An appeal to reject violence and join the nonviolent process for social change.
I have seen firsthand the real and structural violence that has been used against the vulnerable Adivasi (tribals) people in our country. There have been, and continue to be, great injustices done to them in the name of progress and development. No one seems to be standing with them, including the governments which only claim to be supportive but have a very different development agenda. I have been struggling against violence all of my life— but have always chosen to struggle with the tools of nonviolence.
Thinking about what has happened since many young people took up violence to protect the Adivasi, you will see how painful it has truly been for the marginalized communities. Above all, this violent struggle against oppression is abusing the people we want to protect. Armed resistance has provoked an increasingly strong reaction from the government and it is the Adivasis (Tribals) who are being killed in this crossfire process. This is the primary reason why violence as an approach is not effective and cannot be successful.
The second reason is that in this situation of armed struggle, the space for positive social action and change is shrinking all the time. There are more and more repressive measures being taken by the government. Now all groups advocating for social change are being labeled as Naxalites. In this atmosphere, there is very little that can be done of a positive nature to help correct the many injustices of the present. The real result of the approach of violence is that the real problems of the poor become lost in the problems generated by violence itself. This allows the government to spend all its resources on fighting violence, rather than addressing the problems of the people.
In this light, I want to appeal to all those who have taken arms to fight injustice, to abandon the violent approach to social change and consider giving the democratic and non-violent struggles a chance to succeed.
By empowering and mobilizing marginalized people in the villages across the country, many social movements have succeeded to advocate strongly with the government to implement pro-poor laws like the Forest Rights Act.
There is still a long way to go, and there should be a lot more pressure built on the government and system to make it deliver what it has promised and what the constitution of India provides.
This will be possible only if all those committed for socio-economic change at the bottom for the poor and marginalized will come together and use the democratic and non-violent space available to build the kind of public opinion and pressure that is demanded ffor a change.
This is an appeal for all like minded groups to join hands in a larger non-violent struggle to change the ground reality in India.