Stop para-military operation in Lalgarh! Stop atrocities on the protesting people in the name of ‘flushing out’ Maoists!
Posted by Admin on June 26, 2009
A war is being waged by the Indian state on the most marginalized people of Lalgarh and Jangal Mahal (the forested and tribal dominated areas of Medinipur, Bankura and adjoining districts) in West Bengal right now. 11 companies of Para military forces including 6 Companies of BSF, one company of CoBRA have been deployed. 11 more companies of CRPF (and if required the notorious Grey Hounds) are on their way. This huge number of army is being posted to “sanitize” the entire Lalgarh, Shalboni, Ramgarh and Goaltor Block, off a ‘handful of Maoists’! Thus ‘Operation Lalgarh’ has become the news of the day.
Unfortunately even after the sixth day of operation this huge army with its full force has failed to ‘flush out the handful of Maoists’. Rather, what they have been doing in the name of ‘combating Maoists’ is to unleash utter state terror on the villagers. The same villagers who had ‘dared’ to boycott police for the last seven months as a retaliation to the extreme terror unleashed on them on last November, were beaten mercilessly by the police and para-military on their way to the ‘operation’. They have been dragged out of their houses, beaten up ruthlessly and forced to stay in ‘relief camps’. They have been used to detect land mines. Their drinking water has been polluted at a number of places by the para-military. Their houses have been ransacked. A number of cases of molestation of women have also been reported in the media. The women have been specially beaten around their private parts. The local schools have been turned into temporary ‘relief’ camps. It is exactly the Salwa Judum model that is being replicated in West Bengal. The colour of the flag notwithstanding, its once again clear that all parliamentary political parties will unleash the same kind of terror whenever people rise up to challenge their power, question their authority and demand for justice and rights. The state government is showing bonhomie with their ‘arch enemy’ Congress while planning the state terror. The ‘ideological differences’ always vanish when the ruling parties ally with each other against the people. Thus Buddhadeb has vested full faith in his political opponent Chidambaram and the Congress, a bigger expert in state terror, rather than listening to his own people, and now the state has forbidden any independent scrutiny of the paramilitary operations in fear of public outcry against it.
The CPM-led state government is carrying out a massacre in the name of its ‘operation’ against ‘Maoists’ in Lalgarh, and is forcing people to stay in relief camps. The bourgeois media is hiding the fact that the thousands of villagers are being forced to run away from their homes ever since the ‘operation’ began, out of fear of persecution and torture by the security forces. Despite severe repression, many thousands are still resisting the entry of armed security forces by blockading the roads and retaliating state violence by using their traditional weapons. The armed forces are moving forward only by tear-gassing, brutally lathi-charging and beating up the protesting masses. TV images clearly show the police and CRPF openly dragging people out of their houses, and thrashing them with rifle butts, and also vandalizing entire villages. Yet, the media is silent about the blatant police brutality on the villagers, betraying its true class character.
This area of Jangal Mahal has seen extreme backwardness, hunger deaths, malnutrition and lack of development. The government for the last sixty two years since the so-called independence, including the 30 years of the so–called left government has done virtually nothing for the people. There are no roads, no electricity, absolutely no health facility or any sources of livelihood inside the villages. More shockingly there has been no provision for irrigation and drinking water in these extremely dry regions. The people here were forced to live an inhuman life for years. As the discontent of the people developed into a resistance against the government since 1996, state repression intensified in these areas. The CRPF was first deployed way back in 2006. Since then the people of this region have faced extreme state terror. The police regularly arrested people in mere suspicion without producing any legal ground. There have been forcible ‘checks and raids’ in the houses at night by the police when they used to ransack houses, beat up people and molest women. The CPM played two roles in the areas. The leaders siphoned off the entire money allotted for developmental activities while the cadres worked as informers to the police about the various political affiliations of the people. As a result regularly before any elections many non-CPM activists of various organizations were picked up as ‘Maoists’. The anger of the people therefore is directed massively against the CPM cadres and leaders in these regions. The natural outburst of that was seen when a thousand people gathered to demolish the palatial house of CPM leaders.
This is not an armed clash between the state and the ‘Maoists’ as the corporate media would like us to believe. For the Indian state, anyone who challenges its authority and power, and fights for an end of the exploitative system, is termed a ‘Maoist’. In that case, the tens of thousands of people of lalgarh and jangal mahal area can be labeled as ‘Maoists’ because they are all fighting the state. This also nullifies the argument coming from some sections of the media, and even the intelligentsia, that the adivasis are stuck between the Maoists and the state. Those making this ridiculous claim fail to see that the people have organized and are fighting their own battle. In this struggle, the people of jangal mahal have not only shown a model of resistance but have also attempted to undertake basic developmental work on their own, which the Indian state and the CPM deprived them of. The state with its full force wants to repress this movement, so that it does not become a model for all the other oppressed and struggling people of the country. But the state cannot stop Lalgarh from becoming a glorious example of people’s struggle against exploitation, against state repression and for social justice, like it could not stop Nandigram or Naxalbari from becoming part of the legacy of militant people’s resistance.