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Posts Tagged ‘dantewada’

The many lives of Gudsa Usendi

Posted by ajadhind on March 13, 2011

Aman Sethi, The hindu

Phantom spokesman is emblematic of Chhattisgarh’s secretive yet media-savvy Maoists

‘Today I am Gudsa Usendi, tomorrow it could be someone else’

Maoists keenly aware of connection between surveillance and communication


— Photo: Akhilesh Kumar

A file photo of a Maoist training camp in the forest of Dantewada district

Raipur: In the autumn of 2007, a suave, middle-aged man with a military bearing walked into Naresh Bazaar cloth store near the Bilaspur bus stand and bought a thousand metres of olive green tericot fabric for Rs. 101 a metre. According to a shop assistant, the man looked like an ex-serviceman, spoke in English, introduced himself as Sunil Choudhury, a private security contractor with contracts to secure factories across Chhattisgarh, and said he needed uniforms for his guards.

Later that year, Choudhury appeared at Dayaram Sahu’s workshop in Raipur’s Purani Basti and asked the struggling tailor to stitch him trousers of waist sizes 28, 30 and 36 inches with corresponding shirts. “He said he employed more than 50 security guards and each watchman needed three sets of uniform,” said Sahu. “He asked for 35 uniforms, and promised another 100 sets if he liked my work.”

It appears that Choudhury liked Sahu’s work; when the Raipur police raided the workshop in early 2008, they claim to have found 634 metres of military green cloth, 200 trousers and 107 full-sleeved shirts.

Sunil Choudhury, the police said, was not a security contactor but was Katta Ramchandra Reddy alias Vijay alias Gudsa Usendi, a high ranking member and spokesperson of the Dandakaranya Special Zonal (DKZ) Committee of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). The uniforms were meant for Maoist guerrillas rather than private security guards.

According to police charge sheets and court documents, Gudsa Usendi is the shadowy figure who sent compact discs of Maoist propaganda to Raipur politicians in 2006 and was the source of a consignment of 91 country-made shotguns recovered from a busy intersection in Raipur in 2008. The police claim he was in frequent contact with jailed human rights activist and award-winning paediatrician Binayak Sen and independent filmmaker Ajay T.G., an association denied by both Dr. Sen and Ajay. Gudsa’s supposed wife, K.S. Malti, is currently in Raipur Central Jail; another alleged associate of his was arrested in Durg as recently as September last year. But who is Gudsa Usendi? “Gudsa Usendi is just a name,” said a smooth voice over the telephone in August last year, “Today I am Gudsa Usendi, tomorrow it could be someone else. Gudsa Usendi is the title taken over by the spokesperson for the DKZ.”

Maoist spokespersons have long had a fascination for aliases. Before he was slain in a police encounter last year, Maoist central committee spokesperson Cherukuri Rajkumar was known to the outside world as Azad (translated as Free), but within the party he went by several names including Madhu, Gangadhar, Uday and Dinesh. His successor goes by the name of Abhay (translated as Fearless); the spokesperson who handled the abduction of Malkangiri District Collector R.V. Krishna in February went by the name of ‘Prasad,’ but Dandakaranya’s Gudsa Usendi is different, because Gudsa Usendi was once a ‘real’ person.

“It was at about three in the morning in Potenar village in Abujmarh. It was June 25 2000, it was raining heavily. There were six comrades in a hut when they were surrounded by the police,” said a young Maoist fighter who called herself Rehmati. “Five comrades were killed, one of them was Gudsa Usendi. He was 17.”

When he joined the Maoists, Gudsa Usendi dropped his given name and took on the moniker of ‘Ramesh.’ He was of the Maria tribe from Chhattisgarh’s Abujmarh region, according to the Maoists. A year after his death, the Maoist spokesperson of Dandakaranya (broadly corresponding with South Chhattisgarh) took on his name to keep his memory alive and the practice has continued ever since.

The Maoists are wary of sharing organisational details with reporters, but anecdotal evidence suggests that Gudsa Usendi functions at the centre of a cloud of cell phones, laptops and individuals. A message from Gudsa Usendi could appear as a note under your door, a letter postmarked by a small town on the Chhattisgarh-Andhra Pradesh border, an email from an IP address that traces back to a neighbouring State, or a micro-SD card stuck to a sheet of paper.

In a recent meeting, a member of their communications team explained that every Maoist division (equivalent to a zilla in the panchayati sytem) has access to a laptop, memory cards, a portable inkjet printer and a cell phone. The netbook examined by this correspondent ran an open source Linux-based operating system with open source text, image and video editing software. Gudsa Usendi usually prepares a press note and hands it over to one of his assistants. Major press releases (like the announcement for Martyrs Week) are designed using crack versions of software like Adobe Pagemaker and converted into PDF format, before being sent to printing presses installed in secret locations.

“We prefer PDF format, because it removes the problem of fonts when issuing press releases in English and Hindi,” explained an assistant, referring to a document format created by Adobe. The files are emailed from the top of a tall tree on a mountaintop where a GPRS enabled phone can log onto a stray network

All the devices are charged by truck batteries connected to solar panels. “Batteries provide direct current (DC); laptops and phones need alternating current (AC),” explained the assistant patiently, “So we add a DCAC inverter to the circuit and use solar power to charge our devices.”

The Maoists are keenly aware of the connection between surveillance and communication. In the forests, only certain senior cadres are allowed to carry cell phones and use their devices sparingly. “We have to secure an area and post sentries before making a phone call,” said a Maoist commander who carries a Nokia phone. However, the poor density of cellular towers in Maoist territories makes it hard to pinpoint the location of a particular phone.

On a windy day in Konta in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district for instance, it is possible to pick up reception from a tower in Andhra Pradesh’s Khammam district; by moving 50 km northwards from the same spot in Konta, a user can start ranging towers in Orissa’s Malkangiri district, moving further towards Chintrakonda in Malkangiri, the Andhra network comes back into range. Somewhere in that broad stretch of land, a man climbs up a tree, pulls out a cell phone from the folds of his clothes and makes a phone call. “Hello? I have a statement from Gudsa Usendi,” he says.

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Posted in CHHATISGARH, IN NEWS, NAXALISM | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Naxal ambush in Dantewada; 3 killed, 75 missing

Posted by ajadhind on August 4, 2010

source -rediff

Three Chhattisgarh Police personnel have been killed and 75 are missing after Maoists ambushed a combined search party of the state police’s Special Task force, Dantewada district police and Koya commandos on Tuesday afternoon.

Around 200 Maoists cornered the personnel inside Gumiapal in Dantewada district while they were returning to the base camp after a routine search operation in the forest area, 17 kilometres from the Bailadila mining area.

Sources in the state police, however, said as many as 25 policemen could have been killed.

The fierce exchange of fire, which started around noon, is continuing till reports last came in.

“A massive encounter is going on. A team of police personnel had gone into the area in pursuit of a Naxal commander and his associates,” Chhattisgarh police chief Vishwaranjan said.

Reinforcements have been sent to the encounter spot, sources said, but heavy rains have hampered their progress.

On April 6, 75 CRPF personnel and a state policemen were killed in Dantewada after over 100 Naxals ambushed the patrol party and looted weapons.

In another incident on June 29, a large number of heavily-armed Maoists, perched on a hilltop, had opened fire with automatic weapons on a 63-member security contingent which was returning on foot from road opening duty, killing 26 CRPF personnel in Narayanpur district. The dead included a CRPF Assistant Commandant Jatin Gulati.

Posted in CHHATISGARH, GREEN HUNT, NAXALISM | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

The Line Of No Control

Posted by ajadhind on June 21, 2010

source – tehelka

MORE ADIVASIS ARE BEING RAPED. MORE ADIVASIS ARE BEING ARMED. THE GOVERNMENT CLAIMS IT IS DISAPPEARING, BUT THE SALWA JUDUM CONTINUES TO FUEL A PROXY CIVIL WAR. TUSHA MITTAL REPORTS FROM GROUND ZERO. PHOTOGRAPHS BY TARUN SEHRAWAT

AT A clearing in the forests of Chhattisgarh, barely a kilometre from the Chintalnar CRPF camp, a man in civvies walked up to our local guide. “Don’t take them any further. Remember, you have to live in this state,” he threatened.

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Price of rice Tribal women walk back to their village through dense jungle, carrying rice from a ration shop 20 km away. Few buses ply the route in these times of escalated conflict

A few hours earlier, we had chanced upon a Naxal poster nailed on a tree, saying 10 women were raped by the forces. We were waiting for motorcycles to visit their villages. The narrow strip of road slowly disintegrates ahead of Chintalnar, after which the ‘interior villages’ are considered Maoist strongholds. In the myopic narrative of the state, any attempt to venture into these areas is seen as an attempt to assist the Maoists.

Despite repeated attempts, security forces did not allow TEHELKA to go beyond the Chintalnar camp. Reasons ranged from safety concerns to the pretext of a Naxal bandh. “No one is being allowed into the area,” said Dornapal Assistant Sub-Inspector SK Dhurve. We watched as trucks and buses passed through without hindrance. TEHELKA then met the rape victims by crossing over into Andhra Pradesh, traversing an alternative back route through deep forests. What was an 80-km journey stretched to atleast 300 km.

In the Chhattisgarh conflict, there are many tools of war — the clampdown on civil society, the unplugging of Adivasis from access to the media or the judiciary, the arming of civilians, fake encounters, the arbitrary detention of villagers, and now a brutal targeting of tribal women. Rape has become a way to terrorise an entire community into submission. The Adivasis of Dantewada are increasingly being left with two choices — become part of the ‘mainstream’ or flee further into the forests.

Already, a new exodus has begun. The village of Mukram, only a few kilometres from where the Maoists ambushed 76 security personnel, is turning into a ghost village. On May 22, three girls were raped and five people including the Sarpanch picked up.

Facing a backlash from the troops, most of the 115 families are fleeing to Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. “The forces broke into my house during search operations,” says Mangal Kunjam. “Who knows what they might do next. We are leaving for Orissa tomorrow.”

OF RAPES AND REFUGEES

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Victims of bestiality Tribal women accuse SPOs and security forces of rape

At the edge of the forest, under a bamboo thatch, a lone clay pot simmers on a log fire. Crushed chillies and strewn clothes are the only markers of habitation. This clearing in the forest is now home to two sisters — Madvi Hidme and Madvi Aimla — who recently fled their mud huts in Mukram. A third girl, Madvi Posse, hides in her aunt’s hut a few kilometres away.

Hidme, Aimla and Posse are the new pawns in a brutal war raging inside India’s heartland. All three girls, 14-18 years, accuse the forces of rape.

‘DON’T RUN, I WILL MARRY YOU,’ AN SPO TOLD MADVI HIDME AFTER SHE WAS RAPED. ‘ELSE I’LL CUT YOU UP AND BURY YOU IN CEMENT’

At around 4 pm on May 22, they were sorting mahua flowers when they were picked up by patrolling troops and taken towards the Chintalnar CRPF camp. Two men held each girl by the arm. Midway, the women were thrown on the ground and beaten. They say the assaulters were a group of SPOs — Special Police officers — in shirts and lungis, joined at varying points by men in uniform. “You are so healthy, the Naxals must be feeding you well,” a man sneered at Hidme.

“They stamped on us with their boots. They kicked us in the stomach. They thrashed our backs with a gun and poked us with rifle butts. They beat us till our skin turned black and blue and until we soiled ourselves. They tore our clothes off. They accused us of helping the Naxals attack the forces,” says Hidme.

When the men tried to press themselves upon her, Hidme began screaming for help. She was gagged with a towel. “I was kicked in the genitals till I bled,” she says. She recalls being ‘groped’ by several men before she lost consciousness. There were nail marks across her chest and her genitals bled for several days after.

“Don’t go back home, I’ll marry you,” one of the assaulters told Hidme. “If you run away, we will find you, cut you up into pieces and bury you in cement.”

When Hidme regained consciousness, she was ordered to wash up in the pond. By then, Hidme’s mother had arrived to save her daughters. All four women were taken inside the CRPF camp and beaten again. “They pulled us by the hair, and twirled us around in circles,” Hidme says. At the camp, the men said that these women were part of the Chetna Natya Manch (CNM) — the Maoist cultural outfit — and had been picked up while they engaged in song and dance. It was only when an officer told his men, “Are you going to eat them? Let them go,” that the three women were let off.

“We have no knowledge of any rapes last month,” says TG Longkumer, Inspector General of Bastar. Ask Madvi Hidme if she wants her assaulters punished, and the horror of her story becomes more evident. You expect a fierce cry for justice. It does not come. Instead, there is a quiet statement: “These Cobras and SPOs should leave Dantewada. They should be sent out.” She has never heard of the Supreme Court, or any court, but says she’s willing to testify.

Justice, perhaps, is an urban idea. Perhaps that is why six women in Samseti village are yet to see any trace of it. TEHELKA’s cover story in July 2009, detailed the rape of six women in Samseti village in Dantewada. In court hearings, the state claimed that the accused SPOs are absconding. But TEHELKA tracked two of the accused. Soyam Muka, leader of Konta camp, was interviewed at his home a few kilometres from the police station. Budo Raja, leader of Injaram camp, lives opposite the CRPF camp and greeted us with a jawan by his side.

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Trapped SPO at Errabore camp

In Lacchipara, barely a few hundred metres from the Chintalnar CRPF camp, villagers say at least one woman was raped, while attempts were made to rape two others. Madavi Nanda had stepped out of her bath and was barely clothed when the forces dragged her out of her house towards a distant handpump,” says her mother-in-law. She was stripped naked and beaten. Another woman who was also dragged to the spot says she saw the forces lift Nanda’s petticoat. “They would have raped me too, but villagers had gathered,” she says.

“It has become a pattern for the forces to harass the women when the men are out in the fields,” says Jago, a farmer. He alleges that they tried to rape his wife while she was cooking. “The forces tried to steal a hen I bought from Andhra for Rs 300,” says neighbour Madkam Sodi. “When I protested, a man grabbed my throat and bit my cheek.”

THE STATE CLAIMS RAPE ACCUSED SOYAM MUKA AND BUDO RAJA ARE ABSCONDING. TEHELKA FOUND THEM AT THEIR HOMES IN DANTEWADA

RUTHLESS MILITIA

In many ways, Dantewada is rapidly descending into a zone of no control — a battlefield where both armies have little writ over their soldiers. The Naxals continue to kill Adivasis as police informers — villagers say it is often personal enmity, done without the knowledge of top comrades. The troops and SPOs continue to loot homes, steal chicken, threaten children, kill farmers and rape women.

This month, 600 more men arrived at the Chintalnar camp. TEHELKA has lernt that 150 SPOs were recruited this year and there is talk of inducting at least 1,000 more. To understand why this is significant, wander the 23 ‘relief’ camps in Bastar, set up in June 2005 after the raising of the Salwa Judum. Though the term means ‘Peace March’ and is touted as a local uprising against the Maoists, it is widely accepted that the Judum is a statesponsored militia responsible for evacuating 644 villages, killing countless tribals and displacing at least 1.5 lakh people.

In a sense, the Judum split Bastar into two — the camps and the villages, the roadside and the ‘interiors’, the State and the Naxals. It left no other options. That is what continues to be reinforced brutally on the ground. That is why a Sarpanch and his wife, an anganwadi worker, had to rent a room by the road in Dornapal. “It’s not safe in the village. You never know when homes can be attacked,” says Madvi Podiyam. His own friends in the Salwa Judum have warned him: “Don’t go to the interiors. If we see you during a search operation, we might kill you.”

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A widow in Konta camp whose husband was killed in Chingawaram bus attack

Inside the Injaram camp, villagers are virtually under curfew. “We feel caged — we have to come back by 6 pm. We can’t even trust the forces. If they bump into us on the road at night, they’ll think we were helping the Naxals,” says Madvi Bhime.

In Konta town, Aslam Bhai can barely sustain his family. Before the Judum days, his income was Rs 10,000 per month— now it’s barely Rs 3,000. A flourishing trade of tora (a fruit), mahua and tarmarind brought thousands of villagers to the Konta town market every Thursday. “No one comes now,” he says. “They are either in the camps or the villages.”

In April 2008, an Administrative Reforms Commission headed by Congressman Veerappa Moily recommended the disbanding of the Salwa Judum. Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam asked: “How can the State give arms to some persons? The State will be abetting a crime if these private persons kill others.” On February 5, 2009, the state government assured the Supreme Court that the Salwa Judum was on its way out.

Yet, on the ground, Judum leaders themselves claim the movement is alive. Thousands continue to live as refugees, forcibly brought to the camps, unable to return home, and forever trapped in their identity as part of the Judum. More among them are now being made SPOs.

“How can they claim the Judum is over?” asks Kora Podiyam, a Sarpanch living inside Dornapal camp. “We have come here in the name of the Judum. We help the forces. If we get information about Naxals, we inform them immediately. Until we are here, the Judum exists.”

‘WE HAVE NO INTELLIGENCE. WE HAVEN’T CAUGHT ANY NAXALS. WE LIVE IN FEAR,’ SAY SPOs. YET, MORE SPOs ARE BEING RECRUITED

“There is no question of the Salwa Judum dissolving,” exclaims Judum leader P Vijay. “In fact, more and more people want to join us.” Most of these are families affected by Naxal violence or unemployed boys in the camps. Like Rajesh Arvind, who became an SPO when he was 12. “I had nothing else to do,” he explains. “It was good money.” His monthly salary of Rs 2,150 will increase to Rs 3,000 starting July 2010.

Then there is Madkam Moriya from Banda village. “The forces barged into my village and began burning men alive,” he says. “We had no choice but to flee to the camps. Then the Naxals burnt the remaining homes.” When he reached the Konta camp, “Netas asked me to become an SPO.” And so he did.

Madkam Munna, 19, has been living in the Dornapal camp since 2005. In the violence that ensued at the start of the Judum, Naxals killed three people in his village, including his uncle. He became an SPO in August 2009. Within six months, in February 2010, he was made part of the elite Khoya Commandos and trained in operating SLRs, LMGs, AK-47s, hand grenades and rifles. In the past one month, Munna has been on 20 search operations and picked up five people.

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The empty village of Mukram

The SPOs are a lethal tool in a divideand- rule policy that is rapidly pitting Adivasi against Adivasi. Though the government claims that SPOs are distinct from the Salwa Judum, such stories blur the lines. The irony is that the women being raped and the SPOs assaulting them are pawns in a dangerous game.

At present, insiders estimate the total number of SPOs in Chhattisgarh to be at least 12,000. Sources told TEHELKA that the state police are hoping to induct more SPOS into the District Force (DF), where Rs 12,000 is the starting salary. In the last batch of DF vacancies that opened up this month, 70 of 120 posts have been filled by SPOs who need only to have passed Class 5. In a way, this could turn the DF into a sort of ruthless militia.

Sanjay Sharma, deputy SP of Dantewada, confirmed to TEHELKA that the DF has reserved seats for SPOs but would not say how many. “Those who are unemployed and against the Maoist ideology can become SPOs,” says Sharma. “For constables, education, physical fitness and a constabulary exam is a must. These not do apply to SPOs. They have to be 18, have good attitude and knowledge of the local terrain.” Intelligence is meant to be the primary asset of an SPO, but it often becomes a way to get personal enemies killed.

If you happened to be in an SPO tent, in the fading light of a hot summer day, as a bunch of 20-somethings toss around a football, the irony would become evident. “We have no intelligence, we haven’t caught any Naxals, and the public lives in fear of us,” says Soyam Mukesh, 22, “but there’s no way out.”

That is why SPOs inside Errabore camp whisper when the inspector is not looking. “We fear a Naxal attack. They fire at the camp at least twice a week. I’m scared to walk on the road at night. We have become bigger targets after becoming SPOs,” says Venkatesh, 26, from Gaganpalli village. “Even if we leave the job and go elsewhere, we’ll always be marked. We will die either way, so it’s better to keep fighting.” That is why Panda Mukesh, 23, shrugs now after four years of duty. “I’ve seen so much blood, nothing affects me now.”

LIFE IN GROUND ZERO

Slowly, insidiously, the conflict has altered daily life in Bastar. Villagers trek hundreds of kilometres to weekly markets in Andhra Pradesh fearing harassment at the local bazaar. In Burkhapal, villagers have gathered in the dusk, frantically hailing passersby. Hours ago, in single file, the women started their 20- km trek to Chintagupa to get their PDS rice. The men have stopped going to the market for fear of being picked up. It is night in the deep jungle, and women have not returned. Patients in Dantewada now cross over the border because there is not a single MBBS doctor in their town. Children in the ‘interior’ villages go to a school in Adrapalli, AP. Whatever hospitals and schools existed earlier have either been emptied out by the Judum or blasted by the Naxals. Nearly 100 schools closed last year.

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Villagers in the ‘interior’ who did not join the Salwa Judum

It has been five years since the Judum was formed, but there is no rehabilitation policy for displaced villagers. TEHELKA visited four ‘relief’ camps and found that almost 100 percent of the Adivasis want to return to their villages. Manni Paro pays a Judum leader Rs 200 a month to keep her mud hut and tarpaulin sheets. Those who cannot afford the bribe moved further into the more cramped sections of the camp.

“We were much happier in our villages. The Naxals didn’t bother us before the Judum started. We got fish from the lakes and reared our chicken. Everything was cheap,” says Madkam Sita, from Konta camp. “Here, there is nothing to do and not enough to feed my three children.”

In what is perhaps an attempt to corroborate the government’s claim that it is giving the Judum no official support, the supply of free ration to the camps was stopped three months ago. Korsa Sanmu, Sarpanch of Silger and Judum leader, met the CM for answers. “We can’t feed you forever. You have to stand on your own feet. The supplies had to end at some point,” he says the CM told him.

The desperation has triggered a new trend. Most Dornapal camp villagers now trek upto 20 km to cultivate their fields, always fearfully. Some have received notices from the Naxals: “Come back home. We will not harm you.” But the past records are ugly, and there is a trust deficit in Dantewada.

For those whose homes are deeper in the jungle, even such daily trips are impossible. Mangal Dai from Aserguda village now toils under the NREGS, but yearns for his five-acre plot. “If I go back, the Naxals will kill me for being part of the Judum, and the Judum will kill me for helping the Naxals,” he says. “We’re being hounded at both ends.”

Posted in CHHATISGARH, NAXALISM, Salwa Judum | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dantewada Strikes Back

Posted by ajadhind on May 22, 2010

Dantewada Strikes Back

Dantewada strikes back.

Dripping with the blood of hundreds of children

Its bullet-ridden body gasping for breath

Humiliated, harassed, raped and mutilated

Dantewada strikes back

Breaking the encirclement

By hordes of thugs descending from Delhi and Raipur

By schools of jungle warfare

And Institutes of counter-insurgency

By Washington, London, Tel Aviv, and what have you?

Dantewada strikes back

In defence of unsung mothers, daughters and sisters

Crying in pain from the festering wounds

Left by the death hunters out to destroy their life’s greenery

Dantewada strikes back

In defence of unheard fathers, sons and brothers

Buried in unknown places, exhumed and relocated by the powers that be to escape

the prying eyes of civil rights nuisance-mongers

Helpless, neglected, alienated, marginalized

Dantewada strikes back

Fulfilling the demands of its children

For Dudi Muye, Sodi Sannal, Tuniki Sinnal, Madivi Deval, Dudi Pojjal,……

For Gompad, Gachampalli, Singanamadugu, Gattampadu, Gollagudem,

For Gumiyapal, Palodi, Dokpad, Palachelima, Kachalaram…..

Dantewada strikes back

To ward off the non-stop savagery by the lawless goons

sent by the “civilized” gentlemen sitting in corporate board rooms,

To foil the heinous designs of the slave-holders

planning the biggest land grab in history after Columbus

Dantewda strikes back

To protect its jal, jangal, jameen, ijjat

To protect its resources from the monster of development

To fight back attempts to annex its territories into the prison-house

Of the Shining Bharat of Tatas, Mittals, Jindals ….

Dantewada strikes back

To defend its people from thugs and plunderers, dacoits and murderers

To protect its house from all predators

To defend the people’s government

Dantewada strikes back

Heralding a new spring thunder,

Charting the path for a billion people

Hungry, starving, undernourished, emaciated,

Suffering countless injustices and humiliations

Dantewada strikes back

To defend its right to live.

Editorial

Union budget and Operation Green Hunt: Two faces of imperialism

During the night of 22nd February, Central Reserve Police forces murdered Lalmohan Tudu, a popular leader of People’s Committee against Police Atrocities, an organisation which is fighting against the economic ruin of tribal areas and state repression, in front of his own house in Lalgarh. CRPF personnel called him out along with his two relatives and shot them dead in front of his wife, daughter and mother. A couple of days later, far from the poverty stricken villages of ‘India’s hinterland’, where people are dying out of hunger and police bullets, Finance minister of India presented the nation a budget that envisages to make ‘development more inclusive’! At a first glance, burning villages of Dantewada and air-conditioned corridor of secretariats in central Delhi appears to be at poles apart. So does P. Chidambaram’s job as the commander-in-chief of Operation Green Hunt and Pranab Mukherjee’s role as the ‘messiah of the poor’. But like all good puppet shows, this is just an appearance. The threads which control these actors in their respective settings are controlled by a skilful puppeteer – the global monopoly capital – the likes of Shell, Tata and Walmart. While the ‘incorporated India’ and its flag-bearer, the media, applaud this ‘performance’, the script of ‘inclusive development’ remains the same as in last two decades – loot the mass and transfer the booty to wealthy few –  unfolds, now, at a faster pace than ever before. The tragedy of dispossession and plunder, the tragedy of destruction of grassroots development at the behest of imperial capital by its Indian stooges continue with an unprecedented urgency.

Anatomy of plunder

It is perhaps necessary to take a closer look at the composition of imperial capital of our time. In the era of neo-colonialism, the identities of neo-colonisers are also changing. It is not only Citibank, Coca Cola or Rio Tinto which dictates the term today but so does Tata and Reliance, their geographical origin notwithstanding. However the emergence of monopoly capital of Indian origin and its symbiotic relationship with multinationals do not necessarily mean that Indian capitalism has matured. On the contrary, India is becoming a dependent entity of imperial capital by every passing day. Chhattisgarh government, alone, has signed more than one hundred MoU’s in last few years and opened up its mineral resources for multinational corporations. It is imperative for global monopoly capital, for its own sustenance, to ensure (ever expanding) absolute command over the means of production – predominantly material objects of production such as land and mineral as well as labour. For instance, if electricity is required for export industry or production of automobiles for Indian rich then Kalinganagar farmers must be evicted from their land to make way for power plants. In turn they will join the huge army of reserved unskilled labourers which will keep labour disciplined and cheap. Thus the strategy of global capital is extremely simple: impose un-freedom on the productive labour by denying them access to objects of production, which gets concentrated in the hands of a few, so that dispossessed people become entirely dependent on the monopoly capital for their survival. Local agents of big multinational corporations, including the erstwhile feudal ruling class, receive a share of the loot in return of enforcing economic policies that facilitates such plunder. When a community shows resilience and resists its pauperization, armed forces are brought in to teach them a lesson. The nexus of Essar, Vedanta, Man Mohan Singh and Mahendra Karma plans swift retribution in the form of Salwa Judum and Operation Green Hunt. This is the context in which current budget must be analyzed.

‘Heinz’ing and unhinging of agriculture

Let us first look at the agricultural sector, which is, still, by far the largest sector in terms of employment. Almost 60 percent of Indian population is dependent on agricultural and allied activities for their survival. However, one of most striking features of budgets in the recent past happens to be the shrinking infrastructural expenditure in this sector. Compared to 2008-09, in 2010-11 government spending on agriculture has been cut by almost 22%. The actual magnitude of cut is even more severe, if one adjusts for the current inflation.

This must be compared against a 50% increase in the expenditure for energy sector and 25% increase in transport sector. Interestingly, energy sector has been privatised a few years ago and road transport is one of the few areas which are open to 100% foreign direct investment. Going back to agricultural infrastructure, while 699 Crores have been allocated to irrigation and flood management this year compared to 609 Crores two years ago, corresponding figures for tourism, which employs, even by a wild estimate, not more than 2% of the population, but essentially serves the rich, are 762 Crores and 454 Crores respectively.

To add to the misery of farmers, recent years saw a huge increase in input prices such as fertiliser and electricity. Both these products are now controlled by the private firms and the government has taken no steps to control prices. In fact, the new Nutrient Based Subsidy policy for fertiliser is nothing but a euphemism for complete decontrol over prices. Effectively, subsidy to fertiliser companies will continue at the current level, however, they will be free to charge any price from the farmers. It is not difficult to identify the beneficiaries of such policy when we see that fertiliser import has increased seven folds in last five years. On the other hand, increase in input prices will lead to further inflation. Already price of food has increased by 20%, inflation of some items such as pulses, sugar and eggs are even higher. This budget will only add to the misery of working people and middle class, while importers and speculators will laugh all their way to banks.

The current budget is silent on the issue of credit availability as well. Between 1990 and 2003, lending to agriculture as percentage of net bank credit has shrunk from 16% to mere 10%. Farmers remained at the mercy of informal moneylenders who charge usurious interest rate resulting in suicide of two Lakhs farmers since 1998. Nothing has been proposed to rectify such abysmal situation. The budget proposes to recapitalize Rural Regional Banks but no allocation has been made specifically for this purpose. In any case these regional banks have remained in control of local semi-feudal elements and are a major source of corruption.

If we go beyond the rhetoric, it is obvious that the budget lays foundation for opening of retail trade in agriculture to private sector. Incentives have been offered for private ownership of cold storage and food processing industries. This is going to spell disaster for millions of small and middle farmers, landless workers and traders. Big retail multinationals will force wholesale and retail sellers out of the market, thereby extending their monopoly over procurement and sell of all agricultural products including essential items. Grain prices will be controlled by importers, future traders, big retailers and food processing companies like Walmart and Heinz. Working people have no other option but to intensify their struggle against this conspiracy of the multinationals and their henchmen. When 25,000 farmers participated in a rally in Punjab to protest against high electricity prices, police arrested their leaders in order to crush the movement.

True origin of fiscal deficits

Finance Minister claimed that the government has increased demand to boost economy move out of recession but this claim falls flat if one looks at the expenditure figures.  Expenditure on employment and social welfare has decreased in real terms and so has expenditure on economic activities. So the demand boost, if at all, could have only originated from the tax-exemptions handed out to rich and corporations. Even according to the government estimates, in 2009-10, revenue forgone in corporate tax alone (not including tax evasion through financial juggleries) is a mammoth 80,000 Crores compared to 67,000 Crores in 2008-09. To put these figures into perspective, government spends about 30,000 Crores for education and 7,500 Crores for public health. It is calculated that the effective tax rate for corporate sector is 22%, well below the statutory tax rate of 34%. Naturally this comes at the expense of small enterprises and working population. The revenue forgone in customs duties is even bigger; it has reached a staggering 40% (25 thousand Crore) of aggregate tax collection in 2009-10. This budget fails to offer any solution to this crisis. On the contrary, all sorts of tax-breaks continued to be offered to the rich, even new ones were introduced while social expenditure were slashed. For example, new tax deductions were introduced on investment in tourism, branded jewellery and for the real estate sector, while the allocation to Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, which is the last resort of employment generation in rural economy, has decreased in real terms (nominal increase by a ridiculous 2.5%). The big beneficiaries of tax/duty exemptions are mining, real estate and exporters, who make a huge fortune while the poor and middle class bears the burden of high fiscal deficit. India’s long term external debt has multiplied seven folds since 1990 and it spends 5 % of its GDP on interest payment and debt servicing. Under the pretence of financing fiscal deficit, which at the first place is caused by big business, profit making Public Sector Units are being sold to multinational corporations. The current budget commits itself to continue this process. It is reported that 10% of Coal India, one of the biggest producer of coal is going to be sold very soon, while 8.4% of NMDC, the largest producer of iron ore has already been sold to private sector. On top of that the state has also found a new instrument of transferring resources to private sector. In the name of Private-Public Partnership in infrastructural development, huge public fund and land is being handed over to monopoly capital at throw-away rates. Energy and transport sectors have witnessed several major scams (for example, Ganga expressway) through this channel.

Two faces of imperialism

This budget continues to dispossess people instead of expanding their control over resources as should be the path of a true democratic society. Whatever minimum control over resources people had within a modicum of welfare state are being eroded systematically. For instance, profit making public sector firms are being divested; robbing people of much needed revenue that runs essential services such as public distribution system (no wonder that the government plans to dismantle the public distribution system completely within next two years). This lays the foundation of a society where people are left to the mercy of global capital. The same story is unfolding today in Chhattisgarh as well where people are being uprooted from their villages to make way for mining, controlled by multinational corporations. People are getting alienated from their livelihood, forest and land, to serve as fodder of global capital. Thus Operation Green Hunt and Union budget, both serve imperial interest, one through brute force and the other under a veil of constitutional legality.

Securing the ‘nation’ against its own people

Last but not the least important aspect of this budget is a phenomenal growth of defence expenditure.  In 2009, India spent a massive 141 thousands Crore in defence, which was 30 percent higher than the previous year. As the chasm between the ruling classes and the masses is widening up at a fast pace, to curb the rising discontent of the masses ruling classes are spending fanatically on arms and ammunitions. However, from Chhattisgarh to Manipur people have started raising their voices against the imperial capital and its Indian agents. One day, perhaps sooner than later, it is bound to grow into a chorus.

Dantewada: Biggest Ever Attack by PLGA Guerrillas on the Paramilitary Forces who are Destroying the Jal, Jangal, Jameen and Ijjat of the adivasis

Dantewada Attack is a Fitting Reply to Chidambaram’s “Myth” of Operation Green Hunt

April 6, 2010 will go down in the history of the revolutionary war in India as a Red Letter Day. It has become a day of great rejoicing for the millions of adivasi men, women and children who had suffered decades of exploitation, oppression, humiliation and suffering in the hands of the rapacious parasitic marauders who had robbed their jal, jangal, jameen, destroyed their homes, shattered their lives, reduced them to the status of animals to be hunted and killed at will by the licensed goondas hired by the state and by state-sponsored vigilante gangs. The indignities suffered by these hapless adivasis in the hands of the outsiders are indescribable.

And more recently, after the launch of the countrywide coordinated unprecedented cruel armed offensive in the name of Operation Green Hunt by the Congress-led UPA government, the plight of the adivasi masses had become even more terrible. Over three hundred thousand people had to flee their homes and lands just to preserve their lives from the murderous attacks by the beasts in uniforms that began to pour into their lands from all over the country on the orders of Sonia-Man Mohan-Chidambaram-Pranab gang. Behind the curtains, in the green room, are the Tatas, Mittals, Jindals, Essar, Vedanta, POSCO and a host of other companies waiting to lay their hands on the tempting wealth the land of the indigenous people beholds. And at the top of all, the No 1 Enemy of the world people and the most powerful, cruel and savage beast in Washington directs this genocide in the heart of India assuring all assistance to its satraps in New Delhi.

In just Bastar alone, since August 2009, 114 adivasis had become unfortunate victims of this death hunt unleashed by the imperialist and corporate vultures and the cunning jackals who represent them in the guise of various parliamentary parties. Not one of these 114 adivasis murdered by the armed hooligans hired by the Indian State is a Maoist guerrilla. Not one of them was in possession of any deadly weapon. Not one of them has any case in the court or is wanted even on false criminal charges usually filed by the lawless anti-people police. Yet all these helpless adivasis became victims of Chidambaram’s war in his so-called noble intention of reclaiming territory from the Maoists and make it a part of Shining Bharat—the Bharat that shines with hourly suicides of farmers; the Bharat that shines with heart-rending deaths of children due to unbearable pangs of hunger, malnutrition and disease; the Bharat that shines with 77 per cent of the population eking out their existence with just Rs. 20 a day; the Bharat of the Hindu communal fascists who roam like heroes committing murders of Muslims, Christians and whoever questions their fascist acts and have the full backing of the Indian State; and a Bharat that shines on a handful of the filthy rich just seven of whom control wealth that exceeds the combined total of 300 million Indians.

Starting with the brutal murders of Oyam Sagar, Pujari Pandral, Hapka Lingu, Tati Lakmu, Tati Aitu, Karam Somli in Bijapur district on August 10, 2009 to the gruesome gang-rape and beheading of Kumili in Narayanpur district on February 10, 2010, one is shocked, stunned and depressed at the sheer savagery and ghastliness exhibited by the perpetrators of these inhuman crimes. One becomes more depressed because the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity are men in uniform who are supposed to enforce the law and adhere to the Indian Constitution, on each of whom millions of rupees of people’s money are spent for special training, and millions of rupees are paid when any of them is killed in battle. While it is shock and depression for the observers, it is a struggle for survival for the adivasis. They cannot survive without hitting back at these dacoits and savages who are looting their homes, burning their food grains and belongings, murdering virtually everyone, raping their women, and abducting people and illegally detaining them for indefinite periods.

That’s how and why the adivasis decided to bare their chests and dare the uniformed dacoits, murderers and rapists. It is essential if they have to survive. That is why they rallied under the leadership of the CPI(Maoist) and joined the army of the oppressed and suppressed people of the country—the PLGA—and made a firm resolve to die fighting in collective armed resistance than die unarmed like sheep and goats in the hands of these murderers sent by the Indian State. And that’s how and why Dantewada erupted like a volcano reducing the thieves and plunderers, rapists and murderers to ashes. Dantewada’s rage is the righteous indignation of an entire people who are driven to the wall by a mighty well-equipped murderous force that represents the Indian state and, due to which; there can never be any hope of getting justice to the hapless victims through the so-called rule of law. The pain and anguish, the unending sorrow, the tears of mothers for their dead children and of children for their dead mothers, the tears of wives for their dead husbands and of husbands for their dead wives, the tears of sisters for their dead brothers and of brothers for their dead or sexually assaulted sisters, have all converged into an irresistible rage that engulfed the invading troops like a forest fire.

Those sitting in TV studios and in AC rooms and make their artificial and speculative so-called news analyses that is completely disconnected from the stark realities can never understand this forest fire, the pain and rage that had transformed into a mighty counter-offensive near Chintalnar in Dantewada. Those who cannot think beyond what happens in Metro cities or a few major urban areas and are engaged in packaging every trivial event in the lives of celebrities or other trash as news can never understand the pain and anguish of the people that had driven them to hack their tormentors and murderers into pieces. Have those who shed tears in TV studios and in newspaper articles for those paramilitary personnel who died in Dantewada ever thought of those unsung and unheard victims of the brutal acts of these very “brave” men? About the hundred and fourteen men, women and children (see the list) who had died at the hands of these mercenary troops without any hope of justice?

The stories of savagery that are simply unimaginable in civilized societies, stories of gruesome murders and sexual assaults, abductions and cruel tortures, destruction of homes and shattering of lives are found again and again at every place in the entire adivasi-inhabited stretch of land as one travels from Lalgarh to Surjagarh. And that is why this entire belt, the so-called Red Corridor, is seething with revenge for the perpetrators of the worst crimes against innocent unarmed people. Dantewada ambush and wiping out of an entire company of the CRPF is the natural outcome of this fury for revenge. With meticulous planning this rage will transform into more such daring attacks on the invading troops of our Emperors in Delhi and their Rajas in states.

No wonder, the people of the entire country, particularly in the seven states where Operation Green Hunt is launched by the Central and state governments—Chhattisgarh (Dandakaranya), Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh—are enthusiastically celebrating the daring Dantewada attack by the PLGA and the punishment given to the mercenary forces of the Indian state. It is a day of symbolic redemption for the families of those abducted, tortured and murdered by the paramilitary forces. For the adivasi women who were raped and sexually abused in manifold ways by these uniformed hooligans, it is a day of fulfilment of their long-felt desire for revenge.

The stark contrast between the prices of death of the uniformed mercenaries on one hand and the poor adivasi citizens on the other should shock the country. Huge amounts to the tune of four million rupees are paid to the families of the police and paramilitary jawans who die in the hands of the Maoists and people; a job is given to one member of their families; and several other incentives. But what about the poor adivasis who die in the hands of the police and paramilitary forces? What about the hundreds of families of the poor innocent adivasis who had been murdered in cold blood by these mercenaries in uniform? Almost all these families are left without their breadwinner. They have nothing to bank upon, their lands are snatched away, houses are destroyed and many are even dragged to court the transport charges for which they simply cannot afford. Why are no tears shed for these hundreds of poor souls by our TV anchors and media analysts? Why is there so much of apathy and even contempt for these children of India that they do not even figure in the panel discussions or analyses of all the political analysts? It is this apathy and contempt towards our own citizens by the well-fed well-dressed gentlemen and self-styled spokespersons for India that is provoking even greater anger and creating a feeling of alienation among vast sections of poor destitute masses. Those who talk of a moment’s silence for the dead jawans and write obituaries in papers, should search their conscience (which most of these “gentlemen” do not have anyway) and question themselves why they did not shed a drop of tear for the tragic deaths (cold-blooded murders) of the adivasis and Maoists when they died in much larger numbers and in more horrifying conditions. They should demand that the ordinary adivasis who are killed must be given adequate compensation, and that the rulers should stop treating adivasi deaths as deaths of flies while those of the policemen and paramiltary as invaluable for the country.

Finally the biggest ever victory by the heroic PLGA guerrillas led by the CPI(Maoist) in Dantewada has vindicated the superiority of the Maoist principle of guerrilla war. By wiping out an entire company of the highly-trained CRPF battalions the PLGA has opened a new chapter in the history of the ongoing revolutionary war in India. The paramilitary and the special police forces, however much they are trained in special schools of jungle warfare set up for countering the Maoists, at various counter-insurgency warfare training institutes and by the imperialist armies, they cannot win the war against the people for the simple fact that their very cause is unjust and their war is predatory. The armed foot soldiers sent to war front themselves do not know why, what for, and even against whom they are fighting. The 62nd battalion, to which the 75 dead jawans including an assistant commandant and a deputy commandant belong, is one of the 24 battalions deployed in Chhattisgarh to suppress the growing self-assertion of the oppressed people, smash their organs of revolutionary people’s power, destroy their alternative models of development, and to grab the entire natural resources in this mineral-rich region. It is also one of the 60 battalions sent by Chidambaram to Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar and Maharashtra to carry out the genocide of adivasis. In the current war thrust on the people by the UPA government close to a quarter of a million troops of the centre and the states are engaged in “recapturing” the area from the hands of the Maoists and to hand it over to the tiny parasitic class of comprador corporates and imperialist MNCs. It is a war between the overwhelming majority of the impoverished people on the one hand and the handful of ever-fattening billionaires on the other. By its successful daring surprise attack in Dantewada basing on the invincible Maoist principles of guerrilla war, the PLGA had scored a major tactical victory in the war despite the superiority of the enemy in terms of numbers and fire power.

The huge cache of highly sophisticated arms and ammunition seized from these mercenaries include 21 AK-47 rifles, six LMGs, seven SLRs, one stengun and other arms. The tactical victory in Dantewada is a fitting reply to Chidambaram’s arrogance and boastfulness. And it has nailed his shameless naked lie that the brutal Operation Green Hunt is a myth invented by the media.

The Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee, in a press release after the Dantewada ambush explained why the operation was undertaken. It stated that the counteroffensive was to mark the centenary of the Bhumkal Adivasi rebellion and to send a message to Chidambaram to halt his blood-bath in the name of Operation Green Hunt. It said the ambush was a retaliation for the mass killings of unarmed innocent adivasis and rape of adivasi women. The statement said that PLGA had lost eight comrades in the daring operation in which 300 guerrillas were involved contrary to the claims by the police officials that 1000 were involved. It also said that no pressure mines or any modern technology was used and the CRPF Company was wiped out through direct exchange of fire.

In short, the Dantewada ambush is an inevitable logical outcome of the unending terrible provocation by the uniformed goondas sent by Chidambaram and Raman Singh to the adivasi areas to create a brutal reign of terror. They have an unwritten licence to abduct, torture, rape and murder any adivasi or Maoist without any questions being asked. This dehumanization of the police and paramilitary forces is consciously encouraged by Chidambaram, Raman Singh, Vishwa Ranjan and others, notwithstanding their holy chants of peace and ahimsa. Behind their sophisticated-looking rhetoric lie the raw, beastly, cannibalistic passions that devour human beings for establishing their absolute control over the resources and lives of the people.

As a statement by the spokesperson of the CPI (Maoist) has pointed out: “Their vision goes no farther than that of a local daroga, as aptly pointed out by a JD (U) spokesperson referring to Chidambaram. And their tactics fare no better than those of a street rowdy. As long as their fascist mind-set refuses to see the socio-politico-economic roots of Naxalism and continue to treat it as a disease or a problem while the oppressed people see it increasingly as a remedy and a solution to their problems, Dantewada-type attacks will continue to take place at an even greater frequency and intensity.”

Dantewada’s Tremors Shake Delhi: ………………. What Went Wrong?

From the moment the news of the daring Maoist ambush in Dantewada began pouring in the entire political and security establishment of the country has become shaken to the very core. The immediate aftermath of Dantewada ambush witnessed tumultuous events: the resignation offer and the humbling of an arrogant Home Minister, the intense infighting breaking out within the Congress and other mainstream parliamentary parties, the unending blame game between various parties, bureaucrats and various wings of so-called “security forces”, the call for an introspection of the failed tactics of Chidambaram, shrill cries for bringing in the Army and Air Force, and hysteric calls for silencing dissent of every kind and so on. The Dantewada earthquake was so powerful that the tremors were felt all over the country not sparing any party or establishment.

“What went wrong?” was the question on everyone’s lips. “Something drastically went wrong” wailed the Home Minister Chidambaram but did not know what went wrong. But what? None had any satisfactory answer. Almost an year of intense meticulous planning had gone into the making of Operation Green Hunt. Several battalions of central paramilitary forces, who have considerable experience in dealing with the insurgency in Kashmir had been withdrawn and specially deployed in Maoist areas. Even if millions of people of our country are dying of starvation and extreme deprivation, unlimited funds were allotted to the states for the modernization of the police forces, intelligence agencies, rewards for the informers, and so on. 40,000 men from CRPF were trained by the Indian Army in counter-insurgency. Special commandos with names that could change the very nature of the men like Grey Hounds, Cobras, Jaguars, Scorpions, and Hawks and so on were given. Helicopters are provided to evacuate any injured personnel immediately and the best treatment is provided. Yet, what went wrong? All the military experts, retired intelligence chiefs, chiefs of the defence services, various paramilitary forces, DGPs and ex-DGPs and the media men with the police brains had all put together their brains to find out what went wrong.

Now the time has come for bringing in the Army and the Air Force, cried out some who got paranoid that the Maoists might come to their door-step in no time. The daily news of ever-increasing spread and intensity of the people’s war—from a mere 60 districts to more than 220 districts covering more than a third of the country—is indeed frightening. And had not the Home Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai predict that the Maoists are capable of bringing down some sectors of the Indian economy to their knees? And that they are planning to capture power in the entire country by 2050? The spectre of Maoism is giving nightmares to those who have every reason to fear. For these day-light robbers, there is everything to lose—their ill-gotten riches, their black money tucked away in various banks and even spread out carelessly in their own homes until today under a government that they control. What would happen if the Reds come to their doorstep? The very thought of it sends shivers down the spines of the corrupt, immoral, scamsters and mafia gangsters. Hence the faster the Maoists are bombed into extinction the better for Shining India. Any more delay will bring the half-naked emaciated creatures from the nether world crawling all over your place demanding their share in your Shining India. So bomb them to save Shining India. Such screams rent the air. 2050. Oh! My God! Dantewada seems to be a step closer to it! So hurry up before it’s late.

Chidambaram’s resignation drama

An arrogant Chidambaram had boasted just a day before the Dantewada ambush that things were fast improving in Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. And that the problem was more complex in Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa. In Lalgarh too, his boastful claim that the region was almost reclaimed from the Maoists became an object of ridicule after a land-mine hit the central forces at a place near Lalgarh just 5 km from the place he was to have a meeting with the West Bengal security establishment. A 24-hour bandh call by the PCAPA too had crippled the administration and paralysed the three districts on the day of Chidambaram’s visit. That Lalgarh was as defiant as ever and that the Maoists were in as much control of the area as before became clear to all.

And now after a day of his claim that all is well in the central war front and that within 2-3 years the entire area under the Maoists would be “reclaimed” and that the “Maoist menace” would be finished once for all,  Dantewada ambush hit him like a terrible earthquake. He had no answers for this massive and deadliest attack by the Maoist revolutionaries I their entire history. “Something went drastically wrong,” was all he could manage to mutter. There were stinging attacks from several quarters. KPS Gill blasted the entire strategy of Chidambaram as a failed strategy. He held the government’s thoughtless strategy as responsible for the death of 76 CRPF personnel. That the government had made the CRPF men sitting ducks for the Naxals was a common refrain of several so-called security experts and the media. And when criticism of the strategy began to surface within the Congress itself Chidambaram drew up another trick from his sleeve. RESIGNATION. He knew that Sonia and Man Mohan will not accept it. In fact, the threat of resignation would subdue the criticism and garner more support from within the party and others as well.

At this hour of crisis for the rulers, when Maoists have become a deadly threat and a common enemy for all, how can one relinquish the responsibilities and run away. Such ran the logic of several parties that pledged unconditional support for Chidambaram’s war. BJP had gone a step further and said that resignation of Chidambaram would “mean a victory for Naxals”. And with this logic it pledged all-out support to any moves by Chidambaram to curb the “menace.”

Nationalism, patriotism and jingoist frenzy was whipped up a scale unheard of since the Kargil war. “If this is a war, so be it,” shot out a cornered Chidambaram. “This is a war against India”, howled the saffron brigade. Raman Singh consoled Chidambaram that very soon things would be alright. There should be closer coordination between the Centre and the states appealed Buddhadeb and his “Left” comrades. The Congress, BJP and the so-called Left seemed to unite as one to confront the Maoists leading the vast masses of the poor of India. Assured of this expected support Chidambaram ended his fake resignation drama and began his plans for the genocide. However, the contradictions and dog-fights within the ruling classes do not allow such smooth resolution of conflict. Even as the central leadership of the BJP was pledging all-out support to the Congress and Chidambaram in their war against Maoists, the Congress opposition in Chhattisgarh were demanding the resignation of BJP’s Raman Singh for his total failure in protecting the lives of the jawans. A 24-hur bandh was called by the Congress in Chhattisgarh in protest against the state government’s policies that had led to the great debacle in Dantewada. The intensification of the people’s war would further aggravate intra- and inter-ruling class contradictions.

Butcher Vishwa Ranjan thundered that revenge will be taken, more Maoists would fall to his “brave” forces and that the tide would turn very soon. Like a street rowdy he howled that the body count would soon be reversed. For he knows achieving it is very simple. At least a few hundred poor adivasis are in illegal detention of his mercenary forces. Just dress them in Maoist uniforms, bump them off and claim to have killed so many Maoists in fierce encounters. That is the secret behind his confident assertion that Maoists will lose more of their men within a short time. Ever since the start of Operation Green Hunt that was how he and his blood-thirsty forces had managed to show to the world that their casualties were lower than those of the Maoists. By showing 114 innocent adivasis as Maoists this fraud DGP imagined that he could fool the world. But how can these white lies boost the sagging morale of his forces who know that all these were nothing but cold-blooded murders? Fascists have no shame. And like every fascist in history Vishwa Ranjan too does not bother if he becomes a laughing stock through his naked lies.

Oppressed people led by the Maoists will defeat the brutal anti-people Operation Green Hunt

That Maoists, with the active participation and support of the people, will emerge victorious in this war is a foregone conclusion. The reason is simple. Maoists are fighting a just war. They are waging a people’s war. They are fighting against extremely corrupt, rapacious, anti-people exploiting classes and their system that is rotten to the core. Maoists enjoy tremendous support of the masses. They are loved by the people who protect them as the apple of their eye, provide them food, funds, logistical support and information about enemy movements. It is the people who had ensured the astounding success of Maoists in Dantewada. It is the people who warned the Maoists about the movements of the paramilitary and police forces. It is the people who actually participated in every operation carried out by the Maoists against the enemy. For it is the people who need to end this brutal war by throwing out those who are waging war. They know that if the police and paramilitary succeed in defeating the Maoists then their entire lives would become a veritable hell. Forest officials, contractors, bureaucrats, mining companies and outside traders and landlords would once again start treating them like dust. The people would never want to go back to the previous hell. That is why they would fight to finish. There is no question of surrendering to the threats of the reactionary rulers. We will die fighting rather than die without a fight like lambs or sheep. This is the motto of the adiavsis.

For Maoists the adivasi area is their home. No other than a senior police officer himself had brought out this fact: “The Maoists know every tree in the forest, and even how many branches are on a tree.” Can a bunch of mercenaries hired for fighting a war which is not theirs and who does not know for what and for whom, and why they are fighting in the first place defeat the Maoists who are ideologically motivated, familiar with the terrain and local language and culture, and deeply rooted among the masses? Chidambaram’s men do not even know against whom they are fighting. When the Maoists are indistinguishable from the people then how and with whom would they fight? These are stark and simple things discernible to the naked eye though not to those who want to execute the war at any cost.

Then there are other things like the problem of language and communication with the local population, inhospitable terrain, deadly malaria, insects and reptiles which the media had reported as cited by some jawans, lack of clean drinking water (ironically the media and security experts shed tears at the hardships faced by these men to fetch water from 2-3 kilometres away from their camps but say nothing about how poor adivasis had been living for decades in these conditions), lack of food, scorching heat in summer and with all this the growing discontent and frustration among the state’s forces. It will not take long before these forces realize that they are being used as cannon-fodder in a war waged in the interests of a handful of imperialist companies and the Indian corporate business houses. Desertions, disobedience, refusal to join duty are already a growing feature as several reports indicate. This will soon grow into an alarming proportion. How will Chidambaram and his gang of predatory war-mongers achieve their aim of grabbing the mineral wealth of these regions in the heart of India?

Now is the time for all peace-loving, democratic-minded citizens of the country to rise up as one voice and demand an immediate end to the brutal counter-revolutionary predatory war waged by a handful of corporate vultures for plundering the resources of our country? Let us use all means at the disposal of the people of our country to isolate, expose, oppose and militantly resist the heinous attempts of the reactionary rulers and their imperialist backers. Let us declare war on a government that feeds itself by waging a cruel unjust war on the people. If the rulers do not heed the saner voices and continues its foolhardy quixotic and fascist venture then what more can the people do than create more Dantewadas all over the country?

“Maoists are cowards! Why are they hiding in the forests?”—Union Home Minister Chidambaram during his Lalgarh visit.

Adivasis have the last laugh at the abysmal ignorance of this English-speaking “gentleman” about the forests of India.

During his visit to Lalgarh on April 4, Union Home Minister Chidambaram once again revealed his absolute disconnect with India’s ground realities. It was the adivasis who had the last laugh at the ignorance of the man who heads the most important post of internal security about the dwelling places of almost 90 million Indian people. By saying that Maoists are hiding in the forests this agent of the corporate sharks revealed his ignorance of the fact that forests are home to the indigenous people of India and that Maoists had become a part of these people ever since they began their revolutionary war in the country to liberate it from the clutches of the imperialists, feudal forces and the comprador bureaucratic capitalist class.

Chidambaram began his brutal war on the adivasi people and the Maoists who lead them without even having the basic knowledge that the Maoist movement has begun to grow by organizing the most marginalized sections of the Indian society who live in these forested regions. That for over four decades Maoists have mingled and integrated with the adivasis of these forests like fish in water, married the adivasis, took on their names, and adapted themselves to the conditions in these forests. For Chidambaram, it appears, forests are some picnic places, or holiday resorts where people like him can spend time peacefully reading books as he had expressed in an interview to a TV channel sometime ago. For him forests are uninhabitable places or paces where human habitation should be dismantled completely. For him these are regions waiting to be exploited of their mineral and forest wealth by the greedy outsiders. That is why he had unleashed the brutal Greed Hunt to exterminate the indigenous people and pave the way for the plunder of the natural resources by the tiny class of parasitic corporate elites that he represents.

How fit is a man who poses the question why the Maoists are hiding in the forests for the job he is supposed to handle is a thing that his reactionary political class has to decide.

By abusing Maoists as cowards Herr Chidambaram reveals the crude impulses lurking behind his seemingly sophisticated looks. In the inverted world of this man just about everything looks upside down. Bravery is cowardice and cowardice is bravery. That which exists materially need not exist for this man. And that which doesn’t exist in reality can be created from thin air. That’s the greatness of our magician Chidambaram.

Even when the entire world knows and acknowledges the fact of his Operation Green Hunt this man hasn’t the courage to accept its existence. What better example of cowardice can one cite than his incessant denial of something that is in front of our eyes?  And how does this inventor of new definitions of established words see bravery? He thinks it is “bravery” if a dozen unarmed adivasis in Gompad are caught and murdered by mortar-bearing, LMG-wielding paramilitary forces sent by him to Chhattisgarh. He thinks it is the “bravery” of his policemen when they mercilessly cut off the breasts of a 70-year-old woman or chop off the fingers of a two-year-old child. Or sexually assault poor hapless adivasi women and murder them in cold blood. Or his gun-toting mercenaries bravely steal pigs, hens, goats and the property of the adivasis. He thinks it as “bravery” when his CRPF men hide in the darkness like thieves, catch hold of an unarmed popular mass leader like Lalmohan Tudu, and murder him secretly. Herr Chidambaram himself reveals his own “bravery” by claiming in public that Tudu was killed in retaliation by the joint patrol party when it was attacked by the Maoists. With his new definition of bravery no wonder, this Nazi avatar yells at the “cowardice” of the Maoists who had given up their families, jobs, property and whatever they had and chose to live among the most deprived sections of society—the adivasis in the remote forests—and are prepared to become martyrs for the cause of the oppressed.

Why is Herr Chidambaram speaking such language? This is important to understand so as to understand how the war will be waged under his stewardship. Herr Chidambaram’s Nazi outbursts reveal the fascist culture of the neo-liberal rulers of India. It is the language of not just Chidambaram but that of a Jayanti Natrajan, an Arun Jaitley, a Chandan Mitra, a Buddhadeb, an Arnab Goswamy, Sapan Das Gupta and all the neo-liberal apologists whatever be their colour. Chidambaram and this neo-liberal gang know that Maoists are not hiding in the forests. They know that Maoists have mingled with the adivasis like fish in water. They know that Maoists are the only capable force who can lead the adivasis in their just war against the worst forms of exploitation and oppression perpetrated by the plunderers and thugs whom men like Chidambaram politically represent. They know that their class can never lay its hands on the forest resources without defeating the Maoists. But when the Maoists are deeply entrenched and embedded among the adivasi masses, when it is impossible to eliminate the Maoists without exterminating the adivasis, Chidambaram’s dilemma deepens. His hesitation is not because of any moral consideration. He would not hesitate to throw a few bombs and destroy the entire forest population along with the Maoists. If only the civil rights groups and democratic intellectuals minded their own business, how easy his job would have been! How much can one Arnab help him in his mission of extermination? Especially when his arguments have become schoolboy’s jokes! Or how much help can a few sarkari and police intellectuals who have no appeal or credibility in the society render? If not for this growing public opposition to his crazy megalomaniacal war plans, this neo-Nazi Indian avatar would have turned entire regions of central and eastern India into graveyards by now. This “brave” man has not abandoned his pet project of using overwhelming military force and air power to reduce entire regions into rubble. That’s how he receives his daily briefings from his masters in the Washington who have been doing it in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan today.

Chidambaram has taken the Operation Green Hunt as his personal prestige issue despite his desperate attempts to deny its very existence all along not even realizing that he has become a laughing stock through such white lies. He has been reassuring himself that he would wipe out the Maoists before he completes his tenure. However, every Maoist success and the resultant defeat of Chidambaram’s mercenary forces is driving him towards a state of insanity and depression. Thus his claims about the time-frame for the State’s decisive victory over the Maoists range anywhere from 2-3 years to an indefinite period depending on which side seemed to be scoring successes at a given point of time. Chidambaram’s behavior is like that of a hysterical schoolboy watching a sports match who goes into bouts of depression and ecstasy depending on the progress of the match. A minor success or what has been perceived as a success basing on false claims by the officers in the field would throw Chidambaram into a bout of ecstasy and jumps to the conclusion that he would finish off the Maoists within 2-3 years. Which he did after murdering comrade Shakhamuri Appa Rao, Kondal Reddy in Andhra Pradesh and hoping that comrade Kishenji might have died or seriously injured in the March 24 encounter. One big success on the part of the Maoists would make his time-frame indefinite. Such is the mental frame of this blue-eyed boy of the imperialists and the Indian corporate houses. However, all his assessments and expectations are turning upside down. Two days after the war-mongering hawks in the Union Home Ministry had declared that most of Lalgarh has been reclaimed came the land-mine blast by the Maoists close to the place where Chidambaram was to address a meeting. Then the people of Jangalmahal issued a call for 24-hour bandh of the entire region to protest against Chidambaram’s visit and the police atrocities against innocent people. The desperate attempts by Chidambaram to woo the people of Lalgarh came to naught with hardly anyone turning up to meet him or responding to his quixotic call to boycott the Maoists. Having little interaction with Indian reality this megalomaniac has begun to lose his sanity and hence has changed the very vocabulary of what constitutes cowardice and bravery. With the further intensification of the people’s war all the dreams of Chidambaram will collapse like a pack of cards and he will either end up in a lunatic asylum or will be punished in the people’s court before his tenure ends. Will he realize and mend his ways and end the unconstitutional attacks by his armed paramilitary forces on the people? Or get pushed into the dust-bin of history?

The Food Security Bill—a Bizarre Drama and a big hoax played by the UPA government on hungry stomachs.

Universal Public Distribution System is the need of the day, not a few doles.

The so-called Food Security Bill, the draft of which the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had promised to place before the public very soon in the course of his Budget speech in end February, is yet to see the light of the day. What is amusing, however, is the endless speculation in the media about the supposed struggle of Sonia Gandhi against the other leaders in the Congress on the issue and her disapproval of the draft prepared by the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on the ground that it falls short of the requirements as it has not taken a comprehensive picture of poverty in the country.

The draft bill that was returned to its authors—the EGoM—has reduced the monthly quota of food for a poor family from 35 kg to 25 kg, has no nutritional security, no provision for the homeless, and has even downsized the number of BPL families in a cavalier manner. It does not provide for cash transfer through food coupons. And it has also kept enough legroom to increase the issue price of cheap grains from the current Rs. 3 a kg. Harsh Mander, the Supreme Court-appointed commissioner on food security said: “The Bill absolutely needs rework. It has reduced the notion of food right to virtually nothing.” To put in a nutshell, the draft food security bill is a mere eye-wash and a Himalayan fraud played on the poor of this country. If passed it would create more food insecurity for the poor.

The Congress had promised in its poll manifesto “a right to food law that guarantees access to sufficient food for all, particularly the most vulnerable sections of society.” But through the food security bill, which it is contemplating to introduce almost after completing one year in office, the Congress has made a complete mockery of its poll promise. The draft bill has not only repackaged the existing so-called poverty alleviation schemes but has also drastically reduced the benefits which the poor had been getting earlier. In some states rice is provided to around three-quarters of the population at Rs. 2 a kilo. The Congress-authored draft bill reduces the number of households, increases the issue price to Rs. 3 a kilo, and also reduces the quota supplied to each household! Thus it has tried to snatch away even what the poor have been getting until now. It had gone back on its promise of providing 35 kg a month by eating up 10 kg.

How many Indians are Poor?

To place such a question even after 62 years of so-called Independence displays the utter callousness of the criminal rulers and their contempt for the toiling millions on whose sweat and blood they live like parasites. The EGoM headed by Pranab Mukherji could not even get the correct number of the below-poverty-line (BPL) families which is decided on the basis of 13 socio-economic parameters, including calorie intake and income.

The official approach to head count of the poor in our country has always been to play down the number through sheer jugglery of the worst kind. According to the government estimates approximately a third of our country’s population is absolutely poor. According to the Suresh Tendulkar committee, 37.2 per cent of Indians qualify as poor. But the Planning Commission deliberately brought the number down to 27.2 per cent. Another estimate from the state governments puts the figure at 10.52 crore or 45 per cent of the population.  But if one takes other indicators that other countries take, the number will be even greater. For instance, the number of undernourished constitute over 60 % of the population even according to official statistics. If one takes basic housing, health care, sanitation, and other minimum necessities that are taken for granted in other countries the number of the poor goes much higher than what the government or other committees estimate. The so-called food security bill does not take these factors into consideration when calculating the BPL. Sections such as rag pickers, construction workers, street vendors, cycle rickshaw drivers, domestic workers, and several other wretched of the earth do not find a place in the BPL category of our Pranab Mukherjee-led Committee.

Bizarre Drama

What is amusing in this entire bizarre drama enacted by the Congress vis-à-vis India’s hungry and undernourished bloated bellies is its damage-control exercise sought to be done in the name of its party High Command and the de facto head of the government, Sonia Gandhi. A Media hype is consciously built around the so-called pro-poor approach of Sonia as opposed to others in the Congress leadership. The draft bill was said to have been sent back to the same EGoM for redrafting after Sonia’s supposed disapproval. This is a despicable ploy employed by every parliamentary party to save its face when confronted by sharp criticism. Thus we have a Prime Minister Vajpayee intervening to reassure the Muslims and Christians while his BJP and other saffron gangsters were threatening to decimate the religious minorities or intervening to curtail some harsh economic burdens imposed on the people by his own government. We have a Prakash Karat and a Yechuri trying to re-interpret the policies of Buddhadeb and trying to pose themselves as favouring a non-military solution to the Naxal issue even as Buddhadeb unleashes a gruesome armed onslaught against the adivasis and the Maoists in West Bengal. We have a Sonia Gandhi who intervenes to bring down the burden on the people after the steep hike in fuel prices by her own Union Cabinet. And now her intervention in reworking on the food security bill to make it more humane!

All these are nothing but cruel jokes played on hungry stomachs by the criminal rulers. And the media builds up hype around these leaders and plays up the petty concessions to create illusions among the people that everything would be fine under a Sonia. That was how the image of an Indira Gandhi was built up in a planned manner. Nothing was wrong with Indira Gandhi or her policies. It was her sycophants, the bureaucrats and those who were to implement these policies and schemes further down who were at fault. So went the logic. Now Sonia is projected as the human face of the Congress. She would act as the last reserve for a failed party. Thus the party would collectively initiate an anti-people measure, gauge its impact on the people, and then would tone it down if needed by bringing Sonia into the scene as a messiah. Eventually both the Congress and Sonia stand to gain while people are reduced to fools.

How 800 Million Live

The facts regarding hunger and poverty in India are startling and expose in all nakedness the emptiness of the innumerable promises made by the hypocritical, opportunist parliamentary parties in over six decades of rule.

The total number of undernourished persons has increased form 210 million in 1990-92 to 252 million in 2004-06. India has about half the population of world’s undernourished children. What is worse, there has been a general decline in calorie consumption in recent decades.1 The percentage of children below five years of age who are underweight is now 42.5 per cent. The percentage of children below three years who are undernourished is 40 per cent.2

The callousness and contempt for the poor on the part of our rulers can be seen from their desperate gimmicks and heinous attempts to cover up the reality of poverty. One can recollect the statistical jugglery resorted to by Rajiv Gandhi during the second half of 1980s to lower the number of poor and hungry. These heinous attempts continue notwithstanding the hype built around his widow who controls the government de facto. The worst examples of this callousness are the Union Home Minister Chidambaram and the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who had been desperately trying to cover up the stark figures of the poor behind their sophisticated (which is in fact abysmally crude notwithstanding their flawless English) rhetoric. Both these anti-people Ministers had gone on record saying that the figures of the poor cited by various authentic researchers are a myth.

According to a report in The Hindu of March 28, 2010, Union Home Minister Chidambaram and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee described as ‘myth’ the perception that 77 per cent of Indian people lived on Rs. 20 a day. Chidambaram said that Arjun Sengupta report had not derived such a conclusion. Pranab Mukherjee, delivering the valedictory address at the ‘National Convention on Law, Justice and the Common Man’ organized by the All India Congress Committee in New Delhi, said three studies conducted on the extent of poverty in India have arrived at different conclusions based on different sample surveys they have used to determine how many people were living below the poverty line. The terms of reference of these committees were narrow, affecting the conclusion. Chidambaram said the Left parties in West Bengal were propagating the myth that 77 per cent of the people had an income of only Rs. 20 a day.3 No wonder, the so-called Empowered Group of Ministers (E-GOM) headed by Pranab Mukherjee had created more insecurity for the poverty-stricken masses of our country through their draft food security bill.

The strong opposition from several civil society groups and social activists had prompted the Congress leadership to redraft the Bill to make it more palatable for the critics and the people at large. Even if it is merely on paper! None would believe that anything good can come out of this Bill for the vast majority of the undernourished, hungry millions who are dying like flies even as the government claims of surplus food stocks in its godowns. And stark irony is over several million tonnes of food grains rot in the godowns due to criminal apathy and neglect of our rulers who exhibit nothing short of contempt for the poor of this country in whose name they had catapulted to power. Why are these rogues maintaining criminal silence when millions of children are going hungry and are dying in hundreds every day? What would make these criminals jerk out of their inertia and tale measures to distribute the rotting food grains from their godowns? And when the pathetic plight of the poor is getting worse with every passing day why are these criminals contemplating on increasing the budget for police, paramilitary, defence forces and spend huge sums for waging war on these very people? One has to grasp this fascist mindset, anti-people attitude and criminal contempt for the people of this country on the part of the reactionary rulers. Nothing short of a revolutionary overthrow of these criminals ruling the country in the name of the people and fake democracy can eradicate poverty and ensure food security for all.

Bogus welfare schemes only fatten the rich

The fact that 230 million people of our country virtually go to bed hungry every day shows how bogus are the so-called social welfare schemes pompously trumpeted by the successive governments. And the aam aadmi rhetoric brings nausea to anyone who witnesses the terrible tragedy afflicting such a huge population that is equal to the entire population of the United States or the combined population of entire Europe. Every government has introduced these schemes which mean nothing to the people of this country except death and destitution. Schemes with pompous sounding names such as integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), the Kishori Shakti Yojana, the Nutrition Programme for Adolescent Girls, the Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls of the Ministry of Women and Child Development; the Sava Siksha Abhiyaan and the Mid-Day Meals Programme of the Ministry of Human Resources Development; the National Rural Health Mission and the National Urban Health Mission, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, National Food Security Mission and the National Horticulture Mission of the Union Agriculture Ministry; the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission, the Total Sanitation Campaign, the Swarna Jayanthi Gram Swarajgar Yojana, and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme of the Ministry of Rural Development; and the Antyodaya Anna Yojana, Annapoorna and the Targeted Public Distribution system of the Ministry of Food, and such grandiose schemes with the avowed aim of improving the nutritional status. Then why has hunger increased by leaps and bounds? And why do children eat mud in Ganne village in Uttar Pradesh as reported in the Hindustan Times?4

It is futile to debate whether a Sonia has greater concern for the hungry millions of the country and about the so-called struggle between Sonia and other leaders in the Congress party.

The irony of the situation is that our politicians and analysts continue to grapple with the “problem” of defining poverty and counting the poor. Sitting in their AC rooms these ivory tower intellectuals can never understand the excruciating hunger and the pangs of poverty. Hence the debate goes on even after six decades of fake independence whether the numbers given by a certain committee are correct and whether those of another committee are a myth, and so on. The official approach appears to be restrict support to BPL families.5 Hence we have the tragic case of children of Ganne village eating mud while their family earning Rs. 400 a month disqualifies for the BPL category! The number of BPL families varies from 9.25 crore (Suresh Tendulkar Committee) to 20 crore (Justice D.P. Wadhwa Committee). Taking four persons as the average size of a family, we have 37 crore to 80 crore people coming under BPL.

Food security involves safe drinking water, sanitation and health care. But the rulers have little concern for the provision of clean drinking water, sanitation or health care to the villages but are more interested in the construction of four-lane roads, Expressways, passing through these villages. Their concern is more about how to transport the mineral and forest wealth from these regions, speed up the transport of raw materials and finished commodities across the country for obtaining super profits for the corporate business houses and for the imperialists abroad. Thus we have the strange paradox of absolute non-availability of drinking water, toilets and primary health centre in a village but an ultra-modern highway passing through it with mineral water bottles being sold at the nearby dhaba.

What does it cost the government to provide the basic necessities to the poor of this country? Only a small fraction of the enormous profits amassed by the landed gentry and the comprador capitalist class—not an impracticable task given the huge sums accruing to a handful of ever-bulging billionaires in our country. In fact, in 2006, the National Commission on Farmers in its recommendations on building a sustainable nutrition security system calculated that about 60 million tonnes of food grains will be needed to sustain a universal PDS. What is required for the BPL families is only some additional cash expenditure to meet the lower prices of food grains allotted for them. People of the country should agitate for a Universal PDS along with subsidized rations for those coming under BPL. It is estimated that food stocks with the government would touch 60 million tonnes by June 2010.6 But they would only rot in godowns just like the system which produces them.

1—MS Swaminathan ‘Pathway to food security to all’, The Hindu,

2—Ibid

3—The Hindu, March 28, 2010

4—Hindustan Times, April 5, 2010

5—MS Swaminathan

Why can’t Chidambaram’s development bogey reach out to these people?

Save the dying children before dreaming of bringing development to remote regions under Maoist control through OGH

One lakh twenty two thousand four hundred and twenty two is the number of “malnutrition-affected” children who have died in Madhya Pradesh over the past four years, according to Health Minister Anup Mishra’s confession in the State Assembly in the third week of February. Shivraj Singh Chouhan of the BJP, who rules the state, had dubbed the reports by independent human rights organizations as a myth and invention just as the Congress’s Home Minister Chidambaram denies as myth his Operation Green Hunt. After repeated denials of several independent human rights reports over the past one year, the BJP government in MP finally admitted that with 60 per cent children affected, malnutrition is a major problem in the state. The Minister admitted that 60 per cent of the children in the State are suffering from malnutrition, confirming the figures stated in the National Family Health Survey-III (NFHS-III). Of the total deaths over the four-year period from 2005-06 to 2008-09, around 13 per cent deaths were reported only from Bundelkhand.

The question any ordinary citizen would ask fraud Chidambaram is: where is your development programme for these regions where naxalites are almost absent and 60 per cent of children are suffering from malnutrition? When you cannot provide even food and drinking water to the vast majority of children what trash you are yelling everyday at the top of your voice that you would develop the regions under Maoist control after reclaiming these by using your brute force? Don’t fool the people with your disgusting chatter and endless lies, Mr. Fraud! First do something for these dying children if you have an iota of concern for people instead of talking of reclaiming territory. But you wouldn’t because you are “in a state of denial for too long” to put it in your own words. You have been deprived of the minerals and forest wealth in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Maharashtra, West Bengal and other states due to the Maoist “threat”. Your war is not for development of the regions and people’s lives but for the loot and plunder of the mineral wealth of the regions where your capitalist masters have been denied entry by the ever-growing mighty Maoist movement.

New concrete structures for the police and paramilitary in the guise of Schools

How long will Chidambaram’s Paramilitary forces deprive children of their education?

Presently, school buildings in remote rural regions, particularly the adivasi-inhabited regions, are being constructed at a pace unheard of in the post-1947 history of our country. It looks as if the ruling classes of India had suddenly become extremely benevolent towards the educationally most backward sections of our society—the adivasis. Incredible indeed! For education has always been the most neglected sector in the annual budgets of the states and the union government. How have the rulers become so much generous towards the children of our country, particularly in the adivasi regions? Wherefrom comes this new-found love for the most deprived sections of our society?

The facts related to the condition of the children in our country are bizarre, to say the least. A significant number of children in the remote rural areas are dying like flies due to extreme malnutrition and disease owing to lack of food and drinking water. The adivasi population, constituting over 8 crore that is equivalent to the population of Germany or the combined population of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina, has no access to safe drinking water. Worse till, instead of providing them with safe drinking water, the successive governments in states and the Centre, whatever the colour of the ruling regimes—khadi, saffron, red, yellow and so on—had only snatched even the hitherto available water from these hapless people. Most of the sources of drinking water are rendered unsafe for drinking by the pollution of rivers and streams by the imperialist MNCs, the corporate business houses, and the Public Sector projects set up by the GoI in the name of mining and development. This has made the condition of the children, in particular, most vulnerable since they become easily affected by diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases.

A significant chunk of the children from the rural areas is compelled to or lured into work as bonded labourers in sweat shops and many even go begging in the streets. Most of the existing schools have no adequate number of teachers, or where teachers are appointed they rarely visit their schools. The teachers are often compelled to go on strike just to get their salaries which are denied to them for several months by the village panchayats and state governments. A visit to the adivasi villages in several parts of the country where Maoists have hardly any presence shows that the schools are generally not functional, teachers are rarely found, and the buildings are used for purposes other than education. And where schools are said to function one can count the single-digit attendance of children. Owing to acute poverty prevailing among most households the children in these villages are seen as sources of income and domestic help rather than make them obtain school education.

When the condition of our children and our schools is as described above, why do our Man Mohan Singh, Chidambaram sahib and all their ultra-modern “developers” derive satisfaction and succour from their “benevolent acts” of school construction while not caring an iota for providing drinking water or address the problem of pathetic malnutrition prevalent in vast adivasi-inhabited areas?  What is the secret behind this hectic developmental activity by the various governments in a region that had witnessed only callous apathy and criminal negligence for over six decades by the Indian rulers? Even now when the adivasis have to walk for 30 km to show to even a namesake doctor and most die of lack of treatment, why are our Man Mohan Singhs and Chidambarams interested more in constructing school buildings, rather than primary health centres, in these regions?

The very sight of a school building in these areas is enough to grasp the secret behind this “benevolent” and “humanitarian” venture. The cement buildings with RCC roofs and solid walls hang out as islands in a sea of thatched huts with mud walls. In ordinary times, one would not have wondered why they looked more like police stations than schools. And that is how the rulers had managed to go ahead with their plan of massive construction of school buildings in remotest places like Abhujmaad where, the government agrees, it had not even conducted a survey until date. Come 2010 and the place has become a hub of construction activity. For it is the year of Green Hunt or the hunt to wipe off all greenery from the existing forests. So the secret of Chidambaram or what one would call in the south of our country as Chidambara rahasayam is to actually construct buildings that would serve as camps for his paramilitary forces who are deployed to wage a bloody war on the adivasi people and the Maoists who lead them in their struggle for a life of dignity and liberation from the exploitation and terrible oppression by the rapacious plunderers and thugs who are protected fully by the Indian State and all the parliamentary parties. These buildings become acceptable as they double up as schools while the real ulterior motive of using them as the camping stations of the police and paramilitary is disguised under the veneer of education of tribal children. Many well-meaning democratic intellectuals, human and civil rights organizations fall prey to this ingenious but heinous tactic of the ruling classes who have unleashed the most brutal bloody war under hypocrite Chidambaram.

Anti-Maoist propaganda by some human rights and other groups

A hue and cry is raised by some so-called human rights groups that Maoists have been targeting the school buildings and preventing the children from receiving primary education. The so-called “mainstream media”, hired by the tiny parasitic corporate elite, has gone all out of its way to condemn the bombing of school buildings, panchayat buildings, anganwadi centres, and hospital buildings all of which are non-functional in general but have attracted the attention of these organizations just because Maoists have been destroying them. These so-called voluntary organizations, most of which are actually propped up by the imperialist and corporate interests, cry foul whenever there is an attack by Maoists on these buildings but never utter a word of disapproval when the so-called security forces occupy these buildings thereby depriving the children of schooling.

For instance, a report in the Economic Times of ….wrote under a provocative caption “A destructive school of thought called naxalism” thus: “A UN panels’ study has said that around 250 schools have been blown up in Chhattisgarh in the past one year by Naxalites and students are recruited in large numbers for subversive activities. According to a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report, India figures among the four countries that have seen a marked increase in systematic attacks on schools, students and teachers between 2006 and 2009…In India, nearly 300 schools were reportedly blown up by Maoists between 2006 and 2009, according to the report. These include 50 in the two states of Jharkhand and Bihar in the year 2009. The UN found that dozens of schools have been occupied for security operations including at least 37 in Jharkhand in the first half of 2009. In February 2007, Chhattisgarh government sources said that more than 250 schools had been blown up in recent months.”

The daily that serves as the mouthpiece of the parasitic elite that is plundering our country and our people, calls for “disrupting, dismantling and destroying the network of the Red thugs.”  Not a word is said as to why the school buildings are targeted, why the reactionary rulers have suddenly embarked upon the construction of school buildings at a hectic pace in the remotest regions of the country where more than 50 per cent of the population are living under chronic famine and even safe drinking water is not available for the overwhelming majority. Not a word is said as to why three lakh adivasis were forced to flee after the Indian rulers commenced their Operation Green Hunt under the direct supervision of the thug Chidambaram 9 months ago. And why another one lakh adivasis were displaced by Salwa Judum, the hired gang of armed hooligans created for serving the Tatas, Mittals, Jindals, Essar, Vedanta and other rapacious plunderers; why, between 2005 and 2009, over 700 villages were destroyed obviously along with the schools by these blood-thirsty murderous gangs deployed by the Congress-led government at the Centre and the BJP government in Chhattisgarh. The UN report or its reproduction in the Economic Times deliberately avoid the crucial question: where are the children in these villages when entire villages are razed to the ground by Salwa Judum and the paramilitary forces? Why are they bothered more about school buildings than the children who are supposed to sit in them? If at all they are serious about education for the children they must first raise their voices against the eviction of the adivasi people from thousands of villages in Dantewada, Bijapur, Narayanpur, Kanker, Rajnandgaon and other districts of Chhattisgarh, in some parts of Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal. They must demand the immediate withdrawal of all police camps from school buildings and other buildings in the villages, stop murders, arrests, tortures, rapes and destruction of property of adivasi villagers which makes it impossible for their children to carry on their education. They must demand the establishment of peace in the villages by immediate halt to the bloody onslaught by the central and state forces against the innocent unarmed adivasi people. Without raising these demands, simply accusing the Maoists of disrupting the education of children through destruction of schools, is not only biased and irresponsible but is also a futile and diversionary tactic that helps the ruling class oppressors to obfuscate the real issue.

Children at risk as schools become barracks in anti-Maoist war

Aman Sethi

Chhattisgarh defies the Supreme Court and security forces are still in occupation of school premises despite assurances to the contrary.

Photo: AMAN SETHI
A CRPF sentry keeps watch as school children play outside a camp’s barricades. In Chhattisgarh, the proximity of schools and security camps has blurred the line between civilian and military targets.

School’s out! In Kerlapal, Dantewada, battle-weary soldiers of the B Company of the 2nd Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force peer over barbed-wire fences as skinny schoolboys in sky-blue shirts play cricket. The force has occupied the senior school and with it the basketball court and part of the playing field; but the game must go on.

As paramilitary troops pour into Chhattisgarh to fight the Maoists, the absence of military barracks has forced soldiers and children to share the only concrete structures in the countryside — the village school.

A PIL filed in the Supreme Court has drawn attention to the militarization of Chhattisgarh’s schools, but the State government is in denial. On February 18, 2010, the counsel appearing for Chhattisgarh told the Supreme Court that all schools occupied by security forces had been vacated. To quote from the Supreme Court order of February 18: “It is also stated by learned counsel appearing for the State that the schools, hospitals, ashrams and anganwadis have already been vacated and they are no longer been used for camps or places for shelter of the police force.”

However, an investigation by The Hindu in the three districts of Dantewada, Narayanpur and Bijapur found numerous sites where the security forces continue to occupy school land or have simply appropriated school land for their barracks. These findings contradict the claims made by Chhattisgarh in the Supreme Court, suggesting that the counsel for the State was either dangerously misinformed, or guilty of making false statements in India’s highest court.

In Dantewada district, The Hindu found security forces operating out of a senior school in Kerlapal, a junior and middle school in Karli and a tribal girls’ hostel in Bhusaras.

In Narayanpur district, the G-company of the 39th Battalion of the CRPF moved into the middle school and gram panchayat building of Bhatpal village as recently as on February 10 — a week before Chhattisgarh’s counsel made his submission in court. Officers at the site said a portion of the school would be permanently handed over to the CRPF and that the construction of barracks was underway. In Munjmetta village, the 139th Battalion has taken over a primary and middle school and moved the children to adjacent structures.

In Bijapur, even the Collector’s office is in a college building. A list signed by the Superintendent of Police shows 16 schools as occupied by the security forces. When contacted by The Hindu over telephone, SP, Bijapur, Avinash Mohanty said “relocation is an ongoing process”, but CRPF sources confirmed that the force was yet to relinquish any occupied site.

“When forces occupy schools they blur the line between civilian and military targets and put the children at risk,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch and author of a study on the militarisation of schools in Jharkhand. “Children — particularly girls — begin to drop out as their parents do not want them near the force.”

Fears that basing the force in schools could provoke a backlash from the Maoists were realized on March 15, 2007 when they attacked a police outpost based in a residential girls’ school in Bijapur district’s Rani Bodli village. Even as young girls from Classes I to V cowered in their hostel, Maoist cadre killed 55 policemen in an adjoining wing of the building.

The only three police personnel who survived did so by hiding in the girls’ hostel.

Maoists have also targeted unoccupied school buildings, allegedly to deny security forces shelter. According to the Collector’s office, in the two-year period from 2006 to 2008 Maoists destroyed 70 school buildings in Narayanpur district alone. Not a single school has been rebuilt.

In Palachalam village, Dantewada, Maoists destroyed the sole school that catered to students from at least three neighbouring villages and built a giant red minar in its place. Now, children as young as ten years of age are forced to go to a residential school in Maraigudum, more than 20 Kilometres away from their homes and their parents.

“Troops need a concrete structure they can defend from attacks, which, in most cases, is the village school,” said Ravideep Singh Sahi, Deputy Inspector-General for Bastar of the CRPF. “We are trying to construct regular barracks, but contractors and labourers are unwilling to work in sensitive areas.”

Mr. Sahi hoped that the force and villagers could work together. In Bhatpal for instance, the CRPF donated a computer to the senior school in an attempt to foster goodwill with the villagers.

Privately, many CRPF officers expressed frustration with existing accommodation. “A camp needs proper barracks, security and a clear line of fire,” said a senior CRPF officer, “The current facilities are ad hoc at best.”

The prolonged occupation is also taking its toll on students. In Kerlapal, the CRPF’s occupation of the senior school building has forced students of Classes XI and XII to study in a sheltered veranda. “There are no chairs and the students are constantly distracted,” said a teacher. “The blackboard is makeshift, making it difficult for both teachers and students.” Class IX students have been accommodated in the middle school building by moving Class VI into a poorly-ventilated equipment shed. This was supposed to be a temporary arrangement; it has been five years.

In Bhusaras, Dantewada, a hostel warden told The Hindu how she struggled to fit fifty girls in two rooms and a veranda after the 195th Battalion of the CRPF moved into the girls’ hostel. “I stacked the beds one above the other with the younger girls on top and the elder girls at the bottom,” she said. The girls have since been moved to a permanent location. Now there are three rooms for fifty girls, an outdoor toilet without doors and no water.

At a bus stand in Narayanpur, troops returning from leave wait for a bus to take them to their camps located in schools on the Orcha road. “I used to have an open mind,” read a t-shirt sported by a soldier, “But my brains kept falling out.”

The Right to Education: A Paper Right without Substance

On March 31, 2010 the Union Minister of Human Resources Department, Kapil Sibal, announced that Right to Education will be a fundamental right from April 1. This means the state governments and local bodies are obliged to provide free and compulsory education to every child from 6 to 14 years. The Constitutional amendment was actually made nine years ago but nothing more was done in this regard. Now the UPA government has taken up this Act called the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, with the pressure from the World Bank and the privatization lobby. The UPA government decided to introduce this to achieve the twin objective of projecting itself as a pro-people government wedded to the welfare of the people while at the same time accomplishing its secret agenda of giving a big boost to private schools instead of trying to set up common schools. The ceding of Rights to the people is the easiest thing to do whereas ensuring the protection of these Rights and their implementation is the most difficult task. Kapil Sibal and his UPA government did the easiest thing but has neither the wherewithal nor the mechanisms to implement the so-called Right to Education. In fact, the UPA government has done the same with regard to Food Security while it neither has the mechanism nor the will to stop the rotting of the huge stocks of food grains and distribute them to the starving dying hundreds of millions of our poor people. But the net gainers and the real beneficiaries of these Rights are a handful of the rich who make a fast buck out of everything that is ostensibly meant for people’s welfare.  RTE is no exception to this general rule in a society based on horrifying exploitation.

Under the RTE the only obligation for the private schools is to reserve 25 per cent of their seats for children from the economically weaker sections. The private schools will now flourish in a massive way with government funds. Who will get permission for setting up schools is anybody’s guess. Those wielding money power and can bribe the officials and politicians will be the real beneficiaries of this right to education. Under the façade of the right to education, the UPA government also wants to divert people’s attention from its plans to expand the elitist, private education by allowing imperialist educational institutes and universities to set up their campuses in India. Due to the massive amounts of money that will be spent for the implementation of the RTE, it has come as a big boon to the corrupt politicians and officials who are neck-deep in scandals involving funds allotted for various people’s schemes.

Needless to say, like every fundamental right the RTE too will remain more on paper rather than in implementation. We know the fate of other fundamental rights which are too dear for the poor to enjoy. Seeking justice and redressal for any violation of these rights would imply adequate funds on the part of the victim for approaching a court of law. All the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution have been more often than not violated by the police, the feudal forces, the comprador class, contractors and the governments. The vast majority in our country simply cannot afford the means to fight against the might of the violators of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Although the RTE is said to come into force from April 1, 2010 the private schools have expressed their inability to implement the 25 per cent quota for the children of the economically weaker sections this academic year.

The Hard Facts

220 million children go to schools but only 18 million reach college. 40 per cent of the eligible children do not go to school. And out of those who go, 75 per cent drop out by the time they reach class VIII. Survey of Education Report says half of India’s children in Class V cannot read a Class II-level text book or do basic mathematics. Lack of teachers is one of the most important causes for this pathetic situation. A 2005 World Bank report mentioned that 25 per cent of teachers were absent from school, and only about half of those present taught anything. 1,20,000 elementary schools have only one teacher. Even these teachers hardly go to schools when they are situated in remote areas. Currently, more than 5.23 lakh teacher posts are vacant. An additional 5.1 lakh teachers are required to meet the pupil-teacher ratio to 30:1 as stipulated under the RTE Act. But without addressing the problem of absenteeism on the part of teachers and their disinterestedness in teaching the children, will appointing another 5 lakh new teachers solve this problem?

Another serious constraint is the lack of funds for implementing the RTE.  The amount required to implement RTE over the next five years is a massive Rs. 1.78 lakh crore i.e Rs. 34,000 crore every year for the next five years. The Central government has allotted only Rs. 15,000 crore for 2010-2011. Even if the states meet their share of funds the shortage of funds in the very first year is estimated to be around Rs. 7000 crore. The share of expenses between the Centre and states will be 55:45 ratio. But there is demand from virtually all states that the ratio should be 65:35 between the Centre and states. Without such a ratio the states say it will be impossible for them to implement the RTE due to acute shortage of funds.

The states are obliged to recruit and deploy teachers at a ratio of 30:1, establish neighbourhood schools within three years and train all teachers all of which require huge sums of money which the state governments are not prepared to spend. 5.48 lakh untrained teachers at the primary level and 2.25 lakh at upper primary level have to acquire necessary qualification within five years of the RTE Act coming into force. The Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh has already come out with the demand for Rs. 18,000 crore from the Centre.

Impracticable Provisions

There are also several impracticable provisions in the Act that are only meant to encourage more corruption. For instance, the Act monitors the infrastructure in schools including the number of class rooms, sanitary conditions, and safe drinking water and so on. This is an amusing provision going by the fact that several such existing laws related to the quality of schools and other educational institutions lie unimplemented. As it is, out of the 1.29 million government and private schools, over 60 per cent did not have electricity, 46 per cent did not have toilets for girls, and 50 per cent did not have compound walls to ensure the safety of the students. UP alone needs to construct 100,000 class rooms to meet the provisions stipulated under the RTE. Another provision that will remain merely on paper is: schools that do not meet the infrastructure standards within three years will be de-recognized and that untrained school teachers must get the requisite professional degree within five years.  State governments and local bodies will have to establish primary schools within one Kilometre of the neighbourhood and upper primary schools (Class VI to VIII) within three kilometers. In the absence of a school in small hamlets, the state government shall make adequate arrangements like free transportation and residential facilities.

Can hungry children really enjoy the RTE?

The fundamental problem of the children in our country is hunger, malnutrition and disease. How can children of the poor who form the overwhelming majority of the Indian population ever get into the school when their basic problem of hunger and poverty is not solved? Now it is a well known fact that the poor cannot afford to send their children to schools even if education is free and compulsory. They would rather prefer to have their children tend the fields, look after cattle or help them in other domestic works than sending them to school that would fetch nothing tangible for the family or alleviate their miserable condition. For many poverty-stricken families children are a source of extra income and hence without addressing the issue of poverty and hunger it is futile to speak of free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 years. RTE stipulates a fine of Rs. 10,000 for preventing a child from attending school or making him/her work! Needless to say, this will be as “effective” or rather as ineffective as the dowry act, bonded labour abolition act or untouchability act in the rural areas. There is a gross underestimation in the figure of 8 million cited by the government regarding the total number of children between 6-14 years who do not go to school.

Kapil Sibal should first think of how to free the huge number of children belonging to this age group who are forced to do work in various sectors out of economic compulsion. Any one with some degree of sincerity would first devise means of freeing the child from the unbearable conditions of exploitation in sweat shops and other informal works and ensure freedom from hunger. What is the plan of Mr. Sibal for achieving this basic objective without which RTE would be a mere showpiece? Absolutely nothing.

What would RTE produce ultimately?

The Prime Minster Man Mohan Singh did not face the problem of hunger and poverty when he studied at school. There is nothing of substance in what he said while introducing the Bill: “I am what I am today because of education.” The fact is, Man Mohan Singh would not have been what he is today if he chose to serve the people of India and protect the interests of our country instead of serving the imperialists and a tiny parasitic corporate elite that are plundering our country’s resources. It is also true that the kind of education the exploiting classes want to impart will only create self-seeking, anti-people comprador agents like Man Mohan Singh. Or else, which other Sikh would shamelessly continue in a Party that had massacred 3000 people of one’s own community in 1984 and which has been trying to suppress the facts related to the role of its leaders in the genocide? And even rewarding the culprits like Kamal Nath with ministerial posts and murderers like Sajjan Kumar with Z plus category protection?

Hence one of the major things of concern with regard to education is: what type of education is sought to be given to children from 6-14 years which are the most crucial years in terms of moulding of the minds? By making education free and compulsory the exploiters also wish to inculcate their reactionary ideas among the young and transform their minds in accordance with the needs of the rulers. We all know how the saffron brigade is poisoning the minds of the young both in its own private schools as well as government schools where it is in power. By misusing state machinery and government funds, and 100 per cent tolerance exhibited by the central government, the most unscientific and chauvinist education is taught that preaches absolute religious intolerance, the RSS concept of Akhand Bharat and unbridled jingoism to the children poisoning their minds. The entire education system itself reflects the unjust socio-economic system producing elitist, individualist, undemocratic, feudal, colonial and selfish values among the children to create servile, snobbish, self-seeking individuals who have only contempt for manual work and the toiling masses. So one can understand what would be the end product of the RTE to the extent it is implemented within the framework of the existing socio-economic system.

International Women’s Day (IWD) is the story of ordinary women as makers of history

Introduction:

International Women’s Day (IWD) is the story of ordinary women as makers of history; it is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men. The idea of having an international women’s day was first put forward at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid world industrialization and capitalist economic expansion that led to protests over working conditions.

A Century is passed after that. In this historical context it is time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of women’s rights and social change.

IWD, March 8, is a holiday celebrated by the oppressed around the world. It is a holiday that came out of the struggle of women. In particular, the struggle of immigrant garment workers in New York’s Lower East Side provided the inspiration for the demand that there be a special day to celebrate the struggle of women.

International Women’s Day was the fruit of the efforts of women in the Second International. Clara Zetkin, the legendary German Communist leader and an international Socialist leader proposed in the Second International conference of socialist women held in Copenhagen (Denmark) in 1910, that women throughout the world should focus on a particular day each year to press for their demands. Zetkin and others emphasized the international scope of their vision, calling on “the Socialist women of all countries [to] hold each year a Women’s Day,” and declaring that “The Women’s Day must have an international character.”

The conference established a Women’s Day, international in character, to honour the movement for women’s rights and to assist in achieving universal suffrage for women. It would commemorate the US demonstrations and honour working women the world over. The conference decided that every year, in every country, they should celebrate on the same day a “Women’s Day” under the slogan “The vote for women will unite our strength in the struggle for socialism”. It was decided to have a Woman’s Day in every country as a form of struggle in getting working women to vote. This day was to be a day of international solidarity in the fight for common objectives and a day for reviewing the organized strength of working women under the banner of socialism.

Over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women’s clubs, and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament, greeted Zetkin’s suggestion with unanimous approval and International Women’s Day was the result. (It was again passed unanimously a few days later in the general International Socialist Congress. Com V.I. Lenin, the great leader of the Bolshevik Party and the Russian Revolution, was among those who voted at this conference to establish this tradition). Since then it has been celebrated worldwide by class conscious workers and those fighting for the liberation of women and the emancipation of all humanity.

That conference also reasserted the importance of women’s right to vote, dissociated it self from voting systems based on property rights and called for universal suffrage – the right to vote for all adult women and men.

That is how it began and was celebrated for the first time internationally in 1911.

Before we go in to the history of what have happened in these 100 years, let us remember the struggle of the immigrant garment workers of the Lower East side of New York, who stood as inspiration for the IWD.

A Brief History of the struggle of Garment Workers:

Those ordinary women who stood as inspiration for having a women’s day were the “garment workers” of lower east side of New York City.  Most of these women were migrant workers from Russia, Italy and Poland. Due to the rapid Industrialization and capitalist economic expansion these women workers were heavily exploited. They worked up to 15 hours a day and were paid by rate per piece. They were charged for needles, thread, electricity, and even the crude boxes they had to sit on because there were no chairs. They were issued harsh fines—for being late, for damaged work, for taking too much time in the toilet. Children also worked for long hours, huddled in the corners of the shops, snipping threads from finished garments.

The garment trade shops in the big cities, such as New York, were deplorable. Fire hazards were rife, light was scant, the sound of machinery deafening, the environment polluted. Women were fined virtually for anything – talking, laughing, singing, machine oil stains on the fabric, stitches too large or too small. Overtime was constant and required, but no special pays for overtime work.

In the period of intense labor activity following the Civil War, when widowhood and general hard times forced thousands of women into the labor force, thus causing panic and hostility on the part of men, women found themselves excluded from most of the national trade unions. So they formed their own, including the Daughters of St. Crispin, a union of women shoemakers. During this era unions were formed by woman cigar makers, umbrella sewers, and printers, as well as tailoresses and laundresses. The clothing workers formed some of the most famous unions in U.S. history, notably the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, founded around 1900.

The first all women strike took place in New England Tailoring trades in early 1820’s. Many followed. The strike at Lowell cotton Mills became famous among the initial strikes. The initial protests of walk outs could not get them the results. So slowly they started getting organized. Workers of Lowell Cotton Mills formed Lowell Female labour Reform Association in 1844. The prime demand was the ten hour a day.

Women from clothing and textile factories staged a protest on March 8, 1857 in New York City. The garment workers marched and picketed, demanding improved working conditions, ten hour a day, and equal rights for women. They were protesting what they saw as very poor working conditions and low wages. The protesters were attacked. Their ranks were broken up and dispersed by the police. These women established their first labor union in the same month two years later. More protests followed on March 8 in subsequent years.

Fifty one years later, on March 8, 1908, their sisters in the needle trades in New York marched again, honoring the 1857 march, demanding the vote, and an end to sweatshops and child labor. 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay and voting rights.

In spite of many arrests and heavy fines, brutal beatings by police and hired thugs, the women, many of them teenagers, continued the walkouts. Middle and upper class women inspired by the strikers came out to the pickets to give their support and they too were arrested. And when newspapers covered these unusual arrests, the public began to find out about the brutal conditions and slave wages of the women strikers.

With the support of the National Women’s Trade Union League, founded in 1903 – a combination of working women and middle-class, often professional women who supported the working women’s struggle – the shirtwaist makers launched a series of strikes against Leiserson and Company and Triangle Waist Company, two of the most notorious shops in New York.

After months of small shop actions, the women decided to escalate the struggle by calling for a trade wide general strike. And in defiance of the heads of the union, on November 22, 1909, the “Uprising of the Twenty Thousand’’ began. It culminated in the first long-term general strike by women, putting to death the tiresome arguments that they were unable to organize and carry out a long and strenuous struggle.

The Women’s Trade Union League provided bail money for arrested strikers and large sums for strike funds. The strike was ultimately broken, as settlements were made shop by shop, but the talent and endurance of the women made it impossible for people to go on claiming that labour organizing was for men only. The strike lasted for months and ignited strikes in other areas. Though the strike itself was only partially successful in terms of changing work conditions, the “uprising” did change some important things. It challenged the image of what uneducated immigrant women could do, and it filled the East Side and many women and immigrants and oppressed people more broadly with pride and a sense of strength.

In 1908 the Socialist Party in US appointed a Women’s National Committee to Campaign for the Suffrage. After the meeting, this Committee recommended that the Socialist Party set aside a day every year to campaign to women’s right to vote, a big step for socialists and welcomed by women working for suffrage.

The First Women’s Day was observed across the United States on 28 February in 1909 and large demonstrations took place calling for the vote and the political and economic rights of women.

The International Women’s Day was marked for the first time on 19 March, 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and other European countries.

Review of the century

Two different movements have sought to achieve women’s liberation over the past hundred or more years, Marxism and feminism. Both wish to eradicate women’s unequal and oppressed position in present-day society, and to replace it with the full and genuine equality of men and women. However, they explain women’s oppression in very different ways, and pursue strategies which are quite opposed to one another.

Feminism sees the basic division in the world as that between men and women. The cause of women’s oppression is men’s urge to dominate and control them. History is the story of the unchanging patriarchal structures through which men have subjugated women. The only way to abolish these structures is for women, of whatever social class, to unite against men, of whatever class.

For Marxism, however, the fundamental antagonism in society is that between classes, not sexes. For thousands of years a minority of men and women have co-operated to live off the labour of the overwhelming majority of working men and women. The class struggle between exploiter and exploited, whatever their sex, is the driving force of historical change. Women’s oppression can only be understood in the context of the wider relations of class exploitation. Marx and Engels were able to show, by developing the materialist concept of history, that only the class struggle can achieve socialism and women’s liberation. The exploitation which men and women workers alike experience in their work leads them to organize collectively against capitalism. It is the struggle of this united working class which will sweep away oppression and exploitation alike.

Because of its prevailing views, the women’s movement falls into using the terms “women” and “women’s oppression” in a vague, undifferentiated and a-historical way. For female slaves oppression meant physical cruelty, sexual exploitation, forced separation from their children. For the leisured, financially comfortable plantation mistress it meant social and legal restrictions, and repressive sexuality. For working-class women the industrial revolution meant brutal capitalist exploitation plus the horrors of childbearing in terrible conditions (the vast majority of children dying in infancy). For the capitalist’s wife it meant an oppressive leisured life. To lump all women together in one word is to miss the specific historical conditions and to sidestep the role of the rich ladies in the enslavement and exploitation of working women and men.

Women are not a separate group; they are dispersed throughout the population. If women are the most exploited of workers, they are also among the exploiters.

When it comes to present-day women’s oppression, the many proponents of the women’s movement talk of that oppression as a product of “patriarchy”. Male domination is thus interpreted as a supra-historical factor, existing independently of class society or capitalism.

Engels argues that it was the rise of private property and the division of society into classes which led to the subjugation of women. Under capitalism the production of the necessities of life is a social process, while reproduction – the rearing of children – is a private process, taking place largely in the enclosed family. The oppression of women is rooted in the dichotomy between the two. Hence the fight for women’s liberation cannot be separated from the fight against capitalism.

Oppression in itself does not necessarily lead to a struggle for liberation. The oppression of women, by dividing them and imprisoning them in the four walls of the home, leads most often to powerlessness and submission. Only where women, as workers, have collective power do they gain confidence to fight exploitation, and are then also able to fight their oppression as women. The other side of the coin is that women workers, like other oppressed groups, are in a period of social crisis often more spontaneously revolutionary than men. [4] The struggle of workers against exploitation is the key to their successful struggle against all oppression. Hence the first step for working-class women in entering the arena of struggle for their liberation as women is to leave the isolation of the home and enter the social area of production.

For bourgeois sociologists, economists and historians, exploitation is mere exploitation; for Marxists it is the axis of class struggle, the springboard for human liberation. The brutalization led to a struggle, by women and men, for social changes to the benefit of the working class as a whole, as we see.

In human history, including women’s history, revolutions are the peaks. The role of women in the English revolution of the seventeenth century, when for the first time modern ideas of women’ s liberation and a new sexual morality blossomed, and in the French revolution of the eighteenth century and the Paris Commune of the nineteenth century, demonstrate the indomitable struggles of working-class women.

Beginning of IWD celebrations:

IWD was marked for the first time on 19 March, 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and other European countries, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. Socialists held strikes and marches on the same day. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded the right to work, to vocational training and to an end to gender discrimination on jobs.

Clara Zetkin organized the first IWD on March 19 in 1911 in Germany. A million leaflets calling for action on the right to vote were distributed throughout Germany before IWD in 1911.

In 1913 International Women’s Day has remained the “working women’s day of militancy”. In those bleak years meetings were forbidden. But in Petrograd, at the Kalashaikovsky Exchange, those women workers who belonged to the Party organized a public forum on “The Woman Question.” Delegate fee was five kopecks. This was an illegal meeting but the hall was totally packed. Members of the Party spoke. But this animated “closed” meeting had hardly finished when the police, alarmed at such proceedings, intervened and arrested many of the speakers.

As the nascent annual event developed, it took on the cause of peace as well as women’s rights. Furthermore, on the eve of World War I, women across Europe held peace rallies on March 8, 1913. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around 8 March of the following year, women held rallies either to protest against the war or to express solidarity with their sisters. In 1915, Zetkin organized a demonstration in Bern, Switzerland, to urge the end of World War I. Women on both sides of the war turned out.

Observances spread to France, the Netherlands and Sweden.

In 1914, “Women Workers Day” in Russia was better organized. Both the workers’ newspapers concerned themselves with the celebration. Because of police intervention, they didn’t manage to organize a demonstration. Those involved in the planning of “Women Workers Day” found themselves in the Tsarist prisons, and many were later sent to the cold north. For the slogan “for the working women’s vote” had naturally become in Russia an open call for the overthrow of Tsarist autocracy”.

In 1914 the Bolshevik Central Committee decided to create a special committee to organize the meetings for IWD. Meetings were held in the factories and public places to discuss issues concerning women’s oppression, and to elect representatives from those who had participated in the discussions and proposals, to work on the new committee.
The propaganda work of the paper ‘Rabotnitsa’ was now becoming ever more central to the work of the Bolsheviks. On its editorial board were such stalwarts of women’s liberation as comrades Krupskaya, Innessa Armand, Stahl, Kollontai, Eliazarova, Kudelli, Samoilova, and Nikolayeva and other female workers of St Petersburg. These women were totally dedicated to the revolutionary cause, they organized meetings, called aggregates and generally focused the work, developing the revolution. Each factory had its own representatives on the editorial board of ‘Rabotnitsa’ and there were weekly meetings, where all would participate and review the reports received from the different areas. The paper was also used as an instrument to raise the level of understanding in both trade union and political structures, which were still lagging behind the consciousness of the masses, towards a better understanding of the role of women workers.

In March 1917 the Bolsheviks created a bureau to promote revolutionary work among women workers. The party called for a Congress for all women workers, to discuss the best way to involve and organize women in the revolutionary struggles then taking place. In this period Lenin wrote many articles on the need to find new strategies and specific organizational models to attract women workers to socialism.
Demonstrations marking IWD in Russia proved to be the first stage of the Russian Revolution. With 2 million Russian soldiers dead in the war, Russian women again chose the last Sunday in February to strike for “bread and peace”. This was led by women in St. Petersburg. The government attempted to stop the demonstrations called to celebrate International Women’s Day. This provoked clashes with workers, especially in the Putilov factory in St Petersburg, which ended in a mass mobilization of workers. The women came out onto the streets and spoke to the soldiers, who then refused to open fire against the demonstrators, turning their bayonets against the Tsarist monarchy. During 1917 the general consensus of opposition to the imperialist war increased, strengthening the Bolsheviks, who had been courageously denouncing the imperialist war since 1914.

Coming on the rise of long struggle and many strikes, IWD 1917 inspired thousands of Russian women to leave their homes and factories to protest the terrible shortages of food, the high prices, the world war, and the increased suffering they had bitterly endured. The protest inspired the last push of a revolution. A general strike spread through Petrograd. The IWD strike merged with riots that had spread through the city between March 8-12. The February Revolution, as it became known, forced the Czar Nicholas II to abdicate four days later and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. That historic Sunday fell on 23 February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia, but on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere. (Russia switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1918, which moved the dates of the February revolution [Feb. 24–28, old style] to March.)

This was a milestone in the emancipation of women: the first occasion on which the complete economic, political and sexual equality of women was put on the historical agenda. New political, civic, economic and family codes were promulgated, aiming to wipe away at one stroke centuries-old inequalities. The new government granted women the vote, passed divorce and civil laws which made marriage a voluntary relationship, eliminated the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children.

Following the October Revolution, the IWD was made into an official holiday, and during the Soviet period it continued to celebrate “the heroic woman worker”.

International Women’s Day

The first time International Women’s Day was held in Russia was in 1913. It was held six days early, on 2 March (17 February by the old calendar then in use) for fear of police interference. The Bolshevik newspaper Pravda commemorated the day with a special six-page issue, and a holiday committee was set up by the Bolshevik-controlled Petersburg Committee of the Social Democratic Party, consisting of a group of women textile workers and Bolshevik activists. Celebrations took place in five cities: St Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Samara and Tblisi. The largest was in St Petersburg. Over a thousand people – out of a larger number who failed to get in – crowded into the hall, which was heavily policed both outside and inside, the police occupying the first two rows. One of the main speakers, a textile worker, Ianchevskaia, summed up the meaning of the assembly thus: “The women workers’ movement is a tributary flowing into the great river of the proletarian movement and giving it strength.”

These words and the general spirit of International Women s Day grated on the nerves of the bourgeois feminist Dr Pokrovskaia. She wrote:

As we expected, the women workers’ day did not protest at all against the subordinate position of wives in relation to their husbands. They spoke primarily of the enslavement of the proletarian women by capital, and only in passing mentioned domestic subservience … Mme Kudelli was wrong in asserting that economic interests are the most important for the woman worker. Personal freedom stands higher.

Her conclusion was: all men benefitted from male privilege; all women must join together to fight it.

In 1914 the government refused a request for ten meetings in the larger workers’ quarters of St Petersburg to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, allowing only one, and this was heavily policed. Three of the five planned speakers were arrested and the police refused to allow substitutes. Disappointed and angry, many of the large numbers present spilled out into the streets, singing revolutionary songs, only to be eventually dispersed by the police, who made mass arrests.

In both 1913 and 1914 there were deep differences between the Mensheviks, who wanted only women to participate in the celebrations, and the Bolsheviks, who insisted that International Women s Day should be celebrated not only by working women but by the entire working class.

During the war it was far more difficult to celebrate International Women’s Day. But despite a government ban the day was commemorated in 1915 and 1916 by small meetings and celebrations.)

During the 1930’s the question of women’s liberation was swept aside in Europe under the hammer blows of economic crisis and Nazism which culminated in the out break of the Second World War. It had a devastating effect on the people of the world. No country is untouched by this depression. In those years of war from 1939 to 1945 there were no celebrations. The powers of the world changed and along with it the women’s movement also had undergone a lot of change. In the US after the end of the world war, IWD was not celebrated till the sixties though it is celebrated very rarely and sporadically in Europe.

The stage for class struggle shifted from Europe to Asia during the Second World War and resulted in the success of the Chinese revolution.

Chinese women began celebrating IWD in l924, paralleling a strong women’s movement in the Chinese Communist party. The first strike by women workers occurred in 24 silk factories of Shanghai in 1922 in which 20,000 joined and demanded a 10-hour working day and 5 cents wage-increase per day. The first rally of women, under party leadership, was held on Women’s Day (8 March) of 1924 in Canton, where a group of girl students and women workers raised slogans: “Down with imperialism”, “Down with warlords”, “Same work same pay”, “protection for child labour and pregnant mothers”, “Equal education”, “Abolish child brides and polygamy”, “Prohibit the buying of slave girls and the taking of concubines”, “Formulate a child protection law”. These anti-imperialist and anti-feudal slogans echoed throughout the country and ushered in a new phase in the women’s movement. After the revolution, China made IWD an official holiday, as in the USSR.

One of the first acts of the People’s Republic of China was the abolition of prostitution in 1949.The Marriage Law of 1950 and the later additions to it gave more rights to women than western bourgeois law could do.

Drifting away from the working class:

Women’s liberation returned to the agenda in the 1960s. It was the boom period in America, with job opportunities opening up for women.  A large number of middle class women were drawn in to the women’s movement as they faced a lot of sexist attitudes of men who competed with them for those jobs especially the professional ones.  These women were convinced that advances did not lie in politics or political parties, but in the development of human faculties, “the emancipation of the person”. It took but a short time for the whole of the American WLM to turn into a collection of small groups, consisting of about eight women each, in which women talked to each other about their individual experiences and analyzed them together. This is called ‘consciousness raising’.

This trend for “consciousness-raising” groups to become an end in themselves was by no means the only trend in the women’s liberation movement in its early years. Many women, especially socialist feminists in Britain, argued that consciousness-raising was important not because it improved women’s lives but because it gives women the confidence to take part in political activity. Alas, it doesn’t. You don’t build your confidence by separating yourself off from the struggle going on in the world around you. If you do, then just the opposite happens: you never get the chance to develop the skills and arguments necessary for political activity. As the experience showed, women tended to cling more and more to their small groups, and when these broke up, to drop out completely.

In a curious way, “consciousness-raising” does not challenge the prevailing ideas that the family and personal relationships are separate from society at large, ruled by their own laws. “Consciousness-raising”, after all, aims to change the ideas of the individuals concerned – m the belief that with the “right ideas” they could then go on to change their personal, sexual and family relationships. The logic of this is that personal relationships are moulded merely by the ideas which we carry in our heads, not by the real world in which we live. In contradiction to this, personal relationships arise from and are moulded by the total social relations of the society around us – and cannot ultimately be changed in isolation from that reality.

The end result of this fragmentation was the mushrooming of “oppressions”. Black women were claiming that white feminists oppressed them on grounds of colour. Lesbians were claiming they were oppressed by heterosexual women … and so on. This was the result of believing, in the first place, that the source of oppression was one group of individuals: men. When women in the women’s movement, now separated from men, still felt oppressed, they reacted by seeking out another group of individuals to blame. In this way you end up blaming those who agree with you and leaving the social system – the real source of oppression – untouched.

With the general political weakness of the American left, even at its high point, and the growing economic recession of the 1970s – a reality no one could deny – the WLM, composed of tiny, fragmented groups and torn by intermittent squabbles, proved powerless. Women who were not content simply to contemplate their own consciousness, but wanted some action, turned towards the respectable, conservative Women’s Rights organizations, of which the most prominent was NOW, the National Organization of Women.

The movement of women into NOW has been part of a general move rightwards urged on by the economic depression.

NOW’s mode of operation is very traditional. It leans towards the Democratic Party, urges women to rely on the courts and Congress for reforms, and indulges in lobbying as a major activity. Typically members of NOW have been very involved in the campaign for the ordination of women in the churches. In three years “over 40 women have become episcopal priests”. Some 15,000 women attended one of its conventions in November 1977, including three “First Ladies”!

NOW has proved ineffective not only in failing to advance women’s conditions, but even in blocking the attack on women’s rights in recent years, especially since Reagan became President. Thus, the Equal Rights Amendment, which was declared by NOW to be the “number one campaign” which it fought at the expense of all other women’s issues, failed in 1982, as not enough states could be persuaded to ratify it.

In Britain the trade unions had more than half the working population in membership. In Britain there is a Labour Party with a mass vote among the working class. The revolutionary socialist organizations are also stronger in Britain, with greater influence in the working class. Although there has never been a fusion of the women’s and trade union movements in Britain, there have been a few noteworthy common actions.

Equal pay was an important issue in the 1960s. By 1962, according to a TUC survey, 19 trade unions, representing 200,000 women, had equal pay agreements with employers. Thirty unions did not. Many unions were pushing not only for equal pay but for maternity leave, equal job opportunities and equal terms and conditions of work. In 1963 the Trades Union Congress passed a resolution calling on the next Labour government – which was in fact to take office the following year – to make equal pay a requirement in law. The Women’s Advisory Committee of the TUC followed this with an Industrial Charter for Women, demanding equal pay, equal opportunities for training, re-training facilities for women returning to industry, and special provisions for the health and welfare of women at work. They had very little immediate success.

But towards the end of the 1960s there was a general struggle for increased wages throughout the trade union movement. The demand for equal pay became one aspect of this. A crucial strike took place in 1968 by sewing machinists at Ford’s Dagenham plant, followed by those in the company’s Halewood plant on Merseyside. The women organized their own strike committee and brought Ford to a standstill. Their victory raised their pay to 92 per cent of the men’s rates, although they failed to raise their grading from “unskilled”.

The strike by the women at Ford inspired many other women workers. Out of it arose the National Joint Action Campaign for Women’s Equal Rights (NJACWER), which adopted a five-point charter and called on the TUC to lead a campaign for equal pay and opportunity. [2] In May 1969 the campaign organized an equal pay demonstration which was supported by women trade unionists from all over the country.

Trade unions now made promises that they would fight for equal pay as part of their recruitment campaigns, and women streamed in as new members.

1970-74 were years of mass working-class struggle, including two national miners’ strikes, a national dockers’ strike when five dockers – the “Pentonville Five” – were jailed for picketing, and more than 200 factory occupations. These years also saw an impressive array of women’s strikes. In 1970 London night cleaners fought for union recognition. The same year 20,000 Leeds clothing workers (85 per cent of them women) went on strike. Flying pickets closed clothing factories further afield in Yorkshire. Tens of thousands of teachers, three-quarters of them women, were also on strike over pay for the first time in half a century. 1971 saw a London telephonists’ pay dispute, while at Brannan’s, a small thermometer factory in Cumberland, women struck to defend trade union organization. In 1972 women joined the occupations of Fisher-Bendix on Merseyside and Briant Colour Printing in London. The same year women at Goodman’s, part of Thorn Electrical Industries, successfully struck for equal pay. In 1973 hundreds of thousands of hospital workers (the majority women) went on their first ever national strike. In the same year two hundred women in GEC, Coventry, struck for eight weeks over piece rates. Asian women at Mansfield Hosiery Mills struck over racial discrimination, and there was a national NALGO strike – mainly of women. There were many other women’s strikes in this period of mass upsurge.

Parallel with this, there was progress in the women’s movement. The groups which started in 1969 mushroomed. The first organization to be set up was the London Women’s Liberation Workshop, which followed the American example in being a network of small groups with information services. It stated:

…the men lead and dominate, the women follow and submit. We close our meetings to men to break through this pattern, to establish our own leaderless groups and to meet each other over our common experience as women … For this reason, groups small enough for all to take part in discussion and decisions are the basic units of our movement … to further our part in the struggle for social change and transformation of society.

A few months later, in February 1970, the first National Women’s Liberation Conference was held in Ruskin College, Oxford. Nearly 600 women turned up, mostly from the new women’s liberation groups, some from NJACWER and some from Maoist and Trotskyist groups. The conference adopted a structure of small women’s groups based on localities, loosely co-ordinated through national meetings to which each group could send two delegates. The conference also set up a Women’s National Co-ordinating Committee.

On 6 March 1971 International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time in London and Liverpool. The demonstrators carried on their banners four basic demands (worked out by the Women s National Co-ordinating Committee): for equal pay now, equal education and job opportunities, free contraception and abortion on demand, and free 24-hour nurseries. The four demands clearly identified the aim of the women’s movement as being to bring changes in the real world. They were political demands in that they were demands on the state, and they well suited the needs of working-class women.

Unfortunately a number of factors pushed the growing women’s movement away from the working class. A measure of how the women’s movement distanced itself from the working class is the changes in its platform of demands. In 1975, two new demands were added: “Financial and legal independence” and “an end to all discrimination against lesbians and a woman’s right to define her own sexuality”. In 1978, at the last National Women’s Conference, the following demand was added: “Freedom from intimidation by threat or use of violence or sexual coercion, regardless of marital status; and an end to all laws, assumptions and institutions which perpetuate male dominance and men’s aggression towards women.” The original four demands were clear, aimed at changes in the real world and directed towards the state; the added ones largely related to “attitudes” and “assumptions”, to “personal politics”.

The British movement, like the American, was torn by a lesbian/straight feminist conflict. Later it confined itself to establishing refuge centers for battered women and rape victims, set up by feminists or by social workers not associated with women’s liberation.

There is also a network of other centres: women’s aid and women’s study centres, women’s collectives for writing and publishing, health, psychiatry, legal advice, child care, carpentry. To their participants these make up a “complete alternative feminist culture”.

For socialists refuges for battered women and their children are an important social service, which needs to be defended like hospitals or schools. But in no way can they be seen as more than palliatives, of marginal impact on the human wreckage caused by capitalism.

The women’s movement received a new lease of life with the rise of the Peace Movement, centred around Greenham Common, the airbase in Berkshire used for Cruise nuclear missiles.

A feminist writes: “Nuclear weapons are an expression of the twisted values of a male-dominated society … We see nuclear weapons and nuclear power as particularly horrendous results of male domination.”

They do not recognize that nuclear weapons are the fruit of a capitalist class society with its massive concentration of economic, political and military power. Hence the only way to get rid of the weapons is by overthrowing capitalism, by disarming the capitalist class and arming the working class.

Adoption of IWD by the ruling class:

United Nations involvement principally began in 1977 when the General Assembly passed Resolution 32/142 inviting each country to proclaim, in accordance with its historical and national traditions and customs, any day of the year as United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.

March 8 was not specifically designated in this resolution. However, many countries have chosen to observe the celebration on this day.    In adopting its resolution on the observance of Women’s Day, the General Assembly cited two reasons:

to recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality and development of women;

to acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security.

This is a far cry from the world of the majority of women. The abyss between these feminists and working-class women was highlighted at the International Women’s Year Tribunal organized by the United Nations in Mexico in 1975. Here two worlds met. On the one side were the middle-class women led by Betty Friedan, the founder of NOW and one of the original inspirers of the women’s movement in America. On the other were working-class women, among them Domitila Barrio, a Bolivian miner’s wife and mother of seven. She had for fifteen years organized miners’ wives in struggles to aid their husbands on strike. An indication of the miners’ conditions was that their life expectancy was a mere 35 years. Domitila Barrio had organized a long hunger strike of women, and had gone to prison a number of times, on one occasion suffering a miscarriage while in custody. She bitterly attacked the rich feminists who turned up to the conference. To the president of the Mexican delegation she said:

Senora, I’ve known you for a week. Every morning you show up in a different outfit and on the other hand I don’t. Every day you show up all made up and combed like someone who had time to spend in an elegant beauty parlour and who can spend money on that, and yet I don’t. I see that each afternoon you have a chauffeur in a car waiting at the door of this place to take you home, and yet I don’t. And in order to show up here like you do, I’m sure you live in a really elegant home, in an elegant neighborhood, no? And yet we miners’ wives only have a small house on loan to us, and when our husbands die or get sick or are fired from the company, we have ninety days to leave the house and then we re in the street. Now, senora, tell me: is your situation at all similar to mine? Is my situation at all similar to yours? So what equality are we going to speak of between the two of us? If you and I aren’t alike, if you and I are so different?

The rich women, she claimed, were blind to the conditions of women like herself:

They couldn’t see the suffering of my people; they couldn’t see how our companeros are vomiting their lungs bit by bit, in pools of blood. They didn’t see how underfed our children are. And, of course, they didn’t know, as we do, what it’s like to get up at four in the morning and go to bed at eleven or twelve at night, just to be able to get all the housework done, because of the lousy conditions we live in.

She could not understand Betty Freidan’s statement that she, Domitila, and her friends were “manipulated by men”.

Women’s Movement in India

The vast majority of women live in villages weighed down by feudal oppression that takes many forms. Intense economic exploitation, crude and brutal social oppression, a culture that not only denies her independence but also denigrates her in all possible manners. Hence, women from the oppressed classes have had a stake in the destruction of the feudal rural order and have come forward to do so.

In the anti-feudal peasant struggles in the past century women have played a very militant and active role. In the Tebhaga struggle in the 1940s the participation of women was very high and Nari Bahinis were formed for self-defence when state repression began. In the Telengana peasant uprising from 1947 to 1951 too women participated in large numbers and peasant and tribal women became guerrilla squad members and there are many accounts of the bravery and tenacity displayed by these women in the face of encirclement by the Indian Army, in the face of torture and sure death. Thus when the Naxalbari uprising took place in 1967 in North Bengal under the leadership of Charu Majumdar it is not surprising that poor peasant women and girls participated with full enthusiasm. In the Srikakulam struggle the participation of women was remarkable. Women became commanders of the armed squads and struck terror in the hearts of the moneylenders and landlords of the area. The armed struggle in fact began after an attack on women by the goondas of a landlord when they were on their way to participate in a peasant conference. The names of the women martyred in this struggle, women who preferred to be felled by the bullets of the armed police rather than surrender still shine high – Nirmala, Ankamma, Saraswati. Thus these women defied their families and society to take on roles, which directly challenged their traditionally acceptable roles in society. They displayed tremendous heroism and determination to make the anti-feudal struggle a success. But the revolutionary movement at this time did not take up the conscious task of organizing women’s organizations and taking up the struggle against manifestations of patriarchy. In the face of severe repression these movements were suppressed.

When communist revolutionaries regrouped themselves and began building up the anti-feudal peasant struggles in the late 1970s once again there was an upsurge of participation of women in the struggles. In the plains of Central Bihar, in the fields and villages of Telengana (AP) the peasant movement grew like a storm. Among the first issues the movement confronted was the feudal privileges of the landlords over the wives and daughters of the labourers working in their fields, especially of the Dalit castes. Subject to worst form of abuses and vulgarities of the landlords’ men, bent down due to starvation and poverty, these poor women were easy prey for the landlords and their henchmen. Many of the violent struggles in Bihar and Telengana in the first part of the peasant movement in the 70s and 80s was to end this abuse and molestation, going in the name of “tradition”. These struggles provided the background for the growth of the women’s movement.

The women’s movement has grown with the growth of armed struggle. Contrary to general opinion the launching of armed struggle in the early 80s by the communist revolutionary forces in various parts of the country, the militant struggle against feudal oppression gave the confidence to peasant women to participate in struggles in large numbers and then to stand up and fight for their rights. Women who constitute the most oppressed among the oppressed, poor peasant and landless peasant women who have lacked not only an identity and voice but also a name, have become activists for the women’s organizations in their villages and guerrilla fighters. Thus with the spread and growth of the armed struggle the women’s mobilization and women’s organization have also grown leading to the emergence of this revolutionary women’s movement, one of the strongest and most powerful women’s movement in the country today. But it is unrecognized and ignored, a ploy of the ruling classes that will try to suppress any news and acknowledgement as long as it can.

Early in the dawn of this new century remarkable developments are taking place on the women’s front in India. Deep in the forests and plains of Central India, in the backward villages of Andhra Pradesh and up in the hills among the tribals in the State, in the forests and plains of Bihar and Jharkhand women are getting organized actively to break the shackles of feudal patriarchy and make the new democratic revolution. It is a women’s liberation movement of peasant women in rural India, a part of the people’s war being waged by the oppressed peasantry under revolutionary leadership. For the past few years thousands of women are gathering in hundreds of villages to celebrate March 8. Women are gathering together to march through the streets of a town like Narayanpur to oppose the Miss World beauty contest, they are marching with their children through the tehsil towns and market villages in backward Bastar to demand proper schooling for their children. They are blocking roads to protest against rape cases, and confronting the police to demand that the sale of liquor be banned. And hundreds of young women are becoming guerrilla fighters in the army of the oppressed, throwing off the shackles of their traditional life of drudgery. Dressed in fatigues, a red star on their olive green caps, a rifle on their shoulders, these young women brimming with the confidence that the fight against patriarchy is integrally linked to the fight against the ruling classes of this semi-feudal, semi-colonial India and are equipping themselves with the military knowledge to take on the third largest army of the exploiters. This is a social and political awakening among the poorest of the poor women in rural India. It is a scenario that has emerged far from the unseeing eyes of the bourgeois media, far from the flash and glitter of TV cameras. They are the signs of a transformation coming into the lives of the rural poor as they participate in the great struggle for revolution.

Let us unitedly fight back the forthcoming fascist attack on women of Dandakaranya and on the mass organizations!

An appeal by KAMS to fraternal mass organizations, progressive democratic women, intellectuals, students and all democrats

Dear friends,

Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Sangathan is working in the Dandakaranya comprising seven districts of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh with a population of about 40 lakhs. Women comprise about 19 lakhs 88 thousands among them. It is working in an area where various tribes like Madia, Muria, Dorla, Rajgond, Halba, Bathara and many nationalities are residing. The women here work for about 16 hours everyday in the fields, homes, as labourers, gatherers of forest produce etc. Though they labor day and night, they are being exploited and are denied all rights. Feudal patriarchy is exploiting women’s labour and is suppressing all their rights. It has relegated women to a secondary position in the society. The feudal, comprador bureaucratic bourgeoisie ruling classes of our country, with the backing of the imperialists are directly responsible for the continuation of exploitation and oppression of women as they are the ones who are strongly entrenching patriarchy in our society. The revolutionary movement entered into DK in 1980 in such a social background.

KAMS is working since three decades in DK with the aim of liberating women. It mobilized and led women in the struggles against forest officers, paper mill managements, tendu leaf contractors and the exploitation, sexual harassment, atrocities and violence of traders from plains. It gave a helping hand to young women who stood against the tribal patriarchy oppressing them. It gave a call to the adivasi women to rise under the leadership of KAMS and fight for women’s liberation. It gave solid support to the fraternal organization, the DAKMS. It mobilized women to resist the police who came to attack their villages and chased them away.

KAMS gives full support to the DK revolutionary movement which is carried on with the following aims – ‘Land to the tiller’, ‘Forest to the adivasis’, ‘State Power to the oppressed people’, ‘Women’s Liberation’. We work shoulder to shoulder with our fraternal mass organizations in the armed struggle and political propaganda against the exploitative government and its army. We participate in the election boycott actively with the aim of establishing people’s power as an alternative to the parliamentary politics in which we have lost confidence. The ruling classes who could not tolerate this are perpetuating brutal violence on the adivasi women.

KAMS supports all the struggles of the oppressed people against the exploitative ruling classes, not just in DK but also in India and abroad. We support nationality liberation struggles. We expressed solidarity to the movement which erupted when Manorama was killed in Manipur. We exposed the social fascist communists who had murdered Tapasi Malik in Singur. We hailed the militant participation of women in the people’s struggles of Nandigram and Lalgarh. We hailed the Kashmir women who raised their voices for Azad Kashmir. We gave the call to support the fighting people of Andhra Pradesh. It gathered public opinion in support of the demand to release Com. Budhni Munda (Sheila Didi), the president of ‘Nari Mukthi Sangathan’ by conducting a signature campaign.

Unofficial ban is continuing in Maharashtra on KAMS from 1991. The government tried to hamper the activities of KAMS from 1991 to 1993 by using TADA against it. POTA was brought in 2002. From then on, unofficial is continuing under MCOCA in Maharashtra. Before the formation of Chhattisgarh, the Madhya Pradesh government has been observing Anti-terrorist day from May 1992 and has been continuing unofficial ban on all revolutionary mass organizations since then. The Central government had banned the revolutionary mass organizations KAMS and DAKMS and Bal Sangams (Children’s organization) on April 19, 2005 under the Central government’s Unlawful Activities Preventive Act.

Within a month of assuming office the Central government had banned the CPI (Maoist) on June 20, 2009 under the Unlawful Activities Preventive Act (UAPA), a new fascist Act. A revolutionary women’s organization which believes in the politics propagated by that party was also not spared from the ban. That ban is continuing on our organization too.

The state unleashed terror on us from 1990. Thousands of adivasi women were incarcerated under TADA between 1990 and 1995. Chaithe Pallo was an ordinary adivasi woman who is undergoing life sentence from 2004 October. She was booked under TADA in 1991. Adivasi women who had never left their villages had to go to Rajnandgaon, Nagpur, Chandrapur etc. for hearings of TADA cases. Women underwent untold sufferings in the Jagdalpur, Dantewada, Amaravathi, Chandrapur and Nagpur jails. Missings of KAMS activists had started by 1993. There is still no trace of Tara, Pramila, Sukbatti and Jayawanta who had gone missing still.

The Feudal representatives like Kalma Masalu (Mahendra Karma) who could not tolerate the KAMS which had challenged their tribal feudal authority and patriarchy, tried to crush it under their feet in the name of Jan Jagran. Women had resisted and withstood the two Jan Jagran campaigns of 1990 and 1997. From June 2005, Jan Jagran changed its face. In the name of ‘Salwa Judum’ it is hounding and killing us like a man-eater. It turned us into homeless people in Dantewada, Bastar and Bijapur. Home, field, hut, paths, trees, shrubs – no place was safe for us. The Judum goons pounced on us like hungry wolves and bled us literally. The Naga, Mizo and CRPF forces cut our bodies into pieces. The fact that one or more women were raped in almost all the families shows the scale of the sexual violence perpetrated on us. Our bodies were cut, our breasts were cut, our private parts were pierced with sharp weapons and the wombs of pregnant women were cut open with bayonets. As if this was not enough now the state is readying itself for a massive offensive against us.

Many intellectuals and democrats had stood by us in defeating the fascist Salwa Judum offensive of the exploitative ruling classes. The ‘Committee against Violence on Women’ along with other women formed an All India Women’s team and toured in Dantewada district and gave paper statements condemning the fascist violence on us. The members of National Commission for Women condemned the sexual atrocities and violence on the women in Rahath Sibirs. Any little support from anybody who stood by us in these difficult times gave us a lot of confidence.

People say suppression always leads to resistance. If we do not defeat Salwa Judum, there is no protection for us. If we do not fight we can never defend the rights we have won in these 25 years of struggle. We learnt to fight while being in the battle field.

From the time of elections to Chhattisgarh assembly in 2008 November till the completion of Lok Sabha elections in May 2009, more than 500 companies of para-military forces were deployed in DK. Presently elections to Maharashtra assembly are taking place. The Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and Home Minister Jayant Patil are asking the Centre to send eight battalions of army to the state. They are giving statements that they would form Adivasi Battalions and Koya Battalions. Already forces like C-60 and STF are present in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh respectively. The Grey hounds from neighboring state of AP are already raiding our villages and hounding us. The Grey hounds are the cruel force of AP who had killed hundreds of revolutionaries and people, especially hundreds of women too. They are not just confining themselves to AP, but are also entering the neighbouring Odisha and Chhattisgarh states and perpetuating killings and gang rapes. They were in the forefront in suppressing the women’s movement in AP by killing women activists and women leaders. This notorious force which had gang raped adivasi women in Vakapalli is now coming to DK to suppress the women’s movement here too. The deployment of COBRA battalions built with the sole aim of wiping out the revolutionary movement has started. In the borders of Dantewada and AP, two battalions have been deployed. The trio of Sonia-Man Mohan-Chidambaram is the main leader behind this offensive.

The central and state governments are issuing statements that they would start the offensive after Diwali. With the sole aim of wiping out the revolutionary movement the police and para military forces are perpetuating all kinds of atrocities on us. They are resorting to bloody massacres with the evil design of wiping out the very existence of our Koya community in order to loot the natural resources which are abundant in our areas.

We request all democratic women, mass organizations and people to stand by us in all manners you can by condemning this unjustified, inhuman, undemocratic and cruel offensive which the exploitative ruling classes are planning to launch against us.

In solidarity,

Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Sangathan (KAMS)

Dandakaranya

October, 2009.

WOMEN AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND STATE REPRESSION

Overview: In October, 2009, about 25 organisations from across India met in Bhopal to address the increasingly rampant use of sexual violence as a method of State repression. While women’s organisations in states under the AFSPA have long protested the gory list of rapes, murders and disappearances of women in their regions, the State, rather than heed the call of justice and contain its security forces and police, is continuing its violence on women’s bodies as a method of intimidating communities across even more regions of India. Even as the women of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Jammu & Kashmir continue to reel under the ongoing brutalities committed by both the armed forces and the insurgents, the deployment of the paramilitary, the army regiments and the state police commando units in substantial parts of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa and West Bengal makes a mockery of the State’s Constitutional requirement to protect its own citizens.

Under the broad banner of “Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression” we have come together to strongly and unitedly say “NO ….NOWHERE….NEVER…and NOT ON ANY PRETEXT” to sexual violence against women.

We demand that the State take immediate and active steps to stop the sexual violence against women across the country- through conflict resolution and through containing its armed forces. In this Centenary year of 8th March – International Women’s Day we would like this cry to rage from struggling women all over the country.

As a part of our campaign’s strategy of women physically gathering and publicly protesting in areas that are under active armed deployment by the State, we, together with women’s organisations in Chhattisgarh, held a Convention in Raipur on 12-13 December, 2009. Now, in deeper solidarity and with more voice, intent and power, this national Campaign is concretely moving forward to show our opposition to the ongoing violence against our sisters in the Northeast of India. If justice is to be served, we need a strong and powerful coalescence of women across India to prevent more rapes and sexual torture of women by the armed forces and police, to punish those guilty and to ensure that the State does not turn a blind eye to its own agencies’ gross violation of women’s right to a life without violence.

INVITATION!!!!  TO OUR NEXT MEETING

You are invited to participate in our next meeting on 6-8 May, 2010 in Imphal, Manipur. This meeting is jointly hosted by various women’s rights organisations of the North-East. Starting with the landmark Nupilal (Women’s War, the first organised women’s protest) in 1904, these organisations have been very alert, brave and vocal in protesting against the unabated and unresolved violence dominant in the seven North-eastern Indian states for nearly 40 years. Civilian freedom has been oppressively curtailed in these states and security forces have been given special powers and significant immunity in all their violations. Despite the 2005 report of the Ministry of Home Affairs explicitly and unequivocally calling for both the repeal of the AFSPA (1958) and significant amendments to the UAPA (1967, amended 2004), innumerable women continue to be subject to sexual violence, rape, abduction and killing; many youth and children don’t know a life away from violence. It is time society across India wakes up to the injustices meted to these societies through sheer civilian indifference, State callousness, Union ineffectiveness and army brutality. Your physical presence here is a statement of solidarity with our sisters in the North-east in asking for judicial justice, executive fair play and legislative accountability in the dealings of the State and to ensure peace and order in all areas of the Indian Union.

Contributions: You can also support us by sending a money order or cheque to this Campaign; receipts will be provided. This is a non-funded grassroots effort by women from across India to stem the violence being perpetrated upon our bodies and on our societies both by the State’s forces and by the inability of our government to resolve conflict in a meaningful, sustainable and effective manner. Please contact Rinchin (rinchin@gmail.com), Arati (aratichokshi@gmail.com), Sree (saheliwomen@gmail.com) or your local representative to join us, endorse this call and/or to contribute monies.

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression

As represented by: AIPWA, AISA (Delhi), APDR (West Bengal), Action India, All Tripura Indigenous and Minority Association, Alternate Law Forum, Baiga Mahapanchayat (Chhattisgarh), Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan, Committee against Violence on Women (Tamil Nadu), CPDR (Maharashtra), Campaign for Justice and Peace (Karnataka), Chhattisgarh Mahila Adhikar Manch, Chhattisgarh Mahila Mukti Morcha, Dalit Adivasi Manch (Chhattisgarh), Dalit Stree Shakti (Andhra Pradesh), HumAnE (Orissa), HRLN (Madhya Pradesh), Hengasara Hakkina Sangha (Karnataka), Human Rights Alert (Manipur), IRMA (Manipur), IWID, Jagori (Delhi), Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (Madhya Pradesh), Jan Jagruti Manch (Chhattisgarh), Lalgarh Morcha, Lokayata (Maharashtra), MARA, Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch, NBA (Madhya Pradesh), Namma Manasa (Karnataka), Nari Mukti Sanstha (Delhi), Navsarjan Sanstha (Gujarat), Naya Chhattisgarh Mahila Sangh, Nirantar (Delhi), PSSK (Chhattisgarh), Patel Pat Chaunki (Chhattisgarh), Pratidhwani (Delhi), PUCL (Karnataka), Rachna Manch, Rohidas Mahila Kalyan Samiti (Chhattisgarh), Saheli (Delhi), Sahmet (Madhya Pradesh), Samajwadi Jan Parishad (Madhya Pradesh), Samata Vedike (Karnataka), Samanatha Mahila Vedike (Karnataka), Sangini (Madhya Pradesh), Vanangana (Uttar Pradesh), Vidyarthi Yuvjan Sabha, Women’s Right Resource Center (Madhya Pradesh), Yuva Samvaad (Madhya Pradesh), Stree Adhikar Sanghatan (Uttar Pradesh), Stree Jagruti Samiti, Trade Union Solidarity Committee (Maharashtra), Women Against Militarization and State Violence (The Other Media), Women’s Right Resource Center, Women’s Education Forum (Chhattisgarh), and many individuals.

Tehelka Tapes released for public

What else is needed to punish the mass murderers of the saffron brigade?

Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) held a press conference on March 22, 2010 to release portions of Tehelka tapes of the Sting Operations related to Narendra Modi’s direct involvement in the genocide of Muslims in 2002.

The exposure of the extrajudicial confessions of Tehelka’s Operation Kalank (October 25-27 2007) unequivocally established the direct role of chief minister Narendra Modi in directing and masterminding the massacre. These tapes have been authenticated by the CBI under direct orders of the National Human Rights Commission. Both the Gujarat High Court and the Supreme Court of India directed that they be used as evidence at the appropriate time. The detailed and extremely courageous exposure by Tehelka and its then correspondent Ashish Khetan also point to the involvement of several persons in the conspiracy to commit mass murder and economic destruction.

Summons was issued to chief minister Narendra Modi on charges of mass murder and criminal conspiracy. The criminal justice system in our so-called democracy would do everything to acquit the real criminals in positions of power and punish innocent or petty criminals. It is necessary for every civil rights activist and democratic individual to understand the criminal justice system if only to realize the need to overthrow it lock, stock and barrel. No more proof will be required to hang mass murderer Narendra Modi than the evidences given by his own men even if unknowingly in the sting operation conducted by Tehelka in 2007. However, the criminal justice system in our country totally biased in favour of the affluent and influential sections will never deliver justice to the victims.

We reproduce some of the excerpts from the Tehelka tapes released at a press conference on March 22, 2010 by the CJP in public interest. These portions expose  (a) the arms and bombs distribution in different parts of Gujarat before the Godhra incident i.e. February 27 2002 and b) the direct or indirect role of Narendra Modi alleged by BJP and VHP/Bajrang Dal cades on camera that amount to extra judicial confessions. In a CJP invitation to the press conference its secretary Teesta Setalvad explained the main exposures in the tapes as follows:

Tehelka’s Operation Kalank

Modi’s Role

I.          Babu Bajrangi (Patel)     Role in Massacre

Modi’s Role In Helping Bajrangi Abscond

Bajrangi also speaks of -How Police Machinery was made ineffective on Modi’s Instructions

Manipulation of the Judiciary

2.   Arvind Pandya   State Government Lawyer

“Modi Nahi Hota To Kuch Nahi Hota”

Modi’s Role in Subverting Entire Criminal Justice System

3.   DHIMANT BHAT Accountant MS University

Speaks of Modi’s Direct Role & VHP Meeting on Night of February 27, 2002 planning the post Godhra Conspiracy

4.   HARESH BHATT    former MLA Godhra

Speaks of Three Days given by Modi to do as they will

5.   RAJENDRA VYAS VHP Ahmedabad City President

In charge of Train (Sabaramati Express)      speaks of the behaviour on board the train

6.  SURESH RICHARD CHARA  from NARODA PATIA   (AN ACCUSED)

Modi’s Visit to Patia on evening of February 28 2002 to garland murderers and rapists saying they have accomplished a wonderful job.

7. DHAWAL PATEL   VHP ZILLA SANJOYAK SABARKANTHA

Speaks of Arms Distribution prior to the Godhra Train Burning Pointing to A Conspiracy

8. ANIL PATEL       Gujarat VHP Vibhag Pramukh

Arms Distribution prior to the Godhra Train Burning Pointing to A Conspiracy

Not only did the Modi government allow the mob fury to continue unabated, it also tried to shelter the perpetrators from the law. Modi himself arranged for Babu Bajrangi, the prime accused in the Naroda Patiya case, to stay at Gujarat Bhavan in Mount Abu, and transferred two judges to help Bajrangi get bail

Since the police were in control all over Gujarat, Modi instructed them to side with the Hindus, thus giving the rioters a free hand for three days until pressure from higher quarters necessitated the calling in of the army.

Now we reproduce some excerpts from the Tehelka tapes:

SURESH RICHARD CHARA   (accused in Naroda Patia Massacre)

Richard: [On the day of the massacre] we did whatever we did till quite late in the evening… at around 7.30… around 7.15, our Modibhai came… Right here, outside the house… My sisters garlanded him with roses…

TEHELKA: Narendrabhai Modi…

Richard: Narendra Modi… He came with black commandos… got down from his Ambassador car and walked up here…. All my sisters garlanded him… a big man is a big man after all…

TEHELKA: He came out on the road?

Richard: Here, near this house… Then he went this way… Looked at how things were in Naroda…

TEHELKA: The day the Patiya incident happened…

Richard: The same evening…

TEHELKA: February 28…

Richard: 28…

TEHELKA: 2002…

Richard: He went around to all the places… He said our tribe was blessed… He said our mothers were blessed [for bearing us]…

TEHELKA: He came at about 5 o’clock or at 7?

Richard: Around 7 or 7.30… At that time there was no electricity… Everything had been burnt to ashes in the riots…Richard: We’d finished burning everything and had returned… That was when the police called us… They said some Muslims were hiding in this sewer… When we went there, we saw their houses had been completely burned down but seven or eight of them had hidden in the gutter… We shut the lid on it… If we’d gone in after them, we might have been in danger… We closed the lid and weighted it down with big boulders… Later, they found eight or ten corpses in there… They’d gone there to save their lives, but… they died of the gases down there… This happened in the evening… the dhamal [killing spree] went till night, till about 8.30…

TEHELKA: So you went in again….

Richard:We were inside… By evening, things had cooled down… We were tired also… After all, a man gets tired out… Hurling stones, beating with pipes, stabbing, all this… The way we came out from inside could only be done by a man of strong heart…
• • •
Richard: Mayaben was moving around all day in an open jeep…

TEHELKA: On the day of the Patiya massacre…

Richard: [She was saying] Jai Shri Ram, Jai Shri Ram… wearing a saffron headband… She kept raising slogans… She said, carry on with your work, I’m here [to protect you]… She was wearing a white sari and had on a saffron band… I had also tied on a saffron band…
• • •
TEHELKA: It is being said the Chharas also committed rapes…

Richard: Now look, one thing is true… bhookhe ghuse to koi na koi to phal khayega, na [when thousands of hungry men go in, they will eat some fruit or the other, no]… Aise bhi, phal ko kuchal ke phek denge [in any case, the fruit are going to be crushed and thrown away]… Look, I’m not telling lies… Mata is before me [gesturing to an image of a deity]… Many Muslim girls were being killed and burnt to death anyway, some people must have helped themselves to the fruit…

TEHELKA: There must have been a couple of rapes…

Richard: Might even have been more… then there were the rest of our brothers, our Hindu brothers, VHP people and RSS people… Anyone could have helped themselves… who wouldn’t, when there’s fruit?… The more you harm them, the less it is… I really hate them… don’t want to spare them… Look, my wife is sitting here but let me say…the fruit was there so it had to be eaten… I also ate… I also ate… I ate once

TEHELKA: Just once?

Richard: Just once… then I had to go killing again… [turns to relative Prakash Rathod and talks about the girl he had raped and killed]… That scrap-dealer’s girl, Naseemo… Naseemo that juicy plump one… I got on top…

TEHELKA: You got on top of her…

Richard: Yes, properly…

TEHELKA: She didn’t survive, did she?

Richard: No, then I pulped her… Made her into a pickle…
• • •

BABU BAJRANGI

What They Said About Modi

‘To Get Me Out On Bail, Narendrabhai Changed Judges Thrice’

Transcript (EXCERPT): BABU BAJRANGI

Modi has a definite soft spot for the man who would later stall the film Parzania. The regard is mutual

AUGUST 10, 2007
TEHELKA: The day Patiya happened, didn’t Modi support you?
Bajrangi: He made everything all right, otherwise who would have had the strength… It was his hand all the way… If he’d told the police to do differently, they would have f****d us…. they could have… they had full control…

TEHELKA: They had control?
Bajrangi: They were very much in control all over the city, all over Gujarat… [But] for two days, Narendrabhai was in control… from the third day… a lot of pressure came from the top… Sonia-wonia and all came here…
• • •

TEHELKA: Didn’t Narendrabhai come to meet you [in jail]?
Bajrangi: If Narendrabhai comes to meet me, he’ll be in deep trouble… I didn’t expect to see him… Even today, I don’t expect it…

TEHELKA: Did he ever talk to you over the phone?
Bajrangi: That way I do get to speak to him… but not just like that… The whole world starts singing…

TEHELKA: But when you were absconding, then he…..
Bajrangi: Hmm… I did speak to him twice or thrice…

TEHELKA: He’d encourage you…
Bajrangi: Marad aadmi hai [he’s a real man], Narendrabhai… If he were to tell me to tie a bomb to myself and jump… it wouldn’t take even a second… I could sling a bomb around me and jump wherever I was asked to… for Hindus…

TEHELKA: Had he not been there,then Naroda Patiya, Gulbarg etc…
Bajrangi:Wouldn’t have happened.Would’ve been very difficult.
• • •

SEPTEMBER 1, 2007

TEHELKA: Did Narendrabhai come to Patiya the day of the massacre?

Bajrangi: Narendrabhai came to Patiya… He could not make it to the place of the incidents because there were commando-phamandos with him… But he came to Patiya, saw our enthusiasm and went away… He left behind a really good atmosphere…

TEHELKA: Said you were all blessed…
Bajrangi: Narendrabhai had come to see that things didn’t stop the next day… He went all around Ahmedabad, to all the places where the miyas [Muslims] were, to the Hindu areas… told people they’d done well and should do more…
• • •Bajrangi: [After the massacre] the commissioner issued orders [against me]… I was told to leave my home… I ran away… Narendrabhai kept me at… the Gujarat Bhavan at Mount Abu for fourand- a-half months… After that, [I did] whatever Narendrabhai told me to… Nobody can do what Narendrabhai has done in – Gujarat… If I did not have the support of Narendrabhai, we would not have been able to avenge [Godhra]… [After it was over,] Narendrabhai was happy, the people were happy, we were happy… I went to jail and came back… and returned to the life I’d led before.
• • •
Bajrangi: Narendrabhai got me out of jail…… He kept on changing judges…. He set it up so as to ensure my release, otherwise I wouldn’t have been out yet… The first judge was one Dholakiaji… He said Babu Bajrangi should be hanged — not once, but four-five times, and he flung the file aside… Then came another who stopped just short of saying I should be hanged… Then there was a third one… By then, four-and-a-half months had elapsed in jail; then Narendrabhai sent me a message… saying he would find a way out… Next he posted a judge named Akshay Mehta… He never even looked at the file or anything…. He just said [bail was] granted… And we were all out… We were free….. For this, I believe in God… We are ready to die for Hindutva…

Haresh Bhatt (a Bajrang Dal leader): He had given us three days… to do whatever we could. He said he would not give us time after that… He said this openly…After three days, he asked us to stop and everything came to a halt…

TEHELKA: It stopped after three days… Even the army was called in.
Bhatt: All the forces came… We had three days… and did what we had to in those three days…

TEHELKA: Did he say that?
Bhatt: Yes… That is why I am saying he did what no chief minister can do…

TEHELKA: Did he speak to you?
Bhatt: I told you that we were at the meeting.
and the upper castes too have come out now in support of the Parivar…

Bhatt: In Ahmedabad, there were two persons… I won’t tell you the place… that is secret… it is the Parivar’s… In Ahmedabad, the party has a farmhouse… we started… supplying everything… made a plan… If the police makes arrests, then [we were to secure] the release [of those in custody]. That night, we sat up and made a panel of advocates… If Hindus were injured, then how to take them to hospitals… how we were to help… We made the whole plan… to start a Hindu jehad… we were successful in Gujarat… We were thinking what should we do… so we got three-foot long iron rods… iron bars, and if the cadre was from the Bajrang Dal, then trishuls… In other words, we made a plan and supplied the samaan [weapons]… it was very necessary… After we supplied the samaan, the Hindus got very motivated… Until Godhra happened, the upper castes would never come out… Baniyas… Patels… they would never come out… But we mobilised them… told them that we had prepared teams from the police and amongst advocates… that if they went to jail, we would get them released…

Conspirators & Rioters

‘The Idea Came From Modi Himself’

Transcript: DHIMANT BHATT

The chief auditor of MS University, Bhatt reveals the minute planning and mobilisation that went into the attacks

MAY 19, 2007

Dhimant Bhatt: I have two charges… I am chief auditor for the entire university [MSU] as well as chief accounts officer… this is a financial matter… everybody needs funds… this is why it is hectic… I am a staunch Hindu… suppose somebody from the Sangh says we have to promote Hindu fundamentalism, I will be the first to volunteer… I will go and say, brothers, put the Sangh’s lathis aside and pick up AK-56s … pick up AK-56s because if you have to develop Hinduism, it is clear who the enemies are… There are two who are against Hinduism… Muslims, who are open… but the Christians… they are like a bacterial virus … and there’s a third, the Communists, who are developing now… red waale… If you have to fight them, you need power and that power will not come from the lathi… only the bullet will do… we go to RSS shakhas … pick up the lathi and use it… All that is fine but now they should be replaced with AKs and a Hindu
brigade should be formed…
HARESH BHATT, who was the Bajrang Dal rashtriya sah sanyojak in 2002 and is now the BJP MLA from Godhra, till the riots a Congress stronghold, made a never-before admission that bombs were made at a firecracker factory he owned. He describes how they assembled country-made explosives, including rocket launchers. These were then distributed to murderous mobs in Ahmedabad

IN 2002, despite curfew in Ahmedabad, swords were brought in from Punjab and country pistols from UP, Bihar and MP. Bhatt boasts that none of these states were under BJP rule then. The consignment of arms crossed the borders not once but many times. “There were tens and tens of them,” Bhatt reveals

IN AN UNRELATED but crucial disclosure, Bhatt says that he trained 40 young men who then went on to demolish the Babri Masjid in December 1992. He trained them like the army does, and ran obstacle courses for them and taught them how to climb a 30-ft rope. The camp still exists in Ahmedabad

DHAWAL JAYANTI PATEL of the VHP used dynamite in his quarries in Sabarkantha. With the help of an old RSS hand, Amrudh Patel, who was an expert in handling explosives, bombs were made in the quarries using dynamite and RDX-based powder

ANIL PATEL, the VHP Vibhag pramukh, talks of how explosives were made in Sabarkantha and then supplied to Ahmedabad.

VHP leader Anil Patel says even Congress workers joined in the attacks, and that senior police officers were very helpful

TEHELKA: How were the activists motivated?

Patel: The incident was being repeated on TV. The killing of the karsevaks was being played and replayed [throughout the day]. All of us, including the Congressmen felt that we [Hindus] had been attacked. They did everything alongside us, even triggered the bomb to demolish the mosque …

TEHELKA: In Ahmedabad, bombs were made in Hareshbhai’s own factory. How did it work here?
Patel: There are a lot of boring industries here, because of which dynamite is available… Then, we also had some experts. They made [explosives] and supplied them to Ahmedabad as well…

Vedanta continues to dole out lies emboldened by Chidambaram’s absolute support

The story of Vedanta is also the story of Chidambaram: both survive on advertisements, paid news and endless lies. The ex-member of Vedanta’s Board of Directors becomes a vedantist and says his Operation Green Hunt is an illusion, a myth invented by the media even as hundreds of unarmed innocent adivasis are murdered by his mercenary forces, voiceless helpless adivasi women are gang-raped by his “security” forces, and hundreds of thousands are driven away from their homes fearing uninterrupted attacks by these trigger-happy goons. And the Union Home Minister’s mentor, Vedanta, spends huge sums to project itself as the benefactor of adivasis. An entire page of advertisement on VEDANTA’s “good deeds” appeared in almost all English dailies on February 27, 2010. The advertisement talks of how the multinational is building schools, hospitals, roads, providing job opportunities, and drastically transforming the lives of the poor. The language is hundred per cent same as that used by Chidambaram when he spoke at a press conference after the chief ministers’ conference on February 7. The biggest liar of the decade, Chidambaram, said: “I have asked the chief ministers of the naxal-affected states to rush in with developmental work like schools, roads, hospitals, drinking water, job opportunities…..”  This, despite the fact that the vast majority of the people in the Indian countryside is surviving on a meager Rs. 20 a day and suffers from chronic hunger, malnutrition, diarrheal diseases due to complete unavailability or acute scarcity of drinking water, unemployment, and extreme misery. “50 hunger-deaths in Orissa, several more in MP”, run newspaper headlines. Yet, these are of no concern to the hypocrite who heads the Union Home Ministry and continues to assure that everything would be well if the Maoist “monsters” are decimated and the territories under their control reclaimed.

Four European investors have already pulled out of Vedanta by selling off their stakes in the company citing “serious concern about its approach to human rights and the environment.” The latest to pull out of this multi-billion swindler is United Kingdom-based Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust which sold off its 2.2-million pound stake in Vedanta. A week prior to this, the Church of England decided to sell off its 2.1 million pound stake. The first high-profile withdrawal was from the Norwegian government’s pension fund which sold its $13 million stake in 2007, while the Martin Curie Investment sold its 2.3 pound stake last year. The objections raised by these trusts to the unethical activities of Vedanta are interesting.

According to a news report published in the third week of February this year, Susan Seymour, chair of the investment committee at the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, has charged the unethical acts of this multi-billion fraud in unequivocal terms:  “We have heard first-hand about Vedanta’s environmental and human rights abuses in Orissa and believe that Vedanta is pushing industrialization to the detriment of the lives and lands of the local people. This behavior may be legal, but is morally indefensible.”

There is a lot that our Man Mohans, Chidambarams, Naveen Patnaiks, Raman Singhs, Buddhadebs and other comprador agents of imperialists have to learn from these foreign companies. While these companies are opposing Vedanta, our own so-called Indians ruling our country are cringing before Vedanta and acting like boot-lickers. Chidambaram, of course, would say that all these charges against Vedanta are a myth. As much of a myth as the Operation Green Hunt.

From THE SUNDAY INDIAN, 4 April 2010

Tribal unrest

Provider as marauder

As the people of Junglemahal drift close to desperation, it is the state that is to blame

Soumitra Basu

An epic is being enacted, or an apology of it! Chidambaram started it, with a number -72 hours, Kishenji retorted with another unit – days…. Nothing came of it. Neither took it seriously. Both procrastinated. This is a fine management technique one that creates huge media hype and thus social capital is formed. Things did not change but perceptions did. Junglemahal is now a name, more than Nandigram.

People die or are dying, get raped, jailed, evicted and, of course, they are threatened on a quotidian basis. Lalmohan Tudu was bumped off in an encounter. His crime? A highly dangerous conspiracy against the state and the system – he was running a local hospital on the people’s initiative. Compassion is extremely dangerous when people are the target. Police officers are disappearing too. Retaliation is often swift. The cycle goes on, on and on, the idyllic but somber rainforest is now bloodied. And procrastination is the response.

700 villages have been flattened and wiped out ostensibly for “development” – for mining important national resources. “National interest” serves city-dwelling billionaires who compete in the global arena. It will never serve the people in the nation-state. A rainforest does not have capital value and is, therefore, dispensable. People who live and who produce through their toil and let the wealthy live off their resources generated through indirect taxes, do not have a voice or opinion in a “in a democracy”. The voice that matters is that of those whose “national interest’ is served.

Liberals and “independent” think tanks are clamoring about a colossal breakdown of an ostensible perfect development regime. A haven of representational neurocracy that we advertise as the best liberal model laments that people of the rainforest are now mere victims of neglect and corruption! What a revelation! Ask Lalita Tudu, thoroughly determined daughter of Lalmohun. She does care a fig for “development” or “administration”.

Ask those ladies who are either already raped or are preys of the future; ask the children whose parents are behind bars and do not know why; ask those who have lost their generations-old possession to some security mercenaries. Do they care about how many bore wells may be installed in some future time, or how many health centers and even schools?  People have lived here on their own for millenniums. They expect nothing from the dikus (outsiders). So they do not appreciate their presence either. Adivasis have seen outsiders coming and going, and robbing them in every such new move and another thread of continuous stream of wealth outflow starts. These various streams of dikus of different races and people have now congealed into an all-powerful state. The state is now institutionalized diku. These people had to be subdued, imprisoned, strangled and dishonoured.  “Development” follows the same track. The people of the rainforest and Junglemahal are fighting the war their predecessors had started millenniums back.

Dignity is all they want, dignity for the domiciled, dignity as human beings and dignity as producers.  They are hardly swayed human beings and dignity as producers. They are hardly swayed by the lollipops of jobs, doles, “development” and, least of all, bore-wells. Binayak Sen, Himangshu Kumar, Anuradha Ghandy, Narayan Sanyal, Jayanta Bhattacharya, Naba Kumar Biswas are not dikus. They are kakus. The STATE is, the uniform-clad BABUs are, the sahebs in the white car are and definitely the security authorities are. An Adivasi mother knows who to watch out against and who to go to as friends. The state comprises of the liberal soothsayers as well, the think-tanks, the academicians, the NGOs, and all other “individuals” in addition to the four existing pillars we had known. Castes after castes, sections after sections are joining the ranks of the rebels. Previously Mundas were the rebels, then came the Santhals, then all other denominations of Vavvasis, then the Mahatos (Koiris) and now the domiciled Biharis and Bengalis. Marx conceived of withering away of the state. The means were rather mundane: build up mass organizations and render the government –sponsored institutions irrelevant. Now it is the state that is blasting itself off by unleashing a backlash. The state is the anarchist and terrorist here, it is pushing the whole populace into rebellion, and it is losing all iota of credibility as provider and positing itself as a marauder.

The ruling establishment at the Centre is not bothered. The Congress has a long enough experience of wading through waters sullied by themselves. They know how to linger on without solving but creating more complex twists. Our Left parties have learnt how to parrot and even out-perform the Congress in their game. The people are now realizing this. There are two ways of looking at the same thing – a state way, and a people way.

(The views expressed here are personal and not necessarily TSI’s)

State violence in Kalinganagar, Orissa: Tata sponsors Green Hunt in Kalinganagar to suppress the villagers protesting against Tata project

The following is a report by Debaranjan Sarangi taken from the Net:

   Orissa government has started war on people in Kalinga Nagar.

   The forces meant for ‘Operation Green Hunt’ like SOG forces were used for this purpose (as per media report Government of Orissa is formally launching ‘Operation Green Hunt’ from April 2010.)

   This entire mobilization of armed forces in Kalinga Nagar is for construction of common corridor.

   This common corridor is a connecting passage from main road to Tata’s proposed project site

   This would help the administration and police to reach the Tata’s project site without any hindrance from local villagers.

   Though the government of Orissa says that it would help transporting vehicles for other factories but there is already a road that exists for their transportation and they are using it.

   Many villagers have not yet received compensation for Tata project and even they are refusing to receive.

   But the government of Orissa has mobilized/deployed 29 platoons of State Armed police, 2 platoons of Special Operation Groups (SOGs), 70 senior police officers, 7 magistrates besides District collector and Superintendent of Police at the spot.

   Entire area has been cordoned off and section 144 has been declared.

   Media persons were not permitted to enter those villages and were forced to sit inside the police station. But photographers hired by the private companies were moving around within police cordon.

   On March 30, police has used 500 round rubber bullets and did blank firing to send the villagers back. When the people were withdrawing from the area, police chased them up to 3km and came inside Baligotha village.

   Inside Baligotha village, the police has burnt several houses and has beaten many old people.

   Some villagers are injured. Their exact number is yet to be known. Most of them are taking private treatment.

   ‘Bisthanpan Birodhi Janamancha’, which is spearheading the movement in Kalinga Nagar, recently met the administration on March 28 after the latter invited for the discussion.

   The Mancha placed few things before the Adm, like (a) after Kalinga Nagar firing (on 2nd April 2006 when 14 tribals died for opposing Tata steel project) the chief minister has invited and met them twice. But none of the demands have yet been met. It speaks how far really the government of Orissa is serious about the problem of Kalingnagar. (b) The Mancha is not opposing the project. But land against land should be given and who are already displaced by previous projects should be rehabilitated properly.

   Administration has not accepted any of the demands but next day started their ‘war’ on the people.

   Surprisingly, those political parties who were opposing Kalinga Nagar firing and called Orissa bandh on 7th January 2006, are maintaining complete silence.

   Local newspapers are only giving the version of police. None of them has yet carried any interview of one of any leaders of the Mancha.

Other reports

A team of senior journalists and activists along with a doctor visited the villages around Kalinga Nagar. They report that about 50 people have been seriously injured with many having these new kind of plastic bullets still lodged in their bodies.

On March 31 the police had again blocked all roads and many people have been held on their way to the villages. The police stations in Kalinga Nagar have turned into offices for Tata goons and the local mafia. Goons on bikes and in SUVs are patrolling all roads leading to the villages and are intimidating any unknown person they see on the road. Suresh Panigrahi of CPI (M) was threatened by the police as well as the goons and he was not able to reach Baligotha or other villages that are being targeted. At the same time Tata goons have assembled at the common corridor construction site near Baligotha and are carrying out construction activities. The police are spreading rumours about Maoist presence in the area to be able to cut off the villages again and attack one more time.

The police had vandalized the 2 Jan 2006 martyrs’ memorials…they have destroyed the personal documents of the people…they have robbed money from homes… they have destroyed food stocks and carried away livestock, and killed cattle. It is as if we were returning to the medieval times of plunder and invasions. Two separate press conferences were held in Bhubaneswar by those who visited the area.

*********************************************

Concerned Citizens Committee on Kalinganagar Firing

Bhubaneswar: March 31, 2010

A citizens’ committee which visited Baligootha Kalinganagar under the leadership of Justice Chaudhry Pratap Mishra ( Retd Judge of Orissa High Court ) on 30th March, 2010 after indiscriminate firing against peaceful protesters of Vistapan Virodhi Janmanch was reported in the media, has come across shocking instances of police and mafia brutality. The members of the committee which also included Sri Rabi Das (senior journalist), Shri Chitta Mohanty (writer and political activist), Sri Sudhir Pattnaik (senior journalist), Sri Mahendra Parida, TU and human rights activist, met the victims of bullet injury in Baligootha, Chandia and Baragadia and saw the damages done to the houses, bovine wealth, food grains, food articles, motor bikes and cycles of the villagers.

The Sarpanch of Baligootha reported before the committee that his cash and golden chain also have been stolen from his house apart from the damage caused to food grains. Dabur Kalundia, another leader, also deposed before the team. Rabi Jarika, the leader of the agitating tribals who had sustained a bullet injury also narrated the incidents of the day and the politics behind the common corridor. The committee met men, women and children and about 25 injured persons including 9 women received treatment from the senior doctor who accompanied the committee along with a team of volunteers.

Observations of the Committee

1. About 30-40 tribals have sustained bullet injuries in the firing and 25 were treated by the doctor accompanying the committee. Four critically injured persons were in the hospital. Some have bullets stuck within their wounds. Though it appears to be rubber bullets, the kind of bloody wounds each one of the persons treated has received does not seem to be the work of rubber bullets.

2. No efforts by the administration to treat the injured. People don’t wish to go out for treatment for fear of torture and arrest.

3. The police firing at the site of the controversial common corridor road near Baligootha was unwarranted and uncalled for and therefore looks to be preplanned.

4. 29 platoons of armed police, 2 platoons of NSG, 70 police officers and 7 magistrates does speak a lot about the firing and also speaks about the atmosphere of police terror prevailing in the area.

5. The witnesses report that familiar faces in the nearby localities close to the ruling party came in police uniform and attacked all houses in Baligootha. They did not carry guns. They had swords and other deadly weapons in their hand.

6. Civilian goons in the presence of police could be seen in the place in which 144 was declared, as reported by the people.

7. The houses of leaders of the Manch have been damaged and all important articles including food grains burnt.

8. Agitating and aggrieved tribals are spending sleepless nights under trees in fear of more attacks, since the police, goons of the company and certain criminal elements associated with the ruling party are having a field day with good cooperation of the administration and police.

9. The presence of such a huge force itself threatens the peace of the area.

10. The administration does not seem to be sensitive to the cause of the tribal protesters as much as it is concerned for the companies in Kalinganagar.

Recommendations

1. The Hon’ble Chief Minister should immediately intervene and call an immediate halt to the controversial common corridor project

2. Since the administration has betrayed the people once more a dialogue should take place at the highest level with the CM on the demands of the tribals including the one calling for land for land. Even people owning land in the common corridor have not been consulted.

3. Instead of building police stations one after another in a small place with corporate funding the CM should ensure that every village gets developmental inputs particularly education, health, water, social security schemes such as widow pensions all of which have been suspended arbitrarily.

4. Law should not be taken to hands by any citizens and this law applies first to the police administration. All officers, civil and police, involved in the firing of 30th March and in criminal activities such as injecting a sense of fear among the tribals the day preceding the firing and conflicts must be suspended immediately and be subjected to trial.

5. Financial compensation to the tune of Rs 1 lakh for every person injured in the firing be given to the victims.

Justice Ch.Pratap Mishra(Retd)

————————————–

State terror unleashed on protestors – Police invade villages

On March 28, 2010 the Bisthapan Birodhi Jan Manch leaders and villagers welcomed the Jajpur District Collector and had a discussion with him on the controversial common corridor, though they knew very well that the district administration had other motives. After talks with activists of Bisthapan Birodhi Jan Manch and more than 300 villagers, the Collector assured them that there would be no construction activity for the Common Corridor Road till the matter is resolved through dialogue. The administration has gone back on its words and started work. SP has said ‘protestors will not be spared’ and the Collector is says “construction of the road will happen at any cost.”

This gave the Manch no other alternative but to protest. But on 30th March, 29 platoons of armed police with 60 officers and hundreds of BJD and Tata goons reached the place of dispute. They first denied media any entry to the place and then started attacking peaceful protesters. Many have been injured including women and children in indiscriminate rubber bullet firing and lathi charge. They entered the villages and unleashed a reign of terror. The area has become a war zone and more than a dozen people including women and children have been seriously injured. One person, Member Kalundia received bullet wounds in the chest and legs… Police has demolished houses and set them ablaze… Cattle have been indiscriminately shot at… Two days before Orissa Day the Govt celebrates with a bloodbath… The police had later vacated the village but have gathered about half a kilometer away in front of Rohit Ferro Chrome Factory where the construction of the common corridor road is to begin… All houses have been ransacked… food stocks set afire… televisions, radios, etc have been destroyed… the girl who was beaten up by police has been admitted to the hospital… its not clear yet how many have been arrested but some 20-30 people have sustained serious injuries in the attack…

This is being carried out under the supervision of IG Special Operations, Arun Sadangi. Despite Sec 144 being imposed in the area, a large number of Tata supporters and BJD cadre have assembled at the site and are giving instructions to the police. All people who have a conscience must act now as democracy in Kalinganagar is being butchered in the most vulgar manner and the political and bureaucratic leadership of the state have completely sold themselves to the Tatas. There is not even a murmur of protest from any of the mainstream political party leaders which signifies the absolute power Tata wields over them.

COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA (MAOIST)

CENTRAL COMMITTEE

Press Release:                                                                                                       April 8, 2010

Hail the daring and the biggest ever guerrilla attack on the hired mercenaries of the Indian State carried out by the heroic PLGA guerrillas in Chhattisgarh!

Sonia-Man Mohan-Chidambaram-Pranab gang is solely responsible for the loss of lives of CRPF jawans used as cannon-fodder in their dirty war on behalf of tiny a parasitic corporate elite!!

The heroic PLGA guerrillas led by the CPI (Maoist) have created history by wiping out an entire Company of the central paramilitary force in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh. The PLGA had wiped out over 80 CRPF mercenaries—a part of the huge armed mercenary force of over 60 battalions sent by Chidambaram to Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar and Maharashtra to carry out the genocide of adivasis. Several more mercenaries were injured in India’s biggest ever guerrilla attack till date. A huge cache of highly sophisticated arms and ammunition was seized from these mercenaries that include mortars and LMGs. The CC, CPI (Maoist) sends its heartiest revolutionary greetings to the brave warriors of PLGA who have given a fitting reply to fraud Chidambaram and nailed his unabashed naked lie that his brutal Operation Green Hunt is a myth invented by the media.

The Dantewada ambush is a logical culmination of the unending terrible provocation by the uniformed goondas sent by Chidambaram and Raman Singh to the adivasi areas to create a brutal reign of terror. In just eight months, 114 innocent unarmed adivasi people were abducted, tortured and murdered in cold blood by these uniformed goondas (list is attached). Several women were gang-raped by these lawless goons. Neither they nor their khadi-clad bosses have any respect for the Indian Constitution. They have an unwritten licence to abduct, torture, rape and murder any adivasi or Maoist without any questions being asked. This dehumanization of the police and paramilitary forces is consciously encouraged by Chidambaram, Raman Singh, Vishwa Ranjan and others, notwithstanding their holy chants of peace and ahimsa. Behind their sophisticated-looking rhetoric lie the raw, beastly, cannibalistic passions that devour human beings for establishing their absolute control over the resources and lives of the people. Their vision goes no farther than that of a local daroga, as aptly pointed out by a JD (U) spokesperson referring to Chidambaram. And their tactics fare no better than those of a street rowdy. As long as their fascist mind-set refuses to see the socio-politico-economic roots of Naxalism and continue to treat it as a disease or a problem while the oppressed people see it increasingly as a remedy and a solution to their problems, Dantewada-type attacks will continue to take place at an even greater frequency and intensity.

The atrocities committed by these forces, along with the state-sponsored Salwa Judum goons, koya commandos and SPOs in Dantewada and Bijapur, make one shudder (leaving out Chidambaram and his animal species of cobras, jaguars, greyhounds etc) with horror and repugnance. Besides tales of unending abductions, horrifying torture, gruesome gang-rapes, and ghastly massacres of ordinary adivasis, the so-called “security forces” have kept in their illegal custody at least 20-30 adivasis from every village. Whenever they feel the need to show some success over the Maoists in terms of body count some of these hapless adivasi captives are bumped off with the claim that the “security forces” had killed Maoist guerrillas in “fierce encounters”. And to prove their claim to the world these Chidambaran liars put on military uniforms on the dead bodies of poor adivasis. With such a bizarre drama enacted by those supposed to be the guardians of law, then what other option do the Maoists and the adivasi masses have but to retaliate for their own self-defence?

Now the war-mongering hawks in the Union Home Ministry and various state governments, the political leaders and spokespersons of the parliamentary parties, the so-called defence analysts, police top brass and their agents employed in the media are yelling that an all-out war should be declared and the Maoists should be wiped out. The fact is, an all-out war has already been declared and executed in the most ruthless manner. What these vultures want is perhaps bombing of entire areas under Maoist control and achieving the peace of the graveyard. If they indulge in such mindless barbaric acts, the Maoist revolutionary counter-violence will take on new and deadly forms which these apologists of state terror and state-sponsored terror cannot even imagine.

The BJP and its saffron gang of Hindu fascist terrorists have been yelling like lunatics that Maoists had declared a war on India and that the BJP would endorse every move of the Congress to finish off the Maoists. In reply to these saffron terrorist gangsters we assert once again that ours is a war waged by the real India—the India of the oppressed, suppressed and depressed sections of society; the India of the hungry, impoverished, undernourished masses—against the India that shines for a handful of parasitic corporate elites, imperialist agents deriving enormous commissions and kickbacks through nefarious deals, real estate mafia gangs who grab the land of the poor in the name of SEZs and various projects, unscrupulous contractors and mining syndicates who run a parallel state, horribly corrupt and degenerate political leaders and bureaucrats, licensed murderers in police uniforms who are infamous for the worst crimes against humanity, and such other traitors. Ours is a revolutionary war on the saffron gang of terrorists who are armed to the teeth and dream of transforming our country into a Hindu fascist state by enacting Gujarat-type genocides of religious minorities. Ours is a genuine people’s war for achieving the real liberation of the people from all types of oppression and exploitation, and to establish a genuine people’s democratic India. It is not a war on India but a war for the liberation of India from the clutches of rapacious plunderers.

The sole responsibility for the death of the CRPF men in Dantewada lies with Sonia-Manmohan-Chidambaram-Pranab gang and the saffron terrorist Raman Singh regime in Chhattisgarh who are recruiting young boys and girls in a massive way and using them as cannon-fodder in their dirty counter-revolutionary war against Maoist revolutionaries, against the Maoist model of development, and in their greed hunt for the mineral wealth of the adivasi regions. The CC, CPI (Maoist), while offering its heart-felt condolences to the bereaved families of the dead jawans, appeals to the state and central paramilitary personnel to realize that they are being used as cannon-fodder in this war waged by the exploiting ruling class in the interests of a tiny parasitic elite against the poor and oppressed people of our country led by CPI (Maoist).

We appeal to all peace-loving, democratic-minded organizations and individuals in India to understand the context in which the Maoists are compelled to annihilate the so-called security forces who are creating a virtual reign of terror in adivasi areas armed with mortars, LMGs and grenades. When dacoits try to loot your house you have to fight back. And that is what the masses led by the Maoists are doing in all these areas. When the CRPF dacoits enter and loot the houses of adivasis is it not justified to hit back? The daring attack by our heroic PLGA on a superior enemy force in terms of fire-power became possible through the enormous mass support the Party and guerrillas enjoy. With the intelligence inputs from the people who are our eyes and ears and with their active participation we are confident of defeating the brutal enemy offensive in the name of Operation Green Hunt. There is no short-cut for achieving peace. Only the most ferocious, most resolute, and the most heroic resistance on the part of the people can defeat the war-mongers and bring democratic space and peace for the people.

Azad,

Spokesperson,

Central committee,

CPI (Maoist)

COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA (MAOIST)

CENTRAL COMMITTEE

Press Release:                                                                                                                           March 14, 2010

Red Salutes to Maoist leaders comrades Sakhamuri Appa Rao (Ravi) and Kondal Reddy (Ramana)!

Let us avenge the cold-blooded murder of our beloved leaders

by Chidambaram and his lawless goons!

Let us build country-wide wave of people’s struggles

to sweep away the fascist regime

led by Sonia-Man Man-Chidambaram gang!!

On March 12, 2010 a former state committee member of Andhra Pradesh and current in charge of military intelligence wing of CPI (Maoist), comrade Sakhamuri Appa Rao, and a district committee member, comrade Kondal Reddy (also known as Tech Ramana), were murdered in cold blood by the notorious goons belonging to Andhra Pradesh Special Investigation Bureau and the AP Grey Hounds. The two leaders were abducted two days earlier from Chennai and Pune respectively, cruelly tortured by these neo-Nazi mercenaries hired by the Indian State, and taken to the forests where they were shot dead.

As usual, the story of an encounter was put forth by the government and the top police officials. As is the practice of the AP Grey Hounds and the SIB, the bodies were placed in the forests where these comrades had earlier worked—Comrade Sakhamuri Appa Rao’s body was thrown in Nallamala forest while that of Kondal Reddy in Eturnagaram forest in Warangal. Through these SIB-Grey Hounds-mark murders the reactionary rulers want to demonstrate to the people of these regions who were associated with the revolutionary movement for a long period of time, and amongst whom these leaders had once worked, that they will ruthlessly crush any revival of the revolutionary movement in these one-time hot-beds of revolution. The decision to murder these comrades was taken by fascist Chidambaram himself in order to create a reign of terror, boost up the morale of his mercenary forces, and to boast how his fascist state offensive is yie0lding results. But the Andhra Pradesh police and Chidambaram, who had been claiming all the while that Nallamala forest has been cleared of the Maoists, had not even thought how the so-called encounter with such a big Maoist leader in the Nallamala region would mock at their own claims of the past three years. The entire people know that Maoists had retreated from Nallamala almost three years ago but in their hastiness to complete their ghastly murder before civil rights and other organizations get alerted, the lawless police goons chose Prakasham district which is nearer to Chennai.

Comrade Ravi had been to Chennai on some work on the 24th of February and was in touch with other comrades of the Party until two days prior to his murder. It is clear that he was abducted on March 10. Three more comrades are still illegally detained by the SIB and Grey Hounds. There is every danger that these would be murdered in cold blood. Comrade Ravi is one of the senior most leaders from Andhra Pradesh and hails from Khanapur area in Warangal district. He was elected as an alternate member of the AP State Committee of the Party in 1991. He was arrested in early 1993 and spent 7 1/2 years in prison where he displayed extraordinary revolutionary mettle and led many struggles of the prisoners along with comrade Patel Sudhakar. He commenced his work as a member of the AP State Committee after his release in late 2000. He became a member of the State Military Commission and carried on his work in Nallamala forest region until 2006. Later, he guided the Party’s Intelligence department in AP and the Action Teams. He played a prominent role in planning and executing tactical counter-offensives against the police forces and attacks on political targets such as the one on the SP of Prakasham district in 2005 and on former chief minister of AP, Janardhan Reddy, in 2007.

Comrade Kondal Reddy hails from Medak district in South Telangana and has been working in the production department of the CPI (Maoist) in Andhra Pradesh for over a decade. He played an important role in the production and distribution of hand grenades and pressure mines. He never hesitated whenever any extremely risky work was allotted to him by the party leadership and was highly disciplined.

The cold-blooded murders of these Maoist leaders are an integral part of the unprecedented fascist offensive unleashed by the central and state governments against the CPI (Maoist) in the name of Operation Green Hunt. While the chief objective of this brutal armed offensive is to create genocide of the adivasis and steal their lands and the forest-mineral wealth, the focus of this joint offensive led by the central forces under the direct supervision of fascist Chidambaram is to eliminate the Maoist leadership in the country. In a similar episode last may, comrade Patel Sudhakar, a member of the central committee of CPI (Maoist), was abducted and murdered in cold blood by the APSIB-Grey Hound goons. Central leaders like Ashutosh, Kobad Ghandy, Balraj and Chintanji were arrested and placed behind bars, along with several state Party leaders in the past one year. Popular mass leaders like Lalmohan Tudu of PCAPA are murdered in cold blood and Chhatradhar Mahato arrested on false charges. Even those who question police atrocities and the state’s brutal onslaught against innocent people, civil liberties and human rights activists, sincere Gandhians and other social activists, are not spared the rod. Private vigilante gangs are set up in all areas where the Maoist movement is strong and indiscriminate attacks are unleashed on unarmed adivasi people.

Let us pay our red revolutionary homage to comrades Sakhamuri Appa Rao and Kondal Reddy by pledging to carry forward their cherished dreams with redoubled determination and relentless spirit. Let us vow to avenge their martyrdom by defeating the biggest country-wide brutal armed offensive unleashed by the comprador-feudal ruling classes backed by imperialists, transform PLGA into PLA, guerrilla war into mobile war, and guerrilla zones into base areas. Let us train up thousands of able Red successors to our beloved martyred leaders. Let us foil the desperate attempts by the reactionary rulers to deprive the Indian people and the CPI (Maoist) of their leadership by preserving our leading cadres and developing innumerable Maoist leaders from the oppressed masses of India.

Azad,

Spokesperson,

Central Committee,

CPI (Maoist)

Dantewada Strikes Back

Dantewada strikes back.

Dripping with the blood of hundreds of children

Its bullet-ridden body gasping for breath

Humiliated, harassed, raped and mutilated

Dantewada strikes back

Breaking the encirclement

By hordes of thugs descending from Delhi and Raipur

By schools of jungle warfare

And Institutes of counter-insurgency

By Washington, London, Tel Aviv, and what have you?

Dantewada strikes back

In defence of unsung mothers, daughters and sisters

Crying in pain from the festering wounds

Left by the death hunters out to destroy their life’s greenery

Dantewada strikes back

In defence of unheard fathers, sons and brothers

Buried in unknown places, exhumed and relocated by the powers that be to escape

the prying eyes of civil rights nuisance-mongers

Helpless, neglected, alienated, marginalized

Dantewada strikes back

Fulfilling the demands of its children

For Dudi Muye, Sodi Sannal, Tuniki Sinnal, Madivi Deval, Dudi Pojjal,……

For Gompad, Gachampalli, Singanamadugu, Gattampadu, Gollagudem,

For Gumiyapal, Palodi, Dokpad, Palachelima, Kachalaram…..

Dantewada strikes back

To ward off the non-stop savagery by the lawless goons

sent by the “civilized” gentlemen sitting in corporate board rooms,

To foil the heinous designs of the slave-holders

planning the biggest land grab in history after Columbus

Dantewda strikes back

To protect its jal, jangal, jameen, ijjat

To protect its resources from the monster of development

To fight back attempts to annex its territories into the prison-house

Of the Shining Bharat of Tatas, Mittals, Jindals ….

Dantewada strikes back

To defend its people from thugs and plunderers, dacoits and murderers

To protect its house from all predators

To defend the people’s government

Dantewada strikes back

Heralding a new spring thunder,

Charting the path for a billion people

Hungry, starving, undernourished, emaciated,

Suffering countless injustices and humiliations

Dantewada strikes back

To defend its right to live.

Editorial

Union budget and Operation Green Hunt: Two faces of imperialism

During the night of 22nd February, Central Reserve Police forces murdered Lalmohan Tudu, a popular leader of People’s Committee against Police Atrocities, an organisation which is fighting against the economic ruin of tribal areas and state repression, in front of his own house in Lalgarh. CRPF personnel called him out along with his two relatives and shot them dead in front of his wife, daughter and mother. A couple of days later, far from the poverty stricken villages of ‘India’s hinterland’, where people are dying out of hunger and police bullets, Finance minister of India presented the nation a budget that envisages to make ‘development more inclusive’! At a first glance, burning villages of Dantewada and air-conditioned corridor of secretariats in central Delhi appears to be at poles apart. So does P. Chidambaram’s job as the commander-in-chief of Operation Green Hunt and Pranab Mukherjee’s role as the ‘messiah of the poor’. But like all good puppet shows, this is just an appearance. The threads which control these actors in their respective settings are controlled by a skilful puppeteer – the global monopoly capital – the likes of Shell, Tata and Walmart. While the ‘incorporated India’ and its flag-bearer, the media, applaud this ‘performance’, the script of ‘inclusive development’ remains the same as in last two decades – loot the mass and transfer the booty to wealthy few –  unfolds, now, at a faster pace than ever before. The tragedy of dispossession and plunder, the tragedy of destruction of grassroots development at the behest of imperial capital by its Indian stooges continue with an unprecedented urgency.

Anatomy of plunder

It is perhaps necessary to take a closer look at the composition of imperial capital of our time. In the era of neo-colonialism, the identities of neo-colonisers are also changing. It is not only Citibank, Coca Cola or Rio Tinto which dictates the term today but so does Tata and Reliance, their geographical origin notwithstanding. However the emergence of monopoly capital of Indian origin and its symbiotic relationship with multinationals do not necessarily mean that Indian capitalism has matured. On the contrary, India is becoming a dependent entity of imperial capital by every passing day. Chhattisgarh government, alone, has signed more than one hundred MoU’s in last few years and opened up its mineral resources for multinational corporations. It is imperative for global monopoly capital, for its own sustenance, to ensure (ever expanding) absolute command over the means of production – predominantly material objects of production such as land and mineral as well as labour. For instance, if electricity is required for export industry or production of automobiles for Indian rich then Kalinganagar farmers must be evicted from their land to make way for power plants. In turn they will join the huge army of reserved unskilled labourers which will keep labour disciplined and cheap. Thus the strategy of global capital is extremely simple: impose un-freedom on the productive labour by denying them access to objects of production, which gets concentrated in the hands of a few, so that dispossessed people become entirely dependent on the monopoly capital for their survival. Local agents of big multinational corporations, including the erstwhile feudal ruling class, receive a share of the loot in return of enforcing economic policies that facilitates such plunder. When a community shows resilience and resists its pauperization, armed forces are brought in to teach them a lesson. The nexus of Essar, Vedanta, Man Mohan Singh and Mahendra Karma plans swift retribution in the form of Salwa Judum and Operation Green Hunt. This is the context in which current budget must be analyzed.

‘Heinz’ing and unhinging of agriculture

Let us first look at the agricultural sector, which is, still, by far the largest sector in terms of employment. Almost 60 percent of Indian population is dependent on agricultural and allied activities for their survival. However, one of most striking features of budgets in the recent past happens to be the shrinking infrastructural expenditure in this sector. Compared to 2008-09, in 2010-11 government spending on agriculture has been cut by almost 22%. The actual magnitude of cut is even more severe, if one adjusts for the current inflation.

This must be compared against a 50% increase in the expenditure for energy sector and 25% increase in transport sector. Interestingly, energy sector has been privatised a few years ago and road transport is one of the few areas which are open to 100% foreign direct investment. Going back to agricultural infrastructure, while 699 Crores have been allocated to irrigation and flood management this year compared to 609 Crores two years ago, corresponding figures for tourism, which employs, even by a wild estimate, not more than 2% of the population, but essentially serves the rich, are 762 Crores and 454 Crores respectively.

To add to the misery of farmers, recent years saw a huge increase in input prices such as fertiliser and electricity. Both these products are now controlled by the private firms and the government has taken no steps to control prices. In fact, the new Nutrient Based Subsidy policy for fertiliser is nothing but a euphemism for complete decontrol over prices. Effectively, subsidy to fertiliser companies will continue at the current level, however, they will be free to charge any price from the farmers. It is not difficult to identify the beneficiaries of such policy when we see that fertiliser import has increased seven folds in last five years. On the other hand, increase in input prices will lead to further inflation. Already price of food has increased by 20%, inflation of some items such as pulses, sugar and eggs are even higher. This budget will only add to the misery of working people and middle class, while importers and speculators will laugh all their way to banks.

The current budget is silent on the issue of credit availability as well. Between 1990 and 2003, lending to agriculture as percentage of net bank credit has shrunk from 16% to mere 10%. Farmers remained at the mercy of informal moneylenders who charge usurious interest rate resulting in suicide of two Lakhs farmers since 1998. Nothing has been proposed to rectify such abysmal situation. The budget proposes to recapitalize Rural Regional Banks but no allocation has been made specifically for this purpose. In any case these regional banks have remained in control of local semi-feudal elements and are a major source of corruption.

If we go beyond the rhetoric, it is obvious that the budget lays foundation for opening of retail trade in agriculture to private sector. Incentives have been offered for private ownership of cold storage and food processing industries. This is going to spell disaster for millions of small and middle farmers, landless workers and traders. Big retail multinationals will force wholesale and retail sellers out of the market, thereby extending their monopoly over procurement and sell of all agricultural products including essential items. Grain prices will be controlled by importers, future traders, big retailers and food processing companies like Walmart and Heinz. Working people have no other option but to intensify their struggle against this conspiracy of the multinationals and their henchmen. When 25,000 farmers participated in a rally in Punjab to protest against high electricity prices, police arrested their leaders in order to crush the movement.

True origin of fiscal deficits

Finance Minister claimed that the government has increased demand to boost economy move out of recession but this claim falls flat if one looks at the expenditure figures.  Expenditure on employment and social welfare has decreased in real terms and so has expenditure on economic activities. So the demand boost, if at all, could have only originated from the tax-exemptions handed out to rich and corporations. Even according to the government estimates, in 2009-10, revenue forgone in corporate tax alone (not including tax evasion through financial juggleries) is a mammoth 80,000 Crores compared to 67,000 Crores in 2008-09. To put these figures into perspective, government spends about 30,000 Crores for education and 7,500 Crores for public health. It is calculated that the effective tax rate for corporate sector is 22%, well below the statutory tax rate of 34%. Naturally this comes at the expense of small enterprises and working population. The revenue forgone in customs duties is even bigger; it has reached a staggering 40% (25 thousand Crore) of aggregate tax collection in 2009-10. This budget fails to offer any solution to this crisis. On the contrary, all sorts of tax-breaks continued to be offered to the rich, even new ones were introduced while social expenditure were slashed. For example, new tax deductions were introduced on investment in tourism, branded jewellery and for the real estate sector, while the allocation to Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, which is the last resort of employment generation in rural economy, has decreased in real terms (nominal increase by a ridiculous 2.5%). The big beneficiaries of tax/duty exemptions are mining, real estate and exporters, who make a huge fortune while the poor and middle class bears the burden of high fiscal deficit. India’s long term external debt has multiplied seven folds since 1990 and it spends 5 % of its GDP on interest payment and debt servicing. Under the pretence of financing fiscal deficit, which at the first place is caused by big business, profit making Public Sector Units are being sold to multinational corporations. The current budget commits itself to continue this process. It is reported that 10% of Coal India, one of the biggest producer of coal is going to be sold very soon, while 8.4% of NMDC, the largest producer of iron ore has already been sold to private sector. On top of that the state has also found a new instrument of transferring resources to private sector. In the name of Private-Public Partnership in infrastructural development, huge public fund and land is being handed over to monopoly capital at throw-away rates. Energy and transport sectors have witnessed several major scams (for example, Ganga expressway) through this channel.

Two faces of imperialism

This budget continues to dispossess people instead of expanding their control over resources as should be the path of a true democratic society. Whatever minimum control over resources people had within a modicum of welfare state are being eroded systematically. For instance, profit making public sector firms are being divested; robbing people of much needed revenue that runs essential services such as public distribution system (no wonder that the government plans to dismantle the public distribution system completely within next two years). This lays the foundation of a society where people are left to the mercy of global capital. The same story is unfolding today in Chhattisgarh as well where people are being uprooted from their villages to make way for mining, controlled by multinational corporations. People are getting alienated from their livelihood, forest and land, to serve as fodder of global capital. Thus Operation Green Hunt and Union budget, both serve imperial interest, one through brute force and the other under a veil of constitutional legality.

Securing the ‘nation’ against its own people

Last but not the least important aspect of this budget is a phenomenal growth of defence expenditure.  In 2009, India spent a massive 141 thousands Crore in defence, which was 30 percent higher than the previous year. As the chasm between the ruling classes and the masses is widening up at a fast pace, to curb the rising discontent of the masses ruling classes are spending fanatically on arms and ammunitions. However, from Chhattisgarh to Manipur people have started raising their voices against the imperial capital and its Indian agents. One day, perhaps sooner than later, it is bound to grow into a chorus.

Dantewada: Biggest Ever Attack by PLGA Guerrillas on the Paramilitary Forces who are Destroying the Jal, Jangal, Jameen and Ijjat of the adivasis

Dantewada Attack is a Fitting Reply to Chidambaram’s “Myth” of Operation Green Hunt

April 6, 2010 will go down in the history of the revolutionary war in India as a Red Letter Day. It has become a day of great rejoicing for the millions of adivasi men, women and children who had suffered decades of exploitation, oppression, humiliation and suffering in the hands of the rapacious parasitic marauders who had robbed their jal, jangal, jameen, destroyed their homes, shattered their lives, reduced them to the status of animals to be hunted and killed at will by the licensed goondas hired by the state and by state-sponsored vigilante gangs. The indignities suffered by these hapless adivasis in the hands of the outsiders are indescribable.

And more recently, after the launch of the countrywide coordinated unprecedented cruel armed offensive in the name of Operation Green Hunt by the Congress-led UPA government, the plight of the adivasi masses had become even more terrible. Over three hundred thousand people had to flee their homes and lands just to preserve their lives from the murderous attacks by the beasts in uniforms that began to pour into their lands from all over the country on the orders of Sonia-Man Mohan-Chidambaram-Pranab gang. Behind the curtains, in the green room, are the Tatas, Mittals, Jindals, Essar, Vedanta, POSCO and a host of other companies waiting to lay their hands on the tempting wealth the land of the indigenous people beholds. And at the top of all, the No 1 Enemy of the world people and the most powerful, cruel and savage beast in Washington directs this genocide in the heart of India assuring all assistance to its satraps in New Delhi.

In just Bastar alone, since August 2009, 114 adivasis had become unfortunate victims of this death hunt unleashed by the imperialist and corporate vultures and the cunning jackals who represent them in the guise of various parliamentary parties. Not one of these 114 adivasis murdered by the armed hooligans hired by the Indian State is a Maoist guerrilla. Not one of them was in possession of any deadly weapon. Not one of them has any case in the court or is wanted even on false criminal charges usually filed by the lawless anti-people police. Yet all these helpless adivasis became victims of Chidambaram’s war in his so-called noble intention of reclaiming territory from the Maoists and make it a part of Shining Bharat—the Bharat that shines with hourly suicides of farmers; the Bharat that shines with heart-rending deaths of children due to unbearable pangs of hunger, malnutrition and disease; the Bharat that shines with 77 per cent of the population eking out their existence with just Rs. 20 a day; the Bharat of the Hindu communal fascists who roam like heroes committing murders of Muslims, Christians and whoever questions their fascist acts and have the full backing of the Indian State; and a Bharat that shines on a handful of the filthy rich just seven of whom control wealth that exceeds the combined total of 300 million Indians.

Starting with the brutal murders of Oyam Sagar, Pujari Pandral, Hapka Lingu, Tati Lakmu, Tati Aitu, Karam Somli in Bijapur district on August 10, 2009 to the gruesome gang-rape and beheading of Kumili in Narayanpur district on February 10, 2010, one is shocked, stunned and depressed at the sheer savagery and ghastliness exhibited by the perpetrators of these inhuman crimes. One becomes more depressed because the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity are men in uniform who are supposed to enforce the law and adhere to the Indian Constitution, on each of whom millions of rupees of people’s money are spent for special training, and millions of rupees are paid when any of them is killed in battle. While it is shock and depression for the observers, it is a struggle for survival for the adivasis. They cannot survive without hitting back at these dacoits and savages who are looting their homes, burning their food grains and belongings, murdering virtually everyone, raping their women, and abducting people and illegally detaining them for indefinite periods.

That’s how and why the adivasis decided to bare their chests and dare the uniformed dacoits, murderers and rapists. It is essential if they have to survive. That is why they rallied under the leadership of the CPI(Maoist) and joined the army of the oppressed and suppressed people of the country—the PLGA—and made a firm resolve to die fighting in collective armed resistance than die unarmed like sheep and goats in the hands of these murderers sent by the Indian State. And that’s how and why Dantewada erupted like a volcano reducing the thieves and plunderers, rapists and murderers to ashes. Dantewada’s rage is the righteous indignation of an entire people who are driven to the wall by a mighty well-equipped murderous force that represents the Indian state and, due to which; there can never be any hope of getting justice to the hapless victims through the so-called rule of law. The pain and anguish, the unending sorrow, the tears of mothers for their dead children and of children for their dead mothers, the tears of wives for their dead husbands and of husbands for their dead wives, the tears of sisters for their dead brothers and of brothers for their dead or sexually assaulted sisters, have all converged into an irresistible rage that engulfed the invading troops like a forest fire.

Those sitting in TV studios and in AC rooms and make their artificial and speculative so-called news analyses that is completely disconnected from the stark realities can never understand this forest fire, the pain and rage that had transformed into a mighty counter-offensive near Chintalnar in Dantewada. Those who cannot think beyond what happens in Metro cities or a few major urban areas and are engaged in packaging every trivial event in the lives of celebrities or other trash as news can never understand the pain and anguish of the people that had driven them to hack their tormentors and murderers into pieces. Have those who shed tears in TV studios and in newspaper articles for those paramilitary personnel who died in Dantewada ever thought of those unsung and unheard victims of the brutal acts of these very “brave” men? About the hundred and fourteen men, women and children (see the list) who had died at the hands of these mercenary troops without any hope of justice?

The stories of savagery that are simply unimaginable in civilized societies, stories of gruesome murders and sexual assaults, abductions and cruel tortures, destruction of homes and shattering of lives are found again and again at every place in the entire adivasi-inhabited stretch of land as one travels from Lalgarh to Surjagarh. And that is why this entire belt, the so-called Red Corridor, is seething with revenge for the perpetrators of the worst crimes against innocent unarmed people. Dantewada ambush and wiping out of an entire company of the CRPF is the natural outcome of this fury for revenge. With meticulous planning this rage will transform into more such daring attacks on the invading troops of our Emperors in Delhi and their Rajas in states.

No wonder, the people of the entire country, particularly in the seven states where Operation Green Hunt is launched by the Central and state governments—Chhattisgarh (Dandakaranya), Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh—are enthusiastically celebrating the daring Dantewada attack by the PLGA and the punishment given to the mercenary forces of the Indian state. It is a day of symbolic redemption for the families of those abducted, tortured and murdered by the paramilitary forces. For the adivasi women who were raped and sexually abused in manifold ways by these uniformed hooligans, it is a day of fulfilment of their long-felt desire for revenge.

The stark contrast between the prices of death of the uniformed mercenaries on one hand and the poor adivasi citizens on the other should shock the country. Huge amounts to the tune of four million rupees are paid to the families of the police and paramilitary jawans who die in the hands of the Maoists and people; a job is given to one member of their families; and several other incentives. But what about the poor adivasis who die in the hands of the police and paramilitary forces? What about the hundreds of families of the poor innocent adivasis who had been murdered in cold blood by these mercenaries in uniform? Almost all these families are left without their breadwinner. They have nothing to bank upon, their lands are snatched away, houses are destroyed and many are even dragged to court the transport charges for which they simply cannot afford. Why are no tears shed for these hundreds of poor souls by our TV anchors and media analysts? Why is there so much of apathy and even contempt for these children of India that they do not even figure in the panel discussions or analyses of all the political analysts? It is this apathy and contempt towards our own citizens by the well-fed well-dressed gentlemen and self-styled spokespersons for India that is provoking even greater anger and creating a feeling of alienation among vast sections of poor destitute masses. Those who talk of a moment’s silence for the dead jawans and write obituaries in papers, should search their conscience (which most of these “gentlemen” do not have anyway) and question themselves why they did not shed a drop of tear for the tragic deaths (cold-blooded murders) of the adivasis and Maoists when they died in much larger numbers and in more horrifying conditions. They should demand that the ordinary adivasis who are killed must be given adequate compensation, and that the rulers should stop treating adivasi deaths as deaths of flies while those of the policemen and paramiltary as invaluable for the country.

Finally the biggest ever victory by the heroic PLGA guerrillas led by the CPI(Maoist) in Dantewada has vindicated the superiority of the Maoist principle of guerrilla war. By wiping out an entire company of the highly-trained CRPF battalions the PLGA has opened a new chapter in the history of the ongoing revolutionary war in India. The paramilitary and the special police forces, however much they are trained in special schools of jungle warfare set up for countering the Maoists, at various counter-insurgency warfare training institutes and by the imperialist armies, they cannot win the war against the people for the simple fact that their very cause is unjust and their war is predatory. The armed foot soldiers sent to war front themselves do not know why, what for, and even against whom they are fighting. The 62nd battalion, to which the 75 dead jawans including an assistant commandant and a deputy commandant belong, is one of the 24 battalions deployed in Chhattisgarh to suppress the growing self-assertion of the oppressed people, smash their organs of revolutionary people’s power, destroy their alternative models of development, and to grab the entire natural resources in this mineral-rich region. It is also one of the 60 battalions sent by Chidambaram to Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar and Maharashtra to carry out the genocide of adivasis. In the current war thrust on the people by the UPA government close to a quarter of a million troops of the centre and the states are engaged in “recapturing” the area from the hands of the Maoists and to hand it over to the tiny parasitic class of comprador corporates and imperialist MNCs. It is a war between the overwhelming majority of the impoverished people on the one hand and the handful of ever-fattening billionaires on the other. By its successful daring surprise attack in Dantewada basing on the invincible Maoist principles of guerrilla war, the PLGA had scored a major tactical victory in the war despite the superiority of the enemy in terms of numbers and fire power.

The huge cache of highly sophisticated arms and ammunition seized from these mercenaries include 21 AK-47 rifles, six LMGs, seven SLRs, one stengun and other arms. The tactical victory in Dantewada is a fitting reply to Chidambaram’s arrogance and boastfulness. And it has nailed his shameless naked lie that the brutal Operation Green Hunt is a myth invented by the media.

The Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee, in a press release after the Dantewada ambush explained why the operation was undertaken. It stated that the counteroffensive was to mark the centenary of the Bhumkal Adivasi rebellion and to send a message to Chidambaram to halt his blood-bath in the name of Operation Green Hunt. It said the ambush was a retaliation for the mass killings of unarmed innocent adivasis and rape of adivasi women. The statement said that PLGA had lost eight comrades in the daring operation in which 300 guerrillas were involved contrary to the claims by the police officials that 1000 were involved. It also said that no pressure mines or any modern technology was used and the CRPF Company was wiped out through direct exchange of fire.

In short, the Dantewada ambush is an inevitable logical outcome of the unending terrible provocation by the uniformed goondas sent by Chidambaram and Raman Singh to the adivasi areas to create a brutal reign of terror. They have an unwritten licence to abduct, torture, rape and murder any adivasi or Maoist without any questions being asked. This dehumanization of the police and paramilitary forces is consciously encouraged by Chidambaram, Raman Singh, Vishwa Ranjan and others, notwithstanding their holy chants of peace and ahimsa. Behind their sophisticated-looking rhetoric lie the raw, beastly, cannibalistic passions that devour human beings for establishing their absolute control over the resources and lives of the people.

As a statement by the spokesperson of the CPI (Maoist) has pointed out: “Their vision goes no farther than that of a local daroga, as aptly pointed out by a JD (U) spokesperson referring to Chidambaram. And their tactics fare no better than those of a street rowdy. As long as their fascist mind-set refuses to see the socio-politico-economic roots of Naxalism and continue to treat it as a disease or a problem while the oppressed people see it increasingly as a remedy and a solution to their problems, Dantewada-type attacks will continue to take place at an even greater frequency and intensity.”

Dantewada’s Tremors Shake Delhi: ………………. What Went Wrong?

From the moment the news of the daring Maoist ambush in Dantewada began pouring in the entire political and security establishment of the country has become shaken to the very core. The immediate aftermath of Dantewada ambush witnessed tumultuous events: the resignation offer and the humbling of an arrogant Home Minister, the intense infighting breaking out within the Congress and other mainstream parliamentary parties, the unending blame game between various parties, bureaucrats and various wings of so-called “security forces”, the call for an introspection of the failed tactics of Chidambaram, shrill cries for bringing in the Army and Air Force, and hysteric calls for silencing dissent of every kind and so on. The Dantewada earthquake was so powerful that the tremors were felt all over the country not sparing any party or establishment.

“What went wrong?” was the question on everyone’s lips. “Something drastically went wrong” wailed the Home Minister Chidambaram but did not know what went wrong. But what? None had any satisfactory answer. Almost an year of intense meticulous planning had gone into the making of Operation Green Hunt. Several battalions of central paramilitary forces, who have considerable experience in dealing with the insurgency in Kashmir had been withdrawn and specially deployed in Maoist areas. Even if millions of people of our country are dying of starvation and extreme deprivation, unlimited funds were allotted to the states for the modernization of the police forces, intelligence agencies, rewards for the informers, and so on. 40,000 men from CRPF were trained by the Indian Army in counter-insurgency. Special commandos with names that could change the very nature of the men like Grey Hounds, Cobras, Jaguars, Scorpions, and Hawks and so on were given. Helicopters are provided to evacuate any injured personnel immediately and the best treatment is provided. Yet, what went wrong? All the military experts, retired intelligence chiefs, chiefs of the defence services, various paramilitary forces, DGPs and ex-DGPs and the media men with the police brains had all put together their brains to find out what went wrong.

Now the time has come for bringing in the Army and the Air Force, cried out some who got paranoid that the Maoists might come to their door-step in no time. The daily news of ever-increasing spread and intensity of the people’s war—from a mere 60 districts to more than 220 districts covering more than a third of the country—is indeed frightening. And had not the Home Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai predict that the Maoists are capable of bringing down some sectors of the Indian economy to their knees? And that they are planning to capture power in the entire country by 2050? The spectre of Maoism is giving nightmares to those who have every reason to fear. For these day-light robbers, there is everything to lose—their ill-gotten riches, their black money tucked away in various banks and even spread out carelessly in their own homes until today under a government that they control. What would happen if the Reds come to their doorstep? The very thought of it sends shivers down the spines of the corrupt, immoral, scamsters and mafia gangsters. Hence the faster the Maoists are bombed into extinction the better for Shining India. Any more delay will bring the half-naked emaciated creatures from the nether world crawling all over your place demanding their share in your Shining India. So bomb them to save Shining India. Such screams rent the air. 2050. Oh! My God! Dantewada seems to be a step closer to it! So hurry up before it’s late.

Chidambaram’s resignation drama

An arrogant Chidambaram had boasted just a day before the Dantewada ambush that things were fast improving in Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. And that the problem was more complex in Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa. In Lalgarh too, his boastful claim that the region was almost reclaimed from the Maoists became an object of ridicule after a land-mine hit the central forces at a place near Lalgarh just 5 km from the place he was to have a meeting with the West Bengal security establishment. A 24-hour bandh call by the PCAPA too had crippled the administration and paralysed the three districts on the day of Chidambaram’s visit. That Lalgarh was as defiant as ever and that the Maoists were in as much control of the area as before became clear to all.

And now after a day of his claim that all is well in the central war front and that within 2-3 years the entire area under the Maoists would be “reclaimed” and that the “Maoist menace” would be finished once for all,  Dantewada ambush hit him like a terrible earthquake. He had no answers for this massive and deadliest attack by the Maoist revolutionaries I their entire history. “Something went drastically wrong,” was all he could manage to mutter. There were stinging attacks from several quarters. KPS Gill blasted the entire strategy of Chidambaram as a failed strategy. He held the government’s thoughtless strategy as responsible for the death of 76 CRPF personnel. That the government had made the CRPF men sitting ducks for the Naxals was a common refrain of several so-called security experts and the media. And when criticism of the strategy began to surface within the Congress itself Chidambaram drew up another trick from his sleeve. RESIGNATION. He knew that Sonia and Man Mohan will not accept it. In fact, the threat of resignation would subdue the criticism and garner more support from within the party and others as well.

At this hour of crisis for the rulers, when Maoists have become a deadly threat and a common enemy for all, how can one relinquish the responsibilities and run away. Such ran the logic of several parties that pledged unconditional support for Chidambaram’s war. BJP had gone a step further and said that resignation of Chidambaram would “mean a victory for Naxals”. And with this logic it pledged all-out support to any moves by Chidambaram to curb the “menace.”

Nationalism, patriotism and jingoist frenzy was whipped up a scale unheard of since the Kargil war. “If this is a war, so be it,” shot out a cornered Chidambaram. “This is a war against India”, howled the saffron brigade. Raman Singh consoled Chidambaram that very soon things would be alright. There should be closer coordination between the Centre and the states appealed Buddhadeb and his “Left” comrades. The Congress, BJP and the so-called Left seemed to unite as one to confront the Maoists leading the vast masses of the poor of India. Assured of this expected support Chidambaram ended his fake resignation drama and began his plans for the genocide. However, the contradictions and dog-fights within the ruling classes do not allow such smooth resolution of conflict. Even as the central leadership of the BJP was pledging all-out support to the Congress and Chidambaram in their war against Maoists, the Congress opposition in Chhattisgarh were demanding the resignation of BJP’s Raman Singh for his total failure in protecting the lives of the jawans. A 24-hur bandh was called by the Congress in Chhattisgarh in protest against the state government’s policies that had led to the great debacle in Dantewada. The intensification of the people’s war would further aggravate intra- and inter-ruling class contradictions.

Butcher Vishwa Ranjan thundered that revenge will be taken, more Maoists would fall to his “brave” forces and that the tide would turn very soon. Like a street rowdy he howled that the body count would soon be reversed. For he knows achieving it is very simple. At least a few hundred poor adivasis are in illegal detention of his mercenary forces. Just dress them in Maoist uniforms, bump them off and claim to have killed so many Maoists in fierce encounters. That is the secret behind his confident assertion that Maoists will lose more of their men within a short time. Ever since the start of Operation Green Hunt that was how he and his blood-thirsty forces had managed to show to the world that their casualties were lower than those of the Maoists. By showing 114 innocent adivasis as Maoists this fraud DGP imagined that he could fool the world. But how can these white lies boost the sagging morale of his forces who know that all these were nothing but cold-blooded murders? Fascists have no shame. And like every fascist in history Vishwa Ranjan too does not bother if he becomes a laughing stock through his naked lies.

Oppressed people led by the Maoists will defeat the brutal anti-people Operation Green Hunt

That Maoists, with the active participation and support of the people, will emerge victorious in this war is a foregone conclusion. The reason is simple. Maoists are fighting a just war. They are waging a people’s war. They are fighting against extremely corrupt, rapacious, anti-people exploiting classes and their system that is rotten to the core. Maoists enjoy tremendous support of the masses. They are loved by the people who protect them as the apple of their eye, provide them food, funds, logistical support and information about enemy movements. It is the people who had ensured the astounding success of Maoists in Dantewada. It is the people who warned the Maoists about the movements of the paramilitary and police forces. It is the people who actually participated in every operation carried out by the Maoists against the enemy. For it is the people who need to end this brutal war by throwing out those who are waging war. They know that if the police and paramilitary succeed in defeating the Maoists then their entire lives would become a veritable hell. Forest officials, contractors, bureaucrats, mining companies and outside traders and landlords would once again start treating them like dust. The people would never want to go back to the previous hell. That is why they would fight to finish. There is no question of surrendering to the threats of the reactionary rulers. We will die fighting rather than die without a fight like lambs or sheep. This is the motto of the adiavsis.

For Maoists the adivasi area is their home. No other than a senior police officer himself had brought out this fact: “The Maoists know every tree in the forest, and even how many branches are on a tree.” Can a bunch of mercenaries hired for fighting a war which is not theirs and who does not know for what and for whom, and why they are fighting in the first place defeat the Maoists who are ideologically motivated, familiar with the terrain and local language and culture, and deeply rooted among the masses? Chidambaram’s men do not even know against whom they are fighting. When the Maoists are indistinguishable from the people then how and with whom would they fight? These are stark and simple things discernible to the naked eye though not to those who want to execute the war at any cost.

Then there are other things like the problem of language and communication with the local population, inhospitable terrain, deadly malaria, insects and reptiles which the media had reported as cited by some jawans, lack of clean drinking water (ironically the media and security experts shed tears at the hardships faced by these men to fetch water from 2-3 kilometres away from their camps but say nothing about how poor adivasis had been living for decades in these conditions), lack of food, scorching heat in summer and with all this the growing discontent and frustration among the state’s forces. It will not take long before these forces realize that they are being used as cannon-fodder in a war waged in the interests of a handful of imperialist companies and the Indian corporate business houses. Desertions, disobedience, refusal to join duty are already a growing feature as several reports indicate. This will soon grow into an alarming proportion. How will Chidambaram and his gang of predatory war-mongers achieve their aim of grabbing the mineral wealth of these regions in the heart of India?

Now is the time for all peace-loving, democratic-minded citizens of the country to rise up as one voice and demand an immediate end to the brutal counter-revolutionary predatory war waged by a handful of corporate vultures for plundering the resources of our country? Let us use all means at the disposal of the people of our country to isolate, expose, oppose and militantly resist the heinous attempts of the reactionary rulers and their imperialist backers. Let us declare war on a government that feeds itself by waging a cruel unjust war on the people. If the rulers do not heed the saner voices and continues its foolhardy quixotic and fascist venture then what more can the people do than create more Dantewadas all over the country?

“Maoists are cowards! Why are they hiding in the forests?”—Union Home Minister Chidambaram during his Lalgarh visit.

Adivasis have the last laugh at the abysmal ignorance of this English-speaking “gentleman” about the forests of India.

During his visit to Lalgarh on April 4, Union Home Minister Chidambaram once again revealed his absolute disconnect with India’s ground realities. It was the adivasis who had the last laugh at the ignorance of the man who heads the most important post of internal security about the dwelling places of almost 90 million Indian people. By saying that Maoists are hiding in the forests this agent of the corporate sharks revealed his ignorance of the fact that forests are home to the indigenous people of India and that Maoists had become a part of these people ever since they began their revolutionary war in the country to liberate it from the clutches of the imperialists, feudal forces and the comprador bureaucratic capitalist class.

Chidambaram began his brutal war on the adivasi people and the Maoists who lead them without even having the basic knowledge that the Maoist movement has begun to grow by organizing the most marginalized sections of the Indian society who live in these forested regions. That for over four decades Maoists have mingled and integrated with the adivasis of these forests like fish in water, married the adivasis, took on their names, and adapted themselves to the conditions in these forests. For Chidambaram, it appears, forests are some picnic places, or holiday resorts where people like him can spend time peacefully reading books as he had expressed in an interview to a TV channel sometime ago. For him forests are uninhabitable places or paces where human habitation should be dismantled completely. For him these are regions waiting to be exploited of their mineral and forest wealth by the greedy outsiders. That is why he had unleashed the brutal Greed Hunt to exterminate the indigenous people and pave the way for the plunder of the natural resources by the tiny class of parasitic corporate elites that he represents.

How fit is a man who poses the question why the Maoists are hiding in the forests for the job he is supposed to handle is a thing that his reactionary political class has to decide.

By abusing Maoists as cowards Herr Chidambaram reveals the crude impulses lurking behind his seemingly sophisticated looks. In the inverted world of this man just about everything looks upside down. Bravery is cowardice and cowardice is bravery. That which exists materially need not exist for this man. And that which doesn’t exist in reality can be created from thin air. That’s the greatness of our magician Chidambaram.

Even when the entire world knows and acknowledges the fact of his Operation Green Hunt this man hasn’t the courage to accept its existence. What better example of cowardice can one cite than his incessant denial of something that is in front of our eyes?  And how does this inventor of new definitions of established words see bravery? He thinks it is “bravery” if a dozen unarmed adivasis in Gompad are caught and murdered by mortar-bearing, LMG-wielding paramilitary forces sent by him to Chhattisgarh. He thinks it is the “bravery” of his policemen when they mercilessly cut off the breasts of a 70-year-old woman or chop off the fingers of a two-year-old child. Or sexually assault poor hapless adivasi women and murder them in cold blood. Or his gun-toting mercenaries bravely steal pigs, hens, goats and the property of the adivasis. He thinks it as “bravery” when his CRPF men hide in the darkness like thieves, catch hold of an unarmed popular mass leader like Lalmohan Tudu, and murder him secretly. Herr Chidambaram himself reveals his own “bravery” by claiming in public that Tudu was killed in retaliation by the joint patrol party when it was attacked by the Maoists. With his new definition of bravery no wonder, this Nazi avatar yells at the “cowardice” of the Maoists who had given up their families, jobs, property and whatever they had and chose to live among the most deprived sections of society—the adivasis in the remote forests—and are prepared to become martyrs for the cause of the oppressed.

Why is Herr Chidambaram speaking such language? This is important to understand so as to understand how the war will be waged under his stewardship. Herr Chidambaram’s Nazi outbursts reveal the fascist culture of the neo-liberal rulers of India. It is the language of not just Chidambaram but that of a Jayanti Natrajan, an Arun Jaitley, a Chandan Mitra, a Buddhadeb, an Arnab Goswamy, Sapan Das Gupta and all the neo-liberal apologists whatever be their colour. Chidambaram and this neo-liberal gang know that Maoists are not hiding in the forests. They know that Maoists have mingled with the adivasis like fish in water. They know that Maoists are the only capable force who can lead the adivasis in their just war against the worst forms of exploitation and oppression perpetrated by the plunderers and thugs whom men like Chidambaram politically represent. They know that their class can never lay its hands on the forest resources without defeating the Maoists. But when the Maoists are deeply entrenched and embedded among the adivasi masses, when it is impossible to eliminate the Maoists without exterminating the adivasis, Chidambaram’s dilemma deepens. His hesitation is not because of any moral consideration. He would not hesitate to throw a few bombs and destroy the entire forest population along with the Maoists. If only the civil rights groups and democratic intellectuals minded their own business, how easy his job would have been! How much can one Arnab help him in his mission of extermination? Especially when his arguments have become schoolboy’s jokes! Or how much help can a few sarkari and police intellectuals who have no appeal or credibility in the society render? If not for this growing public opposition to his crazy megalomaniacal war plans, this neo-Nazi Indian avatar would have turned entire regions of central and eastern India into graveyards by now. This “brave” man has not abandoned his pet project of using overwhelming military force and air power to reduce entire regions into rubble. That’s how he receives his daily briefings from his masters in the Washington who have been doing it in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan today.

Chidambaram has taken the Operation Green Hunt as his personal prestige issue despite his desperate attempts to deny its very existence all along not even realizing that he has become a laughing stock through such white lies. He has been reassuring himself that he would wipe out the Maoists before he completes his tenure. However, every Maoist success and the resultant defeat of Chidambaram’s mercenary forces is driving him towards a state of insanity and depression. Thus his claims about the time-frame for the State’s decisive victory over the Maoists range anywhere from 2-3 years to an indefinite period depending on which side seemed to be scoring successes at a given point of time. Chidambaram’s behavior is like that of a hysterical schoolboy watching a sports match who goes into bouts of depression and ecstasy depending on the progress of the match. A minor success or what has been perceived as a success basing on false claims by the officers in the field would throw Chidambaram into a bout of ecstasy and jumps to the conclusion that he would finish off the Maoists within 2-3 years. Which he did after murdering comrade Shakhamuri Appa Rao, Kondal Reddy in Andhra Pradesh and hoping that comrade Kishenji might have died or seriously injured in the March 24 encounter. One big success on the part of the Maoists would make his time-frame indefinite. Such is the mental frame of this blue-eyed boy of the imperialists and the Indian corporate houses. However, all his assessments and expectations are turning upside down. Two days after the war-mongering hawks in the Union Home Ministry had declared that most of Lalgarh has been reclaimed came the land-mine blast by the Maoists close to the place where Chidambaram was to address a meeting. Then the people of Jangalmahal issued a call for 24-hour bandh of the entire region to protest against Chidambaram’s visit and the police atrocities against innocent people. The desperate attempts by Chidambaram to woo the people of Lalgarh came to naught with hardly anyone turning up to meet him or responding to his quixotic call to boycott the Maoists. Having little interaction with Indian reality this megalomaniac has begun to lose his sanity and hence has changed the very vocabulary of what constitutes cowardice and bravery. With the further intensification of the people’s war all the dreams of Chidambaram will collapse like a pack of cards and he will either end up in a lunatic asylum or will be punished in the people’s court before his tenure ends. Will he realize and mend his ways and end the unconstitutional attacks by his armed paramilitary forces on the people? Or get pushed into the dust-bin of history?

The Food Security Bill—a Bizarre Drama and a big hoax played by the UPA government on hungry stomachs.

Universal Public Distribution System is the need of the day, not a few doles.

The so-called Food Security Bill, the draft of which the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had promised to place before the public very soon in the course of his Budget speech in end February, is yet to see the light of the day. What is amusing, however, is the endless speculation in the media about the supposed struggle of Sonia Gandhi against the other leaders in the Congress on the issue and her disapproval of the draft prepared by the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on the ground that it falls short of the requirements as it has not taken a comprehensive picture of poverty in the country.

The draft bill that was returned to its authors—the EGoM—has reduced the monthly quota of food for a poor family from 35 kg to 25 kg, has no nutritional security, no provision for the homeless, and has even downsized the number of BPL families in a cavalier manner. It does not provide for cash transfer through food coupons. And it has also kept enough legroom to increase the issue price of cheap grains from the current Rs. 3 a kg. Harsh Mander, the Supreme Court-appointed commissioner on food security said: “The Bill absolutely needs rework. It has reduced the notion of food right to virtually nothing.” To put in a nutshell, the draft food security bill is a mere eye-wash and a Himalayan fraud played on the poor of this country. If passed it would create more food insecurity for the poor.

The Congress had promised in its poll manifesto “a right to food law that guarantees access to sufficient food for all, particularly the most vulnerable sections of society.” But through the food security bill, which it is contemplating to introduce almost after completing one year in office, the Congress has made a complete mockery of its poll promise. The draft bill has not only repackaged the existing so-called poverty alleviation schemes but has also drastically reduced the benefits which the poor had been getting earlier. In some states rice is provided to around three-quarters of the population at Rs. 2 a kilo. The Congress-authored draft bill reduces the number of households, increases the issue price to Rs. 3 a kilo, and also reduces the quota supplied to each household! Thus it has tried to snatch away even what the poor have been getting until now. It had gone back on its promise of providing 35 kg a month by eating up 10 kg.

How many Indians are Poor?

To place such a question even after 62 years of so-called Independence displays the utter callousness of the criminal rulers and their contempt for the toiling millions on whose sweat and blood they live like parasites. The EGoM headed by Pranab Mukherji could not even get the correct number of the below-poverty-line (BPL) families which is decided on the basis of 13 socio-economic parameters, including calorie intake and income.

The official approach to head count of the poor in our country has always been to play down the number through sheer jugglery of the worst kind. According to the government estimates approximately a third of our country’s population is absolutely poor. According to the Suresh Tendulkar committee, 37.2 per cent of Indians qualify as poor. But the Planning Commission deliberately brought the number down to 27.2 per cent. Another estimate from the state governments puts the figure at 10.52 crore or 45 per cent of the population.  But if one takes other indicators that other countries take, the number will be even greater. For instance, the number of undernourished constitute over 60 % of the population even according to official statistics. If one takes basic housing, health care, sanitation, and other minimum necessities that are taken for granted in other countries the number of the poor goes much higher than what the government or other committees estimate. The so-called food security bill does not take these factors into consideration when calculating the BPL. Sections such as rag pickers, construction workers, street vendors, cycle rickshaw drivers, domestic workers, and several other wretched of the earth do not find a place in the BPL category of our Pranab Mukherjee-led Committee.

Bizarre Drama

What is amusing in this entire bizarre drama enacted by the Congress vis-à-vis India’s hungry and undernourished bloated bellies is its damage-control exercise sought to be done in the name of its party High Command and the de facto head of the government, Sonia Gandhi. A Media hype is consciously built around the so-called pro-poor approach of Sonia as opposed to others in the Congress leadership. The draft bill was said to have been sent back to the same EGoM for redrafting after Sonia’s supposed disapproval. This is a despicable ploy employed by every parliamentary party to save its face when confronted by sharp criticism. Thus we have a Prime Minister Vajpayee intervening to reassure the Muslims and Christians while his BJP and other saffron gangsters were threatening to decimate the religious minorities or intervening to curtail some harsh economic burdens imposed on the people by his own government. We have a Prakash Karat and a Yechuri trying to re-interpret the policies of Buddhadeb and trying to pose themselves as favouring a non-military solution to the Naxal issue even as Buddhadeb unleashes a gruesome armed onslaught against the adivasis and the Maoists in West Bengal. We have a Sonia Gandhi who intervenes to bring down the burden on the people after the steep hike in fuel prices by her own Union Cabinet. And now her intervention in reworking on the food security bill to make it more humane!

All these are nothing but cruel jokes played on hungry stomachs by the criminal rulers. And the media builds up hype around these leaders and plays up the petty concessions to create illusions among the people that everything would be fine under a Sonia. That was how the image of an Indira Gandhi was built up in a planned manner. Nothing was wrong with Indira Gandhi or her policies. It was her sycophants, the bureaucrats and those who were to implement these policies and schemes further down who were at fault. So went the logic. Now Sonia is projected as the human face of the Congress. She would act as the last reserve for a failed party. Thus the party would collectively initiate an anti-people measure, gauge its impact on the people, and then would tone it down if needed by bringing Sonia into the scene as a messiah. Eventually both the Congress and Sonia stand to gain while people are reduced to fools.

How 800 Million Live

The facts regarding hunger and poverty in India are startling and expose in all nakedness the emptiness of the innumerable promises made by the hypocritical, opportunist parliamentary parties in over six decades of rule.

The total number of undernourished persons has increased form 210 million in 1990-92 to 252 million in 2004-06. India has about half the population of world’s undernourished children. What is worse, there has been a general decline in calorie consumption in recent decades.1 The percentage of children below five years of age who are underweight is now 42.5 per cent. The percentage of children below three years who are undernourished is 40 per cent.2

The callousness and contempt for the poor on the part of our rulers can be seen from their desperate gimmicks and heinous attempts to cover up the reality of poverty. One can recollect the statistical jugglery resorted to by Rajiv Gandhi during the second half of 1980s to lower the number of poor and hungry. These heinous attempts continue notwithstanding the hype built around his widow who controls the government de facto. The worst examples of this callousness are the Union Home Minister Chidambaram and the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who had been desperately trying to cover up the stark figures of the poor behind their sophisticated (which is in fact abysmally crude notwithstanding their flawless English) rhetoric. Both these anti-people Ministers had gone on record saying that the figures of the poor cited by various authentic researchers are a myth.

According to a report in The Hindu of March 28, 2010, Union Home Minister Chidambaram and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee described as ‘myth’ the perception that 77 per cent of Indian people lived on Rs. 20 a day. Chidambaram said that Arjun Sengupta report had not derived such a conclusion. Pranab Mukherjee, delivering the valedictory address at the ‘National Convention on Law, Justice and the Common Man’ organized by the All India Congress Committee in New Delhi, said three studies conducted on the extent of poverty in India have arrived at different conclusions based on different sample surveys they have used to determine how many people were living below the poverty line. The terms of reference of these committees were narrow, affecting the conclusion. Chidambaram said the Left parties in West Bengal were propagating the myth that 77 per cent of the people had an income of only Rs. 20 a day.3 No wonder, the so-called Empowered Group of Ministers (E-GOM) headed by Pranab Mukherjee had created more insecurity for the poverty-stricken masses of our country through their draft food security bill.

The strong opposition from several civil society groups and social activists had prompted the Congress leadership to redraft the Bill to make it more palatable for the critics and the people at large. Even if it is merely on paper! None would believe that anything good can come out of this Bill for the vast majority of the undernourished, hungry millions who are dying like flies even as the government claims of surplus food stocks in its godowns. And stark irony is over several million tonnes of food grains rot in the godowns due to criminal apathy and neglect of our rulers who exhibit nothing short of contempt for the poor of this country in whose name they had catapulted to power. Why are these rogues maintaining criminal silence when millions of children are going hungry and are dying in hundreds every day? What would make these criminals jerk out of their inertia and tale measures to distribute the rotting food grains from their godowns? And when the pathetic plight of the poor is getting worse with every passing day why are these criminals contemplating on increasing the budget for police, paramilitary, defence forces and spend huge sums for waging war on these very people? One has to grasp this fascist mindset, anti-people attitude and criminal contempt for the people of this country on the part of the reactionary rulers. Nothing short of a revolutionary overthrow of these criminals ruling the country in the name of the people and fake democracy can eradicate poverty and ensure food security for all.

Bogus welfare schemes only fatten the rich

The fact that 230 million people of our country virtually go to bed hungry every day shows how bogus are the so-called social welfare schemes pompously trumpeted by the successive governments. And the aam aadmi rhetoric brings nausea to anyone who witnesses the terrible tragedy afflicting such a huge population that is equal to the entire population of the United States or the combined population of entire Europe. Every government has introduced these schemes which mean nothing to the people of this country except death and destitution. Schemes with pompous sounding names such as integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), the Kishori Shakti Yojana, the Nutrition Programme for Adolescent Girls, the Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls of the Ministry of Women and Child Development; the Sava Siksha Abhiyaan and the Mid-Day Meals Programme of the Ministry of Human Resources Development; the National Rural Health Mission and the National Urban Health Mission, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, National Food Security Mission and the National Horticulture Mission of the Union Agriculture Ministry; the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission, the Total Sanitation Campaign, the Swarna Jayanthi Gram Swarajgar Yojana, and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme of the Ministry of Rural Development; and the Antyodaya Anna Yojana, Annapoorna and the Targeted Public Distribution system of the Ministry of Food, and such grandiose schemes with the avowed aim of improving the nutritional status. Then why has hunger increased by leaps and bounds? And why do children eat mud in Ganne village in Uttar Pradesh as reported in the Hindustan Times?4

It is futile to debate whether a Sonia has greater concern for the hungry millions of the country and about the so-called struggle between Sonia and other leaders in the Congress party.

The irony of the situation is that our politicians and analysts continue to grapple with the “problem” of defining poverty and counting the poor. Sitting in their AC rooms these ivory tower intellectuals can never understand the excruciating hunger and the pangs of poverty. Hence the debate goes on even after six decades of fake independence whether the numbers given by a certain committee are correct and whether those of another committee are a myth, and so on. The official approach appears to be restrict support to BPL families.5 Hence we have the tragic case of children of Ganne village eating mud while their family earning Rs. 400 a month disqualifies for the BPL category! The number of BPL families varies from 9.25 crore (Suresh Tendulkar Committee) to 20 crore (Justice D.P. Wadhwa Committee). Taking four persons as the average size of a family, we have 37 crore to 80 crore people coming under BPL.

Food security involves safe drinking water, sanitation and health care. But the rulers have little concern for the provision of clean drinking water, sanitation or health care to the villages but are more interested in the construction of four-lane roads, Expressways, passing through these villages. Their concern is more about how to transport the mineral and forest wealth from these regions, speed up the transport of raw materials and finished commodities across the country for obtaining super profits for the corporate business houses and for the imperialists abroad. Thus we have the strange paradox of absolute non-availability of drinking water, toilets and primary health centre in a village but an ultra-modern highway passing through it with mineral water bottles being sold at the nearby dhaba.

What does it cost the government to provide the basic necessities to the poor of this country? Only a small fraction of the enormous profits amassed by the landed gentry and the comprador capitalist class—not an impracticable task given the huge sums accruing to a handful of ever-bulging billionaires in our country. In fact, in 2006, the National Commission on Farmers in its recommendations on building a sustainable nutrition security system calculated that about 60 million tonnes of food grains will be needed to sustain a universal PDS. What is required for the BPL families is only some additional cash expenditure to meet the lower prices of food grains allotted for them. People of the country should agitate for a Universal PDS along with subsidized rations for those coming under BPL. It is estimated that food stocks with the government would touch 60 million tonnes by June 2010.6 But they would only rot in godowns just like the system which produces them.

1—MS Swaminathan ‘Pathway to food security to all’, The Hindu,

2—Ibid

3—The Hindu, March 28, 2010

4—Hindustan Times, April 5, 2010

5—MS Swaminathan

Why can’t Chidambaram’s development bogey reach out to these people?

Save the dying children before dreaming of bringing development to remote regions under Maoist control through OGH

One lakh twenty two thousand four hundred and twenty two is the number of “malnutrition-affected” children who have died in Madhya Pradesh over the past four years, according to Health Minister Anup Mishra’s confession in the State Assembly in the third week of February. Shivraj Singh Chouhan of the BJP, who rules the state, had dubbed the reports by independent human rights organizations as a myth and invention just as the Congress’s Home Minister Chidambaram denies as myth his Operation Green Hunt. After repeated denials of several independent human rights reports over the past one year, the BJP government in MP finally admitted that with 60 per cent children affected, malnutrition is a major problem in the state. The Minister admitted that 60 per cent of the children in the State are suffering from malnutrition, confirming the figures stated in the National Family Health Survey-III (NFHS-III). Of the total deaths over the four-year period from 2005-06 to 2008-09, around 13 per cent deaths were reported only from Bundelkhand.

The question any ordinary citizen would ask fraud Chidambaram is: where is your development programme for these regions where naxalites are almost absent and 60 per cent of children are suffering from malnutrition? When you cannot provide even food and drinking water to the vast majority of children what trash you are yelling everyday at the top of your voice that you would develop the regions under Maoist control after reclaiming these by using your brute force? Don’t fool the people with your disgusting chatter and endless lies, Mr. Fraud! First do something for these dying children if you have an iota of concern for people instead of talking of reclaiming territory. But you wouldn’t because you are “in a state of denial for too long” to put it in your own words. You have been deprived of the minerals and forest wealth in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Maharashtra, West Bengal and other states due to the Maoist “threat”. Your war is not for development of the regions and people’s lives but for the loot and plunder of the mineral wealth of the regions where your capitalist masters have been denied entry by the ever-growing mighty Maoist movement.

New concrete structures for the police and paramilitary in the guise of Schools

How long will Chidambaram’s Paramilitary forces deprive children of their education?

Presently, school buildings in remote rural regions, particularly the adivasi-inhabited regions, are being constructed at a pace unheard of in the post-1947 history of our country. It looks as if the ruling classes of India had suddenly become extremely benevolent towards the educationally most backward sections of our society—the adivasis. Incredible indeed! For education has always been the most neglected sector in the annual budgets of the states and the union government. How have the rulers become so much generous towards the children of our country, particularly in the adivasi regions? Wherefrom comes this new-found love for the most deprived sections of our society?

The facts related to the condition of the children in our country are bizarre, to say the least. A significant number of children in the remote rural areas are dying like flies due to extreme malnutrition and disease owing to lack of food and drinking water. The adivasi population, constituting over 8 crore that is equivalent to the population of Germany or the combined population of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina, has no access to safe drinking water. Worse till, instead of providing them with safe drinking water, the successive governments in states and the Centre, whatever the colour of the ruling regimes—khadi, saffron, red, yellow and so on—had only snatched even the hitherto available water from these hapless people. Most of the sources of drinking water are rendered unsafe for drinking by the pollution of rivers and streams by the imperialist MNCs, the corporate business houses, and the Public Sector projects set up by the GoI in the name of mining and development. This has made the condition of the children, in particular, most vulnerable since they become easily affected by diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases.

A significant chunk of the children from the rural areas is compelled to or lured into work as bonded labourers in sweat shops and many even go begging in the streets. Most of the existing schools have no adequate number of teachers, or where teachers are appointed they rarely visit their schools. The teachers are often compelled to go on strike just to get their salaries which are denied to them for several months by the village panchayats and state governments. A visit to the adivasi villages in several parts of the country where Maoists have hardly any presence shows that the schools are generally not functional, teachers are rarely found, and the buildings are used for purposes other than education. And where schools are said to function one can count the single-digit attendance of children. Owing to acute poverty prevailing among most households the children in these villages are seen as sources of income and domestic help rather than make them obtain school education.

When the condition of our children and our schools is as described above, why do our Man Mohan Singh, Chidambaram sahib and all their ultra-modern “developers” derive satisfaction and succour from their “benevolent acts” of school construction while not caring an iota for providing drinking water or address the problem of pathetic malnutrition prevalent in vast adivasi-inhabited areas?  What is the secret behind this hectic developmental activity by the various governments in a region that had witnessed only callous apathy and criminal negligence for over six decades by the Indian rulers? Even now when the adivasis have to walk for 30 km to show to even a namesake doctor and most die of lack of treatment, why are our Man Mohan Singhs and Chidambarams interested more in constructing school buildings, rather than primary health centres, in these regions?

The very sight of a school building in these areas is enough to grasp the secret behind this “benevolent” and “humanitarian” venture. The cement buildings with RCC roofs and solid walls hang out as islands in a sea of thatched huts with mud walls. In ordinary times, one would not have wondered why they looked more like police stations than schools. And that is how the rulers had managed to go ahead with their plan of massive construction of school buildings in remotest places like Abhujmaad where, the government agrees, it had not even conducted a survey until date. Come 2010 and the place has become a hub of construction activity. For it is the year of Green Hunt or the hunt to wipe off all greenery from the existing forests. So the secret of Chidambaram or what one would call in the south of our country as Chidambara rahasayam is to actually construct buildings that would serve as camps for his paramilitary forces who are deployed to wage a bloody war on the adivasi people and the Maoists who lead them in their struggle for a life of dignity and liberation from the exploitation and terrible oppression by the rapacious plunderers and thugs who are protected fully by the Indian State and all the parliamentary parties. These buildings become acceptable as they double up as schools while the real ulterior motive of using them as the camping stations of the police and paramilitary is disguised under the veneer of education of tribal children. Many well-meaning democratic intellectuals, human and civil rights organizations fall prey to this ingenious but heinous tactic of the ruling classes who have unleashed the most brutal bloody war under hypocrite Chidambaram.

Anti-Maoist propaganda by some human rights and other groups

A hue and cry is raised by some so-called human rights groups that Maoists have been targeting the school buildings and preventing the children from receiving primary education. The so-called “mainstream media”, hired by the tiny parasitic corporate elite, has gone all out of its way to condemn the bombing of school buildings, panchayat buildings, anganwadi centres, and hospital buildings all of which are non-functional in general but have attracted the attention of these organizations just because Maoists have been destroying them. These so-called voluntary organizations, most of which are actually propped up by the imperialist and corporate interests, cry foul whenever there is an attack by Maoists on these buildings but never utter a word of disapproval when the so-called security forces occupy these buildings thereby depriving the children of schooling.

For instance, a report in the Economic Times of ….wrote under a provocative caption “A destructive school of thought called naxalism” thus: “A UN panels’ study has said that around 250 schools have been blown up in Chhattisgarh in the past one year by Naxalites and students are recruited in large numbers for subversive activities. According to a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report, India figures among the four countries that have seen a marked increase in systematic attacks on schools, students and teachers between 2006 and 2009…In India, nearly 300 schools were reportedly blown up by Maoists between 2006 and 2009, according to the report. These include 50 in the two states of Jharkhand and Bihar in the year 2009. The UN found that dozens of schools have been occupied for security operations including at least 37 in Jharkhand in the first half of 2009. In February 2007, Chhattisgarh government sources said that more than 250 schools had been blown up in recent months.”

The daily that serves as the mouthpiece of the parasitic elite that is plundering our country and our people, calls for “disrupting, dismantling and destroying the network of the Red thugs.”  Not a word is said as to why the school buildings are targeted, why the reactionary rulers have suddenly embarked upon the construction of school buildings at a hectic pace in the remotest regions of the country where more than 50 per cent of the population are living under chronic famine and even safe drinking water is not available for the overwhelming majority. Not a word is said as to why three lakh adivasis were forced to flee after the Indian rulers commenced their Operation Green Hunt under the direct supervision of the thug Chidambaram 9 months ago. And why another one lakh adivasis were displaced by Salwa Judum, the hired gang of armed hooligans created for serving the Tatas, Mittals, Jindals, Essar, Vedanta and other rapacious plunderers; why, between 2005 and 2009, over 700 villages were destroyed obviously along with the schools by these blood-thirsty murderous gangs deployed by the Congress-led government at the Centre and the BJP government in Chhattisgarh. The UN report or its reproduction in the Economic Times deliberately avoid the crucial question: where are the children in these villages when entire villages are razed to the ground by Salwa Judum and the paramilitary forces? Why are they bothered more about school buildings than the children who are supposed to sit in them? If at all they are serious about education for the children they must first raise their voices against the eviction of the adivasi people from thousands of villages in Dantewada, Bijapur, Narayanpur, Kanker, Rajnandgaon and other districts of Chhattisgarh, in some parts of Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal. They must demand the immediate withdrawal of all police camps from school buildings and other buildings in the villages, stop murders, arrests, tortures, rapes and destruction of property of adivasi villagers which makes it impossible for their children to carry on their education. They must demand the establishment of peace in the villages by immediate halt to the bloody onslaught by the central and state forces against the innocent unarmed adivasi people. Without raising these demands, simply accusing the Maoists of disrupting the education of children through destruction of schools, is not only biased and irresponsible but is also a futile and diversionary tactic that helps the ruling class oppressors to obfuscate the real issue.

Children at risk as schools become barracks in anti-Maoist war

Aman Sethi

Chhattisgarh defies the Supreme Court and security forces are still in occupation of school premises despite assurances to the contrary.

Photo: AMAN SETHI
A CRPF sentry keeps watch as school children play outside a camp’s barricades. In Chhattisgarh, the proximity of schools and security camps has blurred the line between civilian and military targets.

School’s out! In Kerlapal, Dantewada, battle-weary soldiers of the B Company of the 2nd Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force peer over barbed-wire fences as skinny schoolboys in sky-blue shirts play cricket. The force has occupied the senior school and with it the basketball court and part of the playing field; but the game must go on.

As paramilitary troops pour into Chhattisgarh to fight the Maoists, the absence of military barracks has forced soldiers and children to share the only concrete structures in the countryside — the village school.

A PIL filed in the Supreme Court has drawn attention to the militarization of Chhattisgarh’s schools, but the State government is in denial. On February 18, 2010, the counsel appearing for Chhattisgarh told the Supreme Court that all schools occupied by security forces had been vacated. To quote from the Supreme Court order of February 18: “It is also stated by learned counsel appearing for the State that the schools, hospitals, ashrams and anganwadis have already been vacated and they are no longer been used for camps or places for shelter of the police force.”

However, an investigation by The Hindu in the three districts of Dantewada, Narayanpur and Bijapur found numerous sites where the security forces continue to occupy school land or have simply appropriated school land for their barracks. These findings contradict the claims made by Chhattisgarh in the Supreme Court, suggesting that the counsel for the State was either dangerously misinformed, or guilty of making false statements in India’s highest court.

In Dantewada district, The Hindu found security forces operating out of a senior school in Kerlapal, a junior and middle school in Karli and a tribal girls’ hostel in Bhusaras.

In Narayanpur district, the G-company of the 39th Battalion of the CRPF moved into the middle school and gram panchayat building of Bhatpal village as recently as on February 10 — a week before Chhattisgarh’s counsel made his submission in court. Officers at the site said a portion of the school would be permanently handed over to the CRPF and that the construction of barracks was underway. In Munjmetta village, the 139th Battalion has taken over a primary and middle school and moved the children to adjacent structures.

In Bijapur, even the Collector’s office is in a college building. A list signed by the Superintendent of Police shows 16 schools as occupied by the security forces. When contacted by The Hindu over telephone, SP, Bijapur, Avinash Mohanty said “relocation is an ongoing process”, but CRPF sources confirmed that the force was yet to relinquish any occupied site.

“When forces occupy schools they blur the line between civilian and military targets and put the children at risk,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch and author of a study on the militarisation of schools in Jharkhand. “Children — particularly girls — begin to drop out as their parents do not want them near the force.”

Fears that basing the force in schools could provoke a backlash from the Maoists were realized on March 15, 2007 when they attacked a police outpost based in a residential girls’ school in Bijapur district’s Rani Bodli village. Even as young girls from Classes I to V cowered in their hostel, Maoist cadre killed 55 policemen in an adjoining wing of the building.

The only three police personnel who survived did so by hiding in the girls’ hostel.

Maoists have also targeted unoccupied school buildings, allegedly to deny security forces shelter. According to the Collector’s office, in the two-year period from 2006 to 2008 Maoists destroyed 70 school buildings in Narayanpur district alone. Not a single school has been rebuilt.

In Palachalam village, Dantewada, Maoists destroyed the sole school that catered to students from at least three neighbouring villages and built a giant red minar in its place. Now, children as young as ten years of age are forced to go to a residential school in Maraigudum, more than 20 Kilometres away from their homes and their parents.

“Troops need a concrete structure they can defend from attacks, which, in most cases, is the village school,” said Ravideep Singh Sahi, Deputy Inspector-General for Bastar of the CRPF. “We are trying to construct regular barracks, but contractors and labourers are unwilling to work in sensitive areas.”

Mr. Sahi hoped that the force and villagers could work together. In Bhatpal for instance, the CRPF donated a computer to the senior school in an attempt to foster goodwill with the villagers.

Privately, many CRPF officers expressed frustration with existing accommodation. “A camp needs proper barracks, security and a clear line of fire,” said a senior CRPF officer, “The current facilities are ad hoc at best.”

The prolonged occupation is also taking its toll on students. In Kerlapal, the CRPF’s occupation of the senior school building has forced students of Classes XI and XII to study in a sheltered veranda. “There are no chairs and the students are constantly distracted,” said a teacher. “The blackboard is makeshift, making it difficult for both teachers and students.” Class IX students have been accommodated in the middle school building by moving Class VI into a poorly-ventilated equipment shed. This was supposed to be a temporary arrangement; it has been five years.

In Bhusaras, Dantewada, a hostel warden told The Hindu how she struggled to fit fifty girls in two rooms and a veranda after the 195th Battalion of the CRPF moved into the girls’ hostel. “I stacked the beds one above the other with the younger girls on top and the elder girls at the bottom,” she said. The girls have since been moved to a permanent location. Now there are three rooms for fifty girls, an outdoor toilet without doors and no water.

At a bus stand in Narayanpur, troops returning from leave wait for a bus to take them to their camps located in schools on the Orcha road. “I used to have an open mind,” read a t-shirt sported by a soldier, “But my brains kept falling out.”

The Right to Education: A Paper Right without Substance

On March 31, 2010 the Union Minister of Human Resources Department, Kapil Sibal, announced that Right to Education will be a fundamental right from April 1. This means the state governments and local bodies are obliged to provide free and compulsory education to every child from 6 to 14 years. The Constitutional amendment was actually made nine years ago but nothing more was done in this regard. Now the UPA government has taken up this Act called the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, with the pressure from the World Bank and the privatization lobby. The UPA government decided to introduce this to achieve the twin objective of projecting itself as a pro-people government wedded to the welfare of the people while at the same time accomplishing its secret agenda of giving a big boost to private schools instead of trying to set up common schools. The ceding of Rights to the people is the easiest thing to do whereas ensuring the protection of these Rights and their implementation is the most difficult task. Kapil Sibal and his UPA government did the easiest thing but has neither the wherewithal nor the mechanisms to implement the so-called Right to Education. In fact, the UPA government has done the same with regard to Food Security while it neither has the mechanism nor the will to stop the rotting of the huge stocks of food grains and distribute them to the starving dying hundreds of millions of our poor people. But the net gainers and the real beneficiaries of these Rights are a handful of the rich who make a fast buck out of everything that is ostensibly meant for people’s welfare.  RTE is no exception to this general rule in a society based on horrifying exploitation.

Under the RTE the only obligation for the private schools is to reserve 25 per cent of their seats for children from the economically weaker sections. The private schools will now flourish in a massive way with government funds. Who will get permission for setting up schools is anybody’s guess. Those wielding money power and can bribe the officials and politicians will be the real beneficiaries of this right to education. Under the façade of the right to education, the UPA government also wants to divert people’s attention from its plans to expand the elitist, private education by allowing imperialist educational institutes and universities to set up their campuses in India. Due to the massive amounts of money that will be spent for the implementation of the RTE, it has come as a big boon to the corrupt politicians and officials who are neck-deep in scandals involving funds allotted for various people’s schemes.

Needless to say, like every fundamental right the RTE too will remain more on paper rather than in implementation. We know the fate of other fundamental rights which are too dear for the poor to enjoy. Seeking justice and redressal for any violation of these rights would imply adequate funds on the part of the victim for approaching a court of law. All the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution have been more often than not violated by the police, the feudal forces, the comprador class, contractors and the governments. The vast majority in our country simply cannot afford the means to fight against the might of the violators of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Although the RTE is said to come into force from April 1, 2010 the private schools have expressed their inability to implement the 25 per cent quota for the children of the economically weaker sections this academic year.

The Hard Facts

220 million children go to schools but only 18 million reach college. 40 per cent of the eligible children do not go to school. And out of those who go, 75 per cent drop out by the time they reach class VIII. Survey of Education Report says half of India’s children in Class V cannot read a Class II-level text book or do basic mathematics. Lack of teachers is one of the most important causes for this pathetic situation. A 2005 World Bank report mentioned that 25 per cent of teachers were absent from school, and only about half of those present taught anything. 1,20,000 elementary schools have only one teacher. Even these teachers hardly go to schools when they are situated in remote areas. Currently, more than 5.23 lakh teacher posts are vacant. An additional 5.1 lakh teachers are required to meet the pupil-teacher ratio to 30:1 as stipulated under the RTE Act. But without addressing the problem of absenteeism on the part of teachers and their disinterestedness in teaching the children, will appointing another 5 lakh new teachers solve this problem?

Another serious constraint is the lack of funds for implementing the RTE.  The amount required to implement RTE over the next five years is a massive Rs. 1.78 lakh crore i.e Rs. 34,000 crore every year for the next five years. The Central government has allotted only Rs. 15,000 crore for 2010-2011. Even if the states meet their share of funds the shortage of funds in the very first year is estimated to be around Rs. 7000 crore. The share of expenses between the Centre and states will be 55:45 ratio. But there is demand from virtually all states that the ratio should be 65:35 between the Centre and states. Without such a ratio the states say it will be impossible for them to implement the RTE due to acute shortage of funds.

The states are obliged to recruit and deploy teachers at a ratio of 30:1, establish neighbourhood schools within three years and train all teachers all of which require huge sums of money which the state governments are not prepared to spend. 5.48 lakh untrained teachers at the primary level and 2.25 lakh at upper primary level have to acquire necessary qualification within five years of the RTE Act coming into force. The Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh has already come out with the demand for Rs. 18,000 crore from the Centre.

Impracticable Provisions

There are also several impracticable provisions in the Act that are only meant to encourage more corruption. For instance, the Act monitors the infrastructure in schools including the number of class rooms, sanitary conditions, and safe drinking water and so on. This is an amusing provision going by the fact that several such existing laws related to the quality of schools and other educational institutions lie unimplemented. As it is, out of the 1.29 million government and private schools, over 60 per cent did not have electricity, 46 per cent did not have toilets for girls, and 50 per cent did not have compound walls to ensure the safety of the students. UP alone needs to construct 100,000 class rooms to meet the provisions stipulated under the RTE. Another provision that will remain merely on paper is: schools that do not meet the infrastructure standards within three years will be de-recognized and that untrained school teachers must get the requisite professional degree within five years.  State governments and local bodies will have to establish primary schools within one Kilometre of the neighbourhood and upper primary schools (Class VI to VIII) within three kilometers. In the absence of a school in small hamlets, the state government shall make adequate arrangements like free transportation and residential facilities.

Can hungry children really enjoy the RTE?

The fundamental problem of the children in our country is hunger, malnutrition and disease. How can children of the poor who form the overwhelming majority of the Indian population ever get into the school when their basic problem of hunger and poverty is not solved? Now it is a well known fact that the poor cannot afford to send their children to schools even if education is free and compulsory. They would rather prefer to have their children tend the fields, look after cattle or help them in other domestic works than sending them to school that would fetch nothing tangible for the family or alleviate their miserable condition. For many poverty-stricken families children are a source of extra income and hence without addressing the issue of poverty and hunger it is futile to speak of free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 years. RTE stipulates a fine of Rs. 10,000 for preventing a child from attending school or making him/her work! Needless to say, this will be as “effective” or rather as ineffective as the dowry act, bonded labour abolition act or untouchability act in the rural areas. There is a gross underestimation in the figure of 8 million cited by the government regarding the total number of children between 6-14 years who do not go to school.

Kapil Sibal should first think of how to free the huge number of children belonging to this age group who are forced to do work in various sectors out of economic compulsion. Any one with some degree of sincerity would first devise means of freeing the child from the unbearable conditions of exploitation in sweat shops and other informal works and ensure freedom from hunger. What is the plan of Mr. Sibal for achieving this basic objective without which RTE would be a mere showpiece? Absolutely nothing.

What would RTE produce ultimately?

The Prime Minster Man Mohan Singh did not face the problem of hunger and poverty when he studied at school. There is nothing of substance in what he said while introducing the Bill: “I am what I am today because of education.” The fact is, Man Mohan Singh would not have been what he is today if he chose to serve the people of India and protect the interests of our country instead of serving the imperialists and a tiny parasitic corporate elite that are plundering our country’s resources. It is also true that the kind of education the exploiting classes want to impart will only create self-seeking, anti-people comprador agents like Man Mohan Singh. Or else, which other Sikh would shamelessly continue in a Party that had massacred 3000 people of one’s own community in 1984 and which has been trying to suppress the facts related to the role of its leaders in the genocide? And even rewarding the culprits like Kamal Nath with ministerial posts and murderers like Sajjan Kumar with Z plus category protection?

Hence one of the major things of concern with regard to education is: what type of education is sought to be given to children from 6-14 years which are the most crucial years in terms of moulding of the minds? By making education free and compulsory the exploiters also wish to inculcate their reactionary ideas among the young and transform their minds in accordance with the needs of the rulers. We all know how the saffron brigade is poisoning the minds of the young both in its own private schools as well as government schools where it is in power. By misusing state machinery and government funds, and 100 per cent tolerance exhibited by the central government, the most unscientific and chauvinist education is taught that preaches absolute religious intolerance, the RSS concept of Akhand Bharat and unbridled jingoism to the children poisoning their minds. The entire education system itself reflects the unjust socio-economic system producing elitist, individualist, undemocratic, feudal, colonial and selfish values among the children to create servile, snobbish, self-seeking individuals who have only contempt for manual work and the toiling masses. So one can understand what would be the end product of the RTE to the extent it is implemented within the framework of the existing socio-economic system.

International Women’s Day (IWD) is the story of ordinary women as makers of history

Introduction:

International Women’s Day (IWD) is the story of ordinary women as makers of history; it is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men. The idea of having an international women’s day was first put forward at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid world industrialization and capitalist economic expansion that led to protests over working conditions.

A Century is passed after that. In this historical context it is time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of women’s rights and social change.

IWD, March 8, is a holiday celebrated by the oppressed around the world. It is a holiday that came out of the struggle of women. In particular, the struggle of immigrant garment workers in New York’s Lower East Side provided the inspiration for the demand that there be a special day to celebrate the struggle of women.

International Women’s Day was the fruit of the efforts of women in the Second International. Clara Zetkin, the legendary German Communist leader and an international Socialist leader proposed in the Second International conference of socialist women held in Copenhagen (Denmark) in 1910, that women throughout the world should focus on a particular day each year to press for their demands. Zetkin and others emphasized the international scope of their vision, calling on “the Socialist women of all countries [to] hold each year a Women’s Day,” and declaring that “The Women’s Day must have an international character.”

The conference established a Women’s Day, international in character, to honour the movement for women’s rights and to assist in achieving universal suffrage for women. It would commemorate the US demonstrations and honour working women the world over. The conference decided that every year, in every country, they should celebrate on the same day a “Women’s Day” under the slogan “The vote for women will unite our strength in the struggle for socialism”. It was decided to have a Woman’s Day in every country as a form of struggle in getting working women to vote. This day was to be a day of international solidarity in the fight for common objectives and a day for reviewing the organized strength of working women under the banner of socialism.

Over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women’s clubs, and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament, greeted Zetkin’s suggestion with unanimous approval and International Women’s Day was the result. (It was again passed unanimously a few days later in the general International Socialist Congress. Com V.I. Lenin, the great leader of the Bolshevik Party and the Russian Revolution, was among those who voted at this conference to establish this tradition). Since then it has been celebrated worldwide by class conscious workers and those fighting for the liberation of women and the emancipation of all humanity.

That conference also reasserted the importance of women’s right to vote, dissociated it self from voting systems based on property rights and called for universal suffrage – the right to vote for all adult women and men.

That is how it began and was celebrated for the first time internationally in 1911.

Before we go in to the history of what have happened in these 100 years, let us remember the struggle of the immigrant garment workers of the Lower East side of New York, who stood as inspiration for the IWD.

A Brief History of the struggle of Garment Workers:

Those ordinary women who stood as inspiration for having a women’s day were the “garment workers” of lower east side of New York City.  Most of these women were migrant workers from Russia, Italy and Poland. Due to the rapid Industrialization and capitalist economic expansion these women workers were heavily exploited. They worked up to 15 hours a day and were paid by rate per piece. They were charged for needles, thread, electricity, and even the crude boxes they had to sit on because there were no chairs. They were issued harsh fines—for being late, for damaged work, for taking too much time in the toilet. Children also worked for long hours, huddled in the corners of the shops, snipping threads from finished garments.

The garment trade shops in the big cities, such as New York, were deplorable. Fire hazards were rife, light was scant, the sound of machinery deafening, the environment polluted. Women were fined virtually for anything – talking, laughing, singing, machine oil stains on the fabric, stitches too large or too small. Overtime was constant and required, but no special pays for overtime work.

In the period of intense labor activity following the Civil War, when widowhood and general hard times forced thousands of women into the labor force, thus causing panic and hostility on the part of men, women found themselves excluded from most of the national trade unions. So they formed their own, including the Daughters of St. Crispin, a union of women shoemakers. During this era unions were formed by woman cigar makers, umbrella sewers, and printers, as well as tailoresses and laundresses. The clothing workers formed some of the most famous unions in U.S. history, notably the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, founded around 1900.

The first all women strike took place in New England Tailoring trades in early 1820’s. Many followed. The strike at Lowell cotton Mills became famous among the initial strikes. The initial protests of walk outs could not get them the results. So slowly they started getting organized. Workers of Lowell Cotton Mills formed Lowell Female labour Reform Association in 1844. The prime demand was the ten hour a day.

Women from clothing and textile factories staged a protest on March 8, 1857 in New York City. The garment workers marched and picketed, demanding improved working conditions, ten hour a day, and equal rights for women. They were protesting what they saw as very poor working conditions and low wages. The protesters were attacked. Their ranks were broken up and dispersed by the police. These women established their first labor union in the same month two years later. More protests followed on March 8 in subsequent years.

Fifty one years later, on March 8, 1908, their sisters in the needle trades in New York marched again, honoring the 1857 march, demanding the vote, and an end to sweatshops and child labor. 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay and voting rights.

In spite of many arrests and heavy fines, brutal beatings by police and hired thugs, the women, many of them teenagers, continued the walkouts. Middle and upper class women inspired by the strikers came out to the pickets to give their support and they too were arrested. And when newspapers covered these unusual arrests, the public began to find out about the brutal conditions and slave wages of the women strikers.

With the support of the National Women’s Trade Union League, founded in 1903 – a combination of working women and middle-class, often professional women who supported the working women’s struggle – the shirtwaist makers launched a series of strikes against Leiserson and Company and Triangle Waist Company, two of the most notorious shops in New York.

After months of small shop actions, the women decided to escalate the struggle by calling for a trade wide general strike. And in defiance of the heads of the union, on November 22, 1909, the “Uprising of the Twenty Thousand’’ began. It culminated in the first long-term general strike by women, putting to death the tiresome arguments that they were unable to organize and carry out a long and strenuous struggle.

The Women’s Trade Union League provided bail money for arrested strikers and large sums for strike funds. The strike was ultimately broken, as settlements were made shop by shop, but the talent and endurance of the women made it impossible for people to go on claiming that labour organizing was for men only. The strike lasted for months and ignited strikes in other areas. Though the strike itself was only partially successful in terms of changing work conditions, the “uprising” did change some important things. It challenged the image of what uneducated immigrant women could do, and it filled the East Side and many women and immigrants and oppressed people more broadly with pride and a sense of strength.

In 1908 the Socialist Party in US appointed a Women’s National Committee to Campaign for the Suffrage. After the meeting, this Committee recommended that the Socialist Party set aside a day every year to campaign to women’s right to vote, a big step for socialists and welcomed by women working for suffrage.

The First Women’s Day was observed across the United States on 28 February in 1909 and large demonstrations took place calling for the vote and the political and economic rights of women.

The International Women’s Day was marked for the first time on 19 March, 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and other European countries.

Review of the century

Two different movements have sought to achieve women’s liberation over the past hundred or more years, Marxism and feminism. Both wish to eradicate women’s unequal and oppressed position in present-day society, and to replace it with the full and genuine equality of men and women. However, they explain women’s oppression in very different ways, and pursue strategies which are quite opposed to one another.

Feminism sees the basic division in the world as that between men and women. The cause of women’s oppression is men’s urge to dominate and control them. History is the story of the unchanging patriarchal structures through which men have subjugated women. The only way to abolish these structures is for women, of whatever social class, to unite against men, of whatever class.

For Marxism, however, the fundamental antagonism in society is that between classes, not sexes. For thousands of years a minority of men and women have co-operated to live off the labour of the overwhelming majority of working men and women. The class struggle between exploiter and exploited, whatever their sex, is the driving force of historical change. Women’s oppression can only be understood in the context of the wider relations of class exploitation. Marx and Engels were able to show, by developing the materialist concept of history, that only the class struggle can achieve socialism and women’s liberation. The exploitation which men and women workers alike experience in their work leads them to organize collectively against capitalism. It is the struggle of this united working class which will sweep away oppression and exploitation alike.

Because of its prevailing views, the women’s movement falls into using the terms “women” and “women’s oppression” in a vague, undifferentiated and a-historical way. For female slaves oppression meant physical cruelty, sexual exploitation, forced separation from their children. For the leisured, financially comfortable plantation mistress it meant social and legal restrictions, and repressive sexuality. For working-class women the industrial revolution meant brutal capitalist exploitation plus the horrors of childbearing in terrible conditions (the vast majority of children dying in infancy). For the capitalist’s wife it meant an oppressive leisured life. To lump all women together in one word is to miss the specific historical conditions and to sidestep the role of the rich ladies in the enslavement and exploitation of working women and men.

Women are not a separate group; they are dispersed throughout the population. If women are the most exploited of workers, they are also among the exploiters.

When it comes to present-day women’s oppression, the many proponents of the women’s movement talk of that oppression as a product of “patriarchy”. Male domination is thus interpreted as a supra-historical factor, existing independently of class society or capitalism.

Engels argues that it was the rise of private property and the division of society into classes which led to the subjugation of women. Under capitalism the production of the necessities of life is a social process, while reproduction – the rearing of children – is a private process, taking place largely in the enclosed family. The oppression of women is rooted in the dichotomy between the two. Hence the fight for women’s liberation cannot be separated from the fight against capitalism.

Oppression in itself does not necessarily lead to a struggle for liberation. The oppression of women, by dividing them and imprisoning them in the four walls of the home, leads most often to powerlessness and submission. Only where women, as workers, have collective power do they gain confidence to fight exploitation, and are then also able to fight their oppression as women. The other side of the coin is that women workers, like other oppressed groups, are in a period of social crisis often more spontaneously revolutionary than men. [4] The struggle of workers against exploitation is the key to their successful struggle against all oppression. Hence the first step for working-class women in entering the arena of struggle for their liberation as women is to leave the isolation of the home and enter the social area of production.

For bourgeois sociologists, economists and historians, exploitation is mere exploitation; for Marxists it is the axis of class struggle, the springboard for human liberation. The brutalization led to a struggle, by women and men, for social changes to the benefit of the working class as a whole, as we see.

In human history, including women’s history, revolutions are the peaks. The role of women in the English revolution of the seventeenth century, when for the first time modern ideas of women’ s liberation and a new sexual morality blossomed, and in the French revolution of the eighteenth century and the Paris Commune of the nineteenth century, demonstrate the indomitable struggles of working-class women.

Beginning of IWD celebrations:

IWD was marked for the first time on 19 March, 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and other European countries, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. Socialists held strikes and marches on the same day. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded the right to work, to vocational training and to an end to gender discrimination on jobs.

Clara Zetkin organized the first IWD on March 19 in 1911 in Germany. A million leaflets calling for action on the right to vote were distributed throughout Germany before IWD in 1911.

In 1913 International Women’s Day has remained the “working women’s day of militancy”. In those bleak years meetings were forbidden. But in Petrograd, at the Kalashaikovsky Exchange, those women workers who belonged to the Party organized a public forum on “The Woman Question.” Delegate fee was five kopecks. This was an illegal meeting but the hall was totally packed. Members of the Party spoke. But this animated “closed” meeting had hardly finished when the police, alarmed at such proceedings, intervened and arrested many of the speakers.

As the nascent annual event developed, it took on the cause of peace as well as women’s rights. Furthermore, on the eve of World War I, women across Europe held peace rallies on March 8, 1913. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around 8 March of the following year, women held rallies either to protest against the war or to express solidarity with their sisters. In 1915, Zetkin organized a demonstration in Bern, Switzerland, to urge the end of World War I. Women on both sides of the war turned out.

Observances spread to France, the Netherlands and Sweden.

In 1914, “Women Workers Day” in Russia was better organized. Both the workers’ newspapers concerned themselves with the celebration. Because of police intervention, they didn’t manage to organize a demonstration. Those involved in the planning of “Women Workers Day” found themselves in the Tsarist prisons, and many were later sent to the cold north. For the slogan “for the working women’s vote” had naturally become in Russia an open call for the overthrow of Tsarist autocracy”.

In 1914 the Bolshevik Central Committee decided to create a special committee to organize the meetings for IWD. Meetings were held in the factories and public places to discuss issues concerning women’s oppression, and to elect representatives from those who had participated in the discussions and proposals, to work on the new committee.
The propaganda work of the paper ‘Rabotnitsa’ was now becoming ever more central to the work of the Bolsheviks. On its editorial board were such stalwarts of women’s liberation as comrades Krupskaya, Innessa Armand, Stahl, Kollontai, Eliazarova, Kudelli, Samoilova, and Nikolayeva and other female workers of St Petersburg. These women were totally dedicated to the revolutionary cause, they organized meetings, called aggregates and generally focused the work, developing the revolution. Each factory had its own representatives on the editorial board of ‘Rabotnitsa’ and there were weekly meetings, where all would participate and review the reports received from the different areas. The paper was also used as an instrument to raise the level of understanding in both trade union and political structures, which were still lagging behind the consciousness of the masses, towards a better understanding of the role of women workers.

In March 1917 the Bolsheviks created a bureau to promote revolutionary work among women workers. The party called for a Congress for all women workers, to discuss the best way to involve and organize women in the revolutionary struggles then taking place. In this period Lenin wrote many articles on the need to find new strategies and specific organizational models to attract women workers to socialism.
Demonstrations marking IWD in Russia proved to be the first stage of the Russian Revolution. With 2 million Russian soldiers dead in the war, Russian women again chose the last Sunday in February to strike for “bread and peace”. This was led by women in St. Petersburg. The government attempted to stop the demonstrations called to celebrate International Women’s Day. This provoked clashes with workers, especially in the Putilov factory in St Petersburg, which ended in a mass mobilization of workers. The women came out onto the streets and spoke to the soldiers, who then refused to open fire against the demonstrators, turning their bayonets against the Tsarist monarchy. During 1917 the general consensus of opposition to the imperialist war increased, strengthening the Bolsheviks, who had been courageously denouncing the imperialist war since 1914.

Coming on the rise of long struggle and many strikes, IWD 1917 inspired thousands of Russian women to leave their homes and factories to protest the terrible shortages of food, the high prices, the world war, and the increased suffering they had bitterly endured. The protest inspired the last push of a revolution. A general strike spread through Petrograd. The IWD strike merged with riots that had spread through the city between March 8-12. The February Revolution, as it became known, forced the Czar Nicholas II to abdicate four days later and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. That historic Sunday fell on 23 February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia, but on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere. (Russia switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1918, which moved the dates of the February revolution [Feb. 24–28, old style] to March.)

This was a milestone in the emancipation of women: the first occasion on which the complete economic, political and sexual equality of women was put on the historical agenda. New political, civic, economic and family codes were promulgated, aiming to wipe away at one stroke centuries-old inequalities. The new government granted women the vote, passed divorce and civil laws which made marriage a voluntary relationship, eliminated the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children.

Following the October Revolution, the IWD was made into an official holiday, and during the Soviet period it continued to celebrate “the heroic woman worker”.

International Women’s Day

The first time International Women’s Day was held in Russia was in 1913. It was held six days early, on 2 March (17 February by the old calendar then in use) for fear of police interference. The Bolshevik newspaper Pravda commemorated the day with a special six-page issue, and a holiday committee was set up by the Bolshevik-controlled Petersburg Committee of the Social Democratic Party, consisting of a group of women textile workers and Bolshevik activists. Celebrations took place in five cities: St Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Samara and Tblisi. The largest was in St Petersburg. Over a thousand people – out of a larger number who failed to get in – crowded into the hall, which was heavily policed both outside and inside, the police occupying the first two rows. One of the main speakers, a textile worker, Ianchevskaia, summed up the meaning of the assembly thus: “The women workers’ movement is a tributary flowing into the great river of the proletarian movement and giving it strength.”

These words and the general spirit of International Women s Day grated on the nerves of the bourgeois feminist Dr Pokrovskaia. She wrote:

As we expected, the women workers’ day did not protest at all against the subordinate position of wives in relation to their husbands. They spoke primarily of the enslavement of the proletarian women by capital, and only in passing mentioned domestic subservience … Mme Kudelli was wrong in asserting that economic interests are the most important for the woman worker. Personal freedom stands higher.

Her conclusion was: all men benefitted from male privilege; all women must join together to fight it.

In 1914 the government refused a request for ten meetings in the larger workers’ quarters of St Petersburg to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, allowing only one, and this was heavily policed. Three of the five planned speakers were arrested and the police refused to allow substitutes. Disappointed and angry, many of the large numbers present spilled out into the streets, singing revolutionary songs, only to be eventually dispersed by the police, who made mass arrests.

In both 1913 and 1914 there were deep differences between the Mensheviks, who wanted only women to participate in the celebrations, and the Bolsheviks, who insisted that International Women s Day should be celebrated not only by working women but by the entire working class.

During the war it was far more difficult to celebrate International Women’s Day. But despite a government ban the day was commemorated in 1915 and 1916 by small meetings and celebrations.)

During the 1930’s the question of women’s liberation was swept aside in Europe under the hammer blows of economic crisis and Nazism which culminated in the out break of the Second World War. It had a devastating effect on the people of the world. No country is untouched by this depression. In those years of war from 1939 to 1945 there were no celebrations. The powers of the world changed and along with it the women’s movement also had undergone a lot of change. In the US after the end of the world war, IWD was not celebrated till the sixties though it is celebrated very rarely and sporadically in Europe.

The stage for class struggle shifted from Europe to Asia during the Second World War and resulted in the success of the Chinese revolution.

Chinese women began celebrating IWD in l924, paralleling a strong women’s movement in the Chinese Communist party. The first strike by women workers occurred in 24 silk factories of Shanghai in 1922 in which 20,000 joined and demanded a 10-hour working day and 5 cents wage-increase per day. The first rally of women, under party leadership, was held on Women’s Day (8 March) of 1924 in Canton, where a group of girl students and women workers raised slogans: “Down with imperialism”, “Down with warlords”, “Same work same pay”, “protection for child labour and pregnant mothers”, “Equal education”, “Abolish child brides and polygamy”, “Prohibit the buying of slave girls and the taking of concubines”, “Formulate a child protection law”. These anti-imperialist and anti-feudal slogans echoed throughout the country and ushered in a new phase in the women’s movement. After the revolution, China made IWD an official holiday, as in the USSR.

One of the first acts of the People’s Republic of China was the abolition of prostitution in 1949.The Marriage Law of 1950 and the later additions to it gave more rights to women than western bourgeois law could do.

Drifting away from the working class:

Women’s liberation returned to the agenda in the 1960s. It was the boom period in America, with job opportunities opening up for women.  A large number of middle class women were drawn in to the women’s movement as they faced a lot of sexist attitudes of men who competed with them for those jobs especially the professional ones.  These women were convinced that advances did not lie in politics or political parties, but in the development of human faculties, “the emancipation of the person”. It took but a short time for the whole of the American WLM to turn into a collection of small groups, consisting of about eight women each, in which women talked to each other about their individual experiences and analyzed them together. This is called ‘consciousness raising’.

This trend for “consciousness-raising” groups to become an end in themselves was by no means the only trend in the women’s liberation movement in its early years. Many women, especially socialist feminists in Britain, argued that consciousness-raising was important not because it improved women’s lives but because it gives women the confidence to take part in political activity. Alas, it doesn’t. You don’t build your confidence by separating yourself off from the struggle going on in the world around you. If you do, then just the opposite happens: you never get the chance to develop the skills and arguments necessary for political activity. As the experience showed, women tended to cling more and more to their small groups, and when these broke up, to drop out completely.

In a curious way, “consciousness-raising” does not challenge the prevailing ideas that the family and personal relationships are separate from society at large, ruled by their own laws. “Consciousness-raising”, after all, aims to change the ideas of the individuals concerned – m the belief that with the “right ideas” they could then go on to change their personal, sexual and family relationships. The logic of this is that personal relationships are moulded merely by the ideas which we carry in our heads, not by the real world in which we live. In contradiction to this, personal relationships arise from and are moulded by the total social relations of the society around us – and cannot ultimately be changed in isolation from that reality.

The end result of this fragmentation was the mushrooming of “oppressions”. Black women were claiming that white feminists oppressed them on grounds of colour. Lesbians were claiming they were oppressed by heterosexual women … and so on. This was the result of believing, in the first place, that the source of oppression was one group of individuals: men. When women in the women’s movement, now separated from men, still felt oppressed, they reacted by seeking out another group of individuals to blame. In this way you end up blaming those who agree with you and leaving the social system – the real source of oppression – untouched.

With the general political weakness of the American left, even at its high point, and the growing economic recession of the 1970s – a reality no one could deny – the WLM, composed of tiny, fragmented groups and torn by intermittent squabbles, proved powerless. Women who were not content simply to contemplate their own consciousness, but wanted some action, turned towards the respectable, conservative Women’s Rights organizations, of which the most prominent was NOW, the National Organization of Women.

The movement of women into NOW has been part of a general move rightwards urged on by the economic depression.

NOW’s mode of operation is very traditional. It leans towards the Democratic Party, urges women to rely on the courts and Congress for reforms, and indulges in lobbying as a major activity. Typically members of NOW have been very involved in the campaign for the ordination of women in the churches. In three years “over 40 women have become episcopal priests”. Some 15,000 women attended one of its conventions in November 1977, including three “First Ladies”!

NOW has proved ineffective not only in failing to advance women’s conditions, but even in blocking the attack on women’s rights in recent years, especially since Reagan became President. Thus, the Equal Rights Amendment, which was declared by NOW to be the “number one campaign” which it fought at the expense of all other women’s issues, failed in 1982, as not enough states could be persuaded to ratify it.

In Britain the trade unions had more than half the working population in membership. In Britain there is a Labour Party with a mass vote among the working class. The revolutionary socialist organizations are also stronger in Britain, with greater influence in the working class. Although there has never been a fusion of the women’s and trade union movements in Britain, there have been a few noteworthy common actions.

Equal pay was an important issue in the 1960s. By 1962, according to a TUC survey, 19 trade unions, representing 200,000 women, had equal pay agreements with employers. Thirty unions did not. Many unions were pushing not only for equal pay but for maternity leave, equal job opportunities and equal terms and conditions of work. In 1963 the Trades Union Congress passed a resolution calling on the next Labour government – which was in fact to take office the following year – to make equal pay a requirement in law. The Women’s Advisory Committee of the TUC followed this with an Industrial Charter for Women, demanding equal pay, equal opportunities for training, re-training facilities for women returning to industry, and special provisions for the health and welfare of women at work. They had very little immediate success.

But towards the end of the 1960s there was a general struggle for increased wages throughout the trade union movement. The demand for equal pay became one aspect of this. A crucial strike took place in 1968 by sewing machinists at Ford’s Dagenham plant, followed by those in the company’s Halewood plant on Merseyside. The women organized their own strike committee and brought Ford to a standstill. Their victory raised their pay to 92 per cent of the men’s rates, although they failed to raise their grading from “unskilled”.

The strike by the women at Ford inspired many other women workers. Out of it arose the National Joint Action Campaign for Women’s Equal Rights (NJACWER), which adopted a five-point charter and called on the TUC to lead a campaign for equal pay and opportunity. [2] In May 1969 the campaign organized an equal pay demonstration which was supported by women trade unionists from all over the country.

Trade unions now made promises that they would fight for equal pay as part of their recruitment campaigns, and women streamed in as new members.

1970-74 were years of mass working-class struggle, including two national miners’ strikes, a national dockers’ strike when five dockers – the “Pentonville Five” – were jailed for picketing, and more than 200 factory occupations. These years also saw an impressive array of women’s strikes. In 1970 London night cleaners fought for union recognition. The same year 20,000 Leeds clothing workers (85 per cent of them women) went on strike. Flying pickets closed clothing factories further afield in Yorkshire. Tens of thousands of teachers, three-quarters of them women, were also on strike over pay for the first time in half a century. 1971 saw a London telephonists’ pay dispute, while at Brannan’s, a small thermometer factory in Cumberland, women struck to defend trade union organization. In 1972 women joined the occupations of Fisher-Bendix on Merseyside and Briant Colour Printing in London. The same year women at Goodman’s, part of Thorn Electrical Industries, successfully struck for equal pay. In 1973 hundreds of thousands of hospital workers (the majority women) went on their first ever national strike. In the same year two hundred women in GEC, Coventry, struck for eight weeks over piece rates. Asian women at Mansfield Hosiery Mills struck over racial discrimination, and there was a national NALGO strike – mainly of women. There were many other women’s strikes in this period of mass upsurge.

Parallel with this, there was progress in the women’s movement. The groups which started in 1969 mushroomed. The first organization to be set up was the London Women’s Liberation Workshop, which followed the American example in being a network of small groups with information services. It stated:

…the men lead and dominate, the women follow and submit. We close our meetings to men to break through this pattern, to establish our own leaderless groups and to meet each other over our common experience as women … For this reason, groups small enough for all to take part in discussion and decisions are the basic units of our movement … to further our part in the struggle for social change and transformation of society.

A few months later, in February 1970, the first National Women’s Liberation Conference was held in Ruskin College, Oxford. Nearly 600 women turned up, mostly from the new women’s liberation groups, some from NJACWER and some from Maoist and Trotskyist groups. The conference adopted a structure of small women’s groups based on localities, loosely co-ordinated through national meetings to which each group could send two delegates. The conference also set up a Women’s National Co-ordinating Committee.

On 6 March 1971 International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time in London and Liverpool. The demonstrators carried on their banners four basic demands (worked out by the Women s National Co-ordinating Committee): for equal pay now, equal education and job opportunities, free contraception and abortion on demand, and free 24-hour nurseries. The four demands clearly identified the aim of the women’s movement as being to bring changes in the real world. They were political demands in that they were demands on the state, and they well suited the needs of working-class women.

Unfortunately a number of factors pushed the growing women’s movement away from the working class. A measure of how the women’s movement distanced itself from the working class is the changes in its platform of demands. In 1975, two new demands were added: “Financial and legal independence” and “an end to all discrimination against lesbians and a woman’s right to define her own sexuality”. In 1978, at the last National Women’s Conference, the following demand was added: “Freedom from intimidation by threat or use of violence or sexual coercion, regardless of marital status; and an end to all laws, assumptions and institutions which perpetuate male dominance and men’s aggression towards women.” The original four demands were clear, aimed at changes in the real world and directed towards the state; the added ones largely related to “attitudes” and “assumptions”, to “personal politics”.

The British movement, like the American, was torn by a lesbian/straight feminist conflict. Later it confined itself to establishing refuge centers for battered women and rape victims, set up by feminists or by social workers not associated with women’s liberation.

There is also a network of other centres: women’s aid and women’s study centres, women’s collectives for writing and publishing, health, psychiatry, legal advice, child care, carpentry. To their participants these make up a “complete alternative feminist culture”.

For socialists refuges for battered women and their children are an important social service, which needs to be defended like hospitals or schools. But in no way can they be seen as more than palliatives, of marginal impact on the human wreckage caused by capitalism.

The women’s movement received a new lease of life with the rise of the Peace Movement, centred around Greenham Common, the airbase in Berkshire used for Cruise nuclear missiles.

A feminist writes: “Nuclear weapons are an expression of the twisted values of a male-dominated society … We see nuclear weapons and nuclear power as particularly horrendous results of male domination.”

They do not recognize that nuclear weapons are the fruit of a capitalist class society with its massive concentration of economic, political and military power. Hence the only way to get rid of the weapons is by overthrowing capitalism, by disarming the capitalist class and arming the working class.

Adoption of IWD by the ruling class:

United Nations involvement principally began in 1977 when the General Assembly passed Resolution 32/142 inviting each country to proclaim, in accordance with its historical and national traditions and customs, any day of the year as United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.

March 8 was not specifically designated in this resolution. However, many countries have chosen to observe the celebration on this day.    In adopting its resolution on the observance of Women’s Day, the General Assembly cited two reasons:

to recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality and development of women;

to acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security.

This is a far cry from the world of the majority of women. The abyss between these feminists and working-class women was highlighted at the International Women’s Year Tribunal organized by the United Nations in Mexico in 1975. Here two worlds met. On the one side were the middle-class women led by Betty Friedan, the founder of NOW and one of the original inspirers of the women’s movement in America. On the other were working-class women, among them Domitila Barrio, a Bolivian miner’s wife and mother of seven. She had for fifteen years organized miners’ wives in struggles to aid their husbands on strike. An indication of the miners’ conditions was that their life expectancy was a mere 35 years. Domitila Barrio had organized a long hunger strike of women, and had gone to prison a number of times, on one occasion suffering a miscarriage while in custody. She bitterly attacked the rich feminists who turned up to the conference. To the president of the Mexican delegation she said:

Senora, I’ve known you for a week. Every morning you show up in a different outfit and on the other hand I don’t. Every day you show up all made up and combed like someone who had time to spend in an elegant beauty parlour and who can spend money on that, and yet I don’t. I see that each afternoon you have a chauffeur in a car waiting at the door of this place to take you home, and yet I don’t. And in order to show up here like you do, I’m sure you live in a really elegant home, in an elegant neighborhood, no? And yet we miners’ wives only have a small house on loan to us, and when our husbands die or get sick or are fired from the company, we have ninety days to leave the house and then we re in the street. Now, senora, tell me: is your situation at all similar to mine? Is my situation at all similar to yours? So what equality are we going to speak of between the two of us? If you and I aren’t alike, if you and I are so different?

The rich women, she claimed, were blind to the conditions of women like herself:

They couldn’t see the suffering of my people; they couldn’t see how our companeros are vomiting their lungs bit by bit, in pools of blood. They didn’t see how underfed our children are. And, of course, they didn’t know, as we do, what it’s like to get up at four in the morning and go to bed at eleven or twelve at night, just to be able to get all the housework done, because of the lousy conditions we live in.

She could not understand Betty Freidan’s statement that she, Domitila, and her friends were “manipulated by men”.

Women’s Movement in India

The vast majority of women live in villages weighed down by feudal oppression that takes many forms. Intense economic exploitation, crude and brutal social oppression, a culture that not only denies her independence but also denigrates her in all possible manners. Hence, women from the oppressed classes have had a stake in the destruction of the feudal rural order and have come forward to do so.

In the anti-feudal peasant struggles in the past century women have played a very militant and active role. In the Tebhaga struggle in the 1940s the participation of women was very high and Nari Bahinis were formed for self-defence when state repression began. In the Telengana peasant uprising from 1947 to 1951 too women participated in large numbers and peasant and tribal women became guerrilla squad members and there are many accounts of the bravery and tenacity displayed by these women in the face of encirclement by the Indian Army, in the face of torture and sure death. Thus when the Naxalbari uprising took place in 1967 in North Bengal under the leadership of Charu Majumdar it is not surprising that poor peasant women and girls participated with full enthusiasm. In the Srikakulam struggle the participation of women was remarkable. Women became commanders of the armed squads and struck terror in the hearts of the moneylenders and landlords of the area. The armed struggle in fact began after an attack on women by the goondas of a landlord when they were on their way to participate in a peasant conference. The names of the women martyred in this struggle, women who preferred to be felled by the bullets of the armed police rather than surrender still shine high – Nirmala, Ankamma, Saraswati. Thus these women defied their families and society to take on roles, which directly challenged their traditionally acceptable roles in society. They displayed tremendous heroism and determination to make the anti-feudal struggle a success. But the revolutionary movement at this time did not take up the conscious task of organizing women’s organizations and taking up the struggle against manifestations of patriarchy. In the face of severe repression these movements were suppressed.

When communist revolutionaries regrouped themselves and began building up the anti-feudal peasant struggles in the late 1970s once again there was an upsurge of participation of women in the struggles. In the plains of Central Bihar, in the fields and villages of Telengana (AP) the peasant movement grew like a storm. Among the first issues the movement confronted was the feudal privileges of the landlords over the wives and daughters of the labourers working in their fields, especially of the Dalit castes. Subject to worst form of abuses and vulgarities of the landlords’ men, bent down due to starvation and poverty, these poor women were easy prey for the landlords and their henchmen. Many of the violent struggles in Bihar and Telengana in the first part of the peasant movement in the 70s and 80s was to end this abuse and molestation, going in the name of “tradition”. These struggles provided the background for the growth of the women’s movement.

The women’s movement has grown with the growth of armed struggle. Contrary to general opinion the launching of armed struggle in the early 80s by the communist revolutionary forces in various parts of the country, the militant struggle against feudal oppression gave the confidence to peasant women to participate in struggles in large numbers and then to stand up and fight for their rights. Women who constitute the most oppressed among the oppressed, poor peasant and landless peasant women who have lacked not only an identity and voice but also a name, have become activists for the women’s organizations in their villages and guerrilla fighters. Thus with the spread and growth of the armed struggle the women’s mobilization and women’s organization have also grown leading to the emergence of this revolutionary women’s movement, one of the strongest and most powerful women’s movement in the country today. But it is unrecognized and ignored, a ploy of the ruling classes that will try to suppress any news and acknowledgement as long as it can.

Early in the dawn of this new century remarkable developments are taking place on the women’s front in India. Deep in the forests and plains of Central India, in the backward villages of Andhra Pradesh and up in the hills among the tribals in the State, in the forests and plains of Bihar and Jharkhand women are getting organized actively to break the shackles of feudal patriarchy and make the new democratic revolution. It is a women’s liberation movement of peasant women in rural India, a part of the people’s war being waged by the oppressed peasantry under revolutionary leadership. For the past few years thousands of women are gathering in hundreds of villages to celebrate March 8. Women are gathering together to march through the streets of a town like Narayanpur to oppose the Miss World beauty contest, they are marching with their children through the tehsil towns and market villages in backward Bastar to demand proper schooling for their children. They are blocking roads to protest against rape cases, and confronting the police to demand that the sale of liquor be banned. And hundreds of young women are becoming guerrilla fighters in the army of the oppressed, throwing off the shackles of their traditional life of drudgery. Dressed in fatigues, a red star on their olive green caps, a rifle on their shoulders, these young women brimming with the confidence that the fight against patriarchy is integrally linked to the fight against the ruling classes of this semi-feudal, semi-colonial India and are equipping themselves with the military knowledge to take on the third largest army of the exploiters. This is a social and political awakening among the poorest of the poor women in rural India. It is a scenario that has emerged far from the unseeing eyes of the bourgeois media, far from the flash and glitter of TV cameras. They are the signs of a transformation coming into the lives of the rural poor as they participate in the great struggle for revolution.

Let us unitedly fight back the forthcoming fascist attack on women of Dandakaranya and on the mass organizations!

An appeal by KAMS to fraternal mass organizations, progressive democratic women, intellectuals, students and all democrats

Dear friends,

Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Sangathan is working in the Dandakaranya comprising seven districts of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh with a population of about 40 lakhs. Women comprise about 19 lakhs 88 thousands among them. It is working in an area where various tribes like Madia, Muria, Dorla, Rajgond, Halba, Bathara and many nationalities are residing. The women here work for about 16 hours everyday in the fields, homes, as labourers, gatherers of forest produce etc. Though they labor day and night, they are being exploited and are denied all rights. Feudal patriarchy is exploiting women’s labour and is suppressing all their rights. It has relegated women to a secondary position in the society. The feudal, comprador bureaucratic bourgeoisie ruling classes of our country, with the backing of the imperialists are directly responsible for the continuation of exploitation and oppression of women as they are the ones who are strongly entrenching patriarchy in our society. The revolutionary movement entered into DK in 1980 in such a social background.

KAMS is working since three decades in DK with the aim of liberating women. It mobilized and led women in the struggles against forest officers, paper mill managements, tendu leaf contractors and the exploitation, sexual harassment, atrocities and violence of traders from plains. It gave a helping hand to young women who stood against the tribal patriarchy oppressing them. It gave a call to the adivasi women to rise under the leadership of KAMS and fight for women’s liberation. It gave solid support to the fraternal organization, the DAKMS. It mobilized women to resist the police who came to attack their villages and chased them away.

KAMS gives full support to the DK revolutionary movement which is carried on with the following aims – ‘Land to the tiller’, ‘Forest to the adivasis’, ‘State Power to the oppressed people’, ‘Women’s Liberation’. We work shoulder to shoulder with our fraternal mass organizations in the armed struggle and political propaganda against the exploitative government and its army. We participate in the election boycott actively with the aim of establishing people’s power as an alternative to the parliamentary politics in which we have lost confidence. The ruling classes who could not tolerate this are perpetuating brutal violence on the adivasi women.

KAMS supports all the struggles of the oppressed people against the exploitative ruling classes, not just in DK but also in India and abroad. We support nationality liberation struggles. We expressed solidarity to the movement which erupted when Manorama was killed in Manipur. We exposed the social fascist communists who had murdered Tapasi Malik in Singur. We hailed the militant participation of women in the people’s struggles of Nandigram and Lalgarh. We hailed the Kashmir women who raised their voices for Azad Kashmir. We gave the call to support the fighting people of Andhra Pradesh. It gathered public opinion in support of the demand to release Com. Budhni Munda (Sheila Didi), the president of ‘Nari Mukthi Sangathan’ by conducting a signature campaign.

Unofficial ban is continuing in Maharashtra on KAMS from 1991. The government tried to hamper the activities of KAMS from 1991 to 1993 by using TADA against it. POTA was brought in 2002. From then on, unofficial is continuing under MCOCA in Maharashtra. Before the formation of Chhattisgarh, the Madhya Pradesh government has been observing Anti-terrorist day from May 1992 and has been continuing unofficial ban on all revolutionary mass organizations since then. The Central government had banned the revolutionary mass organizations KAMS and DAKMS and Bal Sangams (Children’s organization) on April 19, 2005 under the Central government’s Unlawful Activities Preventive Act.

Within a month of assuming office the Central government had banned the CPI (Maoist) on June 20, 2009 under the Unlawful Activities Preventive Act (UAPA), a new fascist Act. A revolutionary women’s organization which believes in the politics propagated by that party was also not spared from the ban. That ban is continuing on our organization too.

The state unleashed terror on us from 1990. Thousands of adivasi women were incarcerated under TADA between 1990 and 1995. Chaithe Pallo was an ordinary adivasi woman who is undergoing life sentence from 2004 October. She was booked under TADA in 1991. Adivasi women who had never left their villages had to go to Rajnandgaon, Nagpur, Chandrapur etc. for hearings of TADA cases. Women underwent untold sufferings in the Jagdalpur, Dantewada, Amaravathi, Chandrapur and Nagpur jails. Missings of KAMS activists had started by 1993. There is still no trace of Tara, Pramila, Sukbatti and Jayawanta who had gone missing still.

The Feudal representatives like Kalma Masalu (Mahendra Karma) who could not tolerate the KAMS which had challenged their tribal feudal authority and patriarchy, tried to crush it under their feet in the name of Jan Jagran. Women had resisted and withstood the two Jan Jagran campaigns of 1990 and 1997. From June 2005, Jan Jagran changed its face. In the name of ‘Salwa Judum’ it is hounding and killing us like a man-eater. It turned us into homeless people in Dantewada, Bastar and Bijapur. Home, field, hut, paths, trees, shrubs – no place was safe for us. The Judum goons pounced on us like hungry wolves and bled us literally. The Naga, Mizo and CRPF forces cut our bodies into pieces. The fact that one or more women were raped in almost all the families shows the scale of the sexual violence perpetrated on us. Our bodies were cut, our breasts were cut, our private parts were pierced with sharp weapons and the wombs of pregnant women were cut open with bayonets. As if this was not enough now the state is readying itself for a massive offensive against us.

Many intellectuals and democrats had stood by us in defeating the fascist Salwa Judum offensive of the exploitative ruling classes. The ‘Committee against Violence on Women’ along with other women formed an All India Women’s team and toured in Dantewada district and gave paper statements condemning the fascist violence on us. The members of National Commission for Women condemned the sexual atrocities and violence on the women in Rahath Sibirs. Any little support from anybody who stood by us in these difficult times gave us a lot of confidence.

People say suppression always leads to resistance. If we do not defeat Salwa Judum, there is no protection for us. If we do not fight we can never defend the rights we have won in these 25 years of struggle. We learnt to fight while being in the battle field.

From the time of elections to Chhattisgarh assembly in 2008 November till the completion of Lok Sabha elections in May 2009, more than 500 companies of para-military forces were deployed in DK. Presently elections to Maharashtra assembly are taking place. The Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and Home Minister Jayant Patil are asking the Centre to send eight battalions of army to the state. They are giving statements that they would form Adivasi Battalions and Koya Battalions. Already forces like C-60 and STF are present in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh respectively. The Grey hounds from neighboring state of AP are already raiding our villages and hounding us. The Grey hounds are the cruel force of AP who had killed hundreds of revolutionaries and people, especially hundreds of women too. They are not just confining themselves to AP, but are also entering the neighbouring Odisha and Chhattisgarh states and perpetuating killings and gang rapes. They were in the forefront in suppressing the women’s movement in AP by killing women activists and women leaders. This notorious force which had gang raped adivasi women in Vakapalli is now coming to DK to suppress the women’s movement here too. The deployment of COBRA battalions built with the sole aim of wiping out the revolutionary movement has started. In the borders of Dantewada and AP, two battalions have been deployed. The trio of Sonia-Man Mohan-Chidambaram is the main leader behind this offensive.

The central and state governments are issuing statements that they would start the offensive after Diwali. With the sole aim of wiping out the revolutionary movement the police and para military forces are perpetuating all kinds of atrocities on us. They are resorting to bloody massacres with the evil design of wiping out the very existence of our Koya community in order to loot the natural resources which are abundant in our areas.

We request all democratic women, mass organizations and people to stand by us in all manners you can by condemning this unjustified, inhuman, undemocratic and cruel offensive which the exploitative ruling classes are planning to launch against us.

In solidarity,

Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Sangathan (KAMS)

Dandakaranya

October, 2009.

WOMEN AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND STATE REPRESSION

Overview: In October, 2009, about 25 organisations from across India met in Bhopal to address the increasingly rampant use of sexual violence as a method of State repression. While women’s organisations in states under the AFSPA have long protested the gory list of rapes, murders and disappearances of women in their regions, the State, rather than heed the call of justice and contain its security forces and police, is continuing its violence on women’s bodies as a method of intimidating communities across even more regions of India. Even as the women of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Jammu & Kashmir continue to reel under the ongoing brutalities committed by both the armed forces and the insurgents, the deployment of the paramilitary, the army regiments and the state police commando units in substantial parts of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa and West Bengal makes a mockery of the State’s Constitutional requirement to protect its own citizens.

Under the broad banner of “Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression” we have come together to strongly and unitedly say “NO ….NOWHERE….NEVER…and NOT ON ANY PRETEXT” to sexual violence against women.

We demand that the State take immediate and active steps to stop the sexual violence against women across the country- through conflict resolution and through containing its armed forces. In this Centenary year of 8th March – International Women’s Day we would like this cry to rage from struggling women all over the country.

As a part of our campaign’s strategy of women physically gathering and publicly protesting in areas that are under active armed deployment by the State, we, together with women’s organisations in Chhattisgarh, held a Convention in Raipur on 12-13 December, 2009. Now, in deeper solidarity and with more voice, intent and power, this national Campaign is concretely moving forward to show our opposition to the ongoing violence against our sisters in the Northeast of India. If justice is to be served, we need a strong and powerful coalescence of women across India to prevent more rapes and sexual torture of women by the armed forces and police, to punish those guilty and to ensure that the State does not turn a blind eye to its own agencies’ gross violation of women’s right to a life without violence.

INVITATION!!!!  TO OUR NEXT MEETING

You are invited to participate in our next meeting on 6-8 May, 2010 in Imphal, Manipur. This meeting is jointly hosted by various women’s rights organisations of the North-East. Starting with the landmark Nupilal (Women’s War, the first organised women’s protest) in 1904, these organisations have been very alert, brave and vocal in protesting against the unabated and unresolved violence dominant in the seven North-eastern Indian states for nearly 40 years. Civilian freedom has been oppressively curtailed in these states and security forces have been given special powers and significant immunity in all their violations. Despite the 2005 report of the Ministry of Home Affairs explicitly and unequivocally calling for both the repeal of the AFSPA (1958) and significant amendments to the UAPA (1967, amended 2004), innumerable women continue to be subject to sexual violence, rape, abduction and killing; many youth and children don’t know a life away from violence. It is time society across India wakes up to the injustices meted to these societies through sheer civilian indifference, State callousness, Union ineffectiveness and army brutality. Your physical presence here is a statement of solidarity with our sisters in the North-east in asking for judicial justice, executive fair play and legislative accountability in the dealings of the State and to ensure peace and order in all areas of the Indian Union.

Contributions: You can also support us by sending a money order or cheque to this Campaign; receipts will be provided. This is a non-funded grassroots effort by women from across India to stem the violence being perpetrated upon our bodies and on our societies both by the State’s forces and by the inability of our government to resolve conflict in a meaningful, sustainable and effective manner. Please contact Rinchin (rinchin@gmail.com), Arati (aratichokshi@gmail.com), Sree (saheliwomen@gmail.com) or your local representative to join us, endorse this call and/or to contribute monies.

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression

As represented by: AIPWA, AISA (Delhi), APDR (West Bengal), Action India, All Tripura Indigenous and Minority Association, Alternate Law Forum, Baiga Mahapanchayat (Chhattisgarh), Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan, Committee against Violence on Women (Tamil Nadu), CPDR (Maharashtra), Campaign for Justice and Peace (Karnataka), Chhattisgarh Mahila Adhikar Manch, Chhattisgarh Mahila Mukti Morcha, Dalit Adivasi Manch (Chhattisgarh), Dalit Stree Shakti (Andhra Pradesh), HumAnE (Orissa), HRLN (Madhya Pradesh), Hengasara Hakkina Sangha (Karnataka), Human Rights Alert (Manipur), IRMA (Manipur), IWID, Jagori (Delhi), Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (Madhya Pradesh), Jan Jagruti Manch (Chhattisgarh), Lalgarh Morcha, Lokayata (Maharashtra), MARA, Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch, NBA (Madhya Pradesh), Namma Manasa (Karnataka), Nari Mukti Sanstha (Delhi), Navsarjan Sanstha (Gujarat), Naya Chhattisgarh Mahila Sangh, Nirantar (Delhi), PSSK (Chhattisgarh), Patel Pat Chaunki (Chhattisgarh), Pratidhwani (Delhi), PUCL (Karnataka), Rachna Manch, Rohidas Mahila Kalyan Samiti (Chhattisgarh), Saheli (Delhi), Sahmet (Madhya Pradesh), Samajwadi Jan Parishad (Madhya Pradesh), Samata Vedike (Karnataka), Samanatha Mahila Vedike (Karnataka), Sangini (Madhya Pradesh), Vanangana (Uttar Pradesh), Vidyarthi Yuvjan Sabha, Women’s Right Resource Center (Madhya Pradesh), Yuva Samvaad (Madhya Pradesh), Stree Adhikar Sanghatan (Uttar Pradesh), Stree Jagruti Samiti, Trade Union Solidarity Committee (Maharashtra), Women Against Militarization and State Violence (The Other Media), Women’s Right Resource Center, Women’s Education Forum (Chhattisgarh), and many individuals.

Tehelka Tapes released for public

What else is needed to punish the mass murderers of the saffron brigade?

Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) held a press conference on March 22, 2010 to release portions of Tehelka tapes of the Sting Operations related to Narendra Modi’s direct involvement in the genocide of Muslims in 2002.

The exposure of the extrajudicial confessions of Tehelka’s Operation Kalank (October 25-27 2007) unequivocally established the direct role of chief minister Narendra Modi in directing and masterminding the massacre. These tapes have been authenticated by the CBI under direct orders of the National Human Rights Commission. Both the Gujarat High Court and the Supreme Court of India directed that they be used as evidence at the appropriate time. The detailed and extremely courageous exposure by Tehelka and its then correspondent Ashish Khetan also point to the involvement of several persons in the conspiracy to commit mass murder and economic destruction.

Summons was issued to chief minister Narendra Modi on charges of mass murder and criminal conspiracy. The criminal justice system in our so-called democracy would do everything to acquit the real criminals in positions of power and punish innocent or petty criminals. It is necessary for every civil rights activist and democratic individual to understand the criminal justice system if only to realize the need to overthrow it lock, stock and barrel. No more proof will be required to hang mass murderer Narendra Modi than the evidences given by his own men even if unknowingly in the sting operation conducted by Tehelka in 2007. However, the criminal justice system in our country totally biased in favour of the affluent and influential sections will never deliver justice to the victims.

We reproduce some of the excerpts from the Tehelka tapes released at a press conference on March 22, 2010 by the CJP in public interest. These portions expose  (a) the arms and bombs distribution in different parts of Gujarat before the Godhra incident i.e. February 27 2002 and b) the direct or indirect role of Narendra Modi alleged by BJP and VHP/Bajrang Dal cades on camera that amount to extra judicial confessions. In a CJP invitation to the press conference its secretary Teesta Setalvad explained the main exposures in the tapes as follows:

Tehelka’s Operation Kalank

Modi’s Role

I.          Babu Bajrangi (Patel)     Role in Massacre

Modi’s Role In Helping Bajrangi Abscond

Bajrangi also speaks of -How Police Machinery was made ineffective on Modi’s Instructions

Manipulation of the Judiciary

2.   Arvind Pandya   State Government Lawyer

“Modi Nahi Hota To Kuch Nahi Hota”

Modi’s Role in Subverting Entire Criminal Justice System

3.   DHIMANT BHAT Accountant MS University

Speaks of Modi’s Direct Role & VHP Meeting on Night of February 27, 2002 planning the post Godhra Conspiracy

4.   HARESH BHATT    former MLA Godhra

Speaks of Three Days given by Modi to do as they will

5.   RAJENDRA VYAS VHP Ahmedabad City President

In charge of Train (Sabaramati Express)      speaks of the behaviour on board the train

6.  SURESH RICHARD CHARA  from NARODA PATIA   (AN ACCUSED)

Modi’s Visit to Patia on evening of February 28 2002 to garland murderers and rapists saying they have accomplished a wonderful job.

7. DHAWAL PATEL   VHP ZILLA SANJOYAK SABARKANTHA

Speaks of Arms Distribution prior to the Godhra Train Burning Pointing to A Conspiracy

8. ANIL PATEL       Gujarat VHP Vibhag Pramukh

Arms Distribution prior to the Godhra Train Burning Pointing to A Conspiracy

Not only did the Modi government allow the mob fury to continue unabated, it also tried to shelter the perpetrators from the law. Modi himself arranged for Babu Bajrangi, the prime accused in the Naroda Patiya case, to stay at Gujarat Bhavan in Mount Abu, and transferred two judges to help Bajrangi get bail

Since the police were in control all over Gujarat, Modi instructed them to side with the Hindus, thus giving the rioters a free hand for three days until pressure from higher quarters necessitated the calling in of the army.

Now we reproduce some excerpts from the Tehelka tapes:

SURESH RICHARD CHARA   (accused in Naroda Patia Massacre)

Richard: [On the day of the massacre] we did whatever we did till quite late in the evening… at around 7.30… around 7.15, our Modibhai came… Right here, outside the house… My sisters garlanded him with roses…

TEHELKA: Narendrabhai Modi…

Richard: Narendra Modi… He came with black commandos… got down from his Ambassador car and walked up here…. All my sisters garlanded him… a big man is a big man after all…

TEHELKA: He came out on the road?

Richard: Here, near this house… Then he went this way… Looked at how things were in Naroda…

TEHELKA: The day the Patiya incident happened…

Richard: The same evening…

TEHELKA: February 28…

Richard: 28…

TEHELKA: 2002…

Richard: He went around to all the places… He said our tribe was blessed… He said our mothers were blessed [for bearing us]…

TEHELKA: He came at about 5 o’clock or at 7?

Richard: Around 7 or 7.30… At that time there was no electricity… Everything had been burnt to ashes in the riots…Richard: We’d finished burning everything and had returned… That was when the police called us… They said some Muslims were hiding in this sewer… When we went there, we saw their houses had been completely burned down but seven or eight of them had hidden in the gutter… We shut the lid on it… If we’d gone in after them, we might have been in danger… We closed the lid and weighted it down with big boulders… Later, they found eight or ten corpses in there… They’d gone there to save their lives, but… they died of the gases down there… This happened in the evening… the dhamal [killing spree] went till night, till about 8.30…

TEHELKA: So you went in again….

Richard:We were inside… By evening, things had cooled down… We were tired also… After all, a man gets tired out… Hurling stones, beating with pipes, stabbing, all this… The way we came out from inside could only be done by a man of strong heart…
• • •
Richard: Mayaben was moving around all day in an open jeep…

TEHELKA: On the day of the Patiya massacre…

Richard: [She was saying] Jai Shri Ram, Jai Shri Ram… wearing a saffron headband… She kept raising slogans… She said, carry on with your work, I’m here [to protect you]… She was wearing a white sari and had on a saffron band… I had also tied on a saffron band…
• • •
TEHELKA: It is being said the Chharas also committed rapes…

Richard: Now look, one thing is true… bhookhe ghuse to koi na koi to phal khayega, na [when thousands of hungry men go in, they will eat some fruit or the other, no]… Aise bhi, phal ko kuchal ke phek denge [in any case, the fruit are going to be crushed and thrown away]… Look, I’m not telling lies… Mata is before me [gesturing to an image of a deity]… Many Muslim girls were being killed and burnt to death anyway, some people must have helped themselves to the fruit…

TEHELKA: There must have been a couple of rapes…

Richard: Might even have been more… then there were the rest of our brothers, our Hindu brothers, VHP people and RSS people… Anyone could have helped themselves… who wouldn’t, when there’s fruit?… The more you harm them, the less it is… I really hate them… don’t want to spare them… Look, my wife is sitting here but let me say…the fruit was there so it had to be eaten… I also ate… I also ate… I ate once

TEHELKA: Just once?

Richard: Just once… then I had to go killing again… [turns to relative Prakash Rathod and talks about the girl he had raped and killed]… That scrap-dealer’s girl, Naseemo… Naseemo that juicy plump one… I got on top…

TEHELKA: You got on top of her…

Richard: Yes, properly…

TEHELKA: She didn’t survive, did she?

Richard: No, then I pulped her… Made her into a pickle…
• • •

BABU BAJRANGI

What They Said About Modi

‘To Get Me Out On Bail, Narendrabhai Changed Judges Thrice’

Transcript (EXCERPT): BABU BAJRANGI

Modi has a definite soft spot for the man who would later stall the film Parzania. The regard is mutual

AUGUST 10, 2007
TEHELKA: The day Patiya happened, didn’t Modi support you?
Bajrangi: He made everything all right, otherwise who would have had the strength… It was his hand all the way… If he’d told the police to do differently, they would have f****d us…. they could have… they had full control…

TEHELKA: They had control?
Bajrangi: They were very much in control all over the city, all over Gujarat… [But] for two days, Narendrabhai was in control… from the third day… a lot of pressure came from the top… Sonia-wonia and all came here…
• • •

TEHELKA: Didn’t Narendrabhai come to meet you [in jail]?
Bajrangi: If Narendrabhai comes to meet me, he’ll be in deep trouble… I didn’t expect to see him… Even today, I don’t expect it…

TEHELKA: Did he ever talk to you over the phone?
Bajrangi: That way I do get to speak to him… but not just like that… The whole world starts singing…

TEHELKA: But when you were absconding, then he…..
Bajrangi: Hmm… I did speak to him twice or thrice…

TEHELKA: He’d encourage you…
Bajrangi: Marad aadmi hai [he’s a real man], Narendrabhai… If he were to tell me to tie a bomb to myself and jump… it wouldn’t take even a second… I could sling a bomb around me and jump wherever I was asked to… for Hindus…

TEHELKA: Had he not been there,then Naroda Patiya, Gulbarg etc…
Bajrangi:Wouldn’t have happened.Would’ve been very difficult.
• • •

SEPTEMBER 1, 2007

TEHELKA: Did Narendrabhai come to Patiya the day of the massacre?

Bajrangi: Narendrabhai came to Patiya… He could not make it to the place of the incidents because there were commando-phamandos with him… But he came to Patiya, saw our enthusiasm and went away… He left behind a really good atmosphere…

TEHELKA: Said you were all blessed…
Bajrangi: Narendrabhai had come to see that things didn’t stop the next day… He went all around Ahmedabad, to all the places where the miyas [Muslims] were, to the Hindu areas… told people they’d done well and should do more…
• • •Bajrangi: [After the massacre] the commissioner issued orders [against me]… I was told to leave my home… I ran away… Narendrabhai kept me at… the Gujarat Bhavan at Mount Abu for fourand- a-half months… After that, [I did] whatever Narendrabhai told me to… Nobody can do what Narendrabhai has done in – Gujarat… If I did not have the support of Narendrabhai, we would not have been able to avenge [Godhra]… [After it was over,] Narendrabhai was happy, the people were happy, we were happy… I went to jail and came back… and returned to the life I’d led before.
• • •
Bajrangi: Narendrabhai got me out of jail…… He kept on changing judges…. He set it up so as to ensure my release, otherwise I wouldn’t have been out yet… The first judge was one Dholakiaji… He said Babu Bajrangi should be hanged — not once, but four-five times, and he flung the file aside… Then came another who stopped just short of saying I should be hanged… Then there was a third one… By then, four-and-a-half months had elapsed in jail; then Narendrabhai sent me a message… saying he would find a way out… Next he posted a judge named Akshay Mehta… He never even looked at the file or anything…. He just said [bail was] granted… And we were all out… We were free….. For this, I believe in God… We are ready to die for Hindutva…

Haresh Bhatt (a Bajrang Dal leader): He had given us three days… to do whatever we could. He said he would not give us time after that… He said this openly…After three days, he asked us to stop and everything came to a halt…

TEHELKA: It stopped after three days… Even the army was called in.
Bhatt: All the forces came… We had three days… and did what we had to in those three days…

TEHELKA: Did he say that?
Bhatt: Yes… That is why I am saying he did what no chief minister can do…

TEHELKA: Did he speak to you?
Bhatt: I told you that we were at the meeting.
and the upper castes too have come out now in support of the Parivar…

Bhatt: In Ahmedabad, there were two persons… I won’t tell you the place… that is secret… it is the Parivar’s… In Ahmedabad, the party has a farmhouse… we started… supplying everything… made a plan… If the police makes arrests, then [we were to secure] the release [of those in custody]. That night, we sat up and made a panel of advocates… If Hindus were injured, then how to take them to hospitals… how we were to help… We made the whole plan… to start a Hindu jehad… we were successful in Gujarat… We were thinking what should we do… so we got three-foot long iron rods… iron bars, and if the cadre was from the Bajrang Dal, then trishuls… In other words, we made a plan and supplied the samaan [weapons]… it was very necessary… After we supplied the samaan, the Hindus got very motivated… Until Godhra happened, the upper castes would never come out… Baniyas… Patels… they would never come out… But we mobilised them… told them that we had prepared teams from the police and amongst advocates… that if they went to jail, we would get them released…

Conspirators & Rioters

‘The Idea Came From Modi Himself’

Transcript: DHIMANT BHATT

The chief auditor of MS University, Bhatt reveals the minute planning and mobilisation that went into the attacks

MAY 19, 2007

Dhimant Bhatt: I have two charges… I am chief auditor for the entire university [MSU] as well as chief accounts officer… this is a financial matter… everybody needs funds… this is why it is hectic… I am a staunch Hindu… suppose somebody from the Sangh says we have to promote Hindu fundamentalism, I will be the first to volunteer… I will go and say, brothers, put the Sangh’s lathis aside and pick up AK-56s … pick up AK-56s because if you have to develop Hinduism, it is clear who the enemies are… There are two who are against Hinduism… Muslims, who are open… but the Christians… they are like a bacterial virus … and there’s a third, the Communists, who are developing now… red waale… If you have to fight them, you need power and that power will not come from the lathi… only the bullet will do… we go to RSS shakhas … pick up the lathi and use it… All that is fine but now they should be replaced with AKs and a Hindu
brigade should be formed…
HARESH BHATT, who was the Bajrang Dal rashtriya sah sanyojak in 2002 and is now the BJP MLA from Godhra, till the riots a Congress stronghold, made a never-before admission that bombs were made at a firecracker factory he owned. He describes how they assembled country-made explosives, including rocket launchers. These were then distributed to murderous mobs in Ahmedabad

IN 2002, despite curfew in Ahmedabad, swords were brought in from Punjab and country pistols from UP, Bihar and MP. Bhatt boasts that none of these states were under BJP rule then. The consignment of arms crossed the borders not once but many times. “There were tens and tens of them,” Bhatt reveals

IN AN UNRELATED but crucial disclosure, Bhatt says that he trained 40 young men who then went on to demolish the Babri Masjid in December 1992. He trained them like the army does, and ran obstacle courses for them and taught them how to climb a 30-ft rope. The camp still exists in Ahmedabad

DHAWAL JAYANTI PATEL of the VHP used dynamite in his quarries in Sabarkantha. With the help of an old RSS hand, Amrudh Patel, who was an expert in handling explosives, bombs were made in the quarries using dynamite and RDX-based powder

ANIL PATEL, the VHP Vibhag pramukh, talks of how explosives were made in Sabarkantha and then supplied to Ahmedabad.

VHP leader Anil Patel says even Congress workers joined in the attacks, and that senior police officers were very helpful

TEHELKA: How were the activists motivated?

Patel: The incident was being repeated on TV. The killing of the karsevaks was being played and replayed [throughout the day]. All of us, including the Congressmen felt that we [Hindus] had been attacked. They did everything alongside us, even triggered the bomb to demolish the mosque …

TEHELKA: In Ahmedabad, bombs were made in Hareshbhai’s own factory. How did it work here?
Patel: There are a lot of boring industries here, because of which dynamite is available… Then, we also had some experts. They made [explosives] and supplied them to Ahmedabad as well…

Vedanta continues to dole out lies emboldened by Chidambaram’s absolute support

The story of Vedanta is also the story of Chidambaram: both survive on advertisements, paid news and endless lies. The ex-member of Vedanta’s Board of Directors becomes a vedantist and says his Operation Green Hunt is an illusion, a myth invented by the media even as hundreds of unarmed innocent adivasis are murdered by his mercenary forces, voiceless helpless adivasi women are gang-raped by his “security” forces, and hundreds of thousands are driven away from their homes fearing uninterrupted attacks by these trigger-happy goons. And the Union Home Minister’s mentor, Vedanta, spends huge sums to project itself as the benefactor of adivasis. An entire page of advertisement on VEDANTA’s “good deeds” appeared in almost all English dailies on February 27, 2010. The advertisement talks of how the multinational is building schools, hospitals, roads, providing job opportunities, and drastically transforming the lives of the poor. The language is hundred per cent same as that used by Chidambaram when he spoke at a press conference after the chief ministers’ conference on February 7. The biggest liar of the decade, Chidambaram, said: “I have asked the chief ministers of the naxal-affected states to rush in with developmental work like schools, roads, hospitals, drinking water, job opportunities…..”  This, despite the fact that the vast majority of the people in the Indian countryside is surviving on a meager Rs. 20 a day and suffers from chronic hunger, malnutrition, diarrheal diseases due to complete unavailability or acute scarcity of drinking water, unemployment, and extreme misery. “50 hunger-deaths in Orissa, several more in MP”, run newspaper headlines. Yet, these are of no concern to the hypocrite who heads the Union Home Ministry and continues to assure that everything would be well if the Maoist “monsters” are decimated and the territories under their control reclaimed.

Four European investors have already pulled out of Vedanta by selling off their stakes in the company citing “serious concern about its approach to human rights and the environment.” The latest to pull out of this multi-billion swindler is United Kingdom-based Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust which sold off its 2.2-million pound stake in Vedanta. A week prior to this, the Church of England decided to sell off its 2.1 million pound stake. The first high-profile withdrawal was from the Norwegian government’s pension fund which sold its $13 million stake in 2007, while the Martin Curie Investment sold its 2.3 pound stake last year. The objections raised by these trusts to the unethical activities of Vedanta are interesting.

According to a news report published in the third week of February this year, Susan Seymour, chair of the investment committee at the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, has charged the unethical acts of this multi-billion fraud in unequivocal terms:  “We have heard first-hand about Vedanta’s environmental and human rights abuses in Orissa and believe that Vedanta is pushing industrialization to the detriment of the lives and lands of the local people. This behavior may be legal, but is morally indefensible.”

There is a lot that our Man Mohans, Chidambarams, Naveen Patnaiks, Raman Singhs, Buddhadebs and other comprador agents of imperialists have to learn from these foreign companies. While these companies are opposing Vedanta, our own so-called Indians ruling our country are cringing before Vedanta and acting like boot-lickers. Chidambaram, of course, would say that all these charges against Vedanta are a myth. As much of a myth as the Operation Green Hunt.

From THE SUNDAY INDIAN, 4 April 2010

Tribal unrest

Provider as marauder

As the people of Junglemahal drift close to desperation, it is the state that is to blame

Soumitra Basu

An epic is being enacted, or an apology of it! Chidambaram started it, with a number -72 hours, Kishenji retorted with another unit – days…. Nothing came of it. Neither took it seriously. Both procrastinated. This is a fine management technique one that creates huge media hype and thus social capital is formed. Things did not change but perceptions did. Junglemahal is now a name, more than Nandigram.

People die or are dying, get raped, jailed, evicted and, of course, they are threatened on a quotidian basis. Lalmohan Tudu was bumped off in an encounter. His crime? A highly dangerous conspiracy against the state and the system – he was running a local hospital on the people’s initiative. Compassion is extremely dangerous when people are the target. Police officers are disappearing too. Retaliation is often swift. The cycle goes on, on and on, the idyllic but somber rainforest is now bloodied. And procrastination is the response.

700 villages have been flattened and wiped out ostensibly for “development” – for mining important national resources. “National interest” serves city-dwelling billionaires who compete in the global arena. It will never serve the people in the nation-state. A rainforest does not have capital value and is, therefore, dispensable. People who live and who produce through their toil and let the wealthy live off their resources generated through indirect taxes, do not have a voice or opinion in a “in a democracy”. The voice that matters is that of those whose “national interest’ is served.

Liberals and “independent” think tanks are clamoring about a colossal breakdown of an ostensible perfect development regime. A haven of representational neurocracy that we advertise as the best liberal model laments that people of the rainforest are now mere victims of neglect and corruption! What a revelation! Ask Lalita Tudu, thoroughly determined daughter of Lalmohun. She does care a fig for “development” or “administration”.

Ask those ladies who are either already raped or are preys of the future; ask the children whose parents are behind bars and do not know why; ask those who have lost their generations-old possession to some security mercenaries. Do they care about how many bore wells may be installed in some future time, or how many health centers and even schools?  People have lived here on their own for millenniums. They expect nothing from the dikus (outsiders). So they do not appreciate their presence either. Adivasis have seen outsiders coming and going, and robbing them in every such new move and another thread of continuous stream of wealth outflow starts. These various streams of dikus of different races and people have now congealed into an all-powerful state. The state is now institutionalized diku. These people had to be subdued, imprisoned, strangled and dishonoured.  “Development” follows the same track. The people of the rainforest and Junglemahal are fighting the war their predecessors had started millenniums back.

Dignity is all they want, dignity for the domiciled, dignity as human beings and dignity as producers.  They are hardly swayed human beings and dignity as producers. They are hardly swayed by the lollipops of jobs, doles, “development” and, least of all, bore-wells. Binayak Sen, Himangshu Kumar, Anuradha Ghandy, Narayan Sanyal, Jayanta Bhattacharya, Naba Kumar Biswas are not dikus. They are kakus. The STATE is, the uniform-clad BABUs are, the sahebs in the white car are and definitely the security authorities are. An Adivasi mother knows who to watch out against and who to go to as friends. The state comprises of the liberal soothsayers as well, the think-tanks, the academicians, the NGOs, and all other “individuals” in addition to the four existing pillars we had known. Castes after castes, sections after sections are joining the ranks of the rebels. Previously Mundas were the rebels, then came the Santhals, then all other denominations of Vavvasis, then the Mahatos (Koiris) and now the domiciled Biharis and Bengalis. Marx conceived of withering away of the state. The means were rather mundane: build up mass organizations and render the government –sponsored institutions irrelevant. Now it is the state that is blasting itself off by unleashing a backlash. The state is the anarchist and terrorist here, it is pushing the whole populace into rebellion, and it is losing all iota of credibility as provider and positing itself as a marauder.

The ruling establishment at the Centre is not bothered. The Congress has a long enough experience of wading through waters sullied by themselves. They know how to linger on without solving but creating more complex twists. Our Left parties have learnt how to parrot and even out-perform the Congress in their game. The people are now realizing this. There are two ways of looking at the same thing – a state way, and a people way.

(The views expressed here are personal and not necessarily TSI’s)

State violence in Kalinganagar, Orissa: Tata sponsors Green Hunt in Kalinganagar to suppress the villagers protesting against Tata project

The following is a report by Debaranjan Sarangi taken from the Net:

   Orissa government has started war on people in Kalinga Nagar.

   The forces meant for ‘Operation Green Hunt’ like SOG forces were used for this purpose (as per media report Government of Orissa is formally launching ‘Operation Green Hunt’ from April 2010.)

   This entire mobilization of armed forces in Kalinga Nagar is for construction of common corridor.

   This common corridor is a connecting passage from main road to Tata’s proposed project site

   This would help the administration and police to reach the Tata’s project site without any hindrance from local villagers.

   Though the government of Orissa says that it would help transporting vehicles for other factories but there is already a road that exists for their transportation and they are using it.

   Many villagers have not yet received compensation for Tata project and even they are refusing to receive.

   But the government of Orissa has mobilized/deployed 29 platoons of State Armed police, 2 platoons of Special Operation Groups (SOGs), 70 senior police officers, 7 magistrates besides District collector and Superintendent of Police at the spot.

   Entire area has been cordoned off and section 144 has been declared.

   Media persons were not permitted to enter those villages and were forced to sit inside the police station. But photographers hired by the private companies were moving around within police cordon.

   On March 30, police has used 500 round rubber bullets and did blank firing to send the villagers back. When the people were withdrawing from the area, police chased them up to 3km and came inside Baligotha village.

   Inside Baligotha village, the police has burnt several houses and has beaten many old people.

   Some villagers are injured. Their exact number is yet to be known. Most of them are taking private treatment.

   ‘Bisthanpan Birodhi Janamancha’, which is spearheading the movement in Kalinga Nagar, recently met the administration on March 28 after the latter invited for the discussion.

   The Mancha placed few things before the Adm, like (a) after Kalinga Nagar firing (on 2nd April 2006 when 14 tribals died for opposing Tata steel project) the chief minister has invited and met them twice. But none of the demands have yet been met. It speaks how far really the government of Orissa is serious about the problem of Kalingnagar. (b) The Mancha is not opposing the project. But land against land should be given and who are already displaced by previous projects should be rehabilitated properly.

   Administration has not accepted any of the demands but next day started their ‘war’ on the people.

   Surprisingly, those political parties who were opposing Kalinga Nagar firing and called Orissa bandh on 7th January 2006, are maintaining complete silence.

   Local newspapers are only giving the version of police. None of them has yet carried any interview of one of any leaders of the Mancha.

Other reports

A team of senior journalists and activists along with a doctor visited the villages around Kalinga Nagar. They report that about 50 people have been seriously injured with many having these new kind of plastic bullets still lodged in their bodies.

On March 31 the police had again blocked all roads and many people have been held on their way to the villages. The police stations in Kalinga Nagar have turned into offices for Tata goons and the local mafia. Goons on bikes and in SUVs are patrolling all roads leading to the villages and are intimidating any unknown person they see on the road. Suresh Panigrahi of CPI (M) was threatened by the police as well as the goons and he was not able to reach Baligotha or other villages that are being targeted. At the same time Tata goons have assembled at the common corridor construction site near Baligotha and are carrying out construction activities. The police are spreading rumours about Maoist presence in the area to be able to cut off the villages again and attack one more time.

The police had vandalized the 2 Jan 2006 martyrs’ memorials…they have destroyed the personal documents of the people…they have robbed money from homes… they have destroyed food stocks and carried away livestock, and killed cattle. It is as if we were returning to the medieval times of plunder and invasions. Two separate press conferences were held in Bhubaneswar by those who visited the area.

*********************************************

Concerned Citizens Committee on Kalinganagar Firing

Bhubaneswar: March 31, 2010

A citizens’ committee which visited Baligootha Kalinganagar under the leadership of Justice Chaudhry Pratap Mishra ( Retd Judge of Orissa High Court ) on 30th March, 2010 after indiscriminate firing against peaceful protesters of Vistapan Virodhi Janmanch was reported in the media, has come across shocking instances of police and mafia brutality. The members of the committee which also included Sri Rabi Das (senior journalist), Shri Chitta Mohanty (writer and political activist), Sri Sudhir Pattnaik (senior journalist), Sri Mahendra Parida, TU and human rights activist, met the victims of bullet injury in Baligootha, Chandia and Baragadia and saw the damages done to the houses, bovine wealth, food grains, food articles, motor bikes and cycles of the villagers.

The Sarpanch of Baligootha reported before the committee that his cash and golden chain also have been stolen from his house apart from the damage caused to food grains. Dabur Kalundia, another leader, also deposed before the team. Rabi Jarika, the leader of the agitating tribals who had sustained a bullet injury also narrated the incidents of the day and the politics behind the common corridor. The committee met men, women and children and about 25 injured persons including 9 women received treatment from the senior doctor who accompanied the committee along with a team of volunteers.

Observations of the Committee

1. About 30-40 tribals have sustained bullet injuries in the firing and 25 were treated by the doctor accompanying the committee. Four critically injured persons were in the hospital. Some have bullets stuck within their wounds. Though it appears to be rubber bullets, the kind of bloody wounds each one of the persons treated has received does not seem to be the work of rubber bullets.

2. No efforts by the administration to treat the injured. People don’t wish to go out for treatment for fear of torture and arrest.

3. The police firing at the site of the controversial common corridor road near Baligootha was unwarranted and uncalled for and therefore looks to be preplanned.

4. 29 platoons of armed police, 2 platoons of NSG, 70 police officers and 7 magistrates does speak a lot about the firing and also speaks about the atmosphere of police terror prevailing in the area.

5. The witnesses report that familiar faces in the nearby localities close to the ruling party came in police uniform and attacked all houses in Baligootha. They did not carry guns. They had swords and other deadly weapons in their hand.

6. Civilian goons in the presence of police could be seen in the place in which 144 was declared, as reported by the people.

7. The houses of leaders of the Manch have been damaged and all important articles including food grains burnt.

8. Agitating and aggrieved tribals are spending sleepless nights under trees in fear of more attacks, since the police, goons of the company and certain criminal elements associated with the ruling party are having a field day with good cooperation of the administration and police.

9. The presence of such a huge force itself threatens the peace of the area.

10. The administration does not seem to be sensitive to the cause of the tribal protesters as much as it is concerned for the companies in Kalinganagar.

Recommendations

1. The Hon’ble Chief Minister should immediately intervene and call an immediate halt to the controversial common corridor project

2. Since the administration has betrayed the people once more a dialogue should take place at the highest level with the CM on the demands of the tribals including the one calling for land for land. Even people owning land in the common corridor have not been consulted.

3. Instead of building police stations one after another in a small place with corporate funding the CM should ensure that every village gets developmental inputs particularly education, health, water, social security schemes such as widow pensions all of which have been suspended arbitrarily.

4. Law should not be taken to hands by any citizens and this law applies first to the police administration. All officers, civil and police, involved in the firing of 30th March and in criminal activities such as injecting a sense of fear among the tribals the day preceding the firing and conflicts must be suspended immediately and be subjected to trial.

5. Financial compensation to the tune of Rs 1 lakh for every person injured in the firing be given to the victims.

Justice Ch.Pratap Mishra(Retd)

————————————–

State terror unleashed on protestors – Police invade villages

On March 28, 2010 the Bisthapan Birodhi Jan Manch leaders and villagers welcomed the Jajpur District Collector and had a discussion with him on the controversial common corridor, though they knew very well that the district administration had other motives. After talks with activists of Bisthapan Birodhi Jan Manch and more than 300 villagers, the Collector assured them that there would be no construction activity for the Common Corridor Road till the matter is resolved through dialogue. The administration has gone back on its words and started work. SP has said ‘protestors will not be spared’ and the Collector is says “construction of the road will happen at any cost.”

This gave the Manch no other alternative but to protest. But on 30th March, 29 platoons of armed police with 60 officers and hundreds of BJD and Tata goons reached the place of dispute. They first denied media any entry to the place and then started attacking peaceful protesters. Many have been injured including women and children in indiscriminate rubber bullet firing and lathi charge. They entered the villages and unleashed a reign of terror. The area has become a war zone and more than a dozen people including women and children have been seriously injured. One person, Member Kalundia received bullet wounds in the chest and legs… Police has demolished houses and set them ablaze… Cattle have been indiscriminately shot at… Two days before Orissa Day the Govt celebrates with a bloodbath… The police had later vacated the village but have gathered about half a kilometer away in front of Rohit Ferro Chrome Factory where the construction of the common corridor road is to begin… All houses have been ransacked… food stocks set afire… televisions, radios, etc have been destroyed… the girl who was beaten up by police has been admitted to the hospital… its not clear yet how many have been arrested but some 20-30 people have sustained serious injuries in the attack…

This is being carried out under the supervision of IG Special Operations, Arun Sadangi. Despite Sec 144 being imposed in the area, a large number of Tata supporters and BJD cadre have assembled at the site and are giving instructions to the police. All people who have a conscience must act now as democracy in Kalinganagar is being butchered in the most vulgar manner and the political and bureaucratic leadership of the state have completely sold themselves to the Tatas. There is not even a murmur of protest from any of the mainstream political party leaders which signifies the absolute power Tata wields over them.

COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA (MAOIST)

CENTRAL COMMITTEE

Press Release:                                                                                                       April 8, 2010

Hail the daring and the biggest ever guerrilla attack on the hired mercenaries of the Indian State carried out by the heroic PLGA guerrillas in Chhattisgarh!

Sonia-Man Mohan-Chidambaram-Pranab gang is solely responsible for the loss of lives of CRPF jawans used as cannon-fodder in their dirty war on behalf of tiny a parasitic corporate elite!!

The heroic PLGA guerrillas led by the CPI (Maoist) have created history by wiping out an entire Company of the central paramilitary force in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh. The PLGA had wiped out over 80 CRPF mercenaries—a part of the huge armed mercenary force of over 60 battalions sent by Chidambaram to Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar and Maharashtra to carry out the genocide of adivasis. Several more mercenaries were injured in India’s biggest ever guerrilla attack till date. A huge cache of highly sophisticated arms and ammunition was seized from these mercenaries that include mortars and LMGs. The CC, CPI (Maoist) sends its heartiest revolutionary greetings to the brave warriors of PLGA who have given a fitting reply to fraud Chidambaram and nailed his unabashed naked lie that his brutal Operation Green Hunt is a myth invented by the media.

The Dantewada ambush is a logical culmination of the unending terrible provocation by the uniformed goondas sent by Chidambaram and Raman Singh to the adivasi areas to create a brutal reign of terror. In just eight months, 114 innocent unarmed adivasi people were abducted, tortured and murdered in cold blood by these uniformed goondas (list is attached). Several women were gang-raped by these lawless goons. Neither they nor their khadi-clad bosses have any respect for the Indian Constitution. They have an unwritten licence to abduct, torture, rape and murder any adivasi or Maoist without any questions being asked. This dehumanization of the police and paramilitary forces is consciously encouraged by Chidambaram, Raman Singh, Vishwa Ranjan and others, notwithstanding their holy chants of peace and ahimsa. Behind their sophisticated-looking rhetoric lie the raw, beastly, cannibalistic passions that devour human beings for establishing their absolute control over the resources and lives of the people. Their vision goes no farther than that of a local daroga, as aptly pointed out by a JD (U) spokesperson referring to Chidambaram. And their tactics fare no better than those of a street rowdy. As long as their fascist mind-set refuses to see the socio-politico-economic roots of Naxalism and continue to treat it as a disease or a problem while the oppressed people see it increasingly as a remedy and a solution to their problems, Dantewada-type attacks will continue to take place at an even greater frequency and intensity.

The atrocities committed by these forces, along with the state-sponsored Salwa Judum goons, koya commandos and SPOs in Dantewada and Bijapur, make one shudder (leaving out Chidambaram and his animal species of cobras, jaguars, greyhounds etc) with horror and repugnance. Besides tales of unending abductions, horrifying torture, gruesome gang-rapes, and ghastly massacres of ordinary adivasis, the so-called “security forces” have kept in their illegal custody at least 20-30 adivasis from every village. Whenever they feel the need to show some success over the Maoists in terms of body count some of these hapless adivasi captives are bumped off with the claim that the “security forces” had killed Maoist guerrillas in “fierce encounters”. And to prove their claim to the world these Chidambaran liars put on military uniforms on the dead bodies of poor adivasis. With such a bizarre drama enacted by those supposed to be the guardians of law, then what other option do the Maoists and the adivasi masses have but to retaliate for their own self-defence?

Now the war-mongering hawks in the Union Home Ministry and various state governments, the political leaders and spokespersons of the parliamentary parties, the so-called defence analysts, police top brass and their agents employed in the media are yelling that an all-out war should be declared and the Maoists should be wiped out. The fact is, an all-out war has already been declared and executed in the most ruthless manner. What these vultures want is perhaps bombing of entire areas under Maoist control and achieving the peace of the graveyard. If they indulge in such mindless barbaric acts, the Maoist revolutionary counter-violence will take on new and deadly forms which these apologists of state terror and state-sponsored terror cannot even imagine.

The BJP and its saffron gang of Hindu fascist terrorists have been yelling like lunatics that Maoists had declared a war on India and that the BJP would endorse every move of the Congress to finish off the Maoists. In reply to these saffron terrorist gangsters we assert once again that ours is a war waged by the real India—the India of the oppressed, suppressed and depressed sections of society; the India of the hungry, impoverished, undernourished masses—against the India that shines for a handful of parasitic corporate elites, imperialist agents deriving enormous commissions and kickbacks through nefarious deals, real estate mafia gangs who grab the land of the poor in the name of SEZs and various projects, unscrupulous contractors and mining syndicates who run a parallel state, horribly corrupt and degenerate political leaders and bureaucrats, licensed murderers in police uniforms who are infamous for the worst crimes against humanity, and such other traitors. Ours is a revolutionary war on the saffron gang of terrorists who are armed to the teeth and dream of transforming our country into a Hindu fascist state by enacting Gujarat-type genocides of religious minorities. Ours is a genuine people’s war for achieving the real liberation of the people from all types of oppression and exploitation, and to establish a genuine people’s democratic India. It is not a war on India but a war for the liberation of India from the clutches of rapacious plunderers.

The sole responsibility for the death of the CRPF men in Dantewada lies with Sonia-Manmohan-Chidambaram-Pranab gang and the saffron terrorist Raman Singh regime in Chhattisgarh who are recruiting young boys and girls in a massive way and using them as cannon-fodder in their dirty counter-revolutionary war against Maoist revolutionaries, against the Maoist model of development, and in their greed hunt for the mineral wealth of the adivasi regions. The CC, CPI (Maoist), while offering its heart-felt condolences to the bereaved families of the dead jawans, appeals to the state and central paramilitary personnel to realize that they are being used as cannon-fodder in this war waged by the exploiting ruling class in the interests of a tiny parasitic elite against the poor and oppressed people of our country led by CPI (Maoist).

We appeal to all peace-loving, democratic-minded organizations and individuals in India to understand the context in which the Maoists are compelled to annihilate the so-called security forces who are creating a virtual reign of terror in adivasi areas armed with mortars, LMGs and grenades. When dacoits try to loot your house you have to fight back. And that is what the masses led by the Maoists are doing in all these areas. When the CRPF dacoits enter and loot the houses of adivasis is it not justified to hit back? The daring attack by our heroic PLGA on a superior enemy force in terms of fire-power became possible through the enormous mass support the Party and guerrillas enjoy. With the intelligence inputs from the people who are our eyes and ears and with their active participation we are confident of defeating the brutal enemy offensive in the name of Operation Green Hunt. There is no short-cut for achieving peace. Only the most ferocious, most resolute, and the most heroic resistance on the part of the people can defeat the war-mongers and bring democratic space and peace for the people.

Azad,

Spokesperson,

Central committee,

CPI (Maoist)

COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA (MAOIST)

CENTRAL COMMITTEE

Press Release:                                                                                                                           March 14, 2010

Red Salutes to Maoist leaders comrades Sakhamuri Appa Rao (Ravi) and Kondal Reddy (Ramana)!

Let us avenge the cold-blooded murder of our beloved leaders

by Chidambaram and his lawless goons!

Let us build country-wide wave of people’s struggles

to sweep away the fascist regime

led by Sonia-Man Man-Chidambaram gang!!

On March 12, 2010 a former state committee member of Andhra Pradesh and current in charge of military intelligence wing of CPI (Maoist), comrade Sakhamuri Appa Rao, and a district committee member, comrade Kondal Reddy (also known as Tech Ramana), were murdered in cold blood by the notorious goons belonging to Andhra Pradesh Special Investigation Bureau and the AP Grey Hounds. The two leaders were abducted two days earlier from Chennai and Pune respectively, cruelly tortured by these neo-Nazi mercenaries hired by the Indian State, and taken to the forests where they were shot dead.

As usual, the story of an encounter was put forth by the government and the top police officials. As is the practice of the AP Grey Hounds and the SIB, the bodies were placed in the forests where these comrades had earlier worked—Comrade Sakhamuri Appa Rao’s body was thrown in Nallamala forest while that of Kondal Reddy in Eturnagaram forest in Warangal. Through these SIB-Grey Hounds-mark murders the reactionary rulers want to demonstrate to the people of these regions who were associated with the revolutionary movement for a long period of time, and amongst whom these leaders had once worked, that they will ruthlessly crush any revival of the revolutionary movement in these one-time hot-beds of revolution. The decision to murder these comrades was taken by fascist Chidambaram himself in order to create a reign of terror, boost up the morale of his mercenary forces, and to boast how his fascist state offensive is yie0lding results. But the Andhra Pradesh police and Chidambaram, who had been claiming all the while that Nallamala forest has been cleared of the Maoists, had not even thought how the so-called encounter with such a big Maoist leader in the Nallamala region would mock at their own claims of the past three years. The entire people know that Maoists had retreated from Nallamala almost three years ago but in their hastiness to complete their ghastly murder before civil rights and other organizations get alerted, the lawless police goons chose Prakasham district which is nearer to Chennai.

Comrade Ravi had been to Chennai on some work on the 24th of February and was in touch with other comrades of the Party until two days prior to his murder. It is clear that he was abducted on March 10. Three more comrades are still illegally detained by the SIB and Grey Hounds. There is every danger that these would be murdered in cold blood. Comrade Ravi is one of the senior most leaders from Andhra Pradesh and hails from Khanapur area in Warangal district. He was elected as an alternate member of the AP State Committee of the Party in 1991. He was arrested in early 1993 and spent 7 1/2 years in prison where he displayed extraordinary revolutionary mettle and led many struggles of the prisoners along with comrade Patel Sudhakar. He commenced his work as a member of the AP State Committee after his release in late 2000. He became a member of the State Military Commission and carried on his work in Nallamala forest region until 2006. Later, he guided the Party’s Intelligence department in AP and the Action Teams. He played a prominent role in planning and executing tactical counter-offensives against the police forces and attacks on political targets such as the one on the SP of Prakasham district in 2005 and on former chief minister of AP, Janardhan Reddy, in 2007.

Comrade Kondal Reddy hails from Medak district in South Telangana and has been working in the production department of the CPI (Maoist) in Andhra Pradesh for over a decade. He played an important role in the production and distribution of hand grenades and pressure mines. He never hesitated whenever any extremely risky work was allotted to him by the party leadership and was highly disciplined.

The cold-blooded murders of these Maoist leaders are an integral part of the unprecedented fascist offensive unleashed by the central and state governments against the CPI (Maoist) in the name of Operation Green Hunt. While the chief objective of this brutal armed offensive is to create genocide of the adivasis and steal their lands and the forest-mineral wealth, the focus of this joint offensive led by the central forces under the direct supervision of fascist Chidambaram is to eliminate the Maoist leadership in the country. In a similar episode last may, comrade Patel Sudhakar, a member of the central committee of CPI (Maoist), was abducted and murdered in cold blood by the APSIB-Grey Hound goons. Central leaders like Ashutosh, Kobad Ghandy, Balraj and Chintanji were arrested and placed behind bars, along with several state Party leaders in the past one year. Popular mass leaders like Lalmohan Tudu of PCAPA are murdered in cold blood and Chhatradhar Mahato arrested on false charges. Even those who question police atrocities and the state’s brutal onslaught against innocent people, civil liberties and human rights activists, sincere Gandhians and other social activists, are not spared the rod. Private vigilante gangs are set up in all areas where the Maoist movement is strong and indiscriminate attacks are unleashed on unarmed adivasi people.

Let us pay our red revolutionary homage to comrades Sakhamuri Appa Rao and Kondal Reddy by pledging to carry forward their cherished dreams with redoubled determination and relentless spirit. Let us vow to avenge their martyrdom by defeating the biggest country-wide brutal armed offensive unleashed by the comprador-feudal ruling classes backed by imperialists, transform PLGA into PLA, guerrilla war into mobile war, and guerrilla zones into base areas. Let us train up thousands of able Red successors to our beloved martyred leaders. Let us foil the desperate attempts by the reactionary rulers to deprive the Indian people and the CPI (Maoist) of their leadership by preserving our leading cadres and developing innumerable Maoist leaders from the oppressed masses of India.

Azad,

Spokesperson,

Central Committee,

CPI (Maoist)

Posted in IN NEWS, NAXALISM, Press Releases | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Maoists attack bus in Dantewada, 50 killed

Posted by ajadhind on May 18, 2010

rediff.com

In a brazen attack, Maoists on Monday blew up a bus killing at least 50 people, including 20 Special Police Officers, in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh.

The passenger bus, which was on its way from Sukma to Dantewada, was blown up by Maoists between Gadiras to Bhusaras near Chingavaram village, nearly 450 km from capital Raipur, using an improvised explosive device with gelatin sticks.

The bus was thrown up several feet due to the impact of the explosion and body parts were strewn along the roadside, according to reports

The attack, which took place at approximately 4.45 pm, was seen as yet another violation of Standard Operating Procedures which prohibit policemen and SPOs from traveling in civilian vehicles.

The bus was carrying 30 civilians and 20 special police officers of the Jharkhand police, according to the home ministry. No Central Reserve Police Force trooper was on board the bus, said the bus.

The SPOs, who are civilians assisting the police in fighting the Naxals, were attached to the Dantewada police. The IED was planted on a metaled road and detonated by the Left-wing extremists using a remote control device.

The attack came a day before the start of the 48-hour bandh called by Maoists in five states to protest the security operations launched by the Centre.

The home ministry condemned the attack and said most of the deceased were civilians.

On April 6, 75 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force were killed when hundreds of armed Maoists ambushed their battalion in the thick forests of Mukrana in Dantewada.

On May 8, seven CRPF jawans were killed when Naxals blew up a bullet-proof vehicle in Bijapur district. The Maoists also killed six villagers, including a sarpanch, near Teregaon in Rajnandgaon district on Sunday and threw their bodies outside the villages.

Rajnandgaon district has witnessed a series of Naxal attacks in the past. In July last year, Maoists had attacked a police party killing 29 personnel, including Superintendent of Police Vinod Kumar Choubey.

The Bharatiya Janata Party [ Images ], which is in power in Chhattisgarh, strongly condemned today’s attack and demanded that the menace of Naxalism should be fought with full strength and vigour.

“This is a barbaric attack and the BJP strongly condemns it. The government should further strengthen its resources to fight naxalism. This menace has to be fought with full strength and vigour,” BJP spokesperson Syed Shahnawaz Hussain said.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said the attack which showed the desperation of the extremists who were losing their support base. “This incident shows the cruel face of naxals. We have been saying this… when the naxals support base finishes they resort to such methods. Their (naxals) belief in people’s representatives and local population has finished,” the chief minister said, condemning the attack.

“There cannot be police personnel in every village… there are 20 thousand villages. The security forces are moving forward in various areas…they are getting trained. We hope that in the future we will be able to enhance security in a better way,” he said.

Posted in CHHATISGARH, NAXALISM | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Hail the daring and the biggest ever guerrilla attack

Posted by ajadhind on May 8, 2010

COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA (MAOIST)

CENTRAL COMMITTEE

Press Release:                                                                                                       April 8, 2010

Hail the daring and the biggest ever guerrilla attack on the hired mercenaries of the Indian State carried out by the heroic PLGA guerrillas in Chhattisgarh!

Sonia-Man Mohan-Chidambaram-Pranab gang is solely responsible for the loss of lives of CRPF jawans used as cannon-fodder in their dirty war on behalf of tiny a parasitic corporate elite!!

The heroic PLGA guerrillas led by the CPI (Maoist) have created history by wiping out an entire Company of the central paramilitary force in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh. The PLGA had wiped out over 80 CRPF mercenaries—a part of the huge armed mercenary force of over 60 battalions sent by Chidambaram to Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar and Maharashtra to carry out the genocide of adivasis. Several more mercenaries were injured in India’s biggest ever guerrilla attack till date. A huge cache of highly sophisticated arms and ammunition was seized from these mercenaries that include mortars and LMGs. The CC, CPI (Maoist) sends its heartiest revolutionary greetings to the brave warriors of PLGA who have given a fitting reply to fraud Chidambaram and nailed his unabashed naked lie that his brutal Operation Green Hunt is a myth invented by the media.

The Dantewada ambush is a logical culmination of the unending terrible provocation by the uniformed goondas sent by Chidambaram and Raman Singh to the adivasi areas to create a brutal reign of terror. In just eight months, 114 innocent unarmed adivasi people were abducted, tortured and murdered in cold blood by these uniformed goondas (list is attached). Several women were gang-raped by these lawless goons. Neither they nor their khadi-clad bosses have any respect for the Indian Constitution. They have an unwritten licence to abduct, torture, rape and murder any adivasi or Maoist without any questions being asked. This dehumanization of the police and paramilitary forces is consciously encouraged by Chidambaram, Raman Singh, Vishwa Ranjan and others, notwithstanding their holy chants of peace and ahimsa. Behind their sophisticated-looking rhetoric lie the raw, beastly, cannibalistic passions that devour human beings for establishing their absolute control over the resources and lives of the people. Their vision goes no farther than that of a local daroga, as aptly pointed out by a JD (U) spokesperson referring to Chidambaram. And their tactics fare no better than those of a street rowdy. As long as their fascist mind-set refuses to see the socio-politico-economic roots of Naxalism and continue to treat it as a disease or a problem while the oppressed people see it increasingly as a remedy and a solution to their problems, Dantewada-type attacks will continue to take place at an even greater frequency and intensity.

The atrocities committed by these forces, along with the state-sponsored Salwa Judum goons, koya commandos and SPOs in Dantewada and Bijapur, make one shudder (leaving out Chidambaram and his animal species of cobras, jaguars, greyhounds etc) with horror and repugnance. Besides tales of unending abductions, horrifying torture, gruesome gang-rapes, and ghastly massacres of ordinary adivasis, the so-called “security forces” have kept in their illegal custody at least 20-30 adivasis from every village. Whenever they feel the need to show some success over the Maoists in terms of body count some of these hapless adivasi captives are bumped off with the claim that the “security forces” had killed Maoist guerrillas in “fierce encounters”. And to prove their claim to the world these Chidambaran liars put on military uniforms on the dead bodies of poor adivasis. With such a bizarre drama enacted by those supposed to be the guardians of law, then what other option do the Maoists and the adivasi masses have but to retaliate for their own self-defence?

Now the war-mongering hawks in the Union Home Ministry and various state governments, the political leaders and spokespersons of the parliamentary parties, the so-called defence analysts, police top brass and their agents employed in the media are yelling that an all-out war should be declared and the Maoists should be wiped out. The fact is, an all-out war has already been declared and executed in the most ruthless manner. What these vultures want is perhaps bombing of entire areas under Maoist control and achieving the peace of the graveyard. If they indulge in such mindless barbaric acts, the Maoist revolutionary counter-violence will take on new and deadly forms which these apologists of state terror and state-sponsored terror cannot even imagine.

The BJP and its saffron gang of Hindu fascist terrorists have been yelling like lunatics that Maoists had declared a war on India and that the BJP would endorse every move of the Congress to finish off the Maoists. In reply to these saffron terrorist gangsters we assert once again that ours is a war waged by the real India—the India of the oppressed, suppressed and depressed sections of society; the India of the hungry, impoverished, undernourished masses—against the India that shines for a handful of parasitic corporate elites, imperialist agents deriving enormous commissions and kickbacks through nefarious deals, real estate mafia gangs who grab the land of the poor in the name of SEZs and various projects, unscrupulous contractors and mining syndicates who run a parallel state, horribly corrupt and degenerate political leaders and bureaucrats, licensed murderers in police uniforms who are infamous for the worst crimes against humanity, and such other traitors. Ours is a revolutionary war on the saffron gang of terrorists who are armed to the teeth and dream of transforming our country into a Hindu fascist state by enacting Gujarat-type genocides of religious minorities. Ours is a genuine people’s war for achieving the real liberation of the people from all types of oppression and exploitation, and to establish a genuine people’s democratic India. It is not a war on India but a war for the liberation of India from the clutches of rapacious plunderers.

The sole responsibility for the death of the CRPF men in Dantewada lies with Sonia-Manmohan-Chidambaram-Pranab gang and the saffron terrorist Raman Singh regime in Chhattisgarh who are recruiting young boys and girls in a massive way and using them as cannon-fodder in their dirty counter-revolutionary war against Maoist revolutionaries, against the Maoist model of development, and in their greed hunt for the mineral wealth of the adivasi regions. The CC, CPI (Maoist), while offering its heart-felt condolences to the bereaved families of the dead jawans, appeals to the state and central paramilitary personnel to realize that they are being used as cannon-fodder in this war waged by the exploiting ruling class in the interests of a tiny parasitic elite against the poor and oppressed people of our country led by CPI (Maoist).

We appeal to all peace-loving, democratic-minded organizations and individuals in India to understand the context in which the Maoists are compelled to annihilate the so-called security forces who are creating a virtual reign of terror in adivasi areas armed with mortars, LMGs and grenades. When dacoits try to loot your house you have to fight back. And that is what the masses led by the Maoists are doing in all these areas. When the CRPF dacoits enter and loot the houses of adivasis is it not justified to hit back? The daring attack by our heroic PLGA on a superior enemy force in terms of fire-power became possible through the enormous mass support the Party and guerrillas enjoy. With the intelligence inputs from the people who are our eyes and ears and with their active participation we are confident of defeating the brutal enemy offensive in the name of Operation Green Hunt. There is no short-cut for achieving peace. Only the most ferocious, most resolute, and the most heroic resistance on the part of the people can defeat the war-mongers and bring democratic space and peace for the people.

Azad,

Spokesperson,

Central committee,

CPI (Maoist)

Posted in CHHATISGARH, NAXALISM, Press Releases | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

‘Why should innocents die because of govt’s failed policy?’

Posted by ajadhind on April 6, 2010

rediff.com

Tuesday’s deadly ambush by Naxals on paramilitary forces in Dantewada, which claimed the lives of 75 CRPF jawaans and policemen raises many unanswered questions. Local journalists and politicians speak on the reasons behind the massacre.

Jab tak hamara khun pani hai aapka khun khun ha, tab tak hamare vahan log marte rahenge (Till the time value of our life is less, our people will keep dying).

Rajendra Bajpai, a journalist residing in Jagdalpur in tribal dominated Dantewada district of Chattisgarh told rediff.com while reacting to the shocking deaths of 75 jawans and policemen in his district at the hands of naxalites on Tuesday.

He said, “Even when one man dies in New Delhi it hits the headlines — but when tribals are killed we don’t get enough attention because the value of tribal lives are less than the urban Indian lives.”

While giving details of the deaths of Central Reserve Police Force jawans and policemen, he said, “Yesterday around 156 CRPF jawans had gone on search operations on foot. Some villagers from that area must have informed the Naxals about it. Since the CRPF jawans had gone inside the jungles, the Naxals knew surely they would return to their base camp in Chintalnar by the same road.”

“In the area called Talmetla, Naxals lay land mines. Early morning on Tuesday, when security forces were returning, they were obviously quite exhausted. The summer is on and it is very hot. Two jawans died as the first blast took place at Talmetla. Then in cross-firing in a bid to defend themselves, more people died. Even rescue teams could not be of much help, because even they were attacked,” he added.

The Naxals were well-prepared for the ambush. They had not only put land mines on their return path, but they also blocked all the roads leading to the area and encircled it, so that no rescue team could reach them.

According to initial information, when the blast took place, two of security forces died. So the CRPF jawans tried to fight back, but they had to fight at several places.

“It was like the expanded battlefield,” said Karimuddin, another journalist working out of Jagdalpur.

However, these inputs could not be rechecked as senior officers of the district are still engaged in evacuation of dead bodies from the area and in cordoning off the villages.

Manish Kunjam, a Communist Party of India living in Dantewada, said, “This kind of attack must be condemned, but people making policies should now sit and think what is not working out. Till the time you don’t respect and give tribals of India their rights over water, land and forests, such Naxalites will keep getting support in villages and our security forces will remain in the firing line.”

He went on to add, “These deaths make us grim. But, it also tells us that the government must radically change its policies to win the hearts of the tribals.”

“Those who are against violence should understand that such a big ambush was not possible for the Naxal leaders without local support. Someone has informed them that a CRPF party has gone into the jungles for search operations. Also, when they lay the ambush to gherao them, it could not have escaped the attention of the local people,” he noted.

The biggest weakness of the current establishment is that although the co-ordination between forces has slightly improved, but it’s still not at the desired level. The state machinery and central forces have not synchronised their agenda and priorities.

Prakash Singh, former chief of the Border Security Force and the CRPF, while talking to rediff.com, said, “On the ground the CRPF and state police have reservations. State police has doubts about operational efficacy of the CRPF.”

Whoever rediff.com spoke to in Dantewada, seems angry — because they say that urban India and particularly powerful people in New Delhi ‘don’t understand basic issues of tribals of India. Why should security forces die because of ill-conceived policies of governments?’

Bajpai said angrily, “The most important thing urban India should note is that economy of the tribal belts of India is functioning. Why? How? With whose help? Thekedar (contractors), businessmen, industrialists, miners and bureaucrats all are non-tribals and have a tight grip over the economy of the area.”

While condemning the deaths of jawans, he said, “Why should they die?”

“Whether you get operation red or green or yellow hunt, nothing will change here, because everybody is in business of making money in the name of ‘eradicating Maoists. Just stop it from New Delhi, if you can,” he added.

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73 killed as 700 Maoists entrap CRPF team in Chhattisgarh

Posted by ajadhind on April 6, 2010

Seventy-three security personnel were killed Tuesday when over 700 Maoist guerrillas in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region ambushed a 120-member contingent of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) by first bombing and then opening fire. In what is one of the biggest Maoist attacks in the country, the guerrillas triggered multiple blasts and then fired indiscriminately at the CRPF team in the Chintalnar forested hamlet of Dantewada district, about 450 km south from here, in violence-hit Bastar. More than two dozen personnel were injured. According to Dantewarda Superintendent of Police Amaresh Mishra, the dead included 72 troopers from the 62nd battalion of the CRPF and one state police officer. ‘A massive contingent of heavily armed Maoists ambushed a CRPF team in a hilly stretch. They first triggered blasts from all directions and followed by indiscriminate firing,’ Vishwa Ranjan, director general of police, told IANS. He said it seemed to be a meticulously planned attack. A chopper has been sent from Jagdalpur, headquarters of Bastar district, to move the injured troopers to hospital. A strong contingent of state police force has also been rushed to the site. A counter terrorism expert posted in Dantewada disclosed on the condition of anonymity that the CRPF men had flouted guerilla warfare guidelines and rushed to an interior location to track down insurgents in a vehicle. This, he said, was totally ‘disallowed’ for search and combing operations in the vast interiors of the Maoist stronghold of Bastar which is riddled with landmines. ‘There is a clear-cut instruction for paramilitary men as well as state police force to not use vehicles for any kind of offensive in forested interiors. They are to go only on foot and also not in groups but in two-three members squad. On Tuesday, the CRPF men grossly neglected warfare manuals and finally paid the price,’ he said. The attack has been seen as a retaliation to Chhattisgarh government’s famed anti-Maoist drive Operation Green Hunt, launched in July 2009 that has killed 90 Maoists till date. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, who convened an emergency meeting of senior officials, labelled it an act of ‘cowardice’. Home Minister Nankiram Kanwar said it was the result of ‘intelligence failure’. Chhattisgarh’s mineral rich Bastar region spread out in about 40,000 sq km is made up of five districts – Bijapur, Kanker, Narayanpur, Bastar and Dantewada. It has witnessed a string of deadly attacks since year 2005 that have claimed over 1,600 lives. SEARCH

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Walking with the Comrades by Arundhati Roy

Posted by ajadhind on March 27, 2010

Arundhati Roy finds a quiet moment to herself during a punishing visit to the forest where she became the first journalist/writer to break the taboo of of interviewing Maoist guerrillas in their lair.

Last month, quietly, unannounced, Arundhati Roy decided to visit the forbidding and forbidden precincts of Central India’s Dandakaranya Forests, home to a melange of tribespeople many of whom have taken up arms to protect their people against state-backed marauders and exploiters. She recorded in considerable detail the first face-to-face journalistic “encounter” with armed guerillas, their families and comrades, for which she combed the forests for weeks at personal risk. This essay was published on Friday in Delhi’s Outlook magazine. Arundhati Roy made the pictures in this 20,000 word essay available exclusively to Dawn.

The terse, typewritten note slipped under my door in a sealed envelope confirmed my appointment with India’s Gravest Internal Security Threat. I’d been waiting for months to hear from them.

I had to be at the Ma Danteshwari mandir in Dantewara, Chhattisgarh, at any of four given times on two given days. That was to take care of bad weather, punctures, blockades, transport strikes and sheer bad luck. The note said: “Writer should have camera, tika and coconut. Meeter will have cap, Hindi Outlook magazine and bananas. Password: Namashkar Guruji.”

Namashkar Guruji. I wondered whether the Meeter and Greeter would be expecting a man. And whether I should get myself a moustache.

There are many ways to describe Dantewara. It’s an oxymoron. It’s a border town smack in the heart of India. It’s the epicenter of a war. It’s an upside down, inside out town.

In Dantewara the police wear plain clothes and the rebels wear uniforms. The jail-superintendant is in jail. The prisoners are free (three hundred of them escaped from the old town jail two years ago). Women who have been raped are in police custody. The rapists give speeches in the bazaar.

Across the Indravati river, in the area controlled by the Maoists, is the place the police call ‘Pakistan’. There the villages are empty, but the forest is full of people. Children who ought to be in school, run wild. In the lovely forest villages, the concrete school buildings have either been blown up and lie in a heap, or they’re full of policemen. The deadly war that’s unfolding in the jungle, is a war that the Government of India is both proud and shy of.

Operation Green Hunt has been proclaimed as well as denied. P. Chidambaram, India’s Home Minister (and CEO of the war) says it does not exist, that it’s a media creation. And yet substantial funds have been allocated to it and tens of thousands of troops are being mobilized for it. Though the theatre of war is in the jungles of Central India, it will have serious consequences for us all.

If ghosts are the lingering spirits of someone, or something that has ceased to exist, then perhaps the new four-lane highway crashing through the forest is the opposite of a ghost. Perhaps it is the harbinger of what is still to come.

The antagonists in the forest are disparate and unequal in almost every way. On one side is a massive paramilitary force armed with the money, the firepower, the media, and the hubris of an emerging Superpower.

On the other, ordinary villagers armed with traditional weapons, backed by a superbly organized, hugely motivated Maoist guerilla fighting force with an extraordinary and violent history of armed rebellion. The Maoists and the paramilitary are old adversaries and have fought older avatars of each other several times before: Telengana in the ’50s, West Bengal, Bihar, Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh in the late ’60s and ’70s, and then again in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra from the ’80s all the way through to the present.

They are familiar with each other’s tactics, and have studied each other’s combat manuals closely. Each time, it seemed as though the Maoists (or their previous avatars) had been not just defeated, but literally, physically exterminated. Each time they have re-emerged, more organized, more determined and more influential than ever. Today once again the insurrection has spread through the mineral-rich forests of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, and West Bengal— homeland to millions of India’s tribal people, dreamland to the corporate world.

It’s easier on the liberal conscience to believe that the war in the forests is a war between the Government of India and the Maoists, who call elections a sham, Parliament a pigsty and have openly declared their intention to overthrow the Indian State. It’s convenient to forget that tribal people in Central India have a history of resistance that pre-dates Mao by centuries. (That’s a truism of course. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t exist.) The Ho, the Oraon, the Kols, the Santhals, the Mundas and the Gonds have all rebelled several times, against the British, against zamindars and moneylenders. The rebellions were cruelly crushed, many thousands killed, but the people were never conquered. Even after Independence, tribal people were at the heart of the first uprising that could be described as Maoist, in Naxalbari village in West Bengal (where the word Naxalite—now used interchangeably with ‘Maoist’ —originates). Since then Naxalite politics has been inextricably entwined with tribal uprisings, which says as much about the tribals as it does about Naxalites.

This legacy of rebellion has left behind a furious people who have been deliberately isolated and marginalized by the Indian Government. The Indian Constitution, the moral underpinning of Indian democracy, was adopted by Parliament in 1950. It was a tragic day for tribal people. The Constitution ratified colonial policy and made the State custodian of tribal homelands. Overnight, it turned the entire tribal population into squatters on their own land. It denied them their traditional rights to forest produce, it criminalized a whole way of life. In exchange for the right to vote it snatched away their right to livelihood and dignity.

Having dispossessed them and pushed them into a downward spiral of indigence, in a cruel sleight of hand, the Government began to use their own penury against them. Each time it needed to displace a large population—for dams, irrigation projects, mines— it talked of “bringing tribals into the mainstream” or of giving them “the fruits of modern development”. Of the tens of millions of internally displaced people (more than 30 million by big dams alone), refugees of India’s ‘progress’, the great majority are tribal people. When the Government begins to talk of tribal welfare, it’s time to worry.

The most recent expression of concern has come from the Home Minister P. Chidambaram who says he doesn’t want tribal people living in ‘museum cultures’. The well -being of tribal people didn’t seem to be such a priority during his career as a corporate lawyer, representing the interests of several major mining companies. So it might be an idea to enquire into the basis for his new anxiety.

Over the past five years or so, the Governments of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal have signed hundreds of MOUs with corporate houses, worth several billion dollars, all of them secret, for steel plants, sponge-iron factories, power plants, aluminum refineries, dams and mines. In order for the MOUs to translate into real money, tribal people must be moved.

Therefore, this war.

When a country that calls itself a democracy openly declares war within its borders, what does that war look like? Does the resistance stand a chance? Should it? Who are the Maoists? Are they just violent nihilists foisting an out-dated ideology on tribal people, goading them into a hopeless insurrection? What lessons have they learned from their past experience? Is armed struggle intrinsically undemocratic? Is the Sandwich Theory—of ‘ordinary’ tribals being caught in the crossfire between the State and the Maoists—an accurate one? Are ‘Maoists’ and ‘Tribals’ two entirely discrete categories as is being made out? Do their interests converge? Have they learned anything from each other? Have they changed each other?
The day before I left, my mother called sounding sleepy. “I’ve been thinking,” she said, with a mother’s weird instinct, “what this country needs is revolution.”

An article on the internet says that Israel’s Mossad is training 30 high-ranking Indian police officers in the techniques of targeted assassinations, to render the Maoist organization “headless”. There’s talk in the press about the new hardware that has been bought from Israel: Laser range finders, thermal imaging equipment and unmanned drones so popular with the US army. Perfect weapons to use against the poor.

The drive from Raipur to Dantewara takes about ten hours through areas known to be ‘Maoist-infested.’ These are not careless words. ‘Infest/infestation’ implies disease/pests. Diseases must be cured. Pests must be exterminated. Maoists must be wiped out. In these creeping, innocuous ways the language of genocide has entered our vocabulary.

To protect the highway security forces have ‘secured’ a narrow bandwidth of forest on either side. Further in, it’s the raj of the ‘Dada log.’ The Brothers. The Comrades.

On the outskirts of Raipur, a massive billboard advertises Vedanta (the company our Home Minister once worked with) Cancer hospital. In Orissa, where it is mining bauxite, Vedanta is financing a University. In these creeping, innocuous ways mining corporations enter our imaginations: the Gentle Giants who Really Care. It’s called CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility. It allows mining companies to be like the legendary actor and former Chief Minister, NTR who liked to play all the parts in Telugu mythologicals— the good guys and the bad guys, all at once, in the same movie. This CSR masks the outrageous economics that underpins the mining sector in India. For example, according to the recent Lokayukta Report for Karnataka, for every tonne of iron ore mined by a private company the Government gets a royalty of Rs 27 and the mining company makes Rs 5000. In the bauxite and aluminum sector the figures are even worse. We’re talking about daylight robbery to the tune of billions of dollars. Enough to buy elections, governments, judges, newspapers, TV channels, NGOs and aid agencies. What’s the occasional cancer hospital here or there?

I don’t remember seeing Vedanta’s name on the long list of MOUs signed by the Chhattisgarh government. But I’m twisted enough to suspect that if there’s a cancer hospital, there must be a flat-topped bauxite mountain somewhere.

We pass Kanker, famous for its Counter Terrorism & Jungle Warfare Training School run by Brigadier B K Ponwar, Rumpelstiltskin of this war, charged with the task of turning corrupt, sloppy policemen (straw) into jungle commandos (gold). “Fight a guerilla like a guerilla”, the motto of the warfare training school, is painted on the rocks.

 The men are taught to run, slither, jump on and off air-borne helicopters, ride horses (for some reason), eat snakes and live off the jungle. The Brigadier takes great pride in training street dogs to fight ‘terrorists.’ Eight hundred policemen graduate from the Warfare Training School every six weeks. Twenty similar schools are being planned all over India. The police force is gradually being turned into an army. (In Kashmir it’s the other way around. The army is being turned into a bloated, administrative, police force.) Upside down. Inside out. Either way, the Enemy is the People.

It’s late. Jagdalpur is asleep, except for the many hoardings of Rahul Gandhi asking people to join the Youth Congress. He’s been to Bastar twice in recent months but hasn’t said anything much about the war. It’s probably too messy for the Peoples’ Prince to meddle in at this point. His media managers must have put their foot down. The fact that the Salwa Judum (Purification Hunt)—the dreaded, government sponsored vigilante group responsible for rapes, killings, burning down villages and driving hundreds of thousands of people from their homes— is led by Mahendra Karma, a Congress MLA, doesn’t get much play in the carefully orchestrated publicity around Rahul Gandhi.

Women guerriillas supervise the backstage for the Bhumkal feast. Bhumkal an annual ceremony means Earthquake

I arrived at the Ma Danteshwari mandir well in time for my appointment (first day, first show). I had my camera, my small coconut and a powdery red tika on my forehead. I wondered if someone was watching me and having a laugh. Within minutes a young boy approached me. He had a cap and a backpack schoolbag. Chipped red nail-polish on his fingernails. No Hindi Outlook, no bananas. “Are you the one who’s going in?” he asked me. No Namashkar Guruji. I didn’t know what to say. He took out a soggy note from his pocket and handed it to me. It said “Outlook nahi mila.” (Couldn’t find Outlook)

“And the bananas?”

“I ate them”, he said, “I got hungry.”

He really was a security threat.

His backpack said Charlie Brown — Not your ordinary blockhead. He said his name was Mangtu. I soon learned that Dandakaranya, the forest I was about to enter, was full of people who had many names and fluid identities. It was like balm to me, that idea. How lovely not to be stuck with yourself, to become someone else for a while.

We walked to the bus stand, only a few minutes away from the temple. It was already crowded. Things happened quickly. There were two men on motorbikes. There was no conversation— just a glance of acknowledgment, a shifting of body weight, the revving of engines. I had no idea where we were going. We passed the house of the Superintendent of Police (SP), which I recognized from my last visit. He was a candid man, the SP: “See Ma’am, frankly speaking this problem can’t be solved by us police or military. The problem with these tribals is they don’t understand greed. Unless they become greedy there’s no hope for us. I have told my boss, remove the force and instead put a TV in every home. Everything will be automatically sorted out.”

In no time at all we were riding out of town. No tail. It was a long ride, three hours by my watch. It ended abruptly in the middle of nowhere, on an empty road with forest on either side. Mangtu got off. I did too. The bikes left, and I picked up my backpack and followed the small internal security threat into the forest. It was a beautiful day. The forest floor was a carpet of gold.

In a while we emerged on the white, sandy banks of a broad flat river. It was obviously monsoon fed, so now it was more or less a sand flat, at the center a stream, ankle deep, easy to wade across. Across was ‘Pakistan’. “Out there, ma’am” the candid SP had said to me, “my boys shoot to kill.” I remembered that as we began to cross. I saw us in a policeman’s rifle-sights— tiny figures in a landscape, easy to pick off. But Mangtu seemed quite unconcerned, and I took my cue from him.

Waiting for us on the other bank, in a lime green shirt that said Horlicks! was Chandu. A slightly older security threat. Maybe twenty. He had a lovely smile, a cycle, a jerry can with boiled water and many packets of glucose biscuits for me, from the Party. We caught our breath and began to walk again. The cycle, it turned out, was a red herring. The route was almost entirely non-cycle-able. We climbed steep hills and clambered down rocky paths along some pretty precarious ledges. When he couldn’t wheel it, Chandu lifted the cycle and carried it over his head as though it weighed nothing. I began to wonder about his bemused village boy air. I discovered (much later) that he could handle every kind of weapon, “except for an LMG”, he informed me cheerfully.

Three beautiful, sozzled men with flowers in their turbans walked with us for about half an hour, before our paths diverged. At sunset, their shoulder bags began to crow. They had roosters in them, which they had taken to market but hadn’t managed to sell.

Chandu seems to be able to see in the dark. I have to use my torch. The crickets start up and soon there’s an orchestra, a dome of sound over us. I long to look up at the night sky, but I dare not. I have to keep my eyes on the ground. One step at a time. Concentrate.

I hear dogs. But I can’t tell how far away they are. The terrain flattens out. I steal a look at the sky. It makes me ecstatic. I hope we’re going to stop soon. “Soon.” Chandu says. It turns out to be more than an hour. I see silhouettes of enormous trees. We arrive.

The village seems spacious, the houses far away from each other. The house we enter is beautiful. There’s a fire, some people sitting around. More people outside, in the dark. I can’t tell how many. I can just about make them out. A murmur goes around. Lal Salaam Kaamraid. (Red Salute, Comrade) Lal Salaam, I say. I’m beyond tired. The lady of the house calls me inside and gives me chicken curry cooked in green beans and some red rice. Fabulous. Her baby is asleep next to me, her silver anklets gleam in the firelight.

After dinner I unzip my sleeping bag. It’s a strange intrusive sound, the big zip. Someone puts on the radio. BBC Hindi service. The Church of England has withdrawn its funds from Vedanta’s Niyamgiri project, citing environmental degradation and rights’ violations of the Dongria Kondh tribe. I can hear cowbells, snuffling, shuffling, cattle-farting. All’s well with the world. My eyes close.

We’re up at five. On the move by six. In another couple of hours, we cross another river. We walk through some beautiful villages. Every village has a family of tamarind trees watching over it, like a clutch of huge, benevolent, gods. Sweet, Bastar tamarind. By eleven the sun is high, and walking is less fun. We stop at a village for lunch.

Chandu seems to know the people in the house. A beautiful young girl flirts with him. He looks a little shy, maybe because I’m around. Lunch is raw papaya with masoor dal, and red rice. And red chilly powder. We’re going to wait for the sun to lose some of its vehemence before we start walking again. We take a nap in the gazebo. There is a spare beauty about the place. Everything is clean and necessary. No clutter. A black hen parades up and down the low mud wall. A bamboo grid stabilizes the rafters of the thatched roof and doubles as a storage rack. There’s a grass broom, two drums, a woven reed basket, a broken umbrella and a whole stack of flattened, empty, corrugated cardboard boxes. Something catches my eye. I need my spectacles. Here’s what’s printed on the cardboard: Ideal Power 90 High Energy Emulsion Explosive (Class-2) SD CAT ZZ.

We start walking again at about two. In the village we are going to we will meet a Didi (Sister, Comrade) who knows what the next step of the journey will be. Chandu doesn’t. There is an economy of information too. Nobody is supposed to know everything. But when we reach the village, Didi isn’t there. There’s no news of her. For the first time I see a little cloud of worry settling over Chandu. A big one settles over me. I don’t know what the systems of communication are, but what if they’ve gone wrong?

We’re parked outside a deserted school building, a little way out of the village. Why are all the government village schools built like concrete bastions, with steel shutters for windows and sliding folding steel doors? Why not like the village houses, with mud and thatch? Because they double up as barracks and bunkers. “In the villages in Abhujmad”, Chandu says, “schools are like this…” He scratches a building plan with a twig in the earth. Three octagons attached to each other like a honeycomb. “So they can fire in all directions.” He draws arrows to illustrate his point, like a cricket graphic— a batsman’s wagon wheel. There are no teachers in any of the schools, Chandu says. They’ve all run away. Or have you chased them away? No, we only chase police. But why should teachers come here, to the jungle, when they get their salaries sitting at home? Good point.

He informs me that this is a ‘new area’. The Party has entered only recently.

About twenty young people arrive, girls and boys. In their teens and early twenties. Chandu explains that this is the village level militia, the lowest rung of the Maoists’ military hierarchy. I have never seen anyone like them before. They are dressed in saris and lungis, some in frayed olive green fatigues. The boys wear jewelry, headgear. Every one of them has a muzzle-loading rifle, what’s called a bharmaar. Some also have knives, axes, a bow and arrow.

One boy carries a crude mortar fashioned out of a heavy three-foot GI pipe. It’s filled with gunpowder and shrapnel and ready to be fired. It makes a big noise, but can only be used once. Still, it scares the police, they say, and giggle.

 War doesn’t seem to be uppermost on their minds. Perhaps because their area is outside the home range of the Salwa Judum. They have just finished a days’ work, helping to build fencing around some village houses to keep the goats out of the fields. They’re full of fun and curiosity. The girls are confident and easy with the boys. I have a sensor for this sort of thing, and I am impressed. Their job, Chandu says, is to patrol and protect a group of four or five villages and to help in the fields, clean wells or repair houses—doing whatever’s needed.

Still no Didi. What to do? Nothing. Wait. Help out with some chopping and peeling.

After dinner, without much talk, everybody falls in line. Clearly we’re moving. Everything moves with us, the rice, vegetables, pots and pans. We leave the school compound and walk single file into the forest. In less than half an hour we arrive in a glade where we are going to sleep. There’s absolutely no noise. Within minutes everyone has spread their blue plastic sheets, the ubiquitous ‘jhilli’, (without which there will be no Revolution). Chandu and Mangtu share one and spread one out for me. They find me the best place, by the best grey rock. Chandu says he has sent a message to Didi. If she gets it she will be here first thing in the morning. If she gets it.

It’s the most beautiful room I have slept in in a long time. My private suite in a thousand-star hotel. I’m surrounded by these strange, beautiful children with their curious arsenal. They’re all Maoists for sure. Are they all going to die? Is the Jungle Warfare Training School for them? And the helicopter gunships, the thermal imaging and the laser range finders?

Why must they die? What for? To turn all of this into a mine? I remember my visit to the opencast iron-ore mines in Keonjhar, Orissa. There was forest there once. And children like these. Now the land is like a raw, red wound. Red dust fills your nostrils and lungs. The water is red, the air is red, the people are red, their lungs and hair are red. All day and all night trucks rumble through their villages, bumper to bumper, thousands and thousands of trucks, taking ore to Paradip port from where it will go to China. There it will turn into cars and smoke and sudden cities that spring up overnight. Into a ‘growth rate’ that leaves economists breathless. Into weapons to make war.

Everyone’s asleep except for the sentries who take one-and-a-half hour shifts. Finally I can look at the stars. When I was a child growing up on the banks of the Meenachal river, I used to think the sound of crickets —which always started up at twilight—was the sound of stars revving up, getting ready to shine. I’m surprised at how much I love being here. There is nowhere else in the world that I would rather be. Who should I be tonight? Kamraid Rahel, under the stars? Maybe Didi will come tomorrow.

They arrive in the early afternoon. I can see them from a distance. About fifteen of them, all in olive green uniforms, running towards us. Even from a distance, from the way they run, I can tell they are the heavy hitters. The Peoples Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA). For whom the thermal imaging and laser guided rifles. For whom the Jungle Warfare Training School.

They carry serious rifles, INSAS, SLR, two have AK 47s. The leader of the squad is Comrade Madhav who has been with the Party since he was nine. He’s from Warangal, Andhra Pradesh. He’s upset and extremely apologetic. There was a major miscommunication, he says again and again, which usually never happens. I was supposed to have arrived at the main camp on the very first night. Someone dropped the baton in the jungle-relay. The motorcycle drop was to have been at an entirely different place. “We made you wait, we made you walk so much. We ran all the way when the message came that you were here.” I said it was ok, that I had come prepared, to wait and walk and listen. He wants to leave immediately, because people in the camp were waiting, and worried.

It’s a few hours walk to the camp. It’s getting dark when we arrive. There are several layers of sentries and concentric circles of patrolling. There must be a hundred comrades lined up in two rows. Everyone has a weapon. And a smile. They begin to sing: Lal lal salaam, lal lal salaam, aane vaaley saathiyon ko lal lal salaam. (Red salute to the comrades who have arrived.) It was sung sweetly, as though it was a folk song about a river, or a forest blossom. With the song, the greeting, the handshake and the clenched fist. Everyone greets everyone, murmuring Lalslaam, mlalslaa mlalslaam…

Other than a large blue jhilli spread out on the floor, about fifteen feet square, there are no signs of a ‘camp’. This one has a jhilli roof as well. It’s my room for the night. I was either being rewarded for my days of walking, or being pampered in advance for what lay ahead. Or both. Either way it was the last time in the entire trip that I was going to have a roof over my head. Over dinner I meet Comrade Narmada, in charge of the Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Sangathan (KAMS), who has a price on her head, Comrade Saroja of the PLGA who is only as tall as her SLR, Comrade Maase (which means Black Girl in Gondi) who has a price on her head too, Comrade Roopi, the tech wizard, Comrade Raju who’s in charge of the Division I’d been walking through, and Comrade Venu (or Murali or Sonu or Sushil, whatever you would like to call him), clearly the senior most of them all. Maybe Central Committee, maybe even Polit Bureau. I’m not told, I don’t ask. Between us we speak Gondi, Halbi, Telugu, Punjabi and Malayalam. Only Maase speaks English. (So we all communicate in Hindi!) Comrade Maase is tall and quiet and seems to have to swim through a layer of pain to enter the conversation. But from the way she hugs me I can tell she’s a reader. And that she misses having books in the jungle. She will tell me her story only later. When she trusts me with her grief.

Bad news arrives, as it does in this jungle. A runner, with ‘biscuits’. Handwritten notes on sheets of paper, folded and stapled into little squares. There’s a bag full of them. Like chips. News from everywhere. The police have killed five people in Ongnaar village, four from the militia and one ordinary villager: Santhu Pottai (25), Phoolo Vadde (22), Kande Potai (22), Ramoli Vadde (20), Dalsai Koram (22). They could have been the children in my star-spangled dormitory of last night.

Then good news arrives. A small contingent of people with a plump young man. He’s in fatigues too, but they look brand new. Everybody admires them and comments on the fit. He looks shy and pleased. He’s a doctor who has come to live and work with the comrades in the forest. The last time a doctor visited Dandakaranya was many years ago.

On the radio there’s news about the Home Minister’s meeting with Chief Ministers’ of states affected by ‘Left Wing Extremism’ to discuss the war. The Chief Ministers of Jharkhand and Bihar are being demure and have not attended. Everybody sitting around the radio laughs. Around the time of elections, they say, right through the campaign, and then maybe a month or two after the government is formed, mainstream politicians all say things like ‘Naxals are our children.’ You can set your watch to the schedule of when they will change their minds, and grow fangs.

I am introduced to Comrade Kamla. I am told that I must on no account go even five feet away from my jhilli without waking her. Because everybody gets disoriented in the dark and could get seriously lost. (I don’t wake her. I sleep like a log.) In the morning Kamla presents me with a yellow polythene packet with one corner snipped off. Once it used to contain Abis Gold Refined Soya Oil. Now it was my Loo Mug. Nothing’s wasted on the Road to the Revolution.

(Even now I think of Comrade Kamla all the time, every day. She’s 17. She wears a homemade pistol on her hip. And boy, what a smile. But if the police come across her, they will kill her. They might rape her first. No questions will be asked. Because she’s an Internal Security Threat.)

After breakfast Comrade Venu (Sushil, Sonu, Murali) is waiting for me, sitting cross-legged on the jhilli, looking for all the world like a frail, village schoolteacher. I’m going to get a history lesson. Or, more accurately a lecture on the history of the last thirty years in the Dandakaranya forest, which has culminated in the war that’s swirling through it today. For sure, it’s a partisan’s version. But then, what history isn’t? In any case, the secret history must be made public if it is to be contested, argued with, instead of merely being lied about, which is what is happening now.

Comrade Venu has a calm reassuring, manner and a gentle voice that will, in the days to come, surface in a context that will completely unnerve me. This morning he talks for several hours, almost continuously. He’s like a little store manager who has a giant bunch of keys with which to open up a maze of lockers full of stories, songs and insights.

Comrade Venu was in one of the seven armed squads who crossed the Godavari from Andhra Pradesh and entered the Dandakaranya Forest (DK, in Partyspeak) in June 1980, thirty years ago. He’s is one of the original forty-niners. They belonged to Peoples War Group (PWG), a faction of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) CPI (ML), the original Naxalites. PWG was formally announced as separate, independent party in April that year, under Kondapalli Seetharamiah. PWG had decided to build a standing army, for which it would need a base. DK was to be that base, and those first squads were sent in to reconnoiter the area and begin the process of building guerilla zones. The debate about whether communist parties ought to have a standing army, and whether or not a ‘peoples army’ is a contradiction in terms, is an old one. PWGs decision to build an army came from its experience in Andhra Pradesh, where its ‘Land to the Tiller’ campaign led to a direct clash with the landlords, and resulted in the kind of police repression that the Party found impossible to withstand without a trained fighting force of its own.

(By 2004 PWG had merged with the other CPI (ML) factions, Party Unity (PU) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC)—which functions for the most part out of Bihar and Jharkhand. To become what it is now, the Communist Party of India (Maoist)).

Dandakaranya is part of what the British, in their White Man’s way, called Gondwana, land of the Gonds. Today the state boundaries of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra slice through the forest. Breaking up a troublesome people into separate administrative units is an old trick. But these Maoists and Maoist Gonds don’t pay much attention to things like state boundaries. They have different maps in their heads, and like other creatures of the forest, they have their own paths. For them, roads are not meant for walking on. They’re meant only to be crossed, or as is increasingly becoming the case, ambushed. Though the Gonds (divided between the Koya and Dorla tribes) are by far the biggest majority, there are small settlements of other tribal communities too. The non-adivasi communities, traders and settlers, live on the edges of the forest, near the roads and markets.

The PWG were not the first evangelicals to arrive in Dandakaranya. Baba Amte, the well-known Gandhian had opened his ashram and leprosy hospital in Warora in 1975. The Ramakrishna mission had begun opening village schools in the remote forests of Abhujmad. In North Bastar, Baba Bihari Das had started an aggressive drive to ‘bring tribals back into the Hindu fold’, which involved a campaign to denigrate tribal culture, induce self-hatred, and introduce Hinduism’s great gift—caste. The first converts, the village chiefs and big landlords— people like Mahendra Karma, founder of the Salwa Judum—were conferred the status of Dwij, twice born, Brahmins. (Of course this was a bit of a scam, because nobody can become a Brahmin. If they could, we’d be a nation of Brahmins by now.) But this counterfeit Hinduism is considered good enough for tribal people, just like the counterfeit brands of everything else—biscuits, soap, matches, oil—that are sold in village markets. As part of the Hindutva drive the names of villages were changed in land records, as a result of which most have two names now, peoples’ names and government names. Innar village for example, became Chinnari. On voters lists tribal names were changed to Hindu names. (Massa Karma became Mahendra Karma.) Those who did not come forward to join the Hindu fold were declared ‘Katwas’ (by which they meant Untouchables) who later became the natural constituency for the Maoists.

The PWG first began work in South Bastar and Gadchiroli. Comrade Venu describes those first months in some detail: How the villagers were suspicious of them, and wouldn’t let them into their homes. No one would offer them food or water. The police spread rumours that they were thieves. The women hid their jewellery in the ashes of their wood stoves. There was an enormous amount of repression. In November 1980, in Gadchiroli the police opened fire at a village meeting and killed an entire squad. That was DKs first ‘encounter’ killing. It was a traumatic set back, and the comrades retreated across the Godavari and returned to Adilabad.

But in 1981 they returned. They began to organize tribal people to demand a rise in the price they were being paid for Tendu leaves (which are used to make beedis). At the time, traders paid 3 paisa for a bundle of about 50 leaves. It was a formidable job to organize people entirely unfamiliar with this kind of politics, to lead them on strike.

Eventually the strike was successful and the price was doubled, to 6 paisa a bundle. But the real success for the Party was to have been able to demonstrate the value of unity and a new way of conducting a political negotiation. Today, after several strikes and agitations, the price of a bundle of Tendu leaves is Rs 1. (It seems a little improbable at these rates, but the turnover of the Tendu business runs into hundreds of crores of rupees.) Every season the Government floats tenders and gives contractors permission to extract a fixed volume of Tendu leaves — usually between 1500 and 5000 standard bags known as manak boras. Each manak bora contains about 1000 bundles.

(Of course there’s no way of ensuring that the contractors don’t extract more than they’re meant to.) By the time the Tendu enters the market it is sold in kilos. The slippery arithmetic and the sly system of measurement that converts bundles into manak boras into kilos is controlled by the contractors, and leaves plenty of room for manipulation of the worst kind. The most conservative estimate puts their profit per standard bag at about Rs 1100. (That’s after paying the Party a commission of Rs 120 per bag.) Even by that gauge, a small contractor (1500 bags) makes about Rs 16 lakh a season and a big one (5000 bags) upto Rs 55 lakh.

 A more realistic estimate would be several times this amount. Meanwhile the Gravest Internal Security Threat makes just enough to stay alive until the next season.

We’re interrupted by some laughter and the sight of Nilesh, one of the young PLGA comrades, walking rapidly towards the cooking area, slapping himself. When he comes closer I see that he’s carrying a leafy nest of angry red ants that have crawled all over him and are biting him on his arms and neck. Nilesh is laughing too. “Have you ever eaten ant chutney?” Comrade Venu asks me. I know red ants well, from my childhood in Kerala, I’ve been bitten by them, but I’ve never eaten them. (The chutney turns out to be nice. Sour. Lots of folic acid.)

Nilesh is from Bijapur, which is at the heart of Salwa Judum operations. Nilesh’s younger brother joined the Judum on one of its looting and burning sprees and was made a Special Police Officer (SPO). He lives in the Basaguda camp with his mother. His father refused to go and stayed behind in the village. In effect, it’s a family blood feud.

Later on when I had an opportunity to talk to him I asked Nilesh why his brother had done that. “He was very young,” Nilesh said, “He got an opportunity to run wild and hurt people and burn houses. He went crazy, did terrible things. Now he is stuck. He can never come back to the village. He will not be forgiven. He knows that.”

We return to the history lesson. The Party’s next big struggle, Comrade Venu says, was against the Ballarpur Paper Mills. The Government had given the Thapars a 45-year contract to extract 1.5 lakh tonnes of bamboo at a hugely subsidized rate. (Small beer compared to bauxite, but still). The tribals were paid 10 paisa for a bundle which contained 20 culms of bamboo. (I won’t yield to the vulgar temptation of comparing that with the profits the Thapars were making.) A long agitation, a strike, followed by negotiations with officials of the Paper Mill in the presence of the people, tripled the price to 30 paisa per bundle. For the tribal people these were huge achievements. Other political parties had made promises, but showed no signs of keeping them. People began to approach the PWG asking whether they could join up.

But the politics of Tendu, bamboo and other forest produce was seasonal. The perennial problem, the real bane of peoples’ lives was the biggest landlord of all, the Forest Department. Every morning forest officials, even the most junior of them, would appear in villages like a bad dream, preventing people from ploughing their fields, collecting firewood, plucking leaves, picking fruit, grazing their cattle, from living. They brought elephants to overrun fields and scattered babool seeds to destroy the soil as they passed by. People would be beaten, arrested, humiliated, their crops destroyed. Of course, from the Forest Department’s point of view, these were illegal people engaged in unconstitutional activity, and the Department was only implementing the Rule of Law. (Their sexual exploitation of women was just an added perk in a hardship posting)

Emboldened by the peoples’ participation in these struggles, the Party decided to confront the Forest Department. It encouraged people to take over forest land and cultivate it. The Forest Department retaliated by burning new villages that came up in forest areas. In 1986 it announced a National Park in Bijapur, which meant the eviction of 60 villages. More than half of them had already been moved out and construction of National Park infrastructure had begun when the Party moved in. It demolished the construction and stopped the eviction of the remaining villages. It prevented the Forest Department from entering the area. On a few occasions, officials were captured, tied to trees and beaten by villagers. It was cathartic revenge for generations of exploitation. Eventually the Forest Department fled. Between 1986 and 2000, the Party re-distributed 300,000 acres of forestland. Today, Comrade Venu says, there are no landless peasants in Dandakaranya.

For today’s generation of young people, the Forest Department is a distant memory, the stuff of stories mothers tell their children, about a mythological past of bondage and humiliation. For the older generation, freedom from the Forest Department meant genuine freedom. They could touch it, taste it. It meant far more than India’s Independence ever did. They began to rally to the Party that had struggled with them.

The seven-squad team had come a long way. It’s influence now ranged across a 60,000 sq kilometer stretch of forest, thousands of villages and millions of people.

But the departure of the Forest Department heralded the arrival of the police. That set off a cycle of bloodshed. Fake ‘encounters’ by the police, ambushes by the PWG. With the re-distribution of land came other responsibilities: irrigation, agricultural productivity, and the problem of an expanding population arbitrarily clearing forestland. A decision was taken to separate ‘mass work’ and ‘military work’.

Today, Dandakaranya is administered by an elaborate structure of Jantana Sarkars (peoples governments) . The organizing principles came from the Chinese revolution and the Vietnam war. Each Jantana Sarkar is elected by a cluster of villages whose combined population can range from 500 to 5000. It has nine departments: Krishi (agriculture) , Vyapar-Udyog (trade and industry) Arthik (economic), Nyay (justice), Raksha (defense), Hospital (health), Jan Sampark (public relations), School-Riti Rivaj (education and culture), and Jungle. A group of Janatana Sarkars, come under an Area Committee. Three Area Committees make up a Division. There are ten Divisions in Dandakaranya.

“We have a Save the Jungle department now.” Comrade Venu says, “you must have read the Government Report that says forest has increased in Naxal areas?”

Ironically, Comrade Venu says, the first people to benefit from the Party’s campaign against the Forest Department were the Mukhiyas (village chiefs)—the Dwij brigade. They used their manpower and their resources to grab as much land as they could, while the going was good. But then people began to approach the Party with their “internal contradictions,” as Comrade Venu puts it quaintly. The Party began to turn its attention to issues of equity, class and injustice within tribal society. The big landlords sensed trouble on the horizon. As the Party’s influence expanded, theirs had begun to wane. Increasingly people were taking their problems to the Party instead of to the Mukhiyas. Old forms of exploitation began to be challenged. On the day of the first rain, people were traditionally supposed to till the Mukhiyas land instead of their own. That stopped. They no longer offered them the first days picking of mahua or other forest produce. Obviously, something needed to be done.

Enter Mahendra Karma, one of the biggest landlords in the region and at the time a member of the Communist Party of India (CPI). In 1990 he rallied a group of Mukhiyas and landlords and started a campaign called the Jan Jagran Abhiyan (Public Awakening Campaign). Their way of ‘awakening’ the ‘public’ was to form a hunting party of about three hundred men to comb the forest, killing people, burning houses and molesting women. The then Madhya Pradesh Government—Chhattisg arh had not yet been created—provided police back up. In Maharashtra, something similar, called ‘Democratic Front’ began its assault. Peoples’ War responded to all of this in true Peoples’ War style, by killing a few of the most notorious landlords. In a few months the Jan Jagran Abhiyan, the ‘white terror’ —Comrade Venu’s term for it—faded. In 1998, Mahendra Karma who had by now joined the Congress Party, tried to revive the Jan Jagran Abhiyan. This time it fizzled out even faster than before.

Then, in the summer of 2005, fortune favoured him. In April, the BJP Government in Chhattisgarh signed two MOUs to set up integrated steel plants (the terms of which are secret). One for Rs 7000 crore with Essar Steel in Bailadila, and the other for Rs10,000 crore with Tata Steel in Lohandiguda. That same month Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made his famous statement about the Maoists being the “Gravest Internal Security Threat” to India. (It was an odd thing to say at the time, because actually the opposite was true. The Congress Government in Andhra Pradesh had just out-maneuvered the Maoists, decimated them. They had lost about 1600 of their cadre and were in complete disarray.) The PMs statement sent the share-value of mining companies soaring. It also sent a signal to the media that the Maoists were fair game for anyone who chose to go after them. In June 2005, Mahendra Karma called a secret meeting of Mukhiyas in Kutroo village and announced the Salwa Judum (the Purification Hunt). A lovely mÈlange of tribal earthiness and Dwij/Nazi sentiment.

Unlike the Jan Jagran Abhiyan, the Salwa Judum was a ground-clearing operation, meant to move people out of their villages into roadside camps, where they could be policed and controlled. In military terms, it’s called Strategic Hamleting. It was devised by General Sir Harold Briggs in 1950 when the British were at war against the communists in Malaya. The Briggs Plan became very popular with the Indian Army, which has used it in Nagaland, Mizoram and in Telengana. The BJP Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh announced that as far as his government was concerned, villagers who did not move into camps, would be considered Maoists. So in Bastar, for an ordinary villager, just staying at home, living an ordinary life, became the equivalent of indulging in dangerous terrorist activity.

Along with a steel mug of black tea, as a special treat, someone hands me a pair of earphones and switches on a little MP3 player. It’s a scratchy recording of Mr D S Manhar, the then SP Bijapur, briefing a junior officer over the wireless about the rewards and incentives the State and Central Governments are offering to ‘jagrit’ (awakened) villages, and to people who agree to move into camps. He then gives clear instructions that villages that refuse to ‘surrender’ should be burnt and journalists who want to cover Naxalites should be shot on sight. (I’d read about this in the papers long ago. When the story broke, as punishment—it’ s not clear to whom— the SP was transferred to the State Human Rights Commission.)

The first village the Salwa Judum burnt (on 18th June 2005) was Ambeli. Between June and December 2005, it burned, killed, raped and looted its way through hundreds of villages of South Dantewara. The centre of its operations were the districts of Bijapur and Bhairamgarh, near Bailadila, where Essar Steel’s new plant was proposed. Not coincidentally, these were also Maoist strongholds, where the Jantana Sarkars had done a great deal of work, especially in building water-harvesting structures. The Jantana Sarkars became the special target of the Salwa Judum’s attacks. Hundreds of people were killed in the most brutal ways. About sixty thousand people moved into the camps, some voluntarily, others out of terror. Of these, about three thousand were appointed Special Police Officers (SPOs) on a salary of fifteen hundred rupees.

For these paltry crumbs, young people, like Nilesh’s brother, have sentenced themselves to a life-sentence in a barbed wire enclosure. Cruel as they have been, they could end up being the worst victims of this horrible war. No Supreme Court judgement ordering the Salwa Judum to be dismantled can change their fate.

The remaining hundreds of thousands of people went off the government radar. (But the development funds for these 644 villages did not. What happens to that little goldmine?) Many of them made their way to Andhra Pradesh and Orissa where they usually migrated to work as contract labour during the chilly-picking season. But tens of thousands fled into the forest, where they still remain, living without shelter, coming back to their fields and homes only in the daytime.

In the slipstream of the Salwa Judum, a swarm of Police stations and camps appeared. The idea was to provide carpet security for a ‘creeping reoccupation’ of Maoist-controlled territory. The assumption was that the Maoists would not dare to attack such a large concentration of security forces. The Maoists for their part, realized that if they did not break that carpet security, it would amount to abandoning people whose trust they had earned, and with whom they had lived and worked for twenty-five years. They struck back in a series of attacks on the heart of the security grid.

On 26th January 2006 the PLGA attacked the Gangalaur police camp and killed seven people . On 17 July 2006 the Salwa Judum camp at Erabor was attacked, 20 people were killed and 150 injured. (You might have read about it: “Maoists attacked the relief camp set up by the state government to provide shelter to the villagers who had fled from their villages because of terror unleashed by the Naxalites.”) On 13 Dec 2006 they attacked the Basaguda ‘relief’ camp and killed 3 SPOs and a constable. On 15 March 2007 came the most audacious of them all.

 One hundred and twenty PLGA guerillas, attacked the Rani Bodili Kanya Ashram, a girls hostel that had been converted into a barrack for 80 Chhattisgarh Police (and SPOs) while the girls still lived in it as human shields. The PLGA entered the compound, cordoned off the annexe in which the girls lived, and attacked the barracks. 55 policemen and SPOs were killed. None of the girls was hurt. (The candid SP of Dantewara had shown me his Power Point presentation with horrifying photographs of the burned, disemboweled bodies of the policemen amidst the ruins of the blown up school building. They were so macabre, it was impossible not to look away. He looked pleased at my reaction.)

The attack on Rani Bodili caused an uproar in the country. Human Rights organizations condemned the Maoists not just for their violence, but also for being anti-education and attacking schools. But in Dandakaranya the Rani Bodili attack became a legend: songs and poems and plays were written about it.

The Maoist counter-offensive did break the carpet security and gave people breathing space. The police and the Salwa Judum retreated into their camps, from which they now emerge—usually in the dead of night—only in packs of 300 or 1000 to carry out Cordon and Search operations in villages. Gradually, except for the SPOs and their families, the rest of the people in the Salwa Judum camps began to return to their villages. The Maoists welcomed them back and announced that even SPOs could return if they genuinely, and publicly regretted their actions. Young people began to flock to the PLGA. (The PLGA had been formally constituted in December 2000. Over the last thirty years, its armed squads had very gradually expanded into sections, sections had grown into platoons, and platoons into companies. But after the Salwa Judum’s depredations, the PLGA was rapidly able to declare battalion strength.)

The Salwa Judum had not just failed, it had backfired badly.

As we now know, it was not just a local operation by a small time hood. Regardless of the doublespeak in the press, the Salwa Judum was a joint operation by the State Government of Chhattisgarh and the Congress Party which was in power at the Centre. It could not be allowed to fail. Not when all those MOUs were still waiting, like wilting hopefuls on the marriage market. The Government was under tremendous pressure to come up with a new plan. They came up with Operation Green Hunt. The Salwa Judum SPOs are called Koya Commandos now. It has deployed the Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF), the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Border Security Force (BSF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Grey Hounds, Scorpions, Cobras. And a policy that’s affectionately called WHAM—Winning Hearts and Minds.

Significant wars are often fought in unlikely places. Free Market Capitalism defeated Soviet Communism in the bleak mountains of Afghanistan. Here in the forests of Dantewara a battle rages for the soul of India. Plenty has been said about the deepening crisis in Indian democracy and the collusion between big corporations, major political parties and the security establishment. If any body wants to do a quick spot check, Dantewara is the place to go.

A draft report on State Agrarian Relations and the Unfinished Task of Land Reform (Volume 1) said that Tata Steel and Essar Steel were the first financiers of the Salwa Judum. Because it was a Government Report, it created a flurry when it was reported in the press. (That fact has subsequently been dropped from the final report. Was it a genuine error, or did someone receive a gentle, integrated steel tap on the shoulder?)

On 12 October 2009 the mandatory public hearing for Tata’s steel plant, meant to be held in Lohandiguda where local people could come, actually took place in a small hall inside the Collectorate in Jagdalpur, many miles away, cordoned off with massive security. A hired audience of 50 tribals was brought in a guarded convoy of government jeeps. After the meeting the District Collector congratulated ‘the people of Lohandiguda’ for their co-operation. The local newspapers reported the lie, even though they knew better. (The advertisements rolled in.) Despite villagers’ objections, land acquisition for the project has begun.

The Maoists are not the only ones who seek to depose the Indian State. It’s already been deposed several times, by Hindu fundamentalism and economic totalitarianism.

Lohandiguda, a five-hour drive from Dantewara, never used to be a Naxalite area. But it is now. Comrade Joori who sat next to me while I ate the ant chutney works in the area. She said they decided to move in after graffiti had begun to appear on the walls of village houses, saying Naxali Ao, Hamein Bachao (Naxals come and save us!) A few months ago Vimal Meshram, President of the village panchayat was shot dead in the market. “He was Tata’s Man,” Joori says, “He was forcing people to give up their land and accept compensation. It’s good that he’s been finished. We lost a comrade too. They shot him. D’you want more chapoli?” She’s only twenty. “We won’t let the Tata come there. People don’t want them.” Joori is not PLGA. She’s in the Chetna Natya Manch (CNM), the cultural wing of the Party. She sings. She writes songs. She’s from Abhujmad. (She’s married to Comrade Madhav. She fell in love with his singing when he visited her village with a CNM troupe.)

I feel I ought to say something at this point. About the futility of violence, about the unacceptability of summary executions. But what should I suggest they do? Go to court? Do a dharna in Jantar Mantar, New Delhi? A rally? A relay hunger strike? It sounds ridiculous. The promoters of the New Economic Policy —who find it so easy to say “There Is No Alternative” —should be asked to suggest an alternative Resistance Policy. A specific one, to these specific people, in this specific forest. Here. Now. Which party should they vote for? Which democratic institution in this country should they approach? Which door did the Narmada Bachao Andolan not knock on during the years and years it fought against Big Dams on the Narmada?

It’s dark. There’s a lot of activity in the camp, but I can’t see anything. Just points of light moving around. It’s hard to tell whether they are stars or fireflies or Maoists on the move. Little Mangtu appears from nowhere. I found out that he’s one of a group of ten kids who are part of the first batch of the Young Communists Mobile School, who are being taught to read and write, and tutored in basic communist principles. (“Indoctrination of young minds!” our corporate media howls. The TV advertisements that brainwash children before they can even think, are not seen as a form of indoctrination. ) The young communists are not allowed to carry guns or wear uniforms. But they trail the PLGA squads, with stars in their eyes, like groupies of a rock band.

Mangtu has adopted me with a gently proprietorial air. He has filled my water bottle and says I should pack my bag. A whistle blows. The blue jhilli tent is dismantled and folded up in five minutes flat. Another whistle and all hundred comrades fall in line. Five rows. Comrade Raju is the Director of Ops. There’s a roll call. I’m in the line too, shouting out my number when Comrade Kamla who is in front of me, prompts me. (We count to twenty and then start from one, because that’s as far as most Gonds count. Twenty is enough for them. Maybe it should be enough for us too.) Chandu is in fatigues now, and carries a sten gun. In a low voice Comrade Raju is briefing the group. It’s all in Gondi, I don’t understand a thing, but I keep hearing the word RV. Later Raju tells me it stands for Rendezvous! It’s a Gondi word now. “We make RV points so that in case we come under fire and people have to scatter, they know where to regroup.” He cannot possibly know the kind of panic this induces in me. Not because I’m scared of being fired on, but because I’m scared of being lost. I’m a directional dyslexic, capable of getting lost between my bedroom and my bathroom. What will I do in 60,000 square kilometers of forest? Come hell or high water, I’m going to be holding on to Comrade Raju’s pallu.

Before we start walking, Comrade Venu comes up to me “Okaythen Comrade. I’ll take your leave.” I’m taken aback. He looks like a little mosquito in a woolen cap and chappals, surrounded by his guards, three women, three men. Heavily armed. “We are very grateful to you comrade, for coming all the way here.” he says. Once again the handshake, the clenched fist. “Lal Salaam Comrade.” He disappears into the forest, the Keeper of the Keys. And in a moment, it’s as though he was never here. I’m a little bereft. But I have hours of recordings to listen to. And as the days turn into weeks, I will meet many people who paint color and detail into the grid he drew for me. We begin to walk in the opposite direction. Comrade Raju, smelling of iodex from a mile off, says with a happy smile, “My knees are gone. I can only walk if I have had a fistful of pain-killers.”

Comrade Raju speaks perfect Hindi and has a deadpan way of telling the funniest stories. He worked as an advocate in Raipur for eighteen years. Both he and his wife, Malti, were Party members and part of its city network. At the end of 2007, one of the key people in the Raipur network was arrested, tortured and eventually turned informer. He was driven around Raipur in a closed police vehicle and made to point out his former colleagues.

Comrade Malti was one of them. On 22 January 2008 she was arrested along with several others. The main charge against her is that she mailed CDs containing video evidence of Salwa Judum atrocities to several Members of Parliament. Her case rarely comes up for hearing because the police know their case is flimsy. But the new Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA) allows the police to hold her without bail for several years. “Now the Government has deployed several battalions of Chhattisgarh police to protect the poor Members of Parliament from their own mail.” Comrade Raju says. He didn’t get caught because he was in Dandakaranya at the time, attending a meeting. He’s been here ever since. His two school-going children who were left alone at home, were interrogated extensively by the police. Finally their home was packed up and they went to live with an uncle.

Comrade Raju received news of them for the first time only a few weeks ago. What gives him this strength, this ability to hold on to his acid humour? What keeps them all going, despite all they have endured? Their faith and hope—and love—for the Party. I encounter it again and again, in the deepest, most personal ways.

PLGA militants are the hardhitters of the Maoist fighting force.

We’re moving in single file now. Myself, and one hundred, ‘senselessly violent’, bloodthirsty insurgents. I looked around at the camp before we left. There are no signs that almost a hundred people had camped here, except for some ash where the fires had been. I cannot believe this army. As far as consumption goes, it’s more Gandhian than any Gandhian, and has a lighter carbon footprint than any climate change evangelist. But for now, it even has a Gandhian approach to sabotage; before a police vehicle is burnt for example, it is stripped down and every part is cannibalized. The steering wheel is straightened out and made into a bharmaar barrel, the rexine upholstery stripped and used for ammunition pouches, the battery for solar charging. (The new instructions from the high command are that captured vehicles should be buried and not cremated. So they can be resurrected when needed.) Should I write a play I wonder—Gandhi Get Your Gun? Or will I be lynched?

We’re walking in pitch darkness and dead silence. I’m the only one using a torch, pointed down so that all I can see in its circle of light are Comrade Kamla’s bare heels in her scuffed, black chappals, showing me exactly where to put my feet. She is carrying ten times more weight than I am. Her backpack, a rifle, a huge bag of provisions on her head, one of the large cooking pots and two shoulder bags full of vegetables. The bag on her head is perfectly balanced, and she can scramble down slopes and slippery rock pathways without so much as touching it. She is a miracle. It turns out to be a long walk. I’m grateful to the history lesson because apart from everything else it gave my feet a rest for a whole day.

It’s the most beautiful thing, walking in the forest at night. And I’ll be doing it night after night.

We’re going to a celebration of the centenary of the 1910 Bhumkal rebellion in which the Koyas rose up against the British. Bhumkal, means earthquake. Comrade Raju says people will walk for days together to come for the celebration. The forest must be full of people on the move. There are celebrations in all the DK divisions. We are privileged because Comrade Leng, the Master of Ceremonies, is walking with us. In Gondi Leng means ‘the voice’.

Comrade Leng is a tall, middle-aged man from Andhra Pradesh, a colleague of the legendary and beloved singer-poet Gadar who founded the radical cultural organization Jan Natya Manch (JNM) in ’72. Eventually JNM became a formal part of the PWG and in Andhra Pradesh could draw audiences numbering in the tens of thousands.

Comrade Leng joined in 1977 and became a famous singer in his own right. He lived in Andhra through the worst repression, the era of ‘encounter’ killings in which friends died almost every day. He himself was picked up one night from his hospital bed, by a woman Superintendent of Police, masquerading as a doctor. He was taken to the forest outside Warangal to be ‘encountered’. But luckily for him, Comrade Leng says, Gadar got the news and managed to raise an alarm. When the PWG decided to start a cultural organization in DK in 1998, Comrade Leng was sent to head the Chetana Natya Manch. And here he is now, walking with me, wearing an olive green shirt, and for some reason, purple pyjamas with pink bunnies on them. “There are 10,000 members in CNM now”, he told me. “We have 500 songs, in Hindi, Gondi, Chhattisgarhi and Halbi. We have printed a book with 140 of our songs.

Everybody writes songs.” The first time I spoke to him, he sounded very grave, very single-minded. But days later, sitting around a fire, still in those pyjamas, he tells us about a very successful, mainstream Telugu film director (a friend of his), who always plays a Naxalite in his own films. “I asked him,” Comrade Leng said in his lovely Telugu accented Hindi, “why do you think Naxalites are always like this?” — and he did a deft caricature of a crouched, high-stepping, hunted-looking man emerging from the forest with an AK-47, and left us screaming with laughter.

I’m not sure whether I’m looking forward to the Bhumkal celebrations. I fear I’ll see traditional tribal dances stiffened by Maoist propaganda, rousing, rhetorical speeches and an obedient audience with glazed eyes. We arrive at the grounds quite late in the evening. A temporary monument, of bamboo scaffolding wrapped in red cloth has been erected. On top, above the hammer and sickle of the Maoist Party, is the bow and arrow of the Janatana Sarkar, wrapped in silver foil. Appropriate, the hierarchy. The stage is huge, also temporary, on a sturdy scaffolding covered by a thick layer of mud plaster. Already there are small fires scattered around the ground, people have begun to arrive and are cooking their evening meal. They’re only silhouettes in the dark. We thread our way through them, (lalsalaam,lalsalaa m,lalsalaam) and keep going for about fifteen minutes until we re-enter the forest.

At our new campsite we have to fall-in again. Another roll call. And then instructions about sentry positions and ‘firing arcs’—decisions about who will cover which area in the event of a police attack. RV points are fixed again.

An advance party has arrived and cooked dinner already. For dessert Kamla brings me a wild guava that she has plucked on the walk and squirreled away for me.

From dawn there is the sense of more and more people gathering for the day’s celebration. There’s a buzz of excitement building up. People who haven’t seen each other in a long time, meet again. We can hear the sound of mikes being tested. Flags, banners, posters, buntings are going up. A poster with the pictures of the five people who were killed in Ongnaar the day we arrived has appeared.

I’m drinking tea with Comrade Narmada, Comrade Maase and Comrade Rupi. Comrade Narmada talks about the many years she worked in Gadchiroli before becoming the DK head of Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Sanghathan (KAMS). Rupi and Maase have been urban activists in Andhra Pradesh and tell me about the long years of struggle of women within the Party, not just for their rights, but also to make the Party see that equality between men and women is central to a dream of a just society. We talk about the ‘70s and the stories of women within the Naxalite movement who were disillusioned by male comrades who thought themselves great revolutionaries but were hobbled by the same old patriarchy, the same old chauvinism. Maase says things have changed a lot since then, though they still have a way to go. (The Party’s Central Committee and Polit Bureau have no women yet.)

Around noon another PLGA contingent arrives. This one is headed by a tall, lithe, boyish looking man. This comrade has two names—Sukhdev, and Gudsa Usendi— neither of which is his. Sukhdev is the name of a very beloved Comrade who was martyred. (In this war only the dead are safe enough to use their real names.) As for Gudsa Usendi, many comrades have been Gudsa Usendi at one point or another. (A few months ago it was Comrade Raju.) Gudsa Usendi is the name of the Party’s spokesperson for Dandakaranya. So even though Sukhdev spends the rest of the trip with me, I have no idea how I’d ever find him again. I’d recognize his laugh anywhere though. He came to DK in ’88 he says, when the PWG decided to send one third of its forces from North Telengana into DK. He’s nicely dressed, in ‘civil’ (Gondi for ‘civilian clothes’) as opposed to ‘dress’ (the Maoist ‘uniform’) and could pass off as a young executive. I ask him why no uniform.

He says he’s been traveling and has just come back from the Keshkal Ghats near Kanker. There are reports of bauxite deposits—3 million tonnes—that a company called Vedanta has its eye on.

Bingo. Ten on ten for my instincts.

Sukhdev says he went there to measure the peoples’ temperature. To see if they were prepared to fight. “They want squads now. And guns.” He throws his head back and roars with laughter, “I told them it’s not so easy, bhai.” From the stray wisps of conversation and the ease with which he carries his AK-47, I can tell he’s also high up and hands on PLGA.

Jungle post arrives. There’s a biscuit for me! It’s from Comrade Venu. On a tiny piece of paper, folded and re-folded, he has written down the lyrics of a song he promised he would send me. Comrade Narmada smiles when she reads them. She knows this story. It goes back to the 1980s, around the time when people first began trust to the Party and come to it with their problems—their ‘inner contradictions’ as Comrade Venu put it. Women were among the first to come. One evening an old lady sitting by the fire, got up and sang a song for the Dada log. She was a Maadiya, among whom it was customary for women to remove their blouses and remain bare-breasted after they were married.

Jumper polo intor Dada, Dakoniley

Taane tasom intor Dada, Dakoniley

Bata papam kittom Dada, Dakoniley

Duniya kadile maata Dada, Dakoniley

They say we cannot keep our blouses, dada, Dakoniley

They make us take them off, Dada,

In what way have we sinned, Dada,

The world has changed has it not Dada,

Aatum hatteke Dada, Dakoniley

Aada nanga dantom Dada, Dakoniley

Id pisval manni Dada, Dakoniley

Mava koyaturku vehat Dada, Dakoniley

But when we go to market Dada,

We have to go half-naked Dada,

We don’t want this life Dada,

Tell our ancestors this Dada,

This was the first women’s issue the Party decided to campaign against. It had to be handled delicately, with surgical tools. In1986 it set up the Adivasi Mahila Sanghathana (AMS) which evolved into the Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Sangathan (KAMS) and now has 90,000 enrolled members. It could well be the largest women’s organization in the country. (They’re all Maoists by the way, all 90,000 of them. Are they going to be ‘wiped out’? And what about the 10,000 members of CNM? Them too?) The KAMS campaigns against the adivasi traditions of forced marriage and abduction. Against the custom of making menstruating women live outside the village in a hut in the forest. Against bigamy and domestic violence. It hasn’t won all its battles, but then which feminists have? For instance, in Dandakaranya even today, women are not allowed to sow seeds. In Party meetings men agree that this is unfair and ought to be done away with. But in practice, they simply don’t allow it. So the Party decided that women would sow seeds on common lands, which belongs to the Jantana Sarkar. On that land they sow seed, grow vegetables, and build check dams. A half-victory, not a whole one.

As police repression has grown in Bastar, the women of KAMS have become a formidable force and rally in their hundreds, sometimes thousands to physically confront the police. The very fact that the KAMS exists has radically changed traditional attitudes and eased many of the traditional forms of discrimination against women. For many young women, joining the Party, in particular the PLGA, became a way of escaping the suffocation of their own society. Comrade Sushila, a senior office bearer of KAMS talks about the Salwa Judum’s rage against KAMS women. She says one of their slogans was Hum Do Bibi layenge! Layenge! (We will have two wives! We will!) A lot of the rape and bestial sexual mutilation was directed at members of the KAMS. Many young women who witnessed the savagery then joined the PLGA and now women make up 45% of its cadre. Comrade Narmada sends for some of them and they join us in a while.

Comrade Rinki has very short hair. A Bob-cut as they say in Gondi. It’s brave of her, because here, ‘bob-cut’ means ‘Maoist.’ For the police that’s more than enough evidence to warrant summary execution. Comrade Rinki’s village, Korma was attacked by the Naga Battalion and the Salwa Judum in 2005. At that time Rinki was part of the village militia. So were her friends Lukki and Sukki, who were also members of the KAMS. After burning the village, the Naga battalion caught Lukki and Sukki and one other girl, gang raped and killed them. “They raped them on the grass”, Rinki says, ” but after it was over there was no grass left.” It’s been years now, the Naga Battalion has gone, but the police still come. “They come whenever they need women, or chickens.”

Ajitha has a bob-cut too. The Judum came to Korseel, her village and killed three people by drowning them in a nallah. Ajitha was with the Militia, and followed the Judum at a distance to a place close to the village called Paral Nar Todak. She watched them rape six women and shoot a man in his throat.

Comrade Laxmi who is a beautiful girl with a long plait, tells me she watched the Judum burn thirty houses in her village Jojor. “We had no weapons then,” she says, “we could do nothing, but watch.” She joined the PLGA soon after. Laxmi was one of the 150 guerillas who walked through the jungle for three and a half months in 2008, to Nayagarh in Orissa, to raid a police armoury from where they captured 1,200 rifles and 200,000 rounds of ammunition.

Comrade Sumitra joined the PLGA in 2004, before the Salwa Judum began its rampage. She joined she says, because she wanted to escape from home. “Women are controlled in every way,” she told me. “In our village girls were not allowed to climb trees, if they did, they would have to pay a fine of Rs 500 or a hen. If a man hits a woman and she hits him back she has to give the village a goat. Men go off to the hills for months together to hunt. Women are not allowed to go near the kill, the best part of the meat goes to men. Women are not allowed to eat eggs.” Good reason to join a guerilla army?

Sumitra tells the story of two of her friends, Telam Parvati and Kamla who worked with KAMS. Telam Parvati was from Polekaya village in South Bastar. Like everyone else from there, she too watched the Salwa Judum burn her village. She then joined the PLGA and went to work in the Keshkal ghats. In 2009 she and Kamla had just finished organizing the March 8th Women’s day celebrations in the area. They were together in a little hut just outside a village called Vadgo. The police surrounded the hut at night and began to fire. Kamla fired back, but she was killed. Parvati escaped, but was found and killed the next day.

That’s what happened last year on Women’s Day. And here’s a press report from a national newspaper about Women’s Day this year.

Bastar rebels bat for women’s rights Sahar Khan, Mail Today, Raipur, March 7, 2010

The government may have pulled out all stops to combat the Maoist menace in the country. But a section of rebels in Chhattisgarh has more pressing matters in hand than survival. With International Women’s Day around the corner, Maoists in the Bastar region of the state have called for week- long “celebrations” to advocate women’s rights.

Posters were also put up in Bijapur, a part of Bastar district. The call by the self- styled champions of women’s rights has left the state police astonished. Inspector- general (IG) of Bastar T. J. Longkumer said, ” I have never seen such an appeal from the Naxalites, who believe only in violence and bloodshed.”

And then the report goes on to say:

“I think the Maoists are trying to counter our highly successful Jan Jagran Abhiyaan (mass awareness campaign). We started the ongoing campaign with an aim to win popular support for Operation Green Hunt, which was launched by the police to root out Left- wing extremists,” the IG said.

This cocktail of malice and ignorance is not unusual. Gudsa Usendi, chronicler of the Party’s present knows more about this than most people. His little computer and MP3 recorder are full of press statements, denials, corrections, Party literature, lists of the dead, TV clips and audio and video material. “The worst thing about being Gudsa Usendi” he says, “is issuing clarifications which are never published. We could bring out a thick book of our unpublished clarifications, about the lies they tell about us.” He speaks without a trace of indignation, in fact with some amusement.

“What’s the most ridiculous charge you’ve had to deny?”

He thinks back. “In 2007, we had to issue a statement saying ‘Nahi bhai, humney gai ko hathode say nahin mara.’ (No brother, we did not kill cows with hammers.). In 2007 the Raman Singh Government announced a Gai Yojana (cow scheme), an election promise, a cow for every Adivasi. One day the TV channels and newspapers reported that Naxalites had attacked a herd of cows and bludgeoned them to death— with hammers— because they were anti-Hindu, anti-BJP. You can imagine what happened. We issued a denial. Hardly anybody carried it. Later it turned out that the man who had been given the cows to distribute was a rogue. He sold them and said we had ambushed him and killed the cows.”

And the most serious?

“Oh there are dozens, they’re running a campaign after all. When the Salwa Judum started, the first day they attacked a village called Ambeli, burned it down and then all of them, SPOs, the Naga Battalion, police, moved towards Kotrapal…you must have heard about Kotrapal? It’s a famous village, it has been burnt 22 times for refusing to surrender. When the Judum reached Kotrapal, our militia was waiting for it. They had prepared an ambush. Two SPOs died. The militia captured seven, the rest ran away. The next day the newspapers reported that the Naxalites had massacred poor adivasis. Some said we had killed hundreds. Even a respectable magazine like Frontline said we had killed 18 innocent adivasis. Even K.Balagopal, the human rights activist, who is usually meticulous about facts, even he said this. We sent a clarification. Nobody published it. Later, in his book, Balagopal acknowledged his mistake…. But who noticed?”

I asked what happened to the seven people that were captured.

“The Area Committee called a Jan Adalat (Peoples Court). Four thousand people attended it. They listened to the whole story. Two of the SPOs were sentenced to death. Five were warned and let off. The people decided. Even with informers —which is becoming a huge problem nowadays— people listen to the case, the stories, the confessions and say “Iska hum risk nahin le sakte” (We’re not prepared to take the risk of trusting this person) or, “Iska risk hum lenge” (We are prepared to take the risk of trusting this person.) The press always reports about informers who are killed. Never about the many that are let off. Never about the people who these informers have had killed. So everybody thinks it is some bloodthirsty procedure in which everybody is always killed. It’s not about revenge, its about survival and saving future lives… Of course there are problems, we’ve made terrible mistakes, we have even killed the wrong people in our ambushes, thinking they were policemen, but it is not the way it’s portrayed in the media.”

The dreaded ‘Peoples’ Courts’. How can we accept them? Or approve this form of rude justice?

On the other hand, what about ‘encounters’ fake and otherwise—the worst form of summary justice—that get policemen and soldiers bravery medals, cash awards and out-of-turn promotions from the Indian Government? The more they kill, the more they are rewarded. “Bravehearts” they are called, the ‘Encounter specialists’. ‘Anti-nationals’ we are called, those of us who dare to question them. And what about the Supreme Court that brazenly admitted it did not have enough evidence to sentence Mohammed Afzal (accused in the Dec 2001 Parliament Attack) to death, but did so anyway, because “the collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender.”

At least in the case of the Kotrapal Jan Adalat, the Collective was physically present to make its own decision. It wasn’t made by judges who had lost touch with ordinary life a long time ago, presuming to speak on behalf of an absent Collective.

What should the people of Kotrapal have done I wonder? Sent for the police?

The sound of drums has become really loud. It’s Bhumkal time. We walk to the grounds. I can hardly believe my eyes. There is a sea of people, the most wild, beautiful people, dressed in the most wild, beautiful ways. The men seem to have paid much more attention to themselves than the women. They have feathered headgear and painted tattoos on their faces. Many have eye make-up and white, powdered faces. There’s lots of militia, girls in saris of breathtaking colors with rifles slung carelessly over their shoulders. There are old people, children, and red buntings arc across the sky.

The sun is sharp and high. Comrade Leng speaks. And several office-holders of the various Jantana Sarkars. Comrade Niti, an extraordinary woman who has been with the Party since 1997, is such a threat to the nation, that in January 2007 more than 700 policemen surrounded Innar village because they heard she was there. Comrade Niti is considered to be so dangerous, and is being hunted with such desperation, not because she has led many ambushes (which she has), but because she is an adivasi woman who is loved by people in the village and is a real inspiration to young people. She speaks with her AK on her shoulder. (It’s a gun with a story. Almost everyone’s gun has a story: Who it was snatched from, how, and by whom.)

A CNM troupe performs a play about the Bhumkal uprising. The evil white colonizers wear hats and golden straw for hair, and bully and beat Adivasis to pulp—causing endless delight in the audience. Another troupe from South Gangalaur performs a play called Nitir Judum Pito (Story of the Blood Hunt). Joori translates for me. It’s the story of two old people who go looking for their daughter’s village. As they walk through the forest, they get lost because everything is burnt and unrecognizable. The Salwa Judum has even burned the drums and the musical instruments. There are no ashes because it has been raining. They cannot find their daughter. In their sorrow the old couple starts to sing, and hearing them, the voice of their daughter sings back to them from the ruins: The sound of our village has been silenced, she sings. There’s no more pounding of rice, no more laughter by the well. No more birds, no more bleating goats. The taut string of our happiness has been snapped.

Her father sings back: My beautiful daughter, don’t cry today. Everyone who is born must die. These trees around us will fall, flowers will bloom and fade, one day this world will grow old. But who are we dying for? One day our looters will learn, one day Truth will prevail, but our people will never forget you, not for thousands of years.

A few more speeches. Then the drumming and the dancing begins. Each Janatana Sarkar has its own troupe. Each troupe has prepared its own dance. They arrive one by one, with huge drums and they dance wild stories. The only character every troupe has in common is Bad Mining Man, with a helmet and dark glasses, and usually smoking a cigarette. But there’s nothing stiff, or mechanical about their dancing. As they dance, the dust rises. The sound of drums becomes deafening. Gradually, the crowd begins to sway. And then it begins to dance. They dance in little lines of six or seven, men and women separate, with their arms around each other’s waists. Thousands of people.

This is what they’ve come for. For this. Happiness is taken very seriously here, in the Dandakaranya forest. People will walk for miles, for days together to feast and sing, to put feathers in their turbans and flowers in their hair, to put their arms around each other and drink mahua and dance through the night. No one sings or dances alone. This, more than anything else, signals their defiance towards a civilization that seeks to annihilate them.

I can’t believe all this is happening right under the noses of the police. Right in the midst of Operation Green Hunt.

At first the PLGA comrades watch the dancers, standing aside with their guns. But then, one by one, like ducks who cannot bear to stand on the shore and watch other ducks swim, they move in and begin to dance too. Soon there are lines of olive green dancers, swirling with all the other colours. And then, as sisters and brothers and parents and children and friends who haven’t met for months, years sometimes, encounter each other, the lines break up and re-form and the olive green is distributed among the swirling saris and flowers and drums and turbans. It surely is a Peoples’ Army. For now, at least. And what Chairman Mao said about the guerillas being the fish, and people being the water they swim in, is, at this moment, literally true.

Chairman Mao. He’s here too. A little lonely, perhaps, but present. There’s a photograph of him, up on a red cloth screen. Marx too. And Charu Majumdar, the founder and chief theoretician of the Naxalite Movement. His abrasive rhetoric fetishizes violence, blood and martyrdom, and often employs a language so coarse as to be almost genocidal. Standing here, on Bhumkal day, I can’t help thinking that his analysis, so vital to the structure of this revolution, is so removed from its emotion and texture. When he said that only ‘an annihilation campaign’ could produce “the new man who will defy death and be free from all thought of self-interest”— could he have imagined that this ancient people, dancing into the night, would be the ones on whose shoulders his dreams would come to rest?

It’s a great disservice to everything that is happening here that the only thing that seems to make it to the outside world is the stiff, unbending rhetoric of the ideologues of a party that has evolved from a problematic past. When Charu Mazumdar famously said, “China’s Chairman is our Chairman and China’s Path is Our Path” he was prepared to extend it to the point where the Naxalites remained silent while General Yahya Khan committed genocide in East Pakistan (Bangladesh) , because at the time, China was an ally of Pakistan.

There was silence too, over the Khmer Rouge and its killing fields in Cambodia. There was silence over the egregious excesses of the Chinese and Russian Revolutions. Silence over Tibet. Within the Naxalite movement too, there have been violent excesses and it’s impossible to defend much of what they’ve done. But can anything they have done compare with the sordid achievements of the Congress and the BJP in Punjab, Kashmir, Delhi, Mumbai, Gujarat… And yet, despite these terrifying contradictions, Charu Mazumdar was a visionary in much of what he wrote and said. The party he founded (and its many splinter groups) has kept the dream of revolution real and present in India. Imagine a society without that dream. For that alone we cannot judge him too harshly. Especially not while we swaddle ourselves with Gandhi’s pious humbug about the superiority of “the non-violent way” and his notion of Trusteeship:

 “The rich man will be left in possession of his wealth, of which he will use what he reasonably requires for his personal needs and will act as a trustee for the remainder to be used for the good of society.”

How strange it is though, that the contemporary tsars of the Indian Establishment— the State that crushed the Naxalites so mercilessly— should now be saying what Charu Mazumdar said so long ago: China’s Path is Our Path.

Upside Down. Inside Out.

China’s Path has changed. China has become an imperial power now, preying on other countries, other peoples’ resources. But the Party is still right, only, the Party has changed its mind.

When the Party is a suitor (as it is now in Dandakaranya) , wooing the people, attentive to their every need, then it genuinely is a Peoples’ Party, its army genuinely a Peoples’ Army. But after the Revolution how easily this love affair can turn into a bitter marriage. How easily the Peoples’ Army can turn upon the people. Today in Dandakaranya, the Party wants to keep the bauxite in the mountain. Tomorrow will it change its mind? But can we, should we let apprehensions about the future, immobilize us in the present?

The dancing will go on all night. I walk back to the camp. Maase is there, awake. We chat late into the night. I give her my copy of Neruda’s Captain’s Verses (I brought it along, just in case). She asks again and again, “What do they think of us outside? What do students say? Tell me about the women’s movement, what are the big issues now? She asks about me, my writing. I try and give her an honest account of my chaos. Then she starts to talk about herself, how she joined the Party. She tells me that her partner was killed last May, in a fake encounter. He was arrested in Nashik, and taken to Warangal to be killed. “They must have tortured him badly.” She was on her way to meet him when she heard he had been arrested. She’s been in the forest ever since. After a long silence she tells me she was married once before, years ago. “He was killed in an encounter too,” she says, and adds with heart-breaking precision, “but in a real one.”

I lie awake on my jhilli, thinking of Maase’s protracted sadness, listening to the drums and the sounds of protracted happiness from the grounds, and thinking about Charu Mazumdar’s idea of protracted war, the central precept of the Maoist Party. This is what makes people think the Maoists offer to enter ‘peace talks’ is a hoax, a ploy to get breathing space to regroup, re-arm themselves and go back to waging protracted war. What is protracted war? Is it a terrible thing in itself, or does it depend on the nature of the war? What if the people here in Dandakaranya had not waged their protracted war for the last thirty years, where would they be now?

And are the Maoists the only ones who believe in protracted war? Almost from the moment India became a sovereign nation it turned into a colonial power, annexing territory, waging war. It has never hesitated to use military interventions to address political problems— Kashmir, Hyderabad, Goa, Nagaland, Manipur, Telengana, Assam, Punjab, the Naxalite uprising in West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and now across the tribal areas of Central India. Tens of thousands have been killed with impunity, hundreds of thousands tortured.

All of this behind the benign mask of democracy. Who have these wars been waged against? Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Communists, Dalits, Tribals and, most of all against the poor who dare to question their lot instead of accepting the crumbs that are flung at them. It’s hard not to see the Indian State as an essentially upper-caste Hindu State (regardless of which party is in power) which harbours a reflexive hostility towards the ‘other’. One that in true colonial fashion, sends the Nagas and Mizos to fight in Chhattisgarh, Sikhs to Kashmir, Kashmiris to Orissa, Tamilians to Assam and so on. If this isn’t protracted war, what is?

Unpleasant thoughts on a beautiful, starry night. Sukhdev is smiling to himself, his face lit by his computer screen. He’s a crazy workaholic. I ask him what’s funny. ” I was thinking about the journalists who came last year for the Bhumkal celebrations. They came for a day or two. One posed with my AK, had himself photographed and then went back and called us Killing Machines or something.”

The dancing hasn’t stopped and it’s daybreak. The lines are still going, hundreds of young people still dancing. “They won’t stop”, Comrade Raju says, “not until we start packing up.”

On the grounds I run into Comrade Doctor. He’s been running a little medical camp on the edge of the dance floor. I want to kiss his fat cheeks. Why can’t he be at least thirty people instead of just one? Why can’t he be one thousand people? I ask him what it’s looking like, the health of Dandakaranya. His reply makes my blood run cold. Most of the people he has seen, he says, including those in the PLGA, have a Haemoglobin Count that’s between 5 and 6, (when the standard for Indian women is 11.) There’s TB caused by more than two years of chronic anaemia. Young children suffer from Protein Energy Malnutrition Grade II, in medical terminology called Kwashiorkor. (I looked it up later. It’s a word derived from the Ga language of Coastal Ghana and means “the sickness a baby gets when the new baby comes.” Basically the old baby stops getting mother’s milk, and there’s not enough food to provide it nutrition.) “It’s an epidemic here, like in Biafra,” Comrade Doctor says, “I have worked in villages before, but I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Apart from this, there’s malaria, osteoporosis, tapeworm, severe ear and tooth infections and primary amenorrhea —which is when malnutrition during puberty causes a woman’s menstrual cycle to disappear, or never appear in the first place.

“There are no clinics in this forest apart from one or two in Gadchiroli. No doctors. No medicines.”

He’s off now, with his little team, on an eight-day trek to Abhujmad. He’s in ‘dress’ too, Comrade Doctor. So if they find him they’ll kill him.

Comrade Raju says that it isn’t safe for us to continue to camp here. We have to move. Leaving Bhumkal involves a lot of good-byes spread over time.

Lal lal salaam, Lal lal salaam,

Jaane waley Sathiyon ko Lal Lal Salaam,

(Red Salute to departing comrades)

Phir milenge, Phir milenge

Dandakaranya jungle mein phir milenge

We’ll meet again, some day, in the Dandakaranya Forest.

It’s never taken lightly, the ceremony of arrival and departure, because everybody knows that when they say “we’ll meet again” they actually mean “we may never meet again.” Comrade Narmada, Comrade Maase and Comrade Roopi are going separate ways. Will I ever see them again?

So once again, we walk. It’s becoming hotter every day. Kamla picks the first fruit of the Tendu for me. It’s tastes like chikoo. I’ve become a tamarind fiend. This time we camp near a stream. Women and men take turns to bathe in batches. In the evening Comrade Raju receives a whole packet of ‘biscuits’.

News:

60 people arrested in Manpur Division at the end of Jan 2010 have not yet been produced in Court.

Huge contingents of police have arrived in South Bastar. Indiscriminate attacks are on.

On 8 Nov 2009, in Kachlaram Village, Bijapur Jila, Dirko Madka (60) and Kovasi Suklu (68) were killed.

On 24 Nov Madavi Baman (15) was killed in Pangodi village

On 3 Dec Madavi Budram from Korenjad also killed.

On 11 Dec Gumiapal village, Darba Division, 7 people killed (names yet to come)

On 15 Dec Kotrapal village, Veko Sombar and Madavi Matti, (both with KAMS) killed.

On 30 Dec Vechapal village Poonem Pandu and Poonem Motu (father and son) killed.

On Jan 2010 (date unknown) Head of the Janatana Sarkar in Kaika village, Gangalaur killed

On 9 Jan, 4 people killed in Surpangooden village, Jagargonda Area

On 10 Jan, 3 people killed in Pullem Pulladi village (no names yet)

On 25 January, 7 people killed in Takilod village, Indravati Area

On Feb 10 (Bhumkal Day) Kumli raped and killed in Dumnaar Village, Abhujmad,. She was from a village called Paiver.

2000 troops of the Indo Tibetan Border Patrol (ITBP) are camped in the Rajnandgaon forests 5000 Additional BSF troops have arrived in Kanker

And then: 

PLGA quota filled.

Some dated newspapers have arrived too. There’s a lot of press about Naxalites. One screaming headline sums up the political climate perfectly: Khadedo, Maaro, Samarpan Karao, (Eliminate, Kill, Make them Surrender.) Below that: Varta ke liye loktantra ka dwar khula hai (Democracy’s door is always open for talks.) A second says the Maoists are growing cannabis to make money. The third has an editorial saying that the area we’ve camped in and are walking through, is entirely under police control.

The young communists take the clips away to practice their reading. They walk around the camp reading the anti-Maoist articles loudly in radio-announcer voices.
New day. New place. We’re camped on the outskirts of Usir village, under huge Mahua trees. The mahua has just begun to flower and is dropping its pale green blossoms like jewels on the forest floor. The air is suffused with its slightly heady smell. We’re waiting for the children from the Bhatpal school which was closed down after the Ongnaar Encounter. It’s been turned into a police camp. The children have been sent home. This is also true of the schools in Nelwad, Moonjmetta, Edka, Vedomakot and Dhanora.

The Bhatpal school children don’t show up.

Comrade Niti (Most Wanted) and Comrade Vinod lead us on a long walk to see the series of water harvesting structures and irrigation ponds that have been built by the local Janatana Sarkar. Comrade Niti talks about the range of agricultural problems they have to deal with. Only 2% of the land is irrigated. In Abhujmad, ploughing was unheard of until ten years ago. In Gadricholi on the other hand, hybrid seeds and chemical pesticides are edging their way in. “We need urgent help in the agriculture department”, Comrade Vinod says. “We need people who know about seeds, organic pesticides, permaculture. With a little help we could do a lot.”

Comrade Ramu is the farmer in charge of the Janatana Sarkar area. He proudly shows us around the fields, where they grow rice, brinjal, gongura, onions, kohlrabi. Then, with equal pride, he shows us a huge, but bone-dry irrigation pond. What’s this? “This one doesn’t even have water during the rainy season. It’s dug in the wrong place” he says, a smile wrapped around his face, “it’s not ours, it was dug by the Looti Sarkar.” (The Government that Loots). There are two parallel systems of government here, Janatana Sarkar and Looti Sarkar.

I think of what Comrade Venu said to me: They want to crush us, not only because of the minerals, but because we are offering the world an alternative model.

It’s not an Alternative yet, this idea of Gram Swaraj with a Gun. There is too much hunger, too much sickness here. But it has certainly created the possibilities for an alternative. Not for the whole world, not for Alaska, or New Delhi, nor even perhaps for the whole of Chhattisgarh, but for itself. For Dandakaranya. Its the world’s best kept secret. It has laid the foundations for an alternative to its own annihilation. It has defied history. Against the greatest odds it has forged a blueprint for its own survival. It needs help and imagination, it needs doctors, teachers, farmers.

It does not need war.

But if war is all it gets, it will fight back.

Over the next few days I meet women who work with KAMS, various office bearers of the Janatana Sarkars, members of the Dandakaranya Adivasi Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan DAKMS, the families of people who had been killed, and just ordinary people trying to cope with life in these terrifying times.

I met three sisters, Sukhiyari, Sukdai and Sukkali, not young, perhaps in their forties, from Narainpur district. They have been in KAMS for twelve years. The villagers depend on them to deal with the police. “The police come in groups of two to three hundred. They steal everything, jewelry, chickens, pigs, pots and pans, bows and arrows” Sukkali says, “they won’t even leave a knife.” Her house in Innar has been burned twice, once by the Naga Battalion and once by the CRPF. Sukhiari has been arrested and jailed in Jagdalpur for 7 months.

 “Once they took away the whole village, saying the men were all Naxals.” Sukhiari followed with all the women and children. They surrounded the police station and refused to leave until the men were freed. “Whenever they take someone away”, Sukdai says, “you have to go immediately and snatch them back. Before they write any report. Once they write in their book, it becomes very difficult.”

Sukhiari, who, as a child was abducted and forcibly married to an older man (she ran away and went to live with her sister), now organizes mass rallies, speaks at meetings. The men depend on her for protection. I asked her what the Party means to her. “Naxalvaad ka matlab humaara Parivaar (Naxalvaad means our family.) When we hear of an attack, it is like our family has been hurt.” Sukhiari said.

I asked her if she knew who Mao was. She smiled shyly, “He was a leader. We’re working for his vision.”

I met Comrade Somari Gawde. Twenty years old, and she has already served a two-year jail sentence in Jagdalpur.

 She was in Innar village on 8 January 2007, the day that 740 policemen laid a cordon around it because they had information that Comrade Niti was there. (She was, but had left by the time they arrived.) But the village militia, of which Somari was a member, was still there. The police opened fire at dawn. They killed two boys, Suklal Gawde and Kachroo Gota. Then they caught three others, two boys, Dusri Salam and Ranai, and Somari. Dusri and Ranai were tied up and shot. Somari was beaten within an inch of her life. The police got a tractor with a trailer and loaded the dead bodies into it. Somari was made to sit with the dead bodies and taken to Narainpur.

I met Chamri, mother of Comrade Dilip who was shot on 6 July 2009. She says that after they killed him, the police tied her son’s body to a pole, like an animal and carried it with them. (They need to produce bodies to get their cash rewards, before someone else muscles in on the kill.) Chamri ran behind them all the way to the police station. By the time they reached, the body did not have a scrap of clothing on it. On the way, Chamri says, they left the body by the roadside while they stopped at a dhaba to have tea and biscuits. (Which they did not pay for.) Picture this mother for a moment, following her son’s corpse through the forest, stopping at a distance to wait for his murderers to finish their tea. They did not let her have her son’s body back so she could give him a proper funeral. They only let her throw a fistful of earth in the pit in which they buried the others they had killed that day. Chamri says she wants revenge. Badla ku badla. Blood for blood.

I met the elected members of the Marskola Janatana Sarkar, that administers six villages. They described a police raid: They come at night, 300, 400, sometimes 1000 of them. They lay a cordon around a village and lie in wait. At dawn they catch the first people who go out to the fields and use them as human shields to enter the village, to show them where the booby-traps are. (‘Booby-traps’ has become a Gondi word. Everybody always smiles when they say it or hear it. The forest is full of booby traps, real and fake. Even the PLGA needs to be guided past villages.) Once the police enter the village they loot and steal and burn houses. They come with dogs. The dogs catch those who try and run. They chase chickens and pigs and the police kill them and take them away in sacks. SPOs come along with the police. They’re the ones who know where people hide their money and jewelry. They catch people and take them away. And extract money before they release them. They always carry some extra Naxal ‘dresses’ with them in case they find someone to kill. They get money for killing Naxals, so they manufacture some. Villagers are too frightened to stay at home.

In this tranquil-looking forest, life seems completely militarized now. People know words like Cordon and Search, Firing, Advance, Retreat, Down, Action! To harvest their crops they need the PLGA to do a sentry patrol. Going to the market is a military operation. The markets are full of mukhbirs (informers) who the police have lured from their villages with money. (Rs 1500 a month) I’m told there’s a mukhbir mohallah—informers’ colony— in Narainpur where at least four thousand mukhbirs stay. The men can’t go to market any more. The women go, but they’re watched closely. If they buy even a little extra, the police accuse them of buying it for Naxals. Chemists have instructions not to let people buy medicines except in very small quantities. Low price rations from the Public Distribution System (PDS), sugar, rice, kerosene, are warehoused in or near police stations making it impossible for most people to buy.

Article 2 of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines it as:

Any of the following Acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [or] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
All the walking seems to have finally got to me. I’m tired. Kamla gets me a pot of hot water. I bathe behind a tree in the dark. But I can’t eat dinner and crawl into my bag to sleep. Comrade Raju announces that we have to move.

This happens frequently, of course, but tonight it’s hard. We have been in camped in an open meadow. We’d heard shelling in the distance. There are 104 of us. Once again, single file through the night. Crickets. The smell of something like lavender. It must have been past eleven when we arrived at the place where we will spend the night. An outcrop of rocks. Formation. Roll call. Someone switches on the radio. BBC says there’s been an attack on a camp of Eastern Frontier Rifles in Lalgarh, West Bengal. 60 Maoists on motorcycles. 14 policemen killed. 10 missing. Weapons snatched. There’s a murmur of pleasure in the ranks. The Maoist leader Kishenji is being interviewed. When will you stop this violence and come for talks? When Operation Green Hunt is called off. Any time. Tell Chidambaram we will talk. Next question: It’s dark now, you have laid landmines, reinforcement have been called in, will you attack them too? Kishenji: Yes of course, otherwise people will beat me. There’s laughter in the ranks. Sukhdev the clarifier says, “They always say landmines. We don’t use landmines. We use IEDs.”

Another luxury suite in the thousand star hotel. I’m feeling ill. It starts to rain. There’s a little giggling. Kamla throws a jhilli over me. What more do I need? Everyone else just rolls themselves into their jhillis.

By next morning the body count in Lalgarh has gone up to 21, 10 missing.

Comrade Raju is considerate this morning. We don’t move till evening.

One night people are crowded like moths around a point of light. It’s Comrade Sukhdev’s tiny computer, powered by a solar panel, and they’re watching Mother India, the barrels of their rifles silhouetted against the sky. Kamla doesn’t seem interested. I asked her if she likes watching movies. “Nahi didi. Sirf ambush video.” (No didi. Only ambush videos.”) Later I ask Comrade Sukhdev about these ambush videos. Without batting an eyelid, he plays one for me.

It starts with shots of Dandakaranya, rivers, waterfalls, the close up of a bare branch of a tree, a brainfever bird calling. Then suddenly a comrade is wiring up an IED, concealing it with dry leaves. A cavalcade of motorcycles is blown up. There are mutilated bodies and burning bikes. The weapons are being snatched. Three policemen, looking shell-shocked have been tied up.

Who’s filming it? Who’s directing operations? Who’s reassuring the captured cops that they will be released if they surrender? (They were released, I confirmed later.)

I know that gentle, reassuring voice. It’s Comrade Venu.

“It’s the Kudur Ambush” Comrade Sukhdev says.

He also has a video archive of burned villages, testimonies from eyewitnesses and relatives of the dead. On the singed wall of a burnt house it says ‘Nagaaa! Born to Kill!.’ There’s footage of the little boy whose fingers were chopped off to inaugurate the Bastar chapter of Operation Green Hunt. (There’s even a TV interview with me. My study. My books. Strange.)

At night on the radio there’s news of another Naxal Attack. This one in Jamui, Bihar. It says 125 Maoists attacked a village and killed 10 people belonging to the Kora Tribe in retaliation for giving police information that led to the death of 6 Maoists. Of course we know, the report may or may not be true. But if it is, this one’s unforgiveable. Comrade Raju and Sukhdev look distinctly uncomfortable.

The news that has been coming from Jharkhand and Bihar is disturbing. The gruesome beheading of the policeman Francis Induvar is still fresh in everyone’s mind. It’s a reminder of how easily the discipline of armed struggle can dissolve into lumpen acts of criminalized violence, or into ugly wars of identity between castes and communities and religious groups. By institutionalizing injustice in the way that it does, the Indian State has turned this country into a tinderbox of massive unrest. The Government is quite wrong if it thinks that by carrying out ‘targeted assassinations’ to render the CPI(Maoist) ‘headless’ it will end the violence. On the contrary, the violence will spread and intensify, and the Government will have nobody to talk to.
On my last few days we meander through the lush, beautiful Indravati valley. As we walk along a hillside, we see another line of people walking in the same direction, but on the other side of the river. I’m told they’re on their way to an anti-dam meeting in Kudur village. They’re over ground and unarmed. A local rally for the valley. I jumped ship and joined them.

The Bodhghat Dam will submerge the entire area that we have been walking in for days. All that forest, all that history, all those stories. More than 100 villages. Is that the plan then? To drown people like rats, so that the integrated steel plant in Lohandiguda and the bauxite mine and aluminum refinery in the Keshkal ghats can have the river?

At the meeting, people who have come from miles away, say the same thing we’ve all heard for years. We will drown, but we won’t move! They are thrilled that someone from Delhi is with them. I tell them Delhi is a cruel city that neither knows nor cares about them.

Only weeks before I came to Dandakaranya, I visited Gujarat. The Sardar Sarovar Dam has more or less reached its full height now. And almost every single thing the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) predicted would happen has happened. People who were displaced have not been rehabilitated, but that goes without saying. The canals have not been built. There’s no money. So Narmada water is being diverted into the empty riverbed of the Sabarmati (which was dammed a long time ago.) Most of the water is being guzzled by cities and big industry. The downstream effects —salt-water ingress into an estuary with no river—are becoming impossible to mitigate.

There was a time when believing that Big Dams were the ‘temples of Modern India’ was misguided, but perhaps understandable. But today, after all that has happened, and when we know all that we do, it has to be said that Big Dams are a crime against humanity.

The Bodhghat dam was shelved in 1984 after local people protested. Who will stop it now? Who will prevent the foundation stone from being laid? Who will stop the Indravati from being stolen? Someone must.

On the last night we camped at the base of the steep hill we would climb in the morning, to emerge on the road from where a motorcycle would pick me up. The forest has change even since I first entered it. The chironjee, silk cotton and mango trees have begun to flower.

The villagers from Kudur send a huge pot of freshly caught fish to the camp. And a list for me, of 71 kinds of fruit, vegetables, pulses and insects they get from the forest and grow in their fields, along with the market price. It’s just a list. But it’s also a map of their world.

Jungle post arrives. Two biscuits for me. A poem and a pressed flower from Comrade Narmada. A lovely letter from Maase. (Who is she? Will I ever know?).

Comrade Sukhdev asks if he can download the music from my Ipod into his computer. We listen to a recording of Iqbal Bano singing Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s ‘Hum Dekhenge’ (We will Witness the Day) at the famous concert in Lahore at the height of the repression during the Zia-ul-Haq years.

Jab ahl-e-safa-Mardud- e-haram, 

Masnad pe bithaiye jayenge

When the heretics and the reviled.

Will be seated on high

Sab taaj uchhale jayenge

Sab takht giraye jayenge

All crowns will be snatched away

All thrones toppled

Hum Dekhenge

Fifty thousand people in the audience in that Pakistan begin a defiant chant: Inqilab Zindabad! Inqilab Zindabad! All these years later, that chant reverberates around this forest. Strange, the alliances that get made.

The Home Minister has been issuing veiled threats to those who “erroneously offer intellectual and material support to the Maoists.” Does sharing Iqbal Bano qualify?

At dawn I say good-bye to Comrade Madhav and Joori, to young Mangtu and all the others. Comrade Chandu has gone to organize the bikes, and will come with me upto the main road. Comrade Raju isn’t coming. (The climb would be hell on his knees). Comrade Niti (Most Wanted), Comrade Sukhdev, Kamla and five others will take me up the hill. As we start walking, Niti and Sukhdev casually, but simultaneously, unclick the safety catches of their AKs. It’s the first time I’ve seen them do that. We’re approaching the ‘Border.’ “Do you know what to do if we come under fire?” Sukhdev asks casually, as though it was the most natural thing in the world.

“Yes,” I said. “Immediately declare an indefinite hunger-strike.”

He sat down on a rock and laughed. We climbed for about an hour. Just below the road, we sat in a rocky alcove, completely concealed, like an ambush party, listening for the sound of the bikes. When it comes, the farewell must be quick. Lal Salaam Comrades.

When I looked back, they were still there. Waving. A little knot. People who live with their dreams, while the rest of the world lives with its nightmares. Every night I think of this journey. That night sky, those forest paths. I see Comrade Kamla’s heels in her scuffed chappals, lit by the light of my torch. I know she must be on the move. Marching, not just for herself, but to keep hope alive for us all.

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Confronting Guns of Peace: Bastar Faces its Worst Crisis

Posted by ajadhind on October 24, 2009

Posted by indianvanguard2010 on October 17, 2009

– Himanshu Kumar, Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, Dantewada      –  Bombay Tragedy

As I write this critical note on the worst ever crisis undivided Bastar is facing, ambushes and gun battles between para-military, Salwa Judum and State Police forces and Naxal cadres are being played out in jungles of Dantewada and Bijapur districts of undivided Bastar in South Chhattisgarh. To understand this crisis one needs to have a brief knowledge of the previous crises that have confronted Bastar. It must be stated upfront that since historically this region has been a forested, tribal dominated and physically difficult terrain, it has also been a malgoverned region ! And this malgovernance manifested itself in injustice and denial of rights for the tribals inhabiting this region with the State eyeing it only for its mineral deposits and forest resources. This somewhere laid the ground for the crisis that is unfolding here since June 2005.

In June 2005, as part of a larger plan to tighten control over the rich mineral and forest resources of Bastar, the State, backed by private capital, launched a major offensive on tribals of this region and called it ironically Salwa Judum or peace movement. On the face of it Salwa Judum was a people’s uprising for peace against Naxal violence but the hidden agenda, as is gradually unfolding, was the corporate grabbing of resources. The sum total of four years of Salwa Judum has been the internal and forced displacement of more than 3.5 lakh people from their villages, a 30 fold escalation of violence and a 22 time swell in support base and area under control by the very Naxals whom the Judum aimed at decimating ! But the State never learns from failures – even after unleashing the loosing battle of horrifying violence on tribals of Bastar in name of Salwa Judum, it has launched a phase two in the name of Operation Green Hunt and Operation Godavari in Bastar and adjacent districts of Malkangiri (Orissa). This confrontation of Bastar’s tribals with the ‘guns of peace’ will unleash the worst crisis this region has ever seen or will ever see … but that is only if remaining tribals ever survive these ‘guns of peace’.

So through this note I am attempting to simply analyse each strategy and act of the State and map its impact on tribals of Bastar and how counter-productively it has benefited the CPI (Maoist) party!

The State launched Salwa Judum in 2005 to counter insurgency by cadres of CPI (Maoist) or Naxalites through civil defense by recruiting and training civilians in ‘armed resistance’

But soon Salwa Judum cadres went beyond the control of para-military and police forces under whom they were supposed to function and began looting, burning, raping, murdering and kidnapping of tribals and remained beyond any accountability due to political support.

The State forcefully evicted tribals from 700 villages and dumped them in 30 odd camps built for them and cordorned by security forces – it was protecting people from Naxal violence ! It was following the American counter insurgency strategy of ‘draining the water and killing the fish’ … State forgot that tribals are not fish and villages are not fish bowls!

But freedom loving and nature-dependent tribals refused to move into camps and fled for fear of being captured, tortured and then deported to camps – reminds one of the Jewish Holocaust. While a meager 50,000 population shifted to camps, about 50,000 fled to the adjacent district in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa where they had relatives and clan families and remaining 2.5 lakh people hid deeper in jungles living a life of fear, hunger and death.

Human rights and civil society groups watching over the State’s warfare, challenged its American copy of counter insurgency. And when they were tried to be silenced, they went up to State High Courts and Indian Supreme Court challenging the notions and strategies of mitigating Naxal violence and restoring peace.

The State retaliated by creating an imaginary divider, obviously through corporate media houses, in the minds of the middle class. If you are in its camps, you are with the State and if you are in the jungles, then you are Naxalite …. thus declaring the 2.5 lakh tribals hiding in the jungles as Naxalites and thereby justifying training its guns of peace on them ! And another divider declared anyone supporting the ‘Naxal tribals’ as Maoist sympathizers or informers and liable to imprisonment and torture under the draconian Public Securities Act. It unjustly put activists who questioned it behind bars or bulldozed their premises, not even soaring sources of drinking water or simply diverted them by bribing them with funds, contracts and opportunities for sharing the great wealth created through Salwa Judum!

The Indian Supreme Court, hearing out petitioners against Salwa Judum ordered the State to reconsider its civil defense strategy and stop evicting tribals from villages. Instead it asked the State to launch a rehabilitation drive to resettle tribals, provide them with basic services and entitlements and asses damages to life and property. This damage assessment was to be followed by compensation and registering of criminal cases against the offenders, in particular Salwa Judum and para-military forces. This was aimed at cleaning up the mess of Salwa Judum and starting afresh all attempts at just and democratic governance.

The State responded by blatantly violating the Supreme Court orders,speaking white lies before Court when questioned about its inaction.

It neither attempted rehabilitation efforts nor set up district and State committees to look into damage assessment or filing of cases against offenders and also it did not make any attempts at rethinking its strategies. Rather it continued its forced evictions, its looting, burning, rape, kidnap and murder and printed in bold letters its justification of continuing Salwa Judum. In fact it even went a step further by sabotaging and blocking any civil society attempts at rehabilitation, damage assessment and filing of cases against offenders. It used the Public Securities Act against volunteers working for the rehabilitation of internally displaced tribals!

Tribals who fled their villages and hid in jungles are still living nomadic and terrorized lives. In the face of an inhuman onslaught on them, they clung to the only support they got in the forests … that of the Maoists who appeared more human to them than persecuting State forces ?! Their attempts at seeking justice and dignity as citizens of this country were met with arrests and abuses. Their faith in the State dwindled and converted into anger and despair. It was therefore natural for them to pick up their traditional weapons in their self-defence because the State had left no option before them.

How did the State respond ? Whenever tribals came seeking justice through democratic and legal means, their FIRs were not registered, their court cases were dismissed without a hearing and they were arrested for being Naxalites. And any sympathetic judge or officer to the tribal cause was either sent on forced leave or transferred out. No one was ready to listen …. not even local mediapersons who benefited from State dole outs of contracts, advertisements and general patronage. National media too ignored the Bastar question or made half-hearted attempts at covering truth because they were bankrolled by corporates eyeing the mineral and forest resources of Bastar ! How could they let the cat out of the bag and lock out opportunities of profiteering ? Tribals were isolated and rendered helpless.

In such a complex situation of denial and injustice, the State has been expecting tribals to show loyalty to it, abide by its laws and support it in restoring peace. These expectations could be justified and binding on tribals had the State shown respect for the same virtues!

The State talks of loyalty when it has itself distrusted its own tribal citizens and branded them Naxals when they have come seeking justice at its doors … State talks of abiding by its laws when it has itself made a mockery of its own laws – holding Gram Sabhas at gun point to coerce tribals into giving away their lands to mining corporations, subverting laws protecting the tribals’ rights to land and forests as stated in PESA, disrespecting Supreme Court’s orders to rehabilitate villages, deliver entitlements and services, co-opting judiciary, executive and legislature to ratify and justify violence and terror by its forces and so on. In fact the State has been attacking its poor to secure the interests of the rich and still it expects the poor to abide by, put faith in it and support it? There are thousands of cases where the law of the land has been bent backwards to accommodate corporate interests but when it comes to tribals State puts on false pretence of legal systems and democracy!

The State wants tribals to help it in restoring peace – but when did the State believe that peace was possible without justice or that tribals could make peace with guns firing around them – does the State believe that tribals will confront its guns of peace without first arming themselves in their self-defence ? And what peace is the State talking of restoring – had it wanted peace it would have allowed rehabilitation, it would have allowed the nation to know the truth of Bastar, it would have respected its laws and would have adhered to the democratic governance systems it has put in place?

Despite all that I have stated above (not that people in the State do not know what I have stated ?), the State has launched its second Salwa Judum through its strategic military operations called Green Hunt (hunting whom ?) and Godavari. But what will be the net impact of this Salwa Judum II ? The same, if not worse. The crisis will just deepen, the tribals will get further terrorized, Naxals will further consolidate their support base and area under control and voices of sanity among civil society and human rights groups will further get silenced and decimated. This military offensive will only isolate the tribals more and they will begin to look upon every non-tribal as an aggressor. And do we believe that in such a situation peace and democracy can prevail ? Thus military operation will simply push democracy further away and endanger the Indian socio-political system.
Thus, as tribals continue resisting corporate grab of land and resources in the garb of Salwa Judum and Operation Green Hunt, State repression will just rise manifold. One must remember that it is not as if repression never happened but it has got heightened with dash of corporates to set up mining and industrial units while the great global market goes booming. Corporates are just making hay while the sun is shining and all this at expenses of the State ! And Governments have also readily complied by disposing off their socialist agenda to follow routes tread by private capital. And to make this a reality, these proxy wars are being fought on tribal territory. But who really will be targeted ? Not Naxals who are deft at guerilla warfare and will escape bullets of Salwa Judum and para military forces. It will be the tribals who will be caught in the crossfire.

Salwa Judum (Phase I) resulted in a near civil war that destroyed over 644 villages and displaced 3.5 lakh tribals in one way or the other and filled the lives of tribals with fake encounters, gangrape of tribal women, looting and burning of livestock and belongings of poor tribals, brutal suppression of any resistance or protest has become the order of the day in the name of combating Naxals. This makes us wonder whether they are still bonafide denizens of this country or have they been obliterated as people of India!?

We have gone to villages to understand the truth behind encounters, have interviewed dozens of tribal women gangraped or enslaved for months by Salwa Judum and para military forces and witnessed the total demolition of my house and office premises because we dared to expose these acts of violence through several cases filed in Chhattisgarh High Court. Is this the democracy and tribal development our Governments want us to espouse? I shudder to think what will be the outcome of Salwa Judum (Phase II) …… yet another fake encounters, yet more gangrapes and yet more souls gone down fighting injustice and repression in the name of peace and democracy?

But for how long are tribals going to bear the brunt of a brutal and inhuman police force? For how long will tribals stand in the crossfire between Naxals, a militarized State and a demonized police? For how long will middle class ‘bhadralok’ remain silent spectators to State’s colonization of tribal territory to subsidize urban growth in the name of ‘tribal development‘ ? And for how long will we look on helplessly as tribals get butchered, raped and exterminated? We believe that some day the tribal specter will rise and fall heavily on those who repress loot and pauperize them. But who will get sacrificed and who will survive? The fittest … as Darwin eulogized evolution? The question is who is fitter – you and me who enjoy privileges of a subsidized consumer culture or tribals whom we have hanged giving them the name of savage, backward and poor ? I guess we all know the answers … but don’t want to articulate it, preferring to ignore it exists. But we cannot so this and so we strive to call the State’s bluff and turn every stone in our path in the attempt to bring justice, peace, dignity and democracy into Bastar so that we never have to confront the guns of peace!

– Himanshu Kumar, Vanvasi Chetna Ashram,  Dantewada, vcadantewada@gmail.com, Mobile – 09425260031

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