Monday, December 14, 2009

Letter To President, Prime Minister & Home Minister Of India

If you feel for the cause, please pass it on to the email ids of the three respected people. Their email ids are:

Respected Madam Pratibha Patil, Shri Manmohan Singhji and Shri P. Chidambaramji,
New Delhi.

Respected Madam and Sirs,

In your position of power, you are like a father and a mother to your citizens. And I write to you from that position of a son appealing to a mother/father with whom he has a difference and wants to make a point. I make this appeal to you, in another respect - as one human being to another. By 'human' I mean a person who can feel the pain of others and has the power, no matter how small or big, to alleviate it.

The idea of a country entails that the entire nation is a family and one's problem is another's too. And each of us in our own little capacity do our bit to solve the others problems. Now, when I look at the mirror and ask, “Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the most downtrodden of them all,” I get the answer, “The Tribals, The Adivasis, The Aborginies” of this great nation of ours. And logically, this nation belongs to them. They have been living in their lands, respecting and protecting it for thousands of years. Now the law of our country stipulates that if you have been paying rent of the house you have been living in continuously for a particular period of time (it's 10 or 15 years) then that house is yours (actually even if you don't pay rent, as the legalisation of slums across the country show) and no one can evict you from that place. Going by that logic, the land adivasis in belongs to them. But you want to give away that land to big corporations, national and international so that they can mine it for the resources they contain. And you do it without the consent of the adivasis. Is it fair?

Having said that, yes, the nation needs its development. Though I don't agree at all with your notion of development, I believe you have the right to pursue your model of the same. But, what I am against is doing it 'illegally' and making it a 'non inclusive' rather than an inclusive development.

For decades now, indeed much before that, much before our independence, the adivasis have been abused and their innocence misused by unscrupulous elements. At least 62 years back they were foreigners, today it is us. And at no point in the history of our great nation, has there been such a rampant abuse of them and their rights and ironically, in the name of 'development' .

What is worse, when someone tries to bring peace and justice in their lives, the state machinery, instead of supporting them nay, instead of being the true perpetrators of true development, actually oppresses those that are working for their welfare. Sir, Father, Mother, I ask you, is this democracy?

Let me give you specific instances. I have been influenced highly by Mahatma Gandhi, 'apparently' the father of our nation, the apostle of peace and non-violence. And whenever I have found someone who has worked towards the development of the nation with Gandhian ideals in mind, I have lent him my whole-hearted support. One such man, as you know since you've met him, is Himanshu Kumar of Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, Dantewada, a humble and gentle man, one of the few in the country who heard Gandhi's call and headed to the rural hinterland of the country to serve its true people 17 years back. Yet, you had your security forces bulldoze his painstaking work of 17 years in half an hour in May this year. A Gandhian treated to such violence. Sir, Father, Mother.... I ask you again, is this democracy?

But his life has been spared. So far. He wants to go on a padyatra/peace march, satyagrah and jan sunwai from today, but you don't want that either. And we've come to know that the Salwa Judum is gathering forces to kill him off and blame it on Naxals. Now if that happens, Sir, Father, Mother... I ask you, can I call this nation a democracy?

On Human Rights Day, tribal activist and a very peaceful man himself, Kopa Kunjum, along with lawyer Alvan Toppo were arrested by the police and beaten up. Alvan was released, but Kopa is in custody and false charges have been brought up against him. Why? Because he was trying to bring notice to police atrocities and helping Himanshuji in his peaceful satyagrah. Sir, Father, Mother... I ask you, can you call this a democracy?

The collector of Dantewada asked Himanshuji to take back the money paid as advance to book a dharamshala for workers and activists coming from across the country to join the march. Tell me, Sir, Father, Mother... is this a democracy?

A group of 39 women were on their way from Raipur to Dantewada to express their peaceful solidarity with Himanshuji's peace-march. One of them was a friend from Mumbai. They have all been illegally detained by the police well before they reached Dantewada. And neither are they allowed to go to Raipur, nor to Dantewada. Sir, Father, Mother, I ask you, is this democracy?

One day, no matter what we've done or achieved, we'll all turn to ashes and dust. But, while we are here, we can try to leave this world, this nation, a better place than we found it. It's not an option, but it's everyone's responsibility. I ask you, Sir, Father, Mother... can I leave a better world for my and your children? Will you allow it? Will you do what is in your power to do it? Will you allow me little space to do my bit, or will you too, someday, put me in jail, threaten my life and maybe kill me just because I seek to dissent in the pursuit of justice?

All I can do right now Sir, Father, Mother... is appeal to your good judgment. Please prevent your forces from killing and abusing my and your adivasi brothers and sisters. Please, please, please at least listen to this child of yours, if you can't help him. I fall at your feet, and with tears in my eyes beg of you to do so.

With deepest respect and hope,

Your citizen, your son

Satyen K. Bordoloi
Ex-Journalist – Times Of India, Indian Express


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