There are just no words left to express the anger and helplessness that overcame hundreds and thousands of people like me when they heard of the custodial murder of an ailing, frail, octogenarian, Fr Stanislaus Lourduswamy, known to the world as Stan Swamy. The various issues that arise from the virtual judicial abdication of responsibility has been powerfully articulated by former Delhi High Court Chief Justice, AP Shah and one can hardly add to that. What is perhaps the most shocking is not that the judiciary abdicated in observing its duty of upholding the Constitutional rights of a citizen but that it seems to have lost even the minimum grace and human concern.
“Medical reports taken on record clearly showed that Fr Swamy had the degenerative Parkinson’s disease, and could not even do basic tasks, such as holding a spoon, writing, walking or bathing. Indeed, the court noted that he had a severe hearing problem, and was physically very weak. But even that did not move them. Every regular bail application that was filed by his lawyers was unequivocally rejected.”
This is shocking beyond words – or used to be once upon a time. But as each day of this regime passes, our threshold of taking shock increases by leaps and bounds. Are we really surprized now, that while this was how they treated Stan Swamy, a goon who had just the other day openly called for mob violence and “shooting down anti-nationals” has now been promoted to the Central ministry?
In a statement issued on April 16th 2018, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) claimed that the ‘National Policy and Action Plan’ to combat Left Wing Extremism (LWE) is ‘a multi-pronged strategy involving security and development related measures’. This new policy, apparently in place since the NDA government came to power at the centre, claims to have ‘zero tolerance towards violence coupled with a big push to developmental activities so that benefits of development reached the poor and vulnerable in the affected areas’. The statement talks of substantial improvement in the LWE scenario by indicating reduced incidents of violence over the last four years. Within a week of this statement to the press, several Maoists are killed in an alleged encounter in Gadchiroli district of Maharastra and, then, in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh. The Maharashtra state police immediately issued press notes and organised a press conference on April 24th declaring the operation an unmitigated success. A week later, Chhattisgarh police did the same. Even as the death count of Maoists kept rising, the police claimed that none of their personnel, primarily the elite C-60 force in Maharashtra and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), were seriously injured let alone killed in action.
24th September, 2013
STOP THE WITCHHUNT!
PUCL STATEMENT CONDEMNING THE POLICE RAID OF PROF. GN SAIBABA’S RESIDENCE
The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) condemns the illegal raid and search of the residence Professor GN Saibaba of Delhi University on 12th September, 2013. Professor Saibaba is a differently abled person and is wheel chair bound. Ironically, over 50 police persons and intelligence officers raided his house! Prof Saibaba and his entire family including his minor daughter and the driver were all locked in different rooms, during the three-and-half-hour search. It is believed that the raid is pre-cursor to the imminent arrest of Prof Saibaba.
The police today raided my house between 6.30 and 7 am. I was out of the house when they did it. One of those days when I was not at home. They came with a search warrant and said that a khatarnak Naxalite was being shielded in my house.
My family was unable to gather the name, but they had come looking for a woman they said some Sunit / Sumit Sodi. The Bajaj Nagar police station of Jaipur, which very well knows my house, brought them. It was led by the DY SP of our area Rajendra Singh Shekhwat and they also sent police outside the People’s Union for Civil Liberties office. The Chhattisgarh raid was led by one Mr. Memon who was in plain clothes. His rank we do not know. He got papers from a court that my house has to be searched. Continue reading Kavita Srivastava: ‘Chhattisgarh Police Raided My House Today in Collusion with Jaipur Police’→
Till very recently it was not possible to discuss Binayak Sen without referring to the corporate land grab and state repression in Chhattisgarh. Somehow Salwa Judum, the displacement of thousands of adivasis and the Maoist movement would come in the picture. Above all, what would come out is Sen’s work in the specific context of the suffering of the adivasis. Indeed soon after the bail order was granted, it came so naturally for Sen’s beaming wife to state that he will of course go back to resume his work in Chhattisgarh.
Upon his release from Raipur Central Jail on April 18 2011, Sen immediately called for a dialogue between the Maoists and the government and reminded us of so many other political prisoners languishing in the country’s jails. In the video showing Sen being greeted by his supporters after his release he enthusiastically joins in giving slogans saying, ‘Shankar Guha Niyogi Zindabad’. But the supporters soon after break into ‘Binayak Sen Zindabad’. You could immediately see this embarrassed look on his face, totally disapproving this iconisation.
Indeed, Sen seems very far off from celebrating his release as a major victory for democracy or a boost forIndia’s image as a modern democracy and so on. He seems really far off from the dominant discourse which seeks to cleanse the ‘Binayak Sen issue’ of the harsh realities of India’s dirty war, the inequality and the injustice towards the adivasis and their suffering. Continue reading Chronicle of a Bail Foretold: Saroj Giri→
Over the weekend, a number of journalists received the following statement from Ganapathy; General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). In the text, Ganapathy clarifies the Maoist stance on a broad range of topics – particularly Kashmir, the Commonwealth Games, the Ayodhya Verdict, Mamta Bannerjee in Bengal, Obama and the North East.
However, the fact that the questions are posed by an obviously sympathetic “interviewer” and our inability to send any follow-up questions means that, I personally, treat this as a policy document rather than an “interview”. To get a quick newsy sum-up, you could read my report for The Hindu.
I felt it would be interesting for our readers to go through this text to get a sense of “What Maoists Want”. As a reporter, I am only too aware of how Maoist politics is severely under-reported as opposed to their military tactics.
As neither the Maoists, nor Mr Ganapathy are currently in a position to defend their views on Kafila; I have disabled comments on this post. Afzal’s acerbic (and spot on) comment has changed my mind. Have allowed comments on this piece.Hopefully, this document shall serve as a reference point for further discussions on the Maoist movement.
Given the need to show ‘results’ in Chhattisgarh, the police are pulling some unlikely rabbits out of still stranger hats. The latest is Lingaram Kodopi, tipped by the police to be “Azad’s successor”, but as Jefferson Airplane reminds , If you go chasing rabbits…
The following piece appeared in The Hindu under the joint by-line of Aman Sethi and Smita Gupta.
In a press conference on Sunday, S.R.P Kalluri, Senior Superintendent of Police of Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district, identified the prime suspect behind the July 6 attack on the house of Congress worker and civil contractor Avdesh Singh Gautam. According to a press release circulated by the Chhattisgarh police, “this attack was masterminded by Lingaram Kodopi, a resident of Sameli village.”
“In the last few months, Kodopi had received training in terrorist techniques in Delhi and Gujarat,” the release stated, claiming that Lingaram was “in touch” with writer Arundhati Roy, activist Medha Patkar and Nandini Sundar, a sociology professor at the Delhi School of Economics. The police also said that Kodopi was tipped to succeed Communist Party of India (Maoist) central spokesperson Azad, after the latter was killed by the Andhra Pradesh Police on July 2 this year.
Mukram: Rumours swirling around Mukram suggest that this adivasi village in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district may soon be abandoned. “There is talk of going to Orissa or Andhra [Pradesh],” said a prominent adivasi leader with familial ties to Mukram, “It could happen in as little as a week. Villagers say there is too much pressure from both, the Maoists and the Police.”
A mid-sized village of about 100 houses, Mukram shot to prominence as the site where an ill-fated company from the 62nd Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) rested on the night of April 5 this year. At dawn on April 6, the company was ambushed by about 300 armed cadres of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), resulting in the death of 76 security force members.
In a statement released after the attacks, the CPI (Maoist) praised the efforts of Comrade Rukhmati, a Maoist commander and Mukram resident, who was killed in the ambush. On May 11, The Hindu reported the death of Kunjam Suklu, a Mukram resident who, his family members allege, was beaten to death by the CRPF in a fit of retaliatory rage.
While there is always the thrill of holding people hostage against their desire, the Maoists, of late, seem to have discovered the pleasure of release.
Having spanked the state into submission by beheading Francis Induwar; by freeing policeman Antindranath Datta and “peacefully” vandalizing the Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Rajdhani, the Maoists appear to be signaling a new phase in their troubled relationship with the State.
Now that the State and the media know that the Maoists are capable of taking the pleasure equals pain principle to its logical climax, freeing hostages and good-naturedly scribbling slogans on trains appears like a far more civilized way of fomenting revolution.
Just yesterday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi expressed their willingness to break free from the handcuffs of current discourse and engage with those who abstain (from violence).
Maoist leader Kishenji has insisted that while the rebels shall not lay down their arms, talks with the West Bengal and Central Governments must be preceded by the unconditional release of all prisoners taken captive since military operations began in Lalgarh in June, a withdrawal central forces from the area and a declaration of ceasefire by both sides.
In the meantime, the Home Minister, P.Chidambaram, has warned that he can keep his velvet gloves on for only so long; thereafter it’s steel fisting all the way. The victims of military operation shall inevitably be the poor tribals who have love for neither State nor rebel. Now if only the Maoists would take themselves in hand.
With the debate on Maoist violence and Operation Green Hunt hotting up, things are taking a disturbing turn. The danger really is that all spaces of radical political movements and indeed the entire space of the Left, part of it gradually vacated by the parliamentary ‘Left’ in recent decades and finally completely abandoned in the last few years, will now be virtually erased. In its place will be installed the phantom of an ‘armed struggle’ that threatens to completely swallow up the spaces once occupied by different shades of the CPI(ML) and the Naxalite movement and other Continue reading Mass Politics, Violence and the Radical Intellectual→
(An edited version of this piece appeared as the cover story in Himal Southasian in December 2007. The report is based on travels across Andhra to Bihar in October of the same year. At a time when most of the media is pushing the same binaries we must avoid, this may help in conveying the enormous complexity of the issue. Some facts may be outdated, and Kafila readers will be more familiar with certain issues like Salwa Judum than this reporter, but the broad argument may still have some relevance. I will follow this up with posts on the Nepali process and Indian Naxalites.)
A people’s movement. The greatest internal security challenge. Struggle for the rights of the poor, tribals, Dalits, landless. Compact Revolutionary Zone with influence in almost 200 districts. A socio economic problem rooted in exploitation and idealism. A law and order threat . True people’s democracy. A criminal, authoritarian and opportunistic outfit. The revolution will smash the Indian state. The Maoists are ants and can be crushed anytime .
Neat black and white portrayals have come to characterise one of the most complex stories of our times. The Naxal as the saviour and the state as the oppressor. The state as protector and Naxal as the villain. Numbers and scale of action act as the judge of Maoist spread and activity. 1608 incidents of Naxalite violence and 677 people killed in 2005; 1509 incidents and 678 killed in 2006; 249 persons killed till June 2007. Continue reading Complicating the ‘Naxalite’ debate→