ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Wages of Counter-Insurgency

ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL WEEKLY Wages of Counter-Insurgency The killing of 26 tribal persons in a landmine explosion on February 28 near Eklagoda village in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, when they were returning from an anti-Maoist meeting organised by the Salwa Judum was abominable. Why target tribals for attending Salwa Judum meetings, when the Maoists know that most of them have no choice in the matter? Such killings are sure to erode the moral authority of the Maoists among the tribal community, which is their mass base in the district. While we abhor such acts, there is a need to reflect over the root causes of the upsurge in political violence in Dantewada district from June last year. The task is made more difficult, for sources of independent reporting have been sought to be muzzled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Chhattisgarh government. Independent local journalists have been harassed, and now, the Chhattisgarh Public Safety Bill, 2005, which has gone for presidential assent, will, if approved, throttle the freedom of speech and expression in the state. It was the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government that strongly advocated the creation and promotion of

WEEKLYECONOMIC AND POLITICAL

T he killing of 26 tribal persons in a landmine Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh. It was around 1980 explosion on February 28 near Eklagoda village that the erstwhile Peoples War Group, under the ausin Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, when they pices of the Adivasi Kisan Mazdoor Sanghatan (AKMS), were returning from an anti-Maoist meeting organised began organising the poor among the tribals of Dantewada by the Salwa Judum was abominable. Why target tribals against the oppressive forest, revenue and police offifor attending Salwa Judum meetings, when the Maoists cials, and the contractors, traders and moneylenders. The know that most of them have no choice in the matter? AKMS also took up the demand for pattas on forest land Such killings are sure to erode the moral authority of the brought under cultivation and on cultivable land in forest Maoists among the tribal community, which is their mass villages. The AKMS sanghams eventually displaced the base in the district. While we abhor such acts, there is a village mukhia and other local leaders, took over the need to reflect over the root causes of the upsurge in decision- making process on local issues and even began political violence in Dantewada district from June last settling disputes. The organisation also took control of year. The task is made more difficult, for sources of the collection and sale of minor forest produce, like the independent reporting have been sought to be muzzled tendu patta, in favour of the poor. All this naturally by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Chhattisgarh generated opposition among the local elite and the government. Independent local journalists have been corrupt local officials. The 1990s itself witnessed harassed, and now, the Chhattisgarh Public Safety Bill, organised retaliation against the Maoists in the form of 2005, which has gone for presidential assent, will, if the Jan Jagran Abhiyans, which, in turn, generated approved, throttle the freedom of speech and expression Maoist counter-attacks. By 2000, CRPF presence bein the state. came a permanent feature, joined later on by an India

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