Open Letter on Military Offensive in Central India

by Chris Sturr | October 20, 2009

We encourage readers of D&S and the D&S blog to consider signing the following open letter. Hat-tip to our friend Taki. —cs

Sanhati (www.sanhati.com), a collective of activists/academics who have been working in solidarity with peoples’ movements in India by providing information and analysis, took the initiative to bring together voices from around the world against the Government of India’s planned military offensive in Central India. A statement (Hindi, Bengali, and Telugu versions are available on our website) and a background note were drafted in consultation with Indian activists, and duly circulated for endorsement. Readers are encouraged to endorse the statement by e-mailing sanhatiindia [at] sanhati [dot] com with their full name and affiliation.

To:
Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister,
Government of India,
South Block, Raisina Hill,
New Delhi,
India-110 011

We are deeply concerned by the Indian government’s plans for launching an unprecedented military offensive by army and paramilitary forces in the adivasi (indigeneous people)-populated regions of Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Orissa and West Bengal states. The stated objective of the offensive is to “liberate” these areas from the influence of Maoist rebels. Such a military campaign will endanger the lives and livelihoods of millions of the poorest people living in those areas, resulting in massive displacement, destitution and human rights violation of ordinary citizens. To hunt down the poorest of Indian citizens in the name of trying to curb the shadow of an insurgency is both counter-productive and vicious. The ongoing campaigns by paramilitary forces, buttressed by anti-rebel militias, organised and funded by government agencies, have already created a civil war like situation in some parts of Chattisgarh and West Bengal, with hundreds killed and thousands displaced. The proposed armed offensive will not only aggravate the poverty, hunger, humiliation and insecurity of the adivasi people, but also spread it over a larger region.

Grinding poverty and abysmal living conditions that has been the lot of India’s adivasi population has been complemented by increasing state violence since the neoliberal turn in the policy framework of the Indian state in the early 1990s. Whatever little access the poor had to forests, land, rivers, common pastures, village tanks and other common property resources has come under increasing attack by the Indian state in the guise of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and other “development” projects related to mining, industrial development, Information Technology parks, etc. The geographical terrain, where the government’s military offensive is planned to be carried out, is very rich in natural resources like minerals, forest wealth and water, and has been the target of large scale appropriation by several corporations. The desperate resistance of the local indigenous people against their displacement and dispossession has in many cases prevented the government-backed corporations from making inroads into these areas. We fear that the government’s offensive is also an attempt to crush such popular resistances in order to facilitate the entry and operation of these corporations and to pave the way for unbridled exploitation of the natural resources and the people of these regions. It is the widening levels of disparity and the continuing problems of social deprivation and structural violence, and the state repression on the non-violent resistance of the poor and marginalized against their dispossession, which gives rise to social anger and unrest and takes the form of political violence by the poor. Instead of addressing the source of the problem, the Indian state has decided to launch a military offensive to deal with this problem: kill the poor and not the poverty, seems to be the implicit slogan of the Indian government.

We feel that it would deliver a crippling blow to Indian democracy if the government tries to subjugate its own people militarily without addressing their grievances. Even as the short-term military success of such a venture is very doubtful, enormous misery for the common people is not in doubt, as has been witnessed in the case of numerous insurgent movements in the world. We urge the Indian government to immediately withdraw the armed forces and stop all plans for carrying out such military operations that has the potential for triggering a civil war which will inflict widespread misery on the poorest and most vulnerable section of the Indian population and clear the way for the plundering of their resources by corporations. We call upon all democratic-minded people to join us in this appeal.

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The unabridged list of signatories is available at sanhati.com.

National Signatories:

Arundhati Roy, Author and Activist, India
Amit Bhaduri, Professor Emeritus, Center for Economic Studies and Planning, JNU, India
Sandeep Pandey, Social Activist, N.A.P.M., India
Manoranjan Mohanty, Durgabai Deshmukh Professor of Social Development, Council for Social Development, India
Prashant Bhushan, Supreme Court Advocate, India
Nandini Sundar, Professor of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, India
Colin Gonzalves, Supreme Court Advocate, India
Arvind Kejriwal, Social Activist, India
Arundhati Dhuru, Activist, N.A.P.M., India
Swapna Banerjee-Guha, Department of Geography, University of Mumbai, India
Anand Patwardhan, Film Maker, India
Dipankar Bhattachararya, General Secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, India
Bernard D’Mello, Associate Editor, Economic and Political Weekly (EPW), India
Sumit Sarkar, Retired Professor of History, Delhi University, India
Tanika Sarkar, Professor of History, J.N.U., India
Gautam Navlakha, Consulting Editor, Economic and Political Weekly, India
Madhu Bhaduri, Ex-ambassador
Sumanta Banerjee, Writer, India
Dr. Vandana Shiva, Philosopher, Writer, Environmental Activist, India
M.V. Ramana, Visiting Research Scholar, Program in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy; Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University, USA
Dipanjan Rai Chaudhari, Retired Professor, Presidency College, India
G. N. Saibaba, Assistant Professor, University of Delhi
Amit Bhattacharyya, Professor, Department of History. Jadavpur University, Kolkata
D.N. Jha, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Delhi, India
Paromita Vohra, Devi Pictures
Sunil Shanbag, Theater Director
Saroj Giri, Lecturer in Political Science, Delhi University, India
Sudeshna Banerjee, Department of History, Jadavpur University, India
Achin Chakraborty, Professor of Economics, Institute of Development Studies, Calcutta University Alipore, India
Anand Chakravarty, Retired Professor, Delhi University, India
Anjan Chakrabarti, Professor of Economics, Calcutta University, India
Subha Chakraborty Dasgupta, Professor, Jadavpur University, India
Uma Chakravarty, Retired Professor, Delhi University, India
Kunal Chattopadhyay, Professor of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University, India
Amiya Dev, Emiritus Professor of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University, India
Subhash Gatade, Writer and Social Activisit, India
Abhijit Guha, Vidyasagar University, India
Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA, India
Gauri Lankesh, Editor, Lankesh Patrike, India
Pulin B. Nayak, Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University, India
Imrana Qadeer, Retired Professor, Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, J.N.U., India
Neshant Quaiser, Associate Professor, Jamia Millia Islamia, Central University, Department of Sociology, India
R
amdas Rao, President, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Bangalore Unit, India
Shereen Ratnagar, Retired Professor, Center for Historical Studies, JNU, India
Rahul Varman, Professor, Department of Industrial and Management Engineering, IIT Kanpur, India
Padma Velaskar, Professor, Center for Studies in the Sociology of Education, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India

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International Signatories:

Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, M.I.T., USA
David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, The C.U.N.Y. Graduate Center, USA
Michael Lebowitz, Director, Program in Transformative Practice and Human Development, Centro Internacional Mirana, Venezuela
John Bellamy Foster, Editor of Monthly Review and Professor of Sociology,University of Oregon Eugene,USA
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Professor and Director of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, Columbia University, USA
James C. Scott, Sterling Professor of Political Science, Yale University, USA
Michael Watts, Professor of Geography and Development Studies, University of California Berkeley, USA
Mahmood Mamdani, Herbert Lehman Professor of Government, Departments of Anthropoogy and Political Science, Columbia University, USA
Mira Nair, Filmmaker, Mirabai Films, USA
Howard Zinn, Historian, Playwright, and Social Activisit, USA
Abha Sur, Women’s Studies, M.I.T., USA
Richard Peet, Professor of Geography, Clark University, USA
Richard Levins, John Rock Professor of Population Sciences, Harvard University, USA
Gilbert Achcar, Professor of Development Studies and International Relations, School of African and Oriental Studies, University of London, U.K
Massimo De Angelis, Professor of Political Economy, University of East London, UK
Gyanendra Pandey, Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of History, Emory University, USA
Brian Stross, Professor of Anthropology, University of Texas Austin, USA
J. Mohan Rao, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, USA
Vinay Lal, Professor of History & Asian American Studies, University of California Los Angeles, USA
James Crotty, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA
Haluk Gerger, Political Scientist, Activist, Political Prisoner, Turkey
Justin Podur, Journalist, Canada
Hari Kunzru, Novelist, U.K.
Louis Proyect, Columbia University
Biju Mathew, Associate Professor, Rider University, USA
Balmurli Natrajan, Campaign to Stop Funding Hate and South Asia Solidarity Initiative, USA
Harsh Kapoor, South Asia Citizens Web
Kim Berry, Professor of Women’s Studies, Humboldt State University, USA
Shefali Chandra, Professor of South Asian History, Washington University at St Louis, USA
Angana Chatterji, Professor, California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, USA
Stan Cox, Senior Scientist, The Land Institute, USA
Martin Doornbos, Professor Emeritus, International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University, Netherlands
Robert A Hueckstedt, Professor, University of Virginia, USA
Louis Kampf, Professor of Literature Emeritus, MIT, USA
Emily Kawano, Director, Center for Popular Economics, USA
Arthur MacEwan, Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Massachusetts Boston, USA
Bill Martin, Professor of Philosophy, DePaul University, USA
Ali Mir, Professor, William Paterson University, USA
Anuradha Dingwaney Needham, Longman Professor of English, Oberlin College, USA
Kavita Philip, Associate Professor, University of California, Irvine, USA
Nicholas De Genova, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Latino Studies, Columbia University, USA
Peter Custers, Academic researcher on militarisation, Netherlands
Radha D’Souza, School of Law, University of Westminster , UK
Chris Sturr, co-editor, Dollars & Sense magazine, Boston, USA

1 comment

One Comment

  1. This is falsehood no military offensive is in the offing, the Indian Army is not even requisioned let alone deployed. The initiative by the Government of India is to safegaurd the life of innocent people who have been mercilessly being killed by these maoist terrorists who are nothing but criminal psycopaths. Fights can be done by non -violent means Mahatama Gandhi has already shown the way

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