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26 Years of Gua Firing: Some reflections
Posted by sebydesiolim on Sat 23 of Sep, 2006 22:10 IST

September 09 2006

The history of India is really the history of people who never wrote the history. It's not the colonial history, nor is it the history of the Gandhis or Nehrus.

Edward Said (1999)

The brutal Gua firing completed 26 years yesterday September 08 2006. This mail is a remembrance as well as homage to those Adivasis died fighting in defense of their land in Democratic Republic of India in 1980. Fight of Adivasis in defense of forest continues till today. In fact it has it has intensified to new level. Jharkhand today is a separate State but it is in the era where in imperialist forces are tightening their loop around adivasis, Dalits and other common People of Jharkhand.

The resistance is no longer restricted only to Gua but has spread out through all over Jharkhand. Forest continued to be preyed upon by corporate as Jharkhand State has signed Memorandum of Understandings MoUs? with 44 corporate houses from all over the World. The capitalist model of development is seeking to strengthen its roots through repressive means. Considering the resistance offered by Adivasis and Dalits in the form of 'Janta Curfews' at the village levels the history of Police violence is all set to repeat itself many more times. State have aligned itself with corporate and peoples solidarity have become strong. The confrontations between the two sides are bound to create history to be written in letter of blood. Tatas have proved it can do it on the very next day of New Year 2006 in Orissa's Kalinganagar. It had done so while establishing Jamshedpur 100 years before that when Santhal Adivasis were whipped to death space cleared to establish Jamshedpur city. Kalamatti then was given a new name after the founder of one of the most brutal industrial houses India has ever produced - Jamshedji Tata. And it is Tatas that who are involved in bulldozing Gua Adivasis under mining bulldozers in Gua. Tatas are our very own Indian company who are involved in genocides of our very own Indian, most peace loving people on earth- the Adivasis.

Yet the Indian State sought to make every one believe that Tatas and adivasis are equal in the spirit of Indian Constitution to the tune of 'Vande Mataram' on the 26th Anniversary of Gua firing yesterday. And the fascist forces to whom Corporate rule is most dear of everything, decidedly implemented the agenda to forget the Gua firing with Malegaon bomb blasts. So from next year focus will shift from the contradictions at the base of economy to superstructure. The attempt is clearly to burry the public memory of the Gua firing. It will be a deciding factor of borders between the two contentious forces as two organised religions. While Gua firing reminds us that the boundary of fight is between an organised Corporate-State? nexus versus the Adivasis. Corporate always benefits from the fascists onslaughts. If not then check out the history of any of the German companies as to whom they were politically aligning themselves at the time of Nazi dictatorship in Germany. Corporate besides benefiting from repression of Trade Unions and Progressive Intellectuals also were fed with human products that came out of Holocaust as raw material for industry.

We have entered in a decisive phase of our contemporary times where in the politics of memory and memory of politics is being played out on Public memory. It is now upon you and me to collectively decipher the events unfolding in complex manner in front of us and intervene decisively. Silence at this point is lethal for us as community. It is in this context that enormous significance gets attached to the twenty-sixth anniversary of Gua firing. The major motivation for corporate onslaught is increased consumption of Steel in urban centers of the world including India. Yet urban India refuses to acknowledge this and continue to align itself with the corporate in its consumption pattern. Earlier the urban India becomes conscious of this fact better it is or the contradictions are bound to widen further.

Here is a report prepared in 1981 by Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) to refresh your memory as to what what happened on that fateful day on September 08 1980.

Sebastian Rodrigues with inputs from BIRSA team in Chaibasa and Ranchi.


PUCL Bulletin June 1981

"There is not a single lawless group in the whole country whose record of crime anywhere nears the record of the organised unit which is known as the Indian Police force".

(from a judgement by Justice A.N. Mullab in Allababad High Court.)


On Monday, September 8, 1980, eight tribals were gunned down by the Bihar Military Police in a hospital compound in the south Bihar mining town of Gua. The incident was bizarre-and not unjustifiably likened to the Jallianwala massacre-for obvious reasons. The police fired without provocation and without authority; they fired on unarmed and wounded adivasis who were awaiting medical attention inside a hospital; and what is even worse, senior doctors present at the time did nothing to stop them.

This dastardly act was a sequel to a police firing in the township on a peaceful crowd of 3000 adivasis gathered to protest against police harassment. According to official figures, three adivasis died there. Of course, a large number were injured; the wounded were not brought for medical aid for reasons that are too obvious to state. However, a visit to just five villages neighbouring Gua in December last year revealed that 14 people were still missing. Local people put the figure of adivasis killed at around 100.

For months prior to the protest meeting, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha had been spearheading the much misunderstood "jungle kato" movement in Singhbhum district. Contrary to the official propaganda mounted against it, its aim was not the destruction of forests. The adivasis wanted to reclaim their lands lost to the British during the rebellions of the last hundred years. All that has remained to mark their lost habitations are "sarangs", or memorial stones in the forests, indicating the burial grounds of their ancestors. Increasingly denied access to forest produce in recent years, faced with continued exploitation from moneylenders, contractors and the local officials, the adivasis had no choice but to try and reclaim their lost lands or face starvation.

The growth of the tribal movement in Singhbhum invoked the wrath of the State apparatus which represents the interests of the local power groups. A large contingent of the Bihar Military Police was posted in the area. In a style characteristic of the paramilitary forces, they exercised their punitive authority over the tribals. The policemen would lift fowl and vegetables from the villages without payment and indiscriminately arrest people.

To protest against this behaviour of the BMP, the adivasis organised a protest meeting at Qua aerodrome on the afternoon of September 8 under the aegis of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha. A contingent of the BMP arrived on the scene-along with two magistrates-and encircled the crowd. The magistrates sought to pacify the police who insisted that the tribals stop their march through the town towards the office of the Block Development Officer to whom they proposed to present their memorandum. The adivasis agreed to cancel their march. They insisted, however, on holding their meeting in the local market square as planned, after which they promised to disperse. They handed over their memorandum to the magistrate present. The police left.

At the meeting, as soon as the first speaker started addressing the crowd the police force returned. They surrounded the gathering with upraised rifles; they forcibly dragged away the speaker to their waiting jeep and arrested other adivasi leaders. The adivasis were incensed. There was an altercation-and a clash. The police fired 37 rounds; the adivasis retaliated with their bows and arrows which they customarily carry with them. Three adivasis and four policemen died on the spot. The police then transported their injured to the Gua Mines Hospital, half a kilometre away from the bazar The tribals too carried their wounded there. They were made to deposit their bows and arrows at the gate; they were asked to lay the injured under the tree in the hospital compound to await the doctors. Before they knew what was happening, the BMP officials had opened fire again on these helpless adivasis. All eight died on the spot.

Official sources admitted the "deterrent action" was a result of the decision arrived at on August 30 at Patna at a high-level meeting of officials attended by the Forest Minister The Minister is believed to have said : "We have to stop this at all costs".

In the months that-followed this incident, police jeeps would raid the villages in the area, in search of supporters of the JMM which is leading a movement for a separate Jharkhand state. They broke into huts at night, beat up the residents, stole the belongings of the adivasis, molested and, in a number of cases, raped women. Terror stalked the Singhbhum countryside for months afterwards. The moment a jeep arrives in a village, the inhabitants, particularly the women, disappear into the surrounding Saranda forest.

Sourced from PUCL website: (external link)

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