Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Raid on Kavita Srivastava’s house is a case of intimidation by State of Chhattishgarh By Vidya Bhushan Rawat Chhatisgarh police is notorious for its misadventures. We all know its track record of harassing human rights activists all over the country. It has taken a leaf out of the book from Andhra Pradesh police who is notorious to harass people as well as engaged in encounters. Perhaps, all this is happening everywhere. We have seen the notoriety of Gujarat police where an honest police officer is paying price of his honesty of speaking against the chief minister of the state. The threat and intimidation of human rights activists all over the country is well known to be debated here. What we are witnessing now is the outreach of the state agencies to arrest, humiliate and harass activists beyond their states and it is a matter of great concern. The situation in states like Gujarat, Chhatishgarh and Jharkhand is a challenge to all the human rights activists and it is time when the Central government must make it clear to the state to put their own house in order rather than trying to shoot the messenger. It is therefore shocking to hear the news of the raid by the Chhatishgarh police at the house of Kavita Srivastava, the National Secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties, in Jaipur. Those who have known Kavita and her work can vouch that her work goes beyond the work of PUCL and her concern for the common people and human rights in the country. Activists deeply rooted in the grassroots traditions of India; we have all seen Kavita completely immersed in issues related to the people. Whether it is the issue of right to food, and various issues related to the same, or the issue of communalism in India, she has been uncompromising in her attitude and perception. She has been an ardent advocate of human rights all over the country and travelled to many state for the cause of the same. Whether preparation of draft National Food Security bill or strengthening the Public Distribution System or raising the issue of minorities in Rajasthan, Kavita has been in the forefront. The ministers and their bureaucrats who have seen Kavita leading or participating in various delegations know her conviction for the cause of human rights in India. Therefore, it is shocking to see a group of Rajasthan police actively assisting their Chhatisgharh counterpart in ‘searching’ for a ‘dreaded’ ‘Naxalite’ at the house of Kavita in Jaipur. They found nothing. What will they report to their Central bosses and state apparatus? This is sheer nonsense and a serious challenge to all the human rights activists all over the country. This is nothing but intimidation and harassment of an activist who has devoted herself for the cause of human rights in the country. If speaking for human rights and expressing our dissatisfaction and dissent to government policies mean being a Maoist, then we should all register ourselves as Maoist. I have no shame in saying so. It is time for P.Chidambaram to train his police and investigators who are completely lost in their effort to ‘control’ ‘terrorism’ and Maoism’, in the country, to understand the meaning of dissent. The policies of the government and it is not necessarily government at the centre but at the state level also have generated mass upsurge all over the country. While, you may define Anna Hazare’s movement as a rightwing nationalist outcry but the dissent against the policies of the government and its surrender to capitalists casteists forces is growing every where. People are revolting and if the government feel that this protest and revolt of the Dalits and Aadivasis is just supported or facilitated by some NGOs or organisations, then they are on the wrong path. It is time for them to see the writing on the wall as they have completely failed in understanding people’s perception and ideas about their rights. It is shameful for the government of chhatishgarh for trying to intimidate an activist and her parents in her absence. This is nothing but a clear case of ‘dadagiri’ by a government that has spread official terrorism in the state. Today, activist can not organise meeting in Chhatishgarh as the state spy them all the time. The life of an activist in Chhatishgarh and Jharkhand is so miserable that they can not even think of organising anything without inviting the government of the state to create obstacles for them. Binayak Sen was charged for helping the Maoists. The government of the state pursued the case shamelessly against him and tried to influence the local courts. He was ultimately granted bail by the Supreme Court. The condition in Bastar and other areas are well known to us. We know chief minister Raman Singh can not visit Bastar or any of the regions which is ‘infected; by the Naxals. Why is the chief minister still unable to win over the tribals despite so much of drama and theatrics by him to claim the sainthood and a leader who has provided people rice below Rs 2 a kilo. It is a well known fact that the most comfortable people in Chhatishgarh are the Babas, the socalled spiritual gurus who have got huge land to fulfil the Hindutva project and the companies like Essar and Jindals. Ofcourse, Jindal is a Congress MP but despite that we all know that corporate interest cross party lines and BJP or Congress will not create any obstacles for them. Chhatishgarh is the best example of the lethal mixture of brahmanical Hindutva and capitalist corporate. The victim of this are the Dalits and tribals who have to vote to any of these great ‘nationalist’ parties to save their interest. The raid on Kavita’s home is a challenge to all of us who do not agree with the fascist nature of the state trying to shun all kind of dissent. It is a signal to all of us to keep our mouth shut or get ready to face various charges of being ‘anti national’, a Maoist or Naxalite. Former Prime Minister VP Singh in an interview had said once that if speaking the truth and fighting for your rights mean being a Maoist then he was ready to be called as a Maoist. It is shameful that political parties and leaders are unable to win the confidence of the tribal and Dalits and are trying to create a fear psychosis about the prevailing situation in Chhatishgarh, Jharkhand and other states. The question is that tribal autonomy is an old issue and with the continuous assault of the corporate on their natural resources is being resisted. If people are speaking and supporting the cause of the human rights of tribal or Dalits or Muslims, it is being seen as a challenge to state. One does not know whether a state could ever be bigger than its people. Can India ever progress and claim as a nation if its tribals, Dalits and minorities remain outside the ambit of development, and constitution. So, the attack on kavita is a clearly a signal to human rights activists, people’s movement leaders, and writers not to speak against the state. That the notorious police of these states will come and search your house is well known. That these states are now spreading their wings outside their limited domain and can take you anywhere is a worrying signal... The Central government can not keep silent on the issue. It will pay a heavy price for playing politics on the issue of human rights. The problem with it is that it is promoting all such rubbish in the name of nationalism which violates basic rights of people. If India wants to claim a democracy then it must not allow itself to surrender to fascists element claiming to democrats just because they got elected. We all know Hitler also got elected from a popular mandate. The threats to human rights are very valid in India and its neighbour. We can not allow human rights activist to be brutalised by state as well as society. We need a regular monitoring of all these states where the state apparatus is being used by the state government to fulfil its nefarious agenda. The issue of Naxalims and Maoism can not be resolved by making them ‘terrorists’. It can not be resolved by Chidambaram and his colleagues through guns and their idiocies in arming the state and terrorising the innocent tribals. To win them over, the Indian state will have to disarm them and not to procure more arms to terrorise the innocent people. State can not be using ‘tit for tat’ techniques. People like kavita Srivastava are actually playing role of a catalyst to increase faith of those who are being violated daily in the state. They are defending human rights even at the cost of their own self. By terrorising them and humiliating them, the state of India will not gain anything. It will only lose whatever little it has acquired in the last sixty years, in the name of democracy. Chhatisgarh government must apologise. The rights of the state government to go anywhere and terrorise citizens of other state can not be expected. How can Rajasthan government allow Chhatisgarh government and its police to raid the house of an activist? We must condemn this incident and warn the Chhatishgarh police to mend its ways. It must be taken to task and improve its style of functioning. The Hindutva government of Chhatishgarh is advised to take care of Adivasis properly. Win the Aadivasis through good work, through land reform and giving them autonomy and not through terrorising the people who speak for the rights of the people. National Human Rights Commission and Union Home Ministry must take action against Chhatishgarh police and must apologise for this shameful incident. They must ask the state to maintain some dignity. State can not be allowed to send their goons everywhere to arrest any one in the name of ‘Maoism’. It is the same that the state apparatus and the central intelligence can not differentiate between dissenters and Maoists. If they do not understand it then they must be taught that there are hundreds of activists and political scientists who differ completely with the government’s approach in handling the issue of tribals and yet they do not approve the ways of the Maoists. If the government does not understand it, it is not the problem of the activists or PUCL or Kavita Sirvastava. If the government and its agencies do not understand it then it is time to train them again. In the meanwhile, we must all salute to the spirit of Kavita and hope that such intimidating tactics will not deter her from her path. There are hundreds like us expressing solidarity with her. .