US Public Radio interview with Arundhati Roy

Smiley and West, NPR — December 13, 2013

West: From PRI, Public Radio International in Princeton I’m Cornel West.
Smiley: And in Los Angeles I’m Tavis Smiley.

Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy

West: Brother Tavis, we are blessed to have one of the great and courageous intellectuals of our time. She is Arundhati Roy. We call her Sister Roy. Of course she’s the winner of the Booker Prize of her renowned novel The God of Small Things. She is the author of a variety of very powerful prose, non-fiction prose. She is in the process now of finishing a new text called Capitalism: A Ghost Story.
What a blessing to have you, Sister Roy.
Roy: Thank you, Dr. West.
West: Let’s start, before we get to your magnificent political activism, your visionary political activism, let’s go all the way back to your upraising, your training as an architect very much like Thomas Harding, becoming a great writer like Thomas Harding.
How do you connect your childhood with your training as an architect to your becoming a great writer?
Roy: I don’t know if I’m a great writer.
West: I can testify to that.
Roy: I’m a little embarrassed by all the good things you’re saying about me.
I grew up in south India as the child of a divorced mother which was unusual in that area. You know it’s a very parochial community called the Syrian Christians. My mother had married outside the community and then got divorced and come back to the village.
Growing up there in a very traditional space where caste was practiced, where there was all kinds of bigotry hidden and not so hidden, then growing up outside of this great Indian family unit.
I suppose it just made you look at society and wonder why it wasn’t offering you the certainties and the assurances that it offered a lot of other people from my kind of background.
I think that’s what initially made you want to explain it to yourself through writing.
The architecture was actually something that I did because I knew that I had to do something where I could earn a living very quickly so as to not be dependent on anybody because I knew that once that happened I wasn’t going to have even half a chance to write or to think or be anything other than live a very constricted, suffocating life. Continue reading

On the Bihar (India) State Police Arrest of RDF Leader Rajkishore

Rise!                             Resist!                      Liberate!

Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) – Press Statement, 5 November 2013

Condemn the arbitrary arrest of Revolutionary Democratic Front’s (RDF) All India General Secretary Rajkishore by the Bihar State Police!

Release Rajkishore immediately and unconditionally!

On the 1st of November at 8 pm, RDF’s General Secretary, Rajkishore, was arrested by the Bihar State police at his home in the village of Bakhari in East Champaran now called Motihari District, forced to sign on blank papers, and whisked away to the Madhuban Bazaar Police Station in Motihari town. Around 150 to 200 armed police personnel surrounded the village of Bakhari, barged into Rajkishore’s house and interrogated him and his family. Rajkishore is seventy one years of age and is ailing from serious medical problems. He suffered a recent injury to his ears and fracture in both sides of his lower jaw when turned unconscious and fell on the flower. He has been undergoing treatment at the AIIMS in Delhi, is taking heavy medication and is on a liquid diet, and had been advised by his doctors to remain at home for the remainder of his recovery.

Two days after reaching home he was picked up by the state police forces and charged in a case numbered 88 dated to 2005 that concerned an incident in Madhuban Bazaar allegedly involving the CPI (Maoist). The charge includes Indian Penal Code (IPC) 396 ‘dacoity with murder’ and Criminal Law (Amendment) Act Section 17. He has been remanded to judicial custody on case number 88/2005 based on a ‘confessional’ statement made in 2006 by one of those arrested in the Madhuban case. The arrest warrant on Rajkishore has been pending since 2006. He had visited his village a number of times in all these years but the arrest warrant was never invoked in the past. Continue reading

India: The largest “democracy”? — or, a brazen — but false — electoralism?

[As Maoists in India denounce India's claimed "democracy" as deceptive and fraudulent, the Indian state deploys nearly 150,000  troops, and moves hundreds of voting stations out of rebellious regions.  See the following two reports from the mainstream Indian press.  --  Frontlines ed.]

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Maoist posters calling for poll boycott found at bus stand

Business Standard, Tuesday, October 22,

Bottom of Form

Maoist posters calling for boycott of the upcoming Assembly polls were found pasted at a bus stand in the Kanker district in Chhattisgarh, where as many as 18 Maoist-affected constituencies will go to polls on November 11.

Three posters and two banners were found put up at the waiting hall of the bus stand under Pakhanjore police station limits last evening, a senior police official told PTI today.

Although, security personnel regularly visit villages to instill confidence in the people to vote, the rebels have appealed to villagers to kick both the BJP and Congress out of power, the police said, adding that a case has been registered in this connection.

Meanwhile, taking serious note of the Maoist threat, the Centre has sent additional 40,000 personnel of paramilitary forces to ensure peaceful polling, in addition to around 65,000 police personnel and 27,000 paramilitary troops already engaged in anti-Maoist operations in the state. Continue reading

India: It’s people’s right to boycott elections: Maoist leader

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It's people's right to boycott elections: Maoist leader
CPI (Maoist) Dandakaranya special zonal committee secretary Ramanna speaks on the party’s stand on the Chhattisgarh assembly elections.
CPI (Maoist) Dandakaranya special zonal committee secretary Ramanna speaks on the party’s stand on the Chhattisgarh assembly elections and justifies the May 25 attack on Congress leaders that killed Mahendra Karma and V C Shukla among others.

Q: Why have you appealed for election boycott? A: As usual, we have appealed to people to boycott the elections because they are a farce. Elections only renew five-year tenures of loot and torture by the elected representative in the present system. Our target is to change this system from the root and establish a people-centric society and that is not possible through elections.

Q: Will the poll boycott be violent this time too? A: This does not depend on our saying anything. Like always, this time too, the government has deployed a huge a number of security forces in the name of conducting free and fair elections, which are already exploiting and torturing people. Attacks on villages in the name of search operations, arrests, beating up people, fake encounters are consistently on. It is important to resist such acts. Therefore, I can only say that when the government tries to defuse our poll-boycott movement through crackdown on the people, then there will certainly be a counter to it. Continue reading

New Delhi: Protest against State Repression on Cultural Activists

September 23, 2013

New Delhi: On 21st September (Saturday), a joint protest against growing ‘State Repression on Cultural Activists’ was organized by a number of cultural, political and student activists of the city under the banner of Daman Virodhi Sanskritik Manch despite heavy rain between 2 pm to 5 pm at Mandi House, the Cultural hub of the national capital. Following is the note circulated by the group. Pictures by POOJA PANT.

DSC_0815Repression of people’s movements and struggles of workers and peasants have intensified across India. A recent manifestation of this is the crackdown on cultural activists and intellectuals – numerous cases of sanctions, physical attacks, incarceration and arbitrary arrests have surfaced in the last few months.

Repression on cultural political activists

Recently, Hem Mishra, well known cultural activist and former student of JNU, was arrested by Maharashtra police on false charges of being a Maoist courier. Continue reading

UK: Indian Workers and Rights Activists Condemn Attack on Prof. Saibaba

Condemn Indian State’s Heinous Raid on Activist and Delhi University Prof. G N Saibaba’s Residence

On September 12, in a joint operation in India, a 50 member squad of police personnel – comprising of members of National Investigation Agency (NIA), Delhi police, Special Cell of the Delhi Police and Maharashtra police – barged into the Delhi University staff quarter of Prof. G. N. Saibaba, a noted civil rights activist and professor of English at Ramlal Anand College, University of Delhi.

Professor of literature GN Saibaba

Professor of English GN Saibaba

The wheel-chair bound professor is a Joint Secretary of the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) and the convener of several forums against ‘Operation Greenhunt’ and the persecution of millions of adivasis and tribal population of Central and Eastern India. He teaches English at Delhi University.

During the raid, his house was ransacked by the police on the false pretext of attempting to recover “stolen property”. Saibaba, his wife and daughter were subjected to violent threats and criminal intimidation by the raiding team. They were detained for nearly four hours and were denied access to their lawyer. Their mobile phones were confiscated and his right to contact the Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) was completely disregarded. Prof Saibaba’s laptop, hard disks that contain his PhD work and university teaching material, his and his family member’s mobile phones, many valuable books, copies of RDF publications and a DVD of a Hindi version of the Sanjay Kak film, Red Ant Dreamwere taken away.  Continue reading

Indian TV interview with Delhi U. Professor Saibaba: “Are Left sympathisers being branded as Naxals?”

Sep 19, 2013

Is GN Saibaba, the wheelchair-bound professor of English in one of the country’s premier university, the new face of Naxalism? The Maharashtra Police raided the home of Delhi University professor Saibaba last week, alleging that he is an active member of the banned CPI-Maoist.

Press Conference Condemning the Attack on Professor GN Saibaba

(Press Note circulated in the Press Conference held on the 14th of September in Professor GN Saibaba’s house along with the report on proceedings)

On Thursday, 12 September 2013, a 50 strong police contingent drawn from the Maharashtra Police Force, the Delhi Police Special Cell and the Maurice Nagar police thana, raided the residence of Dr. Saibaba, an Asst. Prof. in English at Ram Lal Anand College. They brought computer technicians with them. Dr. Saibaba, his wife and their minor 15-year old daughter were detained for about four hours from 3.00 PM onward for an investigation into the use of his residence “as a place for the deposit of stolen property”. Immediately, the iron main gate of the house and the house door itself were locked from within and physically barred by police personnel, and phones of all including the driver were seized. The driver’s phone was destroyed, and all other phones were seized. At the end of the search, two phones were returned after the teachers in DU protested about leaving the family with no means of communication. Dr. Saibaba was not allowed to contact his lawyer, or his colleagues to ensure that the “investigation” would be a fair and transparent one. Teachers who reached the spot volunteered to be observers. But they were not allowed into the premises. During the course of this wholly baseless investigation, the entire family was kept captive –sometimes individually – prevented from making or receiving calls, or meeting anyone who sought to meet them. The police locked themselves into various rooms of the house for long periods of time. Two terrified local barbers were picked up by the police and brought in as “neutral observers” for some part of the raid. They were also coerced into signing on the seizure sheet as witnesses. The police left sometime after some DU teachers arrived, began questioning the police and informing the media about the incident. After much persistence, the teachers managed to get the terrified child produced. The police left after confiscated a large number of college documents, pen-drives, a laptop, a tablet microchip, mobile phones (including the minor daughter’s phone), debit and credit cards, and bank passbooks, none of which items were “stolen property”.

A day later, the Gadchiroli police claimed the following incriminating evidence against Saibaba to some press persons: (1) that they have extracted a confession from the JNU student Hem Mishra stating that a microchip found in his possession was given to him by Dr. Saibaba; (2) that they have records of internet “chat sessions” between Dr. Saibaba and several top Maoist leaders; (3) that Dr. Saibaba was named in Mr. Kobad Ghandy’s “confession” as being a Maoist leader; (4) that Dr. Saibaba stands incriminated by virtue of being General Secretary of the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF), which they alleged is a front for the CPI (Maoist). It appears that the police will use these, among other grounds, to frame charges against Dr. Saibaba, and arrest him as soon as possible. It may be noted here that: (a) Mr. Kobad Ghandy’s alleged “confession” was set aside by the courts as being fabricated by the AP police and inadmissible; (b) without dwelling on the police’s ludicrous imagination of the senior Maoist party leadership participating in “internet chat groups”, it may be noted that, by the police’s own account, these chat sessions are between persons named “Prakash” and “Chetan”, and the alleged “Maoist top leadership”; (c) there is no mention of Dr. Saibaba by name; (d) Dr. Saibaba has also categorically denied any knowledge of any microchip, or indeed of any contact on this matter with Hem Mishra; (e) The charge of harbouring “stolen property” is particularly outrageous, baseless and despicable. Continue reading

Arundhati Roy: “GN Saibaba is Being Targeted for Opposing Government’s Anti-Naxal War”

Prof. GN Saibaba

Professor GN Saibaba

GN Saibaba is a joint secretary of the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) and the convenor of several forums against Operation Greenhunt and the persecution of adivasis and tribal people in Central India. He teaches English at a DU college.

September 13, 2013

Click this link to hear the interview: Arundhati Roy – GN Saibaba is Being Targeted

The Maharashtra police, along with the National Investigation Agency () and the Special Cell, made a surprise search at the house of Delhi University professor GN Saibaba. They refused to entertain pleas by the wheelchair-bound professor-cum-activist to contact his lawyer or colleagues. Saibaba is a joint secretary of the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) and the convenor of several forums against Operation Greenhunt and the persecution of adivasis and tribal people in Central India. He teaches English at a DU college.

“Around 20 days ago, former student and activist Hem Mishra was arrested. The police are trying to tie me up to that case. They came in and snatched away the cellular phones of my wife, my daughter and myself and refused to let us call or notify anyone of the search. None of us were allowed to leave, nor was anyone allowed to come in. We were detained in our own house,” Saibaba told TEHELKA. Saibaba claimed that the police told him that the search was in relation to the Hem Mishra case in Gadhchiroli. Mishra was arrested for alleged links. This is not the first time that an activist has been persecuted or arrested for activism in the forests of Central India. Continue reading

India: “Condemn the Arbitrary Raid of the House of Prof. GN Saibaba, An Intellectual and Joint Secretary Of RDF!”

Press Release By Committee For The Release Of Political Prisoners, 13 Sep 2013
Condemn The Criminal Designs Of The Joint Intelligence-Special Cell-Gadchiroli Police Combine To Implicate Prof. GN Saibaba Along with The False Charges Framed Against Hem Mishra, A JNU Student!

In an unprecedented act of terror to terrorise, on the 12 September 2013, around 3 pm, a joint operation of a team from the National Investigation Agency (NIA), 7 members from the Special Cell of the Delhi Police, 15 member police team from the Aheri police station, Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, 7 member police team from the Maurice Nagar Police Station, Delhi University—all put together 50 member squad—barged into the premises of the quarter in which Prof. GN Saibaba was staying with the family. The Aheri police team comprised of Mr. Suhas P Bawache who happens to be the Investigating officer of the case in which Hem Mishra, a JNU student has recently been shown as arrested in Aheri police station limits. Additional SP Shashi Kumar was also part of the team. The NIA team refused to reveal their identity. Sub Inspector Sanjeev Kumar identified himself as part of the Maurice Nagar Station while his colleague Narendra Dubey from the same station refused to reveal his rank. As mentioned before the team comprised of 50 members just to raid the premises of a family comprising of three—Prof. GN Saibaba who moves in a wheel chair with serious disability, his life partner AS Vasantha and their daughter Manjeera in her teens. Undoubtedly it was an act of intimidation, cold and calculative.

Prof. GN Saibaba had just returned from Ramlal Anand College where he teaches in the English department. Sooner than later the marauding team of police/intelligence had seized all the mobiles—Saibaba, his partner AS Vasantha and daughter Manjeera—and confined them to a room. Continue reading

Nehru U. Students/Cultural Activists branded “Naxals”, arrested

[Political protests and cultural expressions of oppoosition to the repressive and undemocratic Indian state continue to grow, and the States' response continues to be: slander the opposition, call all activists "Naxals" or "Maoists", and round them up for some combination of interrogation, torture, or disappearance--and thereby create a climate of fear for other activists and political opponents.  It is the common method of repressive regimes everywhere, including India. -- Frontlines ed.]

  26 August 2013
by Nupur Sonar, Tehelka
JNU Student arrested in Gadhchiroli for alleged Naxal links

August 25, 2013

Hem Mishra, a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and executive
member of Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) was arrested
along with two others by the Gadhchiroli police in Aheri on Friday morning
for having alleged Naxal links. The two others identified as Mahesh Tirki
and Ram Purate belong to Murawala region.

Although reports of his arrest have been rife in some sections of the local
and national media since this morning, the police had neither confirmed nor
denied his arrest. However, speaking to TEHELKA, DIG Ravindra Kadam has now
confirmed the arrest.  “A courier from senior most female Naxal leader
Narmada Akka was recovered from Mishra apart from other ‘incriminating
material’ and he was seen moving around suspiciously in the area for two
days prior to his arrest,” he said. Continue reading

India: Soni Sori’s husband, Anil Futane, passes away

By the time he was acquitted, Anil Futane was beaten so severely in jail he became paralyzed. With his death on 2 August, serious questions are being raised about the working of the police force in Chhattisgarh
In custody: The next SC hearing in the Soni Sori case will be held on 23 January

is led by the police outside the district court complex in New Delhi
Photo: Shailendra Pandey

’s husband, Anil Futane, died on 2 August at his native place in Geedum tehsil in Dantewada district of . Like Soni, he had been arrested and jailed as a . On 1 May 2013 he was acquitted by the court after spending nearly three years in jail. While in jail he was beaten so severely he became paralyzed. Soni, Anil’s wife, is still lodged in Jagdalpur central jail and his last rites were performed in her absence.

Soni and her husband were residents of Sameli village in . While Soni was a teacher in a government primary school, her husband, Anil ferried local passengers in a Bolero jeep. In July 2010 a case was filed against , Anil and Lingaram Kodopi for carrying out a naxal attack on the house of Avdhesh Gautam, a Congress leader from Nakulnar in the Dantewada district of . Although Anil was acquitted in all the cases, his health has severely deteriorated in the three years he spent in jail.

NRK Pillai, a CPI leader and a senior journalist from Dantewada, says that the police left Anil at his house in the Geedum tehsil of Dantewada. Although he had been acquitted in all the cases, no one came forward for his treatment. Pillai says he had gone to Anil’s house to meet him and saw that he was in serious need of medical attention. He talked to his associates in Delhi regarding Anil’s health and was advised to send him to Delhi for proper treatment. According to Pillai no one came forward to take Anil to Delhi because of police fear. Continue reading

India: When the State is indifferent to rape, the people take the streets

[Increasingly, acts of protest and resistance are denounced or dismissed as "Maoist" by the the state.  --  Frontlines ed.]

When the ‘Maoists’ Took Over the Streets of Kolkata

Why did the Kamduni incident – the rape and murder of a young college student and the utterly insensitive handling of the issue by the West Bengal government and the ruling Trinamool Congress – spark off such a huge reaction to bring together a wide spectrum of civil society under one umbrella in Kolkata on 21 June?

Vol – XLVIII No. 29, July 20, 2013 Rajashri Dasgupta, EPW

Rajashri Dasgupta (rajashridasgupta@gmail.com) is an independent Kolkata-based journalist specialising on issues related to gender, health, democratic rights and social movements.Civil society members take out a procession in Kolkata to protest the rise in crime against women and recent incidents of rape in West Bengal. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

It was a hot and muggy afternoon on 21 June, when in an incredible display of public solidarity and defiance, thousands of people marched through the streets of Kolkata in silent protest. There were no political parties to manage the swelling numbers, no brandishing of political flags to claim victory for any organisation. Led by respected intellectuals, people poured in from all corners of the city as well as its outskirts to show their support and solidarity – elderly people, some with sticks and crutches; homemakers, for many of whom it was their first rally; working people who spontaneously got off buses or skipped work. There were students in large numbers with banners and placards, teachers, villagers holding hands for safety in an unfamiliar place, rights activists distributing leaflets, feminists with colourful posters, non-governmental organisation workers, actors, academics and journalists – all came together to protest the spurt in crimes against women in the state.

The protest was triggered by the gang-rape and murder of a young college girl Sheila (not her real name) in Kamduni village, Barasat district on 7 June and the insensitive handling of the incident by the state government. It was for the first time that the city, famous for its processions, witnessed an outpouring from such a wide cross-section of society, about an issue generally left to women’s groups and feminists to battle: the safety and security of women.

The rally of more than 10,000 strong was also a political expression of indignation against the constant bogey of “the other” raised by the ruling party to gag dissent. Suddenly, from one section of the rally, young men and women raised slogans demanding azaadi (freedom), startling this reporter since the word is usually associated with the Kashmir issue. For the people of Bengal that afternoon, however, the rallying cry of azaadi snowballed to take on a larger significance. It not only meant freedom of women from violence, but also implied the freedom of citizens to live without fear, the freedom to speak up, to question, and the freedom to protest. Since 2011, with the promise of paribartan (change) that had swept Mamata Banerjee to power in West Bengal, defeating an almost invincible Left Front (LF) rule of 34 years, the chief minister has silenced every question, protest or any whiff of dissent, real or imaginary, by dismissing it as a conspiracy against her from her opponents, whom she dubbed the “Maoists”. Continue reading

India Press describes how Nepali Maoist leader went from revolution to bourgeois path

[Prachanda makes it appear that the turnabout was a political version of a religious experience, but the "born-again bourgeois" actually prepared this reversal and capitulation and betrayal over many years.  Still, his sugary description of the lure is a near-textbook example of the peaceful road to integration into the bourgeois/feudal state machine and capitulation to India and China and the Western imperialist powers. -- Frontlines ed.]

How Nepali Maoists chose democracy

Prashant Jha, The Hindu

Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

 [Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma,  The Hindu]

Prachanda talks of how his party made fundamental changes to its ideology

In August 2010, at the nadir of relations between India and Nepali Maoists, the former Foreign Secretary, Shyam Saran, went to Kathmandu as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s special envoy.

With the Maoists blaming India for blocking their ascent to power, Mr. Saran conveyed a clear message to Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’: “You can either be a revolutionary force with a coercive apparatus or a civilian party abiding by the discipline of multiparty democracy. Make a choice.”

Almost three years later, Mr. Prachanda — at a function chaired by his ‘old friend’ Mr. Saran in the Indian capital on Monday evening — declared that the party had made a choice in favour of ‘democracy’ and ‘progressive nationalism.’ Continue reading

India: Death Squad kills RDF Vice-President

Condemn Strongly the Ghastly Murder of Ganti Prasadam, the Vice President of RDF by State-Sponsored Vigilante Gangs!

COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS

185/3, FOURTH FLOOR, ZAKIR NAGAR, NEW DELHI-110025

05/07/2013

Constitute Immediately a Judicial Inquiry into the Killing of Ganti Prasadam by Vigilante Goons!

Ganti Prasadam, the All India Vice-President of Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) as well as the Executive Member of the Committee for the Relatives and Friends of Martyrs, succumbed to the brutal and fatal attack on 5 July 2013 on him by unidentified gunmen in Nellore town. He was fatally wounded on his his neck with hunting sickles and later shot at with a pistol on the 4th afternoon. Comrade Ganti Prasadam was at Nellore to attend a public meeting of the Martyrs’ Committee held every year to remember the martyrs of Nellore. He bacame the target of the waiting goons when after the meeting, along with three of his associates of the committee he was on to visit one of the ailing relatives of a martyr at a local hospital.  Ganti Prasadam was operated on after receiving bullet injuries and the doctors were trying in vain to remove the third bullet which was dangerously close to his spinal cord. Comrade Ganti Prasadam this time could not sustain his arduous struggle to keep up his breath.

Given the notorious anti-people track-record of the intelligence agencies in Andhra Pradesh which have resorted to the worst kinds of atrocities on the struggling oppressed people of the region, be it naxalites, adivasis, dalits or Muslims, this murderous operation is reminiscent to the dastardly assassination of people’s political, social and civil rights activists in the past 40 years. Dr. Ramanadham, Purushottam, Jappa Laxmana Reddy, Prabhakar Reddy, Kanakachari, Azam Ali, Belli Lalita are a few examples of dedicated people’s leaders and civil rights activists targetted by the state in Andhra Pradesh in the past. Continue reading