While the Indian Government offices and authorities’ general lethargy towards most things productive has often been on blatant display (ref: merry-go-round games they take sadistic joy in playing when they know you’re desperate for government-stamped documents), manifesting itself in a quid-pro-quo of sorts we’re all quite aware of; their deliberate bias towards a human rights activist, previously known for having advocated the rights of Maoists in and around the state of Jharkhand is indeed disheartening. Gladson Dungdung has been working to prevent trafficking of local adivasi women to metros, in addition to promoting Maoist rights for a long time now.
Dungdung had applied for a passport under the tatkal scheme, where a passport may be issued before police verification is undertaken, but a negative report by the police could lead to the cancellation of his passport. After he was issued the passport, the cops who visited his home to carry out the verification saw a ripe opportunity for extortion and demanded a bribe from the man in return for a positive report. Quite believably, the vengeful police officers submitted two adverse reports in his name – the first was in respect of an FIR lodged against him, accusing him of agitation against the acquisition of 224 acres of agricultural land in Nagri from the local tribes to undertake the construction of an IIM, a national law school, IGNOU and an IIT. Once again, the rural locals had been taken for granted, with the government conveniently going all out to please the corporate. While on one hand the government continues to deny these local people their rights, on the the other hand they hypocritically choose to label them as terrorists. Moreover, when as a concerned public citizen Gladson Dungdung raised his voice, he was looked upon suspiciously, as if he were a traitor of sorts in seeking to support a supposed ‘threat’ to the government.
This one incident has thrown much light (albeit, yet another of the umpteenth time) on the absolute misuse of power by public authorities in general and the police in particular, in an attempt to extort money out of the public so as to serve their own selfish objectives. Upon Dungdung’s denial to give into these vested interests, the cops conveniently chose their favourite kind of payback-time that day, in retaliation to a humiliating rejection of sorts.
In a 2012 report released by international human rights organization Human Rights Watch, Dungdung wrote about the frustrations associated with being an activist — he has been under illegal detention in the red corridor atleast once, and is constantly under attack from both sides – the government and the Maoists. Dungdung, a member of an assessment and monitoring authority under the Planning Commission from 2011-13 and a vehement opposer of the Operation Greenhunt ( as referred to by the media), wrote a letter to the then home minister P. Chidambaram about the disheartening army offensive against the Maoists, highlighting solutions and possible means that may be adopted so as to curtail Maoist extremism. This shockingly enough, resulted in an inquiry being conducted against him, with Gladson being consequently labeled as a Maoist sympathizer.
This is indeed not a recent phenomenon where local interest has been subordinated to state interests, with the former suffering grave consequences on account of the same. The indigenous ideologies and philosophies of the adivasis have been perpetually undermined, and their rights over natural resources still go largely unrecognized; the apathy of the government has more to do with it than anything else. The Indian army stationed in the red corridor claims that it is present in the area merely to train paramilitary personnel to fight the Maoists and deny their role in offensive operations against them. However, when it is sought to identify reasons behind constant overruns of the security camps by Maoists in West Bengal, and frequent jungle ambushes by Maoists, an inhuman military operation by the government and perpetual denial of rights may essentially be the root cause to their aggression. The government must seek to prevent violation of their human rights in their efforts to please corporate bigwigs — it does not exist to serve and promote private welfare at the cost of public interest. Constant efforts are in process to silence activists such as Gladson Dungdung who have raised their voices against the existing democratic process. Voiceless and lacking a concrete platform to freely express their views, the adivasis continue to be shamelessly exploited, and by no other than the Indian Government itself.