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I condemn the beheading… but we have to see it in the background of state violence:BINAYAK SEN

Posted by Admin on October 9, 2009

Chhattisgarh-based doctor BINAYAK SEN was arrested in May 2007 for his alleged links with Naxalites. Following a public campaign for his release, he was granted bail by the Supreme Court in May 2009. In this interview with VINAY SITAPATI, he speaks on the beheading of an abducted police inspector by Naxalites.

Inspector Francis Induwar was kidnapped and beheaded by Naxalites in Jharkhand recently. Whatever your ideology, is this not cold-blooded murder?

I condemn the beheading. It is absolutely unacceptable. There is no way I can approve of the killing. There are some questions about who has carried it out. If the CPI (Maoist) has carried it out, I condemn their action. Having said this, it is important to remember that the violence of resistance is a consequence, not a cause. We have to see it in the background of state violence.

But Induwar was in a market when he was captured and then later murdered. How can this be consequential violence?

I have already said that I condemn this action. It is murder and has no justification. But the general violence is a consequence of the state violence — both structural and direct. The vast majority of the poor people are kept in poverty because of the state. Today, the state violence and the violence of resistance are locked into a tragic cycle. This cycle needs to be broken. Both forms of violence need to be brought to a halt. We need to halt military engagement and start talking.

Naxalites have never executed a kidnapped police officer before. This seems to be much worse than the normal “tragic cycle” of violence and counter-violence you refer to. Has Naxalite violence reached a new level?

I hope this is an aberration. I would like to believe that this is an aberration. But I also don’t think this kind of brutality is new for either side. I think similar incidents have occurred before.

For the record: Are you associated with the CPI (Maoists) in any way? Do you agree with their demands?

I am a member of the People’s Union of Civil Liberties. That is my only affiliation. I am not a member of any other group. I don’t condemn the Naxal demands for a just society. I am condemning their resort to violence and brutality.

You say state and Naxal violence are equally illegitimate. But state violence has some checks. In your case there is a judicial trial, you finally got bail. But the Naxals killed Inspector Induwar without any semblance of ‘due process’. How can you equate violence by the state and Naxals?

I am not equating anything. I am holding all violence to be illegitimate. I don’t want to get into the business of saying one is worse than the other. But this idea that state violence is more benign is not true. In south Bastar [in Chhattisgarh] lakhs of people have been displaced and hundreds have been killed by state violence. What happened to me is not as bad. Similarly, what happened to Inspector Francis is much worse that what the state has done to me.

You believe that Naxals feed on local grievances against state violence. But in that case why does not a single political party or mass movement support them. Even the LTTE had a mass base. Where is the popular base of Naxals?

This is not my area of expertise. But I don’t agree with you. I don’t think the Naxals could survive as a force if they did not have some local public support.

There is debate currently on whether the government should tackle the Naxals head on, or whether it should facilitate development first. Do you support the argument that development in these impoverished parts will end Naxal violence?

The definitions of development that different classes in society have are different. The kind of development that the ruling classes want is privatisation and widespread displacement. That may not be the idea of development that people living in these areas have. We cannot have a form of development which is a reassertion of the hegemony of a few.

You’ve been out on bail for several months now. How does it feel to be free?

Well, my trial is proceeding in Raipur. One more chargesheet has been filed by the Chhattisgarh government. It is as absurd as the earlier ones. At a personal level, my wife has been diagnosed with cancer, and my life is concentrated on getting her well. I am also in anguish over increasing state-Naxal violence. There doesn’t seem to be any scope for dialogue. It is like watching two locomotives racing towards each other. IE

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