Volume: II, Issue I, January-June 2011
THE MAOIST MOVEMENT AND THE QUESTION OF VIOLENCE: SOME OBSERVATIONS
The on-going Maoist movement is one of the greatest and long-lasting revolutionary Communist movements in the history of India. This movement has been continuing for more than four decades since 1967 through a zigzag course attended by victories and defeats and, needless to state, immense sacrifices, thereby betraying the reality that there must have been some social need that the present set-up has so long been unable to meet. This continuity is a testimony to its strength; this is also a testimony to its weakness. The fact that this movement could, by overcoming the major set back in 1972, keep the revolutionary aspirations of the Indian people alive despite brutal state repression is a commentary on its strength. On the other hand, if we compare this revolutionary Communist movement with the movement led by Mao Tse-tung in China, we will see that the Chinese Communists took not more than twenty-eight years(from 1921 to 1949) to accomplish the New Democratic revolution. The Indian Maoists have been taking much longer time to complete it. This betrays the weakness of the movement.
The Maoist movement—as the present phase of the revolutionary Communist movement in India is known—has undergone some broad stages throughout its long history spanning more than four decades. The first stage embraced the period from 1967 to 1972, i.e, from the beginning of the Naxalbari struggle in North Bengal to the death of Charu Mazumdar in the Kolkata police lock-up. This formative period witnessed political mobilization, breaking away from the CPI(M), emergence of revolutionary peasant movements in some areas such as Srikakulam in AP, Debra-Gopivallabhpur and Birbhum in WB, Mushahari and Lakhimpurkheri in Bihar and some other states, annihilation of ‘class enemies’, urban guerrilla actions against the police and the army, attacks on images of national leaders, academic institutions and government buildings and police brutality on the activists of the most sadistic kind both inside prisons as also outside. The late 1960s and early 1970s comprised the period of fake encounters with the Indian state under Indira Gandhi regime killing young men and women by thousands in cold blood in different states of the country, and passing them off as encounters. Hundreds and thousands of the best sons of the soil were either wiped out or put behind bars throughout the country.
The second stage covered the period 1972-1977. It coincided with the period of national emergency from 1975 to 1977 that worsened the situation also for other dissident voices in varying degrees. It was a period of division of the CPI(ML) into splinter groups and time for retrospection for those behind bars. Those who escaped incarceration tried to reorganize by summing up past political experiences. It was also the period of armed struggle in undivided Bihar centring round Bhojpur.
The third phase started after 1977 with the formation of some new organizations such as the CPI(ML) Party Unity in 1978 in parts of WB and Bihar and CPI(ML) People’s War in 1980, the CPI(ML) Liberation and some others.
The fourth phase started in the late 1990s with the merging of the CPI(ML)PW with the CPI(ML) PU in 1998 and the newly formed CPI(ML) PW merged with the MCC in 2004 to form the CPI(Maoist). These mergers no doubt increased the political and military strength of the Maoists to a large extent. One important development of this new phase is the setting up of a guerrilla zone in Dandakaranya and implementation of an alternative pro-people model of development there. Needless to state, these political developments—break-ups and forging unity were attended by serious ideological struggles.
“Naxalbari” wrote Suniti Kumar Ghosh, “solved certain crucial questions of the strategy of the Indian revolution. Among other things, it upheld the Marxist theory that ‘force is the midwife of the old society pregnant with a new one’. It rejected the peaceful, parliamentary path…This broke the long spell when the revisionist theory of ‘peaceful transition’ had dominated and emasculated the communist movement. Second, its leader, guided by Mao Tse-tung Thought, emphasized that the Indian revolution would be a protracted one…Power could be seized only through protracted people’s war—creation of liberated bases in the rural areas where objective and subjective conditions were more favourable than elsewhere, and gradual expansion of them culminating in the conquest of power throughout the country…”1
The Question of Violence
There is no denying the fact that the Naxalite/Maoist movement is aimed at the total restructuring of the existing system through the method of protracted armed struggle, creation of liberated zones in the countryside—the weakest links in the state order and the capture of political power throughout the country. On the face of it, violence assumes the centre stage in the Maoist strategy. But is this not true to a far greater extent also of the existing state structure of which violence of the most brutal and bloody type is an integral part?
In a rejoinder to the criticism of the Maoist movement by a number of intellectuals published in the Economic & Political Weekly in 2006, Cherukuri Rajkumar Azad, spokesperson of the CPI(Maoist)—killed in all likelihood in a fake encounter by the Andhra Police, stated: “The question of violence is the single most important thread passing through all the articles. No real communist is for violence per se. Communists are for a peaceful social system built around equality and justice. But when they seek to work for such a system they are attacked most brutally. This has been the case ever since the birth of the communist movement. They have been massacred and exterminated right from the days of the Paris Commune. It would be naïve to think that the Indian ruling classes, who have a lengthy record of violence unleashed on the oppressed masses, are any better. Besides, it is not just state violence that people face; in a class society, as in India, violence is endemic to the very system and the oppressed masses are exposed to it in the course of their daily lives—by the feudal authority and by factory managements, and also as a result of untouchability, patriarchy etc…”2
Here Azad talks about the structural violence inherent in the existing system itself. This is evident not only in the modern times, but also in the bygone days when classes and the “three great differences” --that between mental labour and manual labour, town and country and worker and peasant made their appearance in human society. Slavery, feudalism, capitalism—all are class societies each of which perfected their repressive state machinery and unleashed violence of the most brutal type—both silent and visible-- against the people and brought untold misery for them. It is only when conditions become intolerable that the people resist with whatever weapons they could lay their hands on. The historic slave revolt led by Spartacus against mighty Rome in 73 BC—immortalized by Howard Fast in his novel Spartacus, the peasant war in Germany led by Thomas Munzer in 1525 against the Roman Catholic Church, the great Taiping peasant rebellion of 1851-64 against the Manchu ruling clique in China or the peasant revolt in Telangana in India in the late 1940s—all were culmination of decades of oppression, humiliation, discontent, heartbreaks and anger. These were applications of counter-violence against the violence perpetrated by the states that compelled people to raise the standard of rebellion against the legitimacy of the ruling classes to rule. Let us now come to the Indian situation. That would enable us to assess the violent nature of the Indian democratic set-up and why Maoism is rooted very strongly in the Indian soil.
The Indian Constitution and the ‘Fundamental Rights’ of its Citizens
The framers of the Constitution of India, who adopted the Constitution in November 1949 after the ‘transfer of power to friendly hands’ in 1947, described India as a “Sovereign Democratic Republic”. On 3 January 1977, during the period of Emergency under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, India became, through an amendment to the Constitution, a “Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic” and remains so till now. What did such a “Democratic Republic” or a “Socialist Republic” stand for? Was it a People’s Republic? Was this an independent republic free from all imperialist control and influence? Did the “founding fathers” of this republic really aspire to have a new society where all sections of the people—the rich and the poor, the upper and the downtrodden—would have all-round development, would have food, education, health, where there would be equitable distribution of property and ‘fundamental rights’ of all the citizens would be guaranteed. Would it be a society where the gap between the rich and the poor would first diminish and then wither away? History has proved over the years that this “Sovereign Democratic Republic”, far from being ‘sovereign’ and free from imperialist influence, actually lost its sovereignty to imperialist powers, particularly USA; far from bringing about the uplift in the standard of living of the basic masses, it has only widened the gap between one section and another and made the rich richer and poor poorer; far from creating an equitable society, it has only led to the concentration of wealth into fewer and fewer hands and has created an ocean of misery, poverty, malnutrition, and death for the overwhelming majority. In the name of giving ‘fundamental rights’ to its citizens, it had done everything in its power to see to it that its citizens enjoy them only at the pleasure of the executive.
What about the enjoyment of ‘fundamental rights’ of its citizens? The Bombay Public Security Act before the transfer of power empowered the police “to arrest without trial any person acting in a manner prejudicial to public peace of the province”. In 1948, the newly-formed Congress ministry amended it to include within its scope “any person liable to act…” Such an amendment was no doubt the portent of things to come. Article 19 Clause (1) and some articles following them speak of some ‘fundamental rights’ for its citizens. However, the interesting thing is that the clauses that follow each of these articles empower the State to impose some restrictions on those very rights thereby effectively nullifying the whole exercise. Thus the acknowledgement of ‘fundamental rights’ and protection against arbitrary arrest and detention has its anti-thesis in the constitution itself.
In February 1950, just after the inauguration of the Constitution of the “Sovereign, Democratic Republic” of India, the Nehru-led government enacted the Preventive Detention Act to imprison thousands without trial. It was applicable to the whole of the country. During the first few years after the new government took over, fifty thousand political opponents were picked up and sent to prison, and thirteen thousand persons were killed or wounded, according to official accounts. In jail, they were compelled to languish under inhuman conditions. Preventive detention itself makes a mockery of democracy, as in this case, people are imprisoned not because of any ‘offence’ they have committed, but because they may commit such unless they are prevented from doing so by State intervention. All the Press and Security Acts of the colonial days remain unchanged under the new Constitution. The old repressive machinery of the colonial State with its Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, the Police Act of 1861, Defence of India Rules, Preventive Detention Acts and many others were perfected over the years by the ruling classes and thereby made newer and newer attacks on the liberty of the people. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (1958) was enforced first in Nagaland and then extended to other parts of the north-east and to Kashmir. It empowered the armed forces to kill anyone with impunity on mere suspicion that that person was going to commit certain ‘offence’. These laws were passed to curb the growing resistance of the people. The Preventive Detention Act was replaced in 1971 by the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) under which tens of thousands of people were imprisoned between 1970 and 1973 in West Bengal alone, of which the overwhelming majority comprised the Naxalites. During and before Emergency (1975-77), thousands of people—mostly Naxalites--were shot down or made to disappear.
In fact, there is no end to such black acts which had both regional and national application. The West Bengal Prevention of Violent activities Act, Punjab Disturbed Areas Ordinance, the National Security Act (1980), the Terrorist Affected Areas (Special Courts) Ordinance (1984), TADA (1985), POTA and many other Acts and Ordinances were being passed. Every succeeding “lawless law” is a greater attack on the liberties of the people than the previous one. One may add here the very recent decision to create a Federal Investigation Agency and more stringent laws to deal with ‘terrorists’ where the onus of proving one’s innocence lies with the accused. S. Sahay of The Statesman commented: “The gay abandon with which the Central government has been accumulating extraordinary powers makes one wonder whether in the not too distant future anything will be left of the normal law of the land”. The “sweep of the Ordinance is really breathtaking”3, he wrote. The latest addition to this long list of draconian laws is the Unlawful Activities Prevention(Amended) Act of 2008 which is tied up with charges of sedition and allows hardly any scope for free and fair trial in the court of law. An elected government thus gets the legitimacy to act in the most violent manner against its own people.
State –sponsored violence and deliberate rejection of democratic norms
How are the ‘fundamental rights’ respected in the everyday life of this ‘Sovereign Democratic Republic’? Are there any ‘fundamental rights’ at all for the basic masses? For the overwhelming majority of the basic masses comprising the dalits, adivasis and other sections of the people irrespective of any community, any talk about these is illusory. It is the normal practice of the police to pick up innocent people on mere suspicion or on the basis of complaints from the higher-ups, to torture them in the police lock ups to extract “confessions”. Several human rights organizations reported gory details of torture, rape and deaths in the police custody. A report of the Amnesty International(March 1992) stated: “…torture is pervasive and a daily routine in every one of India’s 25 states, irrespective of whether arrests were made by the police, the paramilitary forces or the army. Many hundreds, if not thousands, have died because of the torture during the last decade…Many who were tortured to death were never charged with any crime…”4 Rape, ill-treatment and molestation of women by the police are widespread throughout the country.
How does the state treat its political opponents, particularly the Naxalites? Does it treat them humanely, or in the most violent way? N.G.Goray, the Socialist Party MP asked the Government in the Rajya Sabha in the early 1970s: “Now the charge about violence. I would like to ask you, ‘how many people have your police and your Border Security Force killed by shooting innocent people?’ Will you please publish your records and say how many times after independence police opened fire and how many people were killed?” “…In West Bengal”, he charged, “the finest flower of youth has been liquidated under the pretext that they belonged to the ‘Naxalites’” 5. The same is true of the Maoists of today, be they in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh or West Bengal. The Naxalites or Maoists were supposed to have no right to life. It was no aberration of a few individuals but a well-conceived policy—a part of the present political system. Behind the façade of this Indian variety of democracy, the present political system, based on intense exploitation and widespread corruption, responds to the slightest opposition to it with State violence and terror. The reality is that the very basic rights to life and liberty are illusory under the present Constitution.
Persons taken into custody are not produced in courts within the stipulated 24 hours and many a time are detained illegally at police stations and investigation centres(read torture centres) sometimes for days together. There most of them are being subjected to cruel and sadistic torture in such a manner that beggars description. Continuous interrogation for 18 hours a day for days together, and allowing no sleep for 4 to 5 days at a stretch unless he or she cannot bear it any longer, keeping prisoners blindfolded even when he or she goes to the toilet, application of electric shocks on the private parts of the body, beating up with batons, kicking them with heavy boots, spitting on the face, breaking down fingers by pressing them in the opposite direction, threatening prisoners with death or rape unless he or she makes confessions. These are only a few of the methods of torture meted out by the WB government’s police force to the Maoists, Kamtapuris and some other dissident voices.6 In States like Andhra Pradesh, the ‘Grey Hounds’ police forces created specifically to kill Maoists, do not even take political prisoners. They kill the Maoist activists or sympathizers in cold blood, in fake encounters, by torturing them, and distributing the spoils among themselves even when they are alive and still bleeding. Many human rights bodies such as the APCLC, Human Rights Forum, APDR and others have published their reports on the basis of their fact-findings in affected areas. One can go on multiplying such instances. The main reason why torture and such denials of right to life go on unabated, is that the police forces—protected by the State—are totally immune from punishment, even if they kill the victim.
In order to deal with the Maoist ‘virus’, the Indian State and its central and state governments have been setting up one paramilitary unit after with the choicest of names that themselves smack of violence—the Greyhounds, the Cobra, the Scorpion etc. In the name of “Operation Green hunt’ the state forces are on a killing spree, killing innocent adivasis, raping women and killing even children. Himangshu Kumar, who is well-known for his Gandhian beliefs, has related many such stories in his speeches and writings. He related how he was prevented from registering 1000 cases against the Chhattisgarh police on charges of rape, abduction and setting adivasi huts on fire7. The police simply refused to register cases against themselves and Salwa Judum activists. They can kill at will, maim at will, rape at will and displace thousands of adivasis at will from their ancestral habitats in the interest of foreign MNCs and deshi comprador giant capitalists. Is this not state-sponsored violence of the most barbaric kind?
Without minimizing the brutality committed by the Indian armed forces against the peoples of Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and other areas, it can be stated that the violations of human rights, nay commission of crimes against humanity, in Jammu & Kashmir (where Nehru promised to hold a plebiscite long back in 1947, but, like many other similar promises, this promise was not kept, actually it was not meant to be kept) equalled, if not actually surpassed other areas in the perpetration of cruelty. Enforced disappearance and mass graves coexist side by side in the land of the Kashmiri people, making a mockery of how the Indian armed forces maintain ‘democracy’. The presence of a massive Indian army and para-military forces and the war of suppression unleashed by them in 1990 have produced an immense humanitarian crisis in Kashmir. According to reports published by human rights organizations, the human cost is tremendous. A high unnatural death toll of more than 70,000 persons, primarily in the age-group of 18-35, detention and torture of more than 60,000 persons, massacres, custodial killings, fake encounters, rape and molestations are some of the shocking results of this intensely violent campaign of State terrorism done by these ‘occupational forces’. There is a mystery surrounding the fate of the 8 to 10 thousand persons who had been subjected to Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (EID) since 1990. According to a report by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), “some of the answers could perhaps lie buried in the so-called ‘unidentified’ graves strewn across J & K”.8
Murder, abduction, disappearances, rape, illegal detention by state forces or by private armies sponsored by the state such as those of the CPI(M) hermads, Gana Protirodh Committee, Mao Daman Sena have become features in the war zones of Jungle Mahal including Lalgarh. And the perpetrators of such violence get out with impunity. The PCAPA(People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities) have issued six open letters addressed, among others, to various civil rights bodies giving details of such cases of state-sponsored brutality and violence. Two glaring cases of disappearance were those of Joydev Bera and Raju Adak of village Jirakuli, PS Lalgarh—both members of the PCAPA. Both were picked up by the police guided by Anuj Pandey, the local CPI(M) leader, and taken to Lalgarh PS in December 2009. The police did never admit to their arrest. They were subjected to physical and mental torture for days together. The PCAPA organized demonstrations, road-blockades and bandhs demanding their immediate production in court, and ultimately declared them martyrs to the cause of people’s struggle. After 8 months, they were produced in Jhargram court under different names. Kaushik Sinha, the lawyer dealing with the case, stated in the court as also at a public convention held in September in Kolkata that both of them were taken to Andhra Pradesh, kept in Cuddalore jail on false charges under different names for months together. The whole period of illegal detention, suppression of facts, tagging him in cooked-up charges had been done with impunity and the culprits—police officials-- have not yet been booked.
Let us take up another case. Shoma Mandi, a Santhal adivasi girl joined the Maoist rank. She was arrested some months ago, never produced in court, tortured, humiliated and sexually abused in the lock-up, taken to the villages where she did political work and was forced to beat up common people in the villages. Such things went on for four months until she broke down, and a surrender drama was enacted by the police before the media. Her father, Jamadar Mandi accused the police of arresting her daughter from Salboni 3-4 months back; ‘which law allows the police to keep them under custody without production in court'?9All these are cases of state-sponsored violence perpetrated with impunity by those who are supposed to abide by the law as enshrined in the constitution of this ‘land of the largest democracy’ in the world.
Other forms of State-sponsored violence
State-sponsored violence assumes many other forms. The ‘Operation Green-hunt’ launched by the Indian state with P. Chidambaram at the helm of affairs to implement the MoUs signed with MNCs for the plunder of our country’s vast natural resources and to wipe out the Maoists and other opposing forces has been taking a huge toll. Let us take up one such example. In January 2010, the Odisha police forces rounded up 87 poor villagers from Sillipunjee village in Sundargah district adjoining the Champaran forest range on the charge of being involved in ‘Maoist terrorist activities’. Meanwhile eight months have passed and no charges against them have been proved. Human rights organizations have alleged that these poor villagers have been languishing in jail without any trial under cooked-up charges. These persons were the only earning members of their own families, and so their incarceration has deprived the members of their families of their source of livelihood. The arrest and the long period of incarceration has been creating psychological trauma in their minds. This is an integral part of structural violence that shows the state’s brutal anti-people character. Such traumatic experience was undergone by thousands of prisoners who have been languishing in jails in different parts of the country. But that is not all; there is another part of the story. One of those prisoners from Sillipoonjee village is Petas Oraon, lodged in Rourkella Special Jail. Petas had a seven-month-old-daughter. The baby was taken to meet her father by Jisbis Oraon,her mother, grandmother and some villagers to jail. They had to cover a long distance. The frail child could not bear the strain of such a long travel and she died on the way. Her father could not know that he would never be able to see his daughter again10. This is an example of silent violence. There are many such examples of violence perpetrated by the existing system with utter callousness and impunity.
To appreciate the gravity of the situation, let us now turn to the Human Development Index of India. The UN index(which claims to be a composite of various factors such as health, education, and income in 2009 puts it at 134th place among 182 countries11. India’s under-five mortality rate per 1,000 live births is 93, that is, one in eleven children dies before the age of five. Its maternal mortality ratio per 100,000 live births is 540, compared to 56 for China and 380 for even Bangladesh11. The official National Sample Survey of 2000 revealed that three-fourths of India’s rural population and half the urban population did not get the minimum recommended calories. This is confirmed by nutritional and health surveys, which reveal the following: more than two-fifths of the adult population suffer from chronic energy deficiency, and a large percentage are at the border of this condition; half India’s women are anemic; half its children can be clinically defined as malnourished(stunted, wasting or both)12. As one writer puts it, “There is already a sub-Saharan Africa(SSA) within India—half of our rural population or over 350 million people are below the average food energy intake of SSA countries”13.
Compare this gloomy picture with the concentration of wealth in a few hands. The central government nakedly boasts in the fact that our country is producing millionaires by thousands. A recent report reads as follows: “India added more than 42,800 US dollar millionaires last year(i.e,2009), taking the total number in the country to more than 127,000—and the phenomenon is going to grow further…”14. The story makes it amply clear to what extent there is concentration of wealth in a few hands at the expense of the impoverishment of the overwhelming majority of our people. This is another example of structural violence peculiar to a class society.
Many reports have come out in the newspapers over the decades about the undernourishment, disease and death of countless number of people, suicides in the vast stretches of rural Maharastra, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, West Bengal and other areas due to indebtedness, government apathy, disappearance of small holdings and the Green Revolution. There are places in Kalahandi in Odhisa or Amlashole in West Bengal where deaths from hunger are so common in the lives of the hapless people that the media hardly take any notice at all. Thousands of working people are reported to have died of hunger or have committed suicide in north Bengal due to the closure of tea gardens or in other parts of West Bengal due to the closure of nearly one lakh factories. The creation of Special Economic Zones are also taking their human toll in large numbers. Are these people not victims of violence at the hands of a ‘legitimate’ authority? The Maoist violence has to be studied and appreciated in this context.
Silent Militarization of Society
For the last few years, rather silently, something like the militarization of our society has been taking place that is affecting young minds. TV is one medium and TV-triggered mishaps, sexual offences and serial killings have already seeped into the Indian scene. Or one has just to go to the shopping malls—be that the South City Mall in south Kolkata or other areas--to notice how some video games glorify violence encouraging bullet games and battle-cries15. It detrimentally affects the child and its all-round development. A silent revolution of the violent kind has thus been taking place with the full knowledge, and probably with the tacit complicity of the powers-that-be.
What Breeds Armed Resistance? Case study of Lalgarh
The Lalgarh movement has given rise to debates that are old in states such as Andhra Pradesh, but new in states such as West Bengal. Such issues had come up time and again from within human rights organizations and ‘civil society’ whenever armed resistance developed or revolutionary armed struggle gained in strength. According to some intellectuals, the democratic struggle should be peaceful, and when it takes a violent turn and the people get armed, then it loses its democratic character. To them, ‘democracy’ is identified with order and peace, and if there is disorder and violence, then it becomes un-democratic. Needless to say, such ideas have been very carefully and successfully planted by the state propaganda machinery.
History, however, proves otherwise. It is not the people but the state which is armed to the teeth, and it is the state again which uses all conceivable methods of violence to keep people under subjugation. Peace-loving people are thereby forced by the state to raise the banner of armed resistance, as the real perpetrators of violence leave behind for them no option other than that. History is replete with many such examples.
In the class society of today, class contradictions, conflicts and sometimes, class wars are inevitable. The ruling classes had always exploited the majority of people, killed and maimed them, perpetrated terror and, in this way, extracted the sole right, the ‘legitimacy’ to perpetrate terror against the people whom they pretend to serve. Names such as the ‘Greyhound’, ‘Cobra’, ‘Scorpion’, ‘Jaguar’ and many other state-trained police forces only betray the violent character of the Indian state. Whenever, in response, the oppressed people themselves take up arms, break that state monopoly over the means of violence and ‘legitimacy’ enjoyed by the state to control masses, the ruling classes raise the bogey of law and order and utilize that legitimacy to drown people’s movement in pools of blood. If anybody calls that resistance struggle ‘terrorism’, then that ‘terrorism’ definitely is of a different character.
The Lalgarh struggle has posed a serious problem to the civil rights activists and sections of the urban intellectuals. When the masses were attacked and tortured, the city-bred intellectuals stood by their side, as in Singur and Nandigram. But the Lalgarh story was entirely different. Here the urban literati are confronted with the emergence of the resisting warrior masses and, in their presence, at a loss what position to take.
On 16 September 2009, one English daily organized a discussion in Kolkata with the caption ‘Surely the Maoist is not one of us’. Most of the speakers sought the genesis of the Maoist emergence in the ‘failure of the system to deliver’. Let us quote a few lines from the report: “When a landlord takes away a villager’s wife, keeps her in his house to sexually abuse her and orders the husband to go away when he pleads with him for returning his wife to him and his two children, what is he supposed to do? Mouth platitudes about non-violence and peace? ‘Or take up arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them?’ In one such case a youth in Andhra Pradesh went straight into the jungle, organized a group of about 25,000 people, killed the landlord and ended by being Maoists”. This is part of the speech delivered by Prof. Hargopal from Andhra Pradesh, which only corroborates the view that it is the oppressive state that breeds armed resistance.(The Statesman 17 September 2009).
‘Red Terror’ and ‘White Terror’
Mao clearly made a distinction between Red Terror or revolutionary terror and White Terror or counter-revolutionary terror. Mao remarked time and again that there were many truths in Marxism; but all those could be summed up in one sentence: ‘to rebel against reactionaries is justified’. For centuries people had been saying: ‘It is justifiable to oppress or exploit people, but it is wrong to rebel’. Marxism, Mao said, turned this thesis upsidedown ( See Jerome Chen, Mao Papers, p.17). It will not be too irrelevant to mention in this connection what Mark Twain, the great American writer wrote in the year 1889—the year of the first anniversary of the French Revolution of 1789. In A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, he wrote:
“There were two ‘Reigns of Terror’, if we would but remember it and consider it: the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the ‘horrors’ of the minor Terror, the momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty and heartbreak? What is swift death by lightning compared with death by slow fire at the stake? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over, but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror—that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves”. Here comments are superfluous.
Over the last decade and more, there had been much military collaboration between the Indian and the American and Israeli governments. The FBI had already opened its office in the capital and joint military exercises between the American and Indian armed forces have been taking place regularly in Mizoram and other areas. And if armed resistance of the Indian people and Communist revolutionary movements develop further despite the massive armed mobilization by the central and state governments for the ‘Operation Green-hunt’—and I am not talking only of Maoist insurgency—then, as it appears now, a time will not be long in coming when the people of India would have to confront American soldiers on the Indian soil. It clearly shows the future the people of India are going to confront.
Many of us living in India still do not know who to look forward to for guidance and leadership; but what many of us do feel is that how we live today is far removed from how we ought to live, that the present system has already outlived its utility, has been failing to deliver and that some fundamental change is necessary in the interests of the majority of the people. How that can take place is an issue that deserves serious consideration.
1.See Introduction to The Historic Turning-Point A Liberation Anthology Vol. I, edited by Suniti Kumar Ghosh with a team of Associate Editors, Calcutta 1992,p.15.
2.Cited in Maoists in India Writings & Interviews by Azad, published by the Friends of Azad, Hyderabad, 2010, p.5.
3.Quoted in People’s Union for Civil Liberties(PUCL), Black Laws 1984-85, Delhi 1985, p.34.
4.Amnesty International, India: Torture, Rape and Deaths in Custody, London 1992, p.76.
5.Quoted in David Selbourne, An Eye to India: The Unmasking of Tyranny, Penguin Books, England, 1977, pp.18,387.
6.Memorandum of the Bandi Mukti Committee to the Chief Minister, Government of West Bengal dt.20-8-02; Political Prisoners in West Bengal A brief Update to the Nation from the Bandi Mukti Committee dt. 2 June 2007 from Chhoton Das, General Secretary, BMC; Come let us set them free BMC, Kolkata dt. 25 March 2008; The Arrested (Bulletin of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners/CRPP) Vol.1, No.1, July-August 2006, New Delhi; See also ‘Pulishi Otyacharer Bibhotsho Chehara: Medinipur Jail Theke Pathano Rajlbondider Chithhi’ in BMC-r Sanbad Bulletin No.6 August 2005; Leaflet captioned ‘Somosto Rajnoitik Bandir Muktir Dabite 20 August Bikshobh Michhil Sofol Korun’ dt. 7-8-02 issued by Pradip Banerjee, Convenor, BMC. For a description of how the Delhi police tortured and humiliated Prof. S.A.R. Geelani, the accused in the Parliament attack case and subsequently acquitted, see his account captioned “You will confess everything” my ordeal of fighting the so-called war against terror” in The Arrested (Bulletin of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners/CRPP), Vol.1, No.1 July-August 2008, pp.24-26.
7.Himangshu Kumar, Eso Pashe Danrao Dantewada r Ek Gandhibadi Samajkarmi r Aabedon, Ababhash, Kolkata, January 2010, p.14.
8.Facts Underground a Fact-finding Mission on Nameless Graves & Mass Graves in Uri Area, A Report by Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons(APDP). No date. Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, Srinagar, pp.1-23.
9.See Open Letter No.6 from the PCAPA to APDR, Lalgarh Manch, Sanhati, Gana Protirodh Manch and Intellectuals standing on People’s side dated 7-9-10 signed by Tota Hembrom, Balaram Hansda, Jairam Baske, Ajit Mahato, Chunilal Mahato, Asit Mahato, Gopal Protihar and Santosh Mahato; Ekdin, 26-8-10.
10.Ananda Bazar Patrika, 7-9-10.
11.‘Global Power’, Client State India’s Place in the US Strategic Order, Aspects of India’s Economy No.41, RUPE, Mumbai, December 2010, p.9.
13.Utsa Patnaik, ‘It is time for Kumbhakarna to wake up’, The Hindu, 5-8-05.
14.‘Indian millionaires zoom by 42,800’ in Hindustan Times, 29-9-10.
15.See ‘Fun & Games of Battle-cry, bunkers and bullets’, The Telegraph, 2-10-09; ‘How many did you kill today?’, The Bengal Post Post Script, 29-11-10.