India: Uproar over political prisoner status to jailed Maoists

| Video | Uproar over political prisoner status to jailed Maoists | India Videos | – India Today. (Click for Indian news video)

[A background note, by Revolutionary Frontlines, on why capitalist governments refuse to grant “political prisoner” status to democratic and revolutionary opponents who have been captured and held by the state:

 A court in India has decided that some allegedly Maoist prisoners should be categorized “Political Prisoners.” Other sections of the state apparatus oppose this, loudly.  Some even launch legal motions to remove this category from the Maoists.  What’s the difference, and why should be care?

Everywhere in the world, wherever governments drape themselves in the pretense of democracy—and this goes for imperialist countries like the US, Britain, France and many others, as well as countries that adopted the “democratic” veneer when they emerged from colonialism and became “independent” but neo-colonial neo-comprador states—they actively promote the lie that democratic rights and freedoms are equally shared, and all can receive justice under the law. 

But when a huge section of people—even a majority, or more—are blocked, from generation to generation, from any form of rights or justice, and they develop democratic and revolutionary movements and organizations, all their protests and demands are routinely criminalized, because their existence and practice expose and destroy the legitimacy of the faux-democratic state.

So, getting back to the question: why demand, and struggle for “political prisoner” status when activists are arrested and charged with common crimes—or are held for months or years without charge?  Because, for a state to admit it has political prisoners is

  • to admit that the state is not democratic, that oppressors and oppressed have no equality before the law;
  • an admission that political prisoners have been arrested mainly because of their opposition to the state, and are being denied basic human rights;
  • a confession by the state that criminal charges are routinely fabricated to cover up the political repression which is going on;
  • and that democratic movements and revolutionary organizations which have been jailed are representing the political interests of the oppressed, and are not criminal organizations.
  • and finally, the presence of political prisoners indicates that justice is not a domestic struggle–seeking civil rights from an oppressive state—but is a battle for human rights, to be sought by the masses themselves, using whatever arena is available on an international level.

For these reasons, the Indian state is determined to quash the “political prisoner” status granted by a wayward,  indisciplined—and uncommonly principled—Indian judge.

See the following articles from the Indian bourgeois media about the “Political Prisoner” label/debate. – Frontlines ed.]


7 Maoists get political prisoner status

KOLKATA: The Calcutta High Court Wednesday granted status of political prisoners to seven Maoist leaders and sympathizers in West Bengal jails, the rebels’ counsel said.

The seven include Venkateshwara Reddy alias Telugu Dipak and Chhatradhar Mahato.

“Justice Kanwaljit Aluwalliah allowed our prayer granting the status of political prisoners. They have been languishing in jails for long and it is yet to be proved that they are Maoists and involved in violent activities,” counsel Subhasish Roy told IANS.

The others to get the status are Communist Party of India-Maoist spokesperson Gaur Chakrabarty, Sukhshanti Baskey, Shambhu Soren, Sagun Murmu and Prasun Chatterjee.

Deepak, a close associate of slain Maoist leader Koteshwar Rao alias Kishenji, is said to be the mastermind behind the Silda camp attack in West Midnapore district which left 24 Eastern Frontier Rifles soldiers dead. He was arrested in March 2010.

Tribal leader Chhatradhar Mahato was the spokesman of the Maoist backed Peoples Committee against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) and was arrested along with Chatterjee in 2009.

India: Corporate Mining project faces people’s resistance to deforestation and displacement

Aman Sharma   |   India Today  |   New Delhi, July 3, 2012

Bhilai Steel Plant in Chhattisgarh faces shutdown due to lack of iron ore as Maoists oppose mining

The writ of Maoists runs in most districts of Chhattisgarh. (Photo: Yogesh Kumar)

The Centre is worried that one of the country’s biggest steel plants, the 53-year-old Bhilai Steel Plant inChhattisgarh, will have to be closed down in the next three years as it runs out of iron ore supplies.

A high-level meeting was held at the Union Home Hinistry on Monday, attended by home secretary R.K. Singh, steel secretary DRS Chaudhary and Chhattisgarh‘s chief secretary and director-general of police after reports that Naxals are bitterly opposing mining in a new area called Rowghat for the Bhilai Steel Plant as well as the construction of a railway line to transport the iron ore from Rowghat to the plant.
The new railway line will pass through Maoist zones.

Mining the new reserves is crucial as the existing iron ore reserves at Dalli Rajhara area, which keep the steel plant running now, will be exhausted by 2015. The new mining project involves deforestation in an area of over 2,030 hectares in Kanker and Narayanpur districts, both Naxal hotbeds. Further, the proposed 235-km railway line will run through Abujmad, also a red zone.Rowghat is estimated to have 510 million tonnes of iron ore reserves, sufficient to keep the plant running for decades.

The Chhattisgarh government has said it has no security force to spare for the project. At Monday’s meeting, it was decided that an exclusive force will be created drawing personnel from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF) and the Chhattisgarh Armed Police for the purpose.

Till then, two battalions from the CRPF and the BSF will guard the mining area and the railway line, for which all necessary forest and environmental clearances have been given.

At present, only four CRPF and BSF companies are posted in the area and, hence, are in no position to provide foolproof security to workers engaged in the deforestation of the mine area. The Home Ministry wants the state police to provide a matching force but the Chhattisgarh Police are non-committal.

The Bhilai Steel Plant is India’s first and primary producer of steel rails and the sole supplier of the country’s longest rail tracks, which measure 260 metres. It is a flagship unit of the Steel Authority of India and its largest and most profitable facility.

To keep the plant running, the Steel Ministry identified Rowghat for fresh iron ore mining. For the purpose, no village will be displaced. Only the area will be deforested and a new railway line constructed.

But Naxals are objecting to the plan to mine the area as well as the new railway line, which will pass through Maoist zones such as Balod, Kanker, Narayanpur, Kondangaon and Jagdalpur districts. The home secretary, in Monday’s meeting, asked the Chhattisgarh government and the steel ministry to make the tribal people aware of the benefits of the project.

The Chhattisgarh Police are of the view that as the mine area and the railway line are close to Abujmad, it will invite violent reaction from the Maoists as well as local tribals. Sources said the project was destined to run into rough weather as no amount of security can protect every inch of the proposed railway line, which is going to be the lifeline of the steel plant – the plant literally drives the economy of the region. The home ministry has suggested that both the projects – deforestation and the railway line – should be taken up simultaneously.