Are you aware that the Indian government has once again bombed its citizens?
On 7th April 2023, the Indian government dropped bombs aerially with the help of drones on the Adivasis of Bhattum, Kavurugatta, Meenagatta and Jabbagatta villages of Bastar district, Chhattisgarh.
Adivasis were busy collecting Mahua leaves for living when the bombing started from 6 am onwards. After the bombing, Indian armed forces fired from three helicopters of the Air Force aiming at the Adivasis. Crops, forest and their habitat were destroyed and while running in panic, many got injured in the stampede.
This is the fourth bombing since 2021 and the second bombing in 2023. The first bombing was on 19 April 2021 and the second was on 15 April 2022. The third was on 11th Jan 2023 in which CRPF, Greyhound and CoBRA commandos along with the District Reserve Guard targeted and bombed the villages along the Telangana- Chhatisgarh-Orissa border. People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army member of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), Pottam Hungi was martyred in this attack.
It’s with the help of the US intelligence operatives of the NSA that the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) in India was set up and it’s from NTRO that Indian Air Force personnel direct these drone attacks. These attacks are part of the Indian government’s long-term project called Operation Samadhan-Prahar in which weapons, technical and monetary help along with ideological warfare against communists are given by Israel, the US and the UK. The attack on 7th April 2023 took place after Amit Shah visited Bastar last month and vowed to eliminate resistance. On January 2023, Amit Shah said that the government’s effort is to make the country free of Maoism before the upcoming 2024 parliamentary polls. He also said that the fight against the Maoist movement is in its final phase during a speech on March 2023 in Bastar. Meanwhile, RSS and other Hindutva organisations have said that India will be announced as Hindu Rashtra by 2025. It has become evident through the marking of the need to finish Maoists before the announcement of Hindu Rashtra that Adivasis and Maoists pose a major threat to Sangh Parivar’s Nazi model country. While many activists protest when the US bombs other countries, they are silent when the Indian government bombs within the country.
Why are drone attacks launched by the state or what is Operation Samadhan-Prahar for?
Earlier exploiters were in the form of British colonisers, now it’s multiple neo-colonisers who are carrying out the imperialist loot of natural resources and labour of people with the help of their compradors. Comprador bourgeoisie like Adani, Birla, Vedanta, TATA and Jindal are paying the comprador bureaucrats at both the State and Central government levels to help them with the looting of minerals present in the areas inhabited by Adivasis. Some exploitations are mentioned below.
Adani is exploiting Hasdeo Aranya and Dantewada for Coal and Iron ore. Aditya Birla, L&T, Utkal Alumina are exploiting Rayagada/Kashipur, Odisha for Bauxite, Vedanta for Bauxite in Lanjigarh, Niyamgiri, Odisha, TATA steel for Iron ore in Jajpur, Kalinganagar, Odisha and JSW Utkal Steel in Dhinkia village, Jagatsinghpur for Iron.
These institutionalised robberies by corporates through mining are always met with stiff resistance from the Adivasis and their gram sabhas as it violates the PESA Act. Rallies, dharnas and other forms of peaceful protests are always met with brute force. The killing of 14 Adivasis in police firing on 2 January 2006 when Adivasis protested against boundary construction at the Tata Steel Kalinga Nagar plant, Odisha is one instance. As the resistance from the people grows, the government will set up more paramilitary camps in those areas to wipe out defiance. No discussions or gramasabhas were held with Adivasis before setting up camps or mining.
“We will die but won’t give away our lands, remove police camps from Bastar, stop massacres in Bastar, stop drone attacks in forests, justice for Sarkeguda-Edesmetta Martyrs, neither Lok Sabha nor Vibha Sabha, supreme is the Gram Sabha”. These slogans were raised by Adivasis of Bastar who are leading the movement against the establishment of a military camp in Silger village, Sukma district, Chhattisgarh. The armed forces turn the habitat of Adivasis including their land, forest and water bodies into a jail or concentration camp where the life expectancy of Adivasis is at the mercy of corporates. Though the primary source for funding the government forces is public tax, in reality, Indian armed forces have become the private armies of corporates.
Few recent instances of police-paramilitary violence after the establishment of camps are mentioned below.
- On 17 May 2021, 4 adivasis were killed by CRPF for protesting against the setting up of a CRPF camp on a 10-acre agricultural field in Silger, Bastar.
- On 22 May 2021, an Adivasi youth was shot dead by CRPF for collecting mangoes near the CRPF camp in Silger.
- On 14 January 2022, the villagers were physically attacked ruthlessly by 500-member paramilitary and state police after they protested against the encroachment. The rampage resulted in 17 arrests and injured 100s including women, children and old aged people.
It is not only government forces who are deployed against Adivasis, but also private militia organised by feudal landlords and corporates. The infamous Salwa Judum militia which burned houses, and murdered and raped Adivasis was started by Congress leader Mahendra Karma in Chhattisgarh. They were funded by TATA and trained by government forces to protect the interests of TATA and other corporates.
When existence is questioned by the Brahmanic state and Imperialism, people organise and resist militantly. The institutionalised extra-judicial murders carried out with impunity from the so-called democratic pillars steal the “right to life” of Adivasis. This motivates them to follow the armed path of historical Adivasi leader, Birsa Munda. In India, CPI (Maoist) is declared the biggest internal threat to the ruling class and state. To defame the movement of people, the state unleashes fake news and propaganda through the media. The schools are occupied by security forces as shelters and when Adivasis resist these occupations, the state publishes news as, “Maoists attack schools”.
Two encounters that were initially presented as genuine and the dead Adivasis as Maoists by the Indian government but were later found as fake encounters through judicial investigation, are mentioned below.
- On 17 May 2013, 8 Adivasis including 4 minors were killed by commandos of Commando Battalion for Resolute Action in Edesmetta Village, Chattisgarh.
- Between 28-29 June 2012, 17 adivasis including 6 minors were killed in Sarkeguda, Chattisgarh by security forces.
These murders are to scare the Adivasi community away from their place. Same modus operandi was used in the Muslim tribal girl, Asifa’s rape and murder by Hindutva terrorists to drive her community away from Kathua. Another intention is to defame the movement and distance the masses from the Maoists by blaming Maoists for murdering Adivasis. Chhatisgarh-based Gandhian, Himanshu Kumar was penalised five lakhs by Supreme Court along with dismissing the petition filed by him and 12 Adivasi villagers in 2009 that demanded an independent probe into the extra-judicial killings of Adivasis in Gompad, Chattisgarh. In Gompad Massacre, 16 Adivasis belonging to the villages of Belpocha, Nulkatong, Gompad and Gachanpalli were murdered by Indian armed forces and Salwa Judum militia between 17 September 2009 and 1 October 2009. The fingers of a 2-year-old baby were also chopped off by the state mercenaries in Gompad after raping and killing his mother. Without any investigation, the Supreme Court concluded that it was Maoists who killed the Adivasis based on the version of the state despite relatives of victims, villagers, human rights organisations, and social activists saying that the massacre was committed by the government, not by Maoists.
On September 2022, Narendra Modi has said, Urban Naxals still exist and it is not right to collude with nature to oppose development. Modi’s model of development is exposed by various reports and movements. The government also attempts to deceive a large section of society by making them believe the so-called called model of development for Adivasis. In 2016, Narendra Modi introduced Road Connectivity Project in Left Wing Extremism Affected Areas (RCPLWEA). In reality, these roads are exclusively constructed for corporate companies to move their vehicles, transport their mining machinery and for patrolling. These roads are not built in interests of the people and are sponsored by corporates and protected by security forces. The military vehicles provided by TATA are meant to protect the corporates.
The report, “Development Challenges in Extremist Affected Areas- Report of an Expert Group to Planning Commission”, says that military suppression cannot finish the resistance of Adivasis and Maoists. It also mentions and refers that the people support the Maoists because of the exploitation by the Indian state including displacement and looting of resources by corporates. This is where and why people are forced to engage in the war to protect themselves against the government which takes oath from the Constitution on one hand and murders its citizens on the other side. The war by the Indian state is not only against the ten crores forty lakh Adivasi population but against the entire country for a handful of corporates who serve the interests of Imperialism.
The crisis faced by imperialists has fuelled the Indian state to unleash fascist moves against dissenters and rampantly use the draconian Indian version of the Rowlatt Act, UA(P)A against them. The arrests of students, lawyers, cultural activists, academics, journalists, trade unionists and human rights defenders, and the ban on organisations are also strategies of this operation Samadhan Prahar which is an extension and advanced form of Operation Green Hunt. Fake encounters, tortures, sexual violence, rape, and enforced disappearances are also tactics to create an atmosphere of fear psychosis among the dissenters. The murder of Fr. Stan Swamy who fought for Adivasis and against their displacement, the jailing of Prof GN Saibaba for protesting against corporatisation and militarization and the incarceration of Adivasi woman Hidma Marke for leading the protest against Adani’s Bailadila iron-ore mine in Chhattisgarh should be read along with Operation Samadhan Prahar. But the government justifies combing operations, arrests, and attacks as military actions against left-wing extremism. In reality, it indirectly means that corporates can only rob natural wealth and displace (cultural/social/economical genocide) the Adivasis after silencing democratic voices, finishing CPI (Maoist) and flushing out their armed class war. So, in short the operation by the Brahmanic Hindutva Indian state in favor of Imperialism is named Samadhan Prahar.
Rejaz M Sydeek is a member of the Democratic Students Association- DSA, Kerala and a postgraduate alumnus of the Central University of Kerala.