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.
Continue reading “Nobody Can Stop The Revolution”
By ARUN K AGRAWAL
Dear Shri Chidambaram,
This is in response to your repeated taunts on NDTV that the civil society must respond to the wanton killing by the Naxals. It appears that the interview was tailor made for getting the consent of the Cabinet for more firepower and airpower to combat the Maoist. The diabolic support of Arun Jaitly, be it by describing you an injured martyr, was designed to achieve his ambition through the support of the mining barons of the BJP ruled states.
As a member of society I hope I am being civil in disagreeing with you on your hard line approach against the innocent tribal. I also hope you will not find it too shocking for being accused of being largely responsible for the rise and growth of Naxalism, as the following happened on your watch as Finance minister.
Continue reading To P Chidambaram: Response from a member of civil society, by AK Agrawal
THIS note attempts to understand the nature of the politics behind the violent actions of the Maoists. There seems to be an agreement among human rights activists that Maoist violence is a ‘forced’ response to the extreme repression of the Indian state. The argument is that since the Indian state has been consistently ignoring or violently repressing various people’s movements, the people are left with no choice but to take recourse to the gun.
There is a fallacy in this argument. We know about people’s movements on issues of land rights or displacement which have not turned into armed insurrections, even though they have suffered major losses and have been treated in a very callous manner by the state. Apart from the Narmada Bachao Andolan there are hundreds of big and small peoples’ resistance movements in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Bengal, Tamil Nadu and other states which have not given up on the ‘parliamentary’ path of struggle.
Interestingly, we find that Maoist groups are also active in these areas and they constantly try to infiltrate and take control of such movements. We do not know of any movements organized by the Maoists which were initially ‘peaceful’ but compelled to turn to arms after all attempts at working with the state failed. I would suggest that the theory of ‘peaceful’ movements mutating into ‘violent’ insurrections appears flawed. Also that instead of using ‘Maoist’ as an adjective in a careless manner we should treat them as a political formation organized on the lines articulated in its political programme and constitution which is based on its own Marxian theory of revolution which is impossible without violence. Continue reading Violence and revolution
Gachanpalli: Stories of the “Operation” reverberate along the path from the Andhra Pradesh border to Gachanpalli, a village deep in forests of Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district. Villagers along the 35 kilometre stretch of broken track, bombed-out schools, and graves, still speak of the day when security forces swept through their fields and killed 12 men.
Testimonies collected from the villages of Gachanpalli, Gattapad and Palachalam in the Konta block in Dantewada claim that at least 12 of the 30 people killed during a security operation in September 2009 were innocent villagers with no links to the Maoists. If true, the allegations point to a concerted attempt at dissimulation on the part of Chhattisgarh’s security forces.
The Gompad case gets murkier. Gachanpalli is another village mentioned in the same case I have been writing about for some time now. I visited the village this week to find a similar pattern where villagers vanish without really telling anyone where they are going and suddenly show up in the Supreme Court in New Delhi.
Given the matter is sub judice, I’ll refrain from any theorizing at this point.
Gachanpalli: A frayed umbrella, a half filled bottle of cooking oil and two shopping bags stuffed with clothes constitute the unlikely tombstone that marks Kowasi Ganga’s grave. “It’s the sum total of his worldly possessions,” says his grandson Kowasi Muye, “It’s a Muria tradition.”
Kowasi Ganga, 75, died on September 17 2009. Muye’s last memory of his grandfather is of Ganga dying dead outside their home. He had been stabbed multiple times.
I have been following the Gompad case for the past month and a half, and have been surprised at every turn. The issue is centred on the deaths of 12 villagers on October 1 2009 in Chhattisgarh. The matter is currently sub judice – so I would prefer not to comment on what I think happened, but this is my most comprehensive piece on the issue till date.
GOMPAD: A charred wooden stake and three graves are all that remain of the Madavi family in this remote village in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district.
“Madavi Kanni was lying face down in front of the burnt house,” said an eyewitness. “She had been slashed with a sword and shot in the chest.” The bodies of her father, Madavi Bajar, her mother Madavi Subbhi and her 12-year-old sister Madavi Mutti, were found under a tree, 50 metres away.
Testimonies collected by The Hindu from Gompad allege that a composite force of Adivasi special police officers and security force regulars appeared on the outskirts of the village in the early hours of October 1, 2009. “We ran away when we saw the force,” said the witness, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We found the bodies when we returned.”
Continue reading “Police killed them” say the villagers
In Lingagiri, it didn’t take long to tally the results of the recently concluded panchayat elections. On January 31 this year, a sum total of four people voted in this remote village in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district. The polling booth opened on time, the polling officers were present, and then the force arrived.
Pujari Rajamma, 35, was combing her hair in her courtyard. “I was getting ready to walk down to the polling office, when the uniformed men stormed in,” she said. “They checked my fingers for the voting mark.” When they didn’t find it, they beat her with sticks. The bruises are still visible on Rajamma’s back; she can barely move her swollen left arm.
Konta: The mystery surrounding the killing of nine Adivasis in Gompad village in Dantewada district in October last year is deepening, with the Chhattisgarh police detaining three more witnesses to the incident and restricting all access to the area on the pretext of Operation Green Hunt.
Operation Green Hunt is a catch-all phrase, used by the police and media alike, for all major anti-naxal offensives since July 2009.
As previously reported by The Hindu, the Chhattisgarh police have assumed total control over the movements of Sodi Sambho – one of several witnesses in a Supreme Court petition that alleges that the 9 civilians were killed by the security forces.
On Friday, armed policemen and Special Police Officers (SPO) lined the length of the highway from Dantewada town to Konta, the block headquarters closest to Gompad, stopping vehicles and questioning commuters. Travelling with local journalists Anil Mishra of Nayi Duniya and Yashwant Yadav of Navbharat, this correspondent was repeatedly detained along the route and told that Gompad village was out of bounds as a major anti-naxal operation was underway. Non-journalists were, however, let through.
Continue reading The police detain 3 more in Gompad case
Raipur: Sodi Sambho was last seen in public on January 3 this year, when the Chhattisgarh Police intercepted her as she was en route to Delhi to receive treatment for a bullet wound.
Since then, neither the press nor her lawyer has been able to access her.
Ms. Sambho is a key witness in a petition filed in the Supreme Court which alleges that security forces fired upon and killed nine Adivasis in a ‘sanitisation operation’ at Gompad village, Dantewada district on October 1 2009.
Continue reading Where is Sodi Sambho?
(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
In the last one year, I have often found myself going back to a conversation I had had with a Maoist ideologue. As it happened, it was he who started interrogating me about my stand on violence. ‘So, you have become a Gandhian?’ he demanded. I must confess I was a bit taken aback, not quite able to figure out the context of this poser. ‘What do you mean by Gandhian’, I kind of mumbled. Pat came his reply: ‘Well you have been making some noises lately about Maoist violence, haven’t you?’ Suddenly it all became clear. Through this ridicule, he was trying to appeal to that part of me that still remained marxist – presumably now buried in some remote past – and to resurrect it against my ostensible ‘non-marxist’, ‘liberal’ present (for which ‘Gandhian’ was some kind of a short hand code). I found myself at a loss of words. Does a criticism of the mindless and nihilistic violence of the Maoists make one a Gandhian? Is there no space left between these two polar positions? The conversation did not go very far that day but has kept coming back to me ever since.
Continue reading Reflections on Revolutionary Violence