When The State Gets Coercive

A letter to the Editor :
I would like the readers whose passions are running high in the wake of Dantewada II to go through Chapter IV of a 2009 draft report authored by Sub Group IV of the Committee on State Agrarian Relations and Unfinished Task of Land Reforms, set up by the Union Ministry of Rural Development, besides offering their suggestions to wipe out the Maoists. While addressing the question of large-scale acquisition of tribal lands in the mineral-rich area, the Report talks of the forcible evacuation of entire villages and herding the populace into camps, from which those who escape are branded as Maoists and wiped out. The Salwa Judum, which organised the evacuation, according to the report, was “created and encouraged by the [State] government and supported with the firepower and organisation of the central forces.”

S.V. Rajadurai,


The report is here. An article from Outlook quotes a small paragraph:
This open, declared war will go down as the biggest land grab ever.... Tata Steel and Essar Steel...wanted seven villages or thereabouts...to mine the richest lode of iron ore available in India. (After) initial resistance from the tribals...the state withdrew its plans. A new approach was necessary.... (It) came about with the Salwa Judum...headed by the Murias, some of them erstwhile (Maoist) cadres. Behind them are traders, contractors and miners.... The first financiers of the Salwa Judum were Tata and Essar...640 villages...were laid bare, burnt to the ground and emptied with the force of the gun and the blessings of the state. (Some) 3,50,000 tribals, half the total population of Dantewada district, are displaced, their womenfolk raped, their daughters killed and their youth maimed. Those who could not escape into the jungle were herded together into refugee camps run and managed by the Salwa Judum...640 villages are empty. Villages sitting on tons of iron ore are effectively de-peopled and available for the highest bidder. The latest information being circulated is that both Essar Steel and Tata Steel are willing to take over the empty landscape and manage the mines.”
The Outlook reporter calls it 'devastatingly frank'. That it is without a doubt, though it's from a committee set up by the government and not by a group of some wild-eyed Maoist-sympathisers.

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