No news from Narayanpatna
Posted by Admin on December 15, 2009
“The fact is people have lost the fear of the law because they feel they can get away with anything. My job is to take hard police action against the Naxals. The fear of the law is to be ingrained in the people.”
This is how one of the leading police officers in Chhattisgarh defined his task. All of us understand what constitutes the mechanism of ingraining the fear so that it becomes part of the people’s collective unconscious for a long time to come. It has been practiced in Kashmir, in the Northeast, in Chhattisgarh among many other places, and now in Orissa.
The State has dealt with the Narayanpatna movement in Orissa too in a most brutal, yet tactful, manner so that the possibilities inherent in it are not realized, and its brutal suppression becomes a reminder lesson for others on what constitutes the legitimate within the evolving political economy in India.
As “a single spark can start a prairie fire”, the state apparatuses are not just busy beating the “spark” down, they are, in fact, trying to hide it or corrupt the vision of the beholders, so that the spark does not seem to be a spark. Even liberal fact finding teams are not allowed to enter the Narayanpatna block of Koraput. The bitter experience of the all-women fact finding team that consisted of prominent civil rights activists from all over India is only symbolic of how brutal the State can become when the question is of safeguarding the interests of capital and its agencies.
It would not be fallacious to say that the situation in Narayanpatna is a clear manifestation of the fascist conjuncture of capitalist development in India. We find a remarkable complementarity between the three wings of the Indian state and its coercive and consensual/ideological apparatuses in maintaining the rhyme and reason of political economic developments. The synergy among various levels of political and bureaucratic institutions and between the state’s repressive components (the local police, the cobra battalions, and civilian stormtroopers like salwa judum in Chhattisgarh) and the Fourth Estate of the hegemonic forces is unprecedented. Anybody who has attempted to organize press conferences in Raipur (the capital of Chhattisgarh) to highlight incidences of state repression is witness to mafia media men shouting at the organisers. All these form the fascio (a bundle of sticks or rods) by which the Indian state rules.
Today, we see entry into Narayanpatna virtually impossible. The police, local exploiters and the private militiamen whom the women’s fact finding team confronted on the 9th of December guard the very entrance of the area. To complement this, the local and to an extent the national media has been playing its role most sincerely projecting the movement as an expression of uncivilized violence, while remaining unabashedly antipathetic to the cause and scope of the movement. When fact finding teams have attempted to unravel the truth, what has happened is in front of our eyes. Hence, we have no news from inside Narayanpatna, except a few statements of the police present there – regarding how many are held or killed etc.
The height of brutality that must be going on in Narayanpatna can only be imagined from what treatment a women’s fact finding team received in the hands of ‘the armed bodies of men’ even after taking the requisite permission from the local authorities to enter the area. Abused and beaten came back a team of civil dignitaries with sincere intentions of finding the ‘neutral’ truth.
The media reports that Nachika Linga, leader of CMAS, who is now in the most wanted list of the government is under the shelter of the ‘Maoists’. It is necessary here to pontificate at the apathy of the media towards any move that has been taken in Bhubaneswar (the capital of Orissa) to empathise with the Narayanpatna movement. About 100 people from various organizations on the 10th of December silently demonstrated in the city’s Master Canteen Square against the issuing of the order to arrest Nachika Linga. This was something that could have been sublime to the media but what instead caught the media’s eyes is the probable alliance of Nachika with the ‘Maoists’. (However, if at all Nachika Linga is protected by the Maoists today, this is more a comment on India’s rule of law and those who see possibilities within it – it proves that the ‘democratic’ voices having faith in the present system are not able to protect people’s self-rule efforts).
Today, the State has militarized the democratic movement of the tribals and landless. To tackle the movement of the landless and the near-landless inside Narayanpatna, there is an already existing State sponsored militia. It is important to clarify that this is a well thought out strategy of the state, by which it demarcates the “limits of legitimation” for any popular collective action. And the state understands that the people have crossed those limits in Narayanpatna.
So war zones are being defined and the “national” media is fast becoming a “nationalist” media – a propaganda machinery to fight the influence of “aggressors”. However, this time, the aggression is from within – the “cattle class” which was bred to be slaughtered threatens the “nation” of the first class. The media in India today gives expressions to the anxieties of the first class, packaging its hallucinations as facts and news reports.