In response to declaration by Indian Home Ministry that Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan is a ‘Maoist-Front Organisation’
by Stan Swamy
1) Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan (VVJVA) is not an NGO. It is a broad people’s movement and came into existence spontaneously during the first decade of Jharkhand as a separate State. Many were the expectations when the new state was created that at last the Adivasi and Moolvasi people would be able to govern themselves as per their socio-cultural traditions and develop economically. But nothing seemed happening and we got wind of the govt signing MoUs with different companies behind the back of people and writing off their land to companies. Around 2005 we put in an RTI petition and got the details of the 74 MoUs and publicized the information to several activists in different parts of the state. Once people realized that their land was being given away without their knowledge and consent to industrialists, resistance movements against displacement and land-alienation took shape. We expressed mutual solidarity to each other’s struggles and succeeded in sending several industrialists away empty handed and this action of the indigenous people angered the ruling class.
2) State repression became the order of the day insofar as any one leading resistance movement were labeled naxals and thrown into jails. VVJVA, together with other Jharkhandi movements & organizations, brought out this anomaly and trieto reach out to the jailed activists by trying to bail them out. A few activists were even convicted and one cultural activist was sentenced to death by hanging on a false charge of multiple murder. We took care of his young wife and their two-year old son and with the help of committed lawyers challenged the lower court’s verdict in Jharkhand High Court and secured his acquittal. We continued to publicise the injustice perpetrated on the indigenous people just because they refused to surrender their jal, jangal, jamin and claimed ownership of the natural resources especially the rich minerals beneath their land.
3) Fake encounter-killings began with the formal declaration of Operation Green Hunt in 2011 and VVJVA together with other human rights organizations opposed it. It was followed by a series of ‘encounter-killings’ of civilians by the police and para-military forces. We formed fact-finding teams, went to the bereaved families and village community, met the local police officers and got their version, wrote out our report and called press conference of local print & electronic media and brought to the notice of the general public our findings which were mostly at variance with what the police said.
4) Fake Surrenders: 514 innocent tribal youths were made to surrender as Naxalites in Jharkhand during 2012 to 2014. This was a startling revelation by no less than a body than the National Human Rights Commission which after its official visit to Jharkhand in October 2016 to verify the various complaints it received from individuals and groups, came out with the startling finding that innocent tribal youths have been cheated by making them surrender as ‘naxalites’. The infamous ‘surrender policy’ of the govt advocates that apart from a govt job, a surrendered Naxal is entitled to get an amount ranging from Rs.1.5 lakh to 2.5 lakh. For the tribal youth whose small pieces of agricultural land is being forcibly taken by the govt and corporate houses in the name of ‘development’ and with hardly any job opportunities in their rural set up, any possibility of getting some job assumes first priority. So when the police and their agents entice the innocent tribal youth with this false promise, they fall for it. This is nothing short of a crime committed by the govt against the poorest of the poor.
5) Finally, the amendments to CNT/SPT Acts and the discriminatory ‘Domicile Policy’ was vehemently opposed by VVJVA together with several social and political movements. Except the ruling BJP, all the other political parties are opposing govt’s action. Several forms of protests and representations to the State Governor and the President of India have and are still being done. It is four months since the Amendments were surreptitiously passed in the State Assembly but the Governor has not given her assent. So the BJP govt is precariously hanging in uncertainty because the ample assurances it has given to the corporate houses during the ‘Momentum Jharkhand’ summit in February this year cannot materialize. This is the last straw on the govt’s back.
Given the above considerations, VVJVA certifies that:
• it will stand by its constitutional right to dissent when it finds govt’s actions/ policies are against truth and justice,
• it will continue to take up the issues affecting the marginalized Adivasi & Moolvasi Communities and participate in their struggles to protect their rights over natural resources,
• it has never had any recourse to violence although it is a victim of state violence in the form of illegal arrests and false charges against its members,
• it is a spontaneous effort of concerned citizens to see the light of truth & justice at the end of the tunnel.
• It is by no means a frontal organization of Maoist forces.