New Delhi- The destruction of Hasdeo-Aranya is drawing people's attention to similar atrocities faced by Adivasis in different regions. At a time when many such struggles have been left out of the media scene, people are now bringing them more into the spotlight. For the same reason, a demonstration took place at the Faculty of Arts of Delhi University, which spoke about the atrocities faced by the community.
On Wednesday, January 10, Delhi University's Art Faculty hosted a demonstration organized by the Forum Against Corporatization and Militarization (FACAM) against the threats to the ecology and survival of Adivasis in many places of the nation. The demonstration protested clearing of trees and the appropriation of Adivasi peasant land in Hasdeo, Chhattisgarh. They also raised voices against the creation of a tiger reserve as a pretext for the displacement of Adivasi villagers from Kaimur, Bihar, and the first week killing of a six-month-old baby in the Bastar area of Chhattisgarh.
The protest was held in opposition to the Indian government's Operation SAMADHAN-Prahar, which builds numerous paramilitary camps and sends thousands of paramilitary forces there under the pretext of anti-Maoist operations, thereby intensifying militarization for the purpose of escalating corporate looting in resource-rich regions. The protest was addressed by DU's Dr. Jitendra Meena, Dr. Saroj Giri of the Political Science Department and Dr. Nandita Narain of St. Stephen's College, DU.
Dr. Jitendra Meena discussed how Adivasis are increasingly being uprooted from their homeland through large corporations looking to start mining operations in areas with plenty of resources. The teacher explained, “Hasdeo-Aranya was declared to be a no-go area during UPA’s regime, putting a stop to all human led endeavors. But the situation changed in 2012-2013 when Rajasthan government’s electricity department decided to mine coal. The responsibility was given to Adani and that started changing the whole picture. Parsa East, Parsa West, Sarbuja are some of the areas in Chhattisgarh where mining went in full swing. When Adani realized the consent of Gram Sabhas are needed for more exploitation, they used the state government’s help in forming fake Gram Sabhas to complete the requirements.”
He further alleged that the same pattern is being followed in other states such as Rajasthan, “The same story is being followed in Rajasthan. In Kumbalgarh region of the state, families in more than 50 villages have been given eviction notices. Karauli-Dholpur too has more than 50 villages where people have been given same notices which hold no clue about rehabilitation.”
In his next speech, Dr. Saroj Giri discussed the connections between the conflict for resources and land in Bastar and other regions of the nation and the battle of the Palestinian people in Gaza against the Zionist Israeli state. He outlined how, starting with Salwa Judum and Operation Green Hunt, which has subsequently escalated into Operation SAMADHAN-Prahar, the Indian government has been waging an unreported and unrecorded war on the nation's Adivasi population.
The researcher further asked the people to read and know more. He remarked, “Ground level resistance the corporate entities are facing is too much. And it is only because of that we are getting to know the reality. It is our duty as citizens of this nation to understand the protests that are taking place and do our diligent duty to learn more about the communities. Every resistance is being undertaken in a different form; some are demanding autonomous administrative rights while others are asking for mining to cease. The ill-treatment of Adivasis has been going on since the very beginning. States were restructured in such a way so that you never get to realize the amount of tribal population in central and east India.”
Following up, Dr. Nandita Narain determined that the establishment of imperialism's outposts in various critical areas of interest—the Israeli state being one such outpost in the Middle East—was the primary cause of the problem. She cited the Zionist state of Israel's role in arming the Brahmanical Indian state, which it used to bomb Bastar, and pointed out that Israel and India work closely together, demonstrating how imperialism is the driving force behind corporate resource looting and is extending its reach into our nation.
Along with the speakers, many student activists lent their voice to the demonstration as well. Aditya from AISA, Uthara from bsCEM, Sujit from DSU, and Val from Nazariya magazine spoke out against the state's suppression of leaders of the Kaimur Mukti Morcha-led anti-displacement movement in Bihar, as well as the killing of the newborn and destruction of Hasdeo.