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Archive for June 23rd, 2009

Lalgarh: Statement by Sumit Sarkar, Achin Vanaik, Tanika Sarkar, Sumit Chakravartty and Praful Bidwai

Posted by Admin on June 23, 2009

We are profoundly disturbed by the massive Central and state armed police operation in Lalgarh-Jangalmahal in West Bengal. This was launched without exploring a negotiated settlement of genuine popular grievances and by blurring the crucial distinction between violent Maoists and peace-minded civilians. The operation is taking an unacceptable toll of civilian life and safety in an extremely backward area with sub-human living conditions and absence of public services and social opportunity worsened by unremitting police atrocities.

We deplore the reckless, self-serving violence of the Maoists, who have exploited West Bengal’s post-election chaos by using deprived and angry tribals as pawns and by brutally attacking CPM cadres and offices. This cannot be rationalised as just retaliation against the violence unleashed by the CPM over the years. The two kinds of violence only feed and aggravate each other.

Some self-proclaimed leaders have appeared, claiming to represent the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), who openly preach violence and murder. Their actions can only invite more state repression. Deplorably, the media has equated the Maoists with the PCPA, which has conducted a democratic and peaceful struggle among tribals for dignity and security, and against state excesses.

We urge the state Governor, respected for his integrity, understanding and compassion, to take an initiative to bring about a complete cessation of violence and open a dialogue on the people’s concerns highlighted by the PCPA, by using responsible civil society groups as mediators. Preventing a bloodbath remains the greatest imperative today.

Sumit Sarkar, Achin Vanaik, Tanika Sarkar, Sumit Chakravartty and Praful Bidwai



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Abujhmar – Where no outsider can go

Posted by Admin on June 23, 2009

Our Roving Editor Man Mohan writes from Orcha (Chhattisgarh)
You may not believe it. In this western Bastar region exists a huge hilly forest tribal area — nearly the size of Goa — where Indians and foreigners have not been allowed for the past three decades.

Welcome to Abujhmar. The Naxal-controlled inaccessible and the so-called ‘liberated zone’ in Narayanpur district, bordering Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. The Government of India’s writ does not run here. About 60 km from Naryanpur, Orcha is the north-eastern fringe of Abujhmar.

Seemingly virgin country, the tribals are still living a primitive life, like some Andaman and Nicobar Island tribes, with no connection with the civilisation.

Some days ago, the BJP-ruled state government decided to open doors of this mystery land for the common man. The aim was to find out what the Maoists were up to.

Former Miss Universe Sushmita Sen, some years ago, was denied entry in Abujhmar when she wanted to shoot for a soft drink ad film.

Women in Abujhmar and many other Bastar areas wear a one-piece dress called ‘kosti’. Many of them even prefer to go topless.

‘Abujhmar’ is said to be that land whose mystery none could solve. ‘Abujh’ in local language means ‘unknown’ and ‘mar’ means ‘hills.’ So, the Abujhmarias means “people of the unknown or little known hills.”

The Abujhmarias are mainly Maria, Murias and Halbas tribals. The Naxals have brainwashed them by telling them that the government deliberately calls them ‘Abujh’ (idiots) and ‘mar’ (land) – the land of idiots.

The Chhattisgarh government is clueless about the kind of life the tribals are living in Abujhmar, and about their population, religion, social and economic status. There are no land revenue records of the villages.

“Two years ago, we met some Abujhmarias when they ventured out to purchase salt and other items at a ‘haat’ (weekly market). They did not know their country or state’s name,” said a local shopkeeper. “They had not heard of India’s Prime Minister, but acknowledged knowing Mao’s name,” he added.

In the 1970s, the Narayanpur collector had issued an order banning ‘outsiders’ from entering Abujhmar. He enforced an ‘inner line policy’ by which one could gain entry only after obtaining a special permit. Gradually, the Maoists/Naxals ‘captured’ Abujhmar. The police, forest rangers, teachers and other government employees stopped going there.

The provocation to ban the entry of outsiders in Abujhmar had come following a BBC film on the ‘ghotuls’ (tribal youth club) of the Bastar tribes where youngsters interact, drink and dance in the evening. The impression given in the film was that free sex was legitimised through ghotuls in the tribal heartland.

The Maoists got Abujhmar virtually on a platter. In this extremely backward area, some tribals are reported to have only recently begun tilling their land and sending their children to schools run by Maoists.

The Abujhmar terrain varies from 450 to 750 metres above the sea level, has dense forest and many high ridges and deep valleys created by streams, which provide an effective natural barrier from all sides, isolating it from the rest of the region.

In 2005, nearly 132 years after the British conducted a land survey in Abujhmar, Chief Minister Raman Singh acknowledged the difficulties faced by the police in entering the Naxals’ ‘liberated zone’, and decided to get an aerial survey done to prepare revenue records and map the Naxalite terrain. The Hyderabad-based National Remote Sensing Agency carried out the survey.

One wonders how much time the state administration will now take to unravel the mystery of Abujhmar and confront the Maoists to ‘reclaim’ the lost territory.

The Tribune

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Centre bans CPI (Maoist)

Posted by Admin on June 23, 2009

Vinay Kumar

Hope West Bengal government will also do so: Chidambaram

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Monday banned the Communist Party of India (Maoist), terming it a terrorist organisation. It invoked Section 41 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against the extremist outfit.

The CPI (Maoist) came into existence following the merger of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), the People’s War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC).

The ban came two days after West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee met Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram in the backdrop of violent incidents in Lalgarh and the ongoing operation by the police and the security forces to reclaim the area.

The Chief Minister had said that his government would give a “serious thought” to banning the CPI (Maoist) as advised by the Home Minister.

The ban was to avoid any ambiguity though all formations and front organisations of the PWG, the MCC and the CPI (ML) came under the purview of the ban.

In September 2004, the CPI (ML) and the MCC announced their decision to merge and named the new organisation CPI (Maoist). There was some opposition to the merger and some elements in the two organisations continued to function independently.

Mr. Chidambaram said the merged organisation would continue to be listed as a terror organisation. “When I looked into the matter a couple of days ago, I said that may be the position in the law. In order to avoid any ambiguity, let us add the CPI (Maoist) by name in that schedule of the Act.”

Many States, including Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, had declared the CPI (Maoist) an unlawful association. Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu had done so under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

“When I had a discussion with Mr. Bhattacharjee, I advised him to ban the CPI (Maoist) under Section 16 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1908. That power is available with the State. I did not change my view. I still think that West Bengal should declare the CPI (Maoist) an unlawful association,” he told journalists.

Asked about the Left parties’ opposition to the ban, Mr. Chidambaram said the Left had taken a view which was not that of the West Bengal government. “I hope distinction between the party and the government is still there in this country. I expect that the Chief Minister will look into the matter.”

The Hindu

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Ready for dialogue if government agrees to some of our demands: Maoists

Posted by Admin on June 23, 2009

Raktima Bose

QUEUEING UP FOR ESSENTIALS: Residents of Lalgarh and its surroundings wait to collect rice at the Block Development Office of Lalgarh on Monday. Due to “Operation Lalgarh,” shops have been closed and people have not been able to get essential items.

LALGARH (PASCHIM MEDINIPUR DT.): Keeping the option of dialogue with the West Bengal government on the Lalgarh issue open, Communist Party of India (Maoist) spokesperson Gour Chakraborty said on Monday that the organisation might also consider declaring a ceasefire in the area if the government cooperated with it.

The statement comes close on the heels of the Centre banning the organisation for the second time after 2004 and declaring it a terrorist outfit.

Speaking to The Hindu over telephone from an undisclosed location, Mr. Chakraborty said: “Our representatives will have a direct dialogue with the State government on the Lalgarh issue and we might also consider declaring ceasefire in the region. But the State government too has to relent and agree to some of our demands for the dialogue to happen.”

He added that the points raised by the group of intellectuals who visited Lalgarh on Sunday — to stop the joint operation of the Central paramilitary forces and the State police and not to harass common people — should also be considered by the State government.

Asked what would be the organisation’s course of action if the government decides to ban it on the lines of the Centre, Mr. Chakraborty said the outfit would continue its underground activities.

“The CPI(Maoist) has been a banned organisation for most of the time since its inception, yet we have carried on with our activities. Now that the ban is in place by the Centre’s order, we will have to take action according to the situation,” he said.

The Hindu

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Nukes and missiles can’t retake Lalgarh – Part 1

Posted by Admin on June 23, 2009

A LONG range Agni-2 missile weighing 18 tonnes and capable of delivering conventional and nuclear warheads over a 2300km range was test-fired from Eastern India in mid-June in a trial prior to mass production. The top leadership, with the goal of turning the country into a ‘superpower’ in another 11 years, was brimming with joy that the missile had “achieved all its flight parameters without a hitch”. Meanwhile, just 150km away in Kolkata, hundreds of men in uniform were slugging it out.

Toting AK-47 and INSAS rifles, 1300 soldiers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and about 600 Border Security Force (BSF) troops had to struggle for three days to reach the block headquarters police station at Lalgarh. This was the first step to recapturing some 50 villages that would be ‘liberated’ from the clutches of exploitative officialdom. Read the rest of this entry »

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Send food, not force to Lalgarh: Mahasweta Devi

Posted by Admin on June 23, 2009

KOLKATA: Food, and not force is the answer to solve the Lalgarh crisis. Noted writer Mahasweta Devi has asked the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee

government not to arrest Chhatradhar Mahato, the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA) leader.

“If Chhatradhar Mahato is arrested, I’ll go and sit on a dharna outside the office of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. This is not the time to send force to Lalgarh,” she told reporters in Kolkata on Monday.

“Whatever the state government is doing is wrong. People are fighting unitedly for certain demands. Respect it. The state government has snatched the rights of people living in Jangalmahal,” she said.

Mahasweta Devi said the Lalgarh movement was another example of the Left Front government’s failure.

“This is one more reason why this government should go. It came with much fanfare but has done nothing for the tribals. The state forest department has protected contractors involved in illegal felling of trees. This has resulted in the loss of livelihood for the forest-dwellers. There are no roads, no water, no electricity. There is no other state like Bengal where the tribals are so deprived.”

The veteran writer said, “The people of Lalgarh have organised themselves to solve their problem. It’s a shame that the state government has declared war on a section of its own people. Give Lalgarh people BPL cards, drinking water, solar lights and see what happens.”


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