Thursday, December 31, 2009
Lalgarth: Intellectual Reaction to the Maoist presence and the role of the Maoists by Amit Bhattacharyya
It is crystal clear that the intellectual response to the Lalgarh struggle is basically different from what we had seen during the Singur and Nandigram struggles. Here, they did not stand up to state repression in the way many people expected them to do. On the contrary, they have become very critical of what have been going on in the region. Those who came forward at the early stage later retracted and kept mum. Meanwhile, the tide was blowing for a ‘change’; the total isolation of the CPI(M) got reflected in the elections, and one section among the intellectuals found it more attractive to keep closer to the prospective winner—the TMC—in the approaching elections and receive bouquets and cushy jobs as ‘biddwajjans’(learned personalities). (However, as later events have shown, some of them did not have either the wisdom or the minimum courage to stand up to state repression and constant intimidation coming from the corridors of power. In the face of such timid response from this section of intellectuals, the present writer feels the absence of late Samar Sen much).
In fact, artists and writers who visited Lalgarh and met Chhatradhar Mahato after the beginning of ‘Operation Lalgarh’ seemed to have been particularly concerned with extracting a statement from Chhatradhar Mahato condemning Maoist violence and also openly distancing the PCAPA from them, as only then would they be in a position to mediate between the state and the PCAPA. One well-known prize-winning writer informed us through an article published in a Bengali daily Bartaman that the destruction of Anuj Pandey’s palatial building was the outcome of a secret understanding between the CPM and the Maoists, as that would fetch a massive amount of money for the CPM boss from the insurance company. In this way, she exposed her appalling poverty of thinking; at the same time, she also sought to tarnish the heroic struggle of Jangal Mahal and humiliate the people fighting for their dignity and for justice. One can only pity such intellectuals. What is important for our purpose now is that the response of this section of the urban literati depends on the part played and influence exercised by the Maoists in the Lalgarh struggle.
Main points of Criticism
First, the people of Jangal Mahal had been continuing their movement quite well. It is the Maoists who entered the scene from outside and made a total mess of everything and misguided and derailed the movement. It is their violent activities that brought joint forces into the scene. The result is that the people are now being sand-witched between state terror and gun-toting Maoists or ‘non-state’ actors, as civil rights organizations such as the APDR are fond of describing it. The most bitter attack, however, came from the two Delhi-based historians—Sumit Sarkar and Tanika Sarkar. In a journal they wrote an article in the most malicious manner, some portions of which are as follows:
“Maoists have done incalculable harm to the movement. Their activities and intentions are shrouded in mystery, their secret terror operations express total indifference to human lives, their arms deals lead them…into shady financial transactions with rich and corrupt power brokers…They come into an already strong and open mass movement, they engage in a killing spree discrediting the movement, and then they leave after giving the state authorities a splendid excuse for crushing it”(Economic & Political Weekly, June 27-July 10, 2009).
Second, it is the Maoists who have derailed the movement towards a violent and undemocratic path. These are the main points of attack, although there are other minor points. For the time being, we will concentrate on these points.
Chhatradhar Mahato has stated that the People’s Committee consists of different political forces, the Maoists included. The Maoists have mass base. They are in their place as we are in ours. The Maoist leader, Kishenji made a press statement that they had been working in Lalgarh from the 1990s. In fact, from the historical point of view, the MCC had been active in the region from the 1980s and the CPI(M-L) People’s War in places such as Belpahari, Garbeta, Shalboni, Lalgarh, Banshpahari, Ramgarh, Sarenga etc from the mid-1990s. The issues over which they fought were as follows: against corruption in the panchayets; to ensure proper distribution of grants coming through government projects such as forest preservation samiti which rightfully belong to the adivasis; against the felling of trees useful to the people; for raising the price of kendu leaves etc. People in the urban areas can still remember the extent of police repression in the zone from 2001-02. Behula Kalindi and Sulochana Kalindi of Belpahari were forced to undress by the raiding police party to enable the police forces ascertain their sex. When Jaleswar Soren was not found in his house, his ten-month pregnant wife, Sulekha Soren was taken away and sent to Midnapur central jail which the government calls ‘correctional home’ on charges of waging war against the state. Pyalaram Mahato, an 87-year old man who was even unable to walk alone as his jail-mates would testify, was charged with the ‘offence’ of being a People’s War squad member. A woman named Meena Sardar of Belpahari was so traumatized by what the raiding police party did to herself, her mother and her house that she lost her mental balance; when she was released on bail after spending months in jail, she became totally mad, stayed at her home with her mother by becoming a ‘liability’, and ultimately died in that state without any treatment. One can distinctly remember also how Prof. Kaushik Ganguly was arrested and beaten up at police lock-up, how Abhijit Sinha, a government official, was haunted by the fear of being arrested and tortured by the police and how he died near railway lines under mysterious circumstances in 2002. The Jhinka jungle that has become news during ‘Operation Lalgarh’ for being a Maoist hideout, is the area where the body of the People’s War activist, Ashim Das @ Kanchan was found with marks of wound on all parts of the body some years back. It was, according to the findings of civil rights bodies, a case of fake encounter killing. Many village houses were destroyed, ravaged and looted by the police and paramilitary forces. People were beaten brutally as if such acts of torture were the birthrights of the state forces, property was looted, kerosene oil was dropped into wells which were the only source of drinking water for the villagers, grain was mixed up with cooked rice, house-deeds, documents, ration cards and other things were simply taken away never to be returned. Civil rights bodies such as APDR had published many fact-finding reports of such despicable acts done by the WB police forces. However bitter it might sound, the fact is that a large section of city intellectuals paid no attention to these things at that time and were only too concerned with receiving patronage from the West Bengal government.
The reality is that the Maoists did not fall from the sky, nor did they come from a different planet; their social root lies in the soil of Jangal Mahal, however disturbing it might sound to the (a-)historians and sections of those ‘learned personalities’. The list of proclaimed Maoist ‘offenders’ that the police forces have furnished will show that with the sole exception of Kishenj who hails from Andhra Pradesh, all others are sons and daughters of the soil—either adivasi or non-adivasi. Some of them are Sasadhar Mahato, Jagori Baske, Karan Hembrom, Bimal Mandi, Jyotsna, Tarit Pal, Sudip Chongdar and Sumitra Sardar. (HT, Kolkata Plus 26 June 2009). According to reports, all of them did political work in the region at one time or other. Thus the statement that the Maoists are external to the movement, that they have just entered the scene all on a sudden and taken control of it, does not have any factual basis at all.
As to the ‘sandwich’ theory circulated by sections of the intellectuals and the media, it can be said that the advocates of this theory hereby have actually been portraying the masses in a way that they are devoid of any thinking of their own, that they are like unthinking, unfeeling robots who can only follow, but cannot lead. In this way, these urban intellectuals, themselves keeping a safe distance from the actual field of battle, pose as being possessed of all earthly knowledge and from whom the ‘ignorant’ adivasis must learn the art of how to conduct the movement. The sooner these ‘learned’ fellows come to their senses the better.
FOR THE FULL ARTICLE VISIT :
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
War Against Naxals: The War Against Adivasis, Fishermen and Peasants!
Resist the Naxal Witch Hunt
Organise Under the Naxal Leadership to Fight Recolonization!
Campaign across Tamilnadu
Public Meeting, Chennai
January 30, 2010
Dear working people
The Indian State has declared a civil war called ‘Operation Green Hunt’ to crush the Maoists and the Naxalbari movement. P.Chidambaram, the Indian home minister, has declared that the primary objective of the offensive is to decimate Maoist Guerillas, who are functioning in Chattisgarh, Jharkand, Orissa and in the vast jungles of Dandakaranya, along the borders of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. Army headquarters and air bases are being constructed inside the dense jungles. Army men are being trained in anti-guerilla warfare. Over 1 lakh army personnel, such as CRPF, Cobra, C-60, Grey Hounds, Indo-Tibet Border Force, Anti-Naxal Striking force, etc., are being stationed in these areas. American satellites and Indian choppers are used to spy these jungles. Indian army officials are guiding the war, and the central government has allocated Rs.7,300 crores to the fund this war against its own people, the real, ancient inhabitants of the country.
Earlier, the Chattisgarh government had formed Salwa Judum, a mercenary force with the same objective. The Salwa Judum torched 700 villages and drove out 3 lakh adivasis from their homes. Almost 50,000 adivasis were driven out of their villages and are still languishing in roadside camps. Now, with the Operation Green Hunt, more adivasis are being driven out of the forests. Viswaranjan, the DGP of Chattisgarh, has openly declared that the bloody war waged by the Sri Lankan army against the Sri Lankan Tamils will be the guiding light of this war.
The secret behind Operation Green Hunt is quite obvious. The dense jungles and hills of Dandakaranya are repositories of rare mineral wealth. It is home to 28 important minerals such as high-quality iron ore, gold, copper, diamonds, bauxite, lime stone, coal, granite, silica, and quartzite. Besides these minerals, the area is rich in forest produce and water resources. Maoist Guerillas pose the biggest hurdle to the greed of the MNCs and Indian compradors, whose sole objective is to plunder resources. This is the reason behind the fury of Chidambaram and the likes of him.
Yes, the state has sold out all the hills, waterways and forests of Dandakaranya without the knowledge of the adivasis, the rightful inhabitants of this area! The Orissa government has handed over the 40-km long Niyamgiri hills to Vedanta (the Holding company of Sterlite), a British Multinational Corporation. The present market value of Bauxite in these hills is 200 Lakh Crores. The government has opted for a mere 7% as royalty. Almost 16% of coal and 20% of iron ore of the entire country is present in the four districts of Chattisgarh, and the state government has already pledged these resources to compradors such as Tata, Essar and Jindal. The present value of iron ore in the world market is 210 dollars (Rs.10,000) per tonne, and these capitalists, in their benevolence, have generously agreed to pay Rs.27 per tonne! Hundreds of such MOUs, which are outrageously anti-adivasis, anti-people and pro-capitalist, have been signed.
Even adivasi villages have not been spared; they have been sold out to the comprador capitalists without the knowledge of the people. In Jharkhand alone, which is actually a small state, 1,10,000 acres of lands have been transferred to the corporate giants. More than 10 lakh adivasis will be evicted from here in the coming days. Comprador capitalists such as Tata, Birla, Essar, Jindal and Mittal and MNCs such as Vedanta, POSCO, Holcim, and Rio tinto are the greedy vultures circling the forests of Dandakaranya for the bloody spoils. The adivasis vehemently fight against displacement and against each corporate giant that tries to swallow their lands and livelihood. Vedanta has completed building its Aluminium factory, but is still unable to touch the Bauxite hills. The Tata iron factory in Gopalpur has come to a grinding halt due to a mass resistance. Jindal is unable step into Jharkand to set up mines and extract the gold and diamonds. This resistance is not because of the offensive of the Maoist armed squads, but because of rising people struggles against aggressive recolonization.
Manmohan Singh has openly admitted in the parliament that the growth of left-wing extremism in areas enriched with natural wealth will affect the ‘investment climate’. The subtext is whoever fights against the capitalist plunder will have to face the wrath. This war is not only against the Maoists, but also against people.
The jungles belong to the adivasis by right. However, they are being stripped off this right so that the resource-rich jungles can be opened up for corporate plunder. Similarly, the fishing community has the right to fish in the seas. But, their rights are being limited by borders to ensure huge profits for Multinational Fishing Corporations. If the fishing community resists, the state may come up with a Blue Hunt!
Seeds traditionally belong to the peasants by right. But, today, seeds have become the property of MNCs. When the peasants fight for seed rights, the police file cases against them and may even wage a war against the peasants. It’s not only the rights of the adivasis, the fishing community and peasants that are getting crushed, but also the rights won through various struggles by the vast masses of the country that are being crushed. The adivasis in Orissa are being evicted to ensure the ‘investment climate’ for the South Korean company, POSCO. And, to ensure the same ‘investment climate,’ workers in Chennai are being thrown out of their jobs for the crime of building a union in the South Korean company, Hyundai. All rights, from minimum wage to job security, are being stripped off from the working class to ensure the ‘investment climate’ for the MNCs. Government schools and colleges are left uncared for to facilitate the ‘investment climate’ for private education sharks. Similarly, the oxygen of the government hospitals is plugged off to ensure the ‘investment climate’ for private hospital chains.
This battlefield spreads beyond the jungles of Dandakaranya. The forms of the war may change with respect to the place, but the aim of the war is the same—To Recolonize the Country to serve the interests of MNCs and Imperialists. All ballot box parties are birds of same feather in implementing recolonization policies and fight only when it comes to sharing the plunder.
Some years ago, Manmohan Singh proudly claimed that from the days of signing the GATT agreement in 1994, no government at the centre went against the implementation of liberalization and privatization, irrespective of the party. Yes, the legislators of all parties have become capitalists. They have become agents, contractors and shareholders of MNCs. The parliament has become a club of millionaires. Bureaucrats and judges have become the servants of multinational capitalists.
It’s only the Naxal revolutionaries who stand firm in the political battlefield, genuinely committed to the people’s cause, outside this decaying political scenario. They are the revolutionaries who cannot be bought over by bribes, who are selfless, who are fearless, and not swayed by power or positions. People are coming out of the illusions spread by the ballot box parties with increasing recolonization and are moving towards the Naxal revolutionaries. No wonder Manmohan Singh declares Naxalism to be the single largest ‘internal security threat,’ and everyone, from Advani to Buddhadeb, acknowledges this fact without any hesitation. The ruling classes have clearly identified and declared their real enemy. At the same time, they continue to spread illusions among people through cash for votes and populist schemes. When people defy the vote hunt and organize under Naxalism, Green Hunt starts.
It’s an outright lie that the war is being waged only because Maoists are undertaking an armed struggle. People are seething in anger with the numerous recolonization onslaughts. The state understands this fact and also knows that only Naxalites have the ability and courage to ignite the spark among the masses. Hence, it tries to snuff out this spark. This is the aim of the Naxal hunt; the ‘Operation Green Hunt.’
Resist the Naxal Witch Hunt!
Say No to All Anti-People Agreements
Made with the Comprador Capitalists and MNCs !
In Solidarity with the Struggling Masses!
Rise Against Recolonization!
Peoples Art And Literary Association
Peasants Liberation Front
Revolutionary Students And Youth Front
New Democratic Labour Front
110, Second Floor, Corporation Complex,
63, Arcot Road, Kodambakkam, Chennai – 600 024.
Courtesy: Pamphlet issued by PALA and its associate organizations, Tamilnadu.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Maoist leaders Krishna KC, Himal Sharma and Bina Magar filed a writ petition at the Supreme Court on Sunday seeking scraping of the government’s decision to promote Singh.
KC, Sharma and Magar were detained in the Bhairabnath Battalion of the Nepal Army during the insurgency period from where, according to OHCHR, 49 detainees disappeared. Singh was head of the battalion at that time.
The government on December 24 had promoted Singh to Lieutenant General, Chief of General Staff, despite opposition from UN bodies in Kathmandu and other national and international human rights organisations. He was given the command of acting army chief when Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Chattra Man Singh Gurung embarked on India visit.
Over a dozen human rights organisations have urged the government to review the decision to promote Singh
Saturday, December 26, 2009
"The new wave of world revolution has already been seen on the horizon," Prachanda states, adding that the revolutionaries can achieve their goal through the political philosophy and strategy of Marxism, Leninism, and Maoism.
Even after spending more than two years in prison on charges of being a Naxal supporter under the draconian Chhatisgarh Special Public Security Act, Dr Binayak Sen’s enthusiasm for speaking for the rights and the wellbeing of the tribals in Chhattisgarh has not diminished one bit.
Out on bail since May 25, 2009 — he was arrested in May 2007 — Dr Sen was in Mumbai recently to speak at a seminar organised by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences on December 14. He spoke to Prasanna D Zore on a range of issues including his health, the ground situation in Chhattisgarh and threat to his life from “non-State actors”.
“Please don’t write anything about my itinerary,” he asked this correspondent after discussing the same with him, for fear that it might alert those who are out there to eliminate him.
Dr Sen, first tell us about your health.
I feel good now. My friends at Vellore (in Tamil Nadu) took good care of me and I am feeling fine now. I’m on medication but I don’t need any surgery for my heart condition.
Can you tell us what has changed in Chhattisgarh between 2007 and 2009, the time you were incarcerated?
I think the situation there is much more tense now than it was earlier. The tension level today has increased manifold because of the presence of large number of police personnel in Chhattisgarh. Hence the need for concerted efforts to appeal for peace and justice has also increased.
What makes you feel so? What’s the ground situation there now?
There is a huge influx of armed police personnel not only in the so-called Naxalite areas but also across the state. I presume there is a variety of them including the Central Reserve Police Force, the CoBRAs (the elite anti-Naxal force, Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), and also extra-judicial forces like the Salwa Judum.
The fact is there are killings, beheadings, rape and murder happening all the time in the state and the government is not doing anything about it. Such kind of violence needs to be condemned and treated as criminal acts but the government has not taken any action to prosecute the perpetrators of such horrendous crimes.
In the given circumstances as they prevail in Chhattisgarh today, do social activists like you feel safe?
In my own case I’ve been told by a couple of senior police officers I know who work in other states that there is a definite risk to my life in the state. And in general the level of violence has gone up tremendously. So people who have been raising their voice against these issues (encounter killings and cases of forcible land grabbing by the Salwa Judum) may not be feeling safe.
Who poses a definite risk to your life? Is it the Salwa Judum or the government?
I think the risk is mainly from non-State actors. While I don’t want to get into these details I can only say that the overall security situation in the state is not good.
Can we call this personal vendetta against all those people in Chhattisgarh who speak against the Salwa Judum? Even Gandhian activist Himanshu Kumar’s Vanvasi Chetna Ashram was razed under some pretext or the other.
I don’t know if it’s personal vendetta or not. I don’t know what is personal or what is political. But certainly Raman Singh and his ruling party in Chhattisgarh have gone out of their way to build false cases against all those people who have stood against the atrocities of Salwa Judum.
I think the fact that people like me have raised their opposition to a large number of activities — which we think are against the wider interest of the deprived sections of Chhattisgarh — undertaken by the state government is what is prompting action against us. We are trying to expose the false police encounters, large-scale land grabbing undertaken by the Salwa Judum from the tribal communities, and this is what is forcing the state government to respond in the best way that they know.
How would you describe the plight of the tribals of Chhattisgarh?
Large proportions of tribal populations are severely malnourished there. Though the government claims that they have been distributing rice, objective data shows that 33 per cent of the tribals have a body mass index, BMI, of 18.5 (an average person who is 5′6″ tall and weighs 65 kg has a BMI of 23), that a large section of the tribals there are malnourished. This is just one indicator of the kind of horrendous policies affecting the lives of tribals in Chhattisgarh.
What inspires you to speak for the rights of the tribals and the deprived in Chhattisgarh despite there being a threat to your life?
I think the people who are living under those circumstances are showing a higher degree of courage. The wish of the people who want to be associated with the resistance that the poor there are showing in living their ordinary existence is what inspires a lot of people to speak out for them.
What would be your appeal to all the stakeholders in the region: the tribals, the state government and the Naxalites
I think we all should appeal for peace and justice. The common people, the civil society should appeal for peace and justice and ask for implementation of the Directive Principles of State Policy that would bring in a greater degree of equality.
How optimistic would you be that your appeal will be heeded by everybody?
It’s not my appeal. I am saying that the civil society should come together and make such an appeal. My appeal alone will have no significance but if I can enlist the support of a wider section of Indian people then perhaps there could be hope for the region.
Did you at any point during your imprisonment lose hope that you will ever come out of jail alive?
All the inmates in the jail with whom I interacted treated me very kindly. Everybody was kind to me and they gave me the courage to face life as it was inside the prison.
Were you subjected to physical or mental torture?
There was no physical torture at all but watching the way the inmates live and the conditions in which they lead their lives inside a prison was a very sad experience for me.
You are branded as a Naxalite by the state government. How do you respond to that?
I can say for sure that I am not a member of the Communist Party of India-Maoist. Apart from that the trial is in progress and I will await the court’s decision.
G. N. Saibaba, of the Revolutionary Democratic Front speaks about the state's war on the Maoists and the tribal people.
In most places around India, Maoists are an underground hit and run force... but in Central India's Bastar forests, they're well-entrenched. Join us today for an encore presentation of "Maoist India, the search for economic justice."
2009 witnessed a series of attacks by Indian Maoists on state security forces. Now, India's central government is hitting back with a counterinsurgency operation known in the media as "Operation Green Hunt". The official anti-Maoist campaign includes the deployment of some 75 thousand police and paramilitary forces across a swath of territory known as "The Red Corridor." Human rights activists fear the operation will largely target the indigenous rural poor who live in mineral rich areas. In fact, it could resemble the scorched earth campaign used by the Sri Lankan military to defeat the Tamil Tiger rebels.
In 2006, FSRN's Vinod K. Jose traveled to the base areas of the Maoist rebels in Central India. Today, we bring you an encore presentation of the documentary, "Maoist India: The Search for Economic Justice."
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda has asked the government to clarify its position regarding Indian Army chief Deepak Kapoor's remarks that Maoist combatants should not be integrated into the Nepal Army in bulk.
"An army chief has spoken against the army integration at a public forum and has challenged the Maoists for war. What could be more shameful than this?"
Dahal questioned while speaking at the legislature parliament, which resumed its normal business from today, "The government must make its position clear on this."
He also said his party would launch protest movement for 'national independence' if the government failed to come up with a clarification on the Indian Army chief's comment.
According to reports, addressing a function organised by the Indian Army which was attended by Nepal Army chief Chhatraman Singh Gurung, Kapoor said the Maoist combatants should not be integrated in the NA en masse.
Meanwhile, speaking in the House, Maoist chairman Dahal said that Nepal needs to figure out where its foreign policy stands in the middle of these developments.
Alluding to his recent statement that the Unified CPN (Maoist) would now talk with India as the current 'puppet government' is unable to decide anything, Dahal said that national independence is related to
Joe appears before a judge for a preliminary hearing of his court martial on 29 January 2010. Stop the War will organise a picket of the court in support.
Lance Corporal Joe Glenton was locked up in a military prison since 9th November until his release on the 9th December because of his stand against the war in Afghanistan.
At the last hearing Joe gave an undertaking: Not to contact any media agency directly or indirectly. If contacted directly or indirectly, must decline to comment, other than to say he may not by order of the Court Martial Not to appear at or lend support to any political meeting.
Joe gave this undertaking as since being locked up he has been diagnosed as suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He needs to be able to get proper treatment as it is evident that the Army have clearly not shown Joe a duty of care. It is therefore up to Joe to seek treatment for his PTSD if he is to be fit enough to face his Court Martial. Despite his request for treatment he has never been given any help from the Army.
The Ministry of Defence are worried about what Joe is saying and doing.They are determined to shut him up. The messages of support that Joe received when he was in Colchester Military jail inspired him and did not go unnoticed by the powers that be.
It is not possible for the court to stop other speaking out in favour of Joe’s stand against the war. Joe has made his position clear: The war in Afghanistan is illegal the methods employed in conducting the war are unlawful and he is not prepared to return to fight it. It is up to his supporters, which are many, to keep up the pressure and ensure that Joe’s stand against this war is raised as an important part of the resistance to Brown and his warmongers.
- Mike Prysner
Thanks to Kasama for pointing out this video which continues the spirit of Lenin and his comments on the Christmas 1914 truce - Nickglais
The truce began on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1914, when German troops began decorating the area around their trenches in the region of Ypres, Belgium, for Christmas. They began by placing candles on trees, then continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols, most notably Stille Nacht (Silent Night). The British troops in the trenches across from them responded by singing English carols.
The two sides continued by shouting Christmas greetings to each other. Soon thereafter, there were calls for visits across the "No Man's Land" where small gifts were exchanged — whisky, jam, cigars, chocolate, and the like. The artillery in the region fell silent that night. The truce also allowed a breathing spell where recently-fallen soldiers could be brought back behind their lines by burial parties. Proper burials took place as soldiers from both sides mourned the dead together and paid their respects. At one funeral in No Man's Land, soldiers from both sides gathered and read a passage from the 23rd Psalm: The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the path of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.
The truce spread to other areas of the lines, and there are many stories of football matches between the opposing forces. The film Joyeux Noël suggests that letters sent home from both British and German soldiers related that the score was 3-2 in favour of the Germans.
Lenin, the leader of the working class revolution in Russia, heard about the Christmas truce. He pointed out that if there were organizations prepared to fight for such a policy among the soldiers of all the belligerent nations, there might have been a quick end to the world war in favor of the working masses. Lenin wrote, “Try to imagine Hyndman, Guesde, Vandervelde, Plekhanov, Kautsky and the rest [leaders of so-called socialist parties that supported the world war] – instead of aiding the bourgeoisie (something they are now engaged in – forming an international committee to agitate for fraternization and attempts to establish friendly relations between the socialists of the belligerent countries, both in the trenches and among the troops in general. What would the results be several months from now?”
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Posted by Rajeesh on Indian Vanguard on December 22, 2009
New Delhi, Dec 22 (IANS): If 2009 was bad, 2010 would be ”bloodier” if the government goes ahead with its planned offensive against the Maoist jungle bases, a top guerrilla leader has vowed while warning of more retaliatory violence in the months to come.
“Home Minister P. Chidambaram is a liar. At one level he says the offensive is a media creation but at the same time he is pumping in more troops in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. I understand there is going to be a major crackdown in March,” said Koteshwar Rao alias Kishanji, a politburo member of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), which does not believe in parliamentary democracy and swears by the barrel of the gun.
“If they (security forces) begin their operations, I promise you 2010 will get bloodier. There will be no respite from violence,” Kishanji, in charge of operations in eastern India, said in a telephonic interview from an undisclosed location in West Bengal.
Till Nov 15 this year, over 770 civilians and security personnel were killed in Maoist violence, the largest number of casualties in four years. In Jharkhand alone – one of the worst affected states – there have been 1,885 incidents of violence since 2006.
Kishanji, 52, operates from the interiors of Lalgarh in West Bengal and is one of those fine-tuning the strategy of the Maoists. It was after considerable effort that IANS managed to track him down on one of the several mobile phones he uses through a chain of contacts. Reputed to be a military strategist and an advocate of tough tactics, Kishanji is said to be the mastermind behind recent killings of Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) members in Lalgarh, West Bengal.
In his view, Operation Green Hunt, as the proposed offensive he says is labelled, will “backfire”. “This so-called assault against us will backfire. All this talk of war against its own people is humbug and carries no conviction,” said Kishanji, originally a resident of Andhra Pradesh. He is wanted in Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh for waging war against the state.
He had initially joined the movement for a separate Telangana state and then became a full-time member of the Maoist outfit way back in 1971.Kishanji, said to be responsible for the abduction of West Bengal policeman Atindranath Dutta and his subsequent release in October, said the Maoist leadership had changed its strategy after some top-rung leaders were arrested.
“We have learnt our lessons. Our tactics have changed and we won’t make similar mistakes again,” he said, speaking both in English and Hindi.In the last few months, police and security personnel have arrested several Maoist leaders, including Kobad Ghandy from an undisclosed place in Delhi, Chhatradhar Mahato from West Bengal and a couple, Ravi Sarma and B. Anuradha, who were nabbed in Jharkhand.
The arrests have come as Chidambaram has been stressing that civil society must stop romanticising the rebels and instead judge them in the context of the “mountain of violence”.Kishanji also lashed out at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s lament that there had been a systemic failure in giving the tribals a stake in the economic processes and how authorities should change ways in dealing with them.
“Does he (Manmohan Singh) know what’s happening on the ground? State governments go around signing agreements for special economic zones and setting up more sponge iron factories at the cost of the tribals. Where is the healing touch? They are all hypocritical.” However, Kishanji did hold hope that there could be room for talks with the authorities.
“We can talk, if there is ceasefire and if there is a withdrawal of forces. But it has to be genuine. Otherwise it has no meaning at all.” Kishanji refused to comment on reports that a section of Maoists disapproved of methods of “indiscriminate killing” unleashed by him. Media reports have quoted unnamed rebels in the outfit’s state unit questioning Kishanji’s way of dealing with CPI-M sympathisers. “If that was true, then I would not be here. My ways are transparent and there for everyone to see,” he said, refusing to be drawn further into the debate
Source: Deccan Herald
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
KATHMANDU: Wrapping up a three-day nationwide general strike at a victory rally in the capital Tuesday, Nepal’s Maoist supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal
Prachanda warned it was also the announcement of a fourth protest movement against the government that would culminate in an indefinite general strike from Jan 24.
In the past, the Maoists had enforced a 15-day blockade during the 10-year “People’s War” and a 19-day peaceful general shutdown in 2006 as part of the pro-democracy movement against King Gyanendra’s attempt to rule the country with the help of the army. Prachanda said the new protests would start from Christmas Day as a mass awareness campaign to open people’s eyes to the presence of “foreign agents” in their midst. He also said the campaign would expose the corrupt indicted in the Rayamajhi Commission that was formed after the fall of the royal regime. Though the commission was formed to punish the perpetrators of the anti-people coup, including the king, its report was never made public.
The nearly two-hour rally in Naya Baneshwor - that was the site of violent clashes between protesters and security forces Sunday - saw Prachanda, for the first time throwing a direct challenge to India, accusing it of naked intervention in Nepal’s internal matters. “I held talks with the Nepali Congress (NC) leaders but they produced no result,” the former revolutionary said with biting sarcasm. “I held talks with the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), the Prime Minister... But none produced results. Now I have to go to Delhi for talks.”
Prachanda reminded his audience that in the years after 2002, when King Gyanendra had sacked Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and propped up three successive governments of his own choosing, the then governments had asked the underground Maoists to declare a ceasefire and start dialogue. “But we had refused, saying we will not negotiate with the servants,” he said. “We said we will talk only with the master. It is now time to say the same thing.”
The Maoist chief alleged that New Delhi had propped up Nepal’s coalition government, which was a “puppet” and a “robot” in its hands. When Nepali Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal returned from the UN climate summit in Copenhagen, Prachanda said the government did not project Nepal’s interests abroad but only tried to project that Indian premier Manmohan Singh had expressed his support for it as well as the Chinese government. “The Maoists are not NC or UML,” he said. “Treat the Maoists as Maoists.”
The new Maoist anger with New Delhi was stoked afresh last week after Nepal’s army chief Gen Chhatraman Singh Gurung went to India at the invitation of the Indian Army chief, Gen Deepak Kapoor, to receive the traditional honour of being declared general of the Indian Army by Indian President Pratibha Patil.
During the visit, at a banquet hosted by the Nepali general, Gen Kapoor was reported as saying that he opposed the merger of the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army with the Nepal Army as that would lead to the politicisation of the latter. “The comprehensive peace agreement (that ended the Maoist insurgency in 2006) promises the integration,” Prachanda said. “Kapoor's statement was a naked intervention in Nepal’s internal matters and yet the corrupt ministers of the current government remained silent.”
Prachanda said that at a time his party was striving to restore civilian supremacy in Nepal by campaigning against the President, Dr Ram Baran Yadav, who had resurrected the possibility of another military coup by preventing his government from sacking the insubordinate army chief, it was clear that civilian supremacy was actually murdered in New Delhi.
The Maoists have laid down a five-point agenda for their talks with India. They have also announced a month-long campaign from Dec 25, after which, they have warned of an indefinite nationwide general strike from Jan 24.
Maoist agenda for talks with India
- All unequal treaties should be scrapped, including the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty; all secret treaties have to be revealed
- All border disputes have to be resolved; India has to recall troops from Nepal’s Kalapani area
- Trade deficit with India has to be corrected
- India should enact prompt strategy to make Nepal gain from being sandwiched between the world’s two fastest growing economies
- India has to accept Nepal as an equal state.
Source: Times of India
Addressing a mass meeting in New Baneshwor on the second day of the Maoist-called nationwide strike on Monday, he warned that if the government resorts to excessive force against the demonstrators then the Maoist activists will be compelled to retaliate.
Dr Bhattarai claimed that the "people" have taken to the streets as the current government has gone against the aspirations of the people and the Constituent Assembly.
He also urged the security personnel to lend their support to the nationwide strike called by his party, as it is in favor of the country's people.
He further said that his party will continue the nationwide strike until their demands regarding 'civilian supremacy' are addressed.
On Sunday, Baburam Bhattarai had accused the government of acting against the Interim Constitution by using excessive force against the demonstrators and said the three day bandh would continue
Monday, December 21, 2009
Sukhdev Shah is Nepal’s ambassador to the U.S. He worked for the International Monetary Fund for two decades and is a U.S. citizen.
"As things have evolved over the past three years, Nepal has become a fertile ground for a military takeover of the government, independently or under the shadow of a constitutional authority.
Such a possibility has been talked about in a limited circle but been forced open by a delegation of some Nepali Congress (NC) leaders who recently urged President Ram Baran Yadav to consider imposing President’s Rule to help restore peace and enable the Constituent Assembly (CA) to complete writing the constitution before the expiry of deadline in five months.
This is not an incredible or inappropriate suggestion, considering the marathon obstructions staged by Maoists to prevent the CA to open for business and carry out its mandate ".
FULL ARTICLE ON KASAMA AT :
In a statement, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Nepal observed that the police used excessive force during General Strike
While the situation was comparatively under control in the capital, Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) supporters burnt vehicles in Biratnagar, Jhapa and several other towns.
According to television reports, in several towns Maoists targeted government offices, damaged property and manhandled government employees.
Like Sunday, Maoists came out to the streets of Kathmandu in the wee hours and started blocking roads by putting up temporary barricades and burning tyres. Educational and business establishments remained closed for the second consecutive day.
Heavy deployment of security personnel was seen at places where clashes between Maoists and security forces were witnessed on Sunday.
The UN too has expressed concern about violence on the first day of the strike especially the clash between protestors and police at New Baneshwor while trying to clear the road for the prime minister’s motorcade.
In a statement, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Nepal observed that the police used excessive force including inappropriate use of batons, tear-gas and stones to dispel demonstrators.
Addressing a gathering at New Baneshwar on Monday, UCPN (M) vice chairman accused the government of using unnecessary force on demonstrators and threatened that the strike will continue till the government restores ‘civilian supremacy’.
“Deputy Prime Minister Vijay Kumar Gachchadhar and Home Minister Bhim Rawal are responsible for Sunday’s violence. If such excessive force is continued to be used our workers will be forced to retaliate,” he said.
Home Minister Rawal, however, maintained that the security forces exercised maximum restraint during the strike and resorted to baton-charge and use of tear gas only when the demonstrators turned violent
Sunday, December 20, 2009
KATHMANDU, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- Members of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPN-M) and their supporters Sunday engaged in violent clashes with riot police, on the first day of the UCPN-M's three-day nationwide strike.
Many places in the city saw the most intense clashes between the police and strike organizers during the strike program.
Around two dozens persons were injured in a severe scuffle between the main opposition UCPN-M activists and riot police. Most of the injured were UCPN-M members with few others being police and bystanders.
The clash reportedly ensued after police tried to bar protesters from removing the road dividers by using water canons.
In response the protesters hurled stones at the security personnel. Police had to use batons, water canons and fire tear gas shells to disperse the protesters and take the situation under control.
Television images showed by-standers running for cover, squatting at the eves of closed shops or fleeing to narrow alleys as the police charged at the protesters with batons while the latter continued to hurl stones at them.
Bigyanraj Sharma, a police spokesman, said 67 protesters had been arrested following clashes in two separate locations in the capital, Katmandu.
KATHMANDU — Nepal's opposition Maoists Sunday brought the capital Kathmandu to a standstill on the first day of a three-day nationwide general strike.
The Maoists have led a series of protests, preventing parliament from sitting and paralysing the capital since their government fell in May after the president overruled their decision to sack the head of the army.
Vehicles stayed off the roads Sunday and schools, businesses and factories remained shut as Maoist activists waved red flags and burned tyres, an AFP reporter at the scene said.
Large numbers of riot police stood guard as protesters gathered in the capital city shouting "down with the government."
Police officer Akash Shrestha told AFP security forces have been kept on "high alert" in order to avoid problems.
"Hundreds of police have been deployed to avert possible violence and so far the strike has remained peaceful," said the police officer.
Maoist spokesman Dinanath Sharma said the group had no alternative other than to call strikes to press their demands.
"All attempts to forge a consensus have so far been futile. The political parties running the government are not serious about addressing our demands," said Sharma.
The Maoists say the president's May move was unconstitutional and has compromised civilian supremacy over the military. They are calling for an apology and a parliamentary debate over the extent of his powers.
The latest strike comes amid growing concern about the slow progress of a peace process in the desperately poor country, where many people have seen little improvement in their lives since a civil war ended in 2006.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Kathmandu, Dec 19 (IANS) Nepal’s former Maoist guerrillas, who are now the largest party in the former kingdom, Saturday said they would go ahead with their decision to enforce a three-day general strike nationwide from Sunday after talks between their leaders and the ruling parties failed.
Interview : Bernard D'Mello about the current confrontation between the Indian State and the Maoists.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Chhattisgarh, December 12(ANI): Police gunned down seven Maoists on Friday in encounter? that took place in Sukma region of Chhattisgarh. The police also recovered guns, tiffin bombs, hand grenades and other weapons from the rebels. The rebels, who claim to be fighting for the rights of poor and marginal farmers and also the landless labourers, are expanding their influence in the rural areas of east, central and southern India. India has banned Maoist organisations saying they propagate violence.
Thanks to Indian Vanguard for this report.
The strike, set to run until Tuesday with the threat that it will resume on an open-ended basis later, is likely to squeeze fuel and food supplies to Kathmandu, the capital. In the past, the Maoists have blocked roads into the city.
Maoists on Wednesday announced the seizure of the Nepalese capital Kathmandu declaring it an autonomous region, after storming into heavily guarded Durbar Square, in a development that could trigger a new political confrontation.Waving red flags, 5000 militant cadres forced their way into the Durbar Square city centre where their chief Prachanda declared Kathmandu valley as the Newa Autonomous State. The Maoists, who have already announced formation of parallel governments in nine districts and paid little heed to warnings by the Nepali Congress, to desist from such tactics as it may lead to “biggest political and social confrontation”.
Though the Maoist takeover was more of a symbolic nature, their choice of the capital city sent shock-waves in the ruling CPN-UML-led 22-party alliance. Prachanda lit a traditional lamp to declare Kathmandu as Newa Autonomous State by flying a banner that read “Newa Autonomous State” as hundreds of balloons were let off.
A gun salute was also given and the city declared an autonomous state amidst performance of traditional music.
“Our move is not intended to disrupt the peace process or block the constitution making task,” Prachanda proclaimed adding it was to “make people aware about federalism and strengthen the republican system”. The Maoist leader claimed that “regressive forces were hatching a conspiracy against the republican system and trying to reverse the change”.
Other Maoist leader who spoke on the occasion defended their move to declare various areas as autonomous regions rejected the claim that it would derail the peace process and lead to disintegration of the nation. The party is planning to declare altogether 13 autonomous states in the country by December 18.
Maoist vice-chairman Dr Babu Ram Bhattarai announced the establishment of Madhesh state amid a programme organized at the historic site of Barabigha Ranabhoomi Maidan in Janakpur district this afternoon.
The Madhesh state comprises 12 terai districts from Saptari in the east to Kapivastu in mid-west Nepal.
With the announcement, the Maoists have finished declaration of 13 autonomous states based on ethnicity and region.
Earlier, the Maoists had declared Limbuwan, Kochila, Kirat, Sherpa, Bher-Karnali, Tharuwan, Seti-Mahakali, Tamsaling, Newa, Bhote, Magarat and Tamuwan autonomous states.
Notwithstanding criticism and protest from several quarters, the Maoists had continued their autonomous state declaration programme since Dec 11 as part of their third round of protests to uphold 'civilian supremacy."
The Maoists are now all set to go ahead with their pre-announced plan to impose nationwide general strike for three days starting Dec 20
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Posted by Ka Frank on December 18, 2009 on
PRESS STATEMENT, December 17, 2009
The Forum Against War on People organised the “Rally Against War on People” to protest against the brutal military offensive of the Indian state on the tribal people of central and eastern India through Operation Green Hunt, wherein lakhs [1 lakh = 100,000] of the paramilitary-military as well as various vigilante gangs such as the Salwa Judum, Nagrik Suraksha Samiti, Sendra, Tritiya Prastuti Samiti, Harmad Vahini etc. has let loose on the people. …
The rally commenced from ram Lila Maidan at 11 am and reached Parliament Street where in various social activists, intellectuals, representatives of people’s organisations and civil rights activists addressed the gathering. People from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamilnadu and Kerala attended the rally.
Later a delegation comprising of BD Sharma (Former Commissioner SC/ST), GN Saibaba (Assistant Professor, DU), Prashant Bhushan (Advocate, Supreme Court), Karen Gabriel (Associate Professor, DU), Gautam Navalakha (Consultant Editor, EPW), Mrigank (Navjawan Bharat Sabha) gave a memorandum to the Prime Minister. In the absence of the Prime Minister, Mr. Prithviraj Chauhan, MoS, PMO accepted the memorandum.
Campaign Against War on People, Committee Against Violence On Women (CAVOW), Naga Students Union Delhi (NSUD), Navjawan Bharat Sabha (NBS), Correspondence, KRALOS, KLAS, Krantikari Yuva Sanghathan (KYS), PFD, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), MKP, Campaign for Peace & Democracy Manipur (CPDM), Democratic Students Union (DSU), Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP), DGMF, People’s Front (PF), Mazdoor Ekta Manch (MEM), Left Democratic Teacher’s Front (LDTF), Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF), People’s Democratic Front of India (PDFI), CPI (ML) (New Democracy), CPI (ML) (Liberation), CPI (ML) (New Proletarian), JNU Forum Against War on People, BD Sharma, Arundhati Roy, Tripta Wahi, Vijay Singh, Neshat Quaiser, and others.
Posted by Rajeesh on Indian Vanguard on December 17, 2009
by Radha D’Souza
The ‘Sandwich Theory’
I was piqued by the phrase ’sandwich theory’ when I first heard it from Delhi students. They were referring to the views of a section of articulate, influential, middle India in the wake of the controversies over Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh and now Operation Green Hunt. The ‘theory’, if we may call it that, holds that the Adivasis and rural poor are caught in the crossfire between armed Maoist ‘terrorists’ on the one side and a militarised Indian state on the other (see Report of the Independent Citizens’ Initiative on Chhattisgarh for example). It is the duty of middle India, according to the ’sandwich theory’, to ‘rescue’ the hapless Adivasis and rural poor from the armed combatants. Both combatants have ulterior motives: the Maoists wish to take political power through the barrel of their guns, and the India state wishes to grab Adivasi lands and natural resources and hand them over to corporations, foreign and domestic. Thus, the ’sandwich theory’ sees middle India as the saviour of the nation as envisioned in the Indian Constitution. The apparent neutrality of the theory is appealing to many. Equally, many are uneasy about ’sandwich theory’ not least because it frames the question as one of ‘violence versus non-violence’ and forces them to given a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer with little room for debate (e.g. NDTV, ‘The Buck Stops Here’ 23/09/09, 07/10/09, 20/10/09). The privileged statuses of the proponents of this theory, the positions they occupy in academia, media, institutions of governance, and such, adds to the scepticism of privilege that many even in middle India have developed over the years since Independence. Although there is widespread opposition to Salwa Judum and Operation Green Hunt, their understanding of it divides middle India. The ’sandwich theory’ merits reflection, therefore.
Democratic Values and ‘Sandwich Theory’
Middle India values democracy, and most will agree that, in principle, democracy demands respect for every man, woman, and child, rich or poor, urban or rural, of any caste or nationality. Respect for all entails crediting all human beings with basic intelligence by virtue of being human. Democracy is based on the belief that all people possess the capacities to determine their destinies. If this is true, then the ’sandwich theory’ is fundamentally undemocratic.
Most people in middle India today agree that the Adivasis and rural poor have real and legitimate grievances against the economic policies of successive governments. According to the ’sandwich theorists’ the Maoists exploit their grievances to further their own ends. This precludes the possibility that at least a section of the Adivasis and rural poor may have chosen to go with the Maoists. The argument denies the Adivasis and the rural poor their agency, their capacities to determine what is and is not good for them, and basic intelligence to decide whom they wish to support and why. The attitude implicit in the ’sandwich theory’ masks the latent authoritarianism that lurks beneath the facade of compassion for the poor. Of course, the Adivasis and the rural poor do not articulate their political choices in the language of scholars from Harvard and Oxford, IIT and JNU, or theories of democratic development, civil society, post-communism or post Marxism, but that is not to say they are passive victims without self-determination. By portraying them as hapless victims of Maoists and the State alike, middle India can avoid engaging with the Adivasis and rural poor as political equals.
The representation of Adivasis and rural poor as voiceless victims is not new, however. It is an idea that has been developed and refined in India at least since independence. The development discourse at the end of the World Wars was about ‘poverty’. It was a crude concept, a rough and ready term. Soon it became apparent that, like ‘the invisible hand of the market’, the mysterious ways of development rewarded the few and impoverished the many. As disenchantment with development grew, the ‘poor’ was replaced by a more nuanced, exotic sounding term: the subaltern. The subaltern are untouched by modernity, outside the pale of civil society, innocent, an idea perilously close to the ‘noble savages’ of colonial thinkers. The subalterns are people whose aspirations cannot be understood without being interpreted and represented by middle India. From subaltern to victim is a quick and easy step. As long as the Adivasis and rural poor remain victims, middle India is not required to speak in its own name, about its own interests and aspirations; it is enough to interpret for "them". How true is the picture that the Adivasis and rural poor are victims caught between the combatants in Operation Green Hunt?
Who Exactly Is ‘Sandwiched’ Here?
Throughout India’s modern history, since the advent of colonisation, two adversaries have remained steadfast and undeterred in their opposition to each other. During the colonial era and in the post-Independence era, ‘tribal rebellions’ and ‘peasant uprisings’ were the volcanoes that erupted from time to time and rocked the edifice of state power. When the rebellions and uprisings subsided they continued to bubble away beneath the surface, forming the volcanic fault-line upon which Indian society is founded. On their part, the Adivasis have shown remarkable consistency. Their demands have never wavered from: ‘jal, jangal, jameen’ (water, forest, land). The rural poor have echoed their demands with as much consistency. Indeed, it may be noted in the passing, that indigenous people the world over have never wavered from that singular demand of ‘jal, jangal, jameen’.
Against this, the state, colonial or post-Independence, has shown remarkable consistency in its responses to the demands of the Adivasi and the rural poor. They have responded with guns and bayonets, mobilised the full might of the state, imprisoned, tortured, raped, and plundered the Adivasis and rural poor, and sentenced many to death. Remember Kista Gowd and Bhoomiah within living memories of many of us? The state has been equally consistent in its demands for more land, more resources, and more cheap labour. This extraordinary consistency of the two combatants has thrown everyone in between, middle India, into turmoil from time to time. Some have sided unequivocally with the Adivasis and the rural poor. They have been branded variously as extremists, insurgents and terrorists and met the same fate as the Adivasis. Others have sided unequivocally with the state, colonial or otherwise, and proactively participated in mobilising the state machinery against extremists, insurgents, terrorists, whatever. Yet others have felt hemmed in and ’sandwiched’ between the two adversaries. Thus, it is middle India that is ’sandwiched’ and feels beleaguered by the combatants.
In substance what happened in Kalinganagar, or Singur, or Nandigram or Lalgarh, or now in Narayanpatna follows in the same traditions, but middle India dithers to call them tribal rebellions or peasant uprisings. The current debates echo similar debates during the freedom struggle: M.N Roy’s spat with Lenin on the ‘agrarian question’, Aurobindo’s conversion from violence to non-violence, debates over Bhagat Singh and Chauri Chaura, to name a few. The ’sandwich theorists’ are surprisingly ahistorical in their approach to the current stand off. Many go along with the state’s representation that the Maoist movement began as recent as 2004, a representation based on realignments within the movement. Everyone knows notwithstanding the peaks and troughs, the Maoist movements, whether we like them or not, have a longer history than 2004. There is a significant difference, however, between the situation that confronts middle India today and the situation it had to face during the freedom struggle and post independence period. That difference has to do with ‘globalisation’.
Middle India and the Freedom Struggle
The Boer Wars, the Scramble for Africa, and other colonial conflagrations culminated in the World Wars between imperialist nations with Britain at the helm. The freedom struggle was directed against British imperialism, at a time when Britain was militarily strong but a declining economic power. A wide cross section of classes, communities, nationalities, castes in Indian society between the Adivasis and the State joined the freedom struggle, each with their own demands and their own aspirations. Industrial expansion occurred during that interim period of the World Wars. An emergent industrial class that profited from the World Wars also aspired for political power, and joined the freedom struggle. The debates about violence and non-violence, extremism and liberal democracy, social justice and rule of law, and other such questions were part of a wider process of forging a social contract between the multifarious classes, communities, castes, tribes, nationalities, religions, linguistic groups. The social contract was later embodied in the Constitution when India became a republic.
The social contract was based on a vision of the Indian nation. It was a vision that included all and opened with the words ‘we the people’. It promised to all ‘justice: social, economic and political’; it promised the Adivasis protection of their water, forests and lands, land reforms to the rural poor, offered special status to different nationalities, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Kashmir, jobs and collective bargaining rights to urban workers, linguistic reorganisation of states, rule of law and constitutional democracy, and most importantly adopted as its motto: ’satyam eva jayate’ (truth alone prevails). That vision of a nation is at the heart of the dilemma that confronts middle India today.
Independence of India was inaugurated with partition at two ends of the nation and the Telangana uprising in its belly. The Telangana uprising, like other Adivasi and peasant struggles, was put down by the Indian army, and many were tortured, imprisoned and executed. Middle India was confident that with a new Constitution in place, the causes of tribal rebellions and peasant uprisings would be consigned to history. The imprint of the Communist Party of India, the largest opposition party in India’s Constituent Assembly that drafted India’s Constitution, was writ large in the social contract. Middle India believed in their vision of the nation. Given the time, India would be a nation founded on social justice, equality and non-discrimination.
When the Naxalbari and Srikakulam uprisings erupted two decades later, it was clear that something had gone terribly wrong with that vision; that the social contract on which modern India was founded was wilfully broken. When the police and army cracked down on Naxalbari and Srikakulam tribals and peasants, as they always did, the state justified its actions in the same vein as today. The fight was not against tribals and peasants, but against armed Maoist insurgents, it was about violence and non-violence, the state argued. But middle India refused to be ’sandwiched’. Thousands of students and youth joined the Naxalbari and Srikakulam tribals and peasants. They were abducted, imprisoned, tortured, killed and Indian English added a new meaning to the verb ‘encountered’ after the faked ‘encounter’ killings. Even those opposed to the Maoists’ ideologies and methods refused to be ’sandwiched’. People of the stature of Jayaprakash Narayan, V. M Tarkunde, Sathyaranjan Sathe, Samar Sen, to name just a few, insisted that the Maoists were idealists, impatient, ideologically misguided — they were anything but criminals and terrorists. Above all the ‘rule of law’ applied to Maoist as much as anyone else, they insisted. No one accused them of being terrorist sympathisers for that reason, not even the state. Post-Naxalbari, middle India was dismayed, frustrated, angry, and disappointed with the state for breaking the social contract. They still held on to the vision of the nation that was forged during the freedom struggle, even when the vision was slipping away. ‘This is not the India our parents and grandparents fought for’, the post-Independence generation seemed to say.
Many social justice movements emerged. The democratic rights movement in modern India grew and expanded as more people were ‘encountered’. They insisted that the Courts, as guardians of the Constitution, had a duty to ensure it was enforced against all the parties to the social contract. ‘Law is on trial’, Justice Bhagwati, the former Chief Justice of India, warned in his Law Day speeches. A novel jurisprudential theory called the ‘episolatory jurisdiction’ was innovated. Any one without means could drop a post card to the Supreme Court complaining of violation of her Constitutional rights and they would be heard. Paradoxically these interventions had the effect of entrenching systemic discrimination and exclusion of the Adivasis and rural poor in the heart of constitutional democracy: the judicial system.
The interventions of middle India were based on a view that denied Adivasis and the rural poor their agency. They were hapless victims, the voiceless subalterns, so "we" the saviours of the nation had to do something, and of course "we", middle India, would prove that rule of law and the constitution could be made to work for "them". Take Public Interest Litigation (PIL). Writ after writ was issued by courts for implementing regular laws. The petitions called upon the state to implement minimum wage laws, health and safety laws, laws against bonded and child labour, resettlement and rehabilitation of displaced people. The Courts became involved in administration and law enforcement but rarely punished any state official for failing in their statutory and constitutional duties. As the boundaries between the executive and the judiciary became murky PILs sent a clear message that state officials could get away with violations of constitutional and statutory duties.
PILs did not work for the ’subalterns’ whose jal, jangal and jameen were acquired for building modern India, whether they be public sector companies like the National Thermal Power Corporation, the Narmada dam, or Konkan railway. Simultaneously PILs set the precedent for unilateral judicial interventions. It was clear that the Courts, at least, would not be an impediment to the state’s vision of development even if it excluded half the population.
Take Lok Adalats, an idea canvassed by middle India and later legislated into the statute books. Lok Adalats dispensed with procedural rules of evidence and civil and criminal procedures in cases involving the poor, ostensibly to cut down backlog of cases and expedite justice to the poor. In effect, it entrenched a system in which different procedures would be followed for the rich and for the poor. The rich would get a proper judicial hearing following rules of evidence and civil and criminal procedures; and procedural laws would be dispensed with for the poor. After all, cases of the poor were for paltry sums anyway. Never mind that to the poor the paltry sums meant a great deal. Equality in the eyes of the law?
The post-Naxalbari, post-Emergency period saw a ballooning of NGOs, voluntary organisations, and ‘civil society’ organisations accompanied by criminalisation of politics. Nearly forty percent of Indian MPs and MLAs are supposed to have criminal records involving serious crimes like murder, extortion, abduction and rape according to citizens groups like National Election Watch and Association of Democratic Reforms. Satyam eva jayate? The political spaces of the Adivasis and rural poor, usurped by criminalisation, was contested by the NGOs and voluntary organisations. Middle India came up with an amazing proposition: all politics was anti-poor, corrupt and criminalised, therefore, we can be a democracy without politics. Of course, as the Adivasis and rural poor, being subalterns, could not speak, it fell on the NGOs or voluntary groups to interpret for them.
As middle India tried desperately to salvage the vision of a nation forged during the freedom struggle, the Berlin Wall collapsed, the Time magazine announced ‘Communism was dead’ on its cover pages, and Fukuyama declared history itself had ended.
Envisioning the Nation under ‘Globalisation’
Once again, India is in a situation comparable to the early twentieth century. Like Britain in the early twentieth century, the United States which assumed the leadership of imperialist nations after World War II, is economically weak and reliant on militarism it can ill afford. Once again, the loosening grip of imperialist reins offers Indian industrialists and financiers an opportunity to expand their operations. The lure of ten percent growth based on many more nuclear plants, mining corporations, industries, special economic zones, and speculative investments promises them a whole new world, if only they would dare to conquer it. The new world of their dreams requires conquering the Adivasis and the rural poor. Where will they go? What of the social contract? This much is clear even to middle India.
‘Globalisation’ erodes the idea of a nation, however. Indeed it is premised on the idea that nations no longer matter, and if they matter at all, they do so only on the condition that they are homogenised and adapted to the global marketplace. There is no longer an industrial, propertied, elite in India, therefore, that is interested in joining ranks with middle India to renegotiate power with imperialists. Instead all negotiations on power have shifted to the international arena; they will happen henceforth in the UN, the WTO, the G8 summits, and the World Economic Forums. The pesky Adivasis persist with their jal, jangal and jameen. Having accepted the ‘inevitability’ of ‘globalisation’ middle India is left without the conceptual tools to envision a nation, to flesh out self-determination. How should the India of their dreams look like? And what is the ‘down payment’ they are willing to put down (to use the language of WTO trade negotiators) to secure their vision of an India of their dreams?
The UN’s World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen in 1995 was a turning point. Al Gore the then Vice President of the United States declared at the Summit that aid and development assistance to the Third World would from then on be channelled through NGOs and aimed at ‘good governance’. ‘Good governance’ resonated with ‘responsible government’ of the colonial era. What did Al Gore and the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development ramify for the Adivasis and the rural poor?
The language of discourse changed in India. Indian NGOs and voluntary organisations were awash with funds. More importantly, they were armed with new ideological and conceptual resources developed by international organisations: ideas of ‘empowerment’, ‘democratic development’, ‘good governance’, ‘civil society participation’ and such. In fairness many applied the funds to save the social contract. But the social contract was never about ‘democratic development’, ‘empowerment’ and ‘good governance’. The social contract was about self-determination, equality, redistributive justice, power-sharing and equity, about satyam eva jayate, not transparency.
More NGOs and voluntary organisations, more funding for the non-governmental sector, more ‘empowerment’ and ‘good governance’ programmes did not equate to more representation of the Adivasis and rural poor. If anything it was the opposite. The more funding became available for NGOs and voluntary groups, the more the Maoist influence increased. Yet, there are no social theories, no quantitative or qualitative research methods that can establish any correlation between the two.
The NGOs and voluntary groups took up all the issues that the Adivasis and the rural poor raised: the model of development, traditional water systems, land management, forest conservation, corruption, criminalisation of politics. They balked at one central question: the question of political power. This was the only question that the Maoists took up. Middle India wants the Adivasis and the rural poor to trust their word when they say middle India is with the Adivasis and rural poor. How should the Adivasis and rural poor do this when they are reduced to voiceless subalterns, when they are no longer political subjects with agency? Moreover without a vision of a nation, even many in middle India are not forthcoming with that implicit trust.
Middle India Caught in the Crossfire?
The Indian state has once again framed the issue, as it has always done, as one of violence versus non-violence. In a ‘globalised’, privatised world, populated with NGOs, the Indian state does not have to resort to state propaganda via Doordarshan to make its claims. In a privatised, ‘globalised’ world state claims are made through private agents committed to ‘globalisation’. For example consider the ’sandwich theory’. Numerous NGOs and private organisations have promoted the theory. For example in January 2005 the Observer Research Foundation under its International Terrorism Watch Programme held a two day workshop on ‘the Naxal challenge’. The trustees of this foundation are eminent journalists who have been part of Congress and BJP governments at various times. They published a book from the workshop proceedings titled The Naxal Challenge: Causes, Linkages and Policy Options. The editor of the volume, at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, specialises in Naxalism which falls under the research cluster ‘Terrorism and internal security’. The blurb for the book is written by the former governor of Jharkhand and a chief of army staff. The question of whether the Maoists should be seen as terrorists at all is foreclosed in the way the debate is framed.
Well-resourced organisations set out the assumptions underpinning the debate, the terms of the discourse which middle India must follow, not least because they are bombarded with research, publications, high profile media coverage, all based on the assumptions presented by think-tank organisations. The Independent Citizens’ Initiative report on Salwa Judum by influential citizens, some of them close to the powers that be, echoes a similar ’sandwich theory’ position. Their position is nowhere comparable to that of Jayaprakash Narayan or V.M Tarkunde. For the latter, their positions against non-violence stemmed from a vision of the nation based on the social contract of the freedom struggle; it included the Maoists as much as the Adivasis. Today, the positions against non-violence are based on a conception of India as an emergent global power that needs to put a human face on ‘globalisation’.
Add to this the terms for the numerous research grants, project funding, and overseas assistance given to NGOs requiring them to conform to liberal democracy, parliamentary processes and judicial norms. Where is the room to say that these processes were tried, tried over and over again for at least six decades, they have failed, and that the parliament, the judiciary and the executive have thrown the social contract to the winds of ‘globalisation’? What new vision of the nation can middle India forge?
The Adivasis and rural poor insist it is a matter of jal, jangal and jameen as they always have. The Maoists, their ideological, political and military shortcomings not withstanding, and there are many of those (see exchanges between Sumanta Banerjee and CPI Maoist EPWs 02/09/09, 19/09/09, 14/11/09), stand unequivocally on the side of the Adivaisis and rural poor, whatever their motives. Middle India insists it is possible to put a human face on ‘globalisation’. To the contrary, the new wave of struggles in Kalinganagar, Singur, Nandigram, Lalgarh challenges them to renegotiate the social contract, a challenge that requires a renewed freedom struggle, forging new alliances, and new conceptions of development and decolonisation. ‘We too fought for freedom’, a Santhal says in a recent film on Lalgarh. Indeed they did. How do we answer that question? By saying the Maoists are bad boys? By saying the Santhals are subalterns that need middle India as their interpreters?
India’s Foundations on a Fault-line?
The social contract forged during the freedom struggle was premised on a false assumption. It was based on the assumption that it was possible to build a modern liberal democratic, capitalist nation without colonisation. There has never been, and can never be, capitalism without colonies, though its forms can change, and has changed since that fateful day when Columbus set sail looking for the ‘riches of the Indies’. ‘Globalisation’ is forcing middle India to colonise her own people. This is nothing new. It happened under British Rule too. Since the days of Siraj-ud-daula, the various Nawabs and Rajas, a section of the Indian elite has steadfastly stood by imperialists, helped them run Empires, and made a buck for themselves. J.S Mill observed that India was the great experimental laboratory for the Empire. When the fortunes of Empires fluctuate, it forces middle India to take a stand. It is happening today. The nation-state structure and constitutionalism makes it difficult for middle India to rationalise colonisation of her own people. What should middle India do? Launch a new freedom struggle? Forge a new social contract? These are difficult questions by any measure. How much easier to flog the Maoists using imperialist labels like ‘war on terror’ to mask their own inability to re-envision the nation? How much easier to ride the ‘globalisation’ wave on the moral high tides of non-violence? Middle India is wistful. If only the volcanic fault-line on which modern India is founded will go away; if only the Adivasis will put on hold their insistence on jal, jangal, jameen.
It is to the credit of Indian people that all the bombardments, physical, moral and intellectual, notwithstanding, large sections of middle India remain deeply sceptical about ’sandwich theories’.