Monday, April 14, 2014

Maoists kill 14 in two attacks in Chhattisgarh // Maoists issue apology for killing 7

NB: A year ago, in 2013, the Maoists did & said the same things. The comments I made on that occasion-> Maoists say sorry for killing Bastar journalist remain relevant to the latest crimes committed in the name of revolution. In this case they have killed 14 people and apologised  for the deaths of 7. The brutal calculus of who deserves to live and who to die is similar to that of communal fanatics who assume the God-like status of arbiter of life and death. DS

'The great delusion of our time is that ‘revolution’ is the totem of historical progress. There is indeed a revolution underway, but not of the communist fantasy. It is the revolution of nihilism, wherein ideas and virtues lose all meaning, human beings become mere instruments, ‘action’ is always imbued with violence, and everything is subsumed within a quest for absolute power. Those swayed by Absolute Truths cannot understand that such language leads to an endless oscillation between domination and chaos. From now on, no left-wing politics can carry philosophical conviction if it fails to address the scourge of violence.'(From A Hard Rain Falling: EPW, July 2012)

Maoists kill 14 in two attacks in Chhattisgarh
Seven members of a polling team and five CRPF personnel were among 14 killed as Maoists struck twice in less than an hour in Bastar, Chhattisgarh, just two days after peaceful elections were held in the region. In the first incident on Saturday, armed rebels numbering close to 100 triggered a landmine blast to target a passenger bus in Bijapur district and then showered bullets on it, killing seven poll officials on board and injuring five. The poll officials were returning to the district headquarters. Less than an hour later, another powerful landmine blast blew up an ambulance carrying CRPF jawans on NH-30 near Darbha in Jagdalpur district, 350km south of capital Raipur. Five troopers were killed and five injured while the driver and emergency medical technician of the ambulance, belonging to the 108 Sanjeevani emergency service, also died. The rest of Chhattisgarh, including several Maoist-hit constituencies, will vote in the Lok Sabha elections in two phases on April 17 and April 24. The state’s chief electoral officer Sunil Kujur said there would be re-polls if EVMs were damaged in the Bijapur attack. The attacks could have been averted had both parties not violated the basic rules of operating in a Maoist-affected area, CRPF sources told HT. “The polling party was to travel on foot to avoid landmines, under the watch of CRPF personnel walking ahead to secure the route. But inexplicably, they hitched a ride on a bus that was then blown up,” said a senior CRPF official.

Similarly, the 10 CRPF troops returning from a road opening exercise in Darbha valley decided to hop on to the ambulance and fell prey to a blast. “I can understand they may have been tired… but it was again an example of not following the basics of operating in a Red area. They paid a heavy price and it is sad,” the official said, adding, “We have again told our officials on the ground to strictly follow the basics.” Earlier on April 7, three CRPF personnel, including a deputy commandant, were killed and seven injured when they tried to defuse a landmine planted by Maoists in Bihar’s Aurangabad district — again in violation of the rules. The CRPF has lost 14 personnel while on poll duty for the general elections. In a strongly worded statement, a Union home ministry spokesperson said, “The Maoists have killed poor teachers and other civilians who were part of the democratic process. This shows they are just terrorists.” “The CRPF has consciously taken the responsibility of taking care of the worst Maoist-affected areas during polls. It is unfortunate we lost our men but that won’t deter us from ensuring the electoral process is not hampered in the next phases,” said CRPF IG (operations) Julfiquar Hasan.
Additional director general of police (anti-Maoist operations) RK Vij said the attacks reflected the rebels’ frustration at the peaceful polls in Bastar, which saw a 52% voter turnout despite boycott calls by Maoists. In the Darbha attack, Bastar SP Ajay Yadav said, “someone sitting just 100 metres away seems to have triggered the blast. The Maoists were perhaps aware of who was inside the ambulance”.Additional forces from nearby base camps and police stations were rushed to the areas and search operations continued till late evening. The injured have been hospitalised.
Two days after massacring seven poll officials in Bastar in Chhattisgarh, the outlawed CPI(Maoist) on Monday issued a public apology, saying the killings were a case of “mistaken identity”. In a two-page statement e-mailed to HT, Maoist spokesperson Gudsa Usendi regretted the killing of the poll officials — six schoolteachers and one from the forest department — and expressed the rebel outfit’s “sympathy” to their families. The seven polling officials and five CRPF personnel were among 14 killed as Maoists struck twice in less than an hour in Bastar on Saturday. The attacks came two days after peaceful elections in the region witnessed 58% turnout despite the CPI(Maoist) call for poll boycott. In the first attack, the Maoists triggered a landmine blast to target a passenger bus, carrying 12 poll staff, at Ketulnar in Bijapur district and sprayed bullets on it.
 “Our People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) command that led the offensive misunderstood, assuming the poll staff as the police (in the bus)”, said the statement. “It appears the big mistake was due to the misconstrued assessment from our side,” the release said. Usendi said police strategies such as changing of vehicles, use of civil transport in the strife-torn region were to blame for the error. “They (poll officials) were not our enemy. We will investigate how this lapse occurred, at what level, and take steps to prevent such incidents.” In the second attack, another landmine blast blew up an ambulance carrying CRPF jawans on NH-30 near Darbha in Jagdalpur district, 350km south of capital Raipur. The Maoist statement evoked a strong reaction from the Chhattisgarh Police. “Can such apologies bring back lives? They are cowards who first perpetuate senseless acts of violence and kill innocent people only to later admit their blunder,” RK Vij, additional director general of police (anti-Maoist operation), said.
Ahead of the state assembly elections last year, Ramanna, secretary of the Maoists’ Dandakarnya special zonal committee, had issued a similar apology for killing state Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel and his son Dinesh. Patel and his son were among the 27 people killed in the Maoist ambush at Jhiram valley in Darbha on May 25 last year. The attack eliminated a chunk of the state Congress leadership including Mahendra Karma, architect of the (now disbanded) anti-Naxal vigilante movement Salwa Judum. Senior Congress leader Vidya Charan Shukla, who was injured in the Darbha ambush, succumbed to injuries at a Gurgaon hospital. 
NB: Comments I made in May 2013:
"Some of our cadres have committed this wrong. (?!) We apologise and request you not to boycott us. Lower-level cadres committed the act without informing the senior ones." If the entire Indian polity and democratic institutions are a fraud, then why are you afraid of a mere press boycott? Why do you want publicity in the 'bourgeois' media? Why claim the protections and privileges of a system you despise and wish to overthrow by armed force? Why? Yet more whimsical murder and yet another apology and statement of regret, as if this were a case of impolite behaviour at a dinner table. This was also the case with the beating to death of NREGA activist Niyamat Ansari in March 2011. The Maoists apologise & we are expected to forget it. In the Jnaneswari train derailment of May 2010, 148 passengers were killed in minutes, hundreds injured. They denied having caused it, yet issued assurances that train travel would be safe in future! 

In the latest massacres in Bastar, the Maoist spokesman says: "The aim behind this attack was to kill Mahendra Karma and other Congress leaders. During the two-hour long gunbattle between commanders of CPI(Maoist) and security forces, some innocent people and low-level Congress workers were killed. They were not our enemies but they lost their lives. We express regret over their death and offer our condolence to the bereaved families."  (The same statement says that the action succeeded in "wiping out of at least 27 Congress leaders, activists and policemen" If all 27 people killed were legitimate targets, then who were the 'innocent people and low level Congress workers'? Or are we to understand that 5 or 6 people were their targets and they killed 27 people and injured 32 including bystanders to achieve that?

Is human life just biomass for the comrades? If the state is brutal and oppressive must the comrades imitate the state? Will such actions bring justice to the people of the area or more repression? If the comrades claim to have knowledge of how society and political systems work, don't they also know that murder and killing generates a deadly cycle of violence in which politics recedes into the background and revenge becomes a force of its own? Have four decades of peoples war achieved any betterment of the political environment? Any change for the good in terms of democracy and human rights? Did they launch a struggle to protect the Babri Masjid? Did they ever even warn the communalists who have murdered innocents in thousands? Will they launch armed struggle to protect women all over the country who are under constant threat of violence and molestation? All they have succeeded in doing is to give the state a handle to attack all popular movements under the cover of combating maoism.

Successive governments cannot escape responsibility for this crisis. Naxalism has been in existence for over 4 decades, even prior to the latest turn in economic policy - had there been a more sensitive, less corrupt administration all this time, the conflict need not have taken such a bloody turn. In Chhattisgarh, over two thousand adivasis are currently in jail, charged with 'Naxalite/ Maoist' offences. Many have been imprisoned for over two years without trial.  Here the official policy was to recruit sections of the tribal population to engage the Maoists in the from of a vigilante force called Salwa Judum - ultimately the Supreme Court had to step in, and after that the state government merely designated them differently. In Jharkhand, an even larger number of adivasis, possibly in excess of five thousand, remain imprisoned as under-trials. The situation is similar in many other states of central and eastern India currently affected by armed conflict between the government & adivasi-linked militant movements, namely Andhra PradeshBiharMadhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal. The adivasi undertrial population may run into thousands in each of the statesIf state functionaries were serious about the Indian Constitution, implemented criminal law with strict neutrality and upheld the Fifth Schedule instead of allowing sectors of the administration to function as instruments of corporates, there would have been no 'security threat'.

As for the revolutionaries, had they pitted (politically, not militarily) the constitution against the state and its policies (whether economic or with regard to criminal justice) - they would have been able to mount a massive resistance, that would have had legitimacy and effect. Here the traditional marxist-leninist-stalinist contempt for 'bourgeois' democracy has buttressed their elitist disdain for the lives of the people they claim to represent. They have only chosen the tribal areas for military strategic reasons - there's no chance of peoples war in Gurgaon. The so-called people's warriors are playing agents provocateur for the state, which will use the latest killings (as in the past) to launch another wave of repression.  Meanwhile despite Maoist activity, the work of the corporate industrialists goes on unabated. Some even pay them regular protection money. Industrialisation thrives on violence, Halliburton made millions in the midst of the Iraq war. The comrades must be dreaming if they think this kind of action will lead to acceptance of their demands, such as the release of innocents and a cessation of forced industrialisation. Do they want to provoke state cruelties? 

Stop the killing -This is an endless spiral comrades, there's no bright future over the horizon. There wasn't one when Charu launched the first CPI (ML) and promised a red flag over Red Fort within the 70's, and there will be no bright future in your new revolutionary calendar.  Ordinary people are for resistance, but not all of them are dreaming of martyrdom and glory. They want to live, even as they resist. It is utter tyranny for communists to decide when members of the public must die. Stop the killing and try and convince people by democratic means. What you are doing is a travesty of socialism. Respect for human life must be the starting point for socialists. Instead of a violent movement to overthrow the constitution, what we need is the broadest possible campaign to uphold and implement it. The fascist sections of the ruling class are already hell-bent on overthrowing the constitutional order - you are merely making it easier for them. The more people you kill, whether guilty or innocent, the more will democratic rights recede into the background. Without non-violent mass resistance, capitalism exploitation and social oppression will thrive. 

Speak the truth. Stop the killing 

PS - Here's an article containing a pointer to the chilling cynicism of revolutionaries: Extract: 'It was believed that the Maoist leadership was not happy with the outcome of Saraswati’s assassination. Panda had hoped that the ensuing riots (against Christians) would swell the Maoist ranks. But excellent coordination between the then district collector and district police chief ensured that about 3,000 men who had signed up for recruitment ditched them at the last moment...'

See also
JAVED IQBAL on the killing of Sai Reddy - Murder and Maoist rationalisations
Read the PUDR statement here: