On Regret and Control

As I get ready to mail this piece, I read the news of the killing of four CRPF men who were out on a patrol in an IED blast in Begal. I know that these deaths do not qualify as deaths of the ‘people’ since all the dead were ‘combatants’. I therefore do not expect any expression of regret from the CPI( Maoist). But the sheer lack of remorse with which the CPI( Maoist) has owned the land mine blast which killed more than 40 people travelling in a bus in Chhatigarh shows that the lives of the tribal people matter little for them. Their central committee member Azad told the reporters that it could not be helped. He said that since they had informed the villagers through circulars that they should refrain from travelling with the security persons, the Maoists cannot be blamed for these deaths. They paid the price with their lives for ignoring this warning. The circular issued by the ‘Janadhan Sarkar’ very clear forbids them from mixing with Jawans or police, inviting them to village for any event , providing them food or shelter, giving any service to the security persons , or travelling with them, including the police, CRPF , SPOs or the CRPF . They have also been asked to keep track of the number of policemen in their area and also the arms they carry and report to the ‘Janadhan Sarkar’ their movement and destination.

How could have the tribals dared to violate the regime put in place for them by their revolutionary masters? Azad’s statement reminds one of a statement in the columns of Tehelka by Varvara Rao, who, when asked about the civilian deaths, retorted , “those are details.”

We felt offended by the term ‘collateral damage’ introduced by the Americans to justify civilian deaths in their wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Are we going to tolerate the collateral damage which results from a revolutionary violence?

These killings have to be seen along with the killing of a Congress leader Hemant Bege in Jharkhand, four villagers in Bengal as they were CPM supporters, two Gramrakhis in a village in Orissa and of six villagers in the Rajnadgaon district of Chhatisgarh. This list does not include those six CRPF men who were killed in a land mine blast , set up by the CPI( Maoist) and four other CRPF men killed today in Begal in a blast .

It is very clear that the it is not the government which the Maoists are targeting; it is the people of the areas which they claim are under their control who are being told to abide by the diktat of the revolutionary party. This is no longer the land of the tribals. Azad, justifying the killings , said , “we are in a war with government forces who have swarmed our forests.” Who is this we?

The tribals or theCPI( Maoist)?

Is it surprising that for none of these murders do we ever demand that the perpetrators be arrested, that they be brought to justice? Are these killings not murders simply because their source is a political party which swears by the name of people? Why is it that we never call these killers by their true names?

Have we accepted the myth of the ‘people’s war’ which the CPI( Maoist) say is not new, that it is going on for more than forty years and cannot be not be halted till the dream of Revolution realized? It is high time we rejected this myth of war and insurrection and stopped sublimating the criminal acts of the CPI( Maoist) . The archives of the Leninist and Stalinist Soviet union have a lot to tell us about the true face of revolution. We know about Mao’s China. Do we still want to go back to that Crimson dawn of Revolution ?

10 thoughts on “On Regret and Control”

  1. The way the Maoists are proceeding has to be condemned, certainly; though this has always been their mode of conduct. Installing themselves as the Executive and the Judiciary, they have always been knocking off those whom they decide are ‘informers’, or those who decide not to boycott elections and so on. Having said that, one also has to look at the fact that they do have support of tribes though not of all of them. Tribe members are part of their Army as well. Let us not forget that the tribes have been dispossessed the most as a single social sector and have paid the highest price for development projects like dams and mines in Independent India.What have they got out of it? Just because they have lived over some minerals for centuries and continue to do so, the government is not justified in allowing the digging up of the forests and destroying these people, are they? There are so many groups and movements trying to protect mangroves, salt pans, rivers (which are actually being sold off piecemeal in some places to private parties), marine resources…These are not even people who have lived in these places always. Surely the tribes too have the right to resistance; and there can be people who support that resistance and defend their right to resist. If the state cracks down on such resistance, then maybe not a Red Dawn, but a Black Night might be the result.
    The Govt has to find a way to include the tribes among the aam Aadmi (and aurat) and to recognize the need for special protection and treatment. The maoists too have to recognise that they must move towards defending the rights of the people who have hosted them, to development and to participate in democracy and be part of the rest of the citizenry. The tragedy that is going on has to be averted from becoming worse.


  2. I think Maoists lost moral ground by killing the very people for whom they claim to fight. I do not think there is anyone who can justify their action. Yes, civil society must continue to pressurise the government but it must do the same in case of Maoists too. Ultimately, it is violence vs superior violence. This means,Government will crush them. It is not important that Maoists should win,the question is the people should win.Sadly, the tribals will lose. Is it proper to sympathise with Maoists without the ability to influence them? Did anyone know that they would do such thing?


  3. Its nauseating to see how death of uniformed personnel is treated with supreme indifference, even nodding “understanding” by the liberal chatterati..As if all uniformed men are fair game for people claiming “revolutionary” credentials..

    So easily is it forgotten that these men (and women) protect our way of life, our aspirations and so many things that we take for granted – included, for example, our right to disagree without the fear of being killed..

    In most countries, justifying deaths of uniformed public servants as “combatant deaths” would be counted as treason…Its a tribute to the permissive nature of the Indian polity that it is par for the course…


    1. You said: ” our way of life”. Whose? Are you sure our way of life is the same as that of an Adivasi?


  4. how many times the state has expressed regrets for all those custodial deaths , rapes torturesm thousands of fake encounter deaths and thousands of youth who simply vanished from kashmir and punjab
    one may agree or disagree with maoist poiltcs atleast they have taken responsibility of their action


  5. i share the anguish of prof. apoorvanand over the tragic ‘death’ of innocent tribals and the callousness of the maoists over it. but, as i can see it – this is something history is destined to experience – time and again. because whether we like it or not – the intellectuals – (despite )being sensitive to all aspects of exploitation and oppression – gender, class, race, state violence…will never put their legs into the dirty mud of ‘real politics’. at best they will always remain happy to do university centred – or at maximum city centred politics of civil liberty. They will always decry ‘the party’, but will never try to do what the ‘party’ does. Just to take an example, intellectuals will write/shout/protest over retrenchment/batton-charge of workers in gurgaon. But they will never seriously try to build an organisation of workers there. Because living in a workers colony is harsh. So the job will always be left at the hands of authoritarian-half-literate-dogmatic-old fashioned leninists! [moreover, different postmodern theories have already “enlightened” the intellectuals – building party organisation is bad! It leads to leninist (Orwellian?) state! So let the workers/peasants/tribals fight their own battles. At best we can “critically engage and come in solidarity” (read -putting an demonstration in arts faculty or jantar mantar) with them!]. So prof. Apporvanand will always shout – will write in kafila – will get anguished (of course for justified reasons), but will always leave the real battle vacant for the dogmatic leninists!! After all, it is these people who keeps the hope of revolution alive, so -in the last analysis – history can never judge them too harshly. The intellectuals are and will always be condemned to live a pathetic petty-bourgeois/middle class life. They will never bring real social change…let alone revolution; and in India, as anyone can see it – not even a social democracy!


  6. Most curious…What bravado…I would expect a similar response from you when the Govt. retaliation comes…But then it might just be treason…so you would be justified in your silence !!


  7. Dipak,

    What is the “adivasi” way of life, if I may? Left to the fashionable chatterati, they would be left to themsleves, isnt it, as some sort of a living anthropological museum? While there human development indicators would compare with sub Saharan Africa..Any attempt to change the status quo of course is an invitation to revolutionary reprisals, isnt it? Because all of it is a state-corporate-big-media conspiracy? So a telephone tower that connects the deepest interior of Bastar to the rest of the world is a symbol of imperialist domination, so it has to be blown up..A railway track that connects (physically) the same place with the rest of the country is a symbol of corporate avarice – needs to be blown up…What else?

    Warts and all, the last 60 years of India has germinated a “way of life” that essentially means that each individual has a right to strive for a better life, and speak up without fearing for physical harm…whether the Maoists, or the Pak-sponsored terrorists in Kashmir, their philosophical doctrines are far removed from that..And uniformed public servants are protecting exactly those tenets of our public (and private) life that we have grown to cherish…


    1. Well, I don’t know what Adivasi way of life. I am not an Adivasi. You, however, seem to know and also suggest ways to change it. Certainly our kind-hearted industrialists agree with you. I know only a simple thing: they live in mineral rich areas our industrialists want to ‘develop’ and government thinks they have every right to ‘develop’ these areas.
      but these Adivasis who deserve a place in museum, as you think, oppose their plans.
      Let me make it clear, I don’t support Maoists or their violence including the recent killing of civilians. If Maoists are wrong (and they are) it is the development strategy you suggest has fathered them.
      Anyway, I will always prefer to be a ‘fashionable (you mean leftist) chatterati’ than to be an apologist of this development model.


  8. It is heartening to note that ‘an old style Trotskyite’ has found time from his busy schedule of bringing about the change through armed struggle, to read the piece and offer his long comment in defence of Maoist act of killing innocent tribals. Yes, collateral damage, you can say. The poor fellows , the Maoists had to do it. They had already served the notice to the people not to travel along side government forces. But these tribals can learn their lessons only the hard way. There was no way Maoists can allow them to live!
    Why do we think that everything is either black or white? Why can’t we criticize Maoists? I criticize the government because at the heart of my heart I am confident that the politicians and ministers and I belong to the same class I am not going to be hanged. About Maoists, I am not so sure. So, I will keep defending every action of theirs.
    The incident brings an end to irresponsible intellectualism. If the intellectuals believe in the Maoist cause, they should be able to influence their actions too. This, however, does not mean, the government is right. It is precisely because the government is acting in favour of the corporate barons that one needs to criticize the Maoist methods that take people nowhere.


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