Democratic Illusions Infect Judiciary in India’s Repressive State

[The Indian state, thoroughly repressive toward over 90% of the people in India, has often claimed, since being “granted” independence by the British Empire, that it is democratic, even “the world’s largest democracy.”  This claim is belied by the brutal displacement and oppression of the majority of the people–the adivasis, dalits, the peasantry, the women of the oppressed castes and classes, Muslims, political opponents of the neo-colonial, semi-feudal state and their imperialist masters, and the Maoists (and all other opponents loosely, and falsely, labelled “Maoists”).  As the opposition continues to grow against the oppressive police state, the contradiction with the democratic myth has grown sharply, infecting even the ranks of the repressive judiary.  The rebellious people will carefully study how these “democratic dissidents in high places” will be dealt with by the repressive “powers-that-be”.  —  Frontlines ed.]

Person can’t be taken into custody just because he is a Maoist, Kerala HC rules

Person can’t be taken into custody just because he is a Maoist, Kerala HC rules

Justice AM Muhammed Mushtaq said that a Maoist can be arrested and put behind the bars only if he or she indulges in unlawful or anti-national activities.

KOCHI: In a significant development, the Kerala high court made it clear that a Maoist cannot be taken into police custody just because of his political leanings.  Justice A M Muhammed Mushtaq, in his order on Friday, said that a Maoist can be arrested and put behind bars only if he or she indulges in unlawful or anti-national activities.  “Being a Maoist is no crime, though the political ideology of Maoists would not synchronise with our constitutional polity. It is a basic human right to think in terms of human aspirations,” Justice Mushtaq said in his order.The court was hearing a petition filed by Shyam Balakrishnan of Wayanad stating that he was arrested and harassed by the Thunderbolt team — a special police unit – for alleged Maoist links. The court ordered a compensation of Rs one lakh for the petitioner and also asked to state to pay litigation costs of Rs 10, 000. Continue reading

Seven Years Gone: Remembering Anuradha Ghandy

Anuradha Ghandy: The Rebel

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She was born into privilege and could easily have chosen the easy life. But Anuradha Ghandy chose guns over roses to fight for the dispossessed.

On a muggy April evening in 2008, somewhere in Mumbai, a doctor was trying desperately to get in touch with his patient. The patient happened to be a woman in her early 50s, who had come that morning with high fever. The doctor had advised a few blood tests, and, as he saw the reports, he started making frantic calls to the phone number the patient had scribbled in her nearly illegible handwriting. The number, he soon realised, did not exist. He was restless. The reports indicated the presence of two deadly strains of malaria in the woman’s bloodstream—she had to be admitted to a hospital without delay. Time was racing by and there was no trace of her.

By the time the woman contacted the doctor again, a few days had passed. The doctor wanted her placed under intensive care immediately. But it was too late.

Continue reading

Indian Police Note Women’s Role in Maoist Leadership

[The year 2014 in India has seen an intensification of the class struggle, mass resistance and democratic activism, armed resistance and revolutionary struggle in growing areas throughout India.  And the news has often focused on the state repression, mass arrests and police killings, and the increased incidence and prominence of attacks on women.  In two articles here, the police acknowledge the ever-growing role of women in Maoist leadership, as women are now a majority of combat fighters in the revolutionary party and armed units.  The first article appeared soon after International Women’s Day (March 8), and the second appeared this week.  It should be said that while the police talk of noticing this trend now, women have long played a significant role in the Maoist organization. — Frontlines ed.]    …………….

Women Maoist commanders play big role in encounters

Written by Vijaita SinghIndianExpress | New Delhi | March 17, 2014

Women commanders have come to constitute almost half of the armed cadre of Maoists and are playing a major role in encounters, like they had done in the Sukma encounter in Chhattisgarh on March 11, security forces believe.

A Maoist poster pays homage to their women cadre on International Women’s Day

A Maoist poster pays homage to their women cadre on International Women’s Day

It is difficult to get a headcount but a rough number of women killed in encounters last year was available after security forces stumbled upon Maoist posters and pamphlets to pay them homage on International Women’s Day. One poster in Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra paid homage to 17 women commanders killed in encounters over the year.

In the past one year, there has been a significant increase in women joining the armed wing of Maoists.  Maoists do not leave behind their dead and take away the bodies. The posters enabled security forces to get a headcount.
Posters recovered from Gadchiroli identified some of the women as Indra, Dhanni, Geeta, Anita, Swarupa, Santila, Pramila, Seema, Reshma, Vasanti, Champa and Mamta. It said, “mahila bina kranti nahin, kranti bina shoshan mukt samaj nahin (no revolution without women and without revolution there can’t be an exploitation-free society).
In the March 11 encounter in Sukma in Chhattisgarh where 15 security personnel were killed, women Maoist commanders played a role, according to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) which lost 11 men. The state police personnel lost four men. In a presentation to the MHA, the CRPF had said Maoists were divided into three groups, and one group comprised mainly of women commanders in black uniform who fired from behind. After a drop in male recruits and desertion, Maoists have started recruiting women on a large scale.

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“Female Naxals Get Combat Role”

The Asian Age, October 14, 2014 – Rabindra Nath Choudhury | Raipur

The CPI (Maoist) leadership has of late effected a radical structural change in the outfit by drafting more and more women cadre in combat roles besides ensuring their fast rise in the rebel hierarchy, intelligence sources said on Monday.
The sea change in the organisational structure has been brought on strategic point of view to transform it from a male-dominated outfit to women-centric one, a senior police officer quoting intelligence reports told this newspaper here. “In 2008, Maoists’ top hierarchy comprised barely 25 per cent women. The women representation in Maoist top hierarchy has now grown by leap and bounds to a staggering 60 per cent. This clearly indicates that the CPI (Maoist) is heading towards a women-dominated radical force in coming days”, the police officer said requesting anonymity. 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: Dalit Woman Activist Brutally Raped and Murdered

[When The Hindu, a bourgeois Indian  media mouthpiece, reported this brutal rape and murder, they could not avoid revealing, by putting  “murder” in quotes in the title, to show their skepticism at the report, and their dehumanizing view of Dalit women. — Frontlines ed.]

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Women activists protest ‘murder’ of Dalit woman

Rahi Gaikwad, The Hindu

Patna, March 31, 2013

Activists claim their colleague was brutally raped and murdered

Women’s groups staged angry protests on National Highway 28 in Muzaffarpur district after a Dalit woman activist was found dead at Mandai village.

According to Rinku Devi of the Janwadi Mahila Samiti — a group that the victim was a member of — the woman was raped and murdered.

“The activist was raped and murdered in a brutal fashion. According to the family, sticks and mud were found in her private parts and her mouth was stuffed with a cloth. Her body was found near a cycle shop in the village. When we protested, the police slapped cases on us,” Ms. Devi told The Hindu after speaking to the victim’s family members.

The victim was fighting alleged irregularities in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and the public distribution system.

“Earlier, the police picked up the victim’s husband and son. But we put pressure on them to release them. Family members cannot [carry out] an act so brutal. Everyone in the village knows who the perpetrators are but their lips are sealed in fear,” Ms. Devi said.

The SP and the DSP paid a visit to the site on Saturday. The police said they were awaiting the post-mortem report and investigating the case. No arrests have been made yet.

India: three girls raped and murdered, aged 5, 9 and 11

Outrage over sexual violence given new fuel after police recorded deaths as ‘accidental’ after bodies were found in a well
in Delhi, guardian.co.uk, Thursday 21 February 2013
Women in Delhi

[Women arrive near Indian parliament in Dehli to protest against sexual violence. Photograph: Altaf Qadri/AP]

India has been hit by another case of sexual violence after three sisters aged five, nine and 11 were raped and murdered in a remote village.

The three girls, who lived with their mother in Lakhni village in Maharashtra state, disappeared on 14 February, on their way home from school. Their widowed mother is a poor labourer, and when the grandfather went to the police to report their disappearance there was no attempt to search for them.

The police found the bodies of the three girls in an old well two days later, and recorded the deaths as “accidental”. But it was only after people from the village blocked a national highway on Wednesday in protest against the police inaction that the state home minister finally took notice.

A preliminary medical examination showed that all the girls had been raped before being killed. Continue reading

Arundhati Roy speaks out against Indian rape culture

Channel 4 News, Friday 21 December 2012
The writer Arundhati Roy tells Channel 4 News she believes rape is used as a weapon in India and that women in the country are “paying the price”.