Condemn Aerial Bombings on the Villages of Chhattisgarh by Indian State

On the intervening night of 14-15th April 2022, villages namely Bottetong and Mettagudem (Usoor Block), Duled, Sakler, and Pottemangi (Konta Block) of Bijapur and Sukma districts were bombed using drones. The images of remains of drones, metallic remnants of bombs, images of destroyed trees, etc., started doing rounds on various media outlets along with claims of the locals that their villages were bombed by drones. The presence of such remains leaves hardly any doubt regarding the reliability of claims made by the indigenous locals who have been long subjugated to state repression under various forms of Salwa Judum and Operation Green-hunt.

Not long ago, in the second week of March 2022, Soni Sori, an Adivasi activist sent out alarming video messages, showing unexploded Mortar shells fired by Central Paramilitary Forces in Ganglur village of Bijapur District, in the name of a combing operation. A similar Aerial attack was conducted on the 19th of April, 2021, when Bastar was asleep, at least 12 bombs were dropped on Adivasi hamlets in between Botalanka and Palagudem villages of Bijapur District.

We see such advanced offensive on people, at par with rising militarization that is being done through multi-million-dollar deals. In the current financial year 2022-23, the government has allocated a budget of a whopping Rs 5,25,166 crore, a 9 percent hike from the last year’s budgetary allocation of Rs 4,78,196 crore. Recently, the Indian government made a deal of Rs 5142 crores with Russia for immediate procurement of 70,000 pieces of AK-203 assault rifles, along with a joint venture to manufacture 6 lakh of such rifles, that it considers “good for counter-insurgency operations”. Similarly, a deal worth 200 million dollars was made with Israel for the purchase of Heron Mark II drones, despite having 180 Israeli UAVs Including 68 Heron Mark I’s in an operational capacity. The list of such arms deals is very long and not exhaustive.

The ever strong resistance movements and rising people’s struggle against the corporate loot are creating hindrance for the state in helping its corporate friends to carry out the exploitation of resources such as coal, iron ore, limestone, bauxite, and dolomite, as well as significant deposits of tin, manganese ore, gold, and copper; and therefore, the state is upping the militarization of mineral rich regions, building paramilitary camps, formation of Auxiliary forces such as District Reserve Guards (DRG), Koya Commandos and Bastariya Fighters by inducting SPO’s on the lines of infamous Salwa Judum, using helicopters and drones to ferry troops and conduct aerial bombing.

The incidents of aerial bombings and mortar shellings are all more concerning than anything else because the impact of such actions is far wider and more lethal than that of a bullet and one cannot separately target the combatants from non-combatants, therefore, increasing the probability of death of non-combatants. The government of India has also ratified Geneva Convention (1949) which prohibits such attacks on areas where civilians also reside, as illegal and immoral.

We are of the view that such aggressive and brutal actions are being carried out under the aggressive operation SAMADHAN-PRAHAR that has been brought in place to address the “Maoist problem” by unleashing outright war in which the ‘collateral damage’ can be excused and in order to stop such aggressive actions against the Adivasi people fighting for their Jal-Jangal-Jameen, the people at large MUST UNITEDLY OPPOSE OPERATION SAMADHAN-PRAHAR.

We, Forum Against Corporatisation and Militarization condemn this act of barbarity against the people of our own country and put forward the following demands:

1. Immediately Conduct judicial probe in the aerial bombings and take strict actions against the officials responsible for the attack.

2. Stop Aerial Bombings and Mortar shellings on people in Chhattisgarh and elsewhere in the country.

3. Stop building and Withdraw police and paramilitary camp projects

4. State must respect the autonomy granted to Gram Sabhas under the 5th and 6th schedule of the Constitutions and PESA Act, 1996.

5. State must engage in dialogues with all mass movements against police or paramilitary camps, mining, and other projects.

6. Stop operation SAMADHAN-PRAHAR.

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