New Book – Ecology Economy by Felix Padel, Ajay Dandekar & Jeemol Unni

Ecology Economyecology economy

- Quest for a socially informed connection

By Felix Padel, Ajay Dandekar and Jeemol Unni

orientblackswan logo





About the book, courtesy of Orient Black Swan:

Ecology, Economy is an elaborate argument to establish society as central in policy-making for holistic development. The book presents cases of the adverse effects of resource utilisation—water, metals, power, land—on Adivasi communities in particular. It presents an overview of the paradoxes inherent in ‘development’ projects, emphasising the drastic drop in the standard of living of rural communities, and the immeasurable damage to India’s ecosystems and resource base.

The authors highlight the tussle between real growth and the rule of law, the informalisation of labour under a neoliberal economy, and current threats to ‘Adivasi Economics’—the little monetised systems based on a long-term symbiosis with the natural environment, based on taking from the ecosystem without intrinsically damaging it.

It asks: what is real development? How can we transform present developmental patterns to achieve a more truly sustainable path towards collective well-being? Is there any politically feasible path out of the multidimensional economic, environmental, social and climate change cataclysms facing us now in India and worldwide? Contrary to seeing dissent as ‘anti-development’, this book puts a face to the people on whom ‘development’ is imposed.

A product of the confluence of anthropology, policy analysis and rural economics, this volume also comes with an extensive Bibliography to lead researchers and every interested reader towards a rich body of work. It will be useful for students and scholars of sociology, economics, anthropology, ecology and environmental studies, development studies, political science, law and international affairs.

Adivasis Need Speedy and Impartial Justice – An Open Letter

May 6, 2013

To: The Government of India,

Members of the Judiciary and All Citizens,

One of the most disastrous consequences of the strife in the tribal areas of central India is that thousands of adivasi men and women remain imprisoned as under-trials, often many years after being arrested, accused of ‘Naxalite/ Maoist’ offences.

The facts speak for themselves.

In Chhattisgarh, over two thousand adivasis are currently in jail, charged with ‘Naxalite/Maoist’ offences. Many have been imprisoned for over two years without trial. In Jharkhand, an even larger number of adivasis, possibly in excess of five thousand, remain imprisoned as under-trials. The situation is similar in many other states of central and eastern India currently affected by armed conflict between the government and adivasi-linked militant movements, namely Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal. The adivasi undertrial population may run into thousands in each of the states. Assessing the true scale of the problem is inherently difficult, given that none of the police or jail administrations are making comprehensive figures public, even after RTI requests have been filed by concerned citizens. This opacity adds to the injustice.

In each of these states, the adivasi under-trials, and particularly those arrested under special security statutes, face grave common handicaps that obstruct their Constitutional right to a fair, speedy trial, to justice.

One, language barriers. The vast majority of adivasi under-trials speak only adivasi languages, such as Gondi and Halbi. However, few if any courts have official interpreters/translators. This leaves the adivasis unable to communicate directly with the Officers of the Court or otherwise effectively make their case.

Two, the failure, in case after case, for evidentiary material, such as captured arms or explosives, to be promptly submitted in court by the security forces when they first produce the detainees before the Magistrate, as the Magistrate can statutorily direct the security forces to do when they level such serious charges. In the absence of prima facie proof, the grave risk of injustice being done to innocent adivasis is self-evident.

Three, procedural barriers relating to ‘Naxalite/Maoist’ and other security offences. Being charged with such offences, the under-trials are not produced in the courts for lengthy periods. Owing to this, the trial does not proceed for years together.

Four, other procedural barriers. Since under-trials charged with’Naxalite/Maoist’ offences are only held in Central Jails, many of them of them are transferred to jails at a great distance from their homes and families. In Chhattisgarh, for instance, nearly one hundred adivasi under-trials from Bastar have been transferred to Durg or Raipur Central Jails, a distance of over 300 kilometers. The great distance, coupled with the poverty of most adivasis, means that families are unable to regularly visit them or provide them with vital emotional support.

Five, the lack of proper legal defence. Lawyers who visit ‘Naxal/Maoist’ under-trials in Chhattisgarh are photographed by the authorities and their information listed in a separate register, making lawyers reluctant to visit their clients. In any event, many of the adivasi under-trials are dependent on legal-aid lawyers who rarely go to meet the client or seek instructions regarding the case. Often lawyers are careless in their conduct of cases and are amenable to pressures from the police or prosecution.

In addition to the humanitarian imperative, the prolonged failure to provide speedy and impartial justice to these thousands of adivasi under-trials is damaging the prospects for peace in India’s heartland - by leading adivasis to feel that the Indian government does not treat them as full citizens and by intensifying their generalised sense of alienation. It is telling that in the widely publicised “Collector abduction” incidents of Chhattisgarh and Odisha, one of the major demands raised by the insurgents was speedy and fair trial for these thousands of jailed adivasis, accused of being Naxalites/Maoists. Yet, virtually none of the efforts belatedly agreed to by the state governments – such as the ‘High-powered Committee for review of the cases of Adivasi undertrials in Chhattisgarh’, set up in mid-2012 under the aegis of Nirmala Buch, the former top IAS officer - have come to fruition or been acted on to any degree by the concerned governments.

More than anything else, the failure to ensure justice for the adivasis is a grave blot on India’s human rights record. Not only are we as a nation committed to democracy and human rights, but our Constitution provides extensive safeguards and rights to the adivasis that are being violated by not ensuring fair and speedy trials for these thousands of adivasi under-trials.

On every count – whether humanitarian or strategic – it is imperative that this prolonged failure to assure our country’s adivasis of speedy, impartial justice be set right immediately.

Justice is in everyone’s interest.

Hence, we the undersigned, a large group of concerned Indians - including adivasi leaders, jurists and lawyers, and public intellectuals – urge the Union Government, the concerned State Governments, and the Supreme Court to undertake to appoint a special Commission of eminent jurists to oversee dedicated fast-track courts that hear these cases speedily and impartially.


VR Krishna Iyer, Mahasweta Devi, Swami Agnivesh, Nandita Das, Nitin, Desai, GN Devy, Jean Dreze, Gladson Dungdung, Anand Grover, Ramachandra Guha, Girish Karnad, Manish Kunjam, Harsh Mander, Vinod Mehta, Arvind Netam, Rajinder Sachar, BD Sharma, Nandini Sundar, Father Stan Swamy, Tarun Tejpal, Mukti Prakash Tirkey.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Gandhi Foundation.

A Publishing House for Adivasi Literature

adivaaniWhy don’t we have an Adivasi voice?”, “Why don’t we have a ‘for and by’ Adivasi publishing house?”, “Where is the authentic Adivasi narrative?” These questions had haunted Ruby Hembrom when she enrolled for a publishing course in Kolkata last year. “While going through a list of publishers and authors, I could not find any Adivasi. While Adivasis have often been written about by others, they have very rarely been authors themselves,” says 35-year-old Hembrom, an Adivasi herself.

So, in July, 2012, after she completed her course, Hembrom, along with two friends — Joy Tudu, 36, an Adivasi social activist in Pakur, Jharkhand, and Luis A Gómes, 46, a Mexican publisher in Kolkata — established Adivaani, a trust that publishes books written by Adivasis. Hembrom looks after the editorial side, Tudu is in charge of marketing and Gómes handles the designing and printing.

Article & photograph courtesy of The Indian Express. Read the full article here

Whose Country is it Anyway? written by Gladson Dungdung is published by Adivaani. See a review of this book by Dr Felix Padel here

Jharkhand Human Rights Movement Condemns Police Atrocities on Rights Activists

Jharkhand Human Rights Movement
C/o-Mr. Suleman Odeya, Near Don Bosci ITC Gate, Khorha Toli, Kokar,
Ranchi -834001. 0651-3242752 Email:

Press Release

Date: 26/07/2012

JHRM Condemns the police atrocities on Rights Activists

The Jharkhand Human Rights Movement (JHRM) an alliance partner of the Jharkhand Alliance of Democratic Movements (JADM) condemns the police atrocity on rights activists and protestors during the Jharkhand bandh (blockage) on 25 July, 2012. Needless to say that the Jharkhand Government has been acquiring 227 acre of fertile land of the Adivasis illegally and forcefully at Nagri village near Ranchi for the construction of IIM, IIIT and Law University. The villagers have been protesting against it since several months. They had sat in protest for 125 days, where 3 women died due to hit by the sun stroke but the government didn’t hear their plea. While they approached to the Supreme Court and the Jharkhand High Court, the Courts also denied hearing them. Finally, the villagers are in the street to save their lands. Several organizations and political parties are also supporting them.

On the eve of 25 July, 2012, several organizations had organized Masal Julus and informed the people about bandh. Accordingly, the Bandh started at 8 O’clock on July 25, the bandh supporters started their peaceful protest. They had also requested the police not to arrest them. When the people were protesting in Ranchi peacefully and requesting the people to support their bandh, the police started arresting them, beat them with lathis. The police also slapped, hit and kicked them.

Consequently, human rights activist Mr. Gladson Dungdung got severe injuries in his right leg, left leg and right ear-site. A student Mr.Pritam Tirkey also got severe injury in his right hand and General Secretary of Adivasi-Moolvasi Chatra Sangh Mr. Kamlesh Ram got severe injuries in several parts of his body. He was also beaten severely in the police station after his detention. The police also arrested more than 500 students, men and women who were taking in the peaceful bandh.

The JHRM demands for investigation and legal action against the police personals, who were involved in committing atrocities on the rights activists during the peaceful peace Jharkhand bandh.

With regards
Sunil Minj
JHRM, Ranchi.

UPDATE 07/08/2012
Gladson Dungdung has been released on bail.

Is Judiciary Biased Against Adivasis? by Gladson Dungdung

Is Judiciary Biased Against Adivasis?

By Gladson Dungdung

Gladson Dungdung

July 23, 2012

On 15 July, 2012, in the afternoon, the weather was cool, the sky was cloudy and it was drizzling. The hundreds of Adivasis of Nagri village entered into the central hall of the Birsa Agriculture University, Ranchi with the single point agenda to get back their agriculture lands, which has been captured by the State with the power of Gun. In fact the Birsa Agriculture University was also built on their land after snatching it from their ancestors. They have been resisting against the forceful and illegal land acquisition because the present government has been attempting to grab rest of their land in the name of growth and development. They are well aware that if they surrender their land in front of the Gun, they’ll become landless, homeless and helpless. Their survival, identity and existence will be  vanished. Therefore, they were there to attend a meeting called off by the “High Power Committee” constituted by the Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Arjun Munda on the basis of an order of the Jharkhand High Court, which states that the Government should resolve the land row of Nagri within a week otherwise; the court will directly deal with the land owners.

Read the full article by clicking the link below:

Is Judiciary Biased Against Adivasis by Gladson Dungdung

Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights Activist

Gloomy Thoughts on India Today By Antony Copley

Gloomy Thoughts on India Today by Antony Copley

These reflections are prompted by attending the Gandhi Foundation Award ceremony in the House of Lords of the Gandhi International Peace Award for 2011 to Binayak Sen and Bulu Iman and a seminar given by two very bright graduate students of the University of Kent on the writings and film making of Arundhati Roy. Biographical details on the two recipients can be seen in the Gandhi Foundation Peace Award article on this website and their two acceptance speeches will also be published shortly, so this is no attempt to summarise what they had to say. But it filled me with a real sense of gloom about where India today is heading.

It was very moving to find oneself in the same room as Binayak Sen. It was something of a miracle that he was present at all to receive his prize, only by being let out of prison on bail and having his passport returned at a very late stage. Binayak Sen is a doctor and specialist paediatrician and he began by telling us that surveys on malnutrition, based on body mass indices, show that India is in fact in the grip of famine. Sen’s struggle for civil rights is well known. He ended his talk by telling us the Indian government is currently drawing up legislation in which almost all forms of dissent will now be branded as sedition. Such was the charge brought against him for his own active engagement in the struggle for adivasi rights and one that led to a sentence of life imprisonment.

Bulu Iman delivered a searing indictment against the current economic development of India with its rampant capitalism riding rough shod over the economic and cultural life of the tribal population. He opened up an apocalyptic vision of India’s own economic self destruction. All this ties into the consequences of climate change. None has done more than Bulu Iman to memorialise the remarkable culture of the forest people. We were recently provided with a brilliant photographic record of this culture at an exhibition of photographs by Robert Wallis in the Brunei Gallery at SOAS, conveying a horrifying sense of the threat from the coal-mining and mining of other minerals to the very survival of this culture. Talking to Bulu Iman afterwards he left me with a disturbing sense that, in fact, the battle for survival has been lost. He sees the materials in his Sanskriti Museum, Hazaribagh as time capsules. How can any culture of this fragile kind survive the destruction of its village life, with huge roads ploughing through the forest destroying all in their way? At least a third of the tribal population in the forest areas of eastern and central India have already been dispossessed and driven into urban slums.

Felix Padel, historian of the tribal struggle and vital intermediary between The Gandhi Foundation and the two recipients, endorsed their findings. If anything, he sees the situation as even more dire.

No-one has more vividly described this human catastrophe overwhelming the forest population than Arundhati Roy. I learnt that her imagery always refers back to the holocaust of the partition. Initially, I could see how this imagery would work for the disaster that has struck Kashmir and the horrors of communal violence in Gujerat in 2003 but I was less certain of its relevance to the tribal tragedy. But then it was explained to me that their forced dispossession precisely echoes those images of long lines of migrants on the move during the massive migrations of the partition years.

Has the India of its founding fathers really come to this? Was there some fatal flaw in Nehru’s vision for change, a paternalist concern towards the vulnerable in Indian society that could turn dictatorial? Did that visionary sense of rapid development with its power stations and dams in fact presage the rampant capitalism on view today? It was Nehru himself who laid the foundation stone 5 April 1961 of the Sardar Sarovar, the scheme for some 3000 dams on the River Narmada. The forest people were drawn into a Nehruvian development project. Of course it is tempting to place the blame for the exploitation of the forests on the Raj and its Forest laws of 1878 and it is true that much of its timber was set aside for exploitation- think of the amount of wood needed fort the Indian railways. But the colonial regime did set aside protected areas and sought to shore up the way of life of the forest people. It is also worth recalling that originally these were plains people but driven into the forest by aggressive agrarian castes. But independence seemed to release even great depredation of the tribal economies. In the eight provinces of Bihar that were in 2000 to become the state of  Jharkand, far more mineral wealth was being extracted and exported than development aid was being invested. Did it only need Narisimha Rao’s Congress government’s liberalisation of state controls over the economy in 1993 to release globalisation in all its exploitative greed? For decades India was the world’s most exciting prospect of a developing economy and yet did we foresee Shining India as its outcome? Bulu Imam for one was sceptical if there be any life left in any earlier visionary outlook.

Of course it is distastefully possible to be dismissive of the chances for survival in today’s economic imperatives of such vulnerable communities as the forest peoples. If you adopt a historically determinist approach, then so called primitive or backward communities simply have to give way to `progress’. At best, you offer the communities some share in the profits of the mining revolution. It was argued in that seminar on Arundhati Roy that the newly enriched Indian middle class have no sense that the forest people are worth protecting-they simply stand in the way of the making of wealth. It helps to understand such indifference if we realise the staggering profits that will be made from the mining of minerals in the forests. Maybe the forest people are themselves –or so it is sometimes argued- morally obliged to accept that they have no option but to share this wealth.

But of course there are very strong counter arguments. In the tribal way of life we are given an example of a sustainable economy, one that respects nature, and is just the example of sustainability we need if we are to stave off the disastrous consequences of climate change. Bianca Jagger, inter alia Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador and Trustee of the Amazon Charitable Trust, in her intervention at the Award ceremony pleaded for new paradigm on development. There has to be a development plan that accommodates the needs of such vulnerable societies. Not everyone knows that Parliament now has an All Party Parliamentary Group for Tribal Peoples. The LibDem MP, Martin Forwood, its founder and Chairman, attended the ceremony. He reminded us of the threat from the Maoists. And clearly there are alternatives models for development than industrial capitalism. More radically, we need to abandon the concept of growth for one of sustainability.

So is there any prospect of checking this invasion of the tribal lands in its track? We have to live in hope. Ilina Sen agreed with me as we said farewell in the corridors of the House of Lords. Without hope we are lost. I do not myself give up hope that the progressive ideals incarnated in the Indian Constitution, the democratic political vision of Nehru, the role of a free press in independent India, have wholly disappeared. At least one Minister of Forests tried to rein in the corporation, Vedanta and delay the mining of bauxite in Chhattisgarh. If the political class are too hand in glove with the capitalists then we have to fall back on dissent from India’s intelligentsia. Aruna Roy, distinguished journalist of the Times of India, put faith in such dissent. Admittedly, if Binayak Sen’s fears over changing the laws on sedition are accurate, then there is a momentous struggle to be waged. Will university students, amongst others, stand up for Civil Rights?

Where does this leave the Gandhians? In an earlier struggle, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada Movement), under the inspired leadership of Medha Petkar, a Gandhian movement went some way to check the flooding of the river by the dams and the destruction of its riverside tribal culture. And it may well be asked, why did this cultural vandalism not cause as much shock as that of the vandalism of the Babri Masjid mosque in 1992? In 1993 the World Bank withdrew funding, embarrassed by the wonderfully named Monsoon satyagrahas, with Gandhian activists ready to expose themselves to the rising waters, in the practice of jal samparan, sacrifice in water. The whole issue was referred to the Supreme Court. But it has to be acknowledged that in the end it came out on the side of the dam. In its judgement, `it became necessary to harvest the river for the larger good.’ There was to be rather more good fortune in a Gandhian protest against the Maheshwar Hydroelectric Scheme in Madya Pradesh, a protest linked to the NAPM, the National Advancement of People’s Movement, set up in 1996.Yet we were told at the award ceremony when the women of Tamil Nadu protested against a nuclear power station all 5000 were arrested. Has the iron entered the soul in current Indian policy making?

So can a Gandhian protest influence the outcome in the current struggle in eastern and central India? Few people are aware of the scale of the conflict today. Has the freedom of the press been stifled? Are people just indifferent? To deal with the conflict both the police and increasingly the Indian army are heavily engaged. Quite who carries out reprisals against the tribal villages is unclear to me though I was told in the seminar that Hindu communal nationalists are heavily involved. They hold the tribal peoples, who of course lie outside the caste system, in contempt. Many tribals have joined the Maoist led revolt, driven out of their villages, outraged at the violation of their women. But what do the Maoists,or Naxalites as they are alternatively known, want? Have they a vision which in the long run saves the economies of the forest peoples? It does not fit with Marxist notions of economic development. Admittedly Marx, at the end of his life, came to see in such simple communities the very ideal of the communist society he was envisioning. Might today’s Indian Maoists do the same? It seems far more probable that the Maoists see themselves as engaged in a power struggle with the Indian state and have but opportunistically seized on this social unrest. The majority of the forest people find themselves in the crossfire of a civil war between the Indian army and the Maoists. Is there scope for non-violent satyagraha? So Bhikhu Parekh argued for at the end of the Award ceremony. Arundhati Roy feels that up against the violence of the State there is little prospect for a Gandhian solution and wonders if there is a non-violent alternative to the violence of the Maoists. Bulu Iman, a committed Gandhian, is equally pessimistic. In his view a satyagraha can only impact if your opponent has a moral susceptibility to injustice and he feels that such receptivity, one that existed with the likes of a Christian Lord Irwin of the British Raj or a Smuts in South Africa, does not exist in to today’s India. It makes one fear that a committed Gandhian like Binayak Sen may yet be disappointed in his life’s struggle. But again, one must not give up hope.

Eastern and Central India is not the only locale for struggles by tribal people. It also rages in North East India, Kerala, and on every other continent. These are not saintly movements. Up against the threat from globalisation several have retreated into exclusivist and xenophobic autonomous movements .Their political future would be better served were they to seek out more pluralist solutions. Such tribal people are at risk world wide. In the Award ceremony much was made of the role of international capital, the City of London, host to most of the Corporations financing the mining of tribal areas, a particular villain. The threat to the forest economies is clearly a part of globalisation. The tribal people stand in its way. Their communitarian values and ideals of a sustainable economy may yet be the inspiration to save us all from the consequences of unchecked growth. Their struggle is one that concerns us all.

 Antony Copley
Honorary Senior Research Fellow, University of Kent and Trustee of The Gandhi Foundation

Books consulted, Alf Gunvald Nilsen Dispossession and Resistance in India : The river and the rage Routledge 2010, Ed Daniel J Rycoft and Sangeeta Dasgupta The Politics of Belonging in India: Becoming Adivasi Routledge 2011,Arundhati Roy Broken Republic Hamish Hamilton 2011

The Buck Stops at Your Door Mr Chidambaram by Gladson Dungdung

The Buck Stops at Your Door Mr Chidambaram

By Gladson Dungdung

July 10, 2012

The Adivasis live and die with the Nature. They believe in the super natural God, therefore; they worship the Nature in every occasion. The Adivasis’ economy is totally based on the Agriculture and Forest, which also depends merely on rainfall. Therefore, the villagers get together and pray to their Super Natural God before and after the harvesting. The Adivasi communities also have their own democracy, which is totally based on ‘consent’, which they practice in every village in every occasion. On 28 June, 2012, the Adivasis of Kottaguda, Sarkeguda and Rajpenta village in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh had gathered at Kottaguda village to plan for the performance of the traditional festival “Beej Pandum (seed Festival) so that they would celebrate the festival and start sowing the seeds on their lands as the Monsoon has reached to the region.

Unfortunately, 17 of them were attending this kind of meeting for the last time in their life. The Cobra battalion of the CRPF and the Chhattisgarh police, who were deployed in the region in the name of elimination of the Maoists, surrounded the villagers and fired on them without giving any signal to the villagers. Consequently, 16 of them got bullets in their chests, heads and other parts of the body, and died on the spot and one was brutally killed the next morning. The Security Forces claimed of killing 18 dreaded Maoists and celebrated it as one of the grand successes in anti-Naxal Operations. Similarly, P. Chidambaram, the Union Home Minister had also claimed that the Security Forces had shot top Naxal leaders in Chhattisgarh, and when the encounter was questioned he attempted to cover up it.

However, when the breaking news of encounter appeared in the television screens and the print media, the story seems to be totally untrue. The question immediately came into one’s mind was, how could 18 top Maoists have a meeting in a village, which is situated merely at a distance of 3 km from the CRPF camp? The truth of Bijapur encounter was finally revealed. A brave Journalist Aman Sethi, who has been tirelessly reporting on the state sponsored crime against the Adivasis of Chhattisgarh; this time also exposed the lies of the top cops, the Chhattisgarh government and Home Minister P. Chidambaram. According to his report, the security forces fired at a peaceful gathering of villagers, killing 20 of them, including five children aged 12-15, and sexually assaulted at least four girls during the encounter. The conclusion of the story was no Maoists were present in the village that day. The villagers had gathered to discuss the upcoming seed festival, when the security forces fired on them, which led to death of 20 villagers including 5 children.

The report of a three member Fact-Finding team comprising of Mr. J P Rao, Mr. Kopa Kunjam and Dr. Nandini Sundar, who visited Kottaguda, Sarkeguda and Lingagiri villages on 3rd and 4th July 2012 revealed further shocking facts. According to the report, these villages were attacked by the Salwa Judum Militia in 2005. They had killed 2 people and almost all the houses in all three villages were burnt. Consequently, the villagers had migrated to Andhra Pradesh and returned to their villages only in 2009. They were again attacked by the Security Forces this time, which led to death of 17 villagers including 7 minors. Apart from that, 9 have been injured, and at least 5 women have been beaten, assaulted and molested.

When the truth was unearthed, the Union Home Minister and Architect of the ‘Operation Green Hunt’ P. Chidambaram said ‘deeply  sorry’ for killing of innocent civilians. The pertinent question here would be, is saying merely ‘sorry’ enough for brutal killing of 17 innocent Adivasis? Secondly, why are the political parties keeping quit in this matter especially the opposition party the BJP? Would they have behaved in the similar manner if 17 innocent non-Adivasis would have been killed in the cold-blooded murder? Will the BJP keep quit if the similar incident takes place in the Congress rule state? Who is responsible for massacre of innocent Adivasis? Is it not P.Chidambaram, who has been deploying the Security Forces in the Adivasis regions since, 2009 in the name of eliminating the Maoists?

The CRPF DG Vijay Kumar shamelessly justified the criminal acts of the Security Forces saying that it was impossible for the forces to know who they were firing at that night. He further says that the entire area is a “very hazy world”, in which it is impossible to identify who is a Naxal and who is not. The can be raised are why did the Security Forces fire on the villagers if they didn’t know whom they were firing on? Who had given them order to fire on the innocent villagers? And can the Security Forces fire on anybody merely on the basis of suspicion? The SDM Kuruvanshi, who has been appointed to investigate, questions the villagers that why they were meeting at night? He also doesn’t want to visit villagers but has summoned the villagers to his office, which clearly indicates that the state is determined not only to deny justice to the Adivasis but also continue the state sponsored crime against them.

The Teheka’s editor Shoma Chaudhary raised a most important question is her column ‘editor cut’ that Why is life in Bastar so cheap? A simple answer to this question is, since the Indian state seems to believe that all the Adivasis living in the forest regions across the country are Maoists/Naxals, who are biggest threat to the ‘investment climate’. The India’s Economist Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh is always worried about the investment climate rather than its constitutional duty to protect the rights of its citizens. In fact, the Indian State is determined to grab the resources of the Adivasi regions at any cost, which will pave the way to India becoming the super power. Therefore, the Security Forces have been deployed in the forests to kill the Adivasis, who oppose to surrender their land, forest, water and other natural resources to the Indian state in the name of growth and development.

However, when we raise the question on fake encounter, the counter question comes back to us is why we keep quite when the Maoists kill the Security Forces? The answer for this question can be found in another question i.e. why does the Indian State send the security forces to the forest, where it didn’t reach in last 60 years? Is it for the protection of the villagers or to facilitate the mineral loot? If the Indian state sends the Security Forces to provide security to the people, then why do the security forces kill the innocent villagers, torture them and rape the women instead of protecting them? For whose security, the Security Forces are deployed in the Forests? Is it not true that the Security Forces are deployed in the forest to protect the corporate interest rather than protecting the people?

Whatever may be the intellectual arguments, but the fact is that the hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in anti-Naxal operations across the country since 2009 but no major investigation Chidambaram must leave his office, precisly because he is responsible for the brutal killing of all the innocent villagers including 17 innocent Adivasis of Kottaguda, Sarkeguda and Rajpenta villages of Chhattisgarh. The questions should be asked to Mr. P. Chidambaram that is it enough to say sorry after taking away the precious lives of 17 innocent people? Will he go for the CBI probe in all the cases of fake encounters took place in anti-Naxal operations across the country? And will he punish the top cops for killing the innocent civilians or let them enjoy the impunity? Remember, the buck stops at your door Mr Chidambaram.

Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights Activist in India.
He can be reached at:

Gladson’s Burden By Mallika Sarabhai

Gladson Dungdung

Gladson’s Burden

By Mallika Sarabhai

The Week, 20th April 2012

Gladson is an Adivasi living in the war-torn Jharkhand. When he was a year old, his family—farmers owning 20 acres of fertile land—became homeless. Their ancestral land disappeared when a dam was built on the Chinda river. As compensation, the family was paid∃11,000. When their neighbours and they protested they were sent to Hazaribagh Jail. Could a family of six ensure food, education, housing and health care for their entire life with ∃11,000? They headed for the forests. They bought a small piece of land, tilled it, collected forest produce and tried to make a go of it. There was no way of recovering the prosperity they had enjoyed, but with the additional income from their livestock, they got by.

Read the full article at:

Who am I? by Gladson Dungdung

Gladson Dungdung

Who am I?

An emerging human rights organization of Jharkhand, the “Jharkhand Human Rights Movement” has released the first “Jharkhand Human Rights Report 2001-2011”, which was welcomed from all corners of the society. However, I was just checking to know the reason of absence of some Human Rights Activists in the report release ceremony held in Ranchi on March 10, 2012. While responding my queries, one of the noted Human Rights Activists of Jharkhand told me, “You have written a lot against us in the report”? I was stunned to hear such unexpected view, but repeatedly questioned him, “What do you mean by “us”? He responded me saying that he cannot tell me everything over the phone but he’ll talk to me later.

Indeed, he was quite upset and angry with me. He was upset with a chapter in the report entitled “Naxalism and Human Rights violation”. Perhaps, he associates himself with the Naxal Movement, which is, of course, not wrong. But often, I hear him justifying the killings by the Naxals. In the last year, when I had raised the questions against brutal killing of innocent people by the Naxals through the media, he had told me, “I don’t expect such things from you”. The relevant question here to be asked is should a Human Rights Activist be biased for anyone? How can a Human Rights Activist justify the killings? And can a human rights activist shield the perpetrators like the state does? Ironically, this activist used to hold a big position in the Indian based internationally known civil rights organization.

I recall that the same Human Rights Activist and his companions had clapped for me and my team, when the Jharkhand Human Rights Movement (JHRM) had intervened and exposed the rampant human rights violation committed by the security forces in the Saranda Forest last year. Consequently, the Security Forces were bound to vacate 25 villages and schools. In fact, I had become a champion of the civil rights for them that time. However, the Jharkhand Human Rights Report, which has created ripple impact in the state, made me villain in the eyes of those Human Rights Activists now. What a contradiction, paradox and tragedy!

Similarly, a few years back, when I came into the limelight through the Human Rights Activism, I was coined as an anti-national by the so-called patriots. A few youth had even ruthlessly questioned me whether I get money from Pakistan, Nepal or China for speaking against the Indian State? They had even attempted to coin me as a Maoists sympathizer and supporter. And when I intensified my interventions on the issues of gross human rights violation committed by the security forces in the name of cleansing the Maoists in the Red Corridor, some of them even told me that I’m an over ground Maoist and a Maoist Ideologue as well.

The story does not end here. The Law Enforcement Agencies have also been attempted to coin me as the working force of the Maoists. When I intervened on the issue of rampant human rights violation in Saranda Forest by the security forces, the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Kolhan) Naveen Kumar said that the Jharkhand Human Rights Movement is an outfit of the CPI-Maoist, has intention to derail the anti-naxal operations therefore, it is crying foul. The Jharkhand police also traced mobile record and other documents to prove our link with the CPI-Maoist but at the end they get nothing because the JHRM has nothing to do with the Naxals.

Similarly, in the last year, when I participated in a mass rally against police atrocities held at Khunti of Jharkhand, a police officer P.K. Mishra of Khunti police station had questioned me, “Why don’t you organize Rally against the Maoists, when they kill our police forces”? He had even threatened me to tear down and dry up if I don’t shut up my mouth on the issues of police atrocities. The worst thing is, I made a complaint to the Deputy Commissioner and the Superintendent of Police of Khunti about the incident and asked them for action against the police officer, but nothing was done against him. However, I didn’t shut up my mouth in demand of justice for the victims of police atrocities but I’m under the attack from all corners.

Meanwhile, I had two rounds of discussion with Jairam Ramesh, the Union Minister of Rural Development on the issue of Saranda Development Plan. I was surprised to know about his reactions. He told me that I have been raising the issues of human rights violation committed by the security forces but what about the Maoists? He also told me that the CRPF Officers are quite unhappy with me as I have been filing cases against them. However, when I inform him about the preparation of the Jharkhand Human Rights Report, which would also highlight the human rights violation committed by the Naxals in Jharkhand, he was quite happy and had expressed his willingness to release the Report.

The most interesting thing is that everyone wants me to shoot others on behalf of them in the name of the human rights. It seems that the India’s Corporate Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s theory of either this side or that side, and there is no such middle in between, is internalized by them. However, the fundamental rights i.e. right to life, liberty, equality and dignity of individual guaranteed by the Indian Constitution has no place in this theory. According to a noted educationist of Jharkhand Dr. Rose Kerketta, the state is a killer instinct therefore; whoever comes to the power will continue the same practice, hence, we should not expect much from the state for protection of human rights.

Of course, there is no doubt in the fact of the state being the biggest violator of the human rights, consequently, the state sponsored human rights violation has been in the rapidly growth across the country. However, can we put aside the human rights violation committed by the non-state actors and the society? There are three major violators of the human rights i.e. the state, the non-state actors (Maoists, other Naxal and criminal groups) and the society as a whole. However, the state is constitutionally responsible for the protection of human rights and in fact the small forces emerge only whenever and wherever the state is fail in delivering justice.

But, these days, it has become a fashion for the so-called Human Rights Activists to cry foul on human rights violation committed by the security forces but they keep mum when the non-state actors do the same thing. Hence, it is obvious that they are also batting on behalf of the Naxals similar to the state, who bats for the corporate houses? These kinds of actions of the so-called Human Rights Activists will only add more problems in the civil rights movement and put questions in the credibility of the Activists’ voices and the person like me will also struggle for identity? Finally, I would always keep clarifying to everyone that, I neither stand with the state nor with the Naxals but I walk with the most marginalized people, whose human rights are being violated everyday by the either sides.

Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights Activist and Writer from Jharkhand.

Killing, Denial and Manipulation – By Gladson Dungdung

30 August, 2011

Suniya, his wife and Mangri Honhaga (right)

30 year-old Mangri Honhanga along with her 4 month-old son Dula Honhanga and other family-members had desperately come toRanchi the capital city of Jharkhand after travelling for more than 6 hours right from Saranda forest in West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand last week with the hope of getting justice. Both the mother and child have been suffering from illness – Dula is grade-3 malnourished patient and Mangri has been suffering from anaemia but they have no choice rather than facing all kinds of sufferings. The life was little better for them before 2 bullets of COBRA Jawans end the life of 38 year-old Mangal Honhanga the father of Dula and Mangri’s husband. Therefore, they had come to share their pains, sufferings and agony with the Chief Minister, the Top cops and of course, with the Media. Mangri Honhanga only knows that her husband was picked-up by the police from her house, taken to the forest and finally dead body was handed over to her.

Suniya Honhanga (27) and Ronde Honhaga (25) both the younger brothers of Lt. Mangal Honhanga are eyewitnesses of the brutal killing of their elder brother Mangal Honhanga narrated and exposed that what had happened with them in the forests at the end of June. Though the monsoon was on its pick-hour but the sky was clear and the morning was sunny on June 28, 2011. It was 10 O’clock in the morning when Suniya Honhanga and Mangal Honhanga were having mangoes in the courtyard of their house, they had just returned after ploughing the paddy field. Suddenly, they noticed the arrival of more than 300 security personals in their village called ‘Baliba’, situated at Chhotanagra police station in Saranda forest, which is indeed the heaven of the corporate sharks and also the abode of the Maoists.

The Superintendent of Police (West Singhbhum) Arun Kumar and CRPF commandant Lalchand Yadav were leading the operation. The forces caught Suniya Honhanga and Mangal Honhanga and took them to “Chabutra” (public sitting place in the middle of village) and asked all the villagers to reach to the spot. Once the villagers gathered, the forces tied all of them (men, women and children) with ropes collected from the village itself. The SP, CRPF Commandant and Jawans abused and threatened the villagers to face dire consequences if they don’t stop feeding, sheltering and supporting the Maoists. The villagers were kept whole the night in tied position. On the next day, 6 villagers were put in a chopper of Indian Air Force and transported to undisclosed location and another 16 villagers including Mangal Honhanga and Ronde Honhanga were asked to go with the paramilitary forces to the forest. But luckily, Suniya Honhanga was escaped.

Ronde Honhanga narrates the further developments in the forests. All the 16 villagers were asked to carry the luggage of the paramilitary forces whole day without food and water. In the night they were asked to sleep in the forest itself. On 30, June, the security forces asked them to move towards Chhotanagra police station. Hence, they started travelling at 3 O’clock in the morning. Meanwhile, Mangal Honhanga and another villager Tasu Sidu stop for a while and Mangal Honhanga took side for toilet. The COBRA Jawans assumed that Mangal Honhanga is running away. Therefore, they fired three times – one bullet in sky and two bullets on Mangal Honhanga. Consequently, he fell on the ground and died there. Tasu Sidu witnessed it. Immediately, the Jawans wrapped the dead body and didn’t show the villagers unless they reached to Chhotanagra police station. The dead body was transported to Chaibasa for post-mortem and finally, the police handed over the dead body and sent all the 15 villagers to Baliba village.

The SP Arun Kumar organized a press conference in Chaibasa and told the media persons about their grand success in anti-naxal operations. However, he accepted that Mangal Honhanga was innocent villager and a bullet of the security forces hit him while there was crossfire between the security forces and the Maoists. However, the villagers unearthed the truth, according to them there was no exchange of any fire; it was a clear case of brutal killing by the security forces. Since, the villagers knew the truth therefore, the top cops asked the officer-in-charge of Chhotanagra police station to offer compensation package to the family members of the deceased. Rs. 3 lakh and a job were offered to the family members. Ironically, the death certificate does not state the cause of death. This is one of the classic examples of killing, denial and manipulation by the police and security forces while carrying on the so-called anti-naxal joint operations.

In another similar case, the police killed a villager and coined it as the result of crossfire. On 18 August, 2011 the security forces arrive to Baliba village again. They caught 6 villagers including Ladura Barjo, Mangal Barjo, Sanika Barjo, Dubiya Barjo, Mangra Guria and Soma Guria. These people were taken to “Chabutra” of the village and, kicked and severely beaten with stick, tiles and butt of the guns. Consequently, Soma Guria fell down and became unconscious. On the next day, the security forces took them to the forest. Soma Guria was not able to walk but he was dragged towards the forest. According to the eyewitness, when he died due to injuries in the forest, the security forces fired two bullets in his chest. On 20 August, the villagers were handed over the dead body of Soma Guria and told that he was killed in crossfire.

In fact, the security forces land to any village, rob the houses, catch the innocent villagers, torture them, exploit women and shoot the man, and finally, they hand over the dead bodies to the family members after couple of day and tell that their man was killed in the crossfire. Thus, the endless inhuman acts of the security forces continue in the Saranda forest. The villagers are tired of sharing their pains, sufferings and agony. But do they have any choice? The security forces captured the house containing a ration shop of Patur Gagrai of Tiril Polshi village on August 3. He is also the president of village education committee. The police blame that he supplies ration to the Maoists. In another case, the security forces raped 3 women in Karampada village on August 1 and 15 people were picked up from Hatnaburu village on August 24 alleging them as members of the CPI-Maoists without any proof. The fact is, whenever, the security forces go for the anti-naxal operation, and they victimize the innocent villagers. The billion dollar question is, can the security forces rape women and kill the men in cold-blooded murder even if they are member of the CPI-Maoists?

The story does not end here. When the Jharkhand Human Rights Movement (JHRM) intervened and exposed the killings of Mangal Honhanga and Somu Guria by the security forces, the top cops started branding the JHRM as Maoist’s organization. The Kolhan DIG Naveen Kumar said, “The allegations by the family are Maoist sponsored. It is just to harass and disrupt police operations.” He also said that Mangal Honhanga was a rebel. Similarly, the IG and spokesperson of Jharkhand Police R.K. Mullick said that Mangal Honhanga had some explosive with him. What a brilliant idea of the top cops of Jharkhand for coining an innocent Adivasi as Maoist to bury their inhuman acts. However, when there was ample pressure, the Inspector General of Police did inquiry and found that both Mangal Honhanga and Soma Guria were innocent Adivasi and the security forces shot them when they declined to follow their instructions. The irony is still, the Home Secretary and the Director General of Police are tirelessly attempting to coin both the killings as results of the crossfire.

The most important point is, speaking about rights has become crime in the largest democratic country on the earth especially, when the rights are for the under privilege communities.  However, if you speak for the middle class or upper middle class, you’ll become the hero. Perhaps, second Gandhi, second Nehru or Second Patel. For instance, when the teachers of thousand of public and private schools asked their children (students) to take part in Anna Hazare’s movement after deserting their studies, it was glamorized by the 24×7 news channel instead of questioning and taking action against the teachers. In another similar case, when the poor children took part in a movement against POSCO project in the state of Odisha, the state government threatened the organizers for taking action against them in the name of violating the child rights. What kind of democracy is this?

Indeed, it’s very clear that if you stand against the police atrocities and reluctant to be alienated from the natural resources (land, forest and mineral), you’ll be coined as the extremists. Precisely, because both – questioning against police atrocities and displacement ultimately expose the corporate nexus with the government’s anti naxal-operations for mineral interest. Obviously, the Indian state bothers about the ‘threat to the investment climate’ rather than protecting its citizen’s rights and the constitution. Though the Jharkhand police have accepted the killing of Mangal Honhanga and Soma Guria but my assumption is, the family members would be shut up with the compensation packages and the cops will enjoy impunity as usual.

When I completed this piece, a report appeared in the news paper, which states that the Adivasis of Tholkabad village in Saranda Forest have vacated their village and went to elsewhere in fear of the police torture. Since, right from the beginning, when I started writing on so-called anti-Naxal operations, I have been mentioning that the ‘Operation Green Hunt’ was launched with the clear intention to create fear, insecurity and livelihood crisis in the villages so that the villages would leave the vicinity. Consequently, the government can hand over the Adivasis land to the corporate shark comfortable. The Jharkhand government has allotted iron-ore to 19 steel companies including Mittal, Jindal, Tata, Atro-Steel and Torian in Saranda Forest. Therefore, of course, they want to clear the land.

Published in the Jharkhand Mirror.

Gladson Dungdung is a Human Rights Activist and Writer. He can be reached at:


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