Where there is no police: Kumar Rana

This is a guest post by KUMAR RANA

Where there is no police – what a wonderful state that would be. It’s a place that many have dreamt of, at least at some point of time if not all through the life. What a wonderful land that would be where one can eat or fast,  sleep or remain awake,  work or rest, move in or move out  completely freely, where her wishes would not be monitored by the police. So the episodes in Khejuri in East Medinipur and Lalgarh, in West Bengal, had apparently made some of the citizens happy: what a relief, there is no police.

But, alas, it was only a dream. Because there was the state and a state without police is as alive as a dead animal, the khaki was quickly replaced by lungi or jeans, and the gun by perhaps more lethal AK47 and its sort.
There were however some essential differences between Khejuri and Lalgarh. At Khejuri the police was made inactive and was replaced only temporarily (with fullest possible cooperation from the police; it too with several cadres with a dubious and oppressive past apparently hastening to shift loyalty – from the CPM to the emerging Trinamool Congress). Police has not been denied existence. It was only for some time that the Trinamool Congress supporters occupied the stage to police the society by ‘unpolicing’ the areas temporarily. As soon as the party-worker-police ensured the ‘unprotection’ of the now-reduced-to-a-vulnerable-opposition CPIM they were reportedly restrained by their leadership. They had to, as the strongest aspirant of the Chief Ministership of West Bengal their leader need not risk her potential by doing something rebelliously unconstitutional. And, more so the area has already been brought under complete subjugation of the TMC – now instead of aggravating this more in Khejuri it is profitable to spread the Khejuri type “peoples anger” elsewhere, albeit keeping the “movement” within certain limit so as to avoid any constitutional complication.

But, the case at Lalgarh is different: the absence of police has been filled up by the Maoist activists with guns on their shoulders. In other words, the government-police has been replaced by the Maoist-police – the self styled liberators of the people. So far the Lalgarh movement was running under the banner of a peoples committee. Although the presence of the Maoists was not unknown and many believed about their hands working behind the peoples committee, it was not until June 14 that they appeared in public, when its leader Bikash held a unique media conference – his back facing the camera! Notwithstanding failing to capture his biological face the camera snapped well the face of hegemonic power – a sophisticated gun on the back.

Indeed, the mute weapon was so eloquent that the words delivered by Bikash appeared unnecessary. Also the solitary gun captured by the camera far outnumbered the gathering masses, announcing the change in their subjugation – from the subjects of the state to the subjects of the Maoists.

The Maoist leaders have been claiming that the liberated Lalgarh belonged to the people now. Had it been so what was the necessity of the gun on Bikash’s shoulder? Why this symbol of oppressive power was urgently needed to be shown? Was it a casual gesture? Not at all. It had a purpose: to give the people the message that now onward their existence was subject to the confirmation of loyalty towards the Maoists. Be absolutely loyal to us, we will save you, or you would meet a fate a la Salku Soren, whose corpse has been lying under the sun for five days. In fact, it too was a message: in a time before the Christian Era, at least Antigone was there to remove her deceased brother Polynecices’s body defying Crayon’s ordinance, but in an era of flourishing humanity, progress and modernity, none could dare to come out to remove the body of poor Salku,  an agricultural labourer,  announced by the Maoists as class enemy.

There are arguments in the air that it was the CPM against whom the people have been expressing their accumulated outrage. For the moment we need not entangle ourselves in the debate on the construction and guiding of popular anger. But, was it this popular anger that kept Salku’s body lying to decompose in front of the CPM office? Or it was a diktat? Clearly the latter, the diktat of the Maoists who have been maintaining a record of demolishing human dignity (including punishing tribal woman, who happened to be the wife of a CPM supporter, by garlanding with shoes) and perpetuating cruelties of various denominations on people perceived by them to be their enemy; and, the method of identifying the enemy is somewhat similar to that of George Bush – anyone who talks differently is a foe and needs to be removed from physical existence. It is not only the ruthlessness involved in the Maoists’ methods of usurping power that looks obnoxious but more nauseating is the romanticization of the Maoists’ move by sections of intelligentsia, ignoring completely the fact that the move of the Maoists are no less hegemonic than that of the CPM or the emerging TMC.

For all of them the people are mere subjects who are to be ruled through one or other kind of policing and would be prevented at any cost from building their own agency. And, police and gun are almost synonymous : the police is a police by dint of gun. In other words gun enables a person to be a police. And, this has proved to be the biggest barrier for building up peoples’ own agency. Hegemony knows this, and whenever there emerges a potential peoples’ movement there appear the hegemonic forces with their guns. We have seen in Nandigram how had the gun intervened in reducing a potentially strong peoples movement into a mere vote bank of a particular hegemony – the TMC.

The Maoists who have declared to be out to wither the state away have thus basically become the part of a bigger hegemonic state, where one section of the people are dominated by the others and along with gun the dominants use many other weapons: alphabets, language, technology, kinship, lineage, culture and history and so on.

There is no surprise that the self styled warriors against the state are party to the same, but, what is tormenting is the anticipated consequence of their action: the state has already signaled to switch the machine on. The state understands symbols more than the real actions. As long as the Maoists were working under the cover of the peoples committee the state did not feel challenged. But, as soon as the media address with gun on shoulder was delivered the state received an “alarm call”.  We are hearing that the Maoists have signaled their counterparts to keep the red corridor (to Orissa and Jharkhand) open so that the warriors can leave safely. But what would happen to the people? The ruthlessness of the state is much wider and intense in nature. And the people of Lalgarh who had been  fighting a heroic battle, not with guns, but with their solidarity and commitment, are at the receiving end of state onslaught. They will be alone: no intelligentsia, no Maoist, no media – they have to fight the battle absolutely alone. They have been facing the atrocities and violence of the state and the so called civilized society for centuries: they are denied of their rights to land, forest, food, education, health and life. They have been forced to live a sub-human life, mimicking the much heralded guarantee of human dignity of the modern state and society. And while the state and larger society have been continuing these onslaughts to keep their hegemony unharmed, the Maoists, in the name of opposing these onslaughts, are actually converting the injustices to arms to establish their hegemony. The police has apparently gone. But the police is still there. So, the essential fight of ‘unpolicing’ the society is an urgency. The question is how to. Here lies the relevance of an agency of the police independent of this party or that – CPM, Trinamool, Maoist. And as long as the threat of police – of one kind or other – is there the  urgency and possibility of a peoples’ agency to free the land from police remains alive.

10 thoughts on “Where there is no police: Kumar Rana”

  1. The author who ccasionally writes for Ananda Bazar Patrika, had better written this piece in ABP to reach out to common people. Netizens are a light year away from subalterns.

  2. “Gun enables a person to be police.”

    Excellent observation there. I have been living in Cal since the past 18years, and had the fortune of interacting with many Bengali intellectuals. In many seminars, I have heard people talk about a blissful anarchy where there is no control in our lives by repressive State apparatus elements like the police. No doubt, in this country, these elements have the power to be a legitimised nuisance. But I always found it odd that there was an intrinsic belief in academic utopias that if done away with the police/State, people will lead happy lives beyond the intervention of the State.
    I feel that humans by and large, use violence in far more subtle ways than just being a man in khaki. Lalgarh’s Maoist nuisance is just a small example of that, of how self righteous elements seize power through violence to justify the ends. State or No-State, such people will always exist in society and assert their hegemony over the rest. The dilemma we now face at hand it, how do we end this violence? The khaki police?

  3. i did not see any policing. the villagers were having a gala time demolishing symbols of power which had subjugated them for years. sure this character was there with his gun. was he threatening the villagers ? didn’ t seem so. may be the writer has some other eyes.

  4. @KABIR
    It seems you’ve haven’t really understood the basic point of the author’s argument.
    Mr. Kumar Rana’s article evolves around a very fundamental question: How free is freedom?
    Was it absolutely necessary for the local Maoist leader to carry a gun?
    One cannot possibly miss out the symbolic value of the sophisticated weapon hanging from the Maoist leader’s shoulder.
    It is unfortunate that some of us could only see and understand outward acts of terror while failing to notice silent weapons of terror. In an age where we all have accepted the rhetoric
    of violence it not surprising though.

  5. am thoro’ly confused…. who’ll show us the real light….Binayak sen…..Sudip chkravarti ????

  6. the tv interview took place during the process of demolition of a cpim leader’s house (or may be the cpim party office). if cpim-hired gunmen attacked at that time, would the author have been there to deflect bullets into abstraction. the sequence of events followed after a PCPA rally was attacked by cpim-hired gunmen. was the author there at that time to spread his message when that incident occurred ? may be that character should have put his gun on the tree or under the bush and no one would have seen it and the author wouldn’t have written about “the gun”.

  7. In Republic of India, you have the right to abuse your government. First, you will be ignored.Then, you will be threatened & at most, you will get a false police case against you.
    In the Republic of Lalgarh, you have to obey the orders of your liberators, the “Mao”ists. Forget about protest; if you express even a little dissent on their strategy & method, you will be killed on the spot.
    Remember, “Mao”ists could never kill Laxman Seth or Sushanta Ghosh, the masterminds behind CPM hegemony. They could only kill CPM workers at the ground like Salku Soren ( who didnt even have 500 rupees in his bank account) or Abhijit Mahato ( a 2nd year student who didnt even have a bank account).
    This so-called “struggle” will destroy the poor & the marginal sections of the society even further. However, the intellegensia supporting them from Kolkata & New Delhi will remain un-affected & continue the enjoy the benefits of industrial society. They will continue to send their kids…no, not to Lalgarh…but to greener pastures in India & abroad. It is because of this hypocrisy , Left movement in India could never fire the imagination of aam-aadmi in vast areas of India.

  8. how many incidents have occurred in lalgarh where people have been “killed on the spot” because of “little dissent” ?

  9. Not only police but also military , paramilitary and other uniformed gundas . Though a popular concept to glamourize army personnels is a common picture beyond left and right wings .
    What’s your view ?

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