Why Spare Smuggling Dons and kill Poor Woodcutters?
Indian TV news channels least concerned about such human rights violations
India’s style of dealing with red sandalwood smuggling is to use the police to kill poor labourers in fake encounters and let the kingpins go scot free!
This became evident in Andhra, a State for whom Singapore is helping build a new capital city, earlier this month when the police shot dead 20 labourers earning less than $5 a day while shielding the real criminals who mint millions through the illegal felling and smuggling of the protected red sanders trees that China and other East Asia countries lap up.
Why this needless ferocity on the poor?: The country does not even see such ferocity in Kashmir or its borders where terrorist violence is wrecking India.
While the police claim they did so in self-defence none of them had any injuries in any alleged attacks from the woodcutters.
The police operation was over in less than an hour, suggesting that it was a pre-planned execution.
The woodcutters that Andhra smugglers hire are said to be mostly poor tribals from Tamil Nadu in the bottom rung of a caste-infested society.
Organised Gangs Always Escape: Reports indicate that police killings of these labourers are common while the leaders of organised smuggling gangs are treated with kid gloves.
Post the police killings, there have been some arrests of alleged smugglers who are also reported as woodcutters. So, are the woodcutters themselves smugglers?
TV news channels in India have so far not paid much attention to the killings and human rights violations. They are more worried about Mr Rahul Gandhi’s sabbatical and Prime Minister Modi’s overseas junkets.
Print newspapers have come up with some good coverage but I don’t see any effort being made to uncover details of the real red sandalwood smugglers who must be wallowing in luxury while letting their low-level workers be brutally killed by the police.
I hope Singapore will be careful with who they hire as labourers in Chandrababu Naidu-led Andhra while building the new capital city for them!
Mr Naidu, incidentally, is an ally of Mr Modi’s BJP. So no meaningful action can be expected against the killers.
G Joslin Vethakumar