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Archive for June 2nd, 2007

Seeing Through The Stones: A Tale From The Maoist Land

Posted by Indian Vanguard on June 2, 2007


Violence under the sun


An urge to put the Naxalite movement in perspective could have been done with more literary finesse.

SOMETIME ago, while addressing a meeting of chief ministers of six states affected by the Maoist movement, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the problem of Naxalism was the single biggest internal security challenge faced by the country.

Socio-economic discrimination

Reports in the media often quote intelligence sources warning that armed Naxalites are spreading fast in the rural heartland — ample proof that the movement that began in Naxalbari village of West Bengal in 1967 is far from dying. In fact, after a lull, the movement has picked up momentum again.

It is not difficult to understand that the germ of this armed struggle, fashioned after the Maoist dictum ‘power flows from the barrel of the gun’, is ensconced in socio-economic discrimination and subsequent rebellion. Journalist-writer Diptendra Raychaudhuri’s novel Seeing Through The Stones: A Tale From The Maoist Land is set against this background.

It is the story of the rise and fall of Mahendra Chamar, a Naxalite leader emerging from Dalit anger against atrocities. Interwoven are women who were his consorts, internecine rivalry within the Naxalite groups, landed gentry’s conspiracy to hold onto power and Mahendra’s deterioration as a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. He ends up as a recluse who talks only to trees. But his legend as a leader survives among the poor of the land.

Real incidents and thinly disguised personalities dot the narrative and at times lend the novel a feel of non-fiction. It is understandable since, as a journalist, the author spent many years chasing the Maoist story. Undoubtedly he has gathered valuable insight into the ground realities, enough to venture into telling their story.


The narrative technique is like a movie script moving up and down between present, past and the future with chapters like, “The Present Continuous”, “Glimpses of the Past” and “Glimpses of the Future”.

But what could have been a telling account in the best tradition of a docu-drama, or even a political novel, is marred by some obvious shortfalls. First, there are too many characters and events, arranged as if in a slide-show, leaving little space for literary jouissance or analytical look into the characters and their circumstances to make for an absorbing novel.

Second, a certain unease with the language causes frequent falls on an uneven terrain. A few examples: Agnes beckoned her, leaving her in a state of flux like a sparrow approaching the grain lying near a peasant (pheasant?) (pg 14). Pascal’s experienced eyes convey to his brain…. (pg 138): … he is imbibing his glass of vodka too fast. (pg 140).

Telling moments

There are some telling moments, though: They chant at the end ‘Long live Charu Mazumdar’ without knowing who they are referring to, probably mistaking him for a god.

Or to show the utter contempt of the high caste to the low-caste: ‘Mahendra Chamar?’ Harry snorts exasperatedly, as if correcting the cop. ‘Even that is repugnant. A lowborn Chamar’s name cannot be Mahendra, which literally means Indra the great. Indra is the king of the gods and a Chamar cannot be named after him.’

And then there is the evocative moment when Mohan Ram’s naïve question hits at the crux of the revolution seeking equality for all, so devastatingly articulated by Owell in his Animal Farm.

“What is this revolution?” Mohan Ram wondered aloud.

“A total change where there will be no rich, no poor…where everybody will be equal…”

“No poor?” Mohan Ram was sceptical “…then who will build houses for the babus?” It is a pity that an urge to put the Naxalite movement in perspective has not been done with more literary finesse.

Seeing Through The Stones: A Tale From The Maoist Land; Diptendra Raychaudhuri, Vitasta, Rs. 300.

The Hindu

Posted in Book Review | Leave a Comment »

Maoists setting up bal militia

Posted by Indian Vanguard on June 2, 2007

SAMBALPUR: The reported presence of 10 to 12 children with Maoists in Kisinda village where they distributed leaflets on Thursday night has only confirmed their indoctrination into militancy.  Called Bal Militia, children are lured into the military wing and trained in handling arms. In school uniform these children are then used by the ultras to target unsuspecting policemen.

Though increasing use of child soldiers has been reported from neighbouring Chhattisgarh, it is for the first time that the disturbing fact has been acknowledged in the region.  Besides fighting alongside their grown up comrades, many are indirectly involved and are used as decoys, or to spot movement of security forces, ammunition transport, for money laundering and cooking.

Two years back, Birsa Munda, just 15, surrendered in Sundargarh district and is now under the care of the police after it was feared that the Naxals operating from the Saranda forest would kidnap him..  A couple of months later, another girl Kanduri Lohar alias Madhuri surrendered. While police continue to underplay use of children and deny the growing sway of Maoists in villages, there is no denying the fact that their number is steadily growing.

There are two reasons for induction of children, explains Dr. Rajat Kujur, who has done extensive research on Maoism. These are socio-economic and strategic.

Curiosity, poverty, lack of education and opportunities, livelihood insecurity push children into joining the ultras. This apart, he says Naxalites draw heavily from the LTTE which has a large cadre of child soldiers. Since use of children has been tested successfully by the Tamil Tigers in their strategy, the Naxals are also banking upon children heavily.

The closing down of EGS (Education Guarantee Scheme) centres in Naxal infested areas is hitting job growth in villages and has come as a boon for the radicals.

According to District Project Co-ordinator Manoj Kumar Mohanty, 234 EGS centres have been closed in Sambalpur district and more are facing closure. In Deogarh district, 219 out 276 centres were closed down over the past few months. If the recent trend is any indication, unless the government revives the centres, the radicals will continue to hold sway.


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Nandigram costs Left in civic polls, Mamata rejoices

Posted by Indian Vanguard on June 2, 2007

The ruling Left Front in West Bengal got the first electoral jolt after violent protests over land acquisition for industry in Nandigram as it lost the Panskura municipal body elections in East Midnapore to the Trinamool Congress-Congress combine.

All eyes were on Panskura, closest to Nandigram under the same East Midnapore district, with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya matching a gruelling campaign by Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee.

At least 14 people were killed in police firing in Nandigram March 14 in a protest against a Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

Of the 17 seats of the Panskura municipality, the combine won 10 while the Left lost its stronghold in the area as it managed to win only seven. Trinamool alone got eight seats while Congress bagged two.

Buoyed by the victory, Trinamool chief Banerjee said the local body election result had clearly indicated the huge support of people to the opposition parties in the backdrop of an anti-land acquisition movement in the state.

‘The victory comes after the movement against the SEZ in Nandigram and the brutal police firing that killed 14 and left over hundreds injured in the trouble-torn area. The victory in Panskura is a tribute to those who lost their loved ones in the March 14 police firing and still suffering from spiralling tension,’ Banerjee told a press conference here after the victory.

Elections were held Sunday for 104 seats of five municipalities – Panskura, Dhupguri, Durgapur, Nalhati and Cooper’s Camp. Also, by-elections were held in 11 wards of 10 municipalities as well as 516 panchayat seats comprising 24 zilla parishads, 94 panchayat samities and 398 gram panchayats.

The Left Front retained its power in Durgapur (Burdwan district of south Bengal) and Dhupguri (Jalpaiguri in north Bengal) municipalities while the Congress retained both Nalhati and Cooper’s Camp municipalities (in Birbhum and Nadia districts of south Bengal, respectively).

India News

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Undertrials Clash With Police In Bengal Jail

Posted by Indian Vanguard on June 2, 2007

Saturday 02nd of June 2007 A group of undertrials led by a Maoist leader and a Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) militant clashed with police at a prison in West Bengal Saturday over poor facilities in the jail.

Many of the inmates of Malda Correctional Home in north Bengal got injured in the clash and were admitted in the jail hospital.

The incident occurred after the group of prisoners had a heated exchange with the policemen over the lack of facilities.

Later, the war of words led to a scuffle and the situation turned grave with the police resorting to heavy baton charge to disperse the irate jailbirds.

‘It was a minor skirmish between inmates and the jail officials who were demanding some facilities in jail. The situation initially became violent but later it was taken under control after the police used baton and dispersed the disgruntled prisoners,’ West Bengal Minister for Social Welfare and Jail Biswanath Chowdhury told IANS.

According to Malda jail sources, tension was brewing since Friday as the inmates had been constantly demanding better facilities for them.

Jail officials said undertrial Maoist leader Animesh Chakraborty and KLO militant Malkhand Singh attacked the police which led to baton charge.


Posted in Bengal, NEWS | Leave a Comment »

Naxal blast hits power in Chhattisgarh

Posted by Indian Vanguard on June 2, 2007

Power supply to five districts of extremism-affected Bastar region of Chhattisgarh was hit after Naxalites blew up three high-tension transmission towers.

The Naxalites triggered landmine blasts and damaged three towers of high tension electricity lines in the deep woods of Narayanpur district, Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board officials said.

”Although the damaged area had been identified but it would take at least ten days to restore power supply,” they said.

Because of the blasts, power supply to entire Bijapur, Bastar and Dantewada districts and maximum areas of Narayanpur and Kanker districts are affected.

The Naxalites damaged the towers in inaccessible and deep jungle area, which do not have roads, because of which the repair work was being hampered.

Besides train movement, work in NMDC iron ore mines, located in Dantewada district have adversely been affected.

Four Maoists killed in India’s Chhattisgarh state

New Delhi – At least four Maoist militants were shot dead on Saturday in armed clashes with police in India’s central Chhattisgarh state, IANS news agency reported. The gun battle broke out in the Sendra forests in the southern Bijapur district when the guerrillas fired at the policemen who were conducting counter-insurgency operations, IANS reported quoting police officials.

“The security forces retaliated and gunned down four rebels but several others managed to melt into the forests,” an unnamed police official was quoted as saying.

The Bijapur district, which lies over 500 kilometres south of state capital Raipur, is one of the strongholds of the Maoists.

The Maoists currently have a presence in 13 of India’s 28 states and seven federally-administered territories. They are most active in Chhattisgarh, eastern Jharkhand and southern Andhra Pradesh states.

The Maoists reject parliamentary democracy and aim to capture political power through an armed struggle based on guerrilla warfare. Although the Indian government has intensified operations against the rebels, Maoist-related violence is showing no signs of slowing down.

In 2006, 749 people including rebels, security personnel and civilians were killed in Maoist-related violence, while there were over 250 dead in the first four months of 2007.

Posted in Chhatisgadh, NEWS | Leave a Comment »

Where the State makes war on its own people

Posted by Indian Vanguard on June 2, 2007

Post it here for Archive.

A fourteen-member team from five organizations conducted an investigation between 28 November and 1 December 2005 in Bijapur and Bhairamgarh blocks of Dantewada district, focusing specifically on the violation of human rights and the impact on peopleís everyday lives. The organisations are: Peopleís Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Chhattisgarh, Peopleís Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL) Jharkhand, Peopleís Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) Delhi, Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) West Bengal, and Indian Association of Peopleís Lawyers (IAPL). Download FFR

Posted in Fact finding Report | Leave a Comment »

TATA kills again- A victim of land grab commit suicide.

Posted by Indian Vanguard on June 2, 2007

Sourece: Singur Link Via: Bhumkal

Prasanta Das, a 43 year old marginal peasant of Khaser Bheri mouza in Singur, who had declined to give up his land for the Tata Motors small car factory, committed suicide by hanging himself from the ceiling of a cowshed at his residence. His body was found in the wee hours of 25th May, 2007.

Incidentally it was the day of the first anniversary of the land struggle in Singur against forcible land acquisition. The villagers strongly alleged that the suicide was because of the land loss. Prasanta’s bereaved relatives and neighbours said that he was very much depressed and “mentally upset” ever since his family’s land (around 4 bighas and 4 Cottah) was forcefully acquired by the state government for the Tata Motors project.

His mother Geeta Das said, “He was prescribed treatment and counseling by the doctor. He didn’t say anything unusual before his death. He was always worried how the family would live without the land.” The deceased Prasanta has two minor daughters, only 9 years and 6 years old respectively. His widow, Sandhya Das has no alternative source of earnings.

The farmland was held jointly by Prasanta, his father Mahadeb Das (65) along with his two younger brothers Tapas and Sushanta. The Das family, consisting of three brothers, their wives and children were solely dependent on their agricultural land for their life and livelihood and after the government took over the land for the Tata project, they have been living in penury.

But despite their destitution, Prasanta and his family straightaway turned down to receive compensation cheques alleging that their land was forcibly grabbed by the government against their will. “We didn’t take money for the land because the family did not want to part with the land,” Prasanta’s mother said. Besides he was one of the earliest and active members of “Singur Krishi Jami Raksha Committee” (Singur Save Farmlands Committee), a people’s organisation against the land acquisition. He was also injured in the police’s lathi-charge on September, 2006 in front of BDO office during the peak of Singur land struggle.

A protest rally was taken out in the evening by the members of Krishi Jami Raksha Committee carrying Prasanta’s dead body along the newly erected wall of the Tata’s project site.Earlier on 12th March, a similar incident had taken place in Singur when another poor peasant Haradhan Bag of Beraberi Purbapara, whose land had also been acquired without his consent, had committed suicide consuming pesticide.Singur is now simmering in a terrible anguish and perturbation over the heart-rending suicides of two peasants.

A fresh turmoil is brewing here after May 20th, when hundreds of peasants and agricultural workers determined to recover their lands acquired for the project, conflicted with the police who fired teargas shells, rubber bullets and charged with batons resulting 25 villagers including a 13 years old boy severely injured.

Later on, the police filed a large number of false cases (Ref: Singur P.S. Case 113, dated 20.05.07) against 53 protesters including Becharam Manna, Convener of Singur Krishi Jami Raksha Committee and Anuradha Talwar, President of Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity and 400 others under the following sections of IPC.

1. Section 147– Punishment for rioting.
2. Section 148 – Rioting armed with deadly weapon.
3. Section 149 – Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed inprosecution of common object.
4. Section 186 – Obstructing public servant in discharge of public function.
5. Section 332 – Voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty.
6. Section 333 – Voluntarily causing grievous hurt to deter public servant from his duty.
7. Section 325 – Punishment for voluntarily causing grievous hurt.
8. Section 326 – Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means.
9. Section 353 – Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty.
10. Section 307 – Attempt to murder. and I.P.C/9 (B) (1) I. E. Act.Three activists, Kush Kumar Das, Jagannath Roy and Tarun Santra were arrested and detained under jail custody till the next hearing on 4th June 2007.

Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity


Posted in NEWS, Singur | Leave a Comment »

Maoists to `champion’ the cause of displaced

Posted by Indian Vanguard on June 2, 2007

Visakhapatnam, June 01: The CPI (Maoist) had prepared a list of its targets and constituted action teams to carry out the killings during its ninth congress held from January 20 to February 20 at one of its strongholds.

The conference was conducted on a major scale with the required amenities provided to the participants.

It was believed that a major exercise was carried out in this regard during the conference, which was attended by top guns and key functionaries from 17 States. The attacks would be carried out in phases, the party had reportedly decided.

No to entry of MNCs

It was significant that one of the issues discussed was the support to the struggles against the displacement due to major projects and the entry of MNCs and foreign companies into the country to set up industries. Bauxite mining and setting up of alumina refinery fall under this category.

Zilla Parishad Vice-Chairman S. Ravi Shankar, who was gunned down, might not be on the `hit list’ but was killed, as he was one of the important leaders of the ruling party in the agency area where the Congress was keen on bauxite mining.

It is believed that Maoists would target top Congress leaders in a bid to force the Government to go slow on the bauxite mining and anti-naxalite operations.

It is also believed that ruling party leaders have been warned to be wary about the attacks. After killing Shankar, Maoists followed it up by blasting the control room of the hydel power generation plant late on Tuesday night.

The two events in quick succession prompted the district police to alert politicians. “We have alerted probable targets and asked them to be on alert,” said Officer on Special Duty Ch. Srikanth over telephone from Narsipatnam.

“It is an act of mindless violence. Citing the reasons of Ravi Shankar helping in the recruitment of Girijan battalion or supporting bauxite mining are ridiculous. It may be part of their tactical counter-offensive campaign,” Mr. Srikanth said.


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