Saturday, April 11, 2015

Red Sander Smuggling and the tensions between Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

The gunning down of 20 Red Sander smugglers in the forests surrounding the famed Tirupati Temple in Chitoor District of Andhra Pradesh has created a stir and politicians in Tamil Nadu have raised the issue of human rights violations and have accused the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chandra Babu Naidu of wanton killing. The record of Tamil Nadu Government on the human rights front is rather bleak. Recently the Minister for Agriculture Thiru Krishnamurthy was arrested for abetting the suicide, of the Chief Engineer of the Department who was forced to sign papers appointing men as drivers in the Department from whom the Minister had taken bribes ranging from 3 to 5 lakhs.  The record of the earlier DMK Government is no better. Who has forgotten the suicide of Bash, an accused in the 2G Scam and earlier the killing of DG of Police Mr Durai. The Dravidian Movement and its political offshoots has led to the growth of corrupt, fascist forces and both the DMK and the AIADMK are both tadpoles from the same cess pool. Such being the case the sudden concern for the rights of the tribal on the part of the Tamil politicians is not sincere.

Since 1967 the tribal areas of North Arcot District, the Jahwadi Hills have been neglected. There have been no schemes for the up liftment of the tribal. Even elementary schools are lacking in the area. As far as health facilities are concerned even the Primary Health Centers are not present. The entire social welfare budget of Tamil Nadu is spent on the landed backward castes who already dominate the political and administrative structures of the state. The tribal population has only the choice of choosing the path of ethnocide or eternal poverty and marginalization. Against this background, the sudden love of our Tamil politicians for the tribals is both ingenuous and hypocritical.

Red Sander is a valuable timber which is found in the Seshachalam forests and is listed as an endangered tree and whose cutting is forbidden by law. There is a huge demand for the products from this tree in East Asia for making furniture and also in the construction industry. The tribals who are kept in a state of abject poverty as a calculated policy of the backward caste dominated regime, are induced by politician to venture out into the forests and cut down the trees. It takes just 30 minutes for an experienced tribal to cut down the tree and debark it and make it ready for transport. The forest guards are usually  paid to ignore the entire timber smuggling. More than 20 men who were appointed as forest guards were killed by the timber Mafia and hence the AP Government decided to appoint a special task force. We must remember that the mass killer Veerappan was also  a timber smuggler, except that he chose the less lucrative sandal wood trees to cut. And he too enjoyed patronage on both sides of the border: The DMK regime in Tamil Nadu and the Congress regime in Karnataka. The AP Government decided to act before the menace became too great for the sate to handle. The YSR Congress, like its parent organization is a crime syndicate and its local leaders are political front for the smugglers.

The killing of 20 tribals is indeed extremely sad and deserves to be investigated. The fact is that in the past the smugglers have killed forest guards and even in this case the Special Task Force was attacked with bows and axes and the firing was resorted to in self defense. Of course, excessive force was used. However, the primary responsibility rests with the Government of Tamil Nadu which has not done anything for the welfare of the tribals and force them to make a living thus.

No comments: