Thursday, March 11, 2010

Intellectuals and civil society up in arms over Green Hunt in Jharkhand

RANCHI: People's Committee against Operation Green Hunt a newly formed group comprising intelligentsia and members of the Jharkhand civil society is up in arms over the anti-Maoist offensive that has been launched in the state.

In fact, the committee members have questioned why the operation has targeted those districts that boast of huge mineral reserves. "We have been repeatedly saying that the offensive against the Maoists, no matter by what name it is referred to, aims at suppressing people's movement in mineral-rich districts and curb voices that are being raised against displacement," said Tridib Ghosh, convener of the committee.

Accusing the government of being a puppet in the hands of multi-national companies, Ghosh said by terrorizing innocent villagers, a free passage is being provided to the MNCs so that they can carry out their mining projects with ease.

The police operation against the Maoists began in Latehar, which is known for its bauxite reserves. On top of that, a Hindalco project is pending there. The operations began next in Giridih and Bokaro, where there are rich reserves of coal.

A joint police operation against the Maoists was launched for the first time in this part of the country in East and West Singhbhum districts bordering West Bengal. These two are known for the best quality iron ore reserves. In fact, Chiriya, Gua, Meghatuburu, Kiriburu and Ghatkuri are some of the best known iron ore mines in Asia.

Highlighting these facts, People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) state general secretary Shashi Bhushan Pathak said the Maoist problem is not specific to these districts, where the operation is being carried out. "Maoism in Jharkhand has roots in the Palamu division of erstwhile Bihar, which includes Medninagar and Garhwa districts where no offensive has been launched yet," he said.

Pathak stressed that these districts as well as the adjoining ones of neighbouring Bihar have no mineral reserves which makes them unattractive for the Centre to push in forces and crush mass movements. Joining the movement against Operation Green Hunt, other activists have started raising their voice to limit the use of firearms and initiate dialogue.

Ghosh said efforts were on broaden the base of protest so that the war against one's own people is restrained and no harm is caused to the innocent villagers in course of the operation.

"Prevention of Terrorism Act or POTA was one such operation of the Jharkhand government which, though aimed at curbing Maoists, was actually used against people, who refused forceful evacuation from their landed property or somehow irked the police," Ghosh said recalling that several hundred cases were later recalled because of this shortcoming. (Times of India, 11th March)

No comments: