Basic facilities still a mirage for Makutta tribals

Basic facilities still a mirage for Makutta tribals

MADIKERI: Though Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers Act 2006 came into existence two to three years ago, the availability of basic facilities for the tribals living in Kodagu are still a mirage.

Without basic facilities, the tribals in haadi are living in a deplorable condition. Development for these tribals is an illusion. One such colony is situated in Makutta on Kodagu-Kerala border. The tribals are residing in the colony for a century. However, the government schemes are still a dream for these tribals. The male members of these tribals are daily wage labourers working in Kodagu-Kerala forest. They fetch Rs. 150 per month. However, by the time he reaches home, he would have spent 1/3 of his income on alcohol, said Omane, a woman resident of the haadi.

When media  persons visited the colony, they were greeted by 12 children. However, majority of them have not entered the portals of a school. Instead, they spend their time in bringing water from the river from household works. A water  tank was constructed in the colony several years ago. However, water is not being supplied from the tank, thanks  to the defunct borewell in the colony.

Though toilets have been constructed in the colony, it is  of  no use to these tribals as the toilets do not have a roof, door or water facility. The houses are built using soft available stones. As a result, the house gets damaged fully during the rainy season.

“We have made several revolutionary works in several fields. However, we have failed to bring these tribals to the mainstreams of the society,” said former MLA A K Subbaiah who visited the haadi.

In the meantime, the tribals do not get food grains through Public Distribution System. A gram panchayat member who has been representing the colony had assured that the tribals names will be included in ration card three years ago. However, the tribals are yet to receive ration cards. “we do not get ration or kerosene. We go to Koothupoojavu in Kerala and purchase rice for Rs. 25 per kg”, said Pappi.

There is no hospital near the colony. If anyone is ill in the colony, then he/she had to be taken to Iritti or Kannur for treatment. Many children are suffering from lack of nutritious food. Moreover, the tribals residents do not get any medical treatment.

“It is a clear indication of violation of human rights for not providing basic facilities to these tribals. Government should wake up and implement effectively Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers Act 2006”, Subbaiah urged.

DH News Service


Corruption, Poverty and misrule at the root of naxalism

Sub: Corruption, Poverty and misrule at the root of naxalism


Let us be frank and fearless. Wrong people are ruling us, anti- social elements are ruling us, and Brainless duds are ruling us. For their lapses, ignorance and wrong decisions, so called Naxalites are punished. I call them patriots, who are ready to die fighting for poor people against the traitorous ministers and bureaucrats who are controlling India, and ruining India.  Japan, Germany, Korea and other small countries rebuilt their countries in 10 years after  complete ruin and devastation we are still not able to wipe out poverty after 60 years. Who is the mischief maker? Who is the Terrorist? Who is a  Naxalite? They are all sitting in the parliament and in our secretariats.

  Read On:- P.B.D’Sa


“Bringing  on the army against the Naxals will be a disaster ‘

EN Rammohan, formar Director General of the BSF, has fought insurgencies in Kashmir and the North east. Recently, Home Minister P Chidambaram picked him to people the Dantewada massacre of CRPF jawans by Naxals. Yet, crucially, in a forthnight interview with SHOMA CHAUDHURY, he says the Centre’s strategy for fighting Naxals is a recipe for civil war

After the train tragedy in Bengal, there is renewed talk of bringing on the army and air force in the fight against the Maoists. What is your view on this?

I think it would be a terrible mistake. The more you try to deal with this issue through military options, the more it will spread and grow in strength.

You were asked by the Home Ministry to investgate the recent Moaist ambush of CRPF jawans in Dantewada. The government obviously thinks well of your judgment, track record and integrity. So how do you read the Maoist crisis facing the country today ?

I think it is first and foremost on issue of social justice. I first came across the prolem when I was posted in Hyderabad in the 1980s as DIG, CBI. My batch mate Ajay Deora was DG, Intelligence and he was struggling to control things. I am from the Assam cadre and have handled insurgencies before. I was in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, which was set up with the objective of fighting behind enemy lines, so we have all been trained in guerrilla warfare. Insurgencies are my abiding interest.

Most of the Maoist leadership comes from Andhra. Why do you think this is the case ?

From what I saw in Andhra the primary problem is land. The upper castes have been exploiting tribals and Scheduled castes [SCs] for generations. Before in dependence there was no land ceiling, so the upper castes had huge land holdings that often ran into over a 1,000 acres, while the SCs and tribals had no land, or very small holdings. Yet even these small holdings were taken over forcible by the upper castes who would buy their produce then fudge the accounts, to keep them indebted. The tribals were turned into tenant farmers who had to till the land but give 2/3rd of the produce to the upper castes. It is against this backdrop in 1946 that the CPI first started working in the Telangana areas. They would collect a group of tribals with bows and arrows, surround an upper caste granary and distribute  the grain. Then they would tell the landowner that from now on 2/3rds would go to the tillers, 1/3rd to the landowner. Of course the landowners would complain to the police who would round up the locals and arrest and best them.

The risk of a counter-action now is that our forces can go mad. They’ll seek revenge for their 76 mates killed.

After Independence, land ceiling laws were legislated but they were never implemented in Ahndhra. In 1989, when the government changed, I told my friend Deora, let’s go meet the Revenue Minister. I told the minister, you’ll never be able to solve this problem. He was very unhappy with the way I spoke and said, why not? I told him if you want to stub out this movement, impose land ceiling. He said, that’s impossible, we can never do that. He gave the example of Sudhakar Rao, one of his colleagues from Adilabad. That fellow has got 1,100 acres, he said, and he won’t be willing to part with even one.

So the caste structure in Andhra Pradesh is such. There are many police stations even today where a Scheduled Caste will not dare to file an FIR – it just won’t be registered or investigated. Then of course, the women were being misused. Labourers on a farm had to offer their bride on the first night to the land lord. This is reflected even in the folk songs of the Adivasis. There is no hope for women in this country, they sing. So unless these wrongs are righted, how are you expecting a solution to this problem ? there can be no military solution to this problem.

The media has gone hoarse speaking of them as terrorists. Are you comfortable with this  description ?

You see everyone talks about the  Naxalites but very few people understand there are two parts to this. There are the Adivasis and Scheduled Castes at the lowest strata. Then there are the leaders from the CPI, CPI Marxist-Leninist and now CPI-Maoist. These are all communists and 99 percent of them are upper caste. But because of their political philosophy they have no caste and are lending a hand to the poor. Now they have a political agenda and their objective is to come to power in this country.  I don’t want to live in a Maoist State but if we continue with our current arrogance, that’s exactly what will happen. There will be great upheaval in society. Go to communist countries like Russia or China. If you look at all the top class people there now-men like Kruschev – you’ll see everyone in power today were all peasants once, and the upper class people have all disappeared somewhere. In India also, there will be a completer upheaval in society. So I don’t see why we  are so hesitant to rectify our course and address issues of social justice.

You have spoken of Andhra. How do you read Chhattisgarh?

In Chhattisgarh, it’s mostly to do with rights over forests. The Adivasis have been pushed into the forests over thousands of years by caste domination, and are now almost entirely confined to it. They have  no land and can only collect forest produce. But they still have to sell it and when they come out of the forest to the market place, they have to find a buyer. And who’s the buyer ? the Vaishya trader. At the root of this trouble, I say is this trio-the wily Brahmin, the arrogant Kshatriya, the avaricious Vaishya. Chidambaram, incidentally, is a Vaishya. These  three social groups have been trampling on these people for centuries, so why blame them if the CPI has lent a hand? They help the poor by inspecting the Vaishya’s  books and ensuring tribals get a correct price. You should investigate the tendu leaf trade- I am told the money from that reaches politicians in Delhi, while the poor man who picks the leaf gets nothing.

The point is, in any insurgency, people take to guns because they feel they have no choice. In this case, the tribals are being taught by the Maoists to fight for their rights. And in Marxist teaching, guerrilla warfare is one of the subjects. All these escalating incidents, the ambushes etc, is designed to get hold of weapons. But the risk of a counter-action now is that our forces can go berserk. They will say we’ve lost 76 people and they will just shoot anyone, they’ll kill  everybody, even innocent people, unless there is a very strong leadership to keep them in control. And I am afraid that leadership does not exist. This is some thing the government must understand. So what do you see as solution ? and  what do you think is holding up those solutions ?

There are two acts pending in Parliament one is to do with land acquisition, the other is to do with forest rights. But the interesting thing is, minerals have been found in these forests and for the party in power; this is a big bonanza. If you sign a MOU worth millions of dollars for excavating minerals, a percentage of it will go to your Swiss Bank account. The poor man in the  forest is conveniently forgotten. In Bihar, the Bhumihars openly say,”Hamare patte hum billi aur kutte ke naam pe lagate hain [We list our land titles in the names of our cats and dogs)”, how long can such a situation continue without protest? And you say you want to bring in the army? Why don’t you look inwards and rectify this? If the government has any sense in its head, it will, otherwise it will be a terrible situation. It will be a disaster.

TEHELKA has doggedly tracked stories of atrocities by the police and paramilitary. Rapes, killings, beatings, stealing of hens and goats.  if one  raises these issues with the government, they see it as a betrayal, as “in-tellectual support” for the Maoists. What is your view of the conduct of the SPOs , police and paramilitary?

The salwa Judum was the government’s creation and it has compounded the situation badly. What the landlords were doing earlier, the police and SPOs are doing now. So is the   CRPF. I believe counter- insurgencies must be fought legally. This is something most people don’t talk of. But the bible on frightening counter- insurgencies, Robert Thompson’s  Defeating Communist Insurgencies starts with one line  : a counter insurgency must be scrupulously legal. I was lucky because I was trained in guerrilla warfare by instructors who were trained by people like Robert Thompson. I’ve quoted in many places and letters to the government. The quality of leadership is the most crucial thing in such conflicts. Set aside the bigger accusations of rape and killings, the Adivasis often even complain about the forces stealing their chickens and goats. This is terrible. If the company commander is good, they would not dare to do it. If ever any boys in uniform are caught doing anything wrong, they should be punished and word should go out to the villagers that such behavior will not be tolerated. That is the only way you can get the upper hand. I have worked in all these forces the CRPF, ITBP, BSF. The CRPF used to be a Law-and-order force, good at lathi charge. Now they are not even that. You must have seen what’s happening in Kashmir- they are throwing stones back at the crowd. That should never happen. Otherwise you just have two mobs on either side-one mob is in uniform., the other is not.

The main problem with the CRPF is that they are handed over to the state police when they arrive anywhere, and the SHO uses them for clearing a crowd or for controlling a communal situation. This business of handling them to police has bereft them of leadership. They have functioned better in place like Mizoram and Nagaland because there they have been under army leadership which is more he training Brigadier Power is giving in the jungle warfare school that’s been set up in Kanker.

You have said bringing the army in against the Naxals will be a disaster Can you spell out the reasons why.

The first problem he army will face is that Bihar regiment has a very strong component of Adivasis. What do you think will happen when such a battalion is facing Adivasis on the other side? His home may be there, he may have relatives on the other side, his tribe could be involved. It’s a recipe for disaster. The army should never ever come in to this conflict. The point is very clear, there are root causes. The government has to address them.

In any case, who are you going to attack? Who are you going to catch? You will not find anyone there. The moment they know such an operation is going on, they will vanish in a 100 different directions. Their weapons will disappear. You will find  innocent people living there and out forces will go and shoot 30 of them and say we have shot so many Naxalites. Every child born in the area  then will become an insurgent after that. Do you believe there can be a lasting ceasefire?

I can guarantee there will not be any ceasefire- because the Maoists organizing or leading this are on the run. If they stop, it will be very difficult to start again. I don’t think they are going to give up their guns. We have to convince the cadres that the government has changed it’s policy on land and forest rights and mining.

Wean away the support base. Make Indian democracy more attractive than Maoist revolution.

Absolutely right. I think the only thing to  do now is raise these issues in every forum and force the government’s hand. If you don’t rectify the ground realities, you can’t turn this around.  The more military force you put, the bigger the crisis will be become.

Have you told the government this?

I speak openly about it at every forum I can.

The government says it wants to bring development to these regions.

It is not about  development. It is about rights. This government has to understand – how is it that land ceiling was implemented in Kerala? Why is there no Maoist movement there? You know what happened there? Under EMS Namboodiripad, the law was so strong that anyone who was a tenant farmer for 12 years, the ownership of the land passed to him without compensation to the owner. We are now in 2010, but in most parts of the country, we are behaving as though we are in 1610 or something. Do you know in Australia and the US now, they say that if any minerals or oil is found in the Reservation areas, that resource belongs to the Aborigines and Native Americans. In India also, the first that should be declared is that if minerals are found in the forest. The MOUs should be signed by all the people of that village with that company. After that the profit comes to their account. Is the government in Delhi prepared to do that ? why should they? Every MOU has a Swiss Bank account attached.

You say you don’t want to live in a Maoist State . One Cannot evade the fact that they have a highly efficient and armed wing, or that 200-odd districts are in their control. So to ask a question many people might have in their control. So to ask a question many people might have in their heads- do you think the use paramilitary or other forces has any role at all to play in containing the Maoists, even as one incorporates the issues of Justice they have raised?

Let’s take a model area . I would say put about 10 battalions in that area. Have good leaders so that the jawans don’t go and steal chickens and rape women and burn houses. When I was IG, BSF in Kashmir, I had 50 BSF battalions under me. I used to go around the city everyday, visiting one or two of the battalions by turn. Then I would talk to the local people and get feedback, especially if any of my battalions had done an operation. If the public there would tell me, “Sahib sab theek gaya, aapke tadke koi galti nahi kiya”, I’d feel things were under control. That is  leadership. My commanders knew that if they did anything wrong, they were going to get punished and punished hard. So they behaved. This is what you need-a strong IG or DG. And men highly trained in field craft. One mistake this government has been making is that it wants yes-men.

You said army leadership is better than the paramilitary, but the army’s record in handling internal insurgencies in the Northeast or Kashmir hasn’t exactly been sterling.

Yes, the army has done wrong things in the Northeast, very wrong things, I’ve worked in Nagaland, I’ve worked in Manipur. Because it is in a remote corner, people here don’t  know what’s happening there. No wonder they don’t like to be with us. But still, generally speaking, the army leadership is better because their general is not appointed by a politician. He comes on merit, on courage, on fitness, and how much he looks after his men. In the paramilitary, you get to the top by the amount of bootlicking you do. The system is different.

[read full interview on]

Writer’s Email:

I still back Naxals’ struggle: Arundhati

I still back Naxals’ struggle: Arundhati

Activist rejects ‘Gandhians with guns remark

Mumbai: To writer-turned-activist, Arundhati Roy, Naxals fight for the tribals whose habitats lay clamped by MoUs. She supports the Naxal’s reasons to fight, and doesn’t mind being sent to jail for feeling this.

“ I am on this side of line. I do not care…pick me up, put me in jail,” she said, while delivering a lecture on   Thursday, organized by the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights [CPDR] on Naxal violence here.

Yet she opposes their reliance on violence and wonders how different they will be if they come to power in the mineral rich tribal belts.

According to Booker-winner Roy, the Naxals cannot but take up arms for their struggle. “It ought to be an armed movement. Gandhian way of opposition needs an audience, which is absent here,” she said.

Roy had drawn flak for calling the Naxals ‘Gandhians with guns’ in her article in a magazine. She said: “I never called them “Gandhians with Guns’. It was a blurb carried by a magazine. What I meant was that they [Naxals] are more Gandhian than any other Gandhian in their consumption pattern… their lifestyle, which is in stark contrast to their violent means of resistance”.

To her, “while 99 per cent of Naxals are tribals, 99 per cent of tribals are not Maoists” and the Naxal violence is a corollary to the battle between the tribals and the corporate houses to gain control over natural resources. “What the government calls Maoists corridor, is in fact MoU-ist corridor. You have an MoU on every mountain, river… MoUs signed by biggest corporations in the world who are waiting to gain hold of the resources,”  she said. The profit that the companies earned from the resources, especially iron ore mining, was huge, Roy said, quoting Lokayukta’s report that says while the government earns Rs 24 per tone, the mining company gets Rs. 5,000.

“Here we have the poorest, most malnourished waging a war against the corporate supported by all the institutions of world’s biggest democracy. To a large extent, they have won in stopping the mighty corporate in their tracks,” she said, adding “If we join them, we can make them win this war.”

‘No war’ policy

Roy urged the government to declare a clear ‘no war’ policy against its own people. According to her, the media and even the people goaded the government to launch war on its own people.

Yet, despite having a fair cause and the strategy to wage a war, the Naxals lacked the revolutionary vision that Gandhian activists like Medha Patkar had. A reason why Roy is not sure what will happen to the mining industry in the tribal  region, if the Maoists come to power there. Will their leadership be able to withstand the inducement of the corporate ? she wondered.

DH News Service – Courtesy. D.H

Fight the Maoists , not with guns, but with good governance

Fight the Maoists , not with guns, but with good governance

There is unease ringing across the walls of South Block as a guerrilla force that has risen in the forested backyards of central India threatens the government. The Maoists have struck again, this time killing over 148 people in a deadly attack on a passenger train in west Bengal.

            The first shock came about two months back, when the left-wing extremists ambushed and slayed 75 CRPF  jawans in the morning light. The second one came soon after when a bus carrying both civilians and the security personnel was targeted. According to official estimates, in the last three years, Naxals have killed 474 security men and 436 civilians, taking a heavy toll on the morale of our force as well as the establishment.

Though the Centre launched an expansive security programme, called Operation Green Hunt, in November 2009, but with the latest carnages near Dantewada and Jhagram, the opposition parties’ demand for an ‘all-out offensive’ has only become louder and their criticism shriller of the UPA government’s ‘soft-stance and half-hearted approach in tackling the country’s biggest internal security challenge’.

From misguided ideologues, to rebels and lately to have become terrorists, the changing nomenclature of the Maoists is now giving ground to a fear that the government’s  two-pronged strategy might take a back seat in the loud cry for more fire power. Many of the state governments have demanded a revision in the strategy, more arms and ‘air’ support’. The main Opposition BJP has said the government should embark on a ‘fight to [the] finish’ against the extremists.

But will an increase in troops do the wonder that many hope it can achieve ? If history is to testify, a similar surge in other guerrilla wars have achieved nothing but condemnation. Even with 1,00,000 well armed troops, the Soviets could not contain the Afghan mujahideens, just as the US struggles at present in the same theatre of war.

From the latest attacks, it is clear that the government needs to intensify its fight against the Maoists, but reading it as “surge first, negotiate later from a position of strength” strategy will be a mistake. An enhancement of troops would primarily not work because there is no infrastructure on the ground to marshal it and because it is important that the locals do not view the increased security personnel as ‘enemies’, as they have been made to believe by the Naxal’s top brass.

The government clearly cannot afford to wait till the forces have fought and eliminated the last of the Maoists. The region’s jungle terrain, its rural and tribal population, poverty and illiteracy make for unique challenges, which would ultimately require a political, not military, solution.

If India is to  reclaim its fight against the Naxals, then it must draw lessons from the past failed policies of other nations such as the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. What we don’t need is an Afghan was within our own borders. The country has limited resources and far too many liabilities to indulge itself in a billion dollar war of false pride. What is needed is not a top-down approach but bottom-up  efforts that will involve the tribals and local leaders.

Crisis of confidence

Naxals were born in an environment mired by weakness of state institutions, widespread  corruption, negligence, malign action and abuse of power by various officials. And this status-quo, maintained over the years, gave the local population little reason to support the government of the day. The consequence has been a frustration with the slow development and a crisis of confidence.

And at this point Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must enter the scene of action, whose absence has been disappointing. He should come forward and address the nation announcing his government’s two-pronged strategy. The purpose of this intentional divulging of the details of military and development operations will have to be three-fold.

First, prime minister’s address will help in deeming it an urgent and important status. Second, it will help in winning back the crucial support of the locals, in turn cutting the Maoists from their points of survival. It will let the locals know that our resolve of development is certain and solid.  Third, it can result in fewer casualties on both sides as the Naxals would be aware of the government’s military strategy and would get less support from the locals.

And as the area is cleared, the government can bring along relief efforts, aid organizations, start development process. In short, provide the previous absent government services- an approach which is often referred to as the ‘unpacking of the government in a box. ‘Military’s role, on the other hand, needs to be limited only to safeguarding our development operations and road network, especially highways.

The Maoists need  to be fought because they hinder  India’s growth to become a global power in the true sense. The government has already ‘lost’ 40 per cent of its territory to Naxals, who are ramming their way through new areas, meanwhile, killing security personnel and destroying any extensions of the government.

We must fight them because their actions have far exceeded the point where they can justify the cause they pretend to champion and have captured indispensible amount of resources needed to fulfil the needs of a one billion-plus nation. But let’s not in a haste give into the political pressures as our home minister P Chidambaram seems to have when he said that he has ‘limited mandate’. Let’s not play puppets to the bad guys.

Courtesy DH -31/5/10




In the Naxal-controlled areas, officials and police fear for their lives and are unable to offer normal government services.

By S L Rao


fter the Dantewada killings, there is acrimony between the government and civil society groups. The former accuses the latter of supporting Naxalites, while the latter claim they condemn all killings. Do citizens have a right to rise against the state ?

Should the state treat rebellious citizens as enemies or people who must be persuaded by reason and corrective government action? Is the function of civil society groups to act as intermediaries between rebels and government, or to take sides?

These are not new issues. They have only grown in magnitude. Thus, in 1976 the Tamil Nadu chapter of the People’s Union of Civil Liberties was established with Cho Ramaswamy as president. ‘Naxalities’ in the very backward Dharma puri district, were leading a revolt against landlords. They sought PUCL’s help. Cho resigned because he felt that these ‘Naxalities’ were subversives, while the rest of PUCL felt that it was PUCL’s mandate to protect the rights even of those who were trying to subvert the state.

The situation today in a broad swath of India is far more serious but not very different. Naxalites are now well-or-ganised and trained, have sophisticated arms, considerable revenue from blackmail and fees charged to miners and industrialists.

They are now fighting the state and have the skills to plan and implement operations meticulously in the jungles against the Central and state police forces. They have successfully ambushed, fought and killed many policemen as well as civilians.

In the areas they control, they are the government. They settle local disputes but have done little to promote infrastructure, health and education. The tribals that the claim to support have little choice but to accept them in the face of their militant strength. Many tribal youth are attracted by and join the naxalites.

Arundhati Roy, the noted civil rights activist and superb writer, for example, argues for the state not to unleash violence against Naxalites. The passion in her words is absent in her condemnation of Naxal violence.

A path-breaking study of human development in different states of India [conducted by NCAER in 1994] and other subsequent studies, conclusively show that the worse off amongst all communities in India on every parameter are the scheduled tribes. In almost all tribal regions, the tribals are exploited by contractors, traders, mining and industrial interests, supported by compliant and venal government officials.


Their land has been taken away, their sacred groves and hills violated, their women sexually exploited, and the tribals left destitute in a society alien to them and where they have no hope of competing for survival. This exploitation continues and the Central and state governments have shown singular inability to help them.

Only the young college educated urban Naxalites appear to show active concern for the tribals’ welfare. But they have done little to improve their condition except in many places to keep the government officials out of tribal areas.

Verrier Elwin had in the 1950s successfully convinced Jawaharlal Nehru to adopt a different approach to the tribal areas of the North East. Government officials were specially trained to be respectful of tribal customs, practices and cultures, and offer to tribals, services like basic health, sanitation and potable water without interfering in their traditional ways of living.

In the naxal-controlled areas today, government officials and police fear for their lives from naxalite violence and are unable to offer normal government services. That is perhaps why the government first wants to rid the areas of naxalite violence before offering development services.

In this process  there will be much collateral damage to tribals. Police forces, never sensitive to people’s feelings, are even less sensitive to tribal feelings. This insensitivity probably creates more naxalite sympathizers among tribals.

In this  situation, the only option to mutual killings appears to be an uneasy truce that enables dialogue between government and naxalites. Asking naxalites to first lay down arms is impractical. So is requiring the government forces to first withdraw from naxal areas.

Government must develop its strategy for protecting tribal lands and cultures. Statutory protection is essential, to make tribal lands inalienable. We might learn from recent Canadian and Australian legislations for their ‘natives’.

Entry of plainsmen, especially merchants, miners, contractors, etc, should be restricted and strictly regulated as it was in the North East. A special administrative cadre might be developed to do the work of government in tribal areas. They will need training in sensitivity to tribal mores. If in the process the country is unable to exploit tribal lands for minerals we might have to forego those mineral resources.

Verrier Elwin’s proposals in his ‘Philosophy for NEFA’ of over 60 years ago should be retrieved and the present government might use it as a text on how they should deal with this most exploited section of India’s population.