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New Fact Sheet on Operation Green Hunt

Fact Sheet on Operation Green Hunt

By Campaign against War on People

The following document is a compilation of information gathered through news reports in the mainstream media, government reports, and reports of independent fact-finding teams. It aims to offer as objective and non-partisan a view of the situation in the affected states, as is possible.


The Status of the Current Offensive

  • The offensive will be spread over the next five years.
  • A special forces school, a special forces unit and an army brigade HQ will be set up near Bilaspur. The brigade HQ will participate in anti-Maoist ops in the future. The army is looking for 1,800 acres of land to set up the infrastructure.
  • The IAF is looking for 300 acres for its base
  • Home Ministry is sitting on a plan to redeploy the Rashtriya Rifles [from Kashmir to the Naxal affected areas]. RR and BSF unlike other paramilitary forces, have heavy weaponry like medium-range machine guns, mortars and rocket launchers.
  • For now, 27 battalions of the Border Security Force and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police will be moved into Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Maharashtra.
  • The paramilitary forces will be supported by six Mi-17 IAF choppers.
  • The helicopters will have on board the IAF's special force, the GARUDS, to secure the chopper and conduct combat search and rescue operations.
  • The offensive will be in seven phases. Each phase has been marked area-wise as Operating Areas (OAsOA-1) involves moving along a north-south axis from Kanker, Chhattisgarh, and on an east-west axis from Gadchiroli in Maharashtra and span the Abuj Marh forests used by the Maoists as a training centre and logistics base. (All points above from Outlook, 26 Oct 2009)
  • In Maharashtra alone, a Rs 100 crore strategy has been chalked out to intensify operations against ‘Naxals’. (India Today, 2 June 2009)
  • Vanwasi Chetana Ashram, a voluntary organisation based on Gandhian ideas and principles, was demolished in May 2009 by security forces, in the name of fighting Maoists.(http://www.mumbaimirror.com/printarticle.aspx?page=comments&action=add&sectid=3&contentid=200911292009112901570554ea92c77&subsite=)
  • Salwa Judum type squads continue to operate actively against tribal people, with the active connivance of the local administration, in the name of fighting Maoists. (‘Salwa Judum in Narayanpatna: A Fact-Finding Report’, athttp://radicalnotes.com/journal/2009/11/25/a-fact finding-report-on-narayanpatna/)
  • First phase of Operation Green Hunt has already begun in Gadchiroli district, Maharashtra (Times of India, 2 Nov 2009)
  • The current offensive may be held in partial abeyance till January 2010, not to facilitate dialogue but because the paramilitary forces will be required on poll duty in the upcoming elections in Jharkhand. (IANS report, 24 Nov 2009, available online at http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/uncategorized/government-itching-to-go-after-maoists says-top-cop_100279490.html)

The Government’s (and big corporate’s) Economic Stakes in this War

• “If left-wing extremism continues to flourish in parts of our country which have tremendous natural resources of minerals, it will affect the climate for investment.” [PM to Parliament, 9 June 2009]

  • “To see some massive neo-con plot in this is laughable,” PMO sources say, but add, “Natural resources must be exploited for the greater good of the nation. We can debate different models of economic development, but the bottomline today is that no one’s able to tap those resources.” (Outlook, 17 March 2008)
  • ‘The power to acquire land for mines, in particular, was largely devolved to the state governments during the NDA regime, through an amendment of the 1957 Mines and Minerals Act. The NDA government also allowed foreign companies to enter this politically charged area of mineral development. These two enactments have given Naxalite leaders all the moral justification they need to mobilise armed resistance. With only a few exceptions, state leaders have used their powers of land acquisition to enrich themselves or fund their parties. It is no coincidence that the Communist Party (Maoist) came into being only two years     after     these     amendments.’     (Outlook,  17  March 2008  ,?http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?236962)
  • Lakshmi Mittal’s Arcelor has planned to put ‘Rs 1,00,000 crore ($24 billion) to be invested in two steel plants and iron ore mines in Jharkhand and Orissa that will produce 24 million tonnes of steel when they come on stream.’ But ‘if the Maoist insurgency in central India continues to develop at its present speed, he may never find the iron ore he needs to operate his plants.’ (Outlook, 17 March 2008)
  • ‘An analysis of investments in Naxal-affected areas by projectstoday.com for Outlook clearly reveals the growing business interests at play. Till September ’09, Rs 6,69,388 crore of investment had been pledged in the troubled areas—14 per cent of the total pledged investments in the country.’ (Outlook, 26 Oct 2009)  http://www.outlookindia.com/content.aspx?issue=5088
  • ‘So what kind of money are we talking about? In their seminal, soon-to-be-published work, Out of This Earth: East India Adivasis and the Aluminum Cartel, Samarendra Das and Felix

Padel say that the financial value of the bauxite deposits of Orissa alone is 2.27 trillion dollars. (More than twice India’s Gross Domestic Product). That was at 2004 prices. At today’s prices it would be about 4 trillion dollars.... That’s just the story of the bauxite in Orissa. Expand the four trillion dollars to include the value of the millions of tonnes of high-quality iron ore in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand and the 28 other precious mineral resources, including uranium, limestone, dolomite, coal, tin, granite, marble, copper, diamond, gold, quartzite, corundum, beryl, alexandrite, silica, fluorite and garnet. Add to that the power plants, the dams, the highways, the steel and cement factories, the aluminium smelters, and all the other infrastructure projects that are part of the hundreds of MoUs (more than 90 in Jharkhand alone) that have been signed. That gives us a rough outline of the scale of the operation and the desperation of the stakeholders.’ (Outlook, 9 November 2009)

  • ‘N Baijendra Kumar, principal secretary to the chief minister, says mining projects have not taken off in Bastar because, “44 per cent of Bastar is forest and most of our mineral resources are beneath that. Environmental issues come with the application of the Forest Act. Also, with tribals we have seen emotional problems when it comes to land.” .... Tribal lands are shared and each parcel has 10 to 50 people dependent on it, according to the tribals. A single job for each piece of land will not help.’ (Report by Krishnamurthy Ramasubbu,Expressbuzz, 25 Oct 2009)
  • PC Chidambaram was non-executive director of Vedanta (one of the biggest mining corporations of the world) till being appointed as Finance Minister in 2004. One of the first clearances he gave for FDI was to Twinstar Holdings, a Mauritius-based company, to buy shares in Sterlite, a part of the Vedanta group – one of the many with MoUs for mining in this area. (Outlook, 9 November 2009)
  • In 1970...1 per cent of the population had 18 per cent of the wealth, in 1996 the same 1 per cent owned 40 per cent of wealth. After 50 years of independence 26 per cent of the total population lives below the poverty line and 50.56 per cent are illiterate, if we take official figure into account. Even today due to various reasons, 98 children out of every 1,000 between the ages of 1-5, die. An official report of the government's mines and mineral department, published in 1996-97, states that India's natural gas will be consumed within 23 years, crude oil within 15 years, coal within 213 years, copper within 64 years, gold within 47 years, iron ore within 135 years, chromites within 52 years, manganese within 36 years and bauxite within 125 years. All this is taking place in the name of national development. (Debaranjan Sarangi, ‘Mining “Development” and MNCs’, EPWCommentary, April 24, 2004)

Table: Agreements Signed between 1997- 2002

CompanyMineralsArea (in sq km)District/StateYear of Approval
BHP Billiton (Australia)copper, lead2,532.14Tonk, Ajmer, Bundi, Bhilwara/Rajasthan1997
BHP Billitoncopper, lead2,637.58Tonk, Sawai, Madhopur and Bundi/Rajasthan1997
BHP Billitoncopper, lead903.84Bhilwara/Rajasthan1997
Phelps Dodgecopper2,472Singhbhumi (east) & Singhbhumi (west)/Bihar1998
AustralianIndian Resources (AIR)gold, copper2, 692.30Sonbhadra/UP1998
BHP Billitoncopper568, 389Bhiwani, Mohindergarh/ Haryana1999
Admas Indiadiamond1,966.22Bellary, Chitradurga/ Karnataka2000
ACC Rio Tintodiamond2,480Chitradurga, Tumkur, Bellary,Devanagere/Karnataka2000
Phelps Dodge (US)copper963.585Lalitpur/UP2000
Hutti Gold Minesgold2,240Bagalkot/Karnataka2000
De-Beers (SA)gold300,2,333, 843Kurnool, Anantapur, Prakasham/Andhra Pradesh2000
Phelps Dodgecopper2,770,2,565Cuddapah/Andhra Pradesh2000
NMDC Indiadiamond2,300Anantapur/Andhra Pradesh2000
ACC Rio Tintodiamond1,202.6Raichur, Bellary/Karnataka2001
Phelps Dodges explorationcopper, gold1,869East Singhbhumi/Jharkhand2002
IndophilResources Explorationgold3,453Belgaum, North Kannada, Dharwad, Haveri and Gadag/ Karnataka2001
Anglo-American Explorationcopper, nickel2,487Guntur/Andhra Pradesh2002
DeBeersdiamond2,000Nawarangpur/OrissaApril 19,2002
DeBeersdiamond2,000Nuapada, Bolangir/OrissaApril 19,2002
DeBeersdiamond2,000Kalahandi, Nawarangpur/ OrissaApril 19,
DeBeersdiamond1,733Kalahandi, Bolangir, Nuapada/OrissaApril 19,2002
Anglo Americanlead, zinc453RajasthanMay 20, 2002
DeBeersdiamond679Andhra PradeshMay 20, 2002
BHPnickel, cobalt, gold2,293Narasinghpur, Hoshangabad, Chhindwara/Madhya PradeshMay 31,2002
ACC Rio Tintodiamond, gold2,450Chhatarpur, Sagar, Dmoh, Tikamgarh/Madhya PradeshJune12,2002
Anglo-Americancopper, nickel2,701Andhra PradeshJune 26, 2002
ACC RTZdiamond3,000Dhamtari, Mahasamund/ ChhattisgarhJuly 30, 2002
DeBeers*diamond9,000Raipur, Mahasamund, Kanker, Jaspur, Durg/ ChhattisgarhJuly 30, 2002
ACC RTZ**diamond, gold5,200Madhya PradeshOctober 24, 2002
ACC RTZ*diamond3,000ChhattisgarhOctober 28, 2002

* in three separate projects, ** in two separate projects

(Debaranjan Sarangi, ‘Mining “Development” and MNCs’, EPW Commentary, April 24, 2004)

The Current Socio-Political Situation

  • ‘Maoist politburo member Koteshwar Rao’s offer of talks provided the government declares a ceasefire and releases all prisoners is not being considered, at least not now. Neither is the offer by People’s Union of Civil Liberties’ Jharkhand head Subroto Bhattacharya to mediate being taken seriously.’
  • ‘Congress general secretary and former chief minister of undivided Madhya Pradesh Digvijay Singh says, “The three reasons why Maoist influence is growing is poor governance, non-implementation of the Tribal Bill and the fact that the tribals don’t have rights to natural resources. They should have rights not just over minor forest produce but also major forest produce and that includes the mineral wealth in these areas”.’ Outlook magazine (26 Oct 2009)
  • ‘During the land survey and settlement operation carried out in the late 1950s and continuing in the 1980s in some areas of Koraput district, hardly one per cent land in actual possession of the tribal communities was recorded in their favour.’ (B.K. Roy Burman, former Chairman, Study Group on Land Holding System of Tribals, Planning Commission, in Mainstream, 17 October 2009. Burman goes on to indicate that this was the case for extensive areas occupied by tribal communities across the country.)
  • ‘Chaired by Debu Bandopadhyay, a former rural development secretary, the Expert Group on “Development Issues to Deal with Causes of Discontent, Unrest and Extremism” [committee appointed by the UPA government] said in its report that after the insurgency in Naxalbari was crushed by force in the late 1960s, it has spread from one police station, one district and one state to 560 police stations, 160 districts and 14 states even though the police budget to counter Naxal activity has increased a thousand times during the decades since then. This is because the basic craving for justice and equity, which spawned far-left extremism in the first place, was never addressed.’ (Outlook, 31 Aug 2009)
  • According to government statistics, ‘39% of what is called forest encroachment in the whole country has taken place in [Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, Orissa and Jharkhand]. Much of it, as said above, is not encroachment but occupation that far pre-dates forest reservation and forest laws.(Report of the “Expert Group on “Development Issues to Deal with Causes of Discontent, Unrest and Extremism”)
  • ‘The expert group also noted that, besides the ideological motivation for violence, it is the craving for equity and justice, denied by a brutish State, that propels Maoist expansion. Its report suggests that if exploitative land relations were a trigger for Naxalbari, the massive displacements caused by mega projects, often with unfair compensation packages, is the trigger for the current phase of Naxal expansion. Some six crore people have been coercively displaced by mega projects since 1951, of whom not more than 20 per cent were properly rehabilitated. The Maoist-dominated areas in central India are coterminous with areas of massive forcible displacement. The expert group has clearly identified equity and justice issues relating to land, forced displacement and evictions, extreme poverty and social oppression, livelihood, malgovernance and police brutality as being behind Maoist expansion. More than development, this is also a question of rights. Ensure that they have it and people will accept these rights with both hands, dropping their arms, despite any ideological prodding.’ (Outlook, 31 Aug 2009,http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?261407)
  • The Union Rural Development Ministry’s 15-member committee on ‘State Agrarian Relations and Unfinished Task of Land Reforms’, headed by minister C.P. Joshi himself, submitted its report in January 2008. It has labelled the government’s own policies in the area as ‘The Biggest Grab of Tribal Lands after Columbus’. It has clearly identified the Salva Judum – the vigilante force promoted by the state ostensibly against Naxal cadre – as ‘backed by traders, contractors and miners waiting for a successful result of their strategy. The first financiers of the Salva Judum were Tata and the Essar....’ It goes on to note that ‘350,000 tribals, half the total population of Dantewada district [were] displaced, their womenfolk raped, their daughters killed, and their youth maimed. Those who could not escape into the jungle were herded together into refugee camps run and managed by the Salva Judum. Others continue to hide in the forest or have migrated to the nearby tribal tracts in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.’
  • Salva Judum was formed barely a few days after the MoUs were signed with the Tatas.
  • The Approach Paper for the 11th Plan: "Our practices regarding rehabilitation of those displaced from their land because of development projects are seriously deficient and are responsible for a growing perception of exclusion and marginalisation. The costs of displacement borne by our tribal population have been unduly high, and compensation has been tardy and inadequate, leading to serious unrest in many tribal regions. Thisdiscontent is likely to grow exponentially if the benefits from enforced land acquisition are seen accruing to private interests, or even to the state, at the cost of those displaced. To prevent even greater conflict...it is necessary to frame a transparent set of policy rules that address compensation, and make the affected persons beneficiaries of the projects, and to give these rules a legal format." (Outlook, 17 March 2008)
  • The Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957, (MMRDA) was enacted to exploit mineral wealth. It is highly exploitative and has been used to enrich the state and all those who had the clout and resources to get the lease.... Where does it leave the forest dweller or the landholder who has been living there for generations? He is paid compensation for the land if it is in his name, which normally is not the case, otherwise forcefully evicted. Even the compensation which he was supposed to get was denied, sometimes, by lower functionaries. Why can’t we amend the MMRDA to include the land oustees as one of the beneficiaries of the annual royalty which the government gets? Why can’t we levy a cess on the mineral for local area development which could directly be deposited in the account of the Gram Sabha if it is in a scheduled area and Panchayat/ Gram Sabha if it is in a non-scheduled area? (Digvijay Singh, former Chief Minister of MP andGeneral Secretary of the All India Congress Committee, in The Economic Times 23 Oct 2009)

State Violence

  • Chhatisgarh Special Public Safety Act, 2005 (CSPS) has been used to harass anyone even remotely suspected of sympathising with CPI (Maoist), as for example Sunita Narayan (publisher and bookseller) in 2006, Binayak Sen, Prashant Rahi (social worker). Andhra Pradesh Special Public Safety Act has been used against Macherla Mohan Rao for allegedly spreading the message of Maoism among the youth. (Outlook, 18 August 2008)
  • ‘Farmer Pandey Nath says his land is not being acquired but he still opposes Tata. “Tomorrow they will have a factory near my land, pollute it and edge me out. No one wants to sell but they have all taken money now. No one was taking initially, so they sent three or four people to jail to set an example. They did impersonation, faked papers and everything they could to show that compensation had been paid,” he says to the collective nods of 10 other farmers whose lands are being acquired.... Kamal Gajviye, a CPI member and farmer at Kumli, is losing his land to the [Tata] project. “The collector has often accused me of being a Naxalite. I am not. But I will become one, if this continues. They will all become Naxalites.”’ (Report by Krishnamurthy Ramasubbu, Expressbuzz, 25 Oct 2009)
  • On 17th September and 1st October 2009, villages in the Dantewada area were attacked by security forces as part of Operation Green Hunt. ‘On both these days, security forces (Cobra, local police and SPOs and Salwa Judum leaders such as Boddu Raja) went on a rampage stabbing and killing people, looting, burning houses and forcibly picking up young men’. At least 45 villagers, several very old and very young, were killed, others tortured, harassed and driven out of their villages into the forests. ‘There is apprehension that amuch larger number of people were killed on both days in other villages. The same is true for instances of torture, loot and detentions.... What is clear is that the operations conducted by security forces have compelled villagers to leave their villages, flee into the forests and/or take shelter with relatives in other villages.... Instead of rehabilitating people, the government, in the name of combating Maoism, is bent upon unleashing its lethal paramilitary forces and evicting people from their villages.’ (Report from PUCL (Chhattisgarh) , PUDR (Delhi), Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (Dantewada), Human Rights Law Network (Chhattisgarh) , ActionAid (Orissa), Manna Adhikar (Malkangiri) and Zilla Adivasi Ekta Sangh (Malkangiri).)
  • ‘The search for Naxalite cadre leads to severe harassment and torture of its supporters and sympathisers, and the kith and kin of the cadre. What is to be pointed out here is that the method chosen by the Government to deal with the Naxalite phenomenon has increased the people’s distrust of the police and consequent unrest. Protest against police harassment is itself a major instance of unrest, frequently leading to further violence by the police, in the areas under Naxalite influence.’ (Report of the Expert Group on “Development Issues to Deal with Causes of Discontent, Unrest and Extremism”)
  • The government’s Status Paper on the Naxal problem...states that “there will be no peace dialogue by the affected states with the Naxal groups unless the latter agree to give up violence and arms”. This is incomprehensible and is inconsistent with the government’s stand vis-à-vis other militant groups in the country. (Report of the Expert Group on “Development Issues to Deal with Causes of Discontent, Unrest and Extremism”)
  • During the current financial year an amount of Rs. 2040 crore have been allocated in the budget estimate for all the 7 Para-Military Forces on the 5 provisioning heads (of arms and ammunition, machinery & equipment, clothing tentage & stores, motor vehicles and information technology). This information was given by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Mullappally Ramachandran, in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha [on 28 July 2009].(http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/india/document/papers/pmf09july28.htm)

Excerpts from the Report of the Expert Group on “Development Issues to Deal with Causes of Discontent, Unrest and Extremism”

  • The unrest this report is concerned about is also not reducible to dramatic incidents such as blowing up or blasting of police stations but encompasses also mass unrest. Mass participation in militant protest has always been a characteristic of Naxalite mobilisation, not only in Bihar, but also elsewhere. (Page 45)
  • Though no precise estimates are available, it is a fact that in some cases the Naxalite movement has succeeded in helping the landless to occupy a substantial extent of government land whether for homesteads or for cultivation. In Bihar all the Naxalite parties have attempted to assist, in their respective areas of influence, the landless Musahars, the lowest among the dalits, to take possession of a sizable extent of such land. (46)
  • In the case of forest land, occupation by the adivasis with the encouragement and assistance of the Naxalites, has taken place on an extensive scale in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, Orissa and Jharkhand. In fact much of it is not fresh occupation but reassertion of traditional usufructory rights declared by the law to be illegal. Properly conducted forest settlement proceedings should have protected at least the pre-existing rights, but much of forest settlement proceedings has taken place behind the back and over the head of the adivasi forest dwellers. (47)
  • While the forest department is inhibited by the threat of the Naxalites or the Naxalite supported militancy of the adivasis, the police see in the affected areas a ‘Naxalite’ in many a tribal and subject them to considerable harassment. (47)
  • Adivasis displaced by irrigation projects in Orissa have migrated to the forests of Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh in large numbers. They would have been evicted from there by the forest department of Andhra Pradesh but for the presence of the Naxalite movement. (48)
  • The law and administration provides no succour to displaced people, and in fact often treats them with hostility since such internally displaced forest-dwellers tend to settle down again in some forest region, which is prohibited by the law. The Naxalite movement has come to the aid of such victims of enforced migration in the teeth of the law. (48)
  • The Minimum Wages Act remains an act on paper in much of rural India.... Naxalites are in any case not bothered whether or not there is a law governing the right they are espousing, they have intervened and determined fair wage rates in their perception in all labour processes in their areas of influence. This includes wages for washing clothes, making pots, tending cattle, repairing implements, etc. Naxalites have secured increases in the rate of payment for the picking of tendu leaf which is used for rolling beedies, in the forest areas of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra, and Jharkhand. This was a very major source of exploitation of adivasi labour, and while the Government knowingly ignored it, the Naxalites put an effective end to it. The exploitation was so severe that the rates have over the years increased up to fifty times what the tendu patta contractors used to pay before the Naxalites stepped in. (50)
  • Often...vigilante groups [like the Salwa Judum] fight with armed naxalite groups making the tribals fight the tribal. As a principle of good governance such a situation is not desirable. (49)
  • In Bihar there have been many instances where dalits suffering social oppression, and in recent times victims of the massacres perpetrated by the caste senas such as Ranbir Sena, have had to flee their hamlets and settle elsewhere. Indeed, prevention of the depredations of the caste Senas is the state’s duty in the first instance. It has failed not only in that but also in providing protection to the victims so that they are not forced to migrate, or at least shelter and livelihood at the places where they have migrated to. The victims have received that help from the Naxalites. The trauma of displacement for which the state does not provide succour creates space for violent movement. (49-50)
  • Besides taking up and resolving individual issues, the movement has given confidence to the oppressed to assert their equality and demand respect and dignity from the dominant castes and classes.... The task of putting an end to social discrimination should not have required the threat of Naxalite-inspired militancy. (51)
  • The movement does provide protection to the weak against the powerful, and takes the security of, and justice for, the weak and the socially marginal seriously.
  • Any agitation supported or encouraged by the Naxalites is brutally suppressed without regard to the justice of its demands. In such matters, it becomes more vital in the eyes of the administration to prevent the strengthening or growth of Naxalite influence than to answer the just aspiration. Often any individual who speaks out against the powerful is dubbed a Naxalite and jailed or otherwise silenced. The search for Naxalite cadre leads to severe harassment and torture of its supporters and sympathisers, and the kith and kin of the cadre. What is to be pointed out here is that the method chosen by the Government to deal with the Naxalite phenomenon has increased the people’s distrust of the police and consequent unrest. Protest against police harassment is itself a major instance of unrest, frequently leading to further violence by the police, in the areas under Naxalite influence. (55)

For 30 years in places like Chhattisgarh, there have been Naxals. Why is the situation now being made to sound like there is this huge upsurge? The real fact is...that it is the Government that wants a war to clear out the forest areas because there is a huge backlog of MoUs in Jharkhand as well as Chhattisgarh that are not being activated. (Arundhati Roy, interview with CNN-IBN, October 21, 2009)