Today, on email discussions, condemning the recent Maoist attack in Dantewada, I stated that my position on the issue is firmly one of silence. I was also silent last month when 76 CRPF lost their lives - no outrage, no condemnation, no protests on violations of Human Rights - the Right to Life - LOST.
I belong to People's Union for Civil Liberties, because I am opposed to all acts of violence created, and inflicted by and between humans, and because I believe Civil Liberties of All People, a cause worth defending. And Yet...
I cannot bring myself to simple condemnation of lives lost recently in Maoist attacks. Many reasons why I should do so have surfaced - some examples being
" If you want (PUCL) to be taken seriously you must condemn violence by both parties",
"you don't want to be branded as Maoist sympathiser",
"All human lives are precious and one must oppose all violence" etc.
To varying degrees, I do agree with the above positions. And Yet...
I have no tears, no anger, no outcries..
I sit in anaesthetised sorrow, a pain that only translates to longer hours of harder work, more protests, more letters, more leaving-no-room-for-sorrow, and working toward right-actions - at least right by me.
And my position on most conflict situations in the country today is as follows:
I hold the Indian State firmly responsible for creating these situation of conflict, in Chattisgarh, Orissa, and elsewhere. I feel that the state inflicted violence is vastly in excess, continuous and largely 'collateral' in nature. I see this State as representative of me, of who and how I am. I am ashamed and impotent as actions of this State seek to benefit my class, but do not represent - at all - my personal positions, politics, or understanding.
I see me, us, all of us - cumulatively as creators of these vast wrong doings on fellow citizens, mostly not-in-garb of alternate politics - largely women, children, old - those left behind when men, the able, run away into - fields, forests, far from the State or State Sponsored attacks...and I see myself responsible for this, in not stopping those that represent me. And for this that I or mine do... I do not continuously condemn - I do not have a roster of death tolls under my name,or my country's name - for which I send out a 'condemnation' at say every 50, or every 100 lives lost. I do not keep tabs of the heavy toll taken by my country, this largest democracy, on its civilians, citizens, those that oppose the high, imposed penalty of India's development - I cry, but I do not condemn continuously. Is dying more horrific when it happens in 35, or 76, or some such large number , because it happens in single dramatic events, but other quieter wiping outs, over longer periods, genocides of people, cultures, lands, rights, less horrific? What about the 644 villages attacked by Salwa Judum (according to NHRC) and all the lives rendered meaningless because of it? of hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, of approximately three lakh lives?
I also believe that for all wrong doings, wrong speaking, wrong thinking, by non-state actors, we do have a mighty state to discipline us - harshly, strongly, insistently and often brutally. After these latest attack, there are many calls for larger, militarised interventions - to stomp out the maoist threat, to work even harder in Chattisgarh to preserve the interests of national security. I will watch this not silent, not mute, but also not effective in changing the future course of events that threaten to unfold.
How do I reach out to this country of mine? To those important governors of our national fate? How do I say to a nation - look at yourself and ask what you can do to make things right, for the least empowered of us, instead of appeasing only the corporates that are vultures at our doorstep for greed? How and who do I say all this to?
I feel that the country, its middle and privileged class and our leadership have strayed far from upholding the constitutional rights of all its citizens, and are very distanced from the ideal that seeks the welfare of the most. The effort to 'develop', 'globalise' are now formulas used to indulge in rampant, accumulative greed of a particular class that I belong to, which in turn feeds the hungry, globalised, powerful corporates that seek cheap people, cheap politicians, cheap forests, water, air, minerals...that seek a stupid, cheap India. Unless I and mine take responsibility for who we are and what we have become, how can I condemn someone else, who do not even acknowledge a belonging to 'us' ?