Every act of armed violence by CPI (Maoist) cadres or State forces leads to death or mutilation of fellow citizens and raises the levels of violence. NAPM unequivocally condemns this. The alleged sabotage of the Mumbai-bound Gyaneshwari Express in Jhargram by CPI (Maoist) resulting in death of more than 148 people and causing grievous injuries to many unconnected with the conflict cannot be justified. The politics of blame and counter blame post attack is extremely unfortunate and shows the bankruptcy and opportunism of the political actors concerned. For the CPI (Maoist) the violence is part of tactic towards setting up a revolutionary state and those (civilians or non-civilians) killed in Dantewada on May 17, April 6 or every other day in different parts of the country as mere ‘collateral damage’ but for us it means violence and killing shrouded in a political language desperately trying to seek legitimacy and respect from other democratic forces struggling for livelihood, peace and dignity for the millions in this country.
The actions of state and central governments in up-scaling anti-naxal operations is further escalating the cycle of violence. Violence begets violence. These operations have compounded the on-going systemic and structural economic violence of dispossession and displacement in the name of development, which is driving people to desperation, forcing them to seek solutions to problems in an extra-democratic framework. We have witnessed similar situations in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, North East states of India and elsewhere, where the State has shown no regard for the democratic norms and institutions of the country and the desires of the people to be part of governance and inclusive development which can ensure their dignity and prosperity. We continue to witness similar situations today in Narmada valley, Kalinganagar, Jagatsinghpur, Jaitapur, Mahuva and various other places where efforts of communities to defend their land, rivers and forests for their survival are constantly met by police repression and harassments from every organ of the administration. The State appears to be using the law as a tool to serve the interests of predatory and profit hungry corporations in the name of public good and economic growth.
Gandhiji extended the concept of non-violence from the physical to the economic and political spheres. NAPM also believes that violence – social, economic, environmental, political, physical – is wrong and counter-productive. The efforts of the government at muzzling any dissent towards its policies and those speaking against violence and in favour of peaceful negotiations will further alienate it from the people and erode its political legitimacy. In social movements against social or physical violence or atrocities against dalits or women, attacks on religious communities, child-exploitation, etc., human rights activists and intellectuals draw their strength from constitutionally guaranteed rights of freedom of speech and expression, and freedom to form association under Article 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(c) respectively. They are merely performing their fundamental duties under Article 51A(e) to promote harmony and Article 51A(i) to abjure violence. Efforts by any party or segment to brand such a pro-peace approach as pro-Maoist or by the CPI (Maoist) to consider it as collaboration with government, is extremely unfortunate.
In view of the foregoing, we urge that :
1. Government of India and CPI (Maoist) immediately negotiate a ceasefire and come for peaceful and honest talks without pre-conditions, along with other social and political actors struggling to defend the rights, dignity and livelihood of the adivasis, dalits and women workers, farmers, fisher folk and others.
2. CPI (Maoist) join the peaceful political process to carry forward their agenda of revolutionary change like other Left Groups in the country and as they have already done in Nepal.
3. Government of India immediately withdraws para-military and military forces, and State Police executes “holding operations” while state governments use the political tools of consultation and consensus to ameliorate the degraded social and economic status of tribal people.
4. Government of India and other state governments ensure formulation of the policies in line with the Constitution of India which declares it to be a socialist and secular republic and engages in political dialogue wherever communities protest the unjust policies or projects in the name of development and public interest.
We believe that there can be no real or lasting development without honest consideration of social and economic justice, human rights and peace. We continue to raise our voice for the millions of our fellow countrymen and struggle in pursuit of their right to livelihood with dignity but also for peace and freedom, and true democracy as means to the end. Any acts of violence in any form, either by the State or non-state actors is completely intolerable and we unequivocally condemn it.
We are in favour of justice and peace !
Aruna Roy, Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey, Maj Gen (Retd) S.G.Vombatkere,
Arundhati Dhuru, Anand Mazgaonkar, P Chennaiah, B Ramakrishna Raju,
Vimal Bhai, Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar