Letter to Editor

We cannot let this appeal appear and disappear!

Letter to Editor in response to

Ilina Sen, An appeal for peace in South BastarThe Hindu, Tuesday, Oct 21, 2008

We cannot let this appeal appear and disappear!

Dear Editor,

Dr. Sen’s appeal for peace touches the heart of the life-and death issues people of south Bastar are facing. Not only the state is ignoring the need for political dialogue, the rest of the country seems to be ignoring Chhattisgarh, where people have lost the right even to humanitarian relief as they live and die amidst the warring parties.

We cannot let this appeal appear and disappear!
The forum Dr Sen proposes, comprising members of all parties as well as civil society, may be our best hope for forging a lasting peace in the region. I hope that we can expect the parties and local organizations to respond to this appeal, or put forth alternative proposals and reach some consensus rather than accept this ongoing conflict as a way of settling scores.

And in the meanwhile people must have a democratic space in which to live – this is not asking anyone to ignore the valid and burning issues, but to recognize people’s efforts to return to their own villages and live on their own land also as an important political exercise in nonviolent resistance. Democratic struggles depend on these brave acts of ordinary people.

Unfortunately compounding this problem is the apathy of everyone whose life is not threatened by this chronic violence, no matter how loud it becomes.

Implementing Dr. Sen’s proposals, from PDS to voter rights, will bring hope, health and life itself to a region where the majority lives with chronic hunger and fear.

As a citizen living outside of the conflict zone, I urgently request more parties to comment on this appeal, discuss its ramifications, how soon any part of it, from PDS to voter rights, could be implemented? And what guarantee can the state give to people who return to their villages, that they will not be forced to flee again? When can we see the Black Laws repealed and those incarcerated by them, including Dr Sen and 75 others, released?

P. Aravinda


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