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Body Counts & the Indian State

category southern asia | repression / prisoners | news report author Tuesday October 28, 2008 07:33author by epoliticusauthor email epoliticus at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors

State violence is essential to capitalist development in India.

Violence is essential to capitalist development. The Indian state has released its latest status paper on the 'Internal Security Situation,' according to the Hindu newspaper. The paper claims that up to 2,281 civilians and 821 security personnel were killed between 2004 and 2008 (up to 31 August 2008) due to Maoist attacks. Militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, the paper claims, resulted in the killing of 1,883 civilians and 789 security personnel. The militancy-related fatalities in the north-east were estimated to be 1,909 civilians and 361 security personnel. Even if we presume that these estimates are reasonably accurate, the Hindu makes an unforgivable omission by failing to report the number of civilians killed by the so-called Salwa Judum. (Salwa Judum refers to an anti-insurgency operation mounted by the Indian state in the guise of a spontaenous peace movement.) Moreover, the number of civilians killed by security personnel but incorrectly classified as Maoists is no doubt substantial. Human Rights Watch usefully reported the following (p. 9):

"Government security forces and Salwa Judum members raided Etagatta, a 50-household village in Dantewada district, in the summer of 2006. One eyewitness told Human Rights Watch that the attackers came without warning, beat villagers, and took away their belongings, including their livestock. Salwa Judum members and government security forces then burned all the 50 houses in the village. According to an eyewitness, 'Salwa Judum people and police killed about 15 people rom the village—5 women and 10 men. All of them were adults, about my age—in their 30s. They slit the throats of five people, one was a woman. I knew these five people well … There was no reason why they should have killed them. They attacked whoever fell into their hands … I cremated two of them. They raped and killed Ungi who was about 13 years old. They also repeatedly raped [name withheld]. First they raped her in the village and then they took her to the police station, raped her, and then released her."

If the paramilitary operations of the Indian state are taken into consideration, then our conclusions will be radically different. Not only is violence essential to capitalist development, but state violence in particular is necessary.

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