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Home > National Interest vs People’s Interest > India: Statement on the Lalgarh Operation

India: Statement on the Lalgarh Operation

by Achin Vanaik, Praful Bidwai, Sumit Chakravartty, Sumit Sarkar, Tanika Sarkar, 22 June 2009

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We are profoundly disturbed by the massive Central and state armed police operation in Lalgarh-Jangalmahal in West Bengal. This was launched without exploring a negotiated settlement of genuine popular grievances and by blurring the crucial distinction between violent Maoists and peace-minded civilians. The operation is taking an unacceptable toll of civilian life and safety in an extremely backward area with sub-human living conditions and absence of public services and social opportunity worsened by unremitting police atrocities.

We deplore the reckless, self-serving violence of the Maoists, who have exploited West Bengal’s post-election chaos by using deprived and angry tribals as pawns and by brutally attacking CPM cadres and offices. This cannot be rationalised as just retaliation against the violence unleashed by the CPM over the years. The two kinds of violence only feed and aggravate each other.

Some self-proclaimed leaders have appeared, claiming to represent the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), who openly preach violence and murder. Their actions can only invite more state repression. Deplorably, the media has equated the Maoists with the PCPA, which has conducted a democratic and peaceful struggle among tribals for dignity and security, and against state excesses.

We urge the state Governor, respected for his integrity, understanding and compassion, to take an initiative to bring about a complete cessation of violence and open a dialogue on the people’s concerns highlighted by the PCPA, by using responsible civil society groups as mediators. Preventing a bloodbath remains the greatest imperative today.

Sumit Sarkar, Achin Vanaik, Tanika Sarkar, Sumit Chakravartty and Praful Bidwai

New Delhi

June 19, 2009