Would you exchange 2 cappuccinos for peace?

Priyanka Borpujari, friend and freelance journalist, has been working closely with the issue of violence in Chhattisgarh. She is headed to Dantewada district in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh on December 20, 2009. A place which has become a living hell — tribals from 644 villages have been thrown out, some villages have been burnt over 10 times, women raped, murders rampant daily, and where the perpetrators of this might be the state police, through the alibi of Salwa Judum. Why the hell is she going there?

She is also trying to raise funds to take to Dantewada, for the Satyagraha, at which 50,000 tribals from Dantewada alone are expected to congregate. All she wants from you is a minimum of Rs 100 — the cost of 2 cappuccinos with a friend at barista — which will take care of one adivasi person’s one day’s food and lodging in Dantewada during the Satyagraha. The donations need to be made in cash, and I can collect the same in Pune, on behalf of Priyanka. You will be furnished with a receipt once she is back from Dantewada. The donation would be made to Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, about which you will find in her blog. You can always get in touch with her directly (her contact details are at the end).

You might be tempted to think that this does not concern you. That this is not really your responsibility and hence, you would wonder about the need to respond. But in truth, the idea of civilization, culture and country means that problems, responsibilities, benefits and accountability is shared. Sooner or later, for better or for worse, everyone is affected. And responsible.

Especially if the problem is large-scale and involves millions of people as it does in this case. There’s a war for justice going on in the tribal hinterland of India. The people may be denied justice once, twice, thrice… maybe even 10 times. But everyone has a tipping point. There comes a time when those who are denied justice rise up against oppression and then everyone comes in the line of fire, you and me included. Millions of Adivasi people have been denied justice guaranteed by the constitution. This is an attempt to give them that, so that they don’t feel cheated by the country and the government that is supposed to protect them. It is everyone’s collective responsibility to ensure that they get it, so that they do not lend an ear to those that are telling them to take up guns to get what they deserve.

Your sacrifice of two coffees (Rs. 100 or more), goes a long way in ensuring this. Let’s, for a change, do something real. Lighting candles at the Gateway of India is a start, but in this case wont it be better to save that money on candles and instead give it in the pursuit of justice and fight against violence? Can peace prevail without justice? You decide.

I do not subscribe to many of her political views, nor do I share her opinion of the administration at the centre and big corporations. But I do agree with her that injustice has indeed been done, and that more needs to be done to bring those issues to light, and resolve them peacefully, for everybody’s benefit.

And yes, I am donating.

Priyanka can be reached at 9820741992 or aa.priyanka@gmail.com. Please read Priyanka’s blogpost to know more. She would be more than willing to take your queries and doubts, and reply to them.
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