Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle

cast away illusions, prepare for struggle!

Remembering Robert Weil: Intellectual and Political Activist

Robert Emil Weil Obituary

Robert Weil, 1940-2014

by Swapna Banerjee-Guha

Red Cat, White Cat: China and the Contradictions of Market Socialism

Robert Weil, author of the powerful critique of Deng Xiaoping’s “reforms” entitled Red Cat, White Cat: China and the Contradictions of Market Socialism (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1996, republished in India by Cornerstone Publications, Kharagpur), quietly passed away in California on 12 March 2014.  Almost a year after, on 15 February 2015 a memorial meeting was held in Santa Cruz, California at the Resource Center for Nonviolence where his family, friends, teachers and long-time comrades from near and far came together to share their memories.  Robert meant a lot to them and for many others across the globe, a true friend, a dear comrade whose political integrity, a rare characteristic in the current milieu, they value immensely, a committed activist and intellectual whose life they considered worthy on all counts particularly while imagining a better world.  Starting off as a student-activist at Harvard University in the late 1950s, right till his last days Robert Weil remained involved in solidarity work with oppressed people around the world.  Even in the face of indifferent health, he did not think twice to join such efforts.  His democratic values in pursuing left politics will remain an example to many for years to come. Continue reading

India: Government Claims Operation Green Hunt is victorious

[But the truth lies elsewhere:  40,000 trained as Maoists in 10 years — Frontlines ed.]

Monday, 19 January 2015 | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna
In the past 10 years, Communist Party of India (Maoists) organised as many as 489 training camps for more than 40,000 cadres who have been taught about the use of sophisticated weapons and guerrilla warfare, according to information obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
  • file photo

    The revelations are significant as in the recent months several attacks on security personnel have been carried out by Maoists. These very 40,000 cadres have been trained over the years for such deadly attacks. The original number of cadres trained could be much higher as this is just the data which MHA has recorded. Continue reading

India: Nervous Police Find Revolutionary Signs

[During electoral campaigns in India, candidates and parties often post publicity posters (“flex signs”) — a method which Maoists have apparently also adopted to promote their revolutionary program and slogans, to the distress of State police and their electoral masters and bourgeois media.  —  Frontlines ed.]

Suspected Maoists put up flex boards in Attappady, Kerala

K. A. SHAJI, The Hindu, PALAKKAD, October 5, 2014

A drive against flex boards will be launched immediately as part of Gandhi Jayanti observance. File photo.

Electioneering on flex boards. Pictures of the Maoist advocate’s posters are not published in the Indian bourgeois press.

The police have stepped up vigil in Attappady region following the appearance of flex boards allegedly installed by the banned Maoist outfit to exhort the working class to prepare for an ‘armed battle’ against ‘ruling elites.’

While most of the flex boards were seen in Kallamala region of western Attappady on Friday morning, a few were installed at Poonchola and Pambbanthode villages close to Mannarkkad. The boards claimed their ownership to a special regional committee of the CPI(Maoist) Western Ghats unit.

The boards said the organisation was observing the 10th anniversary of its armed resistance and sought cooperation of the general public in strengthening the party base in the three southern States. It wanted strong public vigilance against concerted efforts of the ruling class to plunder water, land, forests, and natural resources.

Continue reading

Professor GN Saibaba, Political Prisoner, ‘Kept in isolation, denied medication’

[It is horrifying to consider the sadistic glee of police and prison officials, as they carry on with their interrogation and torture of Professor GN Saibaba, jailed for his opposition to the crimes of the Indian State.  This article from a Mumbai  (where he is being held) newspaper details the physical and medical mistreatment of Prof. Saibaba, even as protests across India and around the world continue to grow. — Frontlines ed.]
‘Kept in isolation, denied medication’

G N Saibaba is physically challenged and has a history of heart disease
By Prateek Goyal, Pune Mirror, May 14, 2014
Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee appeals to State human rights commission, claiming G N Saibaba needs to be provided with basic facilities

The Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) has appealed to the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC), asking that wheelchair-bound Delhi University professor G N Saibaba, arrested for his alleged affiliation with Maoist groups and confined in Nagpur jail, should not be tortured during interrogation and provided with basic facilities.

A representative of APCLC and a fellow of the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) V Hargopal met former justice of Kerala High Court and current chairman of MSHRC, S R Bannurmath, in this regard on Monday.

Continue reading

Revolutionaries in India Find Greater Unity in New Merger of Maoist Parties

[Decades after the first wave of Maoist revolutionary struggle in India, often referred to as the Naxalite rebellion, was brutally suppressed by the Indian State, and the movement was splintered into many groups and parties, the struggle to unite the Maoists has taken a great step forward.  Beginning nearly 10 years ago with the merger of the People’s War Group and the Maoist Coordination Center, forming the Communist Party of India (Maoist), now, a further step merging the CPI (Maoist) with the CPI(ML)-Naxalbari has advanced the struggle to a stronger and more developed stage.  The newly unified party announced this advance on May Day, International Workers Day, with the following statement.  —  Revolutionary Frontlines]

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May 1, 2014

Merger Declaration of CPI(Maoist) and CPI(M-L)Naxalbari
Hail the Merger of the Maoist Parties in India into a Single Party!

(Released to the press by comrades Abhay and Krantipriya, spokespersons of the respective parties)

On this occasion of the International day of the world proletariat, the glorious May Day, we the Maoists of India, with a great sense of responsibility and firm conviction, announce the merger of the CPI (Maoist) and CPI(M-L) Naxalbari into a single party, to be known as CPI(Maoist). Thus strengthening the vanguard of the Indian proletariat, which is a contingent of the world proletariat, we dedicate ourselves evermore firmly to the cause of the Indian revolution and the world proletarian revolution.
The Maoist movement took form through the great Naxalbari uprising of 1967. Inspired and led by comrades Charu Mazumdar and Kanhai Chatterjee, founder leaders of our party, thousands of leaders, cadres and masses laid down their invaluable lives to advance the revolutionary movement and build a strong party.
After the setback of early 1970s and the martyrdom of comrade Charu Mazumdar, the communist revolutionary forces were divided into many groups. The genuine revolutionaries while trying to build the movement in their respective areas made serious attempts to unify all revolutionaries into a single party. In the course of this process over the last four decades the two main streams represented by the erstwhile CPI (ML) (People’s War) and the MCCI merged into a single party, the CPI (Maoist), on 21st September 2004. This marked a qualitative leap in realizing a long drawn aspiration of the workers, peasants and other oppressed masses to build a single directing centre leading the new democratic revolutionary war in India to success and marching forward to establishing socialism and then communism. Continue reading

India: Commemorating the Life and Revolutionary Leadership of Comrade Azad (1954-2010)

https://i2.wp.com/www.bannedthought.net/India/CPI-Maoist-Docs/Cadre/Azad-photo-04.jpg“India is a vast and highly complex society with uneven and varied development.  It has the universal features of any semi-colonial, semi-feudal society under the grip of finance capital; it also has many a specificity, which requires deep study and analysis.  Revolution here is no simple task.  While focusing on the axis of the armed agrarian revolution it would additionally entail dealing with and solving the varied and numerous diseases afflicting our socio-political system.  The new democratic revolution entails the total democratization of the entire system and all aspects of life – political, economic, social, cultural, educational, recreational, etc.  The standard of life has to be enhanced, not only materially but also in the sphere of outlook and values.  A new social being has to emerge in the course of the revolutionary process.” — Comrade Azad

Cherukari Rajkumar (1954-2010), popularly known as Azad, spokesperson of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), served the cause of the Indian revolution for over thirty five years till he was murdered by state forces on July 1, 2010.  His leadership concentrated the very best of revolutionary Maoism in his adherence to principle, his reliance on the revolutionary masses, and his insistence on never deviating from the revolutionary goal.  He fought against every mischaracterization of the revolutionary struggle, especially such claims that the Maoists were self-seeking, opportunistically using the masses.  The people’s war, he insisted, was not of Maoists substituting themselves for the masses, but of the masses struggling for revolution and liberation in every sphere of life, and the role of the Maoists is to serve the revolution of the masses as organizers, leaders, educators, and defenders.  He extended this view to the revolutionary overthrow of feudalism and capitalism which will establish a socialist state, in which the revolutionary Maoists will remain among the masses and continue the revolution, organizing and leading the struggle to transform every economic, political, and social relation, toward the final goal of communism.  Today, on the third anniversary of his cowardly ambush-murder by the Indian fascist state, we honor his memory with a serious, internationalist red salute, and with the determination to continue his legacy. 
We present an interview with Azad, conducted a few months before his assassination, in which he details the views of the Communist Party of India (Maoist).  Lal Salaam!
Inquilab Zindabad!  —  Frontlines ed.]

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from:  Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 6, January 30, 2010
‘Let Us Not Make Truth A Casualty In This War’

Azad exposes Chidambaram’s Clear-and-Hold operations based on the Stratetgic Hamlet programme pursued by Britain in Malaya and the USA in Vietnam

“The following interview of Comrade Azad, spokesperson of the CPI (Maoist) Central Committee, given to the Maoist information Bulletin on October 19, 2009 reached our (Mainstream Weekly) office in late December last year. This wideranging interview—on the current Centrally-planned anti-Maoist offensive in our tribal heartland and related issues [including violence and counter-violence, Maoists’ talks with the government, the CPI (Maoist)’s stand on development, charges of extortion, beheading of Francis Induvar, recruitment of child soldiers etc.]—is being published in full here despite its length due to its importance in the present scenario and for the benefit of our readers.” —  (Mainstream Weekly Editor)

Q: There is a lot of talk about an unprecedented massive military offensive due to begin anytime now. How will your Party confront it?

Azad: The fact is, the unprecedented massive offensive has already begun. In the Chintagufa area in Dantewada district almost 4000 police and Central forces led by around 600 elite commandos of the anti-Naxal COBRA force had carried out their biggest-ever counter-revolutionary operation called Operation Green Hunt in the third week of September. Some media reporters described it as Operation Red Hunt. Whatever is the name, it was the first major attempt by the Central and State forces to wrest a part of the territory from the hands of the oppressed people led by the Maoists. This operation was a sort of a rehearsal for the forthcoming Centrally-planned countrywide simultaneous offensive on all our guerrilla zones.

When the enemy attack took place near Singanamadugu village, our forces present there were hardly 50 or 60 in number. But they fought heroically, and successfully repulsed the attack by a superior force, by totally relying on the people. It was the people who gave us the information regarding each and every movement of the enemy force. Hence our guerrillas could deal the first biggest blow to these so-called COBRAs who were specially trained in jungle warfare and sent to wage an unjust war against the Maoist revolutionaries. Six of their men including two assistant commandants—one from Manipur and another from UP—were wiped out in the real battle. These brave COBRAs demonstrated their heroism and courage by murdering seven unarmed adivasi villagers, including two aged men and a woman, and burning four villages. Not a single Maoist was killed contrary to the false claims of the police that 22 Maoists were killed. Our forces chased them for about 10 kilometres. The people of the entire area stood with us in this counter-attack on the thugs sent by Manmohan-Chidambaram’s khadi gang at the Centre and Raman Singh’s saffron gang in Chhattisgarh. This heroic resistance by a handful of Maoist guerrillas underscores the superiority of the tactics of guerrilla war and the massive mass support enjoyed by the Maoists. It demonstrates the ability of our Maoist guerrillas to confront and defeat a numerically far superior enemy force equipped with all the sophisticated weaponry, aerial support and what not, by relying on the sea of people in which we swim like fish.

In the second week of October once again Chidambaram’s men unleashed another massive offensive by amassing 10, 000 men in Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra with MI-17 choppers surveying the area from the skies. It was as if an army from an enemy country was waging war on the Indian people. In the face of it our forces had successfully carried out a massive political campaign against the farce of the Assembly elections that were held on October 13 in Maharashtra.

Here I shall not go into the concrete details of our precise tactics to confront and defeat the unprecedented, massive, brazen offensive on the most oppressed people being unleashed by the Indian ruling classes on behalf of the imperialists and the comprador big business houses. I can only confidently say one thing for the present: All our plans, policies, strategy and tactics will be based entirely on the active involvement of the vast masses of people in this war of self-defence. The enemy class cannot decimate us without decimating the entire population in the regions we control. And if it dares to go into an all-out war of extermination of the tribal population the entire socio-politico scene in India will undergo a fundamental shift and will witness a radical realignment of class forces. All peace-loving, democratic, patriotic, secular forces, all the downtrodden sections of the society will polarise into one pole while the most reactionary, anti-people, authoritarian, traitorous, jingoist counter-revolutionary forces will end up at the opposite pole. Such a polarisation is bound to take place as the war advances and the enemy’s mercenary forces attempt to turn central and eastern India into a graveyard. The warmongers will be isolated and will face unprecedented social and political crises. However, on behalf of our Party, PLGA, revolutionary mass organisations and organs of people’s democratic power, I can assure the people of our country that with their support, direct as well as indirect, we shall deal crushing blows on the enemy’s mercenary forces and defeat their plans to hand over these regions to the international and domestic bandicoots.

Q: But your forces had killed around 20 policemen, most of them C-60 commandos, in Laheri in Gadchiroli district on the eve of the elections in Maharashtra. Is it not due to incidents like this which is provoking the government to deploy huge forces in these areas?

https://i1.wp.com/www.bannedthought.net/India/CPI-Maoist-Docs/Cadre/Azad-photo-01.jpgAzad: No, no. It is the other way round. It is because of the indescribable atrocities perpetrated by the specially-trained anti-Naxal forces that we are compelled to carry out such attacks. If they do not harass the poor, unarmed adivasi population; if they do not arrest, torture, murder them, and rape their women; if they do not engage in destroying the property, burn villages and crops of the adivasis; if they do not indulge in cold-blooded murders of abducted Maoists and declare them dead in so-called encounters, then why will our forces undertake such attacks? How can this be a provocation? You know who the C-60 commandos are? They are specifically formed as an elite anti-Naxal force whose one and only task is to kill Naxalites and Naxal sympathisers. If no Naxalite is found they pounce on hapless adivasi villagers, arrest them, torture them, and murder them. And adivasi women have become their objects of rape. You might have heard of the heart-chilling story of a 13-year-old girl from Pavarvel village in Dhanora tehsil who was gangraped by five or six commandos led by the notorious Munna Singh Thakur in March this year. Or the case of the gangrape and murder of 52-year-old Mynabai from Kosimi village by several policemen in Gyarapatti PS in the same Danora tehsil in May last year. For the directors of this war on adivasis —Manmohan Singh, Chidambaram, G.K. Pillai and others—the gangrapes of a 13-year-old girl or a 52-year-old woman are only collateral damage in their larger war for capturing the region to plunder its wealth. Continue reading

India: Maoists Warn of Ruling Class Hysteria, Threats, Attacks, and False Promises

COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA (MAOIST) — CENTRAL COMMITTEE

Press Release, June 11, 2013

See through the conspiracy of the ruling classes to launch bigger offensives on the people using the 25 May attack as a pretext

Unite, Fight back and Defeat the ‘War on People’

The gangster community that made Indian Parliament its lair is in panic. Terrified. Aflutter. Seething. Fuming. Up in arms. Baying for blood. Baring its fangs. Spitting poison. After all the May 25 Jeeramghati attack struck down one of their best trusted lieutenants in field. Quite Understandable.

Actually speaking, the scamster-gangster bunch does not care much for Mahendra Karma’s death because they knew that this was something waiting to happen even when they were carrying on mayhem and murder under Salwa Judum (SJ) which they all had contributed to create or let pester like senators watching gladiatorial contests in amphi-theaters, with Karma as SJ’s public face and with the support of fascist central and state mercenary armed forces. They are frightened more because in this country where every kind of exploitation, oppression, suppression, corruption and scam is carried on almost unchallenged, as the order of the day and shamelessly under public gaze, the fact that somebody ‘out there’ can bring these fascist scamster-gangsters to book and deliver justice is not so easy to stomach. It is like finding oneself completely naked and vulnerable with all robes of Z plus securities and paraphernalia of security suddenly vanishing into thin air with the fury of the suppressed masses breathing down their necks. Highly explicable. A strong reason to be upset.

Who knows who will be next? More chillingly, what would be in store if people completely vexed with the increasingly unbearable treacherous, undemocratic, slavish and wicked anti-people deeds of the pet-dog politicians choose to consider this as an option to vent their ire to put an end to their habitual comprador performance? Even worse, what if they consider doing away with the whole bunch by overthrowing the parliamentary system as the Maoists vouch to and call upon the people to follow? Very worrying indeed.

And for once it is better that they be. They better understand that not every politician can get away with the kind of neo-fascist suppression of the poorest of the poor of this country that was perpetrated in the name of a Salwa Judum, a Sendra, a Shanti Yatra, a Shanti Sena, a Harmad Bahini, a Bhairav Bahini, a TPC or an Operation Green Hunt, can get away with selling the riches of our country one by one as a daily routine at breakfast, lunch and dinner to fill the insatiable black-hole belly of the imperialist beast, can get away with turning every word that gives meaning to our existence as human beings like freedom, independence, sovereignty, self-reliance and democracy meaningless. They better realize for the umpteenth time (counting all such instances since the days of a Spartacus) that a people crushed so cruelly can never take everything lying down forever. For once it is better that they be alarmed.

Karma, a medieval type land lord, architect of SJ, looter, sadist, rapist and enemy of his own tribe; most of his security men, cannon fodder but undoubtedly deployed to aid in his mayhem and massacre; some SJ leaders; and some top Congress leaders were wiped out in the 25 May incident. Unfortunately a few others who got caught in the initial firing also died in spite of our sincere efforts to minimize the casualties once the main targets were caught and Comrade Gudsa Usendi, the Spokesperson of our Party’s DK unit had already tendered apology for it. The list of brutalities perpetrated by Karma and his ilk could fill many a volume. Though not all, many of them have been documented in detail by the CPI (Maoist), revolutionary and democratic mass organizations, civil and human rights organizations, democrats, journalists and concerned citizens for all those who want to see. There is no purpose to the various conspiracy theories doing their rounds in the media about the reasons for this attack other than diverting the people’s attention from the truth. An unabashed conspiracy by the corporate media to hide the truth about the brutality of the SJ and the role of the Indian Army, big corporate houses, central and state governments, the Congress and BJP parties and slaughterers like Karma in its creation and developing it into a man-eating monster. Such is its impatience to get rid of the Maoists that it did not even take into account that SJ was termed illegal by their own highest institution the Supreme Court. And all of them including Jairam Ramesh have once again repeated the most nonsensical and exhausted argument of ‘sandwich theory’ that Adivasis are being crushed between the armed forces on one side and the Maoists on the other. If they really believe in this then why don’t they demand first that the armed forces deployed in lakhs by the central and state governments be immediately withdrawn when they are agreeing that they suppress Adivasis? Their lies fly in their face with the fact that the overwhelming majority of Maoists are Adivasis in the strong areas of the movement. Our Party reiterates that we never work against the interests of the people. It is solely the ruling classes and their forces that suppress the people and our Party fights it back. Continue reading

Maoist attacks are a counter violence of resistance against the state: Arundhati Roy

 

First Post, May 28, 2013

(First Post) Editors note: This interview was originally run in April 2010 by CNN-IBN. Given the context of the recent attack in Chhattisgarh on a Congress convoy, (First Post) has republished the interview as it resurfaces some interesting points of view. 

In that interview, Arundhati Roy says that the Maoists have no choice but to indulge in ‘counter-violence’. Here is Roy’s interview with CNN-IBN Deputy Editor Sagarika Ghosh:

Arundhati Roy. AFP

Arundhati Roy. AFP

Sagarika Ghose: You wrote your article ‘Walking with the comrades’ in The Outlook before Dantewada happened. In the aftermath of the Dantewada (incident of 2010), do you still stand by the tone of sympathy that you had with the Maoist cause in that essay?

Arundhati Roy: Well, this is a odd way to frame before and after Dantewada happened, because actually you know this cycle of violence has been building on and on. This is not the first time that a large number of security personnel have been killed by the Maoists. I have written about it and the other attacks that took place between the years 2005-07. The way I look at is, people make it sound that, ‘oh, on this side are people, who are celebrating the killing of CRPF jawans, and that side of the people who are asking for the Maoists to be wiped out.’ This is not the case. I think that you got to look at the every death as a terrible tragedy in a system, in a war that’s been pushed on the people and that unfortunately is becoming a war of the rich against the poor. In which rich put forward the poorest of the poor to fight the poor. CRPF are terrible victims but they are not just victims of the Maoists. They are victims of a system of structural violence that is taking place, that sort to be drowned in this empty condemnation industry that goes on. This is entirely meaningless because most of the time people who condemn them have really no sympathy for them. They are just using them as pawns. Continue reading

India–“Peals of Spring Thunder”: Oppressive System cannot control the struggle against oppression

The Naxalite Attacks at Sukma
by BINOY KAMPMARK, writing in CounterPunch

naxal_attackThey have been considered one of India’s most pressing threats, and the recent attack by the Naxalites that ambushed a convoy of the Congress Party went that much further.  The ambush took place over the weekend in Sukma on the Maharashtra, Andra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh border. Reports suggest that there were as many as 200 Maoist rebels who inflicted heavy losses – 28 killed and 24 others wounded – before fleeing.

The attacks have shaken the establishment.  Among the dead were four state party leaders including Mahendra Karma of Chhattisgarh, and five police officers.  For BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar, “This new aggressive strategy of the Naxalities is a real threat to the Constitution and the rule of law. It is a challenge to sovereignty” (Times of India, May 26).  Former police chief of Punjab state KPS Gill is pessimistic about the new surge – the government of the day did not “have the political will and bureaucratic and police set-up to prevent such attacks” (Dhaka Tribune, May 26).

How the Naxalites have been treated has varied.  In 1967, when the movement first made its presence felt in the West Bengal village of Naxalbari, the Home Minister Y. B. Chavan treated the matter as a case of “lawlessness” in action.  The mistake was classic but fatal.  During the 1970s, the state authorities moved in on the movement hoping to crush it with repressive enthusiasm.  As usual with such measures, the quotient of extra-judicial killings and corrupt practices accompanied the operations.  Legislation was passed to enable various state authorities to take measures – the attempt, for example, by the N.T. Rama Rao government to free up arms licensing in Andra Pradesh in 1983 for individuals to protect themselves against the Naxals. Continue reading

“The mighty Chhattisgarh falters, once again”

Monday, May 27, 2013 | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

Securitymen inspect the site of ambush on Sunday. 27 people were killed and over 30 injured in the attack.One lakh (100,000) men of state police, 40,000 paramilitary fighters and 11 IAF copters fail to make a difference on ground.

[Photo:  Securitymen inspect the site of ambush on Sunday. 27 people were killed and over 30 injured in the attack. – PTI]

 

 

 

The biggest Maoist strike in Chhattisgarh in terms of political impact that killed 27 people, including four state Congress leaders, has once again proved that little has changed on the ground in the tribal heartland and the CPI (Maoist) remains well entrenched there, capable of calling shots almost at will.

The undetected movement of a well equipped force of over 250 Maoists that engaged for nearly two hour gun battle in broad daylight on a state highway has thrown up several questions for both Centre and Raman Singh-led state government to answer for.

The first and the foremost question that intrigues is how over a lakh strong state police machinery that has support of almost 40,000 central armed police personnel on ground and air support of drones and 11 IAF and BSF helicopters failed to track and fight such a large movement of Maoists.

While the security officials blamed vastness of the area, its rocky and jungle terrain and ill-equipped and low morale state police as reasons for unable to overpower the Maoists, activists like GN Saibaba, vice-president of Revolutionary Democratic Front of India claimed the reason for Maoist domination lies in having a popular support base among the tribals.

“The tribals have been at the receiving end at the hands of the state machinery. They have been harassed and killed by repressive governments for last 60-70 years and find a natural ally among Maoists. Till you do not have a pro-people government such situations will keep arising,” said Saibaba.

Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh indicated slackness on part of the Chhattisgarh government for not being able to change the ground situation. “If you go by statistics I don’t think we have been able to see any change in districts like Kanker, Narayanpur, Bijapur, Sukma and Dantewada in last 9 years like we have been able to see in several Maoist affected districts across Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal…. The target of the attack was to send a message that this is a liberated zone, political parties keep off,” said Ramesh. Continue reading

Documentary filmmaker Sanjay Kak talks about his new film, Red Ant Dream, and the architecture of revolutionary desire

 


Red Ant DreamTrailer Published on May 1, 2013
A documentary about those who live the revolutionary ideal in India
Director: Sanjay Kak
Synopsis:  ‘Let us declare that the state of war does exist and shall exist’, the revolutionary patriot had said almost a hundred years ago, and that forewarning travels into India’s present, as armed insurrection simmers in Bastar, in the troubled heart of central India. But to the east too, beleaguered adivasis from the mineral-rich hills of Odisha come forth bearing their axes, and their songs. And in the north the swelling protests by Punjabi peasants sees hope coagulate–once more–around that iconic figure of Bhagat Singh, revolutionary martyr of the anti-colonial struggle. But are revolutions even possible anymore? Or have those dreams been ground down into our nightmares? This is a chronicle of those who live the revolutionary ideal in India, a rare encounter with the invisible domain of those whose everyday is a fight for another ideal of the world.
Gondi, Odiya, Punjabi with English Subtitles
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Talking about a revolution…

Sanjay Kak. Photo: Apal Singhby BUDHADITYA BHATTACHARYA, The Hindu,

 

  • [Sanjay Kak. Photo: Apal Singh]
  • The third in a cycle of films that interrogate the workings of Indian democracy, Red Ant Dream by Sanjay Kak looks at the revolutionary ideal as it exists in India today. Moving between Punjab, Bastar and Niyamgiri, the film documents the songs, histories and struggles of people who try to imagine a different world into being. The director responded to questions in an e-mail interview:

 

Can you talk about the beginnings of Red Ant Dream? When and why did you get interested in making this film?

 

A still from the film.

[Photo:  A Still From the Film]

It’s always difficult to say where the beginnings of a film lie, because in a sense what you put into a documentary could be the summation of many years of thinking about an idea, your whole life even! For more than a decade all my films have been about resistance – Words on Water was about the movement against big dams in the Narmada valley, Jashn-e-Azadi about Kashmir, and now with this new film we look at the stirrings in Bastar in Chhattisgarh, the Niyamgiri hills in Odisha, and briefly Punjab. More specifically, I think Red Ant Dream was a reaction to the way in which the rebellion led by the Maoists in central India was being depicted in the media and in public discourse – as an isolated, autonomous outbreak of something like a pestilence, something alien called Maoism. Continue reading

India: Brutal state’s war on the people promises new handouts and smiles

We will defeat Maoists design through development: Jairam Ramesh

PTI Mar 3, 2013

(“In the name of forest dwellers,…)

BHAWANIPATNA (ODISHA): The Centre would “fight” Naxals through welfare and empowerment schemes and protect tribals from being used as shields by the ultras, union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday said.

“In the name of forest dwellers, Maoists have created an atmosphere of fear (in the society). Our fight against Maoists is continuing. Through schemes for tribal welfare and women empowerment, with a strong political willpower, we will defeat their design,” he told a meeting of Adivasi Adhikar Samavesa at Narla in Odisha’s Kalahandi district.

Stating that Maoists were using tribals as shields, Ramesh said the Naxal issue can be tackled by strengthening Gram Sabhas and accelerating political processes and greater participation among forest dwellers.

As promised, the UPA government had undertaken several developmental schemes for uplift of tribals and many more were in the offing, Ramesh said. Continue reading

Arundhati Roy on Indian-Pakistani war clouds and the ‘secret’ hanging of Afzal Guru

Does Your Bomb-Proof Basement Have An Attached Toilet?

Afzal Guru

Afzal Guru

An execution carried out to thundering war clouds

What are the political consequences of the secret and sudden hanging of Mohammed Afzal Guru, prime accused in the 2001 Parliament attack, going to be? Does anybody know? The memo, in callous bureaucratese, with every name insultingly misspelt, sent by the Superintendent of Central Jail No. 3, Tihar, New Delhi, to “Mrs Tabassum w/o Sh Afjal Guru” reads:

“The mercy petition of Sh Mohd Afjal Guru s/o Habibillah has been rejected by Hon’ble President of India. Hence the execution of Mohd Afjal Guru s/o Habibillah has been fixed for 09/02/2013 at 8 am in Central Jail No-3.

This is for your information and for further necessary action.”

The mailing of the memo was deliberately timed to get to Tabassum only after the execution, denying her one last legal chanc­e—the right to challenge the rejection of the mercy petition. Both Afzal and his family, separately, had that right. Both were thwarted. Even though it is mandat­ory in law, the memo to Tabassum ascribed no reason for the president’s rejection of the mercy petition. If no reason is given, on what basis do you appeal? All the other prisoners on death row in India have been given that last chance.

Since Tabassum was not allowed to meet her husband before he was hanged, since her son was not allowed to get a few last words of advice from his father, since she was not given his body to bury, and since there can be no funeral, what “further necessary action” does the jail manual prescribe? Anger? Wild, irreparable grief? Unquestioning acc­eptance? Complete integration?

After the hanging, there have been unseemly celebrations. The bereaved wives of the people who were killed in the attack on Parliament were displayed on TV, with M.S. Bitta, chairman of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, and his ferocious moustaches playing the CEO of their sad little company. Will anybody tell them that the men who shot their husbands were killed at the same time, in the same place? And that those who planned the attack will never be brought to justice because we still don’t know who they are. Continue reading

The hanging of Afzal Guru is a stain on India’s democracy

Despite gaping holes in the case against Afzal Guru, all India’s institutions played a part in putting a Kashmiri ‘terrorist’ to death

The Guardian, Sunday 10 February 2013

Police bring Afzal Guru to court in Delhi in 2002

Indian police bring Afzal Guru to court in Delhi in 2002. Photograph: Aman Sharma/AP

Spring announced itself in Delhi on Saturday. The sun was out, and the law took its course. Just before breakfast, the government of India secretly hanged Afzal Guru, prime accused in the attack on parliament in December 2001, and interred his body in Delhi’s Tihar jail where he had been in solitary confinement for 12 years. Guru’s wife and son were not informed. “The authorities intimated the family through speed post and registered post,” the home secretary told the press, “the director general of the Jammu and Kashmir [J&K] police has been told to check whether they got it or not”. No big deal, they’re only the family of yet another Kashmiri terrorist.

In a moment of rare unity the Indian nation, or at least its major political parties – Congress, the Bharatiya Janata party and the Communist party of India (Marxist) – came together as one (barring a few squabbles about “delay” and “timing”) to celebrate the triumph of the rule of law. Live broadcasts from TV studios, with their usual cocktail of papal passion and a delicate grip on facts, crowed about the “victory of democracy”. Rightwing Hindu nationalists distributed sweets to celebrate the hanging, and beat up Kashmiris (paying special attention to the girls) who had gathered in Delhi to protest. Even though Guru was dead and gone, the commentators in the studios and the thugs on the streets seemed, like cowards who hunt in packs, to need each other to keep their courage up. Perhaps because, deep inside, themselves they knew they had colluded in doing something terribly wrong. Continue reading

India: Desperate state seeks spy drones and mind-reading robots to quash the rebellious people

Drone robots to add more teeth to anti-Maoist operations

The Times of India, February 4, 2013

KHARAGPUR: After drone missiles of the US military, drone robots will come to the help of Indian security forces in anti-insurgency operations. The robots are being developed at a research institution in Delhi’s Karol Bagh, which has already developed another land surveillance robot and a mind sensing robot that can read the human mind.

Once ready, the drone robot can be used as an effective surveillance tool by the armed and security forces engaged in anti-Maoist operations. The robot can spy over a battle zone while flying over it. Enemy positions, camps and even soldiers or rebels hiding behind bushes within a 50 km radius can be captured on its camera which even has night vision. “Information sent by the robot can help the security forces plan their operations with greater precision,” said Diwakar Vaish, head of robotics and research at the Delhi-based A-Set Institute of Training and Research, that is working on the project.

Work on developing the robot is at an advanced stage at the A-Set Institute. The drone apart, Vaish from the 20-year-old institute demonstrated several other robots at the three-day KSHIT technology fest that began at IIT-Kharagpur (IIT-Kgp) on Friday. Continue reading