was a lethal attack wherein we had lost
precious human life which was supposed to be safeguarded by STATE.
Ironically, such human lives are being lost every day in India, in a
similar fashion or even in a manner which is more humiliating, but
hardly media pays attention or the contemporary shcolars like
Ramchandra Guha writes in such fashion.

from:  ravi prakash
Posted on: May 29, 2013 at 00:05 IST

Not even one comment in the previous 39 comments contradicts what the
writer has put forth. So it is "common" sense but completely absent from
the political ruling class irrespective of party affiliations.

Not sure how many more innocent lives have to be lost? Sad ...

from:  Ram
Posted on: May 29, 2013 at 00:01 IST

A very good article. What I cannot understand is that if as the article suggests the Forest Rights Act is not being fully implemented, mining projects being carried out in the Fifth Schedule Areas together with the suppression of gram panchayats why has the mainstream media in the country, both print and electronic, have not been active in highlighting and publicizing these illegalities or doing so rather patchily if at all. The mainstream media should introspect and change course if they want to avoid the taint of being handmaidens of what has been described by an author as 'corporatocracy' or indirect rule by corporations.Or as in this case, our very own mining mafiosi

from:  Rufus Dsouza
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 23:43 IST

It hardly makes any sense to spray bullets notwithstanding from which
side it is executed.What sort of Marxist these Maoists are?They always
sensitize&overdo.These talks of barrels,guns & political power etc can
hardly accomplish any worthy critic of the system which is in crying
need of rejuvenation.Hit & run method of these anarchists only adds to
the owes of the poor.In fact some sort of INTERNAL DISPLACEMENT of the
marginal folk namely displacement by terror is the logical outcome of
such act of frenzy.

Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 23:43 IST

We should take lesson from history. Voilence never yields anything except killing, cruelty, brutality. India is a nation of Mahatama Gandhi. We should follow his path.

Writer views are only reflection of our Father of Nation and this is the only solution of Naxalites and Moists. Pour money to the elimination of root cause not to the militory operation that will only aggravate the situation.

from:  Abhay Kant
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 21:00 IST

the naxal problem is mainly due to democratic deficit. one can identify various dimension of democratic deficit viz. (i) absence of law conducive to the need of masses which was characteristic of British colonial period. The period of limited democracy led to many struggles but due to repressive nature could not sustain for long. (2) Violation of law. In post independent period we had the law in the form of various land reforms provisions. but due to non-implementation people got alienated from the rule of law and took refuge in the marxist ideology in the form of Naxal movement.(3) Misuse of rule of law in predatory manner. post economic liberalisation the corporate greed in association with political malpractices have usurped the rights of forest dwellers, the adivasis from their land, forest produce rights. the industrialisation has helped only the emerging middle class at the cost of poor and innocent adivasis. A reaction was bound to happen and recent attack is expression of that.

from:  Praveen Kishore
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 19:53 IST

Good observation Sir. Peace at the Maoist belts cannot come through violence of an armed batallion. Sustainable peace can be only achieved through empowerment and well-being of the common people of the area.

from:  Prajata Das Chowdhury
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 19:53 IST

Most of us seem to expect the government to solve the tribal problems. But adminstrative measures alone will never overcome this huge task. Unless Indian society as a whole makes an efffort to understand the urgency, immensity and nature of this task and to share in it, we will make little headway within reasonable time. How many of our educatioal institutions have departments for tribal studies? Which of our political parties require their youth brigades to take a special interest in tribal issues? Would it be possible for a significant number of our young people to share the lives in tribal regions for a year or two through something like a Peace Brigade? Where can we find literatire suitable for study groups to address tribal challenges?

from:  P. Zachariah
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 19:13 IST

The tragic incident that took place in Chattisgarh no doubt brings
back a deep introspection into what ruling class did to control Naxal
agitation in this country that started way back in 1960's ."Catch-22"
situation faced by adivasis during such incidents no doubt are beyond
explanation for the outside world.It is not the "Gun power" that can
bring peace, but it is constant "empowerment" of tribals through
persuasion and "inclusive developement" not merely in letter but in
spirit .Else as said by Ramachandra Guha any retaliation through
battalions and gun power will only be futile like the one America
faced in Afghanistan,Iraq etc.

Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 19:08 IST

Easier to Preach, Difficult to Practise.

Not long ago did Alex Menon try to get the long denied social justice and development to tribals. Many would say that Government effort should not have stopped with his kidnapping episode; he was released after all. But what of his 2 security guards who were killed in cold blood even at no provocation. Which govt officer would be willing to work in these forests? How many among us would volunteer to carry out govt programmes for these tribals when we know that our lives would be dependent on the whims of few gunmen who have never understood the ideology of the movement?

Had the implementation of proposed solutions been as simple as they sound, this article need not have been written.

Right now, the need is to break the extortionist attitude of Naxals. Its time Army steps into these foresst.

from:  Vivek
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 19:08 IST

Linguistic perspective on adivasis: Thanks for a great empathic review.Just to refresh,they are the oldest linguistic group ' Austric-munda' family with cousins in east asia, malyasian,taiwanese, Vietnamese etc. Their hunter gather's culture some 20,000 yrs or older is the base of indian languages/culture, wrongly interpreted as ' sanskrit based vedic hinduism'( See Dr Sk chatterji for linguistics).Later migrants, Dravidian farmers from Mideast ( 7000 BC) too have few adivasi tribals, malto,kurukh, gond speakers. The latest layer "Sanskrit supporters"(really akkadian speaking arabs--according to Malati Shindge) now dominate india with myths of Aryan Sanskrit part of " hindu nationalism and 4 casts myths etc;this represents the " victors writing history.
Adivasi tribals have their own culture and be supported with huge development effort by " insensitive elites/upper caste";this off course is not to condone the terror/tactics. Their language/cutlture--deserve protection by all.

from:  Dr Abdul jamil khan
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 18:23 IST

I strongly differ with the conclusions made by the author.Stopping mining will no way stop the naxal violence, there are many places in India where maoist do violence even though there is no mining activity.
The solution's are simple
1.Provide amenities for the tribal's for their socio economic upliftment.
2.The lynch pin for Naxalism in bastar,dantewad and jagaldalpur lies in so called scared houses of worship in those areas which no one wants to talk just as binayak sen.
3.Naxal violence should be left to security forces to be dealt with while the government should device progressive policies just as it had been done in Andhra pradesh to drive away the maoist.

from:  Raghu
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 17:39 IST

When we criticizes the neighboring countries for their violation of
human rights we should also think of the rights of our own tribal men
who are right to have the fruitful of democracy for their children and
as well for them too. Then the only way to put an end for all these
crisis is without minding them as enemies, talks should be initiated at
least at this juncture.

from:  narayanan
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 17:22 IST

Great Observations Sir,
But do our Politicians can ever have morality and courage to deal with
the situation. Those who are looting the country how they can inspire
and talk to Indian citizens. Adiwasis are really living a miserable
life. We should come forward to think about them.

from:  Arun
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 16:41 IST

AFSPA is the answer. Just like in NE India and Kashmir.

from:  Tomba Singh
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 16:39 IST

Good analysis. Hope the central govt. reads and implements the suggestions seriously.

from:  Kokila
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 16:26 IST

This articles makes lot of sense.
As the things stand - the state govt did not do right things after
strictures were passed against the state govt.
As per democratic values that we carry, these attackers should not be
The Constitution of India was not upheld by state govt. Whatever has happened has happened. Central govt should step in and implement SC order in every sense. If these people avenged for not implementing the SC order they should be treated on par with soldiers. They did a duty to SC.

from:  Rajinder Singh Bhalla
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 16:23 IST

Writer has touched heart of the matter;its the case of 2 groups,politically motivated,anti-social in their own way. Maoists/Naxalites believe in violent,anti-democratic strategies to pursue their goals,& recruit poor tribals.The anti-Naxals Salwa Judum are a private army,paid and armed with Govt funds who recruit poor tribals.Both are indulging in extra-constitutional activity.Both are tools for pursuing political objectives.Can both be any better than Pakistani Taliban.Brainwashing, arming &inciting innocent, uneducated ,hungry,angry villagers& using them as cannon-fodder or human-bombs or maniacal desperadoes is their strategy. Another look is needed at the Congressmen targeted by Naxals;were they land-grabbers who had stolen &sold tribal land? Is that the reason for selective killings?Maoists have killed civilians,tribals,politicians, policemen & paramilitary persons in the past.The PM visited area &doled out money to dead & injured;is it because they are Congressmen?Why Govt funds?

from:  Prakash
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 16:10 IST

Fact remains that Naxalism problem is the effect of misgovernance by the state.The tribal people are most vunerable to get attracted towards naxalism due to repeated injustices subjected to them because of lack of proper implementation of PESA Act,Forest Rights(Dwellers)Act2006 and by distribution of their land to Private companies without their consent.Naxals then seem to those tribal people as thier saviours but their saviours have a long term motive to keep development at bay from tribal areas by blasting schools,telephone towers,post offices,roads etc.,so that their newly acquired liberated zone continues to be in their subjugation in perpetuity.TRUE GOVERNANCE as rightly pointed by author is the need of the hour to stop the spread and penetration of Naxalism to fulfill the just aspirations of the tribal people.

from:  Nitin Chaturvedi
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 16:02 IST

These type of letters, speeches, verbal discussions are nothing but a
way to be-fooling the people of India. all these great letters of great
socio- writers have given nothing to the tribal. They have never worked
with them or helped them in those areas. Further, these naxalites are
neither the tribals nor the sufferers. They are butchers, make
scapegoats to the poorer and tribal and play their own game. They must
be dealt with full force without harming the actual tribals.

Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 15:41 IST

Well written article Mr.Guha.
But the biggest problem is that the politicians just don't care!
I read the models practiced in USA and Canada, where capitalism is the main driver and yet we see development happening and that too at a cohesive level.
In India the politicians just don't care. Its plain apathy! Leasing out lands to corporates while their primary duty is to protect the people. As long as corporates fill in the ministers coffers... they will be allowed to do anything! Shame! Is this the same country which had leaders like Ghandi, Nehru, Sardar patel,Subash chandra bose?

from:  Karthik Narayanan
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 15:37 IST

The fundamental problem is the government - in fact no government in
India for that matter - has openly stated that their policies have
failed to address the demands of the poor, illiterate and the bottom
echelons of the society. The constant dish out is that 'increase GDP'
and it'll trickle down to the poor.
The facts are obvious, even after 66 years of 'democracy'. Why are we
so stubbornly refusing to accept our mistakes? The policy makers
continue to sell stories to the poor - in fact buying their votes -
and it's no surprise that eventually mankind will be frustrated. This
does not mean that the Naxalite strategy is correct, but there's an
underlying problem in our country that has never been addressed.

This is exactly the kind of problems that P.Sainath tries to address,
yet no government has openly accepted their follies. Aren't we plain

from:  sriram
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 15:22 IST

Naxalism roots from the downtrodden people who are devoid of their rights. Andhra Pradesh can be taken as a role model for the removal of Naxalism. Late Y.S. Rajashekar Reddy, with the help of Director General of Police Swaranjit Sen and other Dynamic police officers pressurized Naxalites not by killing them but to surrender arms. He also ensured development along with good governance in Naxal infested areas.

Andhra Pradesh is now peaceful. Naxalism was a concern of our past. Inclusive ideas which suppresses a violent movement by social change rather than by arms should to be implemented.

from:  Madhav
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 15:09 IST

What loved your Article Mr Guha.I hope lots of us who live in cities and
are a hoarde of reckless and insensitive consumer should find time to
read it.

from:  islahuddin ashraf
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 14:51 IST

Every counter insurgency operation has various elements, determining the
root cause, implementing pro-people policies,encouraging democratic
engagement and last not but not the least striking and punishing the
extremist under the constitutional umbrella. At any given point of time
some or the other element is dominant and its the political will to
decide which element should be given importance. The need of hour is
hard strike back without any collateral damage. Those who can't smell
more than gunpowder should taste it in first place.

from:  Rahul Shahi
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 13:50 IST

This article can be described as an appropriate reminder of the contemporary situation where mismanagement of democracy, the negligence by political ruling class towards all kind of nonviolent means of protests from citizens who fight to protect their democratic rights. The gruesome killing of political leaders is condemnable. Whatever, Maoist claims and try to justify through idealising their stand, violence is not an answer. Killing of innocent tribal including children women and elderly, sick by security forces in Naxal affected areas are the consequence of each violent actions and reactions by extremists, that is what we have witnessed since last two decades. In this context, a more effective and measure to curb the violence need to be worked out. Academics, parliamentary left groups and civil society organisations can come forward with a strategic plan to transform our tribal and forest areas into peaceful locations.

from:  Appade Rajeevan
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 13:17 IST

Wonderful article, Mr. Guha. Thanks. I remember that the PM had once said that only a particular minority community had the first right to the resources of the land - an apparent appeasement bid, but that is not the issue. How sensitive and appropriate it would have been had he said that the tribals and adivasis of our country have that right. They are indeed the first people. I totally agree with the views of another reader here who urges our country to adopt the Candadian model. I also cannot help feeling that had it not been an attack at the very core of the government, this incident would have passed off just as quietely as the Dantewada carnage where over 70 + security forces were massacred. Hope sanity and sensitivity prevails.

from:  luhar sen
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 13:14 IST

Guha's article is a good analysis of the situation. However Andhra Pradesh has dealt
with naxal problem well in majority of the districts when Late Mr. Rajasekhara Reddy
was the chief minister. It was the single mindedness of this man with the help of
capable police officials and of development in naxal infested areas brought about
freedom from Naxals. Raman Singh has just failed in this. The BJP ruled states like
Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand (just a few months ago) did not have any strategy to
eliminate naxal problem. BJP has no right to even speak about this problem. The
central government cannot work in isolation so the people should wake up to this
reality of BJP's double speak. Ultimately the chief minister has to call the shots.

from:  Lraj
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 12:43 IST

The attitude and intent of those politicians who are in connivance
with corporate mining lobbies is that the state will somehow avoid
talking to the Adivasis and can use the security forces to wipe-out
the Adivasis no matter how many of them get killed -- this attitude
comes out crystal clear when officials/politicians/corporate-media
ask how is it even possible to go talk or make deal with the Adivasis
over their legitimate demands -- how did the same Govt hold peace
talks with almost unilateral determination with Hurriyat and other
groups over Kashmir? How did the Govt try to find out ways of
engaging with other violent movements in the past?
In this case there are vested corporate interests in connivance with
certain politicians and media who DO NOT WANT the natural resources
to be shared with the Adivasis -- therefore they do not want the Govt
to hold any peace talks, even if the talks are held there are forces
within the establishment which will be trying to sabotage.

from:  Yashwanth P
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 12:12 IST

Treat them as normal human beings and it is the duty of the govt to provide them with the basic needs like food, clothing, shelter and the freedom to work in their lands. Their social status as "Tribals" should not be taken as a disadvantage and exploited. They are also aware of their rights in this era and they should be treated properly to avoid such acts of violence in the future. Violence perpetrated by any one is deplorable and not acceptable in a civilized society. Ultimately it is the duty of the Govt to ensure this.

from:  Vasan Raj
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 11:53 IST

I totally concur with your views. All this can eventually be blamed on
the corruption the the appeasement of industrialist which is prevalent
in the country. Poor have lost their voice.

from:  Surbhi Nagori
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 11:44 IST

provide land,water and marketing w/o middlemen to the adivasis who will throw away their weapons. connecting flooding rivers with dry rivers by constructing dams ,lakes and ponds ,thus preventing water wasted into seas will support the masses in INDIA.

from:  kandappan
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 11:33 IST

Every statement is fine, but what about Iron and Aluminum. Development and Money.

from:  patrick mohan
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 11:32 IST

what has been written is the fact that most of us are aware of. today
the government at center and at state have become so insensitive that
they care nothing about the good governance. Jharkhand is one of the
most naxal affected state and one can very easy found out why no state
leaders and central leaders are interested in addressing the problem of
so frequent presidential rule in the state. land and lives of poor
tribes are being plundered by greedy politicians and their associates.

from:  kamlakant pandey
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 11:24 IST

Excellent article, Sire!

Both Naxalites and Govt. to be blamed here. Naxalites are currently fighting to prove thier points. But thet dont understand that they are doing this at the cost of poor tribals in those areas. Tribals dont need a governing body like naxalites but the proper facilities like Health, Educationa etc. Naxalites never achieved anything by killing innocent tribals by naming them "The Informers" or killing the politicians. They cant achieve a single tangible thing by hiding and attacking people. They might not let the politicians/contractors/ traders enter into particular places, but they will not get anything good by doing so.

Hope state and central governments amend their mistakes by talking to the poor Adivasis and provide them the needful.

from:  Patro
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 09:41 IST

I agree with this article.In fact,I think this latest incident in
Chhatisgarh is a classic example of the proverb-as you sow,so shall
you reap.If only these politicians had done with sincerity,their duty
towards the citizens of their state,this incident would not have taken
place.I am no big fan of the Maoists either- I think they are just a
bunch of criminals and misguided people.But when a vacuum is created
due to greed,corruption and mal governance of the government,such
kinds of people get a chance to fill that vacuum and flourish.Will the
government ever learn a lesson?

from:  sujatha
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 09:40 IST

Very informative article.But in my opinion industrialist and politicans of our nation must come forward to build city like Jamshedpur, GoI must make laws by which companies need to build schools ,hospitals and good infrastructure before mining precious minerals and in place of filling accounts of minister of the concerned industry. Somehow ministers sitting in Delhi are somehow responsible for this policy implementation as they are only concerned in their well being not of the adivasis.

from:  abhay bajpai
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 09:28 IST

Unless the benefits of democracy are justly shared according to constitutional
provisions , there will be a greater probabilty of such marginalisations (as clearly
visible in all tribal mineral rich areas).And such marginalisations certainly will trend
towards being remaing violent if blunders like Salwa Judum are continued to be put in
practice. That combined with economic indifference sends the whole demography
intospiral of violence , terror ,fear, polarisation and further social exclusion. So much
for Economic and social inclusion, our policy makers boast about!

from:  Abhishek Vatsa
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 09:26 IST

A Policy measure like "Salwa Judum" is a total blunder, I wonder why
the learned bureaucrats gave a go-ahead to it . A movement like Maoism
thrives on the short-comings of state in terms of policy
implementation; a good counter to the movement is improving the
efficiency of the state system and making sure that the policies reach
the right ends.I am a little skeptical of the immediate solution
proposed by Mr Guha, given the level of violence rampant in the area,
providing adequate security to someone like Prime Minister would be a
daunting task. Instead of wasting public money in arranging for such a
visit, the Governing body should look for sustainable solution to the
problem. More importantly it should not be treated as a "blood for
blood" case.

from:  Ajay Prasad J
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 09:07 IST

Good essay! It is worthwhile examining the roles of various levels of governments in the US. Despite investors’ wishes to exploit resources, local people through their county or city elected bodies exercise their rights. Decision making goes up the State and Federal levels - through elected bodies. Policing is also done at these various levels. Trained local police are under the control of locally elected bodies. If such a model were adopted in India, especially in the tribal areas, local panchayats would make decisions about their local resources. Indian and foreign industrialists would have to convince the local leaders and people about the benefits of industrialization to them. It is likely that there will be negotiations and the locals will benefit in a number of ways from their participation. Plains people of India may be reminded that they did not like it when solutions were imposed on them by people from Britain, or the cities, or other dominant Indian languages.

from:  Som Karamchetty
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 09:05 IST

When justice and fair play is denied, the last straw would be violence. From the article it becomes clear that there is extrajudicial killing,rape and decimation going on with the tribals. Out of their survival needs if they act out, giving them a fancy name and hunting them down in the name of terrorism is only going to compromise the ethics of the legal armed forces. It is time for the people in power to listen to the grievances of these people and rectify the fault lines. Any expedient behavior of the authorities will only attract more violence. Even when the powerful Government reap a victory through violence, they will not get away from the blame of genocide!Time for some real negotiations!

from:  Saratchandran
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 08:36 IST

What a great article aftermath of recent events. People at Delhi would
never understand the misery of poor adivasis. They have violated the
preamble of constitution like social justice. People who are fighting
for bread can not be compared with fundamentalist of Afgan.

Hence Government needed to implement their policies of reconstruction
without taking smell of benefits from mines.

from:  Navin
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 07:57 IST

Guha's statement on direct talk with adhivasi's without a proper leadership representation is it possible ? Presently the naxalite are the forefront leaders of adhivasi people, hence india needs to talk with them. I think they don't have any respect to indian democracy and constitution hence it is not a practical solution. Real soultion is for the police to control naxalite and governament take development work by stopping corruption.

from:  Rajesh kuma N
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 07:18 IST

Poignant views. Maybe our prime minister can wear the same diplomatic cap that he wears when he thinks about how to deal with Pakistani extremism..although in this case, there is a real cause for the grievances of the Naxalites, as compared to Jihadists. I agree that the center needs to re-think it's strategy of using force as the only means of combating the Naxals.

from:  chethan
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 05:07 IST

Very well said! I hope the good sense prevails and the central leadership show a maturity and real sense of sincerity rather than taking it 'personally' seeking revenge for their workers.
Advasis need protection and their rights. They are the most disadvantaged citizens of the nation.
Thanks for an excellent article, Mr. Guha and the Hindu!

from:  kumar
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 04:45 IST

An enlightening article.
A situation of internal colonialism seems to have been imposed on Chattisgarh. India can do better, it has much greater wisdom

from:  Sohail Zahid
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 03:38 IST

Hi Mr.Guha,

Amazing synopsis of the recent tragedy. The true tragedy is of the
adivasis. I total salute your solution to find true and longlasting
reform than to retaliate through emotions. Just because one is blessed
with sound sleep, good food we cannot afford to forget the people who
go through hell most of the year and live out of fear. It is not a
life to live. I am not sure how I can help other than spreading the

Thank you for braving animosity from Salwa judum followers and
publishing this article. Looking forward to more articles.


from:  Deep
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 03:30 IST

Central goverment is not going to send military to chattisgarh, instead they would send 2000 para mimlitary force and will strenght them.Both are same in effect weather para military or military,they have deadly weapons in their hands and ready to use.

from:  Sadath Nedumangad
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 02:53 IST

As a person living in Canada, I urge the Government to follow the Canadian model for dealing with First Nations People. The Advasis are Tribals, who are akin to the Native Indians. What has stopped mass protests and blockades of the Nineties is a recognition by both sides that confrontation leads to both sides losing out on development and progress. Now, Private Sector Companies include First nations Bands as share holders and partners, promise employment on a preferential basis and most of all plough back a percentage of the profits for social improvement. Guha has made some excellent points that deserve serious debate in India

from:  sridhar
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 02:37 IST

The problem with this article is the reinforcement of the false idea that by being poor or disadvantaged one gains a right to take the law into his hands and inflict crimes on others. This notion has resulted in utter lawlessness. The answer to the naxal problem is not a choice between engagement or police action against the perpetrators. Rather the government must do both.

from:  Viswanath
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 02:10 IST

Pious pontification indeed. It is true that the tribals have been short-
changed over several decades. But the Naxalites do not represent the
true voice of the tribals -- they are only interested in violence and in
the installation of a Left dictatorship. We continue to wonder how these
impoverished people can afford guns and ammunition while being unable to
manage two meals a day. It would be interesting to investigate who is financing this movement.

from:  Jay Ravi
Posted on: May 28, 2013 at 01:20 IST
Show all comments
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor



Recent Article in Lead

Sanjaya Baru

A.P. and Telangana: life after divorce

While politicians will play games, the people of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana would like the economy to regain momentum. For this, bo... »