Fourth drone attack in three years, mockery of democracy in Bastar
The adivasi villagers of Bastar have once again made themselves heard against the aerial bombings or drone attacks in their villages. As reported by media, Villagers of Bijapur have alleged drone attacks on their villages on 7thApril 2023. It is reported that villages, namely, Jabbagatta, Meenagatta, Kavargatta and Bhattiguda were bombed using drones. According to the villagers, the bombing started at 6 am at Morkemetta hills that lies in the above mentioned villages. After that, multiple bombs were dropped in the fields of these villages, followed by heavy machine gun fire from 3 helicopters. The number of bombs dropped have not been ascertained and no casualty has been reported, however, various villagers have sustained injuries while attempting to escape the wrath unleashed from above. Kalmu, a villager from Jabbagatta Village was out in the fields to Collect Mahua when the bombing started. He has sustained injuries on his head and ear as he fell while running towards his house, amid bombing and heavy gun fire.
This is not the first time that such allegations of aerial attacks have been made by the villagers. In February 2023, Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO) Fact-Finding team was stopped from entering the villages of Usoor Block of Bijapur to probe into the allegations of aerial bombing in those villages on 11th January 2023. CDRO made a second and successful attempt at visiting those villages to conduct the inquiry in March 2023. It visited Mettuguda, Bottethong and Errapalli villages of Usoor block of Bijapur district and visited the sites of aerial bombings. Based on the testimonies of the villagers and evidences, it ascertained that 9 bombs were dropped using multiple drones, followed by intense firing from 2 helicopters. Such findings hardly leave any space for doubt regarding the allegations of aerial bombings by villagers of Bastar. Similar allegation of aerial bombing has been made by villagers in 2021 and 2022. On 19th of April, 2021, at least 12 bombs were dropped on Adivasi hamlets in between Botalanka and Palagudem villages of Bijapur District. Similarly, in the intervening night of 14-15th April 2022, villages namely Bottethong, Mettagudem, Duled, Sakler, and Pottemangi of Bijapur and Sukma districts were bombed using drones. The fact that an eminent rights organisation such as CDRO was stopped from conducting a probe and that it laterconfirmed the allegations to be true, is a clear indication of the aerial war being waged by the Indian state in Bastar.
This is the fourth time that such drone attack has happened in 3 years. These attacks create an ever looming threat of destruction of life and hampers the mere existence of adivasis as human beings. It is pertinent to mention that various international laws prohibit use of aerial attacks in internal conflicts or in areas inhabited by civilians. However, the Indian State, with Brahmanical Fascist RSS-BJP at its helm, is hell bent on unleashing an all out war on the people of the country, in a bid to facilitate corporate loot of the rich mineral resources found in those regions by foreign MNCs and Big corporates. It is to this end, the unholy alliance of state-corporate has brought an extension to infamous Operation Green-Huntin the form of Operation SAMADHAN-Prahar, to procure drones and weapons, build carpet security for mining companies in the form of dozens of Paramilitary camps, and has turned security forces into private militia for the corporates and private militias like Salwa Judum into security forces in the name of District Reserve Guards and Bastar Fighters. It is an undeclared civil war unleashed on the people, to plunder the resources in the interest of foreign capital. The opposition is silent, the Judiciary is silent, media is silent and the war rages on. Amid all the drone attacks,paramilitary camps, and the deafening silence around it; it’s a mockery of democracy that hardly seems to exist.
Forum Against Corporatization and Militarization condemns in harshest tone, the rampant drone attacks on the people of the country and blatant disregard to life of the people. It calls upon all the democratic and progressive forces in India and Abroad to strongly oppose this war unleashed on our people and demand an end to Operation SAMADHAN-Prahar.
- Immediately stop all kinds of aerial attack from drones or helicopters in Bastar or elsewhere in the country.
- Supreme Court and NHRC should initiate an independent probe into the matter by a team of democratic and human rights activists, headed by a retired Supreme Court judge.
- The government must engage in talks with Moolwasi Bachao Manch that is leading the ongoing democratic movements against aerial bombings, camps, roads, and fake encounters.
- Immediately stop Operation SAMADHAN-Prahar.
FORUM AGAINST CORPORATIZATION AND MILITARIZATION (FACAM), NEW DELHI