Skip to main content

Don't conduct aerial attacks in Chhattisgarh, other Adivasi areas: Civil rights groups

Counterview Desk 

Thirty top civil rights groups, under the banner National Campaign to Defend Democracy (NCDD) have asked the Government of India and the Chhattisgarh government to explain the existence of craters and bomb remnants in the forests of Sukma and Bijapur,  citing ground reports of loud noises and flashes of fire from the forest in mid-April.
Alleging these appeared to be “aerial attacks, with drones or other platforms, in these areas”, a statement issued by NCDD, endorsed among others by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (V Suresh), National Federation of Indian Women, (Annie Raja), Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan (Bela Bhatia), National Alliance of People’s Movements, (Arundhuti Dhuru, Meera Sanghamitra), All India Progressive Women’s Association (Kavita Krishnan), People’s Union For Democratic Rights (Deepika Tandon, Shahana Chatterji) and New Trade Union Initiative (Gautam Modi), wonders under which law such bombardment was done.
Pointing out that “India is bound by customary international law prohibiting the indiscriminate use of ordnance”, the statement says, “if the government is claiming the aerial raid reports are Maoist propaganda, why does it not order an independent investigation or issue a white paper on this?”
Demanding that the governments at the Centre and the state not to conduct any aerial attacks in Chhattisgarh or any other Adivasi areas, it insists on the need to “engage in dialogue with villagers protesting against security camps, fake encounters, and mass arrests.”

Text:

We are extremely concerned about news reports that allege aerial attacks by indeterminate platforms on the intervening night of 14-15 April 2022, in the villages of Bijapur and Sukma districts including, interalia Bottetong and Mettagudem (Usoor block), Duled, Sakler, Pottemangi (Konta block).
Photos from the ground by reporters from Bottetong village, Mettaguda and other places show remnants of ordnance explosives and craters in the jungles, as well as forest cover destroyed. They quote villagers as saying that there were loud noises and flashes of fire from the forest.
It must be noted that the forests are not “uninhabited”. This is peak mahua collecting season when villagers, especially women and children, wake up early (3 am) to collect mahua before it becomes hot during the day. People are constantly going into the forests to collect non-timber forest products, graze their cattle, perform routine ablutions and so on. Given the extensive access to the forest by civilians, aerial attacks on forests amount to direct hostilities against civilians.
The police deny the use of drones to carry out the alleged bombing. However, they still need to explain the existence of craters and remnants of wires and other ordnance material in the forest. It is important that the authorities clarify the type of ammunition used and the reasons for this type of raid.
It may be recalled that in 2010 the then Air Chief Marshal had said “the military are not trained for limited lethality. The weapons we have are meant for the enemy across the border. Therefore, I am not in favour of use of air force in situations like the Naxal problem (The Hindu, 7 April 2010).”
Ironically, now the same appears to have happened, though it may not involve the Air Force per se. The dangers of innocent Adivasis falling prey to the use of lethal ammunition and sophisticated attacks cannot be explained as "collateral" damage. Such actions potentially targeting civilians need to be stopped immediately.

This incident raises the following questions:

  • Under what law are the Centre and State allegedly carrying out aerial attacks, with drones or other platforms, in these areas?
  • If there is evidence of air-dropped lethal ammunition, the Government can no longer deny that what is happening in Chhattisgarh is a ‘non-international armed conflict’ and not a mere ‘law and order’ problem. Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions which India has ratified prohibits inhumane treatment of civilians. Further, India must sign on to Additional Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions which enhance civilian protection. In any case, India is bound by customary international law prohibiting the indiscriminate use of ordnance.
  • If the Government is claiming the aerial raid reports are Maoist propaganda, why does it not order an independent investigation or issue a white paper on this?
We demand that the Governments at Centre and State:
  • Do not conduct any aerial attacks in Chhattisgarh or any other Adivasi area.
  • Engage in dialogue with villagers protesting against security camps, fake encounters, and mass arrests.
  • Address human rights violations by security forces. Despite clear-cut findings by more than one Judicial Enquiry, CBI, NHRC and the Supreme Court that there have been grave violations of human rights in Chhattisgarh by the security forces, no action has been taken against them. To begin with, the Government must provide justice to the innocent victims of mass killings by security forces in Sarkeguda and Edesmetta and to the victims of mass arson, rape and killing in Tadmetla, Timapuram and Morpalli. The cases of murder, sexual assault and rape by security forces that have been brought to the notice of the NHRC and Courts must be prosecuted.
  • Stop militarizing Bastar with additional battalions and security camps.
  • Disband the DRG (District Reserve Group) as directed by the Supreme Court in 2011 which banned the use of SPOs (Special Police Officers) and surrendered Naxalites in counterinsurgency operations against Maoists, under any name.
  • Engage in peace talks with the CPI (Maoist).

Comments

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen