Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Video of Interview with Maoist leader Prachanda

June 24, 2007

Video of Interview with Maoist leader Prachanda
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

TRANSCRIPT OF THE INTERVIEW

As Nepal goes through a difficult transition, what is the stand of the country’s Maoists on the important issues that will determine the Future? Nepal’s Maoist leader Prachanda spoke exclusively to CNN-IBN on those issues in an interview on Devil’s Advocate.

Karan Thapar: Now that the interim Government has given itself the power to abolish the monarchy, if the King interferes in politics, don’t you think you should withdraw your demand for the immediate abolition of the monarchy?

Prachanda: No, we don’t feel that. Although the Parliament has already decided that two-thirds majority of Parliament can abolish the monarchy, in that sense we feel that our demand is justified.

Karan Thapar: So you want Parliament to abolish the monarchy immediately?

Prachanda: Yes, we want that Parliament should take initiative and monarchy should be abolished immediately.

Karan Thapar: But then what is the point of having a constituent Assembly in four or five months’ time. This should be decided by the Assembly.

Prachanda: The constituent Assembly is quite necessary to restructure the whole state. It is not the question related only to the monarchy.

Karan Thapar: But the monarchy is an important part of the structure of Nepal. Surely, this is a decision the Assembly should decide. If you don’t decide this in the Assembly, you are disrespecting the Assembly.

Prachanda: We are not disrespecting the Assembly. We have compromised with other parties that after the election, at the first meeting of the Assembly, we will decide the fate of the monarchy. But during this one-year period, it has been proved that until and unless the monarchy is there, it will create disturbance and try their best to derail the process. Therefore, we try to take initiative.

Karan Thapar: So the problem is that you don’t trust King Gyanendra ?

Prachanda: Exactly. But it is not the question of individuals. It’s the question of this feudal institution that should be abolished.

Karan Thapar: So you are not ready to let the Assembly take this important decision?

Prachanda: Why has the Parliament decided right now that two-thirds majority can abolish the monarchy before the elections?

Karan Thapar: But just because the Assembly has given itself the power does not mean it has to exercise the power?

Prachanda: But the provision is there that if serious disturbance comes from the monarchy, in our assessment, serious disturbance has already occurred through the monarchy.

Karan Thapar: All right. Let me question you on that. On Tuesday, your colleague, Baburam Bhattarai said that he is scared that the King might engineer a coup with the help of the Nepalese Army. He even said that General Katwal, the Army Chief is a foster brother of the King. Is that a real fear or is that Mr Bhattarai’s imagination?

Prachanda: It is an open secret that Mr Katwal has been educated and raised by the Monarch therefore he has the real relation with the Monarch. But right now we feel that they are trying to activate their forces. So that is the danger from that kind of a relation.

Karan Thapar: So you are really scared that the King and Mr Katwal could organize a coup?

Prachanda: No, right now, I don’t think they will organize a coup. In some section of leadership of the Army, we heard that they are trying to do some things.

Karan Thapar: But you are not taking that seriously.

Prachanda: No I don’t think as a whole Army, they will take such an initiative. In the whole history of our political development, the Army has not taken such kind of decision. They also know the overall political consciousness of our masses and people.

Karan Thapar: So you trust the Army and are prepared to trust General Katwal?

Prachanda: It is not a question of trust. Katwal may have some sentiments with the Monarch and you will imagine some kind of disturbance. But on the whole I don’t feel that they will be able to take such an initiative.

Karan Thapar: This is very interesting because on this issue you have a slightly different opinion to your deputy. Mr Bhattarai is rather scared about this. You are not worried.

Prachanda: We have information that in some sections they will try but the will not be able to, that is my point.

Karan Thapar: Though the Prime Minister has not said this officially and formally, many people believe that he would like to retain the monarchy in a ceremonial form, perhaps like the British Queen. Do you believe that is Mr Koirala’s actual position?

Prachanda: Yes, I think five years back I had a regular contact discussion with Mr Koirala and he’s not quite clear about his own position. He vacillates questions of the monarchy and the republic.

Karan Thapar: Is he confused or is he trying to find a clever way of keeping the monarchy?

Prachanda: Previously I thought he was trying to find an artful way of abolishing the monarchy. But in the latter half of the development I think he was trying to find an artful way to save the monarchy.

Karan Thapar: So the Prime Minister is trying to save the monarchy?

Prachanda: Yes, when he says ceremonial monarchy and then he says I want to give some political space to the Monarch, all these things prove that.

Karan Thapar: On Sunday the PM revealed that he had advised King Gyanendra and Crown Prince Paras to abdicate in favour of Prince Hridendra. If that were to happen, could the Communist accept a ceremonial monarchy?

Prachanda: It is not a question of Communist. The whole nation will not accept such a ridiculous thing.

Karan Thapar: Not even Prince Hridendra, who is only four or five years old?

Prachanda: Yes, nobody will agree to that.

Karan Thapar: If the constituent Assembly meets and decides to retain the ceremonial monarchy, will the Maoists respect and honour that decision?

Prachanda: We do not believe that kind of a result will come.

Karan Thapar: But if it comes?

Prachanda: If it comes, we will respect what the masses want and we will teach the masses what they did is not correct but we will respect the decision.

Karan Thapar: So you will accept a ceremonial monarchy if the constituent Assembly decides to keep one?

Prachanda: My point is that we will respect the decision and ideologically we will again peacefully try to educate the masses.

Karan Thapar: Peacefully? There will be no arms struggle?

Prachanda: Time and again I have cleared this point that we will respect the decision.

Karan Thapar: The reason I want to clear it again is because at the moment you are demanding immediate abolition. So you will accept a ceremonial monarchy if the constituent Assembly decides to keep one?

Prachanda: Yes. That’s why I’m here. If we do not respect the decision, how can we be part of the elections?

Karan Thapar: That’s interesting because at the same time you want to abolish the monarchy before the Assembly meets but leave that aside. Let us now move on the question on the election of the constituent Assembly. On the 15th of this month, speaking in Kirtipur, you said you don’t even believe it’s likely to happen in December. Given that the election has already been postponed once, are you confident it will be held this year?

Prachanda: We have serious doubt it will be held. We are for the election. As soon as possible, it should be held but because of the experience we have serious suspicion.

Karan Thapar: You are seriously doubting that the election will be held this year?

Prachanda: Yes, we have serious doubt.

Karan Thapar: How much of a responsibility will the that of the Prime Minister?

Prachanda: Main responsibility should be taken by the Prime Minister because when we entered in the negotiation and the agreement, the PM time and again said if I will not be able to hold elections in June, then morally I will not be the PM.

Karan Thapar: Do you think, because he has not been able to hold the elections by June, morally he should step down?

Prachanda: I am not saying that. It’s the PM himself who said this time and again.

Karan Thapar: But you are saying that the responsibility for delay, the failure to hold the election on time is that of the Prime Minister.

Prachanda: Main responsibility is that of the Prime Minister.

Karan Thapar: Why did he fail? Because he does not wants to hold it or is it because he is weak? What is the explanation?

Prachanda: My point is that the Prime Minister and his party could not take the concrete position of the monarchy ad the republic. This vacillation in its political position is the main reason.

Karan Thapar: In your eyes, is the PM vacillating because he is actually trying to find a way of retaining the monarchy and therefore he keeps delaying the elections.

Prachanda: I have serious doubts that the PM wants to retain monarchy and therefore he is trying to play with the situation.

Karan Thapar: How much tension has this introduced in your relationship with the Prime Minister?

Prachanda: There have been many ups and downs, twists and turns in the relationship but yet I think that the relation is not so cold. We are in a warm relation which some times gets very tough as well.

Karan Thapar: Sher Bahadur Doeba, the leader of the Nepali Congress Democratic Party says that the obstacle to holding election with the constituent assembly are the terrorist acts of the Maoists. He blames you.

Prachanda: It is quite wrong. It is Sher Bahadur Doeba himself who doesn’t wants to have elections. For the first time when we entered into this negotiation with Doeba, he is the person who was quite against this election of the Constituent Assembly.

Karan Thapar: Let me put this to you. Suppose the elections do not happen in November-December. How serious will that be for Nepal?

Prachanda: It will be a disaster, I think. Whole political scenario can change in a serious anarchy in this country. I don’t want to imagine the results.

Karan Thapar: If such a disaster happens, can the interim government survive that disaster?

Prachanda: I don’t think so. In that situation, another serious mass movement should be organised and we will be with the masses.

Karan Thapar: When you say that another mass movement should be organised, are you talking about a return to arms struggle?

Prachanda: Not at all. It will be a peaceful mass movement.

Karan Thapar: If you are going to organize a peaceful mass movement, does that mean also that you will leave the interim government?

Prachanda: When we will be forced to go into a serious mass movement, at that time we will abandon the interim government. We will be out of the government, but will be in the legislature.

Karan Thapar: So you will be in the Parliament but leave the interim government?

Prachanda: Yes. That’s right.

Karan Thapar: So let me repeat, what you are saying, that if there are no elections in the constituent assembly in November or December, it will (a) be a disaster in Nepal, (b) you will launch a mass movement and (c) and at that point you will leave the interim government.

Prachanda: Yes. Exactly. We will leave the interim government but will retain in the Parliament and we will handle the mass movement in a peaceful way.

Karan Thapar: Mr Prachanda lets talk about your party of the Maoists. You have agreed to surrender your arms, to out your combatants in camps, to return or cease property and discipline the young communist league. Your critics say that on all these issues, you are cheating. Tell me, are your cadres not refusing to obey your orders or are you only too happy for your orders not to be obeyed.

Prachanda: I want to make it clear that we have not surrendered our arms. We have agreed to integrate both the armies on a new basis.

Karan Thapar: Let me explore that. E N Martin the United Nations Special Representative says that 30,850 Maoist combatants have registered in camps, but only 2,855 arms have been handed it. That is a huge discrepancy. Are you holding back your arms?

Prachanda: The data is incorrect. I think it is somewhere close to 3000.

Karan Thapar: But look at the difference, thirty thousand combatants and just three thousand weapons. Where are the other weapons?

Prachanda: Yes, it is a serious question and time and again I’ve tried to make it clear that our comrades are not all armed with modern weapons. They have been armed with grenade, crude bombs and the likes.

Karan Thapar: Have you surrendered everything? Or are you hiding some stock?

Prachanda: Yes, we have stored all the bombs, grenades, guns and everything. We have in fact registered all the arms and explosives.

Karan Thapar: Let me quote to you what Nankishore Punj the leader of your Maoist army said. He said, “If we detect more arms in the future that are presently out of our memory and control, then we will inform the UN monitors.” How can you not remember where your arms are? It sounds as if you are cheating.

Prachanda: Its not a question of cheating. When we were in the war, we remained in the rural areas, jungles and scattered in different parts of the country. We did not have a really disciplined barrack like that.

Karan Thapar: So you cant remember where your arms are?

Prachanda: The arms may have gone missing in few places.

Karan Thapar: Alright. Let me put in something else to you. E N Martin says that instead of surrendering and registering in camps, your combatants have instead joined the young communist league. In that place, even boys under 18 have been registered.

Prachanda: You have to understand the whole phenomena of communist league. You should go back to the question on the paramilitary forces we have organised during the conflict.

Karan Thapar: Have you moved your Maoist Army combatants into the League?

Prachanda: No that’s not true. However in the league, some combatants are there who were the commanders in PLA. But we have not kept this any secret.

Karan Thapar: These combatants who have joined the young communist league—are they indulging in violence? Because the Prime Minister has gone on record to say that the Young Communist League is like a ‘young criminal league.’

Prachanda: I am sure he must have been out of his mind when he said such a thing. It is a serious charge that they have made. Later on when we discussed it with the PM he said he was sorry for the comment.

Karan Thapar: Did he apologise to you? Did he actually used the word ‘sorry’?

Prachanda: Not exactly. But by his explanation he sounded apologetic. He said it was due to an emotional outburst and the given situations that he said such a thing.

Karan Thapar: Its not just the PM who accuses the Young Communist League of indulging in violence, extortion and intimidation. Sher Bahadur Doeba also says similar things. Many of the members of the Seven Party Alliance too feel the same. Are you using the Young Communist League to intimidate or to threaten?

Prachanda: In my opinion people are exaggerating the whole issue.

Karan Thapar: By saying they are exaggerating, you are hinting that there may be little truth, but they are exaggerating it.

Prachanda: There may have been small incidents, but we are trying to minimize any kind of violence.

Karan Thapar: So do you accept there have been such instances?

Prachanda: Yes.

Karan Thapar: You also told Former President Jimmy Carter that you would correct the ‘mistakes’ of the Young Communist League. So that means you clearly accept those mistakes?

Prachanda: When we were there at the Central Community meeting, I myself said that we will have to minimise such kinds of incidents. But mainly and basically what communist league is doing is correct because they are building roads, plating trees and doing much public work.

Karan Thapar: People say, Prachanda if orders about returning seized land, Maoist leaders disregard him. Do your local cadres disregard your orders?

Prachanda: No it is not the case. Returning the land is a very sensitive question. We have initiated from the Western districts of Nepal. But we still have to settle the question of settlement of peasants.

Karan Thapar: Can people trust Prachanda to do what he says.

Prachanda: They trust and they should trust. We have initiated the process and this is again a very sensitive issue that we have to decide the settlement of peasants.

Karan Thapar: So what you are saying is: Give me time, I will surrender seized property.

Prachanda: It needs some time.

Karan Thapar: But you will fulfill the commitment to surrender seized property? Is that a promise?

Prachanda: Yes that’s a promise.

Karan Thapar: And you will also ensure that the Young Communist League do not indulge in violence, that’s another promise.

Prachanda: Yes that’s a promise. But you should also see that many a times provocation leads to such things. Like it happened in the Tarai region of the Madhesis, when our comrades were provoked into violence.

Karan Thapar: But will you exercise control, now? Will you keep telling them not to indulge in violence?

Prachanda: Yes, very much.

Karan Thapar: My last question is, when the elections to the constituent assembly take place, if you don’t get a majority, will you accept a minority role or will you boycott the Assembly.

Prachanda: We will respect the decision. We may be in the minority and we will struggle ideologically and politically.

Karan Thapar: But will you accept the minority position if that is the outcome.

Prachanda: We must have to accept it.

Karan Thapar: Thank you Mr Prachanda for this candid interview.

CNN-IBN

Advertisements

Interview with Ganapathy, General Secretary, CPI(Maoist)

May 15, 2007

Source : Resistanceindia


Interview with Ganapathy, General Secretary, CPI(Maoist)


Download the Interview


Source: we received the following interview by an email.

[The questions that follow have been sent by various newspapers to Ganapathy, General Secretary, CPI(Maoist). More than half of these were sent by BBC. The answers by Ganapathy are being sent to the media in the background of the successful completion of the Congress of the CPI(Maoist) and other recent developments—Azad, Spokesperson, CPI(Maoist), 24th April, 2007]


On the Unity Congress of CPI(Maoist):


Q: We heard that you had successfully held your Congress recently after a gap of almost 37 years. Why has there been such a long delay?

A: It is true that we held our last Congress—8th Congress—way back in 1970. The reason for not holding it for almost 37 years is the condition of the revolutionary forces in the country. Two years after the last Congress the movement suffered a serious setback; the highest committee, the CC, became disintegrated following the martyrdom, arrests, and even betrayals by some members like SN Singh who had, in fact, split the Party in September 1971 itself. After the martyrdom of comrade Charu Majumdar, the entire CC ceased to exist as it got splintered into several factions. I say factions because they were all part of the original CPI(ML). Prolonged existence as separate groups gave them distinct identities in course of time as independent groups and parties with their own respective programmes and tactics. Moreover, they made their own self-critical reviews of the past. Such a state of affairs had rendered the prospects of unity all the more difficult.


Some groups began to traverse the same old path of the Danges and Joshis, although they claimed to oppose their line, such as the “Liberation” group led by Vinod Mishra whose degeneration began in the early 1980s after a history of glorious struggle during the 1970s. There were some that went on postponing the initiation of armed struggle against the state indefinitely to some auspicious day in the future with the plea that the state is too powerful and armed confrontation with it required more time and preparation. Hence they confined themselves to so-called phase of armed peasant resistance or the anti-feudal phase of struggle. Till today these groups have not completed their preparations to begin their armed confrontation with the state! These were the Right opportunist groups such as TN-DV, ND, various factions of CP Reddy etc. Then there were some others that stuck to the original programme of the CPI(ML) but refused to adopt a critical outlook towards the past mistakes. They continued dogmatically with the Left sectarian mistakes such as over-assessment of the international situation and the subjective strength, and an underestimation of the enemy forces and hence could not build any movement of significance. It was only a few Parties such as the CPI(ML)[PW] and CPI(ML)[PU] which had upheld the basic line of the 8th Congress, made a self-critical review of the past tactical mistakes and shortcomings in the movement thereby enriching the line further, carried on the people’s war based on the enriched line, and hence could develop relatively strong movements in different parts of the country.


While this was the condition of the CPI(ML), on the other hand, the MCC led by comrades KC, Amulya Sen and Chandra Shekhar Das, grew up as a separate party with almost the same programme as that of the CPI(ML). Both parties would have been part of a single party but due to some historical reasons this did not materialise during the time of comrade CM. Later, as the CPI(ML) itself got split by 1972, unity became a thing of the future. From then on unity of the Communist Revolutionaries remained one of the principal tasks in the agenda of every revolutionary organisation. But unity cannot materialise due to the desire of the revolutionaries itself. The will, i.e., the sincere desire for unity, is no doubt, an important factor but what is decisive is the political line and practice of the parties. Hence it was only during the 1980s and 90s when movements were built by Parties such as the MCC, CPI(ML)[PW] and CPI(ML)[PU] that a strong basis for unity was laid. However, the unity between these Parties could not materialise for a long time due to political differences and also due to shortcomings on the part of the leaderships to make conscious efforts for unity. I can elaborate this if needed. The main reason for the long delay in holding the 9th Congress has been the failure to achieve unity among the major revolutionary forces in the country.


Q: How is democracy ensured in the Party when you could not hold the Congress for so many years? How are the cadres involved in formulating the line, tactics and policies of the Party?

A: The specific feature that I had described above, i.e., not holding the Congress for a long period due to our failure to achieve unity of all the genuine communist revolutionaries in the country, does not negate inner-Party democracy. Each revolutionary Party had its own internal democratic process of involving cadres in policy-making. The erstwhile MCCI, CPI(ML)[PW] and CPI(ML)[PU] had their respective central conferences, plenums, special meetings etc at regular intervals where they summed up their past work and the positive and negative aspects in advancing the people’s war, made the necessary changes in the policies and tactics, and enriched the line. A central conference is, in essence, similar to the Congress. The only reason for not naming it as the Congress is the recognition of the existence of various revolutionary parties and groups in the country. It was generally felt that a Congress could be held after achieving the unity of all the revolutionary forces in the country. The erstwhile parties that are now part of the CPI(Maoist)—the MCCI, CPI(ML)[PW] and CPI(ML)[PU]—had held their central conferences and plenums at regular intervals. The PW had organised its first regional conference of Telangana way back in 1976. It had its state conference in 1980, its central plenum in 1990, its All India Special Conference (AISC) in 1995, and its Congress in 2001. Likewise, the MCCI had its central conference in 1996 and the PU in 1983, 87 and 1996.


Thus through these conferences and plenums the entire Party was involved in the democratic process of discussions, internal struggle, and resolution of all disputed issues democratically. In fact, the CPI(ML)[PW] began preparations for holding the Congress in 1995 after the break-down of the merger talks with MCC. The AISC of erstwhile PW in 1995 was actually planned as a Congress but at the eleventh hour we decided to change its name to that of a special conference but having the significance of a Congress. This was done keeping in mind the prospect of unity with the CPI(ML)[PU]. In 2001, the unified CPI(ML)[PW] held the 9th Congress but it was the Congress of revolutionaries belonging basically to only one stream of the Indian revolution, the CPI(ML). The Congress was held due to an assessment by the PW leadership that unity with MCC may not materialise for a relatively longer period of time especially in the background of strained relations between the two parties at that time. Later, this assessment proved to be wrong. Within 3 ½ years after that Congress the new Party, CPI(Maoist), was formed with the merger of CPI(ML)[PW] and MCCI. To sum up, healthy democratic processes were in place throughout the histories of the major Parties constituting the present CPI(Maoist) even though we could not hold the Congress for a long period.


Q: We heard from some media reports that serious differences had emerged in the recently-held Unity Congress, that there was strong opposition to your re-election as General Secretary, that the Congress could not even elect the central bodies, and so on. Are these true?

A: Such concocted reports are based on speculation by some media personnel but are mainly part of the disinformation campaign unleashed by the Intelligence agencies. The APSIB, in particular, has a special department for such disinformation with the sole purpose of spreading confusion among the people and Party cadre. They have been circulating such stories ever since the merger of the two Maoist Parties, particularly over the past one year. They have been desperately trying to spread the rumour that the merger was not a principled one, that there are serious differences between the two erstwhile parties, and that both have different lines of thinking which are reflected in their respective practices, and such trash.


And we know from where the so-called media reports that you are referring to had originated. These police stories had been faxed from Hanamkonda by the SIB and were published in some Telugu dailies on March 26. Through these reports these liars had desperately tried to project a totally false picture about the situation in our Party. They tried to prove that while the erstwhile MCCI wants to intensify the people’s war by resorting to more and more military actions, the erstwhile PW comrades think it is better to put off the actions for a while and concentrate on building militant mass movements. It is indeed amusing to see such reports just 10 days after the PLGA had carried out the biggest ever action in the history of the Maoist movement by eliminating 68 police personnel including SPOs in Rani Bodili in Chattisgarh and after we had declared that more such actions would follow if the reactionary ruling classes do not give up the brutal campaign of mass murder and destruction in the name of salwa judum. There isn’t an iota of truth in these fabricated lies.


These police stories also spread the lie that “the setbacks and differences were so serious that the Congress could not even reconstitute the Politburo, Central Committee, Central Military Commission, and various sate committees and that some of the key leaders are likely to face disciplinary actions.” In fact, at no point in the history of the revolutionary movement in India we had such strong and closely-knit central and state Party structures. The Congress had unanimously elected the Central Committee which then set up the Politburo, CMC, various Regional Bureaus, and central departments and sub-committees. I would proudly say, the establishment of a strong, centralized leadership for leading the Indian revolution has been one of the significant achievements of the Congress. The state committees are elected by the concerned state conferences and not by the Congress. The press release shows the poor homework of the SIB.


It was even more amusing to hear from the report that disciplinary action, including demotion, is likely to be taken against some key leaders. There is not an iota of truth in these wild assertions. The above shows not merely the disinformation campaign but also the psychology of the SIB and the police in AP who desperately wish that the “key” leaders of our Party be demoted.


Q: Then you say there are no differences at all?

A: Why not? Ideological-political debates are the life-blood of any communist party. It is through such internal struggle that a Party’s line gets further enriched and the Party becomes stronger and more unified. We never keep our differences secret. We had published the differences in the last issue of our theoretical magazine, the People’s War. In the current issue of the magazine the debates which took place in the Congress are reported in detail. These debates indicate the strength of the party, not its weakness. It shows the democratic credentials of the Party which allows freedom of expression for all kinds of opinions and viewpoints, and its ability to digest various opinions if they are expressed in a constructive way to enrich the Party line and not with a malafide intention to wreck the Party. Whatever opinions had come up at the Congress were placed by the comrades in all sincerity, with a view to enrich the line and find solutions to the problems confronting the Indian revolution.


One very important point to be noted here is that differences which had come up at the Congress were not differences between erstwhile MCCI and CPI(ML)[PW] but were those within a single Party. If you are aware of the history of our Party you would find that even more serious differences had come up in our earlier conferences and Congress. In the AISC of PW in 1995 or the central conferences of PU in 1987 and 1996, or in the 2001 Congress of the unified PW, the differences were of quite a serious nature. There were differences on the principal contradiction in the world, on the contradiction between the CBB and the Indian people, mode of production in India, and so on. There was also a sharp debate on the question of Right deviation in the Party line during the 2001 Congress of erstwhile PW. All these serious differences were resolved through a healthy debate and by placing for vote where needed. This time the differences were not as much serious as in the past. The media reports, obviously, were wide off the mark. Thus the differences within the old PW, or the unified PW after the merger of PW and PU in August 1998, or in the CPI(Maoist) after the merger of the PW and MCCI, are very much normal in a Communist party. Any difference, even the most serious ones, can be resolved in a Communist party by adhering to the principle of democratic centralism. That is the greatness of the principle of democratic centralism which is the basis for the existence and functioning of a communist party.


It was only in Karnataka that a small group calling itself the Minority had split away from the Party after they had lost the majority for their Right opportunist line in the state conference. If they had the communist spirit and discipline and were not carried away by petty-bourgeois individualism and anarchic methods, they would have remained in the Party and fought for their line in the Congress. Of course, while carrying out the line and policy decided by the majority in the Congress, one has the right to bring up one’s line or standpoint on any question once again as part of the next Congress.


Q: So you say there is no truth in the reports about the strong opposition to your re-election as the General Secretary and that you had to accede to many of the demands of your detractors as part of the compromise formula?

A: No truth absolutely. Reports of opposition to my election as GS are a planned fabrication by the Intelligence agencies like the central IB, APSIB etc., which had taken the task of spreading disinformation about the leadership as one of their principal tasks. My re-election was a unanimous decision of the CC. They saw no reason to make any change. And I do not understand what they mean by my detractors or their demands for neither of these is true. As regards the so-called compromise formula I can only laugh at the desperation of the enemy camp to establish fictitious differences and compromises.


The losses in AP are not seen as the losses of erstwhile PW but as those of the entire Party. The entire Party concentrated keenly on analysing the reasons for the losses and took lessons from the positive and negative experiences of the movement in AP. Synthesising the experiences of the movement in AP was very useful for the entire Party, which had imbibed its positive experiences and drew lessons from its negative aspects.


Q: Where was the Congress held? How did you manage to hold it when the government has been seriously trying to foil it?

A: (Laughs ) Let the Intelligence agencies keep guessing where it was held. As for the media, we can take you people to the place sometime later. As history is being built, these places will assume great historical importance for future generations. Then everyone will come to know. But one thing I can say for the present—it is held in the midst of people, protected by people and nature all around. And, of course, at the venue it is our heroic PLGA fighters who worked day and night, doing 24-hour duty, alert to every move of the enemy forces, sitting in ambushes for the police forces if ever they dared to venture into the area. Even if the enemy forces had entered the area our guerrillas would have ensured that there were no losses of leadership. Placing full confidence on the PLGA and the masses, we conducted the Congress without any tension or problem. In fact, we had even extended the Congress by a few days.


Holding the Congress was only the final act of the entire democratic process. As part of this process, we held conferences in about 15 states; 12 of these were state-level conferences, and these were preceded by regional, zonal/divisional/district conferences and in some places sub-zonal and area conferences too. There was a big education campaign with study camps, classes etc. All these had consumed a large part of our time last year. But for the extensive mass support and the protection provided by our guerrilla forces, these programmes would have been simply impossible given the continuous suppression campaigns unleashed by the enemy. We had to shift the conference venue in AOB and one or two other places when we were informed by the people that the enemy was surrounding the place. It is the people who are our eyes and ears and as long as we enjoy the support of the people, and maintain methods of strict secrecy, no enemy force can do anything.


There were serious attempts by the central and state governments to disrupt the conferences and the Congress. There was open declaration to that effect in the papers in the months of November and December last. A special wing was set up for a period of three months in the Home Ministry to foil the Congress. They knew it would be held in the months of January or February since it would be relatively difficult to hold after that due to the onset of summer. Thus holding the Congress was one of the biggest challenges the newly-unified Party had faced after the merger. More than a hundred delegates—the core of the Maoist Party—had to come from different states unnoticed by the enemy. A huge force of tested PLGA fighters had to be mobilised for protection purpose. And the arrangements for such a huge camp, that too in the coldest days of winter, were not easy. Any small leak anywhere would have disturbed the programme. Under these difficult conditions successful completion of the Congress is definitely a big achievement for the Party. It has shown that anything is possible with meticulous planning, secret methods of functioning, a committed guerrilla force and the strong support of the people.


One tragic incident that took place on the eve of the Congress was the martyrdom of our beloved comrades Chandramouli (BK) and his life-partner Vijayalaxmi (Karuna). Chandramouli was a member of the CC and the CMC and Karuna was a DC member. They were caught by the APSIB goons on 26th night and murdered in cold blood the next day after cruel torture. There was some tension when we heard the news of their martyrdom. However, the enemy did not find anything indicative of the Congress on their person and both of them stood like rock when unspeakable inhuman tortures were being inflicted upon them. The cruel enemy could not extract a single bit of information from these great communists, the proud son and daughter of the Indian people. Even in their martyrdom they made great contribution in blood for the success of the Congress. Their sacrifices will be remembered forever by all our Party cadres and the revolutionary masses.


Q: What are the major decisions of the Unity Congress? Will there be any change in your overall plans and tactics now?

A: The general direction of the Congress is to intensify the people’s war and to take the war to all fronts. Concretely it decided to take the guerrilla war to a higher level of mobile war in the areas where guerrilla war is in an advanced stage and to expand the areas of armed struggle to as many states as possible. The destruction of the enemy forces has come into the immediate agenda in these areas without which it is very difficult to consolidate our gains or to advance further. Likewise, there is an immediate need to transform a vast area into the war zone so that there is enough room for manoeuvrability for our guerrilla forces. And in expansion the element of secrecy is very important. Keeping in view the massive deployment of the central forces and special police forces of the states the Congress had drawn up plans to adopt various creative forms to cause serious damage to the enemy forces. The police and central forces will be taught how dangerous it is to enter our areas. We decided to strengthen the Party and the PLGA, mobilise the masses actively to resist the enemy forces, and to transform these areas into our strong bases by destroying the enemy’s power in all forms. And all this will be achieved by wide mobilisation of the masses into the war. As it is, hundreds of people, and at times even more than a thousand, are involved in the attacks against the enemy as you can see from the recent counteroffensive operations as in Rani Bodili, Riga, CISF camp in Khasmahal in Bokaro district, and so on in the past one month itself.


With the experiences we gained in AP in the midst of ever-increasing and continuous state repression and state-sponsored repression, it is all the more important that our forces are not exposed wherever they are working. But at the same time we shall be in the forefront of every people’s movement. The Congress has decided to take up struggles against the SEZs which are nothing but neo-colonial enclaves on Indian territory. They are not just snatching fertile farmlands of the peasants but are transforming the entire country into special zones for the unhindered ruthless exploitation and control by imperialists and the comprador big business houses. The Congress gave the call to go deep into these struggles. We have no illusions on the cruel, fascist nature of the Indian state, and hence there is utmost need for maintaining secret methods of work as well as to be prepared for every kind of sacrifice.


Q: Finally, how do you sum up the achievements of your Unity Congress and its significance?

A: Our Unity Congress is an event of great historic significance in the history of the revolutionary movement of India. It not only marks the near-completion of the process of unification of the Maoist forces in the country but also the consolidation of the Party and the political line for the Indian revolution. The reaffirmation and enrichment of the revolutionary political line established by our founder leaders-comrades CM and KC-is the biggest achievement of the Congress. Several ideological-political questions were debated and settled by the Congress thereby bringing about a higher level of unity. Another achievement of significance is the establishment of a unified centralised leadership for the Indian revolution.


After a long time in the history of the revolutionary communist movement in India since the 1970s, a single directing centre has come into existence, with the merger of the MCCI and CPI(ML)[PW] in September 2004 and this centre has become further consolidated and firmly established in the unity congress with the approval of the entire Party.


On the losses in Andhra Pradesh:


Q: There have been serious losses in Andhra Pradesh in recent times. What are the reasons? Has your movement become weakened overall? How do you plan to overcome these losses and regain the initiative?

A: I agree that the losses in the state of Andhra Pradesh are quite serious. They certainly have a considerable impact on the revolutionary movement in the country as a whole. AP, particularly the region of North Telangana, has been an important centre of revolutionary movement for a long period and a great inspiration to the revolutionary masses of our country. But we have to keep in mind that so far as the question of establishing base areas goes, it has been the more backward areas falling in central and eastern India that were selected by the Party with the immediate task of liberating these vast areas. Hence the focus of our movement had gradually shifted to Dandakaranya and Bihar-Jharkhand.


You must have known that AP was made into a model state, an experimental state where the imperialists, particularly the World Bank, and the Indian ruling classes had concentrated to implement their multi-pronged LIC strategy against the revolutionary movement, with its focus on brutal suppression and reform. No other state affected by the Naxalite movement has such a massive police commando force as in AP, nowhere do you find such extensive intelligence network, infrastructure, funds, training in counter-insurgency warfare, and unlimited powers to the police. No other state had witnessed such a bloodbath as AP had for the past four decades and particularly from the mid-1980s. There are hardly any political prisoners in AP jails since the policy had always been to bump off the revolutionaries—whether they are members of the central committee or sympathisers—after they are arrested. Fake encounter killings had been the tradition right from the time of Vengal Rao during the struggle of Srikakulam almost 40 years ago. Thousands of crores have been spent on so-called reforms with the aim of weaning away a section of the people from the revolutionary movement. It is a fact that a small but articulate and influential section in the countryside has been won over through these reforms. In a word, we can say that the Party and the revolutionary movement in AP bore the brunt of all the counter-insurgency measures initiated by the reactionary ruling classes in the initial stages. Today these are being implemented in several other states. We are making an in-depth study of enemy’s counter-revolutionary tactics, plans and methods and taking lessons from these. The movement in AP, at the cost of huge sacrifices of thousands of comrades, has given us invaluable experiences on how to counter and defeat enemy’s tactics and plans. With these, the Party is now more equipped to defeat the enemy’s tactics in other states.


Setbacks and losses are not unnatural in protracted people’s war. Revolution proceeds along a zig zag course and not along a straight line. The movement in AP has seen many ups and downs. But always it rose up like the proverbial Phoenix. No doubt, at the present juncture, we are facing a tough situation in AP and the enemy has the upper-hand from the tactical point of view. We had lost a good part of the state leadership and cadre but the most promising aspect is that the people are still with our Party. The support base of the Party has not eroded much although the They meet us secretly, ask us to solve their problems, and they work without getting exposed to the brutal State. For them our Party is the only hope. People are pained at every loss suffered by the revolutionaries. You can gauge the mass support from the turn out at the funeral meetings of our martyrs. In spite of the threats and restrictions imposed by the police goons, more than 20,000 people had turned up at the funeral of comrade Chandramouli (BK) and Karuna in the former’s native village of Vadkapur in Karimnagar district. The pent-up anger and hatred of the people for the reactionary rulers and their police-Grey Hounds-SIB goons will grow into a movement of such great proportions that it will wash away the exploiters and oppressors and all the muck accumulated in society for long. No force on earth can stop this high tide of revolution whatever losses and setbacks we might be facing today in AP. The ruling classes are aware of the great potential for the revolutionary movement in AP. That is why while boasting that Maoists in the state had become completely weakened and that AP will serve as a model on how to deal with the Maoist movement, the fascist YSR government has initiated several measures with a long-term plan such as a hundred per cent increase in the strength of the Grey Hounds commando force, acquiring helicopters for anti-Naxal operations, sanctioning of Rs. 2000 crores of central aid to deal with the Naxal movement, and so on.


The present historical epoch is an epoch of great turmoil with tumultuous changes taking place worldwide. Even the most powerful militarised imperialist power like the US is finding it impossible to suppress the national liberation struggle in a small country such as Iraq or Afghanistan. In India, the ruthless exploitation and oppression of the people by the ruling classes in collaboration with imperialism has created an explosive situation. Utilising the excellent international and domestic situation prevailing today we are confident we will be able to come out of the temporary setback in AP.


And what is more important, we made advances in many other states in spite of the losses we had suffered in AP. The situation is now qualitatively different from that of the earlier periods in that we are now able to advance the movement in a number of states even if we suffer losses and setbacks in one or two states. Way back they could suppress a Naxalbari, a Srikakulam, a Birbhum, a Mushahari, a Kanksa or Sonarpur but today the revolutionary movement has become further strengthened, has spread to large tracts of the backward countryside, has well-knit Party structures, Army and vast mass base. It is advancing through centralised planning and direction. Hence it is not an easy thing for the state to suppress the movement as in the past although it might achieve an upper hand in one place. The Congress had chalked out a concrete plan to overcome the setback in AP by transforming the unfavourable factors into favourable ones. Overall there is great future for the Party and revolution.


On SEZs, Nandigram and role of CPI(M):


Q: How do you see issues like Singur and Nandigram? Are your people involved in inciting violence in Nandigram as claimed by the CPI(M)? Do you intend to get actively involved in such issues?

A: One should only be surprised if we are not involved in such life-and-death issues of the masses. We intend to mobilise the masses against the conspiracies and treacherous policies of the rulers to snatch the land of the people and hand over the same to the MNCs and the comprador big business in the name of development through creation of hundreds of SEZs. The policy of SEZ is aimed at creating neo-colonial enclaves within our country where no laws of the land can be applied. The SEZ policy is being aggressively pushed by the Indian ruling classes goaded on by the imperialist MNCs as part of their globalisation offensive. Struggles against the SEZs acquiring fertile farmland of the peasants and also huge projects are turning more and more militant as witnessed in Kalinga Nagar, Singur, Nandigram, Lohandiguda, Polavaram, etc. Kalinga Nagar, Singur and Nandigram, in particular, have become important symbols in this struggle against exploitation by the big comprador houses and the imperialists.


As regards Maoists inciting violence in Nandigram, the entire world would laugh at the temerity of these “Left” Front rulers. Even Goebbels would turn in his grave seeing how much his art of lying has been improved by “Marxists” like Buddhas, Karats, Yechuris etc. These political brokers have been desperately trying to divert the issue by repeating ad nausea that Maoists from outside had incited the local people and hence the police had no other alternative than to open fire in self-defence. Like every reactionary ruling class the “Marxist” rulers of Bengal too are harping on themes such as “foreign hand” for the mess which they themselves had created. Brinda Karat had commented that Maoists had used the sea-route to enter Nandigram. It is sickening to see the utter political bankruptcy of these so-called ideologues and the poverty of their logic. In the eyes of these hypocrites and double-dealers, a Salim or a Tata, are not outsiders while Maoists, who live and die for the people, become outsiders. Worse still, like ostriches, they think that the world does not know how thousands of armed goons had been brought by their Party from different parts of the state to Nandigram along with a huge police force to enact the massacre. Karats and Yechuris are placing this on outsiders in their sheer desperation to justify their savage massacre in Nandigram.


Nandigram reveals the ugly cruel face of the social-fascist CPI(M) whose goons along with the police shad committed indescribable atrocities on the people, raped women, killed over a hundred people including even children, and, what is most abominable, had buried the corpses or thrown them into the river. Buddhadeb had emerged as Bengal’s Dyer and has proved himself to be a loyal servant of the big comprador houses and the MNCs. Like a true dalal, his government had taken up the task of acquiring lands from the people to hand over to the big business. One thing has become established beyond a shadow of doubt with the state terror and state-sponsored terror in Nandigram: the CPI(M) is the best bet for the MNCs and comprador big business for securing their class interests in the country. It will not be a surprise if they choose to bring these most loyal servants in Marxist guise to power even at the Centre in the future.


As for our role in such movements we shall definitely make all efforts to be in the forefront and lead the movement in the correct direction. We call upon the people to turn every SEZ into a battle-field and assure them that we will render all support to the people’s movements against SEZs.


On the annihilation of Sunil Mahto:


Q: Last month JMM leader and MP from Jamshedpur, Sunil Mahto, was gunned down by your guerrillas along with five others. There have been reports that Dy Chief Minister Sudhir Mahto was also warned. How far are these acts justified? Is your Party planning more such political assassinations in the near future?

A: We do not kill everyone just because he/she is an MP or a minister. Although all legislators are directly or indirectly responsible for all the policies made by the government, it is mainly a small coterie of political leaders that play a crucial role in finalising the policies under the dictates of the imperialist-CBB-feudal combine. It is such political leaders that we single out for attack.


In the case of Sunil Mahto, we had to eliminate him only because he has been actively involved in unleashing brutal repression on the revolutionary movement in Jharkhand. He is not just a leader of JMM but is associated actively in the vigilante gang called the Nagrik Suraksha Samiti (NSS) which had taken part in the cold-blooded murder of 11 of our Party cadres in Lango village in Dumaria bloc in East Singhbhum district in 2001. Although he was not the main architect of this massacre, he had encouraged the activities of this private mercenary gang sponsored by the state. Of late, he had come to the forefront organizing the armed campaign against the Maoists movement according to the game plan of the reactionary ruling classes to divide and pit a section of the adivasis against the revolutionary movement in the name of Sendra. We already have bitter experiences in Chattisgarh where the so-called peace campaign in the name of salwa judum is playing havoc with the lives of thousands of adivasi people. Over 700 villages had been razed to the ground, almost 60,000 people were uprooted from their homes, over 400 were murdered, several women were raped and property of the people was destroyed by these salwa judum vigilante gangs accompanied by the police and central forces. We also have the experiences of AP where vigilante gangs such as Cobras, Tigers, etc had created a campaign of terror in some areas. A similar plan is being sought to be unleashed in Jharkhand in the name of sendra and Sunil Mahto was one of the main leaders spearheading this campaign against the Maoists. The so-called Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC) too has been playing a similar role in Bihar with the support of the state. Hence we had to eliminate the main leader, Murari Ganju, in a daring attack by our PLGA on the 9th of April. Such punishments will be carried out where necessary on cast-to-case basis in a selective manner and this must not be treated as our general policy.


We wish to make one thing clear: we are not for indiscriminate killing of leaders or ordinary members of political parties. We basically rely on mobilization of the masses to isolate, expose and fight the anti-people policies of various political parties and the attacks by the vigilante gangs while engaging our PLGA squads and action teams where needed. Annihilation of Sunil Mahto should not be interpreted as our antagonism towards JMM as a whole. We are not against JMM as long as it desists from indulging in anti-people activities and attacks against the revolutionary movement. We appeal to the activists and ordinary members of JMM to understand the conspiracy of the ruling classes to divide the adivasi people in the name of sendra and call upon them to fight the state-sponsored private vigilante gangs like NSS as well as all those leading the notorious campaign of sendra against the revolutionary movement in Jharkhand.


On the biggest ever attack by the Maoists in Chattisgarh:


Q: Recently your PLGA had inflicted one of the biggest blows to the police force and the salwa judum by killing a huge number of police and SPOs in Rani Bodili in Chattisgarh. Do you foresee more such attacks in near future? And do you believe the salwa judum can be stopped through such actions?

A: The daring tactical counteroffensive operation carried out by the PLGA led by our Party, the CPI(Maoist), on March 16 on a police base camp in Ranibodli in Bijapur police district in Chattisgarh in which 68 policemen including Special Police Officers (SPOs) were wiped out is an inevitable consequence of the brutal reign of terror unleashed by the state and central governments in the name of salwa judum. You must know the actual ground situation in Dandakaranya to understand why such a massive operation had to be planned.


For almost two years since June 2005, the BJP government in Chattisgarh and the Congress-led UPA government in the Centre had sponsored a counterrevolutionary terrorist campaign of mass murder, torture, and arrests of thousands of the adivasi peasantry, gangrapes and murder of hundreds of women, destruction of thousands of houses, foodgrains, and all property of the adivasis, killing or taking away thousands of cattle, forceful evacuation of tens of thousands of people from almost eight hundred villages and issuing threats and intimidation to anyone suspected of being a member of revolutionary mass organization or sympathetic to the Maoists in Dandakaranya, particularly in Dantewara, Bastar, Kanker, Bijapur and Narayanpur districts. Over 5000 youth were inducted into a state mercenary armed force, paid monthly salaries, and pitted against the native adivasis who are fighting for land, livelihood and liberation under the leadership of the CPI(Maoist). The Naga and Mizo Battalions were specially brought in along with a huge CRPF and other special police forces to Chattisgarh who had been committing the most barbaric and inhuman acts against the adivasi population.


All these cruel attacks against an entire population are meant to establish peace of the graveyard and clear the way for the unhindered loot by rapacious hawks like Tatas, Ruias, Essars, Mittals, Jindals and imperialist MNCs. Over one lakh rupees worth of MOUs were signed by the Chattisgarh government with these corporate comprador big business houses to drain the rich mineral and forest wealth of the state. At the behest of these day-light robberers, adivasi dalals like opposition leader of the Congress, Mahendra Karma, Home Minister Ramvichar Netham of the BJP and others have been leading this counter-revolutionary war against the adivasi population.


A huge central force is deployed which is now more than 13 battalions, recruited 10 additional battalions of state forces, and inducted even minors of 14 years of age into their mercenary police force. KPS Gill, notorious for the mass murders of youth in Punjab, was specially appointed as advisor to the Chief Minister. A carpet security system is initiated with police camps in close proximity in order to strike terror among the people.


We, on behalf of the CC, CPI(Maoist), once again warn the state and central governments that our Bhumkal Sena and PLGA and people will carry out attacks on a much bigger scale if the murder campaign in the name of salwa judum is not disbanded immediately. We declare that the sole responsibility for such needless loss of lives of hundreds of policemen and SPOs lies squarely on the shoulders of the state and central governments. Large-scale armed retaliation by the adivasis led by our Party is inevitable if the atrocities on the adivasi people continue in the name of salwa judum. Like George Bush who can only think in terms of using more brute force to control the fire of national liberation in Iraq, the Indian ruling classes too can only think of sucking in more and more repressive forces in order to suppress the people’s war and grab the mineral wealth of Dandakaranya. However, they will only end up in further escalating the civil war in Dandakaranya.


We do share the grief of the families of the dead policemen and SPOs but we are being compelled to wipe out the police and mercenary gangs who are obeying the orders of the ruling classes and their imperialist mentors to suppress the revolutionary movement for looting the wealth in the state. We appeal to the jawans of the central forces, particularly the Naga and Mizo battalions, to disobey the orders of the rulers and to withdraw from Chattisgarh. We appeal to the SPOs who are being pitted against the adivasi people to quit the mercenary force as they are fighting an unjust war against their own brothers and sisters in the interests of the reactionary rulers. We call upon the democratic organizations and individuals and the vast masses of the country to condemn state terrorism and state-sponsored terrorism on the adivasi people of Dandakaranya, to demand immediate disbandment of salwa judum and the mercenary SPO force, to fight for the withdrawal of the notorious central forces from the region, set up a judicial enquiry into the killing of over 500 adivasis by the police-salwa judum mercenary combine.


On the Party’s plans to win over the middle class:


Q: History shows, the middle class wants status quo. Indian middle class is growing more powerful. How do you plan to co-opt them?

A: It is true that the Indian middle class has grown in number. At the same time, a sizable chunk of the middle class is facing cute crisis due to soaring prices, unemployment, growing insecurity of life, steep increases in family expenditure due to high cost of education, health, transport etc., which have become privatized to a great extent and had gone beyond the reach of a significant section of the middle class. In short, despite the numerical growth of the middle class it is at a receiving end. Hence we see that the growing frustration in large sections of the middle class is forcing them into streets for their demands as witnessed in strikes and other forms of struggles by teachers, government employees, students, and even shopkeepers who are affected by the shopping malls and FDI in retail sector. Another important factor has to be noted—most of yesterday’s luxury consumer goods have become today’s daily necessities. And the list of necessities is growing by the day with the large-scale proliferation of consumer goods and the promotion of consumerism by the market-place. Hence frustration is growing among members of this class as they are unable to procure these goods since much of their incomes have to be spent on the basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter.


Middle class is terribly affected by such issues as price-rise, insecurity, corruption, unemployment for their children, high cost of education and health-care, threats from real estate mafia etc. Keeping these in mind, our party has drawn up plans to mobilize the middle class into struggles on such issues.


In Defence of armed struggle:


Q: Why armed struggle is a must? (Isn’t it a fact that violence pushes a large chunk of people away from the Party?)

A: The question of armed struggle or non-violent struggle is not based on the subjective whims and wishes of any individual or Party. It is independent of one’s will. It is a law borne out by all historical experience. It is a fact of history that nowhere in the world, nowhere in the historical development of the class society, had the reactionary ruling classes given up power without resorting to violent suppression of the mass protests, without violent resistance aimed at clinging on to power until they are thrown out by force. Of course, one can cite instances of regime changes occurring through peaceful movements, through massive protests, but all of these were mere regime changes—not systemic changes. A section of the ruling classes might give up power to another section of the same class without the need for a violent upheaval but the same is not the case when one ruling class is replaced by another with diametrically opposing class interests. However, we find that even these regime changes are not infrequently marked by violent clashes as witnessed in several parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. We will indeed be the happiest people to bring about systematic change without the need for armed struggle.


When we began the struggle it was basically a peaceful movement on the various issues of the people such as land, livelihood and liberation from feudal and imperialist exploitation and oppression. It needs hardly any genius to grasp the fact that no feudal lord would give up his land or power just because the masses demand it as their democratic right. The landlord would use all means at his disposal to suppress the mass resistance by brute force. He would get the local police and special forces, the central para-military forces and, if needed, the army. We had seen this whenever we had initiated the anti-feudal struggle. —-in Jagtyal during the late 1970s, social boycott of the landlords imposed by the peasantry had forced them to flee the villages our revolutionary movement had spread to over a hundred villages which shook the powers that be. What happened next to this non-violent struggle should be an eye-opener to all those who harbour illusions or biased against armed struggle. After few weeks the landlords came back with the mercenary forces and unleashed large-scale violence and cruel repressive measures such as arrests, torture of peasants, destruction of their property, declaration of the area as disturbed, clamping down on the civil rights of the people, and so on. It was at that juncture that the Party was compelled to take up arms and not out of any romantic notion. —the same is the case with anti-imperialist struggles and nationality movements. Who would want to give up their precious lives and undergo harsh, rigorous lives tortures and hardships when the demands of the masses such as land, national self-determination and liberation from imperialist exploitation and oppression are achieved through peaceful means? All movements began as peaceful movements but had to take the form of armed struggle due to the moves of the reactionary ruling classes. The case of Iraq is a classic illustration of how an entire population has been compelled to take up arms due to the unbridled violence unleashed by the imperialists for satisfying their unsatiated greed for oil. The same is the case with Palestine, Kashmir or elsewhere.


The second part of your question is a big myth. Nowhere had the masses been repelled from the Party on account of armed struggle. Rather, it is the lack of effective resistance that is acting as a discouragement wherever the state had bared its fangs. Without destroying and defeating the armed forces of repression it is impossible to rally the people or give them confidence. In fact, it is not our guerrilla squads alone that are putting up resistance. The people are playing a great role in heroically resisting and actively supporting the PLGA in its armed resistance to the police forces. Well, that’s the ground reality notwithstanding what the intellectuals analyzing events from their ivory towers might think and theorise.


Q: Why there cannot be protest in a non-violent way?

A: You must rather put the question the other way round. You must ask the reactionary ruling classes—the big landlords, the big business houses, the imperialist MNCs, the powerful Indian state and its armed forces, the state police and the bureaucracy—if at all they would listen, as to why they do not allow protest in a peaceful way. Why do they beat up, arrest, torture, and kill people who dare to go on strike? Why do they terminate the services of workers and employees for going on strike? Why do they send their mercenary police forces, the CRPF and the army to open fire upon people staging peaceful marches, dharnas and meetings without any provocation, why do they allow the khaki gangs to rape women, destroy property, enact fake encounters in violation of all provisions of the Indian Constitution, and for all these crimes against humanity, are let scot-free? Why do they create a Kalinganagar, a Nandigram, an Arwal, an Indravelli, and scores of such barbaric acts? Why peaceful protests of people in Kashmir against disappearances are not just ignored but even attacked with such ferocity? Why do they continue to enforce the savage Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Manipur when it is actually the Indian army and the police forces that are committing atrocities upon the people as the case of the rape of Manorama classically illustrates? Can you ever forget the savage beatings of the protestors by these khaki-clad or olivegreen goons breaking their skulls, and not sparing them even after they fall down seriously injured?


No ruling classes anywhere in the world had allowed the people to achieve their basic demands of land and liberation from oppression in a peaceful way; even the so-called democratic states allow it only to the extent they do not pose a threat to the status quo, to their exploitation and amassing of super profits. Ahimsa (non-violence) and Karma (fate) are the ideological bases and the dubious catch-words of the exploiting classes to perpetuate their violence and hegemony over the vast masses.


To begin with, none would or could go directly to violent ways to solve their problems. It is only after their peaceful marches, rallies, dharnas, hunger-strikes, general strikes etc., go unheeded or sought to be crushed that they are forced to resort to violent methods. This is an incontrovertible fact whether it is the anti-feudal armed agrarian struggle led by the revolutionaries, nationality movements of the North East, Kashmir or the anti-imperialist struggles. You only have to take a glance at the origin of the armed movements anywhere in the world, not just India, to appreciate this universal truth. To put it shortly, forms of struggle adopted by the people always depend upon the moves of the ruling classes and not vice versa. And you should also bear in mind that even today we use both violent and non-violent forms of struggle and not just violent forms.


Q: Is your violence for self-defence or to grab state power?

A: Strictly speaking, you cannot separate the two. In the long-term perspective, or ultimately our goal is to seize state power without which it is impossible to liberate the people of our country from the clutches of imperialism, feudalism and the big comprador bourgeoisie i.e, change the existing unjust socio-economic system. But in the process of preparing the people for the ultimate goal of establishing their own power, the ruling classes are resorting to savage repression on the party, the masses and the revolutionary movement as a whole. Hence in the course of mobilizing the masses into movements we are compelled to take up arms for self-defence even at an early stage. And for a relatively long time our war will have this nature and all our tactical counter offensive operations and campaigns should be seen as part of the war of self-defence at this stage.


On the fight against the “mighty” Indian state:


Q: Indian state is getting increasingly powerful. How do you plan to fight the Indian state?

A: Tactically speaking, yes. There has been a massive growth in the repressive forces and a strengthening of the Indian state. It is spending huge amounts on defence and “internal security”, liberally disbursing funds to the states to suppress the revolutionary forces, nationality movements and other democratic movements.


However, this growth of repressive forces brings one important point to the fore i.e., the Indian state is finding it impossible to control the growing people’s movements without continuously increasing its forces. Seen this way, the massive growth in the security forces does not signify the strength but rather the weakness of the Indian state and that it has lost its legitimacy to rule in the old way. It shows the desperation of the Indian ruling classes and the imperialists to rely more and more on the coercive methods in order to cling on to power and ensure their exploitation. If it were not for the ever-growing democratic and revolutionary movements in the country there would not have been the need to desperately strengthen the state apparatus and resort to such massive increases of repressive forces.


But let me tell you one oft-forgotten fact. No state, however powerful it might seem to be, can surpass the power of the people. As comrade Mao had correctly pointed out, even the mightiest state is, after all, a paper tiger. Yesterday we saw how the mightiest army of the most powerful state in all human history had to tuck its tail after the humiliating defeat in Vietnam. Today the entire world is watching with disbelief in their eyes as the mightiest imperialist armies led by US imperialism are being trounced in Iraq by ordinary ill-trained, ill-equipped but resolute national liberation fighters. In the ultimate analysis, it is the freedom-loving people who are mightier than any state. And one must not forget the universal truth that wherever there is oppression there will be resistance. However strong and powerful the state might appear to be it can and will be defeated through the resistance of the masses.


Our recently held Unity Congress—9th Congress had addressed this issue in much detail and worked out plans to counter the state by relying on the vast masses of our country who are oppressed by imperialism, feudalism and the comprador big business. And, of course, by enhancing our military capabilities as well. A specialised study of the strength and weaknesses of the Indian state is taken up. As you might be aware, even the mightiest enemy will have the weakest points. We have to correctly identify these weak points and deal effective blows so as to achieve victories.


On the question of Parliament and Party’s stand:


Q: Why can’t you fight election and go to Parliament and raise issues in a democratic way?

A: It is indeed a logical question which anyone who sees only the outer shell of so-called parliamentary democracy would ask. What is important is the kernel, the essence, the content and not just the form. When you strip off the outer garment of democracy you find the rotten, stinking corpse inside. That is why Lenin described Parliament as a pig-sty and a mere talking shop. Why are we calling it a talking shop?


Firstly, the real problems of the people can never be addressed by the Parliament and Assemblies, not to speak of solving them. The Parliamentary institutions are not meant for that. They have no real power. They may pass some resolutions that seem to do good for the people but these have to be implemented through the Executive which has the real power. We know the fate of the Land Ceiling Acts, legislation on untouchability, dowry, etc which are only showpieces. It is the executive which carries out everything. In periods such as Emergency during Indira Gandhi’s regime, when the Parliament itself was subverted, the real power of the Executive had come openly to the fore. But the man on the street knows how it is the revenue official, policeman, and the local magistrate who decide his life. However good a legislative act might seem to be, it is money power, muscle power and nepotism that decide every aspect of his life.


Secondly, Parliamentary institutions are meant to defend the status quo, not to change the system. They do, of course, make some cosmetic changes now and then to maintain their credibility among the masses. Most important of all, it is the imperialists, comprador big business houses, big landlords, contractors and the mafia which control the Parliament. Those who enter the Parliament are the representatives or mere puppets in the hands of these powerful lobbies. Even a good-intentioned parliamentarian cannot go beyond the rules drawn up by these bigwigs. If you see the business transacted in the parliament, you would find that more than 90 % of it is just trash, with no bearing on the real problems of the country.


That the system of elections is a big farce needs no elaboration as it is known even to a schoolchild. Do you call it democracy to purchase votes with liquor and money, whip up caste, religious, and ethnic sentiments? And even after the election, purchasing the legislators as you purchase any other item in the market-place? If a Narendra Modi, the butcher of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat, can win elections and get reelected as the chief minister; if criminals, dacoits, and most notoriously corrupt politicians can get elected; and if votes can be obtained at gun-point and through booth capturing and rigging, then do you really think that there is any meaning in this so-called democracy?


That is why our Party has complete clarity on the nature of legislative system unlike some other parties that swear to be revolutionary but indulge in parliamentary politics in practice. We are firm in our belief that it is only through struggle that people can solve their problems and the parliamentary institutions can do nothing good except creating illusions. Parliament is a safety-valve to let out the pent-up anger of the masses lest the system blow to pieces. You think raising issues in the parliament is the democratic way whereas we believe that people are raising their issues in a democratic way through organised protests. We shall always be at the head of such struggles and not step into the mire of the undemocratically elected powerless talking shop called Parliament that serves as the instrument of the big business and the feudal forces, and is subordinate to imperialist dictates.


Q: Do you fear that if you go to Parliament, the party can become corrupt?

A: The answer to this question is already covered in my earlier elaboration. To say in one word, more than being corrupted after entering Parliament, which is also true in the case of the ML parties, it is the corrupt parties and individuals that can really become part of the parliamentary system. Our Party firmly believes that as against the money power of the Parliament the real alternative before the people is the establishment of genuine people’s democratic power. We had built such organs of people’s power in some parts of the country such as janthana sarkar in Dandakaranya. These revolutionary organs of power show how real power is exercised as compared to the impotent, corrupt and criminal parliamentary institutions.


On the mass base of the Maoists:


Q: What is your mass base?

A: Our mass base is the vast oppressed masses, the wretched of the earth, the impoverished, deprived, destitute, alienated masses. The workers, peasants, middle class, dalits, women, advasis and all the toiling millions upon millions of masses are our base. These vast masses constitute the real India, not the fatty upper layer of five or ten per cent of the society. It is these vast masses who need revolution and they see us the alternative even if most of them have not seen us. As our subjective forces grow we shall enter these vast sections throughout the country. Today we have a strong mass base among these sections in all the areas where we are leading the anti-feudal armed agrarian struggles. There is still the need to go deeply into other sections in the urban areas—the working class, students, youth, middle class, small traders, hawkers, and so on.


Q: Can you give statistics how much of your cadre base has increased in last one year?

A: I cannot give the exact statistics as we do not want the enemy to know about the actual growth of our Party. Let them keep guessing and produce statistics through so-called research foundations, intelligence agencies, and so on. Anyway we are a bit flattered to see the statistics given by these agencies about the rate of growth of our Party and areas of our struggle and influence. But one thing I will make clear—we have certainly increased our overall cadre strength, our mass base and its quality in the past one year despite severe losses in some states.


Q: How much of Indian territory is under Maoist control? Indian PM once said 160 out of 604 districts –was it an exaggeration?

A: As I said earlier, we are indeed flattered by such statistics regarding our movement. But one thing we can understand from the Prime Minister’s statement i.e., how much of a nightmare we have become to the reactionary ruling classes of India. In fact, several agencies and foundations churn out figures to show how much of a threat the Maoists have become. One author says we are increasing at the rate of two districts per week! Another says we had expanded from a mere 64 districts in 2005 to 169 districts by the beginning of 2007, yet another researcher assertively says that the Maoists had expanded to most of AP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Orissa, and so on. Most of these figures are only their imagination and are deliberately presented in an exaggerated manner in order to deploy more police forces and allot greater amount of funds to suppress the revolutionary movement.


It is an exaggeration to say Maoists control that many districts. But as far as our influence goes I should say it is even more than that.


On People’s Power:


Q: What do you mean by ‘people’s power—we have seen in a communist state in West Bengal what communists do when they come to power. How would you ensure you will be able to give power to people?

A: It is not surprising that like most people, you too are confused by the names. Just because a Party calls itself Communist does not make it communist just as a party calling itself bharatiya janatha party does not make it an Indian people’s party or a samajwadi party into a socialist party. The stark fact is that the CPI(M) had long back abandoned the communist project and Marist ideology though it calls itself a Marxist Party. It had become a social fascist party from the time of the outbreak of Naxalbari armed peasant uprising in 1967 when thousands of revolutionaries were massacred upon the orders of the then Home minister Jyoti Basu in West Bengal during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The recent massacre of scores of people in Nandigram on March 14, the brutal suppression of the people’s struggle in Singur, and its open declaration to allow the MNCs and big comprador houses to set up SEZs and transform the state into a haven for these sharks had shown how the Bddhadeb’s Marxist party is acting at the behest of the Tatas, Salems and imperialist MNCs. The pre-hatched systematic execution of the massacre in Nandigram by the police-CPI(M) goons combine, in particular, has revealed their social fascist character to the new generation of the Indian people. So what you are referring to in West Bengal is nothing but social fascist rule.


Now coming to your question about people’s power—we call it people’s power only when real power is exercised by the people themselves. You can see it in parts of Dandakaranya, Bihar and Jharkhand. We had developed it in some villages in AP but these were destroyed due to the weakness of our armed strength which could not counter the massive offensive by the central and state’s special forces. Wherever we had established organs of people’s power in embryonic form, there you can see the initiative and energy of the masses being released and coming into full play, active participation of masses in administering their own lives, collectively developing their villages through construction of schools, tanks, hospitals, etc and increasing production, resolving the local disputes by themselves without ever the need to go to the bourgeois-feudal courts, in short shaping their own destiny. Where our people’s army and people’s militia are relatively strong and succeeded in destroying the state’s armed forces, there the people are no more oppressed and exploited by the tribal elders, landlords, forest officials, bureaucrats, big contractors, policemen. The people’s assertion has also kept the big industrial sharks and the imperialist MNCs at bay. Women enjoy relatively greater freedom than their counterparts in the rest of the country.


We have to develop this people’s power from the local to higher levels by strengthening the people’s army and transforming it into a mighty force, destroying the enemy power by intensifying the people’s war, and establishing the base areas. It is in the base areas that this power becomes relatively more consolidated. However, until the final capture of state power on a countrywide scale there will be severe constraints to the exercise of the people’s power at the village and area levels. You have to look at the power the people are exercising in these areas of struggle keeping these limitations in mind.


On the Islamic Upsurge:


Q: But globally the fight is now becoming pro-globalisation versus Islamic upsurge—in this scheme of things how do you see a classless society?

A: Globalisation is a war on the people and on every value cherished by the people for centuries. Globalisation is the ideology of the market fundamentalists. The market fundamentalists are destroying everything a nation had possessed and preserved for centuries. They promote nothing but sheer greed and self-interest with the sole aim of global hegemony and the means to achieve it is a war on all fronts—military, economic, political, cultural, psychological. And to achieve this “lofty” goal, they think even the destruction of the world is collateral damage.


There is a people’s upsurge against globalization all over the world and Islamic upsurge is an integral part of the worldwide people’s upsurge against imperialism, imperialist globalization and war.


A classless society-Communism—is a conscious human project and has to be built through the transformation of human consciousness. And to achieve this, the first step is to destroy imperialism on a world scale and domestic reaction in every country. Islamic upsurge is a reaction to imperialist globalization and imperialist oppression and exploitation of the world people, and Muslim masses in particular. As long as imperialism exists, and as long as it bolsters up decadent reactionary comprador Islamic regimes in countries of Asia and Africa, it is impossible for the Muslim masses to come out of their fundamentalism. It is only after the destruction of imperialism on a world scale can the Islamic masses come out completely from their obscurantist ideology and values. This will pave the way for the establishment of a classless society.


Q: What is your opinion about Islamic upsurge?

A: The answer to this question is already contained in the above explanation. In essence, we see the Islamic upsurge as a progressive anti-imperialist force in the contemporary world. It is wrong to describe the struggle that is going on in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestinian territory, Kashmir, Chechnya, and several other countries as a struggle by Islamic fundamentalists or as a “clash of civilizations” long back theorized by Samuel Huntington and which is being resurrected by all and sundry today. In essence all these are national liberation wars notwithstanding the role of Islamic fundamentalists too in these struggles. We oppose religious fundamentalism of every kind ideologically and politically as it obfuscates class distinctions and class struggle and keeps the masses under the yoke of class oppression. However, “Islamic fundamentalism”, in my opinion, is an ally of the people in their fight against market fundamentalism promoted by the US, EU, Japan and other imperialists.


The upsurge is bound to raise the anti-imperialist democratic consciousness among the Muslim masses and bring them closer with all other secular, progressive and revolutionary forces. I see the Islamic upsurge as the beginning of the democratic awakening of the Muslim masses despite the domination of fundamentalist ideology and outlook in the Islamic movement at present. Our Party supports the Islamic upsurge and seeks a unity with all anti-imperialist forces.


Q: Nasarullah of Hizbollah has recently said that Left should come close to Islamists. In Indian context—what do you feel?

A: I basically agree with what Nasarullah of Hizbollah has said. One must understand that Nasarullah is referring to the struggles for national liberation from imperialism in Islamic countries.


The need of the hour is to achieve the unity of all forces opposed to imperialism, particularly US imperialism, which is aggressively destroying every human value handed over to us by thousands of years of history and is oppressing every nation of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The Left cannot even claim itself to be democratic if it does not initiate steps to unite with the forces in the Islamic movement which are fighting for national liberation from imperialism, particularly US imperialism. All the ongoing movements which are supposed to be led by Islamic forces in various countries as I had mentioned above, are national democratic movements in content. The strong religious language used by the leadership of these movements does not alter their national democratic essence and their anti-imperialist character.


On the developments in Nepal:


Q: What do you think of Nepal?

A: Our Party’s official stand has already been given in the form of statements, interviews and articles in the last issue of our theoretical magazine, People’s War. There was also an Interview by our Party spokesperson last year. We are having a debate with various Maoist Parties on the developments in Nepal.


The people of Nepal had shown great mettle in fighting the monarchy but the fight is only half-way through. The real fight is not against Gyanendra and the monarchy which is but a symbol of the feudal-imperialist oppression and exploitation of the vast masses of Nepal. Without throwing out the feudal forces, the imperialists, the Indian big business and the local compradors, mere ouster of Gyanendra would not solve any of the problems of the Nepali masses. And this can be done only by firmly carrying on the people’s war to final victory. No Parliament can touch the seat of these reactionary forces who de facto rule the country.


We believe there is a serious danger of diversion to the people’s war in Nepal after the CPN(Maoist) had taken the stand of multi-party democracy in the name of 21st century democracy. While saying that such a step is necessary to prevent the restoration of capitalism after the revolution, what they are actually doing is to participate in elections even before the seizure of political power!! And this will harm the interests of revolution. We are having debates with the Maoists in Nepal on these questions. We are telling them not to have illusions in parliamentary democracy. The history of parliamentary democracy the world over as well as in India for almost six decades shows what a farce it is.


The most dangerous part of the deal is the disarming of the PLA by depositing the arms and placing the fighters in cantonments. This will do no good except disarming the masses and throwing them to the mercy of the oppressors. Neither the imperialists nor big neighbours like India and China would allow any fundamental change in the socio-economic system in Nepal. They cannot remain passive spectators if their interests are undermined by the Maoists whether through a people’s war or through the parliament. Hence the Maoists can never achieve their aim of putting an end to feudal and imperialist exploitation by entering the parliament in the name of multi-party democracy. They will have to either get co-opted into the system or abandon the present policy of power-sharing with the ruing classes and continue the armed revolution to seize power. There is no Buddhist middle way. They cannot set the rules for a game the bourgeoisie had invented.


On the role of the Party in the contemporary world:


Q: Developments are taking place at a rapid pace in both international and national arena. How do you see a role for your Party in this turmoil?

A: Our Party has a great role to play in the contemporary international and domestic situation. Our Congress has analysed the present political situation and issued calls to the Party and the people. It drew up the necessary immediate tactics and tasks to utilise the situation and achieve advances and leaps in the ongoing people’s war in India. The new Central Committee had further concretised these in the form of time-bound programmes and plans. Several resolutions were adopted by the Congress on the issues confronting the people in our country as well as the world. We hope to actively intervene in these issues and build a broad-based militant political mass movement.


The next ten to twenty years will witness massive political and social upheavals all over the world and our country is going to witness mass upheavals in several states against the onslaught of imperialism, anti-people policies of the Indian ruling classes such as carving out neo-colonial enclaves called SEZs, massive displacement of the poor in both urban and rural areas, against draconian laws, state repression, unemployment, corruption, inflation, neglect of social welfare, and so on. Militant confrontation between the people and the state will become a general feature throughout the country and I am sure our Party will be at the head of these movements. It will grow to the status of providing leadership to the vast majority of the oppressed masses of our country. Imposing ban on our Party and the mass organisations, murdering our comrades, unleashing cruel repression on the people, intimidating and harassing all those associated with the revolutionary movement and all their repressive measures cannot prevent this inevitable establishment of our Party’s leadership over the vast masses. The reactionary and revisionist parties, the Parliamentary system are very much discredited in the eyes of the people and they cannot but see our Party as the only alternative before them to achieve their real liberation.


Q: And finally do you feel it is a very crucial moment in history of India’s Maoist struggle? If so, why?

A: I do not know what exactly is in your mind when you placed the question. But I would say yes, for several reasons. When for the first time you see the emergence of a single directing centre for the Indian revolution after the merger of the two major Maoist streams in the Indian communist movement, when you hold a Congress—the highest authority in the Party—after over 3 ½ decades, 37 years to be precise, it indeed becomes a crucial moment in the history of India’s Maoist struggle. And it is more than that. Holding the Unity Congress itself has been the greatest challenge to or Party in recent times. The reactionary ruling classes, of course with the advice of the imperialists, had tried by all means at their disposal to disrupt the Congress. However, with meticulous planning by our Central Committee and various leading committees of our Party, with the protection provided by the heroic fighters of our PLGA, and the ever-vigilant people’s militia and revolutionary masses, we could complete this gigantic democratic exercise that was initiated two years ago. It is a matter of pride that we could give a fitting rebuff to the enemy by successfully holding the Congress for over a fortnight.


It is a crucial moment for another reason too. Today the Maoist movement is facing the great challenge of building a strong PLA and establishing the base areas in the remote countryside as an immediate task. The reactionary ruling classes are sparing no stone unturned to prevent the emergence of such Red bases (democratic government of the people) in India’s heartland as that would mean the emergence of a real alternative to the rotten, Parliamentary system and the criminal, communal, fascist, comprador parliamentary parties. Hence we see the massive deployment not only of the central forces, state’s special forces but also setting up huge armed force from the local population, arming and training them, and pitting them against the revolutionary movement organizing massacres that remind us of the pogroms of the Black Hundred in pre-revolutionary Russia, and the Nazi gangs of fascist Hitler. Such is the scenario enacted in Dandakaranya in the name of salwa judum and to a lesser extent in Bihar-Jharkhand in the name of Sendra. They would not hesitate to send the Indian army to create more bloodbaths and, the Maoist movement can advance only by smashing these attacks by the enemy forces. That is how we see the present moment as a crucial moment in the history of the Maoist struggle in India.


And the last reason why we should call the present moment a crucial moment is that we, the Maoists, are confronted with the great task of providing revolutionary leadership to over a billion people at a time when the entire country is being transformed into a neo-colony, when the country is being sold away to the imperialists and the big business in the name of SEZs, when millions upon millions of people are being displaced by so-called development projects, when workers, peasants, employees, students, sections of the intelligentsia, dalits, women adivasis, nationalities, religious minorities and others are seething with revolt.

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

CPM just can’t accept the rural poor challenging it’ – Dipankar Bhattacharya

April 3, 2007

‘The CPM just can’t accept the rural poor challenging it’

Dipanker Bhattacharya, general secretary, CPI-ML (Liberation), speaks to TEHELKA about the Nandigram police firing and the role of the Left

Dipanker Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI-ML (Liberation),

What do you think about the Nandigram violence?
Nandigram didn’t happen overnight. Mini-Nandigrams have been happening in West Bengal since years. In May 1993, at Karanad village in Barddhaman district, on the day of panchayat elections, five agricultural labourers were lynched and burnt alive by CPM goons. Reason? They questioned the CPM’s anti-poor policies and joined the CPI-ML.

Singur has inaugurated a new phase in politics. Sharecroppers and small peasants were the mainstay of the CPM in Bengal. Now, they are challenging the government’s policies. After 30 years in power, CPM just cannot accept the fact that the rural poor in the state have the guts to challenge it. This intolerance is at the heart of the whole episode.

At Nandigram, in January, the farmers had their apprehensions because they had seen how land was snatched from the people at Singur without their consent. At the first warning that their land could also be taken away, they rose in protest. On January 6, the administration convened a peace meeting. It was decided that the police won’t be sent into the village and the people would repair the damage caused to roads and bridges. But that decision was just a smokescreen. While the peace talks were on, the CPM organised its armed goons and they ran amok at Nandigarm, killing seven people. Even after that, they (CPM) did say that if the people don’t want SEZ, we were not in hurry to acquire their land. At the same time, several CPM leaders including Health Minister Suryakant Mishra and the Kisan Sabha leader Binoy Kumar were issuing not so veiled threats to the people. Just before the March 11 incident, CPM organised a big rally in Kolkata to show that the peasantry of Bengal was in favour of the SEZs. In that meeting, Chief Minister Budhhadeb Bhattacharya had said no single area or a couple of panchayats could stop “our onward march”. Binoy Kumar openly declared that they “will make life hell for the people of Nandigram”.

After 30 years in power, the Left Front government of West Bengal will be known for the police excesses at Nandigram and Singur, not for land reforms or panchayati raj experiments

Then came the genocide. Nandigram is a clear case of a cold-blooded police operation. Initially, Budhhadeb said, “I was under tremendous pressure to send police in”. Then on the floor of the Assembly, he said the police had opened fire in self-defence. Finally, he said, “I take moral responsibility. We didn’t anticipate this. I am sorry for the police excesses”. It was pre-planned. Even CPM leaders at the national level had approved the blueprint of the operation. The whole idea was to teach the peasants a lesson.

Against the backdrop of Nandigram firing, what does Left politics in India mean?
There is a very clear divide within the Left. The opportunist group, which has been numerically and electorally dominant, now stands unmasked. The unmasking began 40 years back when the Naxalbari incident happened. On the one hand, you have examples of degeneration of the Left in power. On the other, you have growing peasants’ resistance. When you speak to the victims of Nandigram, they only talk about the injustice meted out to them, and ask if there is any political solution for that.

There is a very clear divide within the Left. The opportunist group, which has been numerically and electorally dominant, now stands unmasked

There will be fresh growth of the Left movement in this country. Polarisation has happened between the derailed Left and the revolutionary Left. The derailed Left is busy killing peasants and the rural poor to appease Big Capital. When the Left came to power in Bengal 30 years ago, they promised that they would provide immediate relief to the people and restore democracy, which was murdered by the Congress regime during the Emergency. Over the years, they have even curbed the freedom to protest and suppressed peasants’ movements. The CPM neither listens to the Left intellectuals nor to the peasants. But the real Left, like our party, is still fighting for the rural poor. In the days to come, you will witness the Left polarisation clearly.

Do you mean that the years in power have eroded the Left’s mass base in Bengal and corrupted it?
You can’t say that power will invariably result in this. They could have used the power for different purposes. But they feel so “responsible” to the system and the ruling classes that they have completely redrawn their priorities. It is this reversal of priorities that has resulted in Nandigram. After 30 years in power, now the Left Front government of West Bengal will be known for the police excesses at Nandigram and Singur, not for land reforms or panchayati raj experiments.

Where do you see CPI, Forward Bloc and RSP standing?
They have been a part and parcel of the state government. It’s true that, after

In 1993, on the day of panchayat elections, five agricultural labourers were lynched and burnt alive in Barddhaman district by CPM goons. Reason? They questioned the CPM’s anti-poor policies and joined the CPI-ML

Singur and Nandigram, they have raised voices of protest. The two meetings they held in Kolkota gave the impression that they were out to debate the issues threadbare. But at the Front meeting, the CPM said, “Henceforth, we would listen to you more” and there would be more meetings. Their protests ended there.

It’s time for people to speak out. Sumit Sarkar and Tanika Sarkar did. Prakash Karat expressed regret, only after four days of silence. If Budhhadeb really feels morally responsible, he should quit.

Do you see these incidents as the beginning of the end of Left rule in Bengal?
Definitely. The CPM has never been so isolated as it is today. Nobody believes them today and I find this isolation a major blow to the party. Certainly, the Budhhadeb government has lost its popular support and public trust.

Do you expect any realignment of the Left bloc?
I do not see it at this moment. But definitely there will be a realignment of forces and ranks. If the CPI, FB and RSP leaders cannot address the grievances of their ranks, there will be a disconnect between the power-obsessed leadership and the cadres.

Tehelka

‘Nandigram can excel Naxalbari’ – Kanu Sanyal

April 2, 2007

‘Nandigram can excel Naxalbari’

Founder of the landmark Naxalbari Movement, Kanu Sanyal was born in 1929, at Kurseong in Darjeeling. His father, the late Annada Govinda Sanyal, was a court clerk and posted at Kurseong at the time of his death. The youngest but one among five brothers and a sister, Mr Sanyal went to Kurseong ME School (renamed Pushparani Roy Memorial High School) and became a matriculate in 1946. He did not complete the intermediate course in science at the Jalpaiguri College.

In 1949, Mr Sanyal got recruited at the Kalimpong court as a revenue clerk, only to continue in the service for six months until his transfer to the Siliguri court. He was arrested on the charge of waving a black flag at the then chief minister of Bengal, the late Bidhan Chandra Roy, in Siliguri. The agitation was in protest against the Centre’s ban on the undivided Communist Party of India in 1948.

At the Jalpaiguri Jail, where he was lodged during the brief imprisonment in 1949, Mr Sanyal met his future comrade, the then CPI district secretariat member, the late Charu Majumdar. Immediately after his release, Mr Sanyal joined the CPI, and became a whole-time member the following year. In 1964, when the CPI split on the issue of the Sino-Indian conflict, he sided with the new faction, the CPI-M.

A revolutionary at heart, Mr Sanyal could not concur with the “revisionist” stance of the CPI-M and soon stood out as a prominent activist of the party’s “radical faction”. In 1967, it was Mr Sanyal, who practically led the famous peasants’ uprising at Naxalbari village in West Bengal, leading to the birth of “Naxalism” ~ which till date is the most prominent form of armed Communist struggle in India.

Mao Zedong had largely influenced Mr Sanyal’s political philosophy. In September 1967, he went to China via Kathmandu and met the Chinese Communist leader to brief him on the developments at Naxalbari. In the 59 years of his life as a revolutionary Communist, Mr Sanyal has spent 14 years behind bars. With an ever-deteriorating health, he now leads the CPI-ML as it general secretary. In an interview with BAPPADITYA PAUL, he speaks about the Naxalbari Movement’s relevance in the contest of farmers’ struggles. Excerpts:

Q: As per popular perception, the late Charu Majumdar was instrumental in initiating the Naxalbari Movement and you assisted him as a trusted comrade. How far is this true?

This is a wrong perception. Charu Majumdar was never directly attached to the Naxalbari Movement. When the Naxalbari uprising took place, Charuda was bedridden at his Siliguri home, with a severe heart ailment. I must refer to the difference of opinion we had over how to bring about a Communist revolution by “radical Communists”.

Charuda and his followers believed a revolution can be materialised by raising small groups of armed Communists and killing the individual “class” enemies. He also rubbished the idea of trade union practices. But a majority within the “radical Communists”, including myself, was opposed to such views.

While we, too, believed an armed struggle was inevitable for waging a revolution, we wanted to materialise it by involving the entire working class, especially the peasantry. We never subscribed to the idea of targeting individual “class” enemies and instead, were in favour of marching forward by forceful possession of farmlands owned by zamindars and big landlords.
When the differences with Charuda grew deeper, without any sign of either group budging on its stand, a way had to be worked out. It was agreed that Charuda would experiment with his ideas in the Chathat area (on the outskirts of Siliguri), while we would go ahead with ours, at Naxalbari. The ideas that proved successful would be adopted as an undisputed strategy of the
“radical Communists”.

We began work in earnest at Naxalbari and the peasant uprising became a reality in 1967. But Charuda failed to ignite any such movement at Chathat and was summarily proved wrong.

Q: But outside Naxalbari, it was Majumdar’s “individual terrorism” line that was by and large adhered to. Those who spread the Naxalbari Movement elsewhere in the state, took the same to be the true spirit of Naxalbari?

That’s true. It happened primarily because of two reasons. First, as I was enmeshed in the struggle at Naxalbari and underground, I was detached from the outer world. Second, despite his ways being proved wrong, Charuda did not shun his strategy of “individual terrorism” and was always on the lookout to press it into action.

When the news of an armed peasant uprising at Naxalbari spread, “radical Communists” from across the state and from other parts of the country started showing their eagerness to join the fray. As Charuda was based in Siliguri then and was accessible, they looked to him for guidance. Charuda never missed the opportunity to preach his line of “individual terrorism”, labelling it as the spirit of the Naxalbari Movement.

The Press helped spread Charuda’s strategies, by referring to his comments in news coverage published on the Naxalbari uprising at the time. It was also because the Press could hardly access anyone else.

Q: Are you suggesting that in reality, Majumdar hardly played any role in the Naxalbari Movement?

Not exactly. Rather, what I am saying is, his role was limited to providing the philosophical base for the Naxalbari uprising, to a certain extent. But I would reiterate, Charuda was never directly involved in the Naxalbari Movement, nor was he aware of the day-to-day developments taking place in the field of struggle.

Q: Then why is it so that Naxalism, as perceived and practised in several parts of India now, seem to be adhering to the “individual terrorism” strategy, which Majumdar spoke of ?

So far as perception is concerned, I think, I have already answered that question. With regard to the preference for “individual terrorism”, I would say, the “romanticism” of an armed revolution is luring “radical Communists” away. Particularly, with arms in hand, youths tend to believe they can bring about a revolution by using bullets alone. But the reality is, they simply can’t. Without a solid mass base, all efforts will be futile.

Q: What is the future of Maoist or Naxalite insurgency, active in many parts of India ?

They will vanish with time, unless they strengthen their mass base immediately. I have been to an Andhra Pradesh village where Maoists claim dominance. I was astonished that even with arms in hand, the Maoists could hardly generate confidence among the peasantry to cultivate their own lands.

The peasantry there prefers approaching the police camp, to save themselves both from the Maoists and the forces of the landlords.

Q: Coming to West Bengal, what is your view on the latest industry-agriculture conflict? How do you take the ongoing anti-farmland acquisition movement at Singur and Nandigram? Do you find any similarity with the Naxalbari Movement?

See, there is hardly anyone who doesn’t want industrialisation in Bengal. But the question is for whose benefit it is. The industrialisation policy has been adopted and implemented by the Left Front government solely to benefit the imperialists and so, we oppose it. We say, set up need-based industries, keeping in mind the resources of a particular area and drive it for the general wellbeing of the common man. But the government is ruthlessly adamant on setting up industries by trampling farmlands.

The chief minister is harping on industrialisation and believes that everyone, barring himself, is wrong. But my question is, if Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee wants to rejuvenate the industrial scenario, why doesn’t he first reopen the nearly 56,000 closed industrial units in the state? Why is there no effort to save the tea gardens in the Dooars and the labourers from starvation?
Singur and Nandigram have unmasked the cruel facets of the CPI-M, which fancies itself to be a party of the underprivileged.

The movement that has generated out of Singur and Nandigram, if explored properly, can bring about a sea change in West Bengal. So far as the form is concerned, I find a great deal of similarity between Nandigram and the Naxalbari Movement. The ongoing fight in Nandigram, in particular, has the potential to excel the Naxalbari Movement. The only thing needed is a strong, selfless, political leadership to sustain it.

Q: Why single out Nandigram, when the same fight is on at Singur ?

Mamata Banerjee has ruined the movement in Singur. By embarking on a hunger-strike, she spoilt the ignition of the Singur farmers.

I am sure the farmers of Singur will never get back their lands and Miss Banerjee is solely responsible for this. Just take a look at the happenings in Singur, as long as the farmers were battling it out themselves, the state government could not erect a fence on the acquired land.
But soon after Miss Banerjee hijacked the movement and started her fast, the focus shifted to Esplanade and fencing work went on in Singur unabated. Whereas in Nandigram, farmers and locals relied on their own strength and even on the face of a persistent joint offensive by the police and CPI-M goons, they have so far managed to resist the imperialist invasion.

Q: But Miss Banerjee is the one considered capable of throwing out the Left Front? In fact, the Jamait-ul-Ulema-e-Hind leader, Mr Siddiqulla Choudhury, is talking of a grand alliance with the Trinamul and others, to fight the CPI-M?

See, capturing power is one thing and fighting the imperialists is another. For the moment, even if a grand alliance were to pull down the Left Front government, would it make any difference to the poor, the framers? Rather, the alliance would continue in the wake of what the CPI-M-led government is doing now, albeit with a different set of propaganda. I say this because like the CPI-M, the Trinamul, the Jamait and the rest lack the political will to work for the common people. If I am wrong, then let them first make a public declaration what radical changes they would initiate for the benefit of the farmers, if elected to power.

Q: In this context, how do you rate the role of the Left Front allies?

I don’t find their role satisfactory either. If parties like the CPI, RSP and the Forward Bloc are really opposed to the CPI-M’s ruthless industrialisation agenda, why don’t they step out of the Front? I advised some of their leaders to come out of the government, at least that would have created pressure on the CPI-M. But despite continuous humiliation at the hands of the CPI-M, they seem only too eager to continue sharing power.

Q: If we were to leave out the Trinamul, the Jamait and the Left allies, who then would lead the movement forward?

United Naxalites alone can guide the movement on the right path. I urge all Naxalite factions to form a common platform and take the anti-farmland acquisition movement to every corner of the state. Forget about the elections, just make a collective effort to intensify and sustain the struggle generated out of Singur and Nandigram.

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, Siliguri.)

The Statesman

Varavara Rao : ‘If the State is violent, there will be counter-violence’

March 27, 2007

‘If the State is violent, there will be counter-violence’

Revolutionary poet and ideologue Varavara Rao

varavara rao

How do you react when Maoists enact a brutal massacre such as this?

It is only the symptom of what is happening on the ground. The issue is simple. Multinationals are making huge inroads with the help of corrupt governments and contractors. The Maoists’ movement had stopped the mnc drain on the region’s resources, but of late they have begun to exploit the area again. In addition, the government is repressing people in the name of Salva Judum, which is nothing but a State-sponsored war upon the people. The media has reported more than 50 policemen killed in the incident, but do you know 39 of them were Salva Judum activists whom the government has armed and given uniforms?

Do you justify violence as a political tactic, though?

What is the option? You must ask this question to the State which is the main instrument of violence today. Those who stand up for the rights of the masses often have no recourse but to resist State violence; Maoists are indulging in counter-violence, that’s all, they have to defend themselves.

Is there a possibility they could give up arms and begin talks?

Again, ask the State. If it ends Salva Judum and the people of the area are allowed to return home safe, there will be a reduction in violence. But if the State continues to oppress people, there will be retaliation.

How do you respond to a ceasefire proposal?

Let the government declare it, the revolutionary movement will take a decision. More than 60 people were killed in Nandigram by the State and nobody calls that violence. These were people trying to protect their land and the police just butchered them. There is no outcry about that kind of violence. Why? When the State is so violent, there will be violence in society.

Where do you see the movement heading? Is there a goal in sight?

This is a time for all revolutionary, democratic and nationality movements, like the ones in Kashmir and the Northeast to unite, and something will come out of this unity. We have very little expectations of the State and the comprador class that it represents.

Sankarshan Thakur
Mar 31 , 2007

Tehelka

Arundathi Roy Interview – It’s outright war and both sides are choosing their weapons’

March 27, 2007

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

‘It’s outright war and both sides are choosing their weapons’

Chhattisgarh. Jharkhand. Bihar. Andhra Pradesh. Signposts of fractures gone too far with too little remedy. Arundhati Roy in conversation with Shoma Chaudhury on the violence rending our heartland

https://i2.wp.com/www.venusproject.com/ecs/images/a_roy_pics/roy6-10b.jpg

There is an atmosphere of growing violence across the country. How do you read the signs? In what context should it be read?

You don’t have to be a genius to read the signs. We have a growing middle class, reared on a diet of radical consumerism and aggressive greed. Unlike industrialising Western countries, which had colonies from which to plunder resources and generate slave labour to feed this process, we have to colonise ourselves, our own nether parts. We’ve begun to eat our own limbs. The greed that is being generated (and marketed as a value interchangeable with nationalism) can only be sated by grabbing land, water and resources from the vulnerable. What we’re witnessing is the most successful secessionist struggle ever waged in independent India — the secession of the middle and upper classes from the rest of the country. It’s a vertical secession, not a lateral one.They’re fighting for the right to merge with the world’s elite somewhere up there in the stratosphere.

They’ve managed to commandeer the resources, the coal, the minerals, the bauxite, the water and electricity. Now they want the land to make more cars, more bombs, more mines — supertoys for the new supercitizens of the new superpower. So it’s outright war, and people on both sides are choosing their weapons. The government and the corporations reach for structural adjustment, the World Bank, the ADB, FDI, friendly court orders, friendly policy makers, help from the ‘friendly’ corporate media and a police force that will ram all this down people’s throats.

Those who want to resist this process have, until now, reached for dharnas, hunger strikes, satyagraha, the courts and what they thought was friendly media. But now more and more are reaching for guns. Will the violence grow? If the ‘growth rate’ and the Sensex are going to be the only barometers the government uses to measure progress and the well-being of people, then of course it will. How do I read the signs? It isn’t hard to read sky-writing. What it says up there, in big letters, is this: the shit has hit the fan, folks.

You once remarked that though you may not resort to violence yourself, you think it has become immoral to condemn it, given the circumstances in the country. Can you elaborate on this view?

I’d be a liability as a guerrilla! I doubt I used the word ‘immoral’ — morality is an elusive business, as changeable as the weather. What I feel is this: non-violent movements have knocked at the door of every democratic institution in this country for decades, and have been spurned and humiliated. Look at the Bhopal gas victims, the Narmada Bachao Andolan. The nba had a lot going for it — high-profile leadership, media coverage, more resources than any other mass movement.

What went wrong? People are bound to want to rethink strategy. When Sonia Gandhi begins to promote satyagraha at the World Economic Forum in Davos, it’s time for us to sit up and think. For example, is mass civil disobedience possible within the structure of a democratic nation state? Is it possible in the age of disinformation and corporate-controlled mass media? Are hunger strikes umbilically linked to celebrity politics? Would anybody care if the people of Nangla Machhi or Bhatti mines went on a hunger strike? Irom Sharmila has been on a hunger strike for six years. That should be a lesson to many of us. I’ve always felt that it’s ironic that hunger strikes are used as a political weapon in a land where most people go hungry anyway. We are in a different time and place now.

Up against a different, more complex adversary. We’ve entered the era of NGOs — or should I say the era of paltu shers — in which mass action can be a treacherous business. We have demonstrations which are funded, we have sponsored dharnas and social forums which make militant postures but never follow up on what they preach. We have all kinds of ‘virtual’ resistance. Meetings against SEZs sponsored by the biggest promoters of SEZs. Awards and grants for environmental activism and community action given by corporations responsible for devastating whole ecosystems. Vedanta, a company mining bauxite in the forests of Orissa, wants to start a university.

The Tatas have two charitable trusts that directly and indirectly fund activists and mass movements across the country. Could that be why Singur has drawn so much less flak than Nandigram? Of course the Tatas and Birlas funded Gandhi too — maybe he was our first NGO. But now we have NGOs who make a lot of noise, write a lot of reports, but whom the sarkar is more than comfortable with. How do we make sense of all this? The place is crawling with professional diffusers of real political action. ‘Virtual’ resistance has become something of a liability.

We are in the era of sponsored dharnas and NGOs the sarkar is comfortable with. The place is crawling with professional diffusers of real political action
There was a time when mass movements looked to the courts for justice. The courts have rained down a series of judgements that are so unjust, so insulting to the poor in the language they use, they take your breath away. A recent Supreme Court judgement, allowing the Vasant Kunj Mall to resume construction though it didn’t have the requisite clearances, said in so many words that the questions of corporations indulging in malpractice does not arise! In the ERA of corporate globalisation, corporate land-grab, in the ERA of Enron and Monsanto, Halliburton and Bechtel, that’s a loaded thing to say. It exposes the ideological heart of the most powerful institution in this country. The judiciary, along with the corporate press, is now seen as the lynchpin of the neo-liberal project.

In a climate like this, when people feel that they are being worn down, exhausted by these interminable ‘democratic’ processes, only to be eventually humiliated, what are they supposed to do? Of course it isn’t as though the only options are binary — violence versus non-violence. There are political parties that believe in armed struggle but only as one part of their overall political strategy. Political workers in these struggles have been dealt with brutally, killed, beaten, imprisoned under false charges. People are fully aware that to take to arms is to call down upon yourself the myriad forms of the violence of the Indian State. The minute armed struggle becomes a strategy, your whole world shrinks and the colours fade to black and white. But when people decide to take that step because every other option has ended in despair, should we condemn them? Does anyone believe that if the people of Nandigram had held a dharna and sung songs, the West Bengal government would have backed down? We are living in times when to be ineffective is to support the status quo (which no doubt suits some of us). And being effective comes at a terrible price. I find it hard to condemn people who are prepared to pay that price.

You have been travelling a lot on the ground — can you give us a sense of the trouble spots you have been to? Can you outline a few of the combat lines in these places?

Huge question — what can I say? The military occupation of Kashmir, neo-fascism in Gujarat, civil war in Chhattisgarh, mncs raping Orissa, the submergence of hundreds of villages in the Narmada Valley, people living on the edge of absolute starvation, the devastation of forest land, the Bhopal victims living to see the West Bengal government re-wooing Union Carbide — now calling itself Dow Chemicals — in Nandigram. I haven’t been recently to Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, but we know about the almost hundred thousand farmers who have killed themselves.

We know about the fake encounters and the terrible repression in Andhra Pradesh. Each of these places has its own particular history, economy, ecology. None is amenable to easy analysis. And yet there is connecting tissue, there are huge international cultural and economic pressures being brought to bear on them. How can I not mention the Hindutva project, spreading its poison sub-cutaneously, waiting to erupt once again? I’d say the biggest indictment of all is that we are still a country, a culture, a society which continues to nurture and practice the notion of untouchability. While our economists number-crunch and boast about the growth rate, a million people — human scavengers — earn their living carrying several kilos of other people’s shit on their heads every day. And if they didn’t carry shit on their heads they would starve to death. Some f***ing superpower this.

How does one view the recent State and police violence in Bengal?

No different from police and State violence anywhere else — including the issue of hypocrisy and doublespeak so perfected by all political parties including the mainstream Left. Are Communist bullets different from capitalist ones? Odd things are happening. It snowed in Saudi Arabia. Owls are out in broad daylight. The Chinese government tabled a bill sanctioning the right to private property. I don’t know if all of this has to do with climate change. The Chinese Communists are turning out to be the biggest capitalists of the 21st century. Why should we expect our own parliamentary Left to be any different? Nandigram and Singur are clear signals. It makes you wonder — is the last stop of every revolution advanced capitalism?

Think about it — the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, the Vietnam War, the anti-apartheid struggle, the supposedly Gandhian freedom struggle in India… what’s the last station they all pull in at? Is this the end of imagination?These are times when to be ineffective is to support the status quo. And being effective comes at a terrible price

The Maoist attack in Bijapur — the death of 55 policemen. Are the rebels only the flip side of the State?

How can the rebels be the flip side of the State? Would anybody say that those who fought against apartheid — however brutal their methods — were the flip side of the State? What about those who fought the French in Algeria? Or those who fought the Nazis? Or those who fought colonial regimes? Or those who are fighting the US occupation of Iraq? Are they the flip side of the State? This facile new report-driven ‘human rights’ discourse, this meaningless condemnation game that we are all forced to play, makes politicians of us all and leaches the real politics out of everything.

However pristine we would like to be, however hard we polish our halos, the tragedy is that we have run out of pristine choices. There is a civil war in Chhattisgarh sponsored, created by the Chhattisgarh government, which is publicly pursing the Bush doctrine: if you’re not with us, you are with the terrorists. The lynchpin of this war, apart from the formal security forces, is the Salva Judum — a government-backed militia of ordinary people forced to take up arms, forced to become spos (special police officers).

The Indian State has tried this in Kashmir, in Manipur, in Nagaland. Tens of thousands have been killed, hundreds of thousands tortured, thousands have disappeared. Any banana republic would be proud of this record. Now the government wants to import these failed strategies into the heartland. Thousands of adivasis have been forcibly moved off their mineral-rich lands into police camps. Hundreds of villages have been forcibly evacuated. Those lands, rich in iron-ore, are being eyed by corporations like the Tatas and Essar. mous have been signed, but no one knows what they say. Land acquisition has begun.

This kind of thing happened in countries like Colombia — one of the most devastated countries in the world. While everybody’s eyes are fixed on the spiralling violence between government-backed militias and guerrilla squads, multinational corporations quietly make off with the mineral wealth. That’s the little piece of theatre being scripted for us in Chhattisgarh.

Of course it’s horrible that 55 policemen were killed. But they’re as much the victims of government policy as anybody else. For the government and the corporations they’re just cannon fodder — there’s plenty more where they came from. Crocodile tears will be shed, prim TV anchors will hector us for a while and then more supplies of fodder will be arranged. For the Maoist guerrillas, the police and spos they killed were the armed personnel of the Indian State, the main, hands-on perpetrators of repression, torture, custodial killings, false encounters. They’re not innocent civilians — if such a thing exists — by any stretch of imagination.

I have no doubt that the Maoists can be agents of terror and coercion too. I have no doubt they have committed unspeakable atrocities. I have no doubt they cannot lay claim to undisputed support from local people — but who can? Still, no guerrilla army can survive without local support. That’s a logistical impossibility. And the support for Maoists is growing, not diminishing. That says something. People have no choice but to align themselves on the side of whoever they think is less worse.

But to equate a resistance movement fighting against enormous injustice with the government which enforces that injustice is absurd. The government has slammed the door in the face of every attempt at non-violent resistance. When people take to arms, there is going to be all kinds of violence — revolutionary, lumpen and outright criminal. The government is responsible for the monstrous situations it creates.

‘Naxals’, ‘Maoists’, ‘outsiders’: these are terms being very loosely used these days.

‘Outsiders’ is a generic accusation used in the early stages of repression by governments who have begun to believe their own publicity and can’t imagine that their own people have risen up against them. That’s the stage the CPM is at now in Bengal, though some would say repression in Bengal is not new, it has only moved into higher gear. In any case, what’s an outsider? Who decides the borders? Are they village boundaries? Tehsil? Block? District? State? Is narrow regional and ethnic politics the new Communist mantra?

About Naxals and Maoists — well… India is about to become a police state in which everybody who disagrees with what’s going on risks being called a terrorist. Islamic terrorists have to be Islamic — so that’s not good enough to cover most of us. They need a bigger catchment area. So leaving the definition loose, undefined, is effective strategy, because the time is not far off when we’ll all be called Maoists or Naxalites, terrorists or terrorist sympathisers, and shut down by people who don’t really know or care who Maoists or Naxalites are. In villages, of course, that has begun — thousands of people are being held in jails across the country, loosely charged with being terrorists trying to overthrow the state. Who are the real Naxalites and Maoists? I’m not an authority on the subject, but here’s a very rudimentary potted history.

The Communist Party of India, the CPI, was formed in 1925. The CPI (M), or what we now call the CPM — the Communist Party Marxist — split from the CPI in 1964 and formed a separate party. Both, of course, were parliamentary political parties. In 1967, the CPM, along with a splinter group of the Congress, came to power in West Bengal.

At the time there was massive unrest among the peasantry starving in the countryside. Local CPM leaders — Kanu Sanyal and Charu Mazumdar — led a peasant uprising in the district of Naxalbari which is where the term Naxalites comes from. In 1969, the government fell and the Congress came back to power under Siddhartha Shankar Ray.

The Naxalite uprising was mercilessly crushed — Mahasweta Devi has written powerfully about this time. In 1969, the CPI (ML) — Marxist Leninist — split from the CPM. A few years later, around 1971, the CPI (ML) devolved into several parties: the CPM-ML (Liberation), largely centred in Bihar; the CPM-ML (New Democracy), functioning for the most part out of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar; the CPM-ML (Class Struggle) mainly in Bengal. These parties have been generically baptised ‘Naxalites’.

They see themselves as Marxist Leninist, not strictly speaking Maoist. They believe in elections, mass action and — when absolutely pushed to the wall or attacked — armed struggle. The MCC — the Maoist Communist Centre, at the time mostly operating in Bihar — was formed in 1968. The PW, People’s War, operational for the most part in Andhra Pradesh, was formed in 1980. Recently, in 2004, the MCC and the pw merged to form the CPI (Maoist) They believe in outright armed struggle and the overthrowing of the State. They don’t participate in elections. This is the party that is fighting the guerrilla war in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

The Indian State and media largely view the Maoists as an “internal security” threat. Is this the way to look at them?

I’m sure the Maoists would be flattered to be viewed in this way.

The Maoists want to bring down the State. Given the autocratic ideology they take their inspiration from, what alternative would they set up? Wouldn’t their regime be an exploitative, autocratic, violent one as well? Isn’t their action already exploitative of ordinary people? Do they really have the support of ordinary people?

I think it’s important for us to acknowledge that both Mao and Stalin are dubious heroes with murderous pasts. Tens of millions of people were killed under their regimes. Apart from what happened in China and the Soviet Union, Pol Pot, with the support of the Chinese Communist Party (while the West looked discreetly away), wiped out two million people in Cambodia and brought millions of people to the brink of extinction from disease and starvation.

Can we pretend that China’s cultural revolution didn’t happen? Or that millions of people in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were not victims of labour camps, torture chambers, the network of spies and informers, the secret police. The history of these regimes is just as dark as the history of Western imperialism, except for the fact that they had a shorter life-span. We cannot condemn the occupation of Iraq, Palestine and Kashmir while we remain silent about Tibet and Chechnya. I would imagine that for the Maoists, the Naxalites, as well as the mainstream Left, being honest about the past is important to strengthen people’s faith in the future. One hopes the past will not be repeated, but denying that it ever happened doesn’t help inspire confidence…

Nevertheless, the Maoists in Nepal have waged a brave and successful struggle against the monarchy. Right now, in India, the Maoists and the various Marxist-Leninist groups are leading the fight against immense injustice here. They are fighting not just the State, but feudal landlords and their armed militias. They are the only people who are making a dent. And I admire that.

It may well be that when they come to power, they will, as you say, be brutal, unjust and autocratic, or even worse than the present government. Maybe, but I’m not prepared to assume that in advance. If they are, we’ll have to fight them too. And most likely someone like myself will be the first person they’ll string up from the nearest tree — but right now, it is important to acknowledge that they are bearing the brunt of being at the forefront of resistance. Many of us are in a position where we are beginning to align ourselves on the side of those who we know have no place for us in their religious or ideological imagination.

It’s true that everybody changes radically when they come to power — look at Mandela’s anc. Corrupt, capitalist, bowing to the imf, driving the poor out of their homes — honouring Suharto, the killer of hundreds of thousands of Indonesian Communists, with South Africa’s highest civilian award. Who would have thought it could happen? But does this mean South Africans should have backed away from the struggle against apartheid? Or that they should regret it now? Does it mean Algeria should have remained a French colony, that Kashmiris, Iraqis and Palestinians should accept military occupation? That people whose dignity is being assaulted should give up the fight because they can’t find saints to lead them into battle?

Is there a communication breakdown in our society?

Yes.

Tehelka

Interview with Ajitha : Daughter of late Com Mandakini Narayanan

December 17, 2006

This Interview was done wayback in 1999
by Rediff.com

‘Everybody in Wynad knew Varghese was brutally murdered by the police after torture’

The Naxalite movement, which stormed Kerala in the 1950s and ’60s, withered away by the end of the ’70s, sending most of the people involved into oblivion. A few, however, have managed to keep their revolutionary ardour alive and work to improve society. One such is Ajitha.

After her release from prison in 1977 after a nine-year incarceration, Ajitha tried to play the role of conventional housewife for a while, marrying and giving birth to a child. Until 1988, when a conference of women’s organisations in Bombay stirred her into action again and she founded an organisation called ‘Bodhana’ (Awareness), based in Kozhikode (Calicut).

At that time, however, the women’s movement was in its infancy in Kerala and Bodhana died a premature death after the fourth conference of women’s organisations in Calicut. Ajitha then set up another organisation called ‘Anweshi’ (Searcher) in 1993, which she says has grown out of its infancy and now commands attention.

Anweshi came into the limelight with the exposure of the sensational Calicut sex scandal involving several top politicians and influential public figures. It has goaded the police machinery into action, though the politicians have so far managed to evade the net.

Ajitha, however, is not one to give in easily. After an agitation yielded no result, she moved the Supreme Court to get the politicians, including Indian Union Muslim League leader P K Kunhalikutty, arrested.

Ajitha worked briefly with the Janadipatya Samrakshana Samiti (Committee to Save Democracy), founded by former Communist Party of India-Marxist leader K R Gouri ‘Amma’. But she soon found that she could not adjust with the ways of the veteran politician and parted company.

In an exclusive interview with D Jose and Shiny Jacob, the doughty fighter dwelt on her past, present and future struggles. Excerpts:


The Rediff Interview/Ajitha

How did you come into the Naxal movement?

My father Kuthikod Narayanan and mother Mandakini were revolutionary workers. Naturally, their activity influenced me greatly. By the time I reached the pre-degree stage [class XII], I could not stop reacting against the injustices taking place around me.

I found study a major hindrance to my plans. So I dropped out of college in the second year and joined the Naxals. What followed was a life of adventure, moving from one place to another with various missions. Ultimately I landed in the hands of the police and remained in prison for nine years.

When I came out of jail, the movement had faded away. Though the revolutionary spirit that guided me into the movement was still alive, the circumstances were no longer conducive to revive the movement. So, like my colleagues, I chose to remain content with a mundane life. I married Yakoob, who had worked with us, and looked after my only daughter Gargi, who is now doing her pre-degree.

What were your main tasks in the movement?

My initial task was to prepare materials for educating the rank and file. I used to translate and distribute almost all the materials we used to get from China. We also formed a study group called ‘Nangal’ (We), which was very popular in the Fifties.

The Naxalbari uprising of 1967 was a real eye-opener to the Naxalites in Kerala. We were shocked to learn that the Marxist-led government in West Bengal opened fire on farmers who took up weapons for their rights.

Kerala was also under Marxist rule then. The incident taught us that the Communists were ready to sacrifice their ideals for power. This led to a lot of resentment in our rank and file against the Marxists. We decided to strengthen our force and formed a co-ordination committee and started a magazine called Idathupaksham (The Left) from Ernakulam and prepared ourselves for revolutionary actions like the Naxalbari incident.

The year 1968 turned out to be a milestone in our movement. It was in September-October 1968 that we decided to take up arms against the perpetrators of injustice. Our target was the Madras Special Police camp set up at Pulpally to deal with the farmers who were agitating against the attempt by the forest and Pulpally Dewaswom authorities to evict nearly 7,000 farmers who had settled down in a forest area and have been engaged in cultivation for years. As no political party was prepared to come to the aid of the toiling farmers, we decided to intervene. We formed an action group under Varghese, who was subsequently shot down by the police.

After travelling for days, we reached the MSP camp at Pulpally and executed the wireless operator and the sub-inspector who was in charge of the camp. Later we attacked the houses of two landlords and distributed the food grains stocked there to the tribals.

The failure of the Telicherry operation under my father and the death of one of our leaders in a bomb explosion demoralised us. Subsequently, many left the movement. We persisted despite lack of food for several days. But I was caught by the police and landed in jail by the end of 1968.

What was the role of women in the Naxal movement?

I am no more a member of the Naxal movement. But I can say with pride that the experience I gained in the movement has stood me in good stead to fight for women’s liberation.

The women were always in an inferior position in the movement. I was highly disturbed by the loss of opportunities on account of being a woman. The men either showed a protective approach towards women or treated them as a sexual commodity. They considered the support the revolutionaries got from their wives and mothers as their duty. They did not realise that these innocent women had to suffer a lot because of their actions. The police and the authorities constantly harassed them. They also failed to appreciate our intellectual capacities and human feelings. Marriage was prohibited for revolutionaries as the party felt it hinders freedom. Later, however, the party allowed marriages approved by it. If anybody fell in love with those who did not like the party, it acted like a feudal lord.

How were you attracted to the feminist movement?

I had questioned the discriminatory approach towards women while working as a Naxalite. This naturally crystallised into feminist feelings within me. The 1988 conference of women’s organisations encouraged me to plunge into a full-time feminist activist. The women’s movement in Kerala was in its infant stage then. I gave shape to Bodhana and it entered society with the agitation against the murder of Kunhibi. We also dealt with several other dowry death cases and organised an agitation for reopening the Mavoor factory.

Why did you scrap Bodhana and form Anweshi?

Bodhana was guided by a kind of romantic ideal. Anweshi is more or less down to earth. We started studying and investigating issues and then organising agitations. It was a transformation from radical feminism to socialistic feminism.

When we implement certain ideals there are bound to be pitfalls. In the process of correction we come up with new movements and organisations. We are seeing the disappearance of several women’s organisations in the course of time. The main reason for the weakness of women’s organisations is the lack of political awareness among women. Society maintains a silence towards the burning issues of women. We confront many hardships in the process of stirring up society.

In the early days, the Left movement dragged away many women activists working in independent organisations. I think the confederation of Streevedi that we have formed by bringing together more than 40 women’s organisations in the state is a strong network. I firmly believe this will be able to function effectively.

Why did you join the Janadipatya Samrakshana Samiti?

I joined the JSS with the firm assurance that it will fight for the tribals, women, and other less privileged classes. But Gowri Amma could not break away from the power politics in which she had got entangled for years. She tried to save IUML leader P K Kunhalikutty from the Kozhikode sex racket.

What about the political forum formed by the former Naxalites?

I did not join the organisation as I thought the role of being an ex-Naxalite is not any qualification. If you evaluate their work, it can be easily seen that they could not make any impact in Kerala society.

How do you evaluate your organisation’s success in the Kozhikode sex scandal?

Several top people, including a former minister, are involved in the racket. As they are influential people the police investigation did not take the natural course. We had approached the high court against this. Unfortunately, the high court rejected our petition. This forced us to move the Supreme Court and I am hopeful [of a favourable verdict].

This is not to say that I am fully satisfied. A democratic government will have to be accountable. Let the Communist government be accountable to the women in Kerala at least. We have sufficient evidence to show that Mr Kunhalikutty was involved in the racket.

How do you view the revelation made by a police constable that Varghese was shot by the police and not killed in an encounter as claimed?

Everybody in Wynad knew Varghese was brutally murdered by the police after torture. But I consider the truth revealed by the police constable as a significant act. The constable, Mr Ramachandran Nair, has not told the full truth. It is probably to show that he had no direct role in the act. But I take his revelation in positive spirit. I feel it involves the violation of the human rights and a judicial inquiry is a must.

What is your view on the controversy surrounding Deepa Mehta’s film Fire?

Deepa Mehta has criticised an upper-caste Hindu structure. The opposition to the film from certain fundamentalists is unfortunate. I don’t think lesbianism is the issue against which they are agitated. Their ire is against the attack on the Hindu structure. This should be fought tooth and nail. Otherwise it will invite other dangers.

Related Posts

‘Before I am killed, give me a signal so I can shout a slogan’ –
The last wish of a Braveheart Naxalite warrior


The Legacy of Ajitha: Unearthing a Subaltern Indian Revolutionary and Political Prisoner

Naxal Revolution Exclusive – Interview with Mr P Govindan Kutty ,Editor of Peoplesmarch(Voice of the Indian Revolution)

November 4, 2006

Naxal Revolution Exclusive – Interview with Mr P Govindan Kutty ,Editor of Peoplesmarch(Voice of the Indian Revolution)

Peoplesmarch is considered to be the unofficial journal of
the CPI(Maoist).
Mr P Govindan Kutty has been the editor of
Peoplesmarch for the last 4 years
and has been vocal in
exposing the hypocracy of burgeoise parliamentary

democracy and putting forward a revolutionary perspective
on national event’s.
This in turn has attracted large scale
harrassment at the hand’s of the
authorities.A fighter all his life
Mr Govindan Kutty reveals about his early life

and most importantly has a message for the youth of
the nation in this exclusive interview….


(Please note – The views expressed in this interview are
personal and are in no way connected with any revolutionary party or magazine
that the editor support’s.)

Mr Govindan Kutty ,Editor of Peoplesmarch

Interview

Q When and where were you born? What was your early childhood?

A I was born on 20th February, 1948 in a lower middle class family at Tambaram in Chinglepet district in Tamilnadu. My father P Sankunny Menon married very late in his life and I was born in his 41st year. Till then he was looking after his sister and her children. In 1933 he used to spend 1/3 of his salary (Rs 6/= PM) on his nephew’s education and till his joining a job as stenographer in Qatar. In due course he got his promotion as cable jointer in Southern Railways and we all shifted our residence to railway quarters at Chetpet in Madras city. I have one younger brother and three younger sisters.

My mother P.Parukutty used to give private tuitions for school going children at home. I too used to assist her in her tuition work. We had a lot of cows too to look after. While returning from school I used to bring a head load of grass for the cows.

Being an extra-ordinary brilliant student in my elementary school I found no difficulty in getting admission for Higher Secondary schooling in one of the prestigious/elite schools. (Madras Christian College High School). Being a meritorious student I got 50% fee concession and the school management presented me the whole textbooks and notebooks on the first working day. My classmates were from the top elite families in Madras city.

Being a Christian institution we were taught the Bible. During Bible classes I used to keenly observe and put such questions to my teacher, which the teacher wouldn’t be able to answer. At home too I used to ask questions to my parents to show me God. Why we have so many Gods? I used to put questions like if I pray one God won’t the other Gods get angry and harm me, In almost all my moves I was more interested in unearthing the truth. From my childhood I never hide truth or told any lie no matter what difficulties I faced.

After the India-China War, the Nehru Government reduced the retirement age from 58 to 55 and my father lost his job and government accommodation. Sensing that he may not live for another 5 years due to his poor health he did not opt for pension scheme took all his earnings which came to around Rs 7,000/=

In 1963 I was 15, my brother 13 and my three sisters were 11, 9 and 7. We all had to shift to a very small one-room accommodation. (No electricity- No water facility) The school offered me provisional admission for higher studies at Madras Christian College Tambaram three months before the Secondary school final examinations. My father expressed his inability to send me for college education.

As I was a meritorious student I found no difficulty in getting admission in three year Diploma in Mechanical Engineering at Central Polytechnic, Madras in 1964 and was awarded merit-cum-means scholarship of Rs 50/= PM which is more than sufficient to buy 50 Kgs of fine quality rice. I passed my Diploma in Mechanical Engineering with Machine shop Technology as elective subject in 1967. We were against imposition of Hindi. In fact I was one of the active leaders in Poly-Technic in the anti-Hindi agitations that time.

Then came another war with Pakistan and the prospects of employment diminished further. The Government banned fresh recruitments. I had to take up menial jobs as daily casual laborer in Signal & Telecommunication Department in Railways at the rate of Rs 3=50 per day where my father too sought employment as cable jointer on daily wage basis of Rs 6/= per day after retirement from permanent service. There was corruption in recruitments in defense services too.

I could not be selected for the post of Direct Entry Artificer (Second Lieutenant in Navy) as I could not grease the palms of the officials. I took up menial jobs on low salary in Industrial Estates in Ambattur, Madras. During that time I attended evening classes and passed Diploma in Refrigeration & Air-conditioning Engineering in 1969 from Central Polytechnic, Madras. During that period I gained experience in the erection, testing and commissioning of Air-conditioning, Ventilation and Dust control equipments for theatres and many industries.

Q Who were your main influences early in your life and what attracted
you towards the the Naxalite Movement ?

A It took almost 20 years for me to realize that non-violent struggles are of no use and armed revolutionary struggles are the only answer to the present ills faced by the people. Here I narrate my experiences to seek justice with non-violent struggles, which finally led me get separated from my family to support a movement, which conducts a revolutionary armed struggle.

This is one of the reasons for giving lengthy answer is to advise the people who believe in and expose the leaders who mis-lead people in non-violent struggle is that being a well educated man I lost all my energy to understand the non-violent struggle and at this old age I am unable to do a violent revolutionary struggle which alone is the answer to the present ills faced by the people.

My stint with Communism

It was while doing fresh air ventilation systems at Central & Ajanta theatres in Trivandrum, Kerala I had the opportunity to watch a film (“You made me a Communist”) Ningal Enne Communistaki umpteen number of times. This was the first time I spent more time in my life during my Kerala visit. Even though I was quite impressed by the theme & ideology of the communist movement the activities of the lumped communist cadres in public life gave a second thought of the communist movement.

Again the war with Pakistan in 1971 destroyed my job prospects. In 1972 I got a temporary job as Draughtsman (Mechanical) at Central Leather Research Institute, Madras. I thought that by gradually working temporarily I could settle down at Central Leather Research Institute. All those dreams short-lived as the corrupt scientist advised me to work under a private entrepreneur saying that he has no further sanction to employ me. (It was the private entrepreneur who sought my services from the scientist)

Within a year the private entrepreneur’s turnover was raised from Rs 5,000/= to Rs 1,00,000/= He neither rewarded me nor the laborers for their work.

My stint with Capitalism

In 1973 I quit the job and pledged 18 grams of gold (which I purchased with the merit-cum-means scholarship money) to a moneylender for Rs 400/=(CAPITAL) and started a small production unit at my residence for producing clips for drying leather under the brand name Tan-Wel. The CAPITAL doubled the very next day. That CAPITAL and the Surplus further doubled further. I was paying three times the wages than other employers. I purchased a lot of machineries & tools for further development. I was earning an average daily earning of more than Rs 500/= per day.

This production went well for six months. Till then during my 25 years of life I had never visited any temples or worshiped any God. I was working 16 hours a day. I had no time even to take food. My health started deteriorating due to over exhaustion. All these years in my life I was a non-believer. I do not, or what exactly was the reason, which changed me to a believer to make my first pilgrimage to Sabarimala in December 1973.

I do not know anything about Naxalism even though I remember reading
in The Hindu on July 1972 about a news item in a small corner about
a certain Charu Mazumdar who was on fast and had died in custody.

In Government Service

In September 1974, I received an offer of appointment for the post of Asst Foreman in the Civil Engineering Division of dept of Space, Bangalore to report for duty at Thumba, Trivandrum. (A lot of posts in Air-conditioning fell vacant due to Gulf exodus as the Govt relaxed rules for getting passports) I was reluctant to join the Govt job as I was earning 10 times the salary of Govt job.

Due to my mother’s compulsion I joined the Govt job at Thumba in September 1974. I found that almost all the files were stinking with corruption. Jaya Prakash Narayan was leading a morcha against corruption in politics and in Govt. JP was telling naxalites to lay down arms for one year and support his movement of Total Revolution. In Kerala the whole politics was lumpenised by youth congress of Sanjay Gandhi and Communists. There was total confusion. I too was confused.

Indira Gandhi imposed emergency. All opposition leaders were put behind bars. Press gagged. JP movement was centered in Gujrath & Bihar. There was no trace of JP movement in Kerala. Who is right? Indira or JP. I too was confused.

I supported 20 point programme of the government. I referred all the facts to the Central Vigilance Commission, New Delhi. The Central Vigilance Commission forwarded all my complaints to the Chief Engineer at Bangalore who in turn forwarded the same to Construction Engineer at Thumba and the same was on the table of the Supdt. Engineer. The Govt too was in dilemma and sought fresh intelligence verification to ascertain my background.

The Pettah police in Trivandrum took me into unlawful custody on 5th March 1976.

I was shifted to maintenance wing on deputation to Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre. I applied for Govt quarters and shifted my parents and sisters to Thumba in September 1976. The Emergency was lifted and the Janata party came to power in March 1977.

I opted for mutual marriage in February 1978. In April 1978 the CPI-M union & the INTUC union launched an agitation for the refund of Compulsory Deposit Scheme. (50% of impounded DA) I applied for a months leave with LTC advance and was sanctioned.

I was suspended on 7th April, 1978. Later the suspension was revoked and my LTC bills were settled. But they withheld a part of my salary during the period of suspension. All my efforts to get back my withheld salary proved futile. As I was pressurizing the Shah Commission of enquiry proceedings I was promoted as Foreman A/c in February, 1979 .The Morarji ministry collapsed along with the Sky Lab in July 1979. The Charan Singh ministry too collapsed a little later.

I tried more vigorously for my withheld salary. From 1st December 1979 onwards I started attending office with slogans printed on my shirt. The slogans were:

NO CRIMINAL CASE
NO CHARGE SHEET
NO ENQUIRY INITIATED
PROMOTED ME AFTER SUSPENSION
THEN WHY WITHHOLD MY SALARY

The Executive Engineer did not allow me to sign the attendance register and my salary (for December 1979) was withheld from January 1980. Indira Gandhi Govt came to power. From January 1980 onwards I have virtually come out on the streets with a pla-card and a baby food tin for fund collection.

The VSSC authorities transferred me to Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad. I challenged their order by saying that the Chief Engineer, Civil Engineering Division, Dept of Space, Bangalore is my appointing authority and he alone has the authority to transfer me. A leading Malayalam daily highlighted my plight on 11th May 1980 under the caption “Needhi Labhikkan Otrekkoru Samaram”

I visited Delhi a number of times for PUCL meetings. I met many revolutionaries. I had differences of opinion and thought. I worked for sometime under one such outfit of an ML group called “Janakeeya Samskarika Vedhi” which conducted public trial of corrupt doctors at Calicut.

The Govt mounted heavy surveillance on me. Every month on the salary day I used to stand outside the gates with a placard and an empty baby food tin and collect token contributions of 10 paise only. I used to distribute one pamphlet in English and Malayalam every month exposing the misdeeds of bogus revolutionaries.

In September 1981, while collecting token contributions in front of the gates the CISF guards pounced on me and handed me over to local police station and were charged under various provisions of trespass and attempt to murder. After a year the trial court was unable to convict me and was let off.

With the tacit support of my in-laws and the open support of Karunakaran’s goons and bogus revolutionaries they succeeded in evicting me illegally on 31st March 1983 (after depriving me of my livelihood for 39 months) and was locked up at Thumba police station.

My brother in law met me at Central Prison. He wanted bail me out. I said, no to bail.. Then he said, don’t come to Kozhipuram after coming out of jail. After 14 days I was thrown put of jail on personal bond even though I did not sign any bond papers.

They sabotaged my struggle and my revenge (non violent)

On my release from jail in Apr 1983, I purchased a spade and reached my in-law’s house at Chamravattam in Tirur. I told them that I am not going to take to the pen and will only use this spade for my livelihood. As they were one of the biggest feudal lords no one would give me such jobs. Everyday I used to do physical work in their fields and farm. My in-laws fooled the public that I have become mad.

One day they managed to mix sedatives in my food admitted me in a mental hospital run by Dr Vijayan at Calicut. When I gained consciousness I found that I was lying in a mental hospital. My wife too had her role in this episode. I felt that if I harm her children would suffer. Then the other target was her aunt. Some how I managed to control my anger and dropped the idea of killing her aunt in September 1983 who was responsible for admitting me in mental hospital. I gave them a stern warning that if any such attempts were repeated something worsts they will face.

It was the conspiracy of the government to regularize my service with a certificate from a mental hospital and to clear the corruption charges
initiated by me.

My brother in law (by mutual marriage) arrived from Nigeria and we had discussions on finding a solution to the vexed problem. I told him that you have sabotaged my struggle and I won’t take pen anymore. You are not getting any returns from your farm. I will work in your farm. You take my wife and children to Hydrabad. I will come once in three months to Hydrabad. I will manage your farm. He was not willing. Then you should forget about your farm and we all (including your mother & aunt) will go to Hydrabad. We should not come back here. He agreed. He had other ideas.

We all reached Hydrabad on 1st July 1984. We admitted our children in schools. They again opened up the topic of (within a week of reaching Hydrabad) admitting me in mental hospital. I again warned him against such moves by him. I gave threats like “I will commit suicide”. I was not taking food for fear of food might get mixed with sedatives. I had no money. I thought of running from them. Then also they will not leave me. They will hunt me.

My mother in law uttered that this man has threatened many times that he will commit suicide. He has not committed suicide even once. This provoked me. Why should I take away my life? Why should I die? Taking away one’s own life is also a violent struggle. My wife was a dumb spectator. Her sister committed suicide two years back. Non-violent struggles all these years are finally going to land me in a mental hospital. If I have to survive violent struggle was the next option.

Call a lamb a dog, then a stray dog so that it can be killed. That was the govt., policy ?

No charge sheets framed against me even after 90 days. I launched hunger fast for not framing charge sheet within 90 days. The notorious Supt of jail at Secundrabad put me in the condemned prisoner’s cell. On hearing the violent death of Indira Gandhi over radio I broke my fast and took food. That day all the other jail mates did not take food. Drama rao dissolved the assembly and went for polls along with Lok Sabha.

I was unable to defend myself as to why my wife & sister gave false evidence. (False motive supporting prosecution version)

In the High Court the advocate Krishna rao (provided by the Govt) without my consent or even seeing me argued that I am insane. The notorious High Court judge while disposing my criminal gave such a remark that “If the jail authorities feel at any time that the accused who is of freak mind and needs treatment for psychosis they may take appropriate action, however he will not get the benefit of exemption U/s 84 IPC, his appeal is dismissed”.

This notorious judge was later appointed as Chairman of Law Commission. With such judicial remarks in my high court judgment jail authorities can at any time during my incarceration shift me to a mental hospital and be branded as insane and keep me in jail till death.

In December 1994 Political Prisoners of CPI (ML) (PW) launched a struggle in all the jail of AP with 43 demands (7 political demands of which lifting the ban on Peoples War was the main) in which release of life convicts who have completed 7 years of prison life was one among.. During 1994 Assembly elections Rama rao promised release of all those who are of good conduct and have completed 10 years of prison life. My tally was 10 years and 6 months of completed prison term. Rama rao could not keep up his promises.

Probably the bureaucracy and the central intelligence colluded and finally when the GO came only the prisoners who have completed 14 years of sentence including remission were released. On 18th January 1995. My tally including remission was 13 years 9 months and 7 days. The Supdt., of the jail has not put his pen on my history ticket from 1991 to 1994. Had they had granted me 87 days remission for 4 years and released me on 18th January, 1995 the story would have been different. …………………………They made me a naxalite.

The Historic Turning Point

The main gate blocked my freedom. There was a gate. On the left near the main gate where political prisoners of the CPI (ML) (Peopel’s War ) were lodged and ordinary prisoners are denied entry. I along with a few prisoners managed to slip into their barracks and met S Appa rao and M Balakrishna and sought their help in our DO or DIE struggle for freedom. They readily offered support.

We (12 life convicts) launched indefinite hunger fast. Other prisoners from all the jails in AP undertook the hunger fast. The political prisoners supported our struggles they too joined the fast. The Party extended full support for our struggle. Outside the jail Joint Action Council for Democratic Rights (JACDR) mobilized the people and extended full support by organizing various programmes in front of AP Assembly. On behalf of APCLC MT Khan, petitions were filed by Advocate Bharat in High Court of AP. On the 10th day 3 prisoners withdrew from the fast. On the 15th day 3 more prisoners withdrew from the fast.

Relay hunger fasts were conducted by ordinary prisoners in each barrack a day from various jails of AP. Jail authorities used lumped elements like Kotha Das to pressurize ordinary prisoners to take food. Party warned Kotha Das of dire consequences for his indulgence. The 6 prisoners health deteriorated at the rate of half Kg a day. All the mis-propaganda in the media by jail officials and the Govt were effectively countered and contained by the party. After 25 days of the fast the jail officials and doctors were unable to come near the hunger fasters for fear of VIOLENCE from the hunger fasters. The jail doctors advised the Govt., “We are washing off our hands”.

The Govt became panicky. On 17th February 1995 the petition filed by Advocate Bharat came up for hearing. Senior Advocate KG Kannabiran argued the case. The Govt pleader could not open his mouth. The High Court on 17th February, 1995 ordered release of all those who have completed 7 years of prison term.

KG Kannabiran, MT Khan, Bharat, VV Rao, Gaddar and many lawyers reached jail on 17th February 1995 and informed us about the High Court judgment and we broke the fast on the 31st day. The Govt did not release us after the judgment. We had to wait for two more months in jail till the expiry of the appeal time for the Govt. After two months contempt petitions were again filed. Again there was delay. On lifting the ban on Party also there were contradictory statements from Rama rao and HP Dora the DG of police. At one stage Rama rao uttered who is Govt? Me or Dora. On 27th May, 1995, Rama rao’s birthday Home Minister Indra reddy visited jail and distributed fruits. We gheraoed the Home Minister for delaying our release. We warned the jail official that our next move would be breaking open the jail walls for our release. Situations became panicky.

On 7th July 1995 night half the jail became empty. We were thrown out of jail. It was this heroic AP jail struggle, which inspired me to work with such fearless warriors for the rest of my life.

It was only from February 1995 I started reading literatures of Marx, Engels, Lenin & Mao. I was admitted into prison as an ordinary prisoner and came out as a political prisoner on 7th July 1995.

Q What were your main tasks in the movement?

A As per the advise of S Appa rao I started an Association called Association for Protection of Prisoner’s Rights and took up several issues to the Courts of Law in Hydrabad. Then I worked in All India People’s Resistance Forum (AIPRF) for three years in Delhi. I worked in Trade Unions for organizing un-organized workers in Delhi for three years. Then I was managing New Vistas Publications in Delhi for one year. For the past four years I am managing People’s March in Kerala.

Q How active is the Naxalite movement in Kerala today ?

A It is easy to make a person who does not know anything about communism a revolutionary. It is very difficult or rather impossible to make a communist (revisionist) in Kerala a revolutionary. Most of the youth in Kerala have turned pessimists and do not wish to take part in revolutionary struggles. They pledge their mother’s jewellary with private bankers or money lenders for a Visa and go out and settle in Dubai for 10 years .Then flush with money they come back and build a house, get married and with dowry money put up additional structures such as a bakery or a small shop.They then plant two or three coconut trees for making chutney to be eaten with rice.Finally they rent a portion of the house to cover the child’s education.

You can see the confusion from the voices of CPI-M Chief Ministers of Kerala & West Bengal.

Kerala CM says ……………… No to Coca Cola, FDI
West Bengal CM says …….. Yes to Coca cola, FDI

You can see a large number of labourers from West Bengal, Tamilnadu, Andhra, Orissa working as building construction workers on meager wages in Kerala. For them Kerala is a mini Dubai. With all these odds & revisionist CPI & CPI-M some initiatives were taken and some progress were made in the past two or three years.

Q What is your opinion on the large number of people with ex-naxalites tag?
Do you consider them as people who have betrayed the Indian revolution ?

A In Kerala there are many ex-naxalites. Some are supporting Globalisation. Some have turned Saibaba’s devotees. Ajitha is running an NGO. In other places in India many have joined the parliamentary path. Some say both parliamentary & armed struggle. Some say time is not ripe for armed struggle and participate in elections. In Tamilnadu there is TNML.

Being the Editor of People’s March during an interaction with a Red Flag activist I put the following conversations. My dear friend, you say time is not ripe for armed struggle and unless and until all people were prepared for armed revolution you wished to mobiles people for armed revolution. Suppose in a hundred people you go on asking them whether they are ready for the armed revolution.

When you reach the 99th person a person in 10th who had earlier said yes may now say “No not now”. Taking into consideration all these factors and suppose you finally have succeeded in mobilizing all the people to say “Yes, we are ready for the armed struggle”. You have to give them arms.

From where you will get arms? Will you float global tenders for arms? Will the revolution wait till the arms arrive? Where is the money to buy arms? Will it be readily available in the market? Will the army of the rulers hand over their weapons to your mobilized people? You have to give them training to use the arms. That takes another three to four months. Will the revolution wait?

Unable to answer these queries put forth by me many cadres escape by saying “Comrade I will meet you sometime later and discuss with you in detail” and will never be seen at a later date.

These people repeat the story that our great grand mother’s used to tell us.It was called “How to catch a crow”. The story went that when the crow is sitting in the hot Sun you have to go behind the crow and keep some butter on its head. Slowly the butter will melt and a little later the crow will find it difficult to see anything.. Then you can go and catch the crow easily.

All these ML parties preach & praise Naxalbari & Mao, keep big name boards issue identity cards to as cardholder. Do they adhere the three magic weapons as stated by Com Mao, The secret Party, People’s army & united front?

Almost all brand CPI Maoist as anarchists. Mao said,
“Revolution is not a Tea Party”. It is a bitter
struggle where serving the people with extreme sacrifice is of paramount
importance.

I quote Gaddar’s lyrics.

Grease leni bandi eppudu nadavaledhura
Thyagam leni viplavamu mundhukku podhura
(Without grease a cart cannot move forward
Without sacrifice revolution cannot move forward)

So coming to your question. Not all can be called as betrayers. Many could not cope up with the hard & tedious revolutionary life quit the movement. All others under the official ML brand name serving the ruling classes either directly or indirectly are betrayers of the Indian Revolution.

Q As the editor of People’sMarch you have withstood constant repression and
harassment which would have normally broken the spirit of an ordinary man.
Tell us more about the ways in which the police and authorities
constantly intimidate you despite People’s March being a legally registered
magazine and how do you cope with this type of harassment?..

A It is only tactical, be it ruling classes or revolutionary parties. For ruling classes it was compulsions of promising people before elections on lifting the bans. It is quite common and it is observed that the ban on any movement or any magazine only helped to get more publicity than it had before the people.

Right from Drama rao in 1982 till the recent elections these rulers played the naxalite card to win over the people. You are going to see that again just before the next elections in 2009. They keep high-resolution video cameras in high-rise buildings and film the entire procession after lifting the ban and scan them to identify the people who support the movement and harass them when the ban was imposed again.

Many agents of enemies infiltrate the movement to gather information and inform the rulers. People’s March being a Regd newspaper also has many subscribers posing themselves as sympathizers. They seek to establish contact with the movement showing that they are regular readers of People’s March. The rulers are also aware that even if this magazine is banned the same contents will appear in some form or another, which could be very difficult to trace it.

So they won’t ban People’s March. They only try to eliminate the person who mans the People’s March. In Feb 2006 when Naidu was calling for a referendum on Naxalism V/s Development they sent my children’s photos that I haven’t seen far more than two decades thinking that I may visit them at Hydrabad so that they can with a complaint extracted from their mother who gave false evidence in the court leading to my conviction for life imprisonment at Hydrabad in 1985 so that I can be put behind bars again.

As that fiasco failed they sent a CD in Nov 2005 containing porn video of my wife taken in 1984 by threatening her to implicate her in the case along with her husband to maim her voice forever so that she won’t turn hostile during trial to give false evidence against her husband leading to his conviction to life imprisonment in Hydrabad in 1985. These are all Psycho Wars being launched by the police to eliminate me.

They thought that I might get heart attack on seeing the past as to how they ruined my life and that of my family. This fiasco too ended in dramatic move of the revisionist CPI-M came as a surprise to everybody throwing out Karunakaran led DIC (K) out of LDF before the assembly elections. Till then Karunakaran the notorious naxal baiter was shouting from rooftops as the next Home Minister.

After the May 4 elections they blocked the website http://www.peoplesmarch.com by threatening the service provider through a confidential letter stating that it is hosting anti-national contents.

People know that we love our people and our country much more than these traitorous Manmohans & Vajpayees. Though we never wished to be called as nationalists we are not anti-national. We are internationalists. Further the government freely allows thousands & thousands of porn sites to deter youth from any nation building activities or to resist & rebel against the traitorous policies of the rulers of our country.

Further they are challenging me. Where is your honesty? What it has paid you? You were class I officer in Space Department, Thumba. Had you been with us in the ‘mainstream’ you at this age of 60 could have become a Supdt., Engineer and got retired with a handsome pension. We have had power to throw you out of your government quarters in 1983. We had the power to make a lamb a dog. Then called it a stray dog so that it can be killed. We pressurized your in-laws to admit you in a mental asylum. Finally in a conspiracy hatched by Indira – PVN – Karunakaran we put you behind bars in an unfortunate incident in 1984. We took your wife in custody and threatened her to implicate her in the case and forced her to tender evidence against you by filming her porn video so that her voices are maimed forever and she doesn’t turn hostile during trial leading to your conviction to life imprisonment for life in Hydrabad in 1985. Anticipating your release from jail in 1994 we ( PVN & Karunakaran ) floated the SPY SCANDEL (without a SPY) in Space Department.

You have not changed. You don’t want to join the MAIN STREAM. We sent you the porn video CD. We have put that 145 MB porn video on website too with links to thousands & thousands of websites. We have the power to block your 50 MB People’s March website.

We can harm your children and their mother and implicate you in the case and put you behind bars again for which we have planted your eldest son Sachidanand as Reporter in The Hindu at Hydrabad under naxal baiter K Srinivas Reddy to report your arrest to convince my three boys as I am to be done away with.

This is the message they are giving me. It is a Psycho War on the Editor, of People’s March. Read Jun-Jul 2006 cover story.

It was unfortunate and incorrect to put such details on the cover of the last issue of a revolutionary magazine. Though the Indian Intelligence is harassing the editor there is no justification to have put such vulgar details in the magazine. As Editor of People’s March I apologized to the readers for the contents on the cover page of the last issue.

As editor of People’s March I take this as a sign that we are winning. As Comrade Mao said, “to be attacked by the enemy is not a bad thing but a good thing”.

Q Where do you see the Naxalite movement 5 years down the line?

A Brig BK Punwar (India’s leading Jungle War specialist) told CNN IBN TV recently in an interview that the politburo of the naxalites say that by 2010, 33% of India will be in their hands.

Q Do you think the Indian revolution will eclipse both the Russian and
Chinese revolutions in terms of achievement and impact? Do you believe
you will live to see the day when the Indian revolution will triumph?

A You see Russian & Chinese revolutions learnt lessons from Paris Commune and succeeded in revolutionizing the people to victory. After all it is the people of India who have to complete this task. Conditions are ripe for a revolutionary upsurge.

Barbarakar Gir jayega, yeh sadi gali vivastha ki mahal …
bus ek dakka milkar lagana padega.
……
( This whole stinking structure of the social order will fall in no time
All that we have to do is to join our hands together and give it one last push)

We are not astrologers to predict & forecast when the Indian revolution will triumph? It may take one year, 5 years, or might 50 years or even 150 years. All their attempts to destroy the movement failed. They killed hundreds of revolutionaries. The result was thousands of revolutionaries cropped up. No blood shed by the martyrs went waste. From each & every drop of blood shed by martyrs hundreds of revolutionaries raised.

Weh thamam phoolon ko nasht kar sakthein…
magar vasant ko tho nahi rok payenghe.

( They can destroy all the flowers but
They won’t be able hold back the spring season from arriving )

People can be fooled once, twice, thrice but not always. You see people are rising from every nook & corner of our country. Be it peasants, Workers, Youth, Students, Dalith, Adivasis, Minorities, Women, now even middle classes also started raising their voices.

Q Would you care to hazard a guess as to when the red flag shall fly over the red fort in India?
A We are not Astrologers. But the days are not far off.

Q What is your message to the youth of the country?

A These are my personal experiences and the views and are in no way
connected with any revolutionary party as to why I support armed struggle.

It is a historical fact that nowhere in the world the oppressors have stopped
oppression or have ceded power through peaceful means.

You start from American war of independence.

You see Narmada Bachav Andolan. First it stared with opposing 80 metres. It started with a slogan Dubenghe, Marenghe …. Bandh Nahin Banega. Then Jal Samadhi. Now it is more than two decades. Along with the agitation the dam height too have come up to 121 metres. In another ten years it will easily rise to the full 145 metres with Medha’s help as all those people who were capable of leading armed struggle have now become older by 25 years. The question of compensation and other things are a farce. They were driven out of their habitats .

No one ever wishes to start any sort armed struggle or confrontation with the state. It is the situations that make people to confront the state with armed defensive struggles.

Arundathi’s fears are100 % correct.
“If they don’t get justice they all will join Maoists”.

They say Maoists are violent. Maoists say the whole world is violent. We say prostitution is sexual violence. Corruption is violence. Not paying minimum wages and forcing the worker to work more than 8 hours a day to meet his ends is also violence. Take the statistics. 50 percent of the world resources are utilized for making weapons. What for? To shoot birds. No. To kill humanity.

Arundathi was right in saying,”Gone are the days when weapons were made to fight wars … now wars are made to sell weapons”. Bush killed 3,50,000 in Iraq alone and these killings were flashed on TV screens as fire festivals the world over. 3,000 Muslims were butchered in Gujrath in three days. 3,000 Sikhs were butchered in Delhi in three days. In Andhra the number of people killed by ruling class factions outnumbers the people killed by revolutionaries.

They talk about the destruction of public property by Maoists. Let us take statistics. Bush destroyed the whole of Iraq. Capitalism means destruction and reconstruction. 300 crores of property was destroyed in Vijayawada alone when Rajiv Gandhis died.

There was no revolutionary movement in early 70’s. I was 27 in 1975. JP advised naxalites to hold their gun down for one year. Emergency. I was not a naxalite then. I did not know who Marx, Lenin or Mao is. I then had enough strength and stamina to be part of or to initiate armed struggle. I opted for non-violent struggle and it has only left me
with bitter experiences.

You talk about elections. Indira Gandhi declared Emergency to stay on in power. Indira Gandhi befriended Bindrenwala to break Akali Dal..

Rajiv Gandhi opened Babri Masjid for Hindu votes. Advani made Rath Yatra
for Hindu votes.

VP Singh’s Mandal followed by BJP’s Kamandal, Shilanyas and Kar Sewa finally led to demolition of Babri Masjid and sought Rama’ s help to come to power.

Then PV Narsimha rao said,” I paid one crore and saved the govt treasury to the tune of 900 crores from an impending election”.

What Karunakaran said ?, “ Kodoth lost the election because of liquor and money”.

Vajpayee claimed credit for 5 Nuclear explosions and went for elections which was countered by Musharaff’s Nuclear explosions.

Modi went for election immediately after Gujrath carnage.

23 women were killed in a stampede in saree distribution in Vajpayee’s constituency.

JD(S) Air lifted 47 MLA’s to Goa and BJP Air lifted 68 MLA’s to Chennai to install H D Kumaraswamy.

21 ‘mainstream’ MLA’s from Jharkhand were loitering in the backwaters in Alleppey Dist., of Kerala in the early second week of Sept 2006 fearing Indian Democracy.

Sops like color TV’s & computers dominated TN election.

Now there is competition among ‘patriots’ to force the children to sing Vande Matharam.

All these attempts by these traitors were only to divert the attention of the people from the real issues being faced by the people…

Roti, Kapada, Pani, Noukri, Swasth, Saksharatha our Makhan.(Bread,clothes,water,job,health and house )

They want the Maoists to join the murky mainstream and to contest elections and prove their strength.
CPI laid down arms and won the elections with overwhelming majority for the first time in world history in 1957.
What happened ?
It was dismissed with the stroke of a pen.

Once again I wish to state that I am not fond of armed struggle. Now at this age of 60 I cannot take part in armed struggle. I support it as I have experienced the bitter truth of non-violent struggles. Do not waste your time & energy in peaceful struggles and don’t get mis-led by by leaders leading non-violent struggles. Save our country from the clutches of these traitors. Innumerable martyrs have shed their blood to free the country from the clutches of these unscrupulous looters.

To realise the dreams of innumerable martyrs …..
Hold high the prestigious Red Flag of The CPI(Maoist) Party for the victory of the Indian Revolution.

Interview with Krishen Dev Sethi, – Kashmiriat and the illusion of Kashmiri independence

September 15, 2006

Kashmiriat and the illusion of Kashmiri independence

Jammu-based Krishen Dev Sethi, one of the founders of the communist movement in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), is a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist). In conversation with Yoginder Sikand

Can you tell us something about your background? How did you get involved in the Left movement in Kashmir?

I was born in Mirpur, in what is now Pakistan-administered Kashmir, in 1925. As a child I saw the terrible oppression of people in my area under the Dogra raj and I felt impelled to do something about it. So in 1940, when the National Conference (NC) held its first session in Baramulla, I went there, and that’s how I began my political journey. It was not that the formation of the NC was the first stirring of revolt against the Dogra raj in Mirpur.

The Mirpuris had a long history of resistance and rebellion long before that. When the Dogra ruler, Gulab Singh, took over Mirpur, the Mirpuris, led by local rajas, staged several revolts, which were cruelly crushed. Raja Sultan Khan of Bhimber, a Chibb Rajput, was captured, brutally tortured and blinded. He died in prison. The Gakkhar Rajputs of Mirpur and the Mangral Rajputs in Kotli also rose up in revolt. So did several others. Although these local resistance movements were forcibly put down, the fires of revolt continued to simmer, as the Mirpuris regarded the Dogra rulers as oppressive foreigners and invaders and they hated them.

As a child, I grew up with an awareness of the cruel exploitation of the peasantry by landlords, moneylenders and the Dogra officials. They were subjected to heavy taxation and were forced into or compulsory,
unpaid labour for the Dogra officials. The moneylenders in Mirpur were mainly Hindus, while the landlords were both Hindus and Muslims, the former being mostly moneylenders who had become landlords through usury. More than 90 per cent of the people in our area were Muslims.

In 1931, when a mass movement against the Dogra rulers swept Kashmir, the Mirpuris also rose up in revolt. It soon acquired a communal hue because it was directed principally against the Dogra officials and exploitative moneylenders, who were Hindus. Yet, it was rooted in economic factors and was an expression of the discontent and suppression of the Mirpuri peasantry who refused to pay taxes. To suppress the movement, the Maharaja of Kashmir called in British troops who unleashed a wave of terror.

As a child, all this affected me deeply. My grandfather was a moneylender. One day, in protest, I grabbed some documents in his house containing details of the money he had lent to peasants and threw them into a tandoor. I left home and after that never returned. My family, like most other middle-class Hindus in Mirpur, was fiercely opposed to the NC for its opposition to the Dogra raj, and hence, naturally, they did not like my political involvement. So stiff was the opposition that our Hindu neighbours would wash the rope that my mother used to draw water from the well in our locality after she had used it, saying that I had become a Muslim!

You have been involved in various people’s struggles in
Kashmir for decades.

I took part in the Quit India movement and then in the Quit Kashmir movement against the Dogra raj in 1946. I was imprisoned till November 1947 in Mirpur jail till Mirpur came under the control of Pakistani forces who broke open the jail and released the prisoners. Muslim Conference workers and leaders, including Major Ali Ahmad Shah, who later became President of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, persuaded me to stay on in Mirpur, but the element in the Muslim Conference was
determined to drive all Hindus and Sikhs out. So, some local NC friends helped me to reach a safe zone in Nowshehra, while the rest of my family shifted to Poonch.

After shifting to the other side of J&K, how did you carry on with your political activities?

Once I came to this part of J&K, I deepened my involvement with the NC, serving as the general secretary of the Jammu unit till 1957 and as member of the J&K Constituent Assembly till 1962. This was a time of momentous political changes. Hindus and Sikhs in the part
of the state that had come under Pakistani rule were subjected to brutal murders and mass exodus, Muslims in the Jammu province faced a similar fate with several thousands of them being slaughtered by mobs led by the Sanghis — RSS and Hindu Mahasabha elements — and abetted by the maharaja’s forces. Many more were forced to flee to Pakistan. The Akhnoor, Ranbirsinghpura and lower
Samba areas had a Muslim majority but they were almost completely eliminated. So, too, was Jammu town. One of the first tasks before us was to instill a sense of security among the few Muslims who remained in Jammu. For this my colleagues and I were falsely accused of being Pakistani agents, just because we tried to rehabilitate
these Muslims instead of asking them to migrate to Pakistan. I was arrested on this fake charge and was released only when Sheikh Abdullah put pressure on Nehru.

Massacres of Hindus and Sikhs in one part of the state and of Muslims in the other fed on each other. When Pathan tribal invaders entered Muzaffarabad, they killed Colonel Narain Singh and several Hindu soldiers. In revenge, when the forces retreated from Kotli, Hindu soldiers killed their Muslim colleagues in Beripatni. So many Hindus and Muslims lost their lives in this madness. I think of those innocents whose precious lives were lost in the name of religion and nationalism, and it still sends shivers down my spine.

Another major development was the radical land reforms that Sheikh Abdullah’s government undertook, abolishing landlordism and providing land to the tillers and tenants. This was unprecedented in the whole of India. Besides, these reforms did not entail compensation to those whose land was being expropriated. It was the leftist element in the NC that was instrumental in getting this law passed and implemented. However, gradually, Sheikh Abdullah began compromising on his principles, and mounting charges of corruption made me disillusioned with him and his politics. In 1957, Sadiq established the Democratic National
Conference and I joined it. We worked as an effective opposition group, channelising opposition to the government to ensure that Muslim and Hindu fundamentalists and communalists are not able to take advantage of the growing discontentment with Sheikh Abdullah. However, the Government of India was sacred that we would emerge as a powerful leftist force and this led to several compromises by our colleagues.

In the early 1960s, I began attending meetings of the Communist Party of India and was jailed in the wake of the Indo-China war. From 1967 to 1972, I remained underground, having established an association with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist). I also went underground during the Emergency, but I gradually realised the futility of the thesis of violence.

What do you feel is a realistic solution to the ongoing conflict?

As a Marxist-Leninist, I believe in the right to self-determination of every nationality. There are several nationalities in the state. Numerically, the Kashmiris of the valley are the single largest nationality, but there are several others, such as the Dogras of Jammu, the Potohari-speakers of Mirpur, the people of Gilgit and Baltistan, the Ladakhis and Kargilis, and other smaller groups. The problem is that when Kashmiri leaders of the Valley demand the right to self-determination, the other nationalities of the state feel threatened, seeing this as a means to legitimise and strengthen Kashmiri domination over the other nationalities. The right to self-determination should be for all nationalities, not just for the Kashmiris of the Valley.

Consider the Hurriyat Conference. Hurriyat leaders claim to speak for the right to self-determination of J&K as a whole but they are limited in their support to the Kashmir Valley. And even they are not united. They talk of Kashmiriat as the basis of Kashmiri nationalism, but
this notion of Kashmiriat is entirely Kashmir Valley-centric, representing the culture, traditions and aspirations of people in the Valley, from Baramulla to Qazigund. This does not have any resonance among people living outside the Valley. In theory, an independent federal state seems to be the best solution. But this is easier said than done. This requires the consensus of all the nationalities, which is not easy to secure.

Do you think that India and Pakistan would ever agree to an independent federation of J&K?

Frankly, I don’t think both countries will. Even Pakistan, which keeps talking about freedom for J&K, is basically hostile to the idea. After all, Islamabad is only a few miles from the border of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, and if J&K becomes independent, Pakistan would find the international border too close to its capital. Pakistan’s economy depends on the rivers that flow into it from the part of Kashmir that it controls. I have discovered
during my recent three trips that many people in
Pakistan-administered J&K genuinely seek independence.

Link

I want to become a maoist – V P Singh’s shocking confession

September 8, 2006

When the former prime minister of the country has himself
gone on record to say that
given today’s circumstances and developments he would have
become a maoist and the only thing stopping him from joining
them is his failing health , I want to ask today’s youth, one question

What is stopping you from joining the maoists ?

I want to become a maoist – V P Singh’s Shocking confession !


Braving relentless dialysis, frail but resolute, the Mandal Messiah VP Singh has taken on the might of the corporate-political nexus on behalf of displaced farmers in the Hindi heartland and across the country. By brazenly operating in favour of private companies and by openly bulldozing peaceful public dissent, social consensus and people’s aspirations, the establishment is pushing the people to a precipice of no-return. In such unjust circumstances, why shouldn’t the armed struggle of the Maoists spread in the deep hinterland? India is sitting on a volcano of social unrest and economic conflict, he says, which is bound to explode if the politics of liberalisation pushes the people into exile and condemnation

What makes you so upset about the Dadri Power Project? Don’t you think that UP desperately needs power?

I am all for power. The country needs it. However, the Dadri issue is not about power. The issue is the model of development. One is the inclusive model where everyone participates in the larger benefits. There is also this model of development where only some people pay the price and suffer. In India, we want a model where everyone has a share in the benefits.

We have trumpeted that we have introduced market economy but the first principle of market economy is that the buyer and seller should have the freedom to buy and sell. The choice has to be there whether one sells or not, buys or not, and the price is the price which is negotiated and settled. That is the market price. Now if you deny the buyer or seller the right to exercise his choice whether to buy or sell and instead of negotiating the price there is government intervention which settles the price, where is this market economy?

This is exactly what is happening in Dadri.

This is happening all over the country, not just in Dadri, sometimes in the name of hi-tech cities, sometimes in the name of Special Economic Zones (SEZs). All the states and all the chief ministers are doing it, and this includes other companies also and not just Reliance. If you are going to have an economy which is skewed in favour of the rich, then it is all a bogus market. Consider the build-up of a project.

Land is needed. So are machinery, concrete, cement and steel, among others. When it comes to the farmers’ land, everyone puts up a precise question: “Don’t you want development?” Why is this question not put to the Birlas and Tatas? By the same principle, Tata Steel and Birla Cement should also be acquired. Why doesn’t the UP government acquire electricity at the rate it wants to, instead of signing the deal with Reliance? Everybody dictates to the government the price it wants for its product, only the farmer is dictated by the government. This is injustice.

Prime agricultural land close to one lakh acre has been taken by the UP government and another one lakh acre by all the other states. Why can’t they set up these projects in the uncultivable lands? For example, take Annapara. It is uncultivable. Besides, when you take land in the villages of western UP, Haryana or Punjab, there are about 20 to 25% landless labourers dependent upon agricultural activities. When that activity ceases, where will they go?

The adjoining villages are already hard-pressed. If they come to the city, their homes are bulldozed. If you take the whole map of India, we are heading towards a major socio-political crisis. The way people are being displaced, who can stop the arrival of Maoism?

But why target only Dadri and not others?

That is the problem of VP Singh. You hang him. Just because VP is this you can’t hang the farmers and labourers. This is not the issue of an individual. I am raising the issue all over the country. As for Dadri, I am associated with it for more than one year. I discussed the matter with Mulayam Singh Yadav even before the Jan Morcha was revived. When farmers came to me I promised to stand by them. In my physical condition, it is the easiest place to go. In Haryana, a public meeting was held, which was addressed by Raj Babbar. I took up the issue in Pune also where Infosys has taken 3,500 acre in one village. Villagers protested and were fired upon. I went there and took a stand. I said, “Put my jhuggi here, I will go for dialysis to Bombay but will not budge from here.” Thankfully, Sharad Pawar and Vilasrao Deshmukh reconsidered the issue and cancelled the acquisition. How can you say we are not taking up the issue?

Did you raise it with the Prime Minister?

I wrote to the Prime Minister but got no response from him. I also spoke to Mulayam Singh Yadav about it. He said that he would address the matter after the block elections in the state. But six months have gone by and nothing has happened.

The basic allegation is that there was no competitive bidding for the Dadri project.

Yes, there was no competitive bidding. I have raised the issue with several people and no one has denied this. Even in defence deals there is bidding. Is this not corruption and favouritism? Straightaway, this is a case of corruption. You pick up a party and give the project without competitive bidding. Who are you to do that? Rs 2, as the price, has been announced. It is not only a farmers’ issue but also involves the consumers. Didn’t the Enron deal break on the supply tariff issue? This is a scandal bigger than Enron.

More so, 60% of the cost of acquisition that Reliance should have borne is being borne by the state government derived from people’s money. The Gram Samaj land has been given for a song at Rs 100 per acre per year. Why? We don’t know if there is any clause whereby a deadline for the project has been fixed. We were told two years. Two years have passed. Is there a penalty clause? If there is, has it been applied and if not why is it not there? The amount of land that has been acquired is much more than what is required. The electricity that will be generated will not be for UP alone. It will go to Haryana, Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan. This tomtomming that it is only for UP is a farce.

There is a belief that the farmers agitating in Dadri are trying to extract a better price for their land which is far in excess of the agreed rate.
The farmers have been given the price of Rs 150 per square yard in Dadri. The same land without any development has been valued at Rs 5,700 per square yard by Reliance and it is demanding a loan from the bank on the basis of this assessment. My thesis is that the rate at which you have valued the land for the bank appraisal should be the real value of the land. If it is not, then you are cheating the bank. And if it is the real value, then you are cheating the farmers. One of them is being cheated.

How do you analyse the entire economic process undertaken by Mulayam Singh in collaboration with big industrial houses?

He has created an economic oligarchy. UP has been virtually handed over to this group of people. When he speaks about the Uttar Pradesh Development Council (UPDC), why are only industrialists its members? Why aren’t there farmers in it?

Mulayam Singh Yadav is quite perturbed. He says that you are doing this at the behest of the Congress.

Then he can get me hanged in a park or some corner of Lucknow for whatever I am doing. But is that an argument to deny the farmers the legitimate price of their land? He engages in personal allegations and then defends them, and the main issue is lost. I know his tactics. The issue is more important than VP Singh.

Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are sprouting all over the country. Those who promote them claim that they will create lakhs of jobs and there will be universal progress and development.
Why call it a market economy then? Stop it. A farmer as the owner of his land does not have the choice to decide the terms at which he will part with his property. Give me one advocate of liberalisation who can defend it? That is why this whole thing is a hoax. If you refuse to listen to the people who are affected today and if you send the police tomorrow, they will take to arms. And wherever they have taken up arms you have not been able to handle it.

There have been massive protests in Kalinga Nagar in Orissa against the acquisition of land. It has been almost one year and the roads are still blocked. They are ordinary people but are being branded as Maoists by the corporate sector and the government.

Yes. I want to become a Maoist if this is the model of development. But I can’t at this age.

Link