I’m going to say a few words based on our community’s understanding – if a murderer comes to kill you openly, the possibility of escaping is high. It can even perhaps be fought against. But if the same killer is in disguise, it would be difficult to get away.
Now we are experiencing a similar situation. The emergency that Indira Gandhi had brought into force was straightforward. It was visible. So we could protest it. We could organise against it. What we have now is also an emergency. It’s just not being called by that name. This is an emergency in disguise. This could be called the ‘Cow-faced Tiger Emergency’. The symptoms of this ‘Cow-faced Tiger Emergency’ is being seen throughout the country today.
The Chennai-Salem expressway is one example of it. What does it mean to have not allowed Yogendra Yadav, Lingaraju and Balakrishnan, who were not violating any laws? The government did not even allow them to meet those who were affected. Are we living in a democratic country? That’s why I said that this is a ‘Cow-faced Tiger Emergency’?
We now have to think about whether the Chennai-Salem Expressway was inevitable. Salem and Chennai are already connected by three roads. When this is the case do is there a need for another road? We have to raise this question. If this new project is undertaken, thousands of trees in the eleven reserved forests that fall in its path will be destroyed. Isn’t it absolute devastation to destroy the forests to build a road? The High Court has passed a stay order. But it does not even count! There is also no consent from the farmers who are set to lose their lands. The central government has set out to do this project tyrannically.
What is at the heart of this? When seen in the light of this background, there is present the stench of a conspiracy of commission deals on the 10,000 crore budgeted road making project and the business of timber from the destroyed forests. Getting loans from somewhere, making commission deals, making roads, destroying the wealth of the forests and burdening common people with this debt is what is being called development today. It is because of such development that cloudburst tsunamis are happening. It’s because of these cloudburst tsunamis that so called ‘developed’ roads have been washed away in Kerala and in Kodagu right in front of our very own eyes. But we have still not learned. Even now the central government should become wiser and let go of this tragic project.
Translated into English by Rashmi Munikempanna
Devanoora Mahadeva. “We are experiencing a ‘Cow-faced Tiger’ Emergency”: Devanoora Mahadeva in Indian Cultural Forum.