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'Rampant' militarisation, 'fake' encounters continue in Adivasi areas, notes Delhi meet

By Our Representative

A civil rights network Forum Against Corporatization and Militarization (FACAM)-sponsored Adivasi Adhikar Sabha in Delhi has taken strong exception to the use of drones for aerial bombing since 2021, especially in Adivasi areas. Held on 23rd March 2024, the Bhagat Singh-Rajguru-Sukhdev’s martyrdom day, a monthly newsletter, ‘Kaar: Chronicle of the Indian State's War on People’, was released on the occasion in order to raise awareness regarding “corporate loot of natural resources” in Adivasi areas.
Stating that the drones were being used “for snooping on Adivasi women bathing, fake encounter killings in the name of killing Maoists, village burnings and rapes”, a FACAM release claimed, hundreds of paramilitary camps are being set up in villages “as carpet security”, especially in areas where “mining operations are to begin”.
The Sabha, whose participants included senior academics and leaders of people’s groups from several states, saw well-known activist and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member Soni Sori tell the audience via phone call about “harrowing events” of a recent fake encounter of Adivasi peasant Madkam Lacchu and rape of Lakhe Mandavi, an Adivasi woman, at the hands of the police in Gampur, Dantewada, district just three days prior to the event. Knife wounds were found on woman’s private parts during a fact-finding mission, she added.
“The discussion centred around how the imperialist and big corporate model of development, which leads to building of highways, mines, etc. through rampant militarization, has led to massive displacement of Adivasi peasants from their lands, their forests, which eventually leads to the erosion of their culture”, the FACAM release said.
Among the demands put forward at the included mandatory implementation Gram Sabhas under the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) while acquiring land for corporate purposes; scrapping “undemocratic and anti-people amendments in Forest Conservation Act, 1980”; and stopping the forceful grabbing of Adivasi lands and displacement of Adivasi peasants.
Insisting on stopping “massive militarization of mineral-rich regions through hundreds of paramilitary camps in a bid to intensify corporate loot via carpet security”, the Sabha demanded that the state authorities stop “genocide of Adivasi peasants in the form of fake encounters, aerial bombings, bogus arrests, forced fake surrenders, sexual violence etc.”; and stop targeting of democratic progressive organisations and individuals in the name of conspiracy theories such as "urban Naxals" and "Naxalism of the pen.”
Participants at the event included academics Dr Saroj Giri, Dr. Jitendra Meena, Dr. Nandita Narain, Prof Ratan Lal, all from Delhi University, apart from Adivasi leaders and activists belonging to organisations which are part of FACAM.

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