Saturday, Nov 01, 2014

Tribals were cheated, so talk to them before acquiring land: Minister Oram

Written by Ashutosh Bhardwaj | New Delhi | Posted: July 17, 2014 2:48 am

A day after Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju told Lok Sabha about the foreign links of the CPI (Maoist), Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram claimed that “Naxalism is an international conspiracy against the country” and is not linked with tribal resentment across Central India.

He also said “successive governments and industries have cheated tribals, that caused resentment among them” and it is imperative that before launching any project that involves their land, talks should be initiated with them.

“Naxalism has no link with development… Naxalism is an international conspiracy against India. It is not a local problem, or a problem of jal, jangal and jameen. I can say with certainty that it has international dimensions. I do not believe that Naxalism can be curbed by checking displacement or halting development,” he told The Indian Express.

Asked what he meant by an international conspiracy, he cited secrecy and refused to elaborate. “Whatever I said is appropriate to disclose here. Disclosing more than that is not appropriate. I am a Central minister,” he said.

While several theories have been floated for the Maoist insurgency in India, it is perhaps the first instance when a Union minister conclusively termed it an international conspiracy against the country.

Significantly, while Rijju had hinted at the Maoist links with the similar ultra-Left outfits of European nations and Philippines, he said there was no evidence yet of any foreign assistance to the rebels in India. Last year, The Indian Express had reported about a conference of Leftist revolutionary parties in Hamburg, Germany, to commemorate the first death anniversary of Kishanji, who was killed in an encounter with the security forces in November 2011 in West Bengal. Though the CPI(Maoist) could not participate in the conference, it had sent a written representation.

Oram also admitted that tribals, who live in the forests where the Maoists are based in, have been alienated as successive governments and industries cheated them. The development gains did not reach them as the government failed to keep its promises.

As he stressed on the importance of taking consent of locals before going ahead with any project, he seemed to record a significant departure from the perceived stand of the Narendra Modi government towards several projects across the forests of central India that are stuck for want of environment clearance and land acquisition. The Modi government, it is said, is trying to clear these projects fast.

Taking a different stand towards big projects, Oram said: “Displacement is a big issue for tribals. We tribals never posed any hurdle in the country’s development. Many industries, factories were set up but we never resisted. Whenever any land was notified, we happily left it considering that the government needed it for country’s development. But the promises of jobs and proper compensation…, these promises were never met. They did not get the promised benefits of factories and dams. Therefore tribals have a feeling that the government is cheating them, not meeting its promises. Hence, a distrust gradually grew (within tribals), and converted into continued…

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