Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Author's Note: This is meant to be a simple and brief exposition of the goals and strategies of the Maoist movement in India for people who may not have much awareness about it and are confused by the propaganda in the mainstream media. This does not go into the arcane debates about mode of production in India, the debates among communist revolutionaries over strategy and tactics etc. This aims at people who, for example, are perplexed why the Maoists, instead of trying to ensure safe drinking water like an NGO, rather, often resort to violent activities against the Government.
The Indian government is launching a full-scale war against the Maoist rebels and the people led by them in different parts of the country. The initial battles, without any formal announcement, have already started. For this purpose, they intend to deploy about 75,000 security personnel in parts of Central and Eastern India, including Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand. The government will organize its regular air-force in addition to paramilitary and specially trained COBRA forces. The air-force has begun to extend its logistic support.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P. Chidambaram have declared the Maoist rebels to be `the biggest internal security threat' to India and a hindrance to `development' . The mainstream media seem to have taken them at their face value. Their publications and television programmes seem to be building a war-hysteria against the Maoist rebels regardless of the fact that this attack by the government will be directed against some of the most deprived of the Indian people. Indeed this is turning into a war of the state against its own people!
While paying lip service at times to the notion that the current people's insurgency led by the Maoist rebels has its root in decades of vicious exploitation of the poor, especially the dalits and tribals, the blare of government propaganda tries to convince us that the Maoist rebels are dangerous, blood-thirsty terrorists determined to establish their areas of influence. The Government is preaching that the Maoists can go to any extent to maintain their influence in these areas – by either preventing the government from undertaking development activities or using the power of their guns, killing disobedient individuals. Their ideology is to terrorise the common people, wrest power from the democratically elected governments and destroy the entire fabric of the society.
The government and the media want us to believe that the only people, apart from a few romantic misguided intellectuals, who willingly support Maoists are the poor, ignorant, uneducated, uninformed tribal people. They seem to claim that no sensible, intelligent person living in a society like ours would support them voluntarily. But is this a true picture?
Could it be that the Maoist rebels are supporting and organizing the poor, exploited people to fight oppression, to establish a more egalitarian society where the wealth of our growing economy will be spread among all, not merely among a very small minority? Could it be that in the name of suppressing the Maoists, the state is going all out to break the backbone of these poor peoples' fight? Could it be that the government is planning to wage a war, in our name, against our own sisters and brothers to help line the pockets of the rich?
In this hour of crisis, we must ask those questions that the government seeks to suppress.
What do we really know about the Maoist rebels, their ideology, their plans and programs? Why does the government need to go to war against its own people and inside its own territory? Are the Maoists really blocking development? Who are these Maoists anyway and what do they want?
Let us take one question at a time.
Who are these Maoists?
The Maoists are revolutionaries mainly consisting of the extremely poor people including a large number of dalits and tribals. They come mainly from the toiling masses of India and they are trying to organize the vast population of such masses of this country. They seek to arm and train them so that these masses can resist the onslaught of the rich. In this effort they go beyond the idea that mass movements should focus on some specific issues like increase of wages, better health care, more honesty of public servants and so forth.
The view of the Maoist rebels is that the poor and exploited people must first and foremost establish their own democratic political power and their own state power in various places. This is because without controlling state power, the poor and the exploited can at most hope for only limited improvements in their living conditions, i.e., so long as it does not inconvenience the rich who usually control the state power. So, the Maoists mobilize the poor to fight against the existing state, even armed fight if possible, as they consider the existing state to be a set of agents acting for the big multinational corporations, rich landlords and the wealthy in general.
The fight is an extremely challenging and unequal one as the rich are aided by the government bureaucrats, the police and even the military. Also, contrary to what the Government and the mainstream media are propagating, the Maoist rebels are actually completely opposed to individual killings, they openly denigrate such stray terrorism-like acts. What they have been attempting to build up is a mass movement, even armed, to take on the violence of the ruling classes and its representative state machinery.
The Maoist movement was born in India in the late 1960s, after a radical section of political workers broke away mainly from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPIM) because they felt the CPIM and other such parties like CPI, RSP, etc. had discredited themselves with their opportunist politics of placating and compromising with the rich. The movement has a long history of development. The present party, CPI (Maoist), came into being in 2004 by the merger of a number of fraternal organizations.
Is development in India arrested because the Maoist rebels are blocking it?
What is the state of the people of India at present? With its current high rate of growth, this is also a country of abject poverty and extreme inequality. Home to 24 billionaires (second largest in Asia according to Forbes), India can also boast of 230 million people who go to bed on a half empty stomach (World Hunger Report).
A country whose economy grows at 9% cannot feed its own population – at least 50% of the people live below the official poverty line and 47% of children below the age of three are underweight [World Bank report, Undernourished children: A call for reform and action]. In this so called `hub of knowledge economy', only 11% of the total population can afford higher education and 50% of the students drop out before class eight to start living as casual labourers (Education Statistics, Ministry of Human Resource Development). This is true of most of India not just the areas where Maoist influence and control is high. Then how can we say that development in India is being blocked by Maoists?
Maoists do not oppose `development' at all, they only oppose the `pro-rich development' at the expense of destitution or often total destruction of the poor. For example, in Dandakaranya region of Chhattisgarh they oppose setting up of helipads but there, the poor themselves, led by the Maoist rebels, have built irrigation tanks and wells for help in agriculture something the Indian government did not bother to do. The Indian government routinely blames the Maoist rebels that they blow up schools! But what the Government tries to suppress is that these blown-up school buildings were actually being used or requisitioned to become camps for security personnel!
And what changes do they want? Why do they want these changes?
(1) Overhauling the entire structure of oppression instead of piecemeal reforms
In addition to all the woes described above, India is also a country, where thousands of Muslims can be butchered in broad daylight by fascist Hindu forces (the most widespread and gruesome such pogrom in recent times happened in Gujarat in 2002), while the ministers and police look the other way. And these features are not stray results of the misdeeds of a few villains. The existing socio-political system in India has a built-in mechanism which ensures that the common masses would be oppressed by a rich and powerful few. Widespread systemic violence is required and is routinely applied by the Indian state so that common people remain disciplined and do not revolt in the face of oppression.
(2) Land to the tillers and destruction of the landlord class
About 60% of the Indian population is still dependent on agriculture. However the primary input, land, is predominantly concentrated in the hands of a few landlords and big farmers. Close to 60 percent of rural households are effectively landless [NSS report]. The elite in the villages, by their collusion with the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats have blocked any meaningful land reforms. In the last four decades the proportion of households with little or no land (landless and marginal farmer households) has increased steadily from 66% to 80%. On the other hand the top ten percent rural households own more land now than in 1951 (NSS report).The Maoist revolutionaries want to change this to ensure equitable distribution of land. They do not deter from collective armed fight of the landless and poor peasants and the poor rural labourers against the existing state power for achieving this goal.
(3) Freedom from money lenders and traders
Indebtedness in rural India has been increasing by leaps and bounds especially in the recent decades. Public rural banks are closing down due to relaxation of government regulation. Therefore, instead of securing credits from public institutional sources, rural folk are now being forced to approach the village money lenders (who are often big landlords or rich farmers as well) on a larger and larger scale. Unscrupulous traders are adding to the misery of the poor peasants. They sell spurious inputs to small and marginal peasants at exorbitant prices. They also make huge profits by buying their harvest at throwaway prices and selling them in urban areas at a premium.
Not-so-well- off peasants, in this no-win situation, of course end up needing substantial credit. Private moneylenders and various for-profit financial companies take advantage of this situation by extracting enormous sums from peasants. Interest rate could be as high as 5% per month. The BBC News reported that more than 200,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1997 under the pressure of such indebtedness. The Maoist rebels want to change this.
(4) End of caste system and eradication of untouchability
It is well known that the caste system is still thriving in India. Economically it keeps the overwhelming majority of the people in dire poverty and politically it suppresses their fundamental democratic rights. Often the lower castes are robbed of their human dignity. They are even denied access to public facilities like some sources of drinking water, schools etc. An expert group of the planning commission reports that in 70% villages lower caste people cannot enter places of worship and in more than 50% villages they don't have access to common water sources (Expert committee report to the Planning Commission).
According to an NCDHR report, on average, 27 atrocities (including murder, abduction and rape) against dalits take place every day. The well-off landed sections in the villages still come mainly from the upper castes. They use brahminical ideology to try to keep all other sections of the population under domination. The same is true for usurers, merchants, hoarders, quarry owners, contractors–all mainly come from the upper castes. In short, the upper castes are still very much in command in all aspects of rural life. Often with their own private army of goondas they run a parallel raj. The Maoists want to break this stranglehold of the upper castes and ensure equal rights for dalits and adivasis.
(5) Freedom from exploitation by foreign multinationals and its local partners
Since 1991, foreign capital in alliance with big capitalists like Reliance, Tata and state bureaucrats, has penetrated vast sectors of the Indian economy. Every sphere of our life, starting from road construction, electricity generation, communication networks to food retail, health and education are under direct control of this coterie. In the name of `development' thousands of acres of land are being transferred to big business and multinationals. For example, in Bastar, Chattisgarh, in the name of Bodh Ghat dam, tens of thousands of Adivasis are being forcibly evicted from their "jal-jangal- zameen" (water-forest- land). In Niyamgiri, Orissa the land which is the abode of several Dongria tribes has been handed over to the multinational Vedanta group which will completely destroy the livelihood of these tribes affecting more than 20,000 people. The state government and the mainstream opposition parties of the state are actively supporting such activities. The Maoists, over the years, have been resisting such plunder.
(6) Ensuring people's democratic rights
It is well known that elections are often a sham in India. The parliament, as we have seen several times, is a bazaar where the rich and the super-rich can buy the MPs. According to ADR (Association of Democratic Reform), the average asset of an MP has gone up to 5.12 crore in 2009 from Rs 1.8 crore in 2004. In our democracy the erstwhile rajas and maharajas, like Scindias, are still proliferating and controlling the local economy and polity at many places.
And we also know the state of judicial system in our country. Salman Khans and Sanjeev Nandas can kill by running cars over common people and still they can escape the law for very long, perhaps forever. B.N. Kirpal, the judge, who arbitrarily ordered that Indian rivers be interlinked, ignoring the resulting ecological and human calamity, joined the environmental board of Coca-Cola after he retired. The Maoists want to establish people's court where poor people can get true justice. In fact, such courts run in many places where the Maoist movement is strong.
(7) Self-determination for the nationalities
The Indian government ruthlessly suppresses national aspirations of a number of people. These people and their land became part of India by accident – because the British raj annexed their homeland or a despotic king wanted their land to be a part of India. Lakhs of Indian troops have been deployed in Kashmir and north-eastern states to curb such struggles of the people in these states for their national self-determination. Since 1958, AFSPA has been imposed in north-eastern states, which allows armed forces to conduct search and seizure without warrant, to arrest without warrant, to destroy any house without any verification and to shoot to kill with full impunity. In Kashmir, there is 1 military personnel for every 15 civilian. Cold blooded murders, like those of Thangjam Manorama Devi, Chungkham Sanjit, Neelofar and Asiya Jan, are carried out frequently in the name of `countering terrorism'. The Maoist rebels seek to establish freedom of self determination for all nationalities.
So, to sum up, the new society the Maoists want to establish will have the following components:
--Land to the poor and landless. Later on cooperative farming is to be established on voluntary basis.
--Forest to the tribal people.
--End of rule of the rich and the upper caste in villages and uprooting of caste system. Uproot all discriminations based on gender and religion.
--Seizure of the ill gotten wealth and assets of multinational corporations and their local Indian partners.
--Self determination for the nationalities, political autonomy for the tribes.
--Establish a state by the poor, for the poor where the present day exploiters would be expropriated.
--Participation of people in day to day administrative work and decision making. Democracy at the true grassroot level with people having the power to recall its democratic representatives.
In summary: ensuring that all types of freedom, rights and democracy for all sections of toiling masses.
What have the Maoists-led people's struggles achieved so far?
Information in this section is taken, purposely, from the expert group report to the planning commission, which is available on the web.
Contrary to what the media try to portray, the government's own report says that the movement led by the Maoist rebels cannot be seen as simply blowing up of police stations and killing individual people. It encompasses mass organization. Mass participation in militant protest has always been a characteristic of such mobilisation.
Although the Maoists by their own admission are engaged in a long term people's struggle against the oppression by the present India state, their movement has already achieved some short term successes in improving the condition of the poor people.
Maoist movement in India was built around the demand of `land to the tillers'. Numerous struggles, led by the Maoists, have been fought all over the country especially in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, to free land from the big landholding families. In many such cases landlords have been driven away from the villages and their land has been put in the possession of the landless poor. But the police and paramilitary do not allow the poor to cultivate such lands. In Bihar, landless Musahars, the lowest among the Dalits have struggled and have taken possession of fallow Government land. This has had the support of Maoists.
Under the leadership of the Maoists the adivasis have reclaimed forest land on an extensive scale in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, Orissa and Jharkhand. The adivasis displaced by irrigation projects in Orissa had to migrate to the forests of Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh in large numbers. The forest department officials harassed and evicted them on a regular basis. The movement led by the Maoists put an end to this.
In rural India the Minimum Wages Act remains an act on paper only. In the forest areas of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra, and Jharkhand, non-payment of the legal wages was a major source of exploitation of adivasi labourer. Maoists-led struggles have put an effective end to it. These struggles have secured increases in the rate of payment for picking tendu leaves (used for rolling beedies), washing clothes, making pots, tending cattle, repairing implements etc. The exploitation previously had been so severe that as a result of the sustained movement led by Maoists the pay rates of tendu leaves collection have over the years increased by fifty times.
The movement has given confidence to the oppressed to assert their rights and demand respect and dignity from the dominant castes and classes. The everyday humiliation and sexual exploitation of labouring women of dalit and tribal communities by upper caste men has been successfully fought. Forced labour, begari, by which the toiling castes had to provide obligatory service for free to the upper castes was also put an end to in many parts of the country.
In rural India, disputes are commonly taken to the rich and powerful of the village (who are generally the landlords) and caste panchayats, where the dispensation of justice is in favour of the rich and powerful. The Maoist movement has provided a mechanism, usually described as the `People's Court' whereby these disputes are resolved in the interests of the wronged party.
Why then, does the government need to go to war against its own people led by these rebels instead of hailing them as true patriots?â€¨â€¨
There is a simple answer. Chattisgarh, Orissa are rich in mineral wealth that can be sold to the highest multinational bidder. The only obstacle standing between the corrupt politicians and ALL THIS MONEY are the poor, disenfranchised tribal people (and the Maoists leading them). So, this war. This is not something new in India or for that matter in other parts of the world. Mobutu's corrupt regime selling off the Belgian Congo piece by piece to the US, Belgium and other countries comes to mind. In the sixty years of independence from direct colonial rule, the Indian state has been doing the same. It has systematically impoverished the overwhelming majority to serve the interest of a powerful few and their foreign friends.
The impending war to evict the tribal people from their villages, in the pretext of eliminating the Maoists, will be fought at the behest of big corporations, who want to control and plunder our resources such as mineral, water and forest. It is high time that we recognize this pattern of waging war which will be fought by the poor on both sides, but will benefit only the big capitalists and their cheerleaders in the government.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Tusha Mittal, Tehelka, November 13, 2009
In this interview, underground Maoist leader Kishenji speaks on issues such as peace talks, armed struggle, the party's sources of funding, the difference between people's democracy and India's formal democracy, and the goals of the CPI (Maoist).
With unmistakable pride, he says he¡¯s India¡¯s Most Wanted Number 2. CPI (Maoist) Politburo member Mallojula Koteshwar Rao alias Kishenji, 53, grew up in the interiors of Andhra Pradesh reading Gandhi and Tagore. It was after understanding the history of the world, he says, that he disappeared into the jungles for a revolution. During search operations in 1982, the police broke down his home in Peddapalli village. He hasn¡¯t seen his mother since, but writes to her through Telugu newspapers. After 20 years in the Naxal belt of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, he relocated to West Bengal. His wife oversees Maoist operations in Dantewada [a district in southern Chhattisgarh] . Now, at a hideout barely a few kilometres from a police camp in Lalgarh, he reads 15 newspapers daily and offers to fax you his party literature. If you hold on, he¡¯ll look up the statistics of war on his computer. Excerpts from a midnight phone interview:
Tell me about your personal journey. What made you join the CPI (Maoist)?
I was born in Karimnagar in Andhra Pradesh (AP). In 1973, after a BSc mathematics degree, I moved to Hyderabad in to pursue law. My political journey began with my involvement in the Telangana Sangarsh Samiti, which has been pressing for a separate Telangana state. I launched the Radical Students Union (RSU) in AP. During the Emergency in 1975, I went underground to take part in the revolution. Several things motivated me: Writer Varavara Rao, who founded the Revolutionary Writers Association, India¡¯s political atmosphere and the progressive environment in which I grew up.
My father was a great democrat and a freedom fighter. He was also vice-president of the state Congress party. We are Brahmins, but our family never believed in caste. When I joined the CPI (ML),my father left the Congress saying two kinds of politics can¡¯t survive under one roof. He believed in socialism, but not in armed struggle. After the Emergency ended in 1977, I led a democratic peasant movement against feudalism. Over 60,000 farmers joined it. It triggered a nationwide peasant uprising.
The Home Minister has agreed to talks with CPI (Maoist) on issues like forest rights, land acquisition and SEZs [Special Economic Zones]? Why did you reject his offer? He¡¯s only asking you to halt the violence.
We are ready to talk if the government withdraws its forces. Violence is not part of our agenda. Our violence is counter violence. The combat forces are attacking our people every day. In the last month in Bastar, the Cobra forces have killed 18 innocent tribals and 12 Maoists. In Chhattisgarh, those helping us with development activities are being arrested. Stop this; the violence will stop. Recently, the Chhattisgarh DGP [Director-General of Police] called the 6,000 Special Police Officers of Salwa Judum a force of pride. New recruitment continues. These people have been raping, murdering and looting tribals for years. Entire villages have been deserted because of the Salwa Judum. The government can say whatever it likes, but we do not believe them. How can they change policy when they aren¡¯t even in control? The World Bank and America is.
On what conditions will you de-escalate violence?
The PM should apologise to the tribals and withdraw all the troops deployed in these areas. The troops are not new, we have been facing State terror for the last 20 years. All prisoners should be released. Take the time you need to withdraw forces, but assure us there won¡¯t be police attacks meanwhile. If the government agrees to this, there will be no violence from us. We will continue our movement in the villages like before.
Before it agrees to withdrawing troops, can you give the State assurance you won¡¯t attack for one month?
We will think about it. I¡¯ll have to speak with my general secretary. But what is the guarantee there won¡¯t be any attack from the police in that one month? Let the government make the declaration and start the process of withdrawing. It shouldn¡¯t be just a show for the public. Look at what happened in AP. They began talks and broke it. Our Central Committee member went to meet the AP Secretary. Later, the police shot him for daring to talk to the government.
If you really have a pro-people agenda, why insist on keeping arms? Is your goal tribal welfare or political power?
Political power. Tribal welfare is our priority, but without political power we cannot achieve anything. One cannot sustain power without an army and weapons. The tribals have been exploited and pushed to the most backward extremes because they have no political power. They don¡¯t have the right to their own wealth. Yet, our philosophy doesn¡¯t insist on arms. We keep arms in a secondary place. We faced a setback in AP because of that.
The government says halt the violence first, you say withdraw the troops first. In this mindless cycle, the tribal people you claim to represent are suffering the most.
So let¡¯s call international mediators then. Whether it¡¯s Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal or Maharashtra, we never started the violence. The first attack always came from the government. In Bengal, the CPM [Communist Party of India (Marxist)] cadre won¡¯t let any non-party person enter villages under their control. Police has been camping in the Lalgarh area since 1998. In such a situation, how can I press for higher potato prices and drinking water? There is no platform for me to do that. When the minimum wages in West Bengal were Rs 85 per day, people were being paid Rs 22. We demanded Rs 25. The Mahabharat [war] began when the Kauravas refused to grant the Pandavas even the five villages they asked for. The State refused our three-rupee hike. We are the Pandavas; they are the Kauravas.
You say violence is not your agenda, yet you¡¯ve killed nearly 900 policemen in the past four years. Many of them came from poor tribal families. Even if it is counter violence, how is this furthering a pro-people goal?
Our battle is not with the police forces, it is with the State. We want to minimise the number police casualties. In Bengal, many police families actually sympathise with us. There have been 51,000 political murders by the CPM during the last 28 years. Yes, we have killed 52 CPM men in the last seven months, but only in retaliation to police and CPM brutality.
How is the CPI (Maoist) funded? What about the allegations of extortion?
There are no extortions. We collect taxes from the corporates and big bourgeoisie, but it¡¯s not any different from the corporate sector funding the political parties. We have a half-yearly audit. Not a single paisa is wasted. Villagers also fund the party by voluntarily donating two days¡¯ earnings each year. From two days of bamboo cutting in Gadchiroli we earned Rs 25 lakh. From tendu leaf collection in Bastar we earned Rs 35 lakh. Elsewhere, farmers donated 1,000 quintals of paddy.
What if a farmer refuses to donate?
That will never happen.
Because of fear?
No. They are with us. We never charge villagers even a paisa for the development activity that we initiate.
What development have you brought to Maoist-dominated areas? How has life improved for the tribals of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand?
We¡¯ve made the people aware of the State¡¯s real face, told them how rich people live and what they¡¯re deprived of. In many of these areas the tendu leaf rate used to be one rupee for 1,000 leaves. We got it hiked to 50 paise per leaf in three districts of Maharashtra, five districts of AP and the entire Bastar region. Bamboo was sold to paper mills at 50 paise per bundle. Now the rate is Rs 55. But these victories came after we faced State resistance and brutality. In Gadchiroli alone, they killed 60 people on our side, we killed five.
The CPI(Maoist) also sends medical help to 1,200 villages in India almost daily. In Bastar, our foot soldiers are proficient doctors, wearing aprons, working as midwives in the jungles. We don¡¯t give them arms. We have 50 such mobile health teams and 100 mobile hospitals in Bastar itself. Villagers go to designated people for specific illnesses: for fever go to Issa, for dysentery to Ramu and so on. There is so much illness in these areas that there are not enough people to pick up the dead bodies. We give free medicines to doctors for distribution among the people. The government doesn¡¯t know that the medicines come from their own hospitals.
If the State sends civil administration to the Naxal belt, will you allow it?
We will welcome it. We want teachers and doctors to come here. The people of Lalgarh have been asking for a hospital for decades. The government did nothing. When they built one themselves, the government turned it into a military camp.
What is your larger long-term vision? Outline three tangible goals.
The first is to gain political power, to establish new democracy, socialism and then communism. The second is to make our economy self sufficient so we don¡¯t need loans from imperialists. We are still paying off foreign loans from decades ago. The debt keeps increasing because of the devaluation of our currency. It will never be repaid. This is what the World Bank wants. We need an economy that works on two things ¡ª agriculture and industry. First, the tribals want land. Until they own their land, the State will exploit them. The people should be entitled to a percentage of the crop depending on their labour. We are not opposed to industry; how can there be development without it? But we should decide which industries will work for India, not America, not the World Bank. Instead of big dams, big industries, we¡¯ll promote small-scale industries, especially those on which agriculture depends. The third goal is to seize all the big companies ¨C from the Tatas to the Ambanis, cancel all the MoUs [Memoranda of Understanding] , declare their wealth as national wealth, and keep the owners in jail. Also, from the grassroots to the highest levels, we will create elected bodies in a democratic way
But look at the history of communist governments the world over. They became as oppressive as the ones they overthrew. There are ample examples of coercion and absence of dissent in Maoist regimes. How is this in the best interest of the people?
These are all stories spread by the capitalists. People in the villages are dying by the hundreds, but all our doctors want to live in the cities. All our engineers want to serve Japan or the IT sector. They reached their positions using the nation¡¯s wealth. What are they doing for my country? The State cannot insist you become a doctor. But if you do, it should insist you use your skill for two years in the villages. How oppressive the State is depends on who is controlling the reigns of power.
We want to have a democratic culture. If there is no democracy, ask the villagers to start another revolution and overthrow us. In an embryonic form, we already have an alternative democratic people¡¯s government in Bastar. Through elections, we choose a local government called the revolutionary people¡¯s committee. People vote by raising their hands. There is a chairman, a vice-chairman, and there are departments ¨C education, health, welfare, agriculture, law and order, people¡¯s relations. This system exists in about 40 districts in India at present. The perception that Maoists don¡¯t believe in democracy is wrong.
What exists in India today is formal democracy. It¡¯s not real. Whether it¡¯s Mamata Banerjee, or the CPM, or the Congress party, it is all dictatorship. We negotiated the release of 14 adivasi women in Bengal to show the world who the State is keeping in jail; to expose their real face.
If you believe in democracy, why do you shun the democratic process that already exists? The Maoists in Nepal contested elections.
To create a new democratic State, one has to destroy the old one. Nepal¡¯s Maoists have compromised. What elections? There are 180 MPs with serious criminal charges. More than 300 MPs are crorepatis [someone who is worth more than 10 million rupees]. Do you know the US Army is already conducting exercises at a base in Uttar Pradesh? They openly said they can take the Indian Army with them wherever they want. Who allowed them this audacity? Not me. I am opposing them. I am the real desh bhakt (patriot).
What kind of nation do you want India to be? Pick a role model.
Our first role model was Paris. That disintegrated. Then Russia collapsed. That¡¯s when China emerged. But after Mao, that too got defeated. Now, nowhere in the world is the power truly in the hands of the people. Everywhere workers are fighting for it. So there is no role model.
When communism hasn¡¯t worked elsewhere, why will it work for India? China now admits Mao¡¯s theories were fallible. In Nepal, the Maoists are already seeking foreign investment.
What the Maoists in Nepal are doing is wrong. Following this path will only mean creating another Buddhadeb [the "Marxist" Chief Minister of West Bengal] babu. We have appealed to them to come back to the old ways. Wherever socialism or communism took root, imperialism tried to destroy it. Of course, Lenin, Mao, Prachanda ¨C all have weaknesses. After winning the Second World War, Lenin and Stalin replaced internal democracy with bureaucracy. They disregarded the participation of the people. We will learn from their mistakes. But capitalism too has had to stand up after being shot down. How can you say that capitalism has been successful? Socialism is the only way out.
But in power, you could be as fallible as the Nepal Maoists or the CPM?
If we change, the people should start another krantikari andolan (revolution) against us. If the ruler ¡ª no matter who ¡ª becomes exploitative, then the people need to stand up to demand their democracy. They should not have blind faith in a Kishenji, or a Prachanda or a Stalin. If any neta or party deviates from their own ideology, then end your faith in them and revolt again. The people should always keep this tradition alive.
Have you ever faced any personal dilemmas? Is violence the only way you can mount pressure on the State?
I believe we are trying to do the right thing. We are waging a just war. Yes, there can be mistakes along the way. Unlike the State, when we make mistakes, we admit it. The beheading of Francis Induwar was a mistake. We apologise for it. In Lalgarh, we are trying different strategies. We have recently made concrete development demands and given the government a November 27 deadline. We¡¯ve asked for 300 borewells and 50 make-shift hospitals. I have also knocked on the doors of Left Front parties ¨C Forward Bloc, RSP, CPI and even CPM. I¡¯m even in touch with ministers within the Bengal government. I¡¯ve spoken to the Chief Minister himself.
The CM office has rubbished this.
I have spoken to the CM. I told him to stop State brutality and said we have mailed our development demands. He said he is under pressure from his own party and from Home Minister Chidambaram.
Why isn¡¯t the police able to catch you?
In eight states, there are day and night search operations on for me. I¡¯m India¡¯s Most Wanted Number 2. In 1,600 villages in Bengal, people are currently on night guard to ensure the police can¡¯t find me. There are 500 policemen in a camp 1.5 kilometres from where I am right now. The people of Bengal love me. The police have to kill them before they can get me.
The Home Secretary recently alluded to China giving you arms. Is this true?
Clearly, he doesn¡¯t know the basics of our philosophy. To win a war, you need to know your enemy. Our position is diametrically opposite to China. I thought Chidambaram and Pillai were my competition, but never imagined I have such low-standard enemies. They are flashing swords in the air. Victory will be ours.
What is your opinion of the Lashkar-e-Taiba? Do you support their war?
We may support some of their demands, but their methods are wrong and antipeople. LeT should stop its terrorist acts because it cannot help accomplish any goals. You can only win by taking the people along with you.
International League of Peoples' Struggle
Today, the working people of the world are launching various forms of
protest actions to mark the International Day of Action against Trade
Union Repression. This provides a meaningful context for commemorating
and protesting the massacre of striking peasants and farm workers in
Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac province in the Philippines in 2004. The
working people of Hacienda Luisita exemplify the plight and struggle of
the working people of semicolonial and semifeudal countries, who still
comprise the majority of the world’s population.
Hacienda Luisita is the vast 6,000-hectare tract of land in Central
Luzon owned by the wealthy and powerful Cojuangco family to which former
Pres. Corazon “Cory” Aquino belonged . It stands as a bulwark of feudal
and semi-feudal exploitation and oppression within the context of the
world capitalist system. It demonstrates how the big comprador-landlords
exploit the working people and wield state power to oppress them. It
exposes as a sham the so-called “comprehensive agrarian reform program”
that the Aquino ruling clique had launched since the 1980s.
Earlier the Cojuangco family bought Hacienda Luisita from the Spanish
Tabacalera corporation with a loan from the government in the 1950s..
The loan was granted with the provision that a major portion of the land
(2000 hectares) would be distributed later on to the peasants, within
the frame of the government’s “land reform” program.
The Cojuangco family not only failed to distribute the designated
portion of the land, it maneuvered to keep it and used violence to
suppress those who demanded land reform. In 1985, a trial court ruled
that the lands be distributed to the peasants, but 1986 saw the ascent
to the presidency of Aquino. The Aquino regime crafted an agrarian
reform program which was riddled with so many exemptions, including one
called the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) that was used to exempt
Luisita from land distribution.
In this context, we can fully appreciate the significance of the strike
launched by Luisita peasants and farm workers in November 2004. They
were protesting the P9.50 take-home pay per day at the hacienda – a
result of the Stock Distribution Option scheme hatched by the Cojuangcos
and the landlord class to gain legal exemption from the fake agrarian
reform program being implemented by the government. They were also
protesting the dismissal of 300 workers from the hacienda’s sugar
refinery, an act intended to bust the local union which was then
Before and during their strike, the peasants and farm workers of Luisita
– with the active support of patriotic and progressive mass
organizations and alliances throughout the country, and with the help of
alternative media – won the attention and sympathy of the working people
of the country and the world. Many among the urban petty-bourgeoisie in
the Philippines were shocked to learn about concrete forms of feudal
exploitation and oppression that were persisting in the countryside. The
working people of the Philippines and the world applauded and encouraged
the working people of Luisita .
The Cojuangcos, the big comprador-landlord classes, and the reactionary
state were all shamed by the justness of the calls of the Luisita
peasants and farm workers. They reacted swiftly and viciously to the
strike. Patricia Sto. Tomas, then-labor secretary of the US-backed
regime of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, issued an Assumption of
Jurisdiction order on the issue, ordering the strikers to go back to
work and authorizing the deployment of military and police forces to
dismantle the strike. Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., who was widely
believed to have been promoted to his post for helping Mrs. Arroyo cheat
in the 2004 elections, was the military’s chief of staff.
The military and police forces went to the hacienda, bringing tanks,
tear gas, and high-powered rifles. The Luisita peasants and farm workers
stood their ground. With their unity and militance, they repelled
various attempts at breaking the strike. Thousands upon thousands of
workers, peasants and farm workers, together with their women folk,
locked arms and pushed away with their bodies the military and police
who were armed with shields. After reaching the ground, canisters of
tear gas thrown by the military were immediately covered with soil. A
farmer, speaking to the military, summed up their spirit: “Since you are
already killing us, we might as well die fighting.” These could only
have aroused fear and panic in the hearts of the oppressors..
In the afternoon of November 16, 2004,after the strikers promised in a
negotiation with military and police officials to lay down the pieces of
wood they were holding for defending themselves and to defend the strike
with just their bodies, the military and police forces opened fire. A
few minutes of gunfire left Jhaivie Basilio, Adriano Caballero, Jhune
David, Jesus Laza, Juancho Sanchez, Jaime Pastidio and Jessie Valdez
fatally wounded. Some of them could have been kept alive, but hospitals
in Cojuangco-dominated Tarlac refused to admit patients from the
hacienda. Calling for land to the tillers, they died fighting for the
just cause of the peasants and farm workers of Luisita and the country.
The owners of the hacienda, the reactionary government and the bourgeois
mass media tried to spread the canard that it was the Luisita farmers
and farm workers who started the violence and that it was fighters of
the New People’s Army,.who started the shooting. Their propaganda could
not stand up to the truth of the audio-visual evidence taken by
progressive filmmakers who covered the strike. The bursts of gunfire
came from the ranks of the military and the police. Subsequently, death
squads of the military went on a spree killing strike leaders and
supporters, including a bishop and a city councilor.
While the touters of the reactionary justice system in the Philippines
often cite the adage that “justice delayed is justice denied,” justice
has clearly been delayed and has been denied to the peasants and farm
workers of Hacienda Luisita. Five years after the massacre, no one has
been punished for the crime. There are many victims, but none of the
criminal perpetrators is imprisoned. Investigation of the cases has been
proceeding at snail pace, and the only significant development is that
de facto president Arroyo, her labor secretary Sto. Tomas and the
military butcher Esperon have been removed from the list of those
charged. The ones remaining on the sham charge sheet are the police and
military officers who tested positive in paraffin tests. But they are
scot free and biding their time.
The power of the labor secretary to issue Assumption of Jurisdiction
(AJ) orders remains in place – despite the graphic demonstration by what
happened in Luisita of its lethal consequences for working people. After
the massacre, the labor secretary issued AJ orders for numerous
workplaces in Central Luzon, thus facilitating the militarization of
that region. Since it was approved as part of the Labor Code in 1989,
the AJ has been used as license to suppress workers’ actions in
workplaces throughout the country. It is being imposed even before a
strike is initiated – when collective bargaining negotiations end in
deadlock or when notices of strike are filed before the government.
Pressured by the strike and the widespread condemnation of the massacre
locally and internationally, the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council
(PARC), in December 2005, revoked the Stock Distribution Option (SDO)
scheme being implemented in the hacienda and placed the lands previously
under the SDO into the “compulsory coverage” scheme of the government’s
agrarian reform program. The Hacienda Luisita management, losing no
time, filed for a Temporary Restraining Order in January 2006 against
the resolution. In June 2006, the Supreme Court issued a TRO and ordered
the PARC and the Department of Agrarian Reform to implement the
revocation of the SDO.
Seeing the opportunity in this deadlock, and knowing that waiting for
government intervention will get them nowhere, the peasants and farm
workers of the hacienda took the initiative and launched their
“kampanyang bungkal” or campaign to till, which called on all working
people of the hacienda to plant crops that are necessary for everyday
nourishment, such as rice and vegetables, and can be sold for added
income, such as fruits. With the participation of more than a thousand
families, the hacienda land, which used to showcase sugarcane, now
boasts of golden fields of rice. The campaign caused an improvement in
the lives and livelihood of the working people of Luisita.
The Cojuangco family, however, has not given up on the fight to own the
Luisita lands. Last December 2008, emboldened by the passage of a law
extending the government’s anti-peasant agrarian reform program – which
still contained the SDO as one of the (non-)distribution schemes – the
Hacienda Luisita management issued a memorandum to the peasants tilling
the 2,000-hectare portion of the hacienda which ordered them to stop
using the lands for whatever purpose. After a public clamor directed at
Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III – a member of the Cojuangco family
who’s running in the 2010 presidential elections – the Hacienda Luisita
management was forced to backtrack.
Now, the Hacienda Luisita management is carrying out what it calls an
“enlistment” of peasants who would become the “beneficiaries” of
agrarian reform in the hacienda – as if it were the authorized body to
implement agrarian reform in that area and as if it were authorized to
do so despite the TRO. It is complaining of “illegal tillers”
encroaching upon the hacienda, who are actually the working people of
Luisita. It is also undertaking land-use conversion schemes in various
parts of the land. The creation of a vast highway that passes through
the hacienda is being seen as an opportunity to increase the value of
hacienda land and an opening to commercial uses of portions of the
Five years after the massacre, the struggle of the Luisita peasants and
farm workers for justice, including the junking of the Assumption of
Jurisdiction power of the labor secretary, and land continues. They
deserve the full support of the working people of the Philippines and
the whole world. We hope that our International Day of Action against
Trade Union Repression and the fifth anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita
massacre will be an occasion for working people everywhere to discuss
and raise the issues of trade union repression in their work places and
countries. We should not allow trade union repression to weaken our
ranks and spirit. It should goad us to fight back and gain strength
We have to continue and intensify our struggle not just against trade
union repression but also against the forms of feudal and semi-feudal
exploitation which are aligned with the world capitalist system. Let us
keep in mind that monopoly capitalist control of global agriculture and
the food system has now created a global famine afflicting over a
billion people for the first time in world history.
The struggle of the Luisita peasants and farm workers is instructive. It
is only through the militant struggle of working people that they can
gain strength and aim for their national and social liberation. We may
win victories in our struggle for reforms within the present world
capitalist system but these will continue to be at risk until we, the
people of the world, are strong enough to overthrow the exploiters and
Place ¨C Jantar Mantar, Delhi, Date ¨C 10th December 2009. Time ¨C 11 A.M. to 4 P.M.
The security of the country is the most important issue of any country. Generally, the patriotic sentiment is very high among the countrymen. And the exploitative ruling community wages different kinds of unjust war for the sake of their benefits by utilising this very sentiment of the people.
Formerly, the ruling community of our country was endlessly talking about the danger from outside enemies ¨C sometimes from Pakistan or China, and sometimes from both the countries. But now they have chosen their enemy within the boundary of the country. They have declared those sections of people, who are fighting for their just demands, as the ¡®danger for the unity and integrity of the country¡¯. At one time they target different oppressed nationalities, fighting for their right of self-determination, and other time the Maoists, fighting for the ¡®liberation of the people of the country.¡¯ The state power of the ruling classes attacks more sharply on the sections of the people who fight more resolutely and militantly.
Since the Maoists are waging ¡®armed struggle¡¯ or ¡®revolutionary war¡¯ against the exploitative and oppressive state power and system, and their aim is to establish a New Democratic system through revolution, the central government has declared them as ¡®the biggest internal enemy¡¯. The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh already announced about 2 year back that the left extremism and Maoists had become ¡®the single greatest danger for internal security of the country.¡¯
After that the special police and paramilitary forces began to attack on Maoists and their support base. At first, a barbaric repressive campaign in the name of ¡®Salawa Judum¡¯ was taken up in Chattisgarh, and then ¡®Operation Lalgarh, and ¡®Operation Green Hunt¡¯ were started this year. And now the central government directly co-ordinating with related state governments (like Chattisgarh, West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand and others) has almost declared a war upon the struggling people. Especially those tribal dominated areas have been targeted where Maoists movement is relatively more intense. More than 1 lakh special security and para-military forces have been deployed there to launch intense military campaign. Besides, the central government is also planning to use Infantry and Air force to ¡®liberate the areas from the Maoists¡¯. Different departments of the Army are already involved in making plans for this special repressive campaign and providing special training to security forces to execute them. Air Force Helicopters are continuously providing logistics support, since long. Now the central government has allowed the forces boarded on these Helicopters to fire upon in ¡®self defence¡¯. It¡¯s to note that the American Satellite and Army Intelligence Agencies are also providing different kinds of support to this unjust war.
Overall the war upon the struggling people of India is going to be the part and parcel of the American ¡®war on terrorism¡¯. US imperialist attacked and occupied Iraq and Afghanistan mainly to gain control on their natural resources. Likewise the Indian government has started this war to capture the costly natural resources of the tribal dominated areas. Manmohan Singh has already given the statement in the Parliament that ¡®If left extremism is getting strength in the areas of mines and other natural resources, the atmosphere of investment will be affected¡¯. This statement clearly exhibit the design of the government to handover the natural resources to the multi-national companies, and also to serve the interest of US imperialists.
With this very aim and objective the UPA government is waging war upon different sections of the Indian people. Fake encounter killings are going on in Kashmir and Manipur. The workers of Delhi and Gurgaon are being brutally attacked. Punjab and UP farmers are facing police lathicharge and firing. Even the Gandhian Hut of ¡®Vanvasi Chetana Ashram¡¯ has been demolished. The office of Narbada Bachao Andolan is being locked and its leaders arrested on false charges.
In this situation these lines of the poetry of Gorakh Pandey are very relevant ¨C ¡®Kanoon Apna Rasta Pakarega¡¯; ¡®Desh Ke Nam Par Janta Ko Giraftar Karega¡¯; ¡®Janta Ke Nam Par Bech Dega Desh¡¯; ¡®Suraksha Ke Nam Par Asurakshit Karega¡¯. In the words of Pash, ¡®Yadi Desh Ki Suraksha Aaisee Hoti Hai... To Hamen Desh Ki Suraksha Se Khatara Hai.¡¯ (If the security of the country is like this .... We are in danger with the security of the country.¡¯
If we are to establish the ownership of people upon Jal-Jangal-Jamin (Water-Forest-Land), minerals and other natural resources and to protect the country from its real enemies, we will have to unit all the progressive, patriotic, democratic and revolutionary forces at first. There in an urgent need to from the broadest possible unity of all people¡¯s forces and to accelerate the process of building a pro-people genuine democratic state and the system.
Our PDFI (a united platform of progressive, patriotic, democratic and revolutionary forces) is going to organise the Collective Dharna (sit in) of 10th December in order to expose the repressive design of the ruling classes and their system and to help the process of building a people¡¯s democratic system.
PDFI appeals to all the pro-people and justice loving people to join the Dharna, and make the programme successful.
Our Demands :
1. Stop state repression on all the democratic, revolutionary and nationality movement;
2. Don¡¯t allow to use Army against any people¡¯s movement;
3. Stop all military operation in the tribal areas in the name of the ¡®security of the country¡¯ or ¡®liberating the areas from Maoists¡¯, and withdraw all security forces deployed in those areas;
4. Scrap Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and release all the political prisoners arrested under this and other acts.
5. Resolve the issues raised by Maoists and other struggling forces by dialogue, rather than using arms and security forces.
ALL INDIA CO-ORDINATION COMMITTEE,
PEOPLE¡¯S DEMOCRATIC FRONT OF INDIA (PDFI)
Printed and Published by Arjun Prasad Singh C/o Darshan Pal,
900, Adarsh Nagar, Patiala, Punjab on behalf of the All India Co-ordination Committee of PDFI.
Contact : 09868638682, 09417269294 / Emailfirstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Darshan Pal, Convener, PDFI
900, Adarash Colony, Bhadson Road, Patiala, Punjab (India)
Arjun Prasad Singh, Convener, PDFI
Speaker : G N Saibaba, General Secretary, Revolutionary Democratic Front, India
Friday 27th November 7pm, Marchmont Community Hall
62 Marchmont Street London. WC1N 1AB, Russell Square tube Station
CO-ORDINATION COMMITTEE OF REVOLUTIONARY COMMUNISTS OF BRITAIN
(c/o BM Box 2978, London WC1N 3XX)
George Jackson Socialist League Britain-South Asia Solidarity Forum
World People¡¯s Resistance Movement-Britain Indian Workers Association (GB)
Second Wave Publications Democracy & Class Struggle
Saturday, November 14, 2009
CARC Party – International Relations Department
The Co-ordination Committee of the Revolution ary Communists of Britain calls for the immediate release of Kobad Ghandy,Ravi Sharma, Anuradha, Sri Chhatradhar Mahato,Raja Sarkhel and Prasun Chatterjee and all Maoist and other political prisoners in India.
Operation Green Hunt is an attack on the poor and indigenous peoples of India to pave the way for the continouous displacement of millions of people to serve the comprador capitalists and their international backers from Britain and USA .
The United Nations has just condemned India for it’s food policy whereby 30 million additional people have been made hungery since 1990’s as a result of government policies and 46% of children are undernourished.
These are the realities of India ’s neo liberal policies exposed by the Indian Maoists.
We the Co-ordination Committeee of the Revolution ary Communists of Britain express our solidarity with Indian comrades in their battle for social justice and will do our best to let the whole world know the barbarities of the current ruling elite perpetrated against Indian peoples.
We will expose the false propaganda of neo-liberal India ’s so-called economic success, which is nothing but prosperity for the few and poverty for the many.
Statement issued 1st November – London 2009
CO-ORDINATION COMMITTEE OF REVOLUTIONARY COMMUNISTS OF BRITAIN (c/o BM Box 2978 , London WC1N 3XX
05 November, 2009
MIRTUR FOREST AREA, INDIA : Comrade Vijay, a lean, mustachioed man in his late 20s leaned towards a beat-up radio set inside his tent, rifle by his side, and tuned in to the BBC’s Hindi service.
The broadcast relayed news of a villager killed by Naxalites, or Maoist rebels, in Chhattisgarh’s Rajnandgaon district. He cocked his eyebrow. “Mukhbir,” he said, reckoning that the man killed was a police informer. “Our men don’t kill without a good reason.”
As the deputy commander of a Maoist rebel squad in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district, Comrade Vijay is well versed in revolutionary rhetoric. “You cannot end the world’s injustices without stirring a revolution,” he said. “No revolution happens without bloodying your hands. We are fighting a people’s war – a protracted people’s war.”
The commander and his comrades had woken after a rain-soaked night in a jungle clearing on top of a hill to the soothing sounds of birdsong and soft beams of sunlight filtering through the trees.
Nearly a dozen men and women, some as young as 15, moved in and out of three yellow tents cobbled together from plastic sheets. Some were in lungis, lengths of cloth wrapped around their waists, and T-shirts, others in dirty green commando fatigues. Enfield rifles were slung over their shoulders, with bandoleers of polished bullets draped around their waists.
Before the Indian government’s planned counteroffensive against the Naxalites, The National travelled to this rebel hideout in the dense jungles of southern Chhattisgarh, one of the deadliest theatres of the Maoist insurgency in India.
The journey into the rebel’s heartland involved a 70km hike, winding through thick jungle over the mineral-rich Bailadila Hills and on through a number of rebel-controlled villages. The Maoists call them “liberated villages”.
In China today, as in much of the capitalist world, the name Mao Zedong holds little meaning. But in this remote and rugged jungle, Mao’s ideology is still the guiding principle. Naxalites adhere to his doctrine of creating a classless society by stirring an armed peasant revolution to overthrow the state.
Much of this war is invisible, raging in the Indian countryside. With toeholds in 22 of India’s 28 states, the rebels control nearly one-third of India’s land mass.
India’s torrid economic growth in recent years has made it an emerging global superpower, but also created a yawning gap between the rich and the poor. The Naxalites, observers say, are a sign of India’s growing social inequalities.
Much of the rebel-held territory, though largely impoverished tribal areas, is rich in minerals and natural resources, which the country, hungry for economic growth, is eager to exploit.
The rebels, who claim to represent India’s dispossessed, accuse the government of trying to push people from their land.
Across India’s cities and urban centres, Naxalites have long been viewed largely as a ragtag rural militia with modest military capabilities. But in recent years, they have been viewed as a serious threat. Their expanding “red corridor” has generated fears that the growing Maoist presence could hobble India’s economic growth.
“If left-wing extremism continues to flourish in parts which have natural resources of minerals, the climate for investment would certainly be affected,” Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, said this year.
In this sprawling forested region of southern Chhattisgarh, which accounts for a fifth of all the iron ore deposits in India, rebels accuse the state government of “selling out” to cash-rich steel-producing corporations such as Essar Steel and Tata Steel, who are keen to mine the mineral to feed their upcoming steel plants in the region.
In June last year, Maoist guerrillas raided Essar Steel’s iron ore plant in Dantewada district, damaging technical equipment, sabotaging a 270km-long underground pipeline that transfers slurry to the Bay of Bengal and setting 19 lorries ablaze. “We won’t let them usurp our lands,” said Comrade Vijay, who claims his fellow rebels were involved in the operation.
Inside his tent, Comrade Vijay tapped at a steel lunch box, the contents of which he said was “one of our main military strengths”. There was enough explosive inside to make a five kilogram improvised explosive device. “It’s enough to blow up a Jeep,” he said. “With 40 kilos, we’ve blown up mine-resistant vehicles.”
In the past half decade, the rebels have detonated more than 1,000 of these devices in Chhattisgarh. More Indian policemen lose their lives through such bobby traps than through open combat with the rebels. They are also armed with an inventory of sophisticated weapons, including AK-47s and Indian National Small Arms Systems assault rifles.
At the camp, a group of rebels gathered around a wood fire, sipping doodh chai, or milk tea, from stainless steel tumblers.
The rebels boasted that some of their rifles had been grabbed after raiding local police stations. Their ammunition carried telltale signs of snatch-and-run. A bullet cartridge of one of the rebels carried the seal of “Ammunition Factory Khadki”, an ordnance that supplies ammunition to India’s defence forces.
Many of the rebels, most of them under the age of 18, seemed well indoctrinated in Maoism’s violent creed.
Some, such as Comrade Mohan, a diminutive 16-year-old, evinced a kind of resigned fatalism that breeds a fanatical fervour to wage war against the state, which he believes has wronged his people.
From a village in Bastar district, he joined the ranks of the Naxalites when he was 12 after his village was burnt down by Salwa Judum, a state-sponsored anti-Naxal vigilante militia. His family – comprising his peasant father, mother and brother – escaped unscathed, but he was too angry to keep down. He joined Bal Sangham, the children’s wing of the Naxalites. Like other rebels, he was offered no salary, only the promise of liberation. He spent three months at a Maoist camp. By the fourth month, he was ready to embrace the gun and die for the movement. “My father says, ‘if I lose you in battle, I’ll send my other son to fight’,” he said, smiling. “I am ready to face the bullet for my people.”
There were many others like him at the jungle hideout. Some of the rebels sat in the open on a plastic sheet around Comrade Rehmati, listening intensely as she read from a printed booklet with a red hammer and sickle emblazoned on the cover. It contained the tales of valour of dozens of rebels who had lost their lives in battle.
“This is a battle of gun and politics,” said Comrade Rehmati, the commander of the squad’s military wing. “We have to teach our comrades about our leaders’ sacrifices. That’ll encourage them to endure this life of hardship in the jungle.”
The rebels seemed to display a level of organisation and discipline and rotated cooking, cleaning and sentry duty.
As the night closed in on the jungle, Comrade Vijay sent out word that cooking must be finished before darkness falls as a fire might give away their location.
He appointed two rebels to guard each of the six posts around the camp in rotation. While one sits, the other stands. If approached by the “enemy”, one of the comrades stands and fires while the other swiftly informs the rest of the group. As he walked around the camp to do these chores, Comrade Vijay said reports about the military assault had unsettled neither the villagers nor his men.
Earlier in the day, a long row of people from neighbouring “liberated villages” walked into the camp, and were ushered into a tent. It was impossible to verify if they were there out of their own free will or had been hauled up for forced indoctrination sessions. Until late into the night, Comrade Vijja, the soft-spoken, reticent commander of the squad, who only spoke the local Gondhi dialect, sat in a conference with them.
His deputy, Comrade Vijay said the villagers were being taught “self defence” tactics ahead of the military operation. The villagers ought to learn how to chase away military forces “the way you chase away a pack of elephants” – attack and run, guerrilla style, with bows and arrows, machetes, and those who can, with guns.
Some of them would be taught how to plant improvised explosives to fend off the “invading forces”. Tribal people were illiterate, he said, but they are capable of fighting the might of the Indian forces.
“In the past, they [the Indian government] have sent several contingents of elite military forces. They burnt down villages and killed innocent civilians, but they could not stamp us out,” he said. “What makes them think they will succeed this time?”
© Copyright of Abu Dhabi Media Company PJSC.
Akash Bisht and Sadiq Naqvi, Hard News, Delhi, November 3, 2009
The central government’s plan to launch an offensive against the Maoists is facing stiff opposition from all quarters. A students’ group held a protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi against the Operation Green Hunt. Apart from students, the gathering saw workers and professionals raise their voice against the offensive and in support of the development of the tribals. The agitators claimed that it’s a war of the people against exploitation by the neo-liberal State.
The protest was organised by the Forum against War on People, a newly formed initiative of students, teachers and other professionals and the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF).
Even as the home ministry is urging a section of intellectuals to rethink their pro-Maoist stand, the agitators seemed undeterred. “Much like the US government which sent 1.5 lakh soldiers to occupy Iraq and one lakh troops to Afghanistan, the Indian government, too, is sending one lakh troops to wage a war against its own people,” a statement by RDF said.
The protestors termed it a ploy of the State to exert control over the mineral-rich regions of the country inhabited by the tribal populace. “The booty of the war will be handed over to imperialist countries, particularly the US,” the statement by RDF read. According to them, if the tribals don’t pick up arms they will end up facing extinction like the Red Indians of America.
Post-2001, state governments have been competing for foreign direct investment. Subsequently, several MoUs were signed between big business houses and various state governments. “The Maoist movement has successfully organised the masses to fight for the scrapping of these agreements,” the statement by RDF read.
“We demand that the State withdraw the army, stop the war, revoke all MoUs and prevent multinationals from plundering the mineral resources. The main aim of the Operation Green Hunt is to forcibly evict the tribals for foreign investors because,” said SAR Geelani.
He claimed that the Maoists are adivasis, who are being forced to abandon their lands. They have suffered due to brutalities of the State for decades. Geelani, however, said that the Maoists shouldn’t have any problems in having unconditional talks with the Centre.
“The government has laid a condition for the Maoists to shun violence and then hold talks. Why should Maoists do that when the State hasn’t shown any interest in shunning violence?” Geelani said.
AI Index: ASA
News Service No: 069
Amnesty International is deeply concerned at reports that farmers in Jagatsinghpur in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, protesting against their proposed displacement by the state government for a new industrial project, currently fear forced evictions at the hands of the state police force.
Tension has been high in Jagatsinghpur district after 1,000 officers of the state police force encircled Dhinkia, Nuagaon and Gadakujang panchayats, apparently preparing to enter the area. Several villages in the area have been the scene of protests by farmers for the last 14 months against their displacement due to an integrated steel plant to be set up by the South Korean firm, POSCO.
Amnesty International urges that lessons should be learnt from the unfortunate episodes of violence which recently unfurled themselves in Kalingar Nagar (in Orissa) and Nandigram (in neighbouring
Amnesty International wishes to remind the Government of Orissa of Principle 9 of the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, which says that “law enforcement officials shall not use firearms against persons except in self-defence or defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury, to prevent the perpetration of a particular serious crime involving great threat to life, to arrest a person presenting such a danger and resisting their authority or to prevent his or her escape, and only when less extreme means are insufficient to achieve these objectives.” Any action by the police must be in proportionate response to the action by demonstrators and should avoid unnecessary injuries to civilians.
Amnesty International believes that full consultations about the human rights impact of economic decisions with those to be affected are vital means through which human rights are safeguarded in the context of development.
Amnesty International seeks to remind governments of their obligations to find ways of balancing respect for human rights with attempts to achieve
economic growth. Amnesty International reiterates that sustainable development cannot be measured solely in terms of economic indicators: it is a holistic process that embraces the development of civil society, the strengthening of the rule of law and the fulfilment of individuals’ and groups’ aspirations in the civil and political, social and cultural as well as economic spheres.
In this respect, the organisation reiterates its demand that the Government of Orissa should:
avoid forced evictions;
announce and implement a consistent policy of full consultation with local populations before any development which could affect their livelihood can
and ensure that, where it is proposed to resettle populations, there is just, adequate and culturally-sensitive rehabilitation, resettlement and reparation for those affected.
Since June 2005, Jagatsinghpur district has witnessed frequent protests against possible displacement following the Government of Orissa’s decision to enter into an agreement with POSCO to enable the latter to set up its integrated steel plant. Since February 2006, protestors have erected barricades in the area where the plant is to come up and prevented officials from entering several villages. The area witnessed violence in February 2007 when elections were held to local bodies in Orissa.
Oct 13, ’09: Villagers watch as Maoists burn effigies of Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh in Dumariya, Gaya district, Bihar , Picture: Out Look
“We Shall Certainly Defeat the Government”
The supreme commander of CPI (Maoist) talks to Open in his first-ever interview.
At first sight, Mupalla Laxman Rao, who is about to turn 60, looks like a school teacher. In fact, he was one in the early 1970s in Andhra Pradesh’s Karimnagar district. In 2009, however, the bespectacled, soft-spoken figure is India’s Most Wanted Man. He runs one of the world’s largest Left insurgencies—a man known in Home Ministry dossiers as Ganapathi; a man whose writ runs large through 15 states.
The supreme commander of CPI (Maoist) is a science graduate and holds a B Ed degree as well. He still conducts classes, but now they are on guerilla warfare for other senior Maoists. He replaced the founder of the People’s War Group, Kondapalli Seetharaamiah, as the party’s general-secretary in 1991. Ganapathi is known to change his location frequently, and intelligence reports say he has been spotted in cities like Hyderabad, Kolkata and Kochi.
After months of attempts, Ganapathi agreed to give his first-ever interview. Somewhere in the impregnable jungles of Dandakaranya, he spoke to RAHUL PANDITA on issues ranging from the Government’s proposed anti-Naxal offensive to Islamist Jihadist movements.
Q Lalgarh has been described as the New Naxalbari by the CPI (Maoist). How has it become so significant for you?
A The Lalgarh mass uprising has, no doubt, raised new hopes among the oppressed people and the entire revolutionary camp in West Bengal. It has great positive impact not only on the people of West Bengal but also on the people all over the country. It has emerged as a new model of mass movement in the country. We had seen similar types of movements earlier in Manipur, directed against Army atrocities and Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), in Kashmir, in Dandakaranya and to some extent in Orissa, after the Kalinganagar massacre perpetrated by the Naveen Patnaik government.
Then there have been mass movements in Singur and Nandigram but there the role of a section of the ruling classes is also significant. These movements were utilised by the ruling class parties for their own electoral interests. But Lalgarh is a more widespread and more sustained mass political movement that has spurned the leadership of all the parliamentary political parties, thereby rendering them completely irrelevant. The people of Lalgarh had even boycotted the recent Lok Sabha polls, thereby unequivocally demonstrating their anger and frustration with all the reactionary ruling class parties. Lalgarh also has some distinctive features such as a high degree of participation of women, a genuinely democratic character and a wider mobilisation of Adivasis. No wonder, it has become a rallying point for the revolutionary-democratic forces in West Bengal.
Q If it is a people’s movement, how did Maoists get involved in Lalgarh?
A As far as our party’s role is concerned, we have been working in Paschim Midnapur, Bankura and Purulia, in what is popularly known as Jangalmahal since the 1980s. We fought against the local feudal forces, against the exploitation and oppression by the forest officials, contractors, unscrupulous usurers and the goondaism of both the CPM and Trinamool Congress. The ruling CPM, in particular, has become the chief exploiter and oppressor of the Adivasis of the region, and it has unleashed its notorious vigilanté gangs called Harmad Vahini on whoever questions its authority. With the State authority in its hands, and with the aid of the police, it is playing a role worse than that of the cruel landlords in other regions of the country.
Given this background, anyone who dares to fight against oppression and exploitation by the CPM can win the respect and confidence of the people. Since our party has been fighting uncompromisingly against the atrocities of the CPM goons, it naturally gained the confidence and respect of the people of the region.
The police atrocities in the wake of the landmine blast on 2 November [in 2008, from which West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb
Bhattacharjee had a narrow escape] acted as the trigger that brought the pent-up anger of the masses into the open. This assumed the form of a long-drawn mass movement, and our party played the role of a catalyst.
Q But not so long ago, the CPM was your friend. You even took arms and ammunition from it to fight the Trinamool Congress. This has been confirmed by a Politburo member of CPI (Maoist) in certain interviews. And now you are fighting the CPM with the help of the Trinamool. How did a friend turn into a foe and vice-versa?
A This is only partially true. We came to know earlier that some ammunition was taken by our local cadre from the CPM unit in the area. There was, however, no understanding with the leadership of the CPM in this regard. Our approach was to unite all sections of the oppressed masses at the lower levels against the goondaism and oppression of Trinamool goons in the area at that time. And since a section of the oppressed masses were in the fold of the CPM at that time, we fought together with them against Trinamool. Still, taking into consideration the overall situation in West Bengal, it was not a wise step to take arms and ammunition from the CPM even at the local level when the contradiction was basically between two sections of the reactionary ruling classes.
Our central committee discussed this, criticised the comrade responsible for taking such a decision, and directed the concerned comrades to stop this immediately. As regards taking ammunition from the Trinamool Congress, I remember that we had actually purchased it not directly from the Trinamool but from someone who had links with the Trinamool. There will never be any conditions or agreements with those selling us arms. That has been our understanding all along. As regards the said interview by our Politburo member, we will verify what he had actually said.
Q What are your tactics now in Lalgarh after the massive offensive by the Central and state forces?
A First of all, I wish to make it crystal clear that our party will spearhead and stand firmly by the side of the people of Lalgarh and entire Jangalmahal, and draw up tactics in accordance with the people’s interests and mandate. We shall spread the struggle against the State everywhere and strive to win over the broad masses to the side of the people’s cause. We shall fight the State offensive by mobilising the masses more militantly against the police, Harmad Vahini and CPM goons. The course of the development of the movement, of course, will depend on the level of consciousness and preparedness of the people of the region. The party will take this into consideration while formulating its tactics. The initiative of the masses will be released fully.
Q The Government has termed Lalgarh a ‘laboratory’ for anti-Naxal operations. Has your party also learnt any lessons from Lalgarh?
A Yes, our party too has a lot to learn from the masses of Lalgarh. Their upsurge was beyond our expectations. In fact, it was the common people, with the assistance of advanced elements influenced by revolutionary politics, who played a crucial role in the formulation of tactics. They formed their own organisation, put forth their charter of demands, worked out various novel forms of struggle, and stood steadfast in the struggle despite the brutal attacks by the police and the social-fascist Harmad gangs. The Lalgarh movement has the support of revolutionary and democratic forces not only in West Bengal but in the entire country. We are appealing to all revolutionary and democratic forces in the country to unite to fight back the fascist offensive by the Buddhadeb government in West Bengal and the UPA Government at the Centre. By building the broadest fighting front, and by adopting appropriate tactics of combining the militant mass political movement with armed resistance of the people and our PLGA (People’s Liberation Guerilla Army), we will defeat the massive offensive by the Central-state forces. I cannot say more than this at the present juncture.
Q The Centre has declared an all-out war against Maoists by branding the CPI (Maoist) a terrorist organisation and imposing an all-India ban on the party. How has it affected your party?
A Our party has already been banned in several states of India. By imposing the ban throughout the country, the Government now wants to curb all our open activities in West Bengal and a few other states where legal opportunities exist to some extent. The Government wants to use this draconian UAPA [Unlawful Activities
(Prevention) Act] to harass whoever dares to raise a voice against fake encounters, rapes and other police atrocities on the people residing in Maoist-dominated regions. Anyone questioning the State’s brutalities will now be branded a terrorist.
The real terrorists and biggest threats to the country’s security are none other than Manmohan Singh, Chidambaram, Buddhadeb, other ruling class leaders and feudal forces who terrorise the people on a daily basis.
The UPA Government had declared, as soon as it assumed power for the second time, that it would crush the Maoist ‘menace’ and began pouring in huge funds to the states for this purpose. The immediate reason behind this move is the pressure exerted by the comprador bureaucratic bourgeoisie and the imperialists, particularly US imperialists, who want to plunder the resources of our country without any hindrance. These sharks aspire to swallow the rich abundant mineral and forest wealth in the vast contiguous region stretching from Jangalmahal to north Andhra. This region is the wealthiest as well as the most underdeveloped part of our country. These sharks want to loot the wealth and drive the Adivasi people of the region to further impoverishment.
Another major reason for the current offensive by the ruling classes is the fear of the rapid growth of the Maoist movement and its increasing influence over a significant proportion of the Indian population. The Janatana Sarkars in Dandakaranya and the revolutionary people’s committees in Jharkhand, Orissa and parts of some other states have become new models of genuine people’s democracy and development. The rulers want to crush these new models of development and genuine democracy, as these are emerging as the real alternative before the people of the country at large.
Q The Home Ministry has made preparations for launching a long-term battle against Maoists. A huge force will be soon trying to wrest away areas from your control. How do you plan to confront this offensive?
A Successive governments in various states and the Centre have been hatching schemes over the years. But they could not achieve any significant success through their cruel offensive in spite of murdering hundreds of our leaders and cadres. Our party and our movement continued to consolidate and expand to new regions. From two or three states, the movement has now spread to over 15 states, giving jitters to the ruling classes. Particularly after the merger of the erstwhile MCCI and People’s War in September 2004 [the merger between
these groups led to the formation of the CPI (Maoist)], the UPA Government has unleashed the most cruel all-round offensive against the Maoist movement. Yet our party continued to grow despite suffering some severe losses. In the past three years, in particular, our PLGA has achieved several significant victories.
We have been confronting the continuous offensive of the enemy with the support and active involvement of the masses. We shall confront the new offensive of the enemy by stepping up such heroic resistance and preparing the entire party, PLGA, the various revolutionary parties and organisations and the entire people. Although the enemy may achieve a few successes in the initial phase, we shall certainly overcome and defeat the Government offensive with the active mobilisation of the vast masses and the support of all the revolutionary and democratic forces in the country. No fascist regime or military dictator in history could succeed in suppressing forever the just and democratic struggles of the people through brute force, but were, on the contrary, swept away by the high tide of people’s resistance. People, who are the makers of history, will rise up like a tornado under our party’s leadership to wipe out the reactionary blood-sucking vampires ruling our country.
Q Why do you think the CPI (Maoist) suffered a serious setback in Andhra Pradesh?
A It was due to several mistakes on our part that we suffered a serious setback in most of Andhra Pradesh by 2006. At the same time, we should also look at the setback from another angle. In any protracted people’s war, there will be advances and retreats. If we look at the situation in Andhra Pradesh from this perspective, you will understand that what we did there is a kind of retreat. Confronted with a superior force, we chose to temporarily retreat our forces from some regions of Andhra Pradesh, extend and develop our bases in the surrounding regions and then hit back at the enemy.
Now even though we received a setback, it should be borne in mind that this setback is a temporary one. The objective conditions in which our revolution began in Andhra Pradesh have not undergone any basic change. This very fact continues to serve as the basis for the growth and intensification of our movement. Moreover, we now have a more consolidated mass base, a relatively better-trained people’s guerilla army and an all-India party with deep roots among the basic classes who comprise the backbone of our revolution. This is the reason why the reactionary rulers are unable to suppress our revolutionary war, which is now raging in several states in the country.
We had taken appropriate lessons from the setback suffered by our party in Andhra Pradesh and, based on these lessons, drew up tactics in other states. Hence we are able to fight back the cruel all-round offensive of the enemy effectively, inflict significant losses on the enemy, preserve our subjective forces, consolidate our party, develop a people’s liberation guerilla army, establish embryonic forms of new democratic people’s governments in some pockets, and take the people’s war to a higher stage. Hence we have an advantageous situation, overall, for reviving the movement in Andhra Pradesh. Our revolution advances wave-like and periods of ebb yield place to periods of high tide.
Q What are the reasons for the setback suffered by the LTTE in Sri Lanka?
A There is no doubt that the movement for a separate sovereign Tamil Eelam has suffered a severe setback with the defeat and considerable decimation of the LTTE. The Tamil people and the national liberation forces are now leaderless. However, the Tamil people at large continue to cherish nationalist aspirations for a separate Tamil homeland. The conditions that gave rise to the movement for Tamil Eelam, in the first place, prevail to this day. The Sinhala-chauvinist Sri Lankan ruling classes can never change their policy of discrimination against the Tamil nation, its culture, language, etcetera. The jingoistic rallies and celebrations organised by the government and Sinhala chauvinist parties all over Sri Lanka in the wake of Prabhakaran’s death and the defeat of the LTTE show the national hatred for Tamils nurtured by Sinhala organisations and the extent to which the minds of ordinary Sinhalese are poisoned with such chauvinist frenzy.
The conspiracy of the Sinhala ruling classes in occupying Tamil territories is similar to that of the Zionist rulers of Israel. The land-starved Sinhala people will now be settled in Tamil areas. The entire demography of the region is going to change. The ground remains fertile for the resurgence of the Tamil liberation struggle.
Even if it takes time, the war for a separate Tamil Eelam is certain to revive, taking lessons from the defeat of the LTTE. By adopting a proletarian outlook and ideology, adopting new tactics and building the broadest united front of all nationalist and democratic forces, it is possible to achieve the liberation of the oppressed Tamil nation [in
Sri Lanka]. Maoist forces have to grow strong enough to provide leadership and give a correct direction and anti-imperialist orientation to this struggle to achieve a sovereign People’s Democratic Republic of Tamil Eelam. This alone can achieve the genuine liberation of the Tamil nation in Sri Lanka.
Q Is it true that you received military training from the LTTE initially?
A No. It is not a fact. We had clarified this several times in the past.
Q But, one of your senior commanders has told me that some senior cadre of the erstwhile PWG did receive arms training and other support from the LTTE.
A Let me reiterate, there is no relation at all between our party and the LTTE. We tried several times to establish relations with the LTTE but its leadership was reluctant to have a relationship with Maoists in India. Hence, there is no question of the LTTE giving training to us. In spite of it, we continued our support to the struggle for Tamil Eelam. However, a few persons who had separated from the LTTE came into our contact and we took their help in receiving initial training in the last quarter of the 1980s.
Q Does your party have links with Lashkar-e-Toiba or other Islamic militant groups having links with Pakistan?
A No. Not at all. This is only mischievous, calculated propaganda by the police officials, bureaucrats and leaders of the reactionary political parties to defame us and thereby justify their cruel offensive against the Maoist movement. By propagating the lie that our party has links with groups linked to Pakistan’s ISI, the reactionary rulers of our country want to prove that we too are terrorists and gain legitimacy for their brutal terror campaign against Maoists and the people in the areas of armed agrarian struggle. Trying to prove the involvement of a foreign hand in every just and democratic struggle, branding those fighting for the liberation of the oppressed as traitors to the country, is part of the psychological-war of the reactionary rulers.
Q What is your party’s stand regarding Islamist jihadist movements?
A Islamic jihadist movements of today are a product of imperialist—particularly US imperialist—aggression, intervention, bullying, exploitation and suppression of the oil-rich Islamic and Arab countries of West Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, etcetera, and the persecution of the entire Muslim religious community. As part of their designs for global hegemony, the imperialists, particularly US imperialists, have encouraged and endorsed every war of brazen aggression and brutal attacks by their surrogate state of Israel.
Our party unequivocally opposes every attack on Arab and Muslim countries and the Muslim community at large in the name of ‘war on global terror’. In fact, Muslim religious fundamentalism is encouraged and fostered by imperialists as long as it serves their interests—such as in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, and Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan.
Q But what about attacks perpetrated by the so-called ‘Jihadis’ on innocent people like it happened on 26/11?
A See, Islamic jihadist movements have two aspects: one is their anti-imperialist aspect, and the other their reactionary aspect in social and cultural matters. Our party supports the struggle of Muslim countries and people against imperialism, while criticising and struggling against the reactionary ideology and social outlook of Muslim fundamentalism. It is only Maoist leadership that can provide correct anti-imperialist orientation and achieve class unity among Muslims as well as people of other religious persuasions. The influence of Muslim fundamentalist ideology and leadership will diminish as communist revolutionaries and other democratic-secular forces increase their ideological influence over the Muslim masses. As communist revolutionaries, we always strive to reduce the influence of the obscurantist reactionary ideology and outlook of the mullahs and maulvis on the Muslim masses, while uniting with all those fighting against the common enemy of the world people—that is, imperialism, particularly American imperialism.
Q How do you look at the changes in US policy after Barack Obama took over from George Bush?
A Firstly, one would be living in a fool’s paradise if one imagines that there is going to be any qualitative change in American policy—whether internal or external—after Barack Obama took over from George Bush. In fact, the policies on national security and foreign affairs pursued by Obama over the past eight months have shown the essential continuity with those of his predecessor. The ideological and political justification for these regressive policies at home and aggressive policies abroad is the same trash put forth by the Bush administration—the so-called ‘global war on terror’, based on outright lies and slander. Worse still, the policies have become even more aggressive under Obama with his planned expansion of the US-led war of aggression in Afghanistan into the territory of Pakistan. The hands of this new killer-in-chief of the pack of imperialist wolves are already stained with the blood of hundreds of women and children who are cruelly murdered in relentless missile attacks from Predator drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And, within the US itself, bail-outs for the tiny corporate elite and attacks on democratic and human rights of US citizens continue without any change.
The oppressed people and nations of the world are now confronting an even more formidable and dangerous enemy in the form of an African-American president of the most powerful military machine and world gendarme. The world people should unite to wage a more relentless, more militant and more consistent struggle against the American marauders led by Barack Obama and pledge to defeat them to usher in a world of peace, stability and genuine democracy.
Q How do you look at the current developments in Nepal?
A As soon as the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [CPN(M)] came to power in alliance with the comprador-feudal parties through the parliamentary route in Nepal, we had pointed out the grave danger of imperialist and Indian expansionist intervention in Nepal and how they would leave no stone unturned to overthrow the government led by CPN(M). As long as Prachanda did not defy the directives of the Indian Government, it was allowed to continue, but when it began to go against Indian hegemony, it was immediately pulled down. CPN-UML withdrew support to the Prachanda-led government upon the advice of American imperialists and Indian expansionists. We disagreed with the line of peaceful transition pursued by the UCPN(M) in the name of tactics. We decided to send an open letter to the UCPN(M). It was released in July 2009.
We made our party’s stand clear in the letter. We pointed out that the UCPN(M) chose to reform the existing State through an elected constituent assembly and a bourgeois democratic republic instead of adhering to the Marxist-Leninist understanding on the imperative to smash the old State and establish a proletarian State. This would have been the first step towards the goal of achieving socialism through the radical transformation of society and all oppressive class relations. It is indeed a great tragedy that the UCPN(M) has chosen to abandon the path of protracted people’s war and pursue a parliamentary path in spite of having de facto power in most of the countryside.
It is heartening to hear that a section of the leadership of the UCPN(M) has begun to struggle against the revisionist positions taken by Comrade Prachanda and others. Given the great revolutionary traditions of the UCPN(M), we hope that the inner-party struggle will repudiate the right opportunist line pursued by its leadership, give up revisionist stands and practices, and apply minds creatively to the concrete conditions of Nepal.
Q Of late, the party has suffered serious losses of party leadership at the central and state level. Besides, it is widely believed that some of the senior-most Maoist leaders, including you, have become quite old and suffer from serious illnesses, which is also cited as one of the reasons for the surrenders. What is the effect of the losses and surrenders on the movement? How are you dealing with problems arising out of old age and illnesses?
A (Smiles…) This type of propaganda is being carried out continuously, particularly by the Special Intelligence Branch (SIB) of Andhra Pradesh. It is a part of the psychological war waged by intelligence officials and top police brass aimed at confusing and demoralising supporters of the Maoist movement. It is a fact that some of the party leaders at the central and state level could be described as senior citizens according to criteria used by the government, that is, those who have crossed the threshold of 60 years. You can start calling me too a senior citizen in a few months (smiles). But old age and ill-health have never been a serious problem in our party until now. You can see the ‘senior citizens’ in our party working for 16-18 hours a day and covering long distances on foot.As for surrenders, it is a big lie to say that old age and ill-health have been a reason for some of the surrenders.
When Lanka Papi Reddy, a former member of our central committee, surrendered in the beginning of last year, the media propagated that more surrenders of our party leaders will follow due to ill-health. The fact is that Papi Reddy surrendered due to his loss of political conviction and his petty-bourgeois false prestige and ego. Hence he was not prepared to face the party after he was demoted by the central committee for his anarchic behaviour with a woman comrade.
Some senior leaders of our party, like comrades Sushil Roy and Narayan Sanyal, had become a nightmare for the ruling classes even when they were in their mid 60s. Hence they were arrested, tortured and imprisoned despite their old age and ill-health. The Government is doing everything possible to prevent them from getting bail. Even if someone in our party is old, he/she continues to serve the revolution by doing whatever work possible. For instance, Comrade Niranjan Bose, who died recently at the age of 92, had been carrying out revolutionary propaganda until his martyrdom. The social fascist rulers were so scared of this nonagenarian Maoist revolutionary that they had even arrested him four years back. Such is the spirit of Maoist revolutionaries—and power of the ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism which they hold high. When there are serious illnesses, or physical and mental limitations to perform normal work, such comrades are given suitable work.
Q But what about the arrests and elimination of some of your senior leadership? How do you intend to fill up such losses?
A Well, it is a fact that we lost some senior leaders at the state and central level in the past four or five years. Some leaders were secretly arrested and murdered in the most cowardly manner. Many other and state leaders were arrested and placed behind bars in the recent past in Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Haryana and other states. The loss of leadership will have a grave impact on the party and Indian revolution as a whole. We are reviewing the reasons for the losses regularly and devising ways and means to prevent further losses. By adopting strictly secret methods of functioning and foolproof underground mechanisms, by enhancing our mass base, vigilance and local intelligence, smashing enemy intelligence networks and studying their plans and tactics, we hope to check further losses. At the same time, we are training and developing new revolutionary leadership at all levels to fill up the losses.
Q How do you sum up the present stage of war between your forces and those of the Indian State?
A Our war is in the stage of strategic defence. In some regions, we have an upper hand, while in others the enemy has the upper hand. Overall, our forces have been quite successful in carrying out a series of tactical counter-offensive operations against the enemy in our guerilla zones in the past few years.
It is true that our party has suffered some serious leadership losses, but we are able to inflict serious losses on the enemy too. In fact, in the past three years, the enemy forces suffered more casualties than we did. The enemy has been trying all means at their disposal to weaken, disrupt and crush our party and movement. They have tried covert agents and informers, poured in huge amounts of money to buy off weak elements in the revolutionary camp, and announced a series of rehabilitation packages and other material incentives to lure away people from the revolutionary camp. Thousands of crores of rupees have been sanctioned for police modernisation, training and for raising additional commando forces; for increasing Central forces; for training Central and state forces in counter-insurgency warfare; and for building roads, communication networks and other infrastructure for the rapid movement of their troops in our guerilla zones. The Indian State has set up armed vigilante groups and provided total support to the indescribable atrocities committed by these armed gangs on the people. Psychological warfare against Maoists was taken to unheard of levels.
Nevertheless, we continued to make greater advances, consolidated the party and the revolutionary people’s committees at various levels, strengthened the PLGA qualitatively and quantitatively, smashed the enemy’s intelligence network in several areas, effectively countered the dirty psychological-war waged by the enemy, and foiled the enemy’s all-out attempts to disrupt and smash our movement. The successes we had achieved in several tactical counter-offensive operations carried out across the country in recent days, the militant mass movements in several states, particularly against displacement and other burning issues of the people, initiatives taken by our revolutionary people’s governments in various spheres—all these have had a great impact on the people, while demoralising enemy forces. There are reports of desertions and disobedience of orders by the jawans posted in Maoist-dominated areas. Quite a few have refused to undertake training in jungle warfare or take postings in our areas, and had to face suspension. This trend will grow with the further advance of our people’s war. Overall, our party’s influence has grown stronger and it has now come to be recognised as the only genuine alternative before the people.
Q How long will this stage of strategic defence last, with the Centre ready to go for the jugular?
A The present stage of strategic defence will last for some more time. It is difficult to predict how long it will take to pass this stage and go to the stage of strategic equilibrium or strategic stalemate. It depends on the transformation of our guerilla zones into base areas, creation of more guerilla zones and red resistance areas across the country, the development of our PLGA. With the ever-intensifying crisis in all spheres due to the anti-people policies of pro-imperialist, pro-feudal governments, the growing frustration and anger of the masses resulting from the most rapacious policies of loot and plunder pursued by the reactionary ruling classes, we are confident that the vast masses of the country will join the ranks of revolutionaries and take the Indian revolution to the next stage.