David L. Chaplin II
Impunity Watch; Asia
CHHATTISGARH, India – The right to health care is challenged as a misguided press began looking into claims by Kalluir, Senior Superintendent of Police, Dantewada, whom accused international humanitarian organization’s Medicines Sans Frontières (MSF), or doctors without borders and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) of “facilitating” treatment to the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and promised to investigate both agencies.
The CPI (Maoist) Formed in 2004 is a guerilla organization committed to overthrowing the Union government through an armed revolution.
“Investigations have shown that these medicines have been prescribed by MSF doctors,” Kalluri said. “They even carry out surgeries for those (Maoists) wounded in encounters with the police”.
“They come in the name of helping the poor, but these foreign doctors treat the Maoists. If they want to work for the poor, surely they can work elsewhere,” said SRP Kalluri.
However, Director-General of Police Vishwa Ranjan said no such investigation was under way. “The ICRC is still in the process of signing an agreement with the government to operate in Chhattisgarh,” he said.
“We are not investigating either organization for supporting the Maoists,” he said, attributing Mr. Kalluri’s comments to confusion among the local press.
MSF’s India head Martin Sloot said the organization offers medical support to people who have limited access to healthcare, with support from the Chhattisgarh government.
“These allegations, as I understand them, are not true. MSF has worked in Chhattisgarh for quite some time. We are very transparent, and provide medical care to the entire population,” said Martin Sloot, who heads the MSF mission in India.
“We are not a political organization, we are medical organization. We believe in the principles of impartiality and neutrality, and that healthcare is a right,” said Mr. Sloot said, adding that MSF did not allow armed people into its health centers.
“I am surprised by the comments,” said Yahia Alibi, Deputy Regional Head of the ICRC. “We do not operate in Dantewada, but are running one primary health center in Kutru, Bijapur, with the full support of the local administration and the police.”
Both MSF and ICRC have won Nobel Peace Prize for their work in providing humanitarian assistance to people caught in situations of armed conflict.
The rebels are believed to be active in more than two-thirds of the country. They say they are fighting for the rights of the rural poor.
A government offensive against the rebels widely referred to as Operation Green Hunt – began last October. It involves 50,000 troops and is taking place across five states – West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa and Chhattisgarh.
For more information, please see:
BBC – Red Cross and MSF accused of helping India Maoists – 21 January 2011
Times of India – Medecins Sans Frontieres, Red Cross treat Maoists: Dantewada – 20 January 2011
The Hindu – MSF and Red Cross aiding Maoists: Dantewada police – 21 January 2011