Anti-Naxal drive: Activists strike back

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New Delhi:  "Human Rights groups have to choose which side of the line they're on. Are they on the side of democracy, debate and the rule of law? Or are they on the side of people who kill in cold blood?" said Home Minister P Chidambaram.

The Centre's offensive against the Naxals is more aggressive than ever. And in this edgy atmosphere, the Home Minister's statement has not gone down well with Human Rights activists.

"We condemn violence of all kinds but we do believe that the single biggest reason for violence is the state. Why is it that in the last 21 days, 58 tribals have been killed in Dantewada? Is that not a big crime? If killing and beheading of one inspector is such a heinous crime that it can be characterised as terrorism, then how do you characterise crimes committed by the Indian security forces in such large numbers?" said Gautam Navlakha, People's Union for Democratic Rights.

"We're not required to learn from the government how to react. Human Rights movement has developed everywhere in the world, in opposition to state terrorism, state violence," said Sujato Bhadra, Association for Protection of Democratic Rights.

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"The state clamping down on intellectuals is laughable and fascist. If anyone believes in any 'ism', whether Maoism or Gandhism, which cannot be proved because it's cognitive, is punished through arrests, then its fascist," said Human Rights activist Medha Patkar.

The ideological debate on Naxalism and the voices on the two sides of the divide are perhaps shriller today than ever before. And even as the two sides slug it out, it is innocent people, caught in the crossfire, who continue to pay with their lives.

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