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Archive for May 19th, 2007

Song on Nandigram

Posted by Indian Vanguard on May 19, 2007

Source:Revolutionary Path

The following song has been written and sung by the legendary Bengali singer, Kabir Suman.He has been an ardent supporter of the continuing peasant’s uprising going on in different parts of West Bengal province of India against the anti-people police of land grab by the incumbent social fascist regime led by CPIM.

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BJP leader flays Gadchiroli police

Posted by Indian Vanguard on May 19, 2007

Gadchiroli police are at the receiving end once again! This time, a senior BJP leader of the area has accused the men in khaki of gunning down two innocent tribals in a fake encounter on the pretext of Naxalites.

It was alleged that the personnel of anti-Naxalite cell had picked up Yelkurti Madnya Gattu and Ganglu Mallesh Gattu of Rangdhampetha in Sironcha tehsil of Gadchiroli district on February 25 last when they were in Borampalli jungle. They were kept in the custody of the police that night and were killed in a fake encounter at Tadgaon in Bhamragarh tehsil, far away from Rangdhampetha on February 26, claimed the senior BJP leader of the district, Madhusudan Aravelli.

He alleged that the police personnel of Naxalites’ cell deliberately designed an “encounter drama”. “The police abducted them from the jungle before the encounter. The police staged the encounter next day and enacted a drama of exchange of fire.” He found fault with the district police for conducting the post-mortem at the encounter site instead of bringing the bodies to the hospital.

Narasingharao Silaveri, a human rights activist and general secretary of Gadchiroli Manav Adhikar Kalyan Samiti, has lodged a complaint with the state human rights commission and urged to probe the matter immediately. A copy of the letter was also sent to the deputy chief minister, RR Patil, who also holds the Home portfolio, Silaveri informed. This is not the first time that such allegations were raised against the Gadchiroli police. Earlier, several times it faced charges of human rights violations, he added.

The entire issue is quite significant when the state police arrested four alleged Naxalites, including a top Maoist, Murali and the Mumbai-based Arun Ferreira at Nagpur last week and allegations were made that they were being tortured by the police. They even told the court that the police might kill them in fake encounters.

However, SDPO of Gadchiroli, Vinay Rathod dismissed the allegations saying persons who were killed in the encounters in Gadchiroli were not from the Randhampetha village. “Four-five days after the encounters, both the brothers of Yelkurti and Ganglu came to Gadchiroli police headquarters for verifications of the bodies. After seeing the bodies at morgue they were convinced that they were not the persons they were looking for. They even made a recent statement accordingly. After that wives of Yelkurti and Ganglu came to the police headquarters and saw the bodies. They were equally satisfied that bodies were not of Yelkurti and Ganglu,” he pointed out.

After disposing the bodies, now a section of people are making it an issue, he said and alleged that the recent hue and cry was a part of strategy of the Naxalites to defame the police.

Former SP of Gadchiroli, Shirish Jain, who was transferred last week to Hyderabad on deputation, said that the entire hullabaloo on the issue was just to demoralise the district police, who have been effectively curbing the Naxalite menace by giving a befitting reply to the Maoists. He claimed that persons who were killed in the encounter were hardcore Naxalites and felt that both the youth of Rangdhampetha, who are missing might have joined the Naxalite movement.

“Both were known Naxalite sympathisers and later joined the outlawed organisation that might have not been known by the family members,” he observed.

Hindustan Times

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SC issues notice to Chhattisgarh on promoting Salwa Judum

Posted by Indian Vanguard on May 19, 2007

The Supreme Court has issued notices to the state of Chhattisgarh on a petition seeking directions to the state government to refrain from supporting, encouraging or promoting in any manner whatsver the activities of the security forces sponsored ‘Salwa Judum’ (jan jagran abhiyan) movement launched in Dantewada district of the state.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice R V Raveendran on a petition filed by Nandini Sundar and others also directed the respondent to conduct an independent and impartial enquiry under the gis of the apex court into the incidents of killings, abductions, rape, arson and gross violations of human rights by security forces and Salwa Judum activists in their attempt to counter the naxalites in the district as well as investigate the killings carried out by the naxals.

According to the petitioner, the Salwa Judum movement was launched to combat the naxal menace and it is a deliberate state sponsored strategy to counter the naxalites in Dantewada district .

Several independent NGO enquiries and the National Commission for Women have demonstrated against the manner in which the Salwa Judum is clearly funded and promoted by the state and intensified violence and utter lawlesness in the district is the result of this so called vigilant movement.

The petitioners have also alleged that in frequent raids on villages conducted jointly by the Salwa Judum and the security forces, suspected naxal sympathisers (sangham members) are beaten and brutally killed, their houses torched and live stock looted.

In some instances, the raids continue till the entire village is cleared and the villagers are compelled to move into Salwa Judum camps.

This is the outcome of the district collecter’s proposal to make the movement a success and to weaken the rural base of the naxals in order to eradicate them from the state.

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Among India’s Maoists: A rebel homeland in places forgotten by India’s economic miracle

Posted by Indian Vanguard on May 19, 2007

IN THE DHAULI FOREST, India – After the paved roads have ended and the dirt roads have crumbled into winding footpaths, after the last power line has vanished into the forest behind you, a tall, red monument suddenly appears at the edge of a clearing.

It’s 25 feet high and topped by a hammer and sickle, honoring a fallen warrior. White letters scroll across the base: “From the blood of a martyr, new generations will bloom like flowers.”

The monument is a memorial but also a signpost, a warning that you are entering a “Liberated Zone” – a place where Mao is alive and Marx is revered, where an army of leftist guerrillas known as the Naxalites control a shadow state amid the dense forests, isolated villages and shattering poverty of central India. Here, the Indian government is just a distant, hated idea.

“The capitalists and other exploiters of the masses feel increasingly vulnerable. And they should,” said a 33-year-old man known only as Ramu, a regional commander of the Naxalites’ People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army. He cradled an assault rifle as he sat on the dirt floor of a small farmhouse, temporary base for two dozen fighters set amid the forests of Chhattisgarh state. “For them, the danger is rising.”

Initially formed in 1967, the Maoist army has taken root over the past decade in places left behind during India’s spectacular financial rise since its economy was opened up in the early 1990s. Outsiders rarely see their strongholds, but a team from The Associated Press was invited last month into a region they control.

As India has grown wealthier, the Naxalites – officially called the Communist Party of India (Maoist) – have grown larger, feeding off the anger of the country’s poor. There are now 10,000-15,000 fighters in an archipelago of rebel territory scattered across nearly half of the country’s 28 states, security officials say.

For years, the government here paid little attention. That began changing two years ago. Today, Chhattisgarh state backs an anti-Naxal militia called the Salwa Judum. And in 2006, India’s prime minister called the Naxalites the single largest threat to the country.

Over the past two years, nearly 2,000 people – police, militants and civilians caught in the middle – have been killed in Naxalite violence. In March, 55 policemen and government-backed militiamen were killed when up to 500 Naxalites descended on an isolated Chhattisgarh police station.

The rebel patchwork reaches from deep inside India to the border with Nepal, where the Naxalites are thought to have informal ties to the Maoists who, after a long insurgency, recently joined in the Katmandu government.

The Maoist goal in India is nothing less than complete takeover.

“There is only one solution to India’s problems: Naxalism,” said Ramu.

The movement takes its name from Naxalbari, a village outside Calcutta where the revolt began in 1967. Inspired by Mao Zedong, founding father of the Chinese communist regime, they believe an army of peasants can one day overthrow the government. The Naxals are strongest in states such as Chhattisgarh that have large populations of “tribals,” the indigenous people at the bottom of India’s rigid social order.

More than ever, their once-marginal revolt seems like outright war, particularly in the rebel strongholds of rural Chhattisgarh.

India deals with other insurgencies, from Kashmiri separatists to a spectrum of ethnic militant groups in its remote northeast. But the Naxalites have proven different. They have support not just among the poorest or a single ethnic group, and have survived for forty years.

In places like the Dhauli forest, a tangle of vegetation unmarked on most maps – 500 miles from Bangalore, 450 miles from Calcutta and 600 miles from New Delhi – the Naxalites are more than surviving. They are winning.

“I won’t lie to you. We’re on the defensive here,” said a top Chhattisgarh police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. “We have the main roads, but they have the hills and the small roads.”

Here, government officials hold little power. Through much of the countryside, nervous policemen barricade themselves at night inside stations ringed by barbed wire. Politicians dismiss the Naxalites as criminals, but those politicians go nowhere without armies of bodyguards.

Victory, the Naxals insist, is coming.

“We don’t have the weapons. We don’t have the army,” said a young fighter named Soni. “But slowly, slowly, sometime in the future, we will succeed.”

That seems unlikely.

Most of the Naxalites’ guns are old or handmade. Their land mines are often made from pressure cookers, and bullets are doled out carefully. Their support in many villages has more to do with fear than genuine belief.

Their control can be fleeting. If security forces move into a Naxalite-run area, the fighters simply disappear into the forests.

But while there’s little chance they’ll overthrow the government, in this part of India their power is immense. Every day or so, another policeman is killed. Every few months, another politician faces an assassination attempt – sometimes successful, sometimes not.

Inside their self-proclaimed Liberated Zones, the Naxals are, effectively, the government. They collect taxes, control movement, and trade in valuable hardwoods from the ever-thinning jungles. They refuse entry not only to the government but also aid organizations, arguing they are tools of an unjust state.

There is an informal Naxal bank, Naxal schools and Naxal courts to settle village disputes and try suspected informants. For those found guilty of helping police, the punishment is public beheading.

“If they kill us, we also have to kill,” Ramu said. “Innocent people will get hurt in the process. But what can we do?”

As for the long history of failed communist states, he was unconcerned: “We will learn from their mistakes.”

Outside, a thunderstorm shook the sky, and rain pelted the straw roof. Inside, a half-dozen fighters sat in the darkness of the mud house, listening silently as Ramu spoke. One carried an AK-47 assault rifle, but the rest were armed with ancient British-made Enfield rifles, some dating to the 1940s, or homemade single-shot shotguns and rifles.

Few appeared to know much about the teachings of Marx or Mao, though both men were spoken of reverently. Some fighters believed Mao, who died in 1976, remains China’s leader. Instead, their beliefs are simple: The revolution will bring an idyllic jungle paradise for the tribals.

“One day we will get it back,” said Soni, the fighter, a tribal who spends much of her time in villages performing songs about their struggle. “The forest is ours.”

For now, until paradise comes, people live in mud homes on tiny farms. They grow rice and tobacco and harvest what they can from the forests. Better-off families have $12 shortwave radios or $45 Atlas bicycles.

In a village on the fringes of Naxalite territory, a teenager named Meetu Ram – he thinks he’s about 17 – talked about his life one recent evening. His family, by local standards, does well: They have a well-kept compound with three one-room buildings and a half-dozen cows.

Still, Ram has never been to a doctor, and has not even heard of telephones. Asked to name India’s prime minister, he shrugged.

Government officials “never come here,” he said in Gondi, the area’s main tribal language. “So we don’t know who these government people are, and who they aren’t.”

It is in places like this where the Naxalites’ appeal is most resonant.

India may have one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, but it also has vast – and often growing – rural poverty. In Chhattisgarh, that has been magnified by conflicts over everything from forest conservation to mining rights, with tribals often expelled from their jungle homes.

“The tribals make a good guerrilla base,” said Meghnad Desai, a scholar at the London School of Economics. They “are really poor, and have a genuine feeling of being taken advantage of … The Naxalites are exploiting that.”

Much of Ramu’s time is spent spreading the rebel message. On a recent afternoon, he summoned hundreds of villagers to a rally to decry the Salwa Judum.

While leaders of the government-supported Salwa Judum insist they are protecting villagers from Naxalite violence – they have gathered some 50,000 tribals into dingy, guarded camps – rights groups accuse them of widespread abuses.

“The Salwa Judum is killing people!” Ramu shouted at the villagers. “We are protecting the rights of the people!”

Many, though, don’t see heroes on either side.

Sanjana Bhaskar, 18, has spent more than a year in a Salwa Judum camp. She fled there with her family after Naxalites slit her father’s throat, while her stepmother watched, because he refused to give them money.

She hates the camp. “There is nothing here,” she said, gesturing to the one-road expanse. “But where else can we go?”

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