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Maoist Attack

Letters

Maoist Attack

T
he Independent Citizens’ Initiative, which studied Salwa Judum in May 2006, strongly condemns the Maoist attack on Errabor camp in Dantewada district on July 17, 2006, in which more than 40 adivasis were killed or seriously injured. Even small children were not spared in this attack. The kidnapping and killing of people in their custody is equally reprehensible. We feel that this attack was brutal, inhuman and unpardonable. We urge the CPI (Maoist) to desist from such atrocities.

At the same time, this confirms our earlier stand on the Salwa Judum, that rather than stopping violence, it has escalated violence. We equally condemn the atrocities committed by the Salwa Judum and security forces due to which many people have been killed without record, houses have been burnt and women raped. The government is responsible for ensuring the safety of its citizens. Not only did it not do that in Errabor, but also by continuing with the Salwa Judum and forcing people to live in camps against their wishes, it is further endangering the lives of ordinary people. The people of Dantewada should not be used as fodder in this unfortunate game of retribution and retaliation being conducted by both sides.

We repeat our earlier plea to both sides that violence cannot be an answer to violence. The only solution to this problem is through democratic means, starting with a ceasefire, dialogue, enquiry into all acts of violence and punishment of the guilty. Adivasis should be brought to the centre stage of decision-making.

RAMACHANDRA GUHA, Bangalore; HARIVANSH, Ranchi; FARAH NAQVI, New Delhi; E A S SARMA, Visakhapatnam; NANDINI SUNDAR, New Delhi; BGVERGHESE, New Delhi

People’s Resilience

T
he experience gained in the course of the last few days, following the reign of terror let loose in Mumbai and Srinagar on July 11 by the enemies of India, and the remarkable way in which the country has responded to it, must have opened up eyes to the resilience of our people in the face of unimaginable horrors. Manmohan Singh, prime minister, has been silent throughout this period and yet he has provided the leadership in a way that we can all be proud of.

K N RAJ

Thiruvananthapuram

Failure on the Rationality Front

T
his is with reference to V Ranganathan’s well-informed and meticulously argued article entitled ‘Eminent Domain or Eminent Thievery?’ (June 30, 2006). It is shocking to know that the state government and the PWD could not on their own arrive at a figure for the land required for expressway, all under the argument that the project involves a “new technique” which supposedly is so mysterious that the private contractor’s claims have to be accepted blindly. In fact given elementary technical information like the length and width of the road, number of entry/exit points, radius of entry/exit ramps, the gradient and height of embankments, etc, a high school student with an average calculator could calculate the area required. Modern designing software would give out this figure as a matter of routine. And yet the government could not come out with a cogent argument why the land required was two and a half times more than what S Reddy had claimed, most likely wrongly, in his public interest litigation (PIL).

The hegemony of modern liberal states rests on two pillars of representation and rationality. While the Indian state seems to be successful with regard to the former, it is its utter failure on the latter front that is the cause of the present crises of governance. The breaking and

(Continued on p 3256)

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Economic and Political Weekly July 22, 2006

Letters

(Continued from p 3130)

bending of rules by those in power, i e, violation of narrowly defined Weberian rationality, is one very visible aspect of misgovernance. Perhaps the more important operational part of the same phenomenon is the not so visible abdication by state institutions of their responsibility to be rational while addressing new and diverse problems and conflicts. That the Karnataka executive failed to be rational in this sense, though condemnable, is not so surprising. More revealing is the failure of the judiciary, which is supposed to be guided solely by rational arguments based on evidence, and principles enshrined in the Constitution. Ranganathan shows how the doctrine of ‘res judicata’ of upholding the decision taken by one court in a case was used to avoid substantial questions raised in the second batch of PILs related to the Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC). Interestingly though, there are also many instances when different courts hearing the same case and having similar evidence have arrived at opposite decisions. The Mumbai mill land case and the Niyogi murder case are prime examples where decisions of the Supreme Court were opposite of those given by the high courts. The fact that two courts arrived at opposite conclusions on similar evidence calls for a serious debate. Its absence indicates that as the judiciary increasingly becomes the last institution of governance in the country, it is also enjoying a halo of fetishisation where its decisions are blindly accepted as the last word. In the light of this, Ranganathan’s reasoned questioning of judicial decisions in the BMIC cases is very refreshing indeed.

SANJAY KUMAR

New Delhi

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    Economic and Political Weekly July 22, 2006

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