The Independent People’s Tribunal was organized by a collective of civil society groups, social movements, activists, academics and concerned citizens in the country. The people’s jury, heard testimonies from the affected people, social activists and experts from Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, and West Bengal.
Central India is home to the Adivasis and Dalits, India’s first people. It is also home to the richest concentration of natural resources in the country. Today, as powerful Indian and global corporations race each other to gain control of the land, water, forest and mineral wealth of the region, this natural wealth has become a curse to these indigenous but marginalised communities. What comes between corporate greed and natural resources are the tribals asserting their customary rights, right to life and livelihood, as well as their constitutional rights over the same natural resources. Corrupt corporations, joining hands with corrupt states, are helping destroy India’s vibrant natural heritage and mineral wealth. Human rights abuses by police, paramilitary forces and state-sponsored militia are spreading in the name of Operation Green Hunt, which seems to make it a war against the very citizens it promises to protect. A virtual information blockade prevents information from coming out of states like Chhattisgarh which are bearing the brunt of Operation Green Hunt. Our country needs to know the truth about such a massive war against our own people. That is why an Independent People’s Tribunal, consisting of eminent jury members, has been called to hear testimonies from affected people, deliberate and submit a report on the matter to the public.
Praful Samantra highlights the problematic exploitation of iron and bauxite ore. For example, the sites containing the most bauxite ore are located atop mountains and correspond to the sources of numerous streams. Mining the ores amounts to ruining the water supply for the adivasis living in the area, while leaving the company with zero liability. Protests are suppressed in a manner similar to that seen in other states: "…in the last year 14 people have been shot dead. In the last 6 months, villagers have been banned from leaving their areas, even to go to the hospital. In September 2009, 30 innocent villagers were put in jail and branded as Maoists. We went there and fought for them because they were innocent. The administration assured us that they would be released but they are still in jail now. Their families are starving now."