Sanhati, a forum for solidarity with peoples’ struggles in India, successfully organized a protest demonstration in front of the Indian Consulate in NYC on August 13 against Operation Green Hunt to coincide with India’s independence day on 15th August . The protest demonstration was endorsed by the Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia and was attended by individuals from Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas representing diverse South Asian and international organizations like SASI (South Asia Solidarity Initiative), ILPS (International League of Peoples Struggles), ISO (International Socialist Organisation), RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party) USA, FRSO (Freedom Road Socialist Organization), WWP (Workers World Party) and others. A legal observer from the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) was also present during the protest.
The demonstration continued from 11 am to 1pm and was marked by chanting of slogans, distributing pamphlets to passers-by, making speeches in support of peoples’ struggles in India, singing songs of resistance and finally submitting a signed petition registering a strong protest against the government’s military offensive in the regions populated by the indigeneous (adivasi) people. The text of the petition is appended below for reference.
———— TEXT OF PETITION ————–
To: Consul General
Consulate General of India
3 East 64th Street
New York, NY 10065
(Subject: Petition against Operation Green Hunt in India)
We, the undersigned, would like to register our strong protest against the Operation Green Hunt, the Government of India’s (GOI) deliberate move to escalate military intervention against the indigenous people in the forested regions of East-Central India. Such a military campaign already will endanger the lives and livelihoods of millions of the poorest people living in those areas, resulting in massive displacement, destitution and human rights violation of ordinary citizens, especially the indigenous people.
We are acutely aware of the fact that the geographical terrain where the GOI’s military offensive is taking place, is very rich in natural resources like minerals, forest wealth and water, and has been the target of large scale appropriation by several Indian and foreign corporations. The desperate resistance of the local indigenous people against their displacement and dispossession has in many cases prevented the government-backed corporations from making inroads into these areas and has thankfully impeded the setting-up of ecologically disastrous industries. We fear that the government’s on-going military offensive is an attempt to crush such popular resistances in order to facilitate the entry and operation of these corporations and to pave the way for unbridled exploitation of the natural resources and the people of these regions.
We feel that it would deliver a crippling blow to Indian democracy if the government tries to subjugate its own people militarily without addressing their grievances. As has been witnessed in the case of numerous peoples’ struggle around the world, such military campaigns end up in enormous misery for the common people.
Therefore, we demand –
1) An immediate end to the Operation Green Hunt and withdrawal of all armed forces from these regions
2) The GOI should engage with the civil society mediated initiatives for negotiations with representatives of peoples’ movements in order to address the grievances of the common people.
3) All Memoranda of Understanding (MoU-s) signed with different corporations, for the extraction of natural resources from the vast areas of East-Central India, must be revealed and immediately cancelled.
4) All draconian laws like Unlawful Activity (Prevention) Act, Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, Armed Forces Special Powers Act should be immediately repealed. Ban on political organizations should be withdrawn and all political prisoners should be released.
5) All state-assisted vigilante groups like the Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh and Harmad Bahini in West Bengal should be immediately disbanded and the concerned criminals associated with these organizations, including government officials, should be brought to book.