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AID's Stand on Chattisgarh
Chattisgarh Human Rights issues: [More Details]
Association for India’s Development (AID) and its partners have always worked for bringing peace and justice to the adivasi communities of Chhattisgarh. We have strongly advocated and stood up for the restoration of the constitutionally and legally guaranteed fundamental rights of adivasis to their land and livelihoods (rights under the constitution such as the 5th and 6th Schedules, and laws such as the Panchayat Extension to Schedule Areas of 1996) and increasingly also ensured by international treaties on minority and indigenous people’s rights to which India is a signatory. In the violence torn region, we have consistently taken a stand against those who violate the rights of adivasis. We have thus taken a stand against the arming of civilians by the Government. Later the Chief Justice of Supreme Court strongly disapproved of Salwa Judum.
Long before Dantewada was in the news, AID partners were working for the development of the region in general. As attested in various reports of independent human rights monitoring agencies, violence forced at least 300,000 adivasis to abandon 644 villages. There has been no media coverage about internally displaced people (IDPs) who were made homeless on their own land. AID partners brought to light the abysmal conditions of the camps run by Salwa Judum where thousands were held captive against their will.
AID worked with Agricultural and Social Development Society (ASDS) in Khammam district of Andhra, which was working with the thousands of adivasis who had fled the violence in Chhattisgarh. These adivasis remained unacknowledged by the Governments of either state. There was no coverage by the media or any voice of support for these citizens of India whose entire set of fundamental rights were grossly violated. ASDS worked with these communities to get them the basic PDS support and school for their children.
AID has also worked with another Gandhian group – Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (VCA) which had been working for the general development of the adivasi communities for the last two decades. In the wake of the violence starting from 2005, it had always advocated a peaceful and just path forward keeping the adivasis in central focus. VCA worked for the normalization of life in Dantewada by rehabilitating villagers who wanted to come back to their land. It was acutely aware that a normally established community with a functioning administration would make no place for violence. In July, 2009, AID appealed to the Government to restart the schools, anganwadis and the ration shops in the adivasi communities. This appeal was directed both to the Government and the rebels to “refrain from any activity that adversely affects the return and stay of the rehabilitated Adivasis in the villages of Chhattisgarh.” Supreme Court’s Sept. 2008 directive to the state of Chhattisgarh and the state’s own orders exhort the administration to carry out the rehabilitation.
VCA also believed in due process. Therefore, VCA helped the victims of rape, loot and murder file cases in the courts. However, this effort of facilitating the access of the battered adivasi communities to the juridical system was met with retribution from the state administration which arrested a VCA worker on false murder charges and intimidated the others. Not one of the over 500 complaints from the adivasis were registered. The state finally razed the VCA campus to ground in May 2009.
AID and partners have always advocated against increasing militarization, especially as a potential “solution” to what is a failure of socioeconomic development of the sustainable, equitable and just variety that AID’s mission advocates. We fear that this would widen the schisms in the society, tear apart the social fabric, and perpetuate the cycle of violence leading to a greater loss of life. Regardless of the perpetrators of any violence, AID deplores the brutalization of the poor whether they are adivasis in Chhattisgarh or CRPF jawans and has strongly condemned the killing of the 76 jawans on April 6th, 2010. AID has time and again called for a peaceful negotiating of the various claims and an abandoning of the path of violence. We have been principled in condemning physical as well as structural violence. In May 2010 when concerned citizens carried out a Peace March from Raipur, AID extended a Solidarity Statement.
Today when the media is replete with sensationalized and biased journalism, the mainstream society feels compelled to take strong sides without understanding the perils that a common adivasi family faces in its daily struggle of survival within a society that has historically stigmatized them. As a Gandhian organization committed to its core values and mission, AID stands for bringing peace and justice to the adivasi communities of Chhattisgarh through non-violent means, restoring their fundamental rights and the immediate implementation of Forest Rights Act of 2006.