Friday, May 21, 2010

Her Heart is Now a Wisp

There once was a heart that beat so strong and so pure that the Gods themselves blessed her with several titles, admirers, fans, addicts, and so on.. This heart, the heart of a Tigress, was beating strong and fine, loving her 3 young innocent cubs, caring for them, nurturing them.. until it beat its last. Years of raising generations of cubs, teaching them how to survive, how to hunt, how to behave, and the way of life when you're a Tiger, the miracle that was Jhurjhura, is now a wisp.
  I dont have the heart to blame anyone. I don't want to. I don't care frankly. All I know is, she's dead. And it's a human's fault. Nothing can be more shameful than humans mindless, thoughtlessly, and senselessly killing the very animal that is the global face of conservation and protection today. The very species that epitomizes wilderness. We killed her. And those 3 absolutely clueless cubs are left with no one to feed them, teach them, nurture them, correct them, and raise them... No one to love them. We killed their mother.
I don't care which minister's which son was in which vehicle when it dashed against her.. All I care about is, that whoever did it, is still alive. And Jhurjhura.. who was by all means and from all angles, a much much better "person" than this freak who killed her, had to pay with her life..
  In one shot, he destroyed not one, but 4 Tigers. The 3 young cubs will most probably be taken to a zoo, that  too, IF they survive the loss. They don't know how to fend for themselves in the wild. They would have grown up to be gorgeous and confident Tigers.. if we hadn't rammed into their mother.
  I don't even know if it's because of the vehicle, or if there was a vehicle in the first place. It could very well be food poisoning considering the internal injuries they found during the post mortem. Point is, it wasn't some natural cause that killed her. A Tigress like Jhurjhura, doesn't just develop something one day and die of it. No. Not possible.
  I can imagine a car coming at her so fast, and I can imagine her, standing her ground to protect the cubs from this ridiculous machine and the people behind it. I can imagine her insides shake with the force of the gigantic shock that would have been the vehicle hitting her.. I can imagine her pain. But not its intensity. I can imagine her alive. But not dead.
  We have such a massive hue and cry about Tigers, such a roar about how we "need" to protect them. Does any one really care? I have always wanted to ask the politicians of this country, who so verbally fight with each other about the shittiest of reasons, insignificant crap that they perceive as national security.. I've wanted to ask them, "Do you respect the Tiger?" Do you understand WHY this conservation thing is important? Do you have ANY clue about how pathetic the crisis has become at this point in time? Do you know how responsible you are for ignorance in this country?
  The one main concern for national security is our politicians themselves!! Irony? Worse, I think.
  Does it show respect when you drive INTO A TIGER?? You suddenly make poachers look like an easier task. At least we KNOW their methods, and we can take required precautions. What do we do about people who drive into Tigers? Stop vehicles from entering? Won't work. Stop tourists from entering? Won't work. Stop politicians and their entire family [all possible relatives] from entering? Won't work but sounds bloody good.
Who did this? How did it happen? Lapse of security, law, concern, or all? Who is responsible for it? Will the "pass the buck" go on till the end of time, till finally Jhurjhura's spirit gets fed up even in Heaven? Will this matter too, like all others in this country, die down with time? Will it go cold like every other Tiger death that has been covered up? Oh, by the way, people who cover things up, most often than not, are pathetic at doing it. Unfortunately, the people who have the power and authority to arrest/punish the culprits, are usually corrupt. So will money, again, be the silencer of all evil? Will politicians and their kin and friends, and all those who give the usual ,"You don't know who I am?" attitude, always continue to get away with crimes as dastardly as even this? Does this matter to any one in power at all? She's dead dammit. And those cubs ... :'(  Sorry. Can't write any more.
Just to prove what speculations can bring out.. Here's a bunch of reports on her death. Try and see if even one of them says the same thing. She was not 3 yrs old by the way. I'd guess her age to be approximately 8yrs. And the cubs, I believe, are 5 or 6 months old. Here goes:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Local Pride leaves India's Lions at Risk - Interesting read on Gir

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7110999.ece



It was a tawdry end for a beast whose ancestors tore Christians apart in Roman arenas, harried the armies of Alexander the Great, and spared Daniel in their Biblical den.
They found the lion crumpled on the banks of the Hiran River, its head crushed, mane matted in blood, and one front leg broken by the fatal fall from the bridge 60ft above.
The five-year-old male had been either hit by a car the night before or scared by one into jumping from the bridge.
“We closed our shops that day – no one did any business out of respect,” said Nitin Ratangayra, 30, the manager of a roadside restaurant nearby.
“The lions are very important to us.”
To lose an endangered animal like this would be a tragedy anywhere, but the loss here was all the more painful as this was an Asiatic lion – rarer even than the tiger, with just 359 left in the wild.
This lesser-known cousin of the African lion once roamed from the Danube to the Ganges, but today lives only around the 617 square mile Gir sanctuary in Gujarat.
So wildlife experts were appalled last month when Gujarat’s Government revealed that 72 lions – 20 percent of the population – had died in the past two years, including the one under the bridge, and three which fell into wells.
Earlier this month, another lion was hacked to death by farmers.
Local officials say the death toll is normal, insisting a five-yearly census completed this week will show that enough cubs have been born to increase the overall population to 400.
But their announcement has inflamed a 15-year dispute – which the Supreme Court is due to rule on next month – over whether to move some lions to the neighbouring state of Madhya Pradesh.
On one side are the central and MP governments, backed by wildlife experts, who say the lions have outgrown Gir and could be wiped out by an epidemic unless they are split up.
On the other is Gujarat’s Government, led by Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist, who says the lions belong to his state, and would be worse off anywhere else.
“It’s become an emotional and political issue, but the future of the Asiatic lion should not be decided by emotions or politics,” said Belinda Wright of the Wildlife Protection Society of India.
“This is one of the most important mammals on this planet, and it’s our duty to do everything in our power to secure its future.”
The issue is sensitive as the Asiatic lion adorns India’s national emblem – based on a sculpture erected under Emperor Ashoka in 250BC – and was its national animal until it was replaced by the tiger in 1973.
It also inspired India’s earliest conservation project, having been hunted almost to extinction by 1900, when there were estimated to be just 20 left.
That year, the Nawab of Junagadh invited Lord Curzon, the Viceroy, to a lion hunt in Gir, but cancelled it after a local newspaper protested that the animal was almost extinct.
“Fortunately I found out my mistake in time, and was able to adopt a restraint, which I hope that others will follow,” Lord Curzon wrote in a letter to the Burma Game Preservation Association in 1901.
Soon afterwards, the Nawab banned lion-hunting. Indian conservationists took up the cause after independence in 1947, and Gir was declared a sanctuary in 1965.
As a result, the lion population has grown steadily from 177 in 1968, when the first scientific survey was done, to 359 at the last census in 2005.
In the early 1990s, however, Indian wildlife officials began to worry that Gir was too small.
Their concern intensified after an outbreak of canine distemper killed more than 1,000 lions in the Serengeti park in Tanzania in 1994.
“It’s clearly a case of not keeping your eggs in one basket,” said Ravi Chellam, who spearheaded the Wildlife Institute of India’s search for a second sanctuary.
In 1995, the central government decided to move a handful of lions to the 133 square mile Kuno sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh by 2001.
It spent 150 million rupees (£2 million) relocating 1,500 families from Kuno and boosting its supply of deer and other prey.
Since the late 1990s, however, Gujarat has refused to give up any of its lions, which attract 100,000 visitors a year, generating millions of pounds for the local economy.
"Lions are the pride of Gujarat," Mr Modi declared in November.
A rising star in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he came to power in Gujarat in 2001, the year before deadly anti-Muslim riots broke out in the state.
So the impasse over the lions only deepened when the Congress Party – which had been fiercely critical of Mr Modi – defeated the BJP in a national election in 2004.
In 2008 the dispute finally reached the Supreme Court when a non-governmental organisation called the Biodiversity Conservation Trust of India filed a lawsuit to force Gujarat to co-operate.
“Public money is being wasted, conservation efforts are being frustrated and a species is being endangered,” said Ritwick Dutta, a Supreme Court lawyer acting for the trust.
“If they can lose 72 in two years, then they can spare four or five for Kuno.”
He said that the lions are at risk not just from disease but from poaching, citing a case in 2007 in which eight were killed and stripped of their bones.
Experts say the lions are also increasingly threatened by roads, electric fences, and an estimated 20,000 unprotected wells in the area.
“As the human population grows, there’s only going to be more conflict with the lions, and greater risk of inbreeding,” said Betsy Dresser, an American expert on endangered species who visited Gir in 2007.
Not so, argues Pradeep Khanna, Gujarat’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Wildlife.
“I don’t see any reason to move then,” he said. “A death rate of 10 per cent a year is normal.”
He added that the sanctuary had grown by 85 square miles since 1965, and been divided into four parts to avert an epidemic.
Local authorities had covered 13,500 unprotected wells since 2007, and added 100 guards to protect against poachers.
They would soon have enough genes from orphaned cubs taken into captivity to re-generate the entire population if necessary, he said.
Sandeep Kumar, the Deputy Conservator of Forests in Gir, estimates that 80 to 90 healthy cubs were born in the last two years alone.
"There are no symptoms of inbreeding," he said.
Gujarat’s strongest argument against the plan, however, is that the central and Madhya Pradesh governments have yet to complete preparations at Kuno, and have dismal records on protecting the tiger.
India had 40,000 tigers a century ago, but that number had fallen to 1,411 in 2008, compared with 3,642 in 2002 – largely due to poaching.
Last year Madhya Pradesh admitted there were no tigers left in its Panna reserve.
This week India's Environment Ministry said it was phasing out tourism in and around tiger reserves because it had damaged their habitat so much.
“Do we want to sacrifice the lions too?” Mr Khanna said.
He said Gujarat would comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling, but many wildlife experts fear the court will either delay the decision, or make an ambiguous ruling that will allow the state to stall for many more years.
“Court cases in India can be dragged on indefinitely,” said Ms Wright, head of the Wildlife Protection Society of India. “I don't think either side is going to give up on this."

Ancient mass extinction of fish may have paved way for modern species

http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-fish-20100518,0,203315.story



A report looks at a 360-million-year-old gap in the fossil record and finds that marine vertebrates were recovering from an extinction event on par with the one that killed the dinosaurs. What happened is unclear.

Modern-day lizards, snakes, frogs and mammals — including us — may owe their existence to a mass extinction of ancient fish 360 million years ago that left the oceans relatively barren, providing room for marginal species that were our ancestors to thrive and diversify, paleontologists said Monday.

The report, by University of Chicago researchers, focused on events at the end of what is commonly called the Age of Fishes, which lasted from 416 million years ago to 359 million years ago. That age was followed by a 15-million-year period of relative silence in the fossil record.

Paleontologists had tended to ignore the rarity of fossils from that period, which is known as Romer's gap — assuming that the fossils just had not been found, or shrugging it off as an unusual period of low diversity. But in a 
paper published online Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the authors proposed that Romer's gap is a sign that the world's marine vertebrates were recovering from a global-scale extinction event.

That gap left ocean niches bereft of weird, now-extinct fishes like the giant armor-plated Dunkleosteus that had ruled the seas up till then, permitting then-marginal species such as sharks to gain ascendency, scientists said. If they had not, the forms of vertebrates existing today may have been very different.
"It's clearly one of the most important papers published in recent years" in paleontology, said John Long, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County who was not involved in the study. "Forty-four percent of all vertebrate life went extinct at that point, and that was not recognized before."

That event was one of the most devastating in Earth's history, on a par with the one that killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, said Lauren Sallan, a paleontologist at the University of Chicago and lead author of the paper.

And just as the fall of the dinosaurs made room for mammals to rise, she said, this extinction made way for modern marine life such as sharks and the ancestors of modern fish — as well as for tetrapods, ancestors of terrestrial vertebrate life.

The Age of Fishes earned its nickname from the diversity of marine life at the time.

During this period, lobe-finned fishes — descendants of which include the lungfish — ruled the oceans, as did armored fish called placoderms and many other forms of fish that no longer exist. Placoderms, which were a dominant life form on Earth for 70 million years, included a diverse array of species, including the 8-meter-long Dunkleosteus and the much smaller Bothriolepsis, which had arm-like spines near the front of its body.

According to data analyzed by Sallan and her colleague Michael Coates, about 345 million years ago — after the extinction and subsequent 15-million-year silence in the fossil record — the ecological balance of power had shifted. Sharks had risen to the top. Ray-finned fishes, of which there had been a mere dozen or so species that mostly looked like salmon, diversified extensively, leading to the appearance of such creatures as angel fish and eels in the fossil record, Sallan said.

Today, Sallan added, there are about 30,000 different species of ray-finned fish.

Researchers are still unsure what precipitated the extinction. There is some evidence of a period of low oxygen levels in the oceans at that time. Sallan said it is also possible that a miles-deep drop in the ocean's water level caused the die-off. But the causes of this major change will have to be studied further, she said.

Sallan said the popular view of evolution was to think of it as a steady improvement — as evidenced by the idea that tetrapods, or four-footed life forms, "conquered the land," somehow defeating now-extinct species.

"But by finding this extinction event," Sallan said, "basically, [we show that] those kinds of progressive stories can't be used anymore." Luck — bad and good — plays a huge part in what species come out on top, she said. "There's no reason for dinosaurs to die 65 million years ago except that they got killed by an asteroid."

Gulf Oil Putting Sea Turtles in Danger Again

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/19/science/earth/19turtle.html


PADRE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE, Tex. — It is nesting season here, and just offshore, Kemp’s ridley sea turtle No. 15 circles in the water before dragging herself onto the sand to lay another clutch of eggs.

The sea turtle, affectionately nicknamed Thelma by a National Park Service employee, has already beaten some terrible odds. Still in the egg, she was airlifted here from Mexico in afterthe 1979 blowout of the Ixtoc 1 rig, which spilled millions of gallons of oilinto the Gulf of Mexico and covered the turtles’ primary nesting place.
Now Thelma and others of her species are being monitored closely by worried scientists as another major oil disaster threatens their habitat. Federal officials said Tuesday that since April 30, 10 days after the accident on the Deepwater Horizon, they have recorded 156 sea turtle deaths; most of the turtles were Kemp’s ridleys. And though they cannot say for sure that the oil was responsible, the number is far higher than usual for this time of year, the officials said.
The Deepwater Horizon spill menaces a wide variety of marine life, from dolphins to blue crabs. On Tuesday, theNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationexpanded a fishing ban in the gulf because of the spreading oil. But of the endangered marine species that frequent gulf waters, only the Kemp’s ridley relies on the region as its sole breeding ground.
Since the Ixtoc 1 spill, the turtles, whose numbers fell to several hundred in the 1980s, have made a fragile comeback, and there are now at least 8,000 adults, scientists say. But the oil gushing from the well could change that.
The turtles may be more vulnerable than any other large marine animals to the oil spreading through the gulf. An ancient creature driven by instinct, it forages for food along the coast from Louisiana to Florida, in the path of the slick.
“It lives its entire life cycle in the gulf, which is why we are so critically concerned,” said Dr. Pat Burchfield, a scientist at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Tex., who has studied the turtle for 38 years.
The nesting season for the sea turtles runs until mid-July, and for most of that time the mothers will remain off Padre Island and the beaches of Mexico, where there is currently no oil. But then things become more chancy, as new sea turtle babies go off to sea, floating on currents in the gulf or on seaweed patches that could be covered by crude. Hungry after egg-laying, adult females are known to go to the mouth of the Mississippi, a particularly rich feeding ground, to replenish themselves.
Juvenile turtles, who stay off the shore, have made up most of the turtle deaths in the gulf so far.
AndrĂ© M. Landry Jr. of the Sea Turtle and Fisheries Ecology Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University, Galveston, said satellite radios had been attached to several sea turtles, including Thelma, for research. He hopes these will offer clues about what is happening offshore.
“If she is beached, it is going to be constantly sending out a signal as opposed to the random signals they send out when they randomly come up to breathe,” Dr. Landry said.
Barbara Schroeder, national turtle coordinator for NOAA fisheries, the government agency charged with assessing damage to offshore life, said that the agency was investigating the sea turtle deaths intensively, but did not have many answers yet.
She said that so far full necropsies had been performed on 50 turtles and partial necropsies on another 17. Internal inspections of the animals, she said, did not reveal oil. But she added that scientists still had to test tissue samples taken from some of the turtles for evidence of oil.
She cautioned that it might be hard to determine conclusively how the turtles died or even how the spill was affecting the species more generally.
“People think this is like television, where the mystery is solved in one hour,” she said. “It is very complex. Most of the impacts occurring to turtles are out of sight. Most turtles never wash ashore.”
The Kemp’s ridley is millions of years old; its ancestors once swam with dinosaurs. Sandy olive in color, Kemp’s ridleys are the smallest of the sea turtles, only about two feet across. Although the turtles have been spotted along the Atlantic Seaboard, they return to the warm waters of the gulf to breed.
As recently as the 1940s, they were abundant in the Mexican gulf waters. Tens of thousands at a time would come ashore on the same day at Rancho Nuevo, a remote Mexican beach in Tamaulipas State, to lay their eggs in the synchronized pattern unique to their breed. But pollution, the collection of eggs for food and aphrodisiacs and the nets of shrimp trawlers depleted their numbers.
Then came the blowout on the Ixtoc 1. The deepwater well dumped three million barrels of crude into the gulf, covering the beach at Rancho Nuevo. Nine thousand hatchlings had to be airlifted to nearby beaches. Although the role of the oil in killing the turtles was never confirmed, by 1985, there were fewer than 1,000 Kemp’s ridleys left.
To prevent a single environmental catastrophe from sending the turtles into extinction, eggs from remaining turtles, including an egg that became sea turtle No. 15, were brought here to Padre Island to begin a new colony. She came in 1986.
At birth, the babies were set free in the surf down the road from the ranger station to allow them to imprint the beach on their memories, then captured again and protected until they were nine months old and less susceptible to becoming prey.
“We called it head start, after the school program,” said Donna J. Shaver, chief of sea turtle science and recovery for the National Park Service at Padre Island, who has worked with the sea turtles there since 1980.
No. 15 has returned to the island six times to lay clutches of eggs, burying her most recent round of 92 eggs in the sand by an enormous rusted, beached buoy only one and a half miles from where she was first put into the surf 24 years ago.
“Their precision is really amazing,” Dr. Shaver said. Scientists will be watching the radio blips from the tagged turtles closely, but the tracking devices are not infallible.
The transmitters might stop functioning because of dead batteries. And even if a turtle is known to have beached, the carcass might never be found or might be found only after serious decomposition, and the cause of death might never be known.
Still, Dr. Shaver prefers to think positively until more results come in. “When I got here, there were many who thought the species might not survive at all,” she said. “We’ve come so far.”

Hand-raised Leopard Cubs to Roam Free

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1100506/jsp/northeast/story_12413483.jsp




Two hand-raised clouded leopard cubs have been radio-collared in anticipation of their return to the wild at the Manas National Park.

This is the first known instance of clouded leopards being rehabilitated and radio-collared in India. The radio-collars will help rehabilitators track the movement of the cubs as they become completely independent of human care and begin exploring the range on their own.

An extremely shy, nocturnal, and tree-dwelling species found in the Northeast, the clouded leopard is in peril today with only about 10,000 remaining in the wild. The clouded leopard is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
“Bodoland Territorial Council has been supporting this effort to rehabilitate these cubs in Ripu reserve forest — a part of Manas tiger reserve — and we are eagerly awaiting the result. The clouded leopard is seen in limited numbers in these forests and this effort will contribute to the conservation of this rare animal,” said G.C. Basumatary, council head (forest department), BTC.

The orphaned cubs, rescued by the Assam forest department in March last year, were hand-raised at IFAW-WTI Mobile Veterinary Service field station in Kokrajhar. In September 2009, the two cubs were relocated in Manas National Park for in-site acclimatisation.
The cubs have undergone eight months of acclimatisation in the wild. Initially, they were taken for walks during the day, while being kept in a spacious enclosure at night for safety. In the past two months, the cubs were allowed to be in the wild 24x7.

As they were no longer dependent, we thought it prudent to radio-collar them for monitoring, a forest official said.
____________________________________________________________-
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/rare-clouded-leopards-released-back-to-the-wild-for-first-time-in-india-92763104.html


MANAS, IndiaMay 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Two clouded leopard cubs have been radio-collared and returned to the wild by the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org), and its partner the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). This is the first known instance of clouded leopards being rehabilitated and radio-collared in India.
The radio collars will help rehabilitators track the movement of the cubs as they become completely independent of human care and begin exploring on their own. 
An extremely shy, nocturnal, and tree-dwelling species found in India's northeast region, the clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) is in peril today with only about 10,000 remaining in the wild. The clouded leopard is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and is classified 'vulnerable' in IUCN Red List of threatened species.
"We are doing everything possible to assure a successful transition back to the wild for these animals," said Dr. Ian Robinson, IFAW's Emergency Relief Director. "We are using expandable collars, and they are expected to remain for a year, if not longer. They will stretch and fall off due to normal wear and tear."
"Apart from occasional conservation surveys, there have been no initiatives to study this elusive and secretive arboreal felid. Unlike common leopards, the clouded leopard is a specialist inhabiting forest canopies and predating on a specific range of prey species," said Dr. NVK Ashraf, WTI Wildlife Rescue Director.
"BTC has been supporting this effort to rehabilitate these clouded leopards in Ripu Reserve Forest –a part of Manas Tiger Reserve- and we are eagerly waiting for the result. The clouded leopard is seen in limited numbers in these forests, and this effort will contribute in the conservation of this rare animal. The Council is very thankful to IFAW-WTI for this venture," said GC Basumatary, Council Head, Forest Department, BTC.
The orphaned cubs, rescued by the Assam Forest Department in March last year, were hand-raised at an IFAW-supported mobile veterinary station. In September 2009, the two cubs were relocated to Manas National Park for in situ acclimatization.
"The cubs have undergone eight months of acclimatization in the wild. Initially, they were taken for walks during the day, while being kept in a spacious enclosure at night for safety. In the past two months, the cubs were allowed to be in the wild 24/7. As the cubs are now free-ranging and no longer dependent on the enclosure, it was prudent to radio-collar them for monitoring," added Dr Ashraf. 
About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare) saves animals in crisis around the world. With offices in 15 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and their habitats. For more information visit our website www.ifaw.org.
SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare

State gives foothold to Nilgiri Tahr

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/City/Chennai/State-gives-Nilgiri-tahr-a-foothold/articleshow/5919624.cms


CHENNAI: Spotting the Nilgiri tahr is a matter of luck — not only is the large mountain goat extremely shy, but urbanization and habitat fragmentation have also diminished its numbers. The Tamil Nadu government is now working on a comprehensive action plan to protect the endangered tahr, which is the state animal. The project, part of the Union ministry of environment and forests’ Species Recovery Programme, is still in the conceptual stage.

The state government will study the plan and submit a report to the Centre for fund allocation. Two rounds of discussions with conservationists have taken place and "we are awaiting their final report", said chief wildlife warden R Sundarraju. The Asia Biodiversity Conservation Trust from Thrissur will prepare the conservation plan, while city-based Care Earth is an associate organization for the project. Protection of habitat and movement corridors will be part of the plan.

Tahr numbers are down to about 2,000 in TN, though no comprehensive study has been conducted simultaneously across all national parks, say experts. The Nilgiri tahr, listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List and Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, is found only in the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Its habitat covers an area of 400 km, spread across Eravikulam National Park, Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Mukurthi National Park, Periyar National Park and the Palani hills.

Alligator trapped - killed

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-orlando-alligator-attack-20100518,0,6981344.story


Expert trappers went alligator hunting again Tuesday morning, and this time they weren't disappointed, catching and killing a gator more than 11 feet long at Lake Mary Jane where a swimmer was attacked.

The 11-foot, 6-inch gator was trapped in open water about 200 to 300 yards from the lake's swimming area.

"The alligator fits the size, location and behavior profile of the alligator described by the bite victim," said Joy Hill, spokeswoman for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

On Sunday, a gator bit swimmer Doug McCard while he trained at Lake Mary Jane in east Orange County.

After securing and euthanizing the gator, wildlife officials snapped and released photos of the reptile, including one that showed off a large jaw and dull but effective teeth.

McCard suffered five puncture wounds to his right shoulder, another to his hipbone and several more on his back in what authorities described as a rare attack.

The trapper will process the gator to sell the meat and its hide, as payment for removing the reptile, Hill said.

Park personnel will continue to look for gators in the lake, she said.

Officials said residents can call the public-nuisance alligator hotline at 1-866-392-4286 if they spot a gator.

The wildlife agency will evaluate the complaint and determine if the alligator should be removed. The reptiles are trapped if they are a threat to the welfare of the public, livestock, pets or property.

Only licensed trappers are permitted to legally remove alligators. It is illegal for the general public to kill, capture or move nuisance alligators.

Walter Pacheco can be reached at
wpacheco@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-6262. Bianca Prieto can be reached at bprieto@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5620.

Tiger Cubs poisoners released

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/City/Jaipur/Villagers-who-poisoned-tiger-cubs-released-as-officials-fail-to-file-charges/articleshow/5942865.cms


Villagers who poisoned tiger cubs released as officials fail to file charges


JAIPUR: A local court in Sawai Madhopur has released two villagers, accused of killing two 17-month-old tiger cubs, on bail after forest authorities could not file a chargesheet against them within 60 days.

The two villagers had poisoned the cubs on the outskirts of Ranthambore Tiger Reserve after the big cats killed their goats. Ram Khiladi Gujjar and Mukesh Gujjar of Tadla Khet village, on the outskirts of the reserve, were released by the court last Friday. The two were arrested on March 8, the day the cubs were found dead.

"Forest officials are responsible for not filing the chargesheet even as they had all the details. The forensic lab report had confirmed a case of poisoning; the goats' carcasses were found on the spot; and the shop from where the pesticide was identified," said Fateh Singh, vice-chairman, Tiger Watch, an NGO, in Ranthambore. "This will send a wrong message to the villagers who may take such grievous crimes lightly," added Fateh Singh.

The killing of tiger cubs had sent shock waves across the country and the state forest department acted swiftly by arresting the two accused. "We didn't file the chargesheet as third accused Narsi Gujjar is absconding," explained RS Shekhawat, deputy field director, Ranthambore Tiger Reserve.

Sources in legal circles point out that killing a tiger is a non-bailable offence. However, as per a Supreme Court verdict, if the chargesheet is not filed in such cases within the stipulated 60 days or 90 days as the case may be, the accused can be released on bail.

"The time period for filing the chargesheet varies from crime to crime. In this case, it was 60 days but the authorities mistook it for 90 days and did not file the chargesheet," said a government counsel.

Another Leopard killed in a Mob Attack

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/5947043.cms


CHANDIGARH: Grievous injuries inflicted by a mob of villagers coupled with inept handling by middle-rung Punjab wildlife preservation department officials led to the death early Tuesday morning of a female leopard captured from village Behrampur in Nangal area on Sunday.

Despite strenuous medical efforts by the Chhatbir zoo authorities, on the advice of experts from the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, and Delhi zoo, the leopard's post-mortem revealed heavy bleeding and clots in the abdominal region.

The leopard was just 10 months old and in an emaciated condition.

According to a statement released by Chhatbir zoo director TK Behera, "The post-mortem was conducted by a panel of doctors consisting of Chhatbir zoo senior veterinary officer Nirmaljit Singh and village Chhat veterinary officer Rajkumar. The post-mortem report says the animal died primarily due to internal bleeding. An external 1-inch wound on upper spinal region was also noticed on the body. The internal bleeding is likely to have been caused on account of the beast being stoned and beaten with lathis in its conflict with villagers."

Punjab chief wildlife warden Jatinder Sharma, who had been constantly monitoring the situation and taking on-the-spot decisions at the zoo said, "Dr YV Jhala of the WLI has confirmed that the death is not due to the tranquilising drug or the antidote. It is due to internal bleeding caused by stoning and hitting with laathis. However, the dosage of the drug in the tranquilising dart was excessive."

Oil Spill in Italy and effects on wildlife

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-oil-spill-wildlife-20100519,0,1237162.story



Few dead animals and birds have been found, but scientists say they're probably dying at sea, where their bodies sink. Sea turtles appear hardest hit.

In a region teeming with wildlife, so far there have been few signs of significant animal die-offs attributed to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Scientists offered one explanation for this puzzle Thursday: Birds and marine life that spend most of their lives at sea are likely being killed by the oil, but are dying far offshore.

"If birds are impacted by oil and they die there, they sink," said Roger Helm, chief of environmental quality for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The same goes for manatees, dolphins and whales that may succumb to oil many miles out to sea, leaving little evidence of their loss.
Federal officials acknowledged in a conference call Tuesday that the numbers of affected wildlife appeared low so far, with the exception of sea turtles.

But they cautioned that the tally only counts injured animals found near the shore or dead animals washed up on beaches. The long-term effects on wildlife and habitat are expected to be monumental.

"This spill is significant. In all likelihood it will affect wildlife in the gulf and the North American continent for years," said Rowan Gould, Fish and Wildlife acting director. "There's been a small number of visibly oiled birds, but what we can't see are the birds and mammals that spend the bulk of their times offshore."

The Exxon Valdez spill was thought to have killed 250,000 sea birds. So far, only 23 birds have been found dead as a result of the BP spill.

Another 12 oiled birds have been captured; of those, eight have been cleaned and four released, officials said. The number would change significantly if the oil hits shore-dwelling birds, which make up the bulk of the birds in the area. "If this comes onshore, a lot of birds are going to die," Helms said.

Sea turtles appear to the hardest hit, with reported strandings four times higher than the five-year average. Steve Murawski, chief science advisor of NOAA Fisheries Service, said 156 turtles had died, most of them young Kemp's Ridley turtles, a protected species.

Officials said turtles and other sea life, including dolphins and whales, had been seen from planes, surfacing and swimming in the oil slick.

"We believe that most of the impact to turtles will not be readily seen because it's happening offshore," said Barbara Schroeder, a turtle expert with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "Most of those mortalities will never be counted."

Only a small number of turtle necropsies have been performed, officials said, and no evidence of oil-related death was detected. But examinations are ongoing.

In addition, 12 bottlenose dolphins have been found dead, although no cause is known.

Logistically, it has been difficult to organize wildlife rescue because of the spill's distance from shore, making daily searches in deep water impractical and contingent on good weather.

Also, authorities have limited access to the waters near the leaking well. At one point, hundreds of boats traversed the area assisting in efforts to stop the leak. But that number was severely curtailed, in part because of the delicacy of the work maneuvering robotic equipment in deep water. Authorities wanted to minimize turbulence around the wellhead.

In other cases, boats that had earlier carried rescue workers searching for struggling animals were ordered back to shore, frustrating some of the specialists who have gathered to help. One organization hired by BP to rescue and rehabilitate oiled birds complained of an overly bureaucratic process that leaves them out of planning and restricts them from going to certain federally managed areas to look for injured birds.

"We've felt like we've been wasted," said Jay Holcomb, director of International Bird Rescue Research Center, which was hired by Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research Inc. on behalf of BP.

REQUEST

To all and sundry who might ever read this blog, please please do go through the two comments posted by Raza Kazmi on the previous article about Dantewada. For the first time I feel like someone sensible commented on something! FINALLY! Wont take you much. Probably 6minutes to read both the comments together. Sure you can spare that much time.

Thanks.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Atrocities of the Indian Government - against Indians.


I THINK EVERY SINGLE HUMAN NEEDS TO READ THIS

Text of Himanshu Kumar’s speech (March 2010, Kolkata) on experiences in 

Dantewada

April 18, 2010
On March 9 2010, activist Himanshu Kumar gave a talk in Kolkata at a public meeting organised by Ekhon Bisanbad, speaking about his experiences in Dantewada over 18 years, and about the ongoing “Operation Green Hunt” being conducted to ostensibly root out left wing extremists. The following is his speech, transcribed and edited by Sanhati members Ishita Das and Suvarup Saha.
Hi , I am Himanshu. I have been living in Dantewada since the past 18 years. For the last 3 months I have been out of Dantewada.
I went there with my wife in 1992. When we got our independence, Gandhiji had said that if we really want an India to progress in the future, considering that in a democracy the powerful lobbies can control all resources and prosperity, we need to foster growth in every village, for only then can there be an equal distribution of wealth or resources. Our youth should go and live in villages and help achieve that development, or else this nation will end up being ruled by hooligans.
My wife and I went to Dantewada trying to follow his guideline. My father had worked with Gandhiji before, he had set fire to the station in Muzzaffarpur (which is where we are from) in 1942 and absconded. He had then corresponded with Gandhiji and who invited him over to Sevagram, where he lived till 1946. He had also participated in the Bhoo Daan movement led by Vinobha Bhave. So working for the true development of the country runs in the family. That was inspiration enough for us to go and live with the adivasis.
What we found there, talking to the adivasis, bewildered us. The adivasis were in dire straits. They didn’t know what country it was that they were a part of. Didn’t know its name or of its existence. It looked to us that the British occupation had never reached them, they had continued to live in their own world right through the period of colonization of our country. Then we had got our independence, set up our government and unilaterally declared that the adivasis were now Indians to be governed by people who were as ignorant about them as the adivasis were about the government.
The only way our government actually reached them, was as police. To take away their land. I remember now, there is a village called Dhulli, where Essar wants to install a steel plant. We have a law in the Bakhtar area, which is a scheduled area, where in case there is any work to be done by outsiders to the village - you need to occupy a piece of land or anything - the adivasi gram-sabha makes the decision. But the gram-sabha turned out to be CRPF patrolling in front of every house. Villagers couldn’t even go to bring water for their children. If they ventured out, they were caught by their necks and brought to the school in the center of the village. This was overseen by a collector, SP and the MLA from Congress Mr. Mahendra Karma. The adivasis were expected to come through one door, leave their thumb print on a paper that dispossesses them of their own land and exit through another.
Now, if I were an adivasi and was in the same situation, it would seem to me that the only reasons for losing my land and my resources were because the “government” agents were not on my side and that they had guns. So the only way to oppose them and save my resources, would be to have guns of my own.
If we had brought the constitution to the adivasis and taught them to respect the law, in a lawful manner, they could have respected them both. But they weren’t taught that, they were taught the power of the guns.
When my wife and I were in there, we saw that the ration shops had no rations, there were no teachers in the schools and no transportation. We started to interact with the ladies of the village to tell them that the constitution provides for all of that for them. But if they asked for any of that, they were Naxalites. If we wanted progress, even then we were called Naxalites.
When the Chattisgarh state was formed, the government wanted to use the land for mining and they got many MoUs. Then as an afterthought they remembered there were many Naxalites in the area. One of my friends had gone to a CII meeting. The businessman there were saying that while we have a license to do work, the Naxalites are not letting us progress.
An MoU was signed between the government and a very big iron company. Within a day they started Salwa Judum. In Salwa Judum the government said that the villagers were supporting the Naxalites. The adivasis were told to leave their homes and live in the camps around the police station, in order to cure the evil of Naxalites. These adivasis are not used to living in confinement, they live in the open forests.
Many government officials would go to them, carrying guns, to persuade people to leave. People who didn’t want to go to the camps were coerced using guns. Guns were given to a gang of hooligans who would fire at fleeing adivasis. Many girls were raped. Little children were killed. People who ran away were labeled Naxalites. Their homes were burned . The poor adivasis tried to come back and rebuild their houses but they were burned again and again.
When that happened we went against the government. Our ashram was promptly demolished. Our workers were arrested. Seven hundred villages were burnt, about three- four lakh population. 50,000 were taken to the camp, 50000 fled to AP and Orissa or Maharashtra, 3 lakhs fled to the forest where they are still under attack. Our representative, Nandini Sundar went to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ordered the government to rebuild all the villages. Not a single village was rehabilitated by the government. The Supreme Court ordered the government to give compensation to the adivasis, not a single adivasi has received any compensation.
Finally the SC asked NHRC to send a team to Dantewada. This team had a hundred policemen. There is a village called Nendra which had been burned four times. The adivasis from there went to give affidavits to the NHRC, there were four girls missing from that village and ten people had been killed. When these adivasis were trying to go back, they were held up in a Salwa Judum camp for a whole day. They were beaten all day and forced to place their thumbprints on papers stating that they had been forced to give the affidavits, and that they had nothing to say against Salwa judum. The village was burnt yet again four days later.
We told the NHRC team about the atrocities the adivasis were facing, because they had dared to come give their affidavits against Salwa Judum; they refused to be of any help, saying that their job here was only to take the affidavits.
When I saw the state of the burned down village, I felt their deep sorrow and that became my empowerment. It is true that we are Gandhivadis, who are non-violent by nature. But I thought that attachment to that tenet was not as important as rebuilding the hopes and lives of villages full of innocent people, who are also citizens of this democratic country, but are not being treated as such. I decided that we will help rebuild their village. If the government says that anyone who is not with Salwa Judum is a Naxalite then that is fine.
Then we started living in Nendra. When we addressed the villagers in a gathering, telling them that we were going to live there and do whatever we could to help them re-establish their homes, one villager in the gathering got up and said that they could rebuild their homes themselves, the only thing they asked from us was to make sure that once they did start living in those homes and farming, no one would come and kill them. To an open letter to the Chief Minister I wrote that even now, the only thing these adivasis want from us, is to spare their lives. Nothing more. When asked if there was anything more we could do, one old man got up and said my daughter was kidnapped two yrs ago by Salwa Judum and the police, she is still being held in the houses of one of the leaders of Salwa Judum, can I bring her back home?
In the same letter to the CM, I asked, is his heart or mind also not bound to our great Nation as our anthem says it is for all Indians?Jana Gana Mana Adhinayak Jaya he? Are all these people in their tattered clothes and burned homes not one of “We, the people of India”?
Our number one priority was to bring back the daughter of the old man. What scared me was she was taken not by the dacoits, but government officials on government duty. For a minute I thought, can my daughter also be taken forcefully by law officials? But then the constitution of India gave me some consolation, as I knew and understood the constitution and my rights and its power, perhaps no one could take my daughter in the same way. Since the officials know that the adivasis don’t know the law, they do as they please with no respect for humanity or people’s lives.
While two girls had been killed with no trace of their bodies, two girls were still alive in the Salwa Judum camp. We were able to bring the girls back to the village, back to her father. The next day a tree trunk lay on the road, blocking the way into the village. When we saw that we went around asking why, the villagers had uncharacteristically resorted to something symbolically linked to Naxalites. It turns out that one of the girl’s father had cut the tree to prevent the police to come back to the village and take her again.
A lot of these mis-happenings there are linked to innocuous reasons. Kopa Kunjam is our associate from the adivasi groups who has helped rebuild thirty villages, like Nendra. He is a young adivasi who is not with the Salwa Julum or in the other camp. He is absolutely neutral. He works for the adivasis.
Then one day we were sitting in a village, a young girl came towards us, hiding something from us. When we asked her what it was, she showed us a wooden pistol. She was carrying it to scare the Salwa Judum’s SPOs police officers when they attacked her. Girls that carry wooden pistols to preserve their virtue are being called Naxalites by the government, which is actually supposed to be protecting them.
I met Mr. Gopal Pillai, griha sachiv. He gave me his mobile number and told me to call him whenever there was an indication of a problem caused by the police officers. Four adivasi girls had been gang–raped by the officials of Salwa Judum. We tried to file a report in the police station, but of course how can they take a complaint against their own people. Even the SP refused to take down an FIR. After a lot of dilly-dallying by the courts in accepting the complaints of the girls, official warrants were taken out against responsible police officers or Salwa Judum leaders. But the official report said that the police officers were absconding and there was no way of ever catching them. This, when the very same officials hold meetings along with the aforementioned SP, trying to instigate the villagers against me.
December 19th, 2009, the incriminated officials went to the village and forced the four victims to give their thumb impressions on papers. As soon as we came to know of that incident, I SMSed the Home Minister Mr. P Chidambaram and the Chief Secretary to tell them that these girls were rape victims with ongoing court cases against the officers who are apparently absconding, but were clearly able to force their victims and complainants in the village to get their thumb impressions, without being seen or caught by the police. Next day, the same girls were taken to jail and imprisoned for four days. One of them was not even allowed to wear her saree. None of them were fed. They were forced to leave thumb impressions on many more documents. On the fifth day they were left (or rather tossed) in the village with the threat that if they were to ever meet me again their village would be burned down.
On Dec 25th, some of us went to the village and I SMSed the same people about what had transpired. No official steps were taken. I got only one reply from the Chief Secretary of Chhattisgarh, saying, “We have verified. Stop this ugly motivated campaign against the state.”
Just two days ago, Gopal Pillai has said that the Naxalites want to take over the Indian government by 2050, to that my response is, had I been the father of those girls, I couldn’t wait till then, I would want my right to justice today. (applause)
The government, the democracy that can’t protect my daughter’s from getting repeatedly humiliated and punished for no fault of theirs, I would not want any part in that democracy. For me, a democratic India has no meaning, if there isn’t a democratic Dantewada.
There is religion and there is blasphemy and then there is false-religion. False religion is worse than blasphemy. If the government says that it is trying to salvage democracy by acting in this way, I want to know why “democracy” doesn’t exist for the adivasis. When we were there in the villages, all we wanted was democracy. Universal respect for the law.
What these adiviasis got was discrimination by the law, which allowed the Tatas to build a plant there, with no regard to their welfare. I talked to the DCP there, you want the end of Naxalism here, but you saw that because of the plant there people are forced to give their land away. People are being cheated off their land or simply coerced to give it up. You are here to hold up law, you should be telling the CM to follow the law in the transfer of property. Or else you would arrest him. The day the police raise their guns for the poor and the victimized, there will be no need for Naxalism.
Mr. Chidambaram told me that he doesn’t want to talk to the Naxalites. I said fine, talk to the people of the villages. For the past fifteen years, no one has come to Dantewada. No one has heard about the crimes being committed there, that the poor villager has no defense against. While he tried to relegate the responsibility to the state government, I reminded him of the atrocities committed against the numerous girls and the innocent lives being taken. The fact that the Chief Minister had accepted bribes of four thousand crores and forgetting his real job, started to overlook all the crimes of the industrialists. Under the assault of his corrupt government, villagers were being cheated out of their lives and livelihood. Unrest of such a high order in any part of the country would affect the whole country and would soon become directly his problem. He said that he would come. But then he signaled Raman Singh and all our associates started getting arrested and the victims who could have told their stories were all picked up. I was surrounded by the police all the time. I wanted to go around the villages informing them of the upcoming visit from the home minister, who they could tell their problems to. To prevent us from doing just that, trees were cut and roads were blocked. The collector forbade me, in writing, from leading any kind of peaceful procession or “shanti-poorna padayatra”.
Today, no acitivist can go to any tribal village. No reporter can go to any such village. Why? What are you doing in those villages that needs to be hidden away? This has happened many times in history. We all know of the old tales when the gods defeated the dark devils, originally living in this land. The dark devils described seem a lot like the adivasis of today, who are in danger of being robbed off their land. In this day we need minerals for progress and wherever the adivasis live there are minerals. So now the adivasis are the enemies of progress. Just like killing Muslims is justified by calling them traitors, we find excuses to condone the atrocities committed against the adivasis. The only way we know of solving a problem is to kill the enemy. Though all over history we have seen that killing anything has never solved the problem or ended anything. Modi thought that the Muslims were an enemy for all Hindus and decided to commit genocide against all Muslims. Which didn’t really solve the problem but actually increased communalism. Mr. Chidambaram now thinks that all the adivasis are Naxalites and they should also be killed.
When the first five–year plan was made, the planners said that we can forget about 20% of the people. We can’t provide them with food, clothes or homes or education. In the 90s, the figure rose to 40% who don’t benefit from the economic development, if there is any. Now the figure has risen to 60%.
My question is, when the figure rises to 80%, what are we going to do with all those people? Are we going to kill them all too? We will just let them die, out of hunger and deprivation. In the fight of 20% rich and the 80% poor, the poor are likely to lose. Gandhiji had forecasted that this type of economic planning could only lead to conflict. In our time, the biggest problem is because of social conflict. As the fight for resources gets more skewed, more problems and insecurity will arise. Insecurity for the rich is because of the poor, they think that they will be killed by the poor.
Today the main fight is for the minerals under the ground. Who do these minerals belong to? Do they not belong to the next generation as well? Why do we need to take them all out now? Because that is what is being done to a certain extent. As an example, there is a company that mines iron, which is imported to Japan at the cost of four hundred rupees per ton, whereas an Indian industrialist would have to buy it for six thousand rupees per ton. Japan, is running out of space to store things and is dumping a lot of it into the ocean. If we don’t estimate how much mining, for how many people at what cost, correctly, there is bound to be conflict. Inequality always gives rise to conflict, it is not just the Naxalites that create violence. It is something we call structural conflict.
For us, everything is good, we eat twice a day, our children go to school. We are respected. All’s well with the world. Then where is the problem? When we think about it, really think about it, all the natural resources of this planet, sunlight, water, should be equally distributed among everyone. But in reality that doesn’t happen. We create our superiority by instilling the feeling of inferiority in others. What started with the caste system thousands of years ago, ostracizing all the people of low caste from respectable society is now being carried on by status due to education or which side of town you were born in. The higher castes and the educated or rich claim more than their fair share of all resources, leaving very little for the poor. All these ways of keeping the disparity alive make sense to us - the beneficiaries of the skewed distribution of resources. We want it to stay that way so that we keep getting our meals without having to work in the fields. After all, we are good, civilized people and “they” are low caste people who don’t work hard enough.
But for the poor man, who lives in Lalgarh or Beriyaghat, this is violence. He works all day and yet doesn’t have enough to eat, while you have never been in a field. His houses are being burned down, his wife is being raped, so that the disparity stays as it is. The government and the police work for the rich to maintain this structural violence, which is deeply rooted in the Vedic system and the value system.
But one day this will all be challenged and this value system will get broken. As Gandhiji had said that if the poor don’t revolt, we should tell them to stop accepting this inhumane treatment and declare war against it. If they don’t then they will get decimated because the twenty percent minority is all set, armed with the media, the police and the army to kill the rest of the eighty percent just to maintain status quo. However, they find ways to camouflage it by stating that all the adivasis are causing unrest. They are beheading government police officers in their villages.
Ask me, what beheading is… a thirteen year old was beheaded in Dantewada just three months ago. When people ask me why we never discuss the beheading of the police officer in Dantewada, I want to know why the thirteen year old child was beheaded, by none other than the CRPF. The force right under the command of Mr. Chidambaram. Why does he not ever say anything about that? He has never confirmed this, so shall we take it that it was done under his command? If the police commits crimes then we are told that until the court proves them guilty they can’t be called criminals. Whereas, when an adivasi is said to have something, he is immediately labeled guilty of the act, without even getting a trial.
“Main kahaa se pesh karta ek bhi sachcha gawah, jurm bhi tha aapka kardar bhi aap hi the”
One of my friends is a reporter, she asked me that, if like you say this is “structural” violence, then why is it not happening everywhere? Why is it not there in UP, or Bombay or Delhi? I told her that there are three types of poor. Some of them, who are making a living because of the rich, like your maid or the person that irons your clothes. They are happy that some people are rich so they can also make a living. The second type are those, that think it is their fault that they are poor. They may think it is either their fate or their low caste or their illiteracy or because they live in a village, that makes them poor. They don’t blame the rich for their lot. The third are the type that you affected because you wanted to be rich. They didn’t want anything from you and had been living happily in the forests, until you decided to take their peace and their livelihood away from them without any heed of their welfare. Now, they want revenge. The real problem, for the rich, will arise if all these poor come together and take on the minority of rich people.
Workers association and rickshaw pullers association have invited me to talk. All three types of the poor are beginning to understand that they are poor because of the structural violence. The independence of the country didn’t come just for the rich, it belongs to you more than it belongs to the rich. Until it reaches everyone, we are not going to sit still. We will make every sacrifice that has to be made to bring it to the door of every poor villager. Our fight for true freedom will continue right up until then.
Some people may ask, what about the violence going on now? Well, I have seen violence from real close. 700 villages were burned in Bastar. A little adivasi girl had died from drowning in one of the villages. So the police were informed. Many of them came in a car and for their pleasure was brought good food - chicken and alcohol. The little girl’s dead body was lying on the ground , right next to these policemen as they ate and drank merrily. What kind of message is that?
When seven hundred villages were burned during Salva Judum, the number of Naxalites had more than doubled. When they had burned the village, they had burned the schools, aangan badis, ration shops… villagers were not allowed to go to the bazaar to buy food. In the hope that they would be forced to go move to the camp, to avoid starvation. Leaving their land. So a woman who lives close to a bazaar, which she cannot go to because if she does, she is likely to get recognized. Then, she could be raped or forced to go to the camp or possibly killed. What she does is, walks to a bazaar eighty kilometers away. Takes her four days per week, just to bring back rice. We asked her why she wouldn’t just buy the ration for a whole month. She said, “we don’t have money, we only have mahua, which we barter for food. We carry as much as we can on our head and then bring back whatever we can in exchange for that.”
How can you expect non-violence in such a condition? Right now, any adivasi living there, feels that the Naxalites are their protectors and the government and its police their enemy.
A young girl came to me one day and told me that she had been taken to the Bastar police station and raped repeatedly for two days by the police and if I could help her gain justice. I wrote to the SP, who didn’t reply. We went to the Supreme Court which asked the state government what had been done about the issue. Then, the SP replied that the accused Salva Judum leaders had denied any such act. They said that the girl was trying to ruin the reputation of the good people of Salva Judum, by accusing them of rape. Hence the state government says that the Salva Judum leaders had been falsely charged. I am not sad that the state government or the SP said this. What makes me sad is that the Supreme Court believed them.
After episodes like that, it seems that even the doors of the courts of this country are closed for these adivasis. They have no one to turn to, the police were already against them, as was the administration. Who can they go to in the hope of help? They are only left with the option of turning towards the Naxalites. This shouldn’t have happened. They should have had the government on their side, felt a part of a democracy. But that didn’t happen. They feel that the Naxalites are their own. We could change the situation. I asked Mr. Chidambaram to visit the villages, to address the adivasis as the country’s home minister and to listen to their grievances. If it had been Sardar Patel, he would have gone. But he is too arrogant to meet the people. He just wants their land and he sends his police force to get it. The police force which rapes the women and burns the houses of the adivasis. Mr. Chidambaram thinks that he can get what he wants without any repercussions. He wants peace, even then.
This false democracy is not going to last, it doesn’t need Naxalites to fall on its face. We are the last people trying to save it. We are trying to tell you that if a war is fought against eighty percent of the people of the nation, that is not going to be acceptable to the people. Democracy is not just the observation of parades at India gate, the speeches, the Parliament, Members of Parliament or the Supreme Court. If people don’t get justice, there is no way of fighting poverty, no one listens to the people’s problems, then democracy based just on the structural farces cannot last. We need the real values of democracy to be implemented. Unlike what our Prime Minister said, Naxalites are not our greatest threat to internal security. The government itself is.
If democracy is not applied to the grass root level, then there is no alternative to large-scale unrest. I even met Mr. Rahul Gandhi. Today he is very powerful. I asked him to come to Dantewada. He asked me to meet someone else. No one wants to meet the tribes. If some politician wants to go there, he will not be allowed to go. No activist can live there, leaving no avenues open for the adivasis to express their problems or their frustration. The outcome of all this suppressed angst can only be violent.
A few days ago the new Operation Green Hunt was started. Sixteen adivasis were killed early one morning by the CRPF, in Gompad. A two year old boy’s – Suresh’s fingers were cut. The boy’s mother was first knifed in her head, she was raped after she died. His eight year old sister was stabbed to death. His father was also killed. A seventy year old man who couldn’t run was also killed. A seventy-year old woman’s breasts were chopped off before she was killed. We took some of the afflicted people to Delhi. We filed a case in the Supreme Court. When all these people came to Dantewada to talk to Chidambaram, they were detained by the police. They are still in jail. This nation’s democracy is silent, as is the Supreme Court and the media. While Suresh and a woman who was shot in the leg are being held in the jail.
I say, don’t let us help the villagers, don’t give justice to anyone, kill everyone you can. Then we hope that the broken pieces of this fake democracy can fall on your head.