The Naxalites, or more specifically members of the CPI (Maoist), have established themselves in the predominantly adivasi tracts of Central India. They have done this by working among the adivasis and gaining their trust through successfully fighting against various forms of exploitation and oppression that the adivasis were historically subjected to. Because the Indian State sees the Maoist movement as a threat it has essentially declared a seemingly low-intensity war on the Maoists. With the realisation that the Maoists have significant popular support among the adivasis, in order to effectively counter the movement, our State has chosen to brutalise this support base, these adivasis, to wean them away from the Maoists.
This report is about that brutalisation and its impact. It is essentially a report about the suffering inflicted on a people who are to us non-adivasis so near geographically but so distant and virtually non-existent in our minds and social psyche. Our perception of adivasis has been historically clouded by false caricatures and misinformation by a complex of vested interests. It is similar to what Europeans have done to Africans and the same European settlers have done to Native Americans. They needed their extraordinarily rich lands and natural resources but couldn’t just shove those people aside and expropriate them – their own collective moral conscience wouldn’t allow that. So they began to portray the native residents of these continents (the “adivasis” there) as savages that need to be civilized if necessary, and inevitably necessarily, at the point of a gun. The caricaturing of the natives as less-than-human beings is essential to the brutal imposition of “civilization” and “development” on them.
Our adivasis have similarly been caricatured and imprinted as less-than-human in our minds over several generations. This makes the violence imposed on them seem insignificant and the resultant suffering invisible. As truly civilized beings, and not as our predecessors who used “civilization” as an excuse to brutalize and exploit, it is time that we begin to see the humanity in our adivasis and the inhumanity of our actions against them. This report is to help us do that – to begin by educating ourselves about and acknowledging the immense and entirely unacceptable suffering inflicted on our so-very-human adivasis by our not-so-human governments and police.
A Human Rights Forum (HRF) Publication