Monday, March 8, 2010

Statement on Maoist attack on police camp in West Bengal

Statement on Maoist attack on police camp in West Bengal

We the undersigned would like to express our deep concern at the
ongoing conflict in the Jangalmahal area of West Bengal where forces
of the CPI (Maoist) and the Indian government have been confronting
each other for the past year.

The regular incidents of violence have resulted in the tragic loss of
too many lives already- both of combatants and innocent civilians-
and needs to come to an immediate end. The systematic annihilation of
opponents and the gross violations of human rights by both sides in
the conflict are a serious setback to the task of building a more just
and humane Indian society.

In this context the attack by the CPI (Maoist) cadre on the Silda
police camp in West Bengal on 15 February killing 24 policemen
represents a severe escalation of an already ugly situation in the
Jangalmahal area. Coming at a time when there are active attempts
being made by many sections of civil society to get the Indian
government to call off its proposed ‘Operation Green Hunt’ against the
Maoists this provocative act by the latter can only result in a
hardening of attitudes all around.

While there are many genuine grievances of the local population
against the West Bengal state government and the security forces
operating in the tribal areas of West Midnapore – including arbitrary
arrests and killings- none of them can be used to justify the latest
Maoist action. In fact the purely military methods adopted by the CPI
(Maoist) are inimical to the task of finding both short and long-term
political solutions to the long-standing problems of the local people.

Use of violence for political goals, however lofty, cannot mean
violation of fundamental principles of humanity and there are also
basic norms and conventions that need to be adhered to. Every such
killing and violation adds to the spiral of grief, trauma and revenge
that is already consuming our polity; and from which the common people
desperately need relief.

Monday’s attack on the Silda police camp also represents a
contradiction of the CPI (Maoist)’s own stated position, through media
interviews of its top most leaders, of the need for talks with the
government of India and the prevention of an ‘all out war’. The
massacre of police personnel also shows a lack of seriousness on the
part of the CPI (Maoist) about its own publicly stated demand that for
‘any kind of democratic work, the ban on the Party and Mass
Organizations have to be lifted’.

The Indian State too should immediately stop all its violations of
human rights in the Jangalmahal area, sincerely settle the problems of
the local people and not use the latest Maoist attack as an excuse to
go ahead with further intensification of the conflict.
We the undersigned sincerely hope for a quick and peaceful resolution
to the conflict, which is putting at grave risk the lives of a very
large number of innocent people trapped between the Maoists and the
Indian State.

Prof. A. Marx, Chennai
Bhaskar Vishwanathan, Chennai
Praful Bidwai, New Delhi
Dileep Simeon, New Delhi
Apoorvanand, New Delhi
Aditya Nigam, New Delhi
Nivedita Menon, New Delhi
Amit Sengupta, New Delhi
Satya Sivaraman, New Delhi