January 11, 2009

Adivasis getting commando style training in West Bengal

Bankura-Purulia border (West Bengal), Jan.10 (ANI): Over one thousand Adivasi men and women are being given 'commando' training in Taldanga village on the Bankura-Purulia border in West Bengal. At a war camp which began on January 7, the men and women were given theoretical and practical training in using traditional weapons to attack as well as defend.

Armed with bows and arrows, spades and hammers, the Adivasis are training rigorously, under Maoist guidance, to protect themselves from those who are eroding democratic values and suppressing their rights. They raise the 'Red Salute' (Lal Salaam) with pride and take oath to attack and defend in firm, strong voices.

They make it clear that they would no longer take things lying down and that they have lost faith in the country's law and order machinery. Giving the example of the de-robing of a young Adivasi girl in Guwahati during a peaceful rally on Nov 24, 2007, the participants at the war camp say that they have reached the end of their patience, particularly after the Assam incidence. The sheer apathy of the majority was obvious then, they say, adding that many were busy taking pictures instead of protecting the girl.

The Adivasis are convinced that the police and administration become mute spectators when they are abused, or when their lands are snatched away, or when they are killed across the country. Even in Bengal, CPI(M) cadres have regularly tried to exploit and suppress the backward tribals by attacking and killing, the participants alleged. For 59 years we have waited and observed, claimed Sitaram Azad, a representative of the Jharkhand Desam Party.

But nothing was done for our rights. We are now not going to get insulted, abused, exploited or killed quietly, we will fight those who come to attack us ourselves, he adds. Adivasis from seven states, including Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Assam are participating in the ongoing camp. The camp organizers refused to divulge the duration of the camp.

The Adivasis are also disillusioned with the role of political parties. They allege that whenever a political party took up their cause, it was with a vested agenda. Now, they say, they have united under the banner of the 'Jharkhand Desam Party' to fight for their rights, not through just words, but also through action if need be. The participants said that whenever they had defended themselves by picking up their own arms, they have prevailed, but dependence on the law enforcers of the country has always seen the adivasis being victimized in any situation.
Though the impression is that the JDP is a regular outfit, there is no hiding the fact that its totally backed by Maoists. The participants of the war camp take oath in true Maoist fashion, raising the 'Red Salute'. They also say tribal prayers.

The adivasis are marching to war drum beats in commando fashion. Their weapons may be crude and traditional but the spirit to fight, to attack and defend, is as strong as any skilled operator. State governments across the country are napping in ignorant bliss while this backward, suppressed class is preparing steadily for a war to capture their rights and get recognition in India.
By Ajitha Menon (ANI)

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