Friday, July 31, 2009

Students Arrested At Medinipur Station

Students of Jadavpur University and Presidency College were arrested on 30 July 2009 on their way to Lalgarh. Although they were released later, it is undemocratic to stop the citizens from visiting a place within our own country.
We have seen that the government has been trying to keep Lalgarh separated from the rest of the country. Reports from media suggest that gross violation of democratic and human rights by the combined forces is going on in Lalgarh . The arrest of the students is also part of that. This blog condemns this incident.

Women lathicharged in Lalgarh

Statesman News Service

LALGARH, 28 JULY: Shortly after a three-member team of the Trinamul Congress, including two Union ministers, visited Lalgarh demanding withdrawal of Central forces, a procession of tribal women was allegedly lathicharged by police at Dharampur and Bamal.

In protest, the Adivasis of Bagjhora, Chilgora and Tilaboni blocked the Dherua-Midnapore Road on the ministers' way back to Kolkata. Five people were arrested from Bagjhora and Chilgora areas, four of whom are Asit Mahato of Asnasuli and Mahendra Singh, Makhan Singh and Pagu Singh of Bagjhora. Several hundred activists of the PSBPC were proceeding to welcome the Union ministers of state for rural development and shipping ~ Mr Sisir Adhikari and Mr Mukul Roy ~ accompanied by the leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly Mr Partha Chattopadhyay, convenor of the Bhumi Raksha Committee, Mr Purnendu Bose, and other Trinamul leaders who had reached there to distribute relief material to the tribals.

The villagers were stopped by security forces at Bamal and Dharampur where police fired tear-gas shells to disperse them apprehending that they might be followed by Maoists to attack the Lalgarh police station. Police lathicharged them injuring many women, it was alleged. Mrs Sitamoni Hembram, Mrs Hiramoni Kisku and Mrs Bharati Hansda showed their scars to the ministers. Mr Banmali Mahato of Asnasuli, Mr Haripada Mahato of Bamal and Mrs Barun Mandal of Goaldanga narrated to the visiting ministers and the leaders how they were tortured by joint forces and how studies of school children of Lalgarh areas have been affected since 17 June.Mrs Usha Rani Rana of Bagjhora told the leaders that they could not go to the forest to collect firewood as the joint force was not allowing them to enter the forests. The villagers demanded the arrests of Dalim Pande, CPI-M’s Dharampur local committee secretary, and his cohorts as ''they had looted lakhs of government funds meant for tribal development''

The Statesman, 29 July 2009

See the photos of brutal police repression in Lalgarh.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Where have the Maoists gone?

Bellow is an article written by published by The Statesman. It does not present the view of the blog, but is worth reading.
Sankar Ray
Fables like 1,500 Maoists or 100 specially-trained-in arms-operations Maoists are at Lalgarh or its surroundings, scripted by West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and his condescending subordinates like chief secretary Asoke Mohan Chakraborty and home secretary Ardhendu Sen, are now into the open.
Not a single Maoist is yet in the net of the joint forces. However, the 11,000-strong force has been successful in preventing newspersons from filing reports on torture let loose on subalterns. Small wonder, the CPI-M’s central committee member Benoy Konar happily said, rubbing his palms gleefully, “We are with the chief minister in his application of the Central Act to suppress the Maoists”.
This is in contrast to the decision of the CC and LF neither to apply the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2008 nor to ban the CPI (Maoist) in the state. Who cares for the CPI-M’s editorial posture in People’s Democracy (21 December, 2008) warning the UPA government of the possibility of “gross misuse” of three clauses therein?
The first of them, “contained in clause 43D, seeks to amend Section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to extend the period of detention without bail to 180 days beyond the existing periods ranging from 15 to 60 to 90 days. The maximum 90-day period is now proposed to be increased to 180 days if the courts are satisfied that such extension is required to complete the investigation”, the editorial said.
Mr Bhattacharjee, LF chairman Biman Bose ~ both Politburo members ~ and general secretary Prakash Karat resort to a mystic silence over wanton repression on those who couldn’t flee their hearth and home, while over 70,000 Adivasis left the place from 300-plus hamlets of Jangalmahal. All of them are languishing in poverty, malnutrition and social deprivation.
The Maoists of Jangalmahal ~ West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts ~ are inexplicably compared to terrorists of Kashmir or some far-flung Northeast region to justify classification of them under the UA(P)A. The comparison is absurd. After all, Maoists are not secessionists like Ulfa, NSCN factions and Kashmiri militants with Al-Qaida connections. Ludicrous as it may seem, bureaucrats, rushed to Lalgarh ostensibly for development, admitted that no economic development had taken place there.
A booklet ~ Lalgarh: Paschimbanger Adivasi (Lalgarh ~ Adivasis of West Bengal), brought out by the Kolkata-based voluntary social action forum, Nagarik Mancha, reveals the pathetic condition of the inhabitants despite three decades of Left governance. The average number of days of work per household in 2008-09 under the NREGA was 6.02, 6.72 and 8.60 in West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura, respectively. About 95 per cent of children between six and 35 months suffer from anaemia against the state average of 78.3 percent. Only nine per cent of villages of West Midnapore district receive piped drinking water, 15 percent and 14 percent in Bankura and Purulia, respectively.
Former RSP MP Manoj Bhattacharya admitted: “Out of Rs 6,700 crore programmed for socio-economic transformation of the western region over a period of five years (2007-11) as per recommendations of the IIT-Kharagpur, which was retained by the LF government to draw up the plan, Rs 82 crore was granted by the western regional development board for 2007-09. Out of this, only Rs 14 crore was incurred.”
The pathetic performance under the minister for western region development, Susanta Ghosh, the CPI-M’s shah-en-shah at Garbeta, is there for all to see. A 16-member experts group was set up by the Planning Commission to go into causes of extremism. It was headed by former revenue secretary D Bandyopadhyay, who conceived the idea of Operation Barga, CPI-M’s USP until three years back. In its report, “Development Issues to deal with the causes of Discontent, Unrest and Extremism”, submitted in 2007, it observed: “There is no denying that what goes in the name of ‘Naxalism’ is to a large extent a product of collective failure to assure to different segments of society, their basic entitlements under the Constitution and other protective legislation”.
Villagers we met at Baropelia, Lalgarh, on 8 May denied there was anarchy under the people’s committee. “For over six months, our male members have been sleeping peacefully at night as the nightmare of police torture has vanished for the time being at least. We are all with the Pulisi Santras Birodhi Janaganer Committee,” said Meena Tudu (name changed).
The jingoistic rule under the home (police) ministry is evident from the deliberate default in the case of poet Prasun Bhowmik, convenor, Swajan, forum of poets, performing artists, academics etc like Aparna Sen, Saoli Mitra and Kausik Sen. He got repeated threatening phone calls when the Swajan team visited Lalgarh. “I recorded the calls specifically and filed an FIR but I got no response from the administration or police. No action has been taken against the caller”.
The writer is a freelance contributor

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lalgarh: Chronicle of State repression

Police lathicharged on women of Lalgarh, 28 July 2009. (Courtsy: Dainik Statesman, 29 July 2009)
Police lathicharged on women of Lalgarh, 28 July 2009. (Courtsy: The Bartaman, 29 July 2009)

20 July 2009
Earlier this morning, the joint forces resorted to lathicharge to disperse the agitating students and their guardians gathered in front of the base camp at Gohamidanga High School in Lalgarh. They were demanding that the school be vacated by the joint forces who have been camping there since 17 June. According to police, the students allegedly backed by thousands of PSBPC activists, equipped with their traditional weapons tried to break into the building and attacked the policemen. The agitators alleged that police resorted to lathicharge on the students without paying heed to their demands. Several students and PSBPC activists were injured and the condition of three people ~ Ahladi Hembram, Mrs Parbati Hansda and Mrs Dulali Murmu were said to be critical in Lalgarh Block Primary Hospital. (The Statesman, 21 July 2009)
Police charges batton on school students in Lalgarh.
Source: The Bartaman, 21 July 2009.

Police charges batton on school students in Lalgarh.
Source: The Anandabazar Patrika, 21 July 2009.

Athlete Anup Mandal of Goaltore near Lalgarh was so severely beaten by police and paramilitary forces that his athletic carrier is at stake. Bone of his left hand is broken; he has been under treatment with severe injuries in his back and waist. On 19 June 2009 when he was returning from one of his friend's home at Pingboni, the operation of combined forces was underway. The forces not only torchered him but also broke his bicycle.
Source: Anandabazar Patrika, 12 July 2009

Source: Dainik Statesman (Bengali) 28 JUne 2009.

Source: Anandabazar Patrika, 23 June 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mahasweta Devi rallies for Lalgarh tribals

12 July 2009, Kolkata
Author Mahasweta Devi led a rally in protest against the presence of security forces in Lalgarh on Saturday. Besides intellectuals like Sunando Sanyal and Pratul Mukhopadhyay, members of nearly 60 other organisations, including the Bhoomi Ucched Pratirodh Committee, were present
in the rally.
“Why are the Central and state forces suddenly taking action against the people of Lalgarh, when for so many years nothing was done? For over three decades the government did nothing for the people, there has been absolutely no development in the area,” she said.
The author, who has lived and worked among the tribals for many years, added that they were still among the poorest people in the state.
“They don’t have BPL cards and do not get rice at the minimum rate. Now the government is trying to sell their land by giving them false promises of jobs and a secure future. The government is curbing all the protests in the area since they want to project a picture of calm to the Jindals,” she said.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Opem Letter to the General Secretary, Communist Party of India (Maoist) from Human Rights Watch

[We have received an open letter to the general secretary of CPI(Maoist) from Human rights Watch through email . Understanding its significance, we publish it. Red Barricade]

July 3, 2009
Ganapathi (Muppala Lakshman Rao)
General SecretaryCommunist Party of India-Maoist

Re: Request for comment on schools in Jharkhand and Bihar
Dear General Secretary,
I am a researcher in the children’s rights division of Human Rights Watch, one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. Human Rights Watch is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization. Established in 1978, Human Rights Watch is known for its accurate fact-finding, impartial reporting, effective use of media, and targeted advocacy. Each year, Human Rights Watch publishes more than 100 reports and briefings on human rights conditions in some 80 countries.
In May and June of 2009 we conducted an investigation in Jharkhand and Bihar on the issues of attacks on schools and the police use of schools. We are extremely concerned about the detrimental effect that both these attacks and occupations have on children’s ability to access education. We will soon be issuing a report based on information collected during the research mission. Before we issue this report, however, we wish to solicit your comment and views on these issues.
First, we would be interested in learning your perspective on the use of schools by police and paramilitary police.
Second, we would like to learn your perspective on attacks preliminarily believed to have been carried out by armed groups associated with your Party on schools, which, at the time of the attacks, were not occupied or being used by the police or paramilitary.
In particular, we would like to receive your comment on the following incidents:
In Bihar:
Choramara Middle School, in Jamui district, attacked on or around March 31, 2009.
Buniyadi Middle School, Patluka, in Gaya district, attacked on April 4, 2009.
Primary school in Bhimbandh Wildlife Sanctuary area, in Munger district, attacked on or around April 6, 2009.
Bhaluhar Middle School, in Gaya district, attacked on April 7, 2009.
Gosain-Pesraa Middle School, in Gaya district, attacked on April 14, 2009.
Chonha Middle School, in Gaya district, attacked on or around April 25, 2009.
Deora Middle School, in Aurangabad district, attacked on May 5, 2009.
Chaharkbandha Middle School, in Gaya district, attacked on June 14, 2009.
In Jharkhand:
Dwarika Middle School, in Palamu district, attacked on November 29, 2008.
Belhara High School, in Palamu district, attacked on April 9, 2009.
Barwadih Primary School, in Palamu district, attacked on April 11, 2009.
Dantar Middle School, in Chatra district, attacked on or around June 22, 2008.
Chak Middle School, in Palamu district, attacked on or around September 28, 2008.
Satbahni Primary School, in Chatra district, attacked on October 2, 2008.
Nitar Primary School, in Palamu district, attacked on March 21, 2009.
Saryu Primary School, in Latehar district, attacked on March 31, 2009.
Banlaat village school, in Gumla district, attacked on March 31, 2009.
Kiukra (Khukhra) Middle School, in Giridih district, attacked on April 18, 2009.
Narayanpur village school, in Chatra district, attacked on April 21, 2009.
Any information that you provide to us by August 15, 2009, would reach us in time for it to be reflected in our upcoming report. I can be reached by email at, by fax to +1 212 736 1300, or by mail at Human Rights Watch, 350 Fifth Avenue, 34th floor, New York, NY 10118-3299, U.S.A.
Bede Sheppard
Asia Researcher
Children’s Rights Division
Human Rights Watch

Tragic end of a Talented Marxist-Leninist Leader

[Harbhajan Sohi ,a Central Commitee member of C.P.R.C.I.(M.L.) pased away. Sohi was the founding leader of the Nagi Reddy Group in Punjab. His loss is a tragic loss to the movement. Even if not totally correct and acceptable to all revolutionaries, his work on mass line certainly has historic value. Let us dip our blood in memory of Comrade Harbhajan Singh Sohi. Here we publish homage written by Prof. Chaman Lal, JNU.]
Professor Harbhajan Singh Sohi, Central Committee member of Communist Party Reorganizing Centre of India (CPRCI)-ML is no more. He passed away on 15th June unnoticed without being getting even medical help at Bathinda. He was cremated on 16th June morning in the presence of family, friends and comrades. He had returned a day before after attending some party work outside Punjab.
Professor Sohi was born on 18th March; 1939.His ancestral village was Bhari in Sangrur district of Punjab. During his student days in Bathinda, he got involved in leftist movement. After doing his M.A. in English literature from Punjabi University Patiala, he taught for few months at Rajindra Government College Bathinda for few months, which gave him the life long tag of ‘Professor’. He remained known as Prof. Harbhajan for long time, then added Sohi to differentiate from another Naxal activist of the same title and name. He became active in CPM and worked for few months in CPM daily paper ‘Lok Lehar’, published from Jalandhar then. During 1967 Naxalbari revolt, he was one among those, who came out of CPM. For a while, they became part of All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries of India (AICCCRI), set up by Charu Majumdar, later converted into Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) in 1969. The mass base group of popular communist leader of Andhra Pradesh,T.Nagi Reddy group was either kept out or did not join it. Group led by Harbhajan Sohi also came out of CPI (ML) opposing its individual annihilation line and supporting mass line of T.Nagi Reddy. Later they formed Bathinda –Ferozeour committee of Communist Revolutionaries, which worked in close coordination with Nagi Reddy group of Andhra Pradesh, leading to the formation of Unity Centre of Communist Revolutionaries of India(UCCRI_Marxist Leninist) in 1975, led by D V Rao. UCCRI focused on building mass organization of students, workers, peasants, youth and women. In Punjab, Punjab Students Union led by popular leader Pirthipal Singh Randhawa became quite strong. Peasant organization-Wahikar Union and workers organization-Moulder&Steel workers Union in Ludhiana also took roots. But UCCRI (ML) split in 1988, on the issue of post Mao Chinese developments. It led to the formation of Centre for Communist Revolutionaries of India(C.C.R.I.)and further leading to formation of Communist Party Reorganizing Centre of India (CPRCI-ML). But the group never attained the same popular standing among masses after this split, and the decline set in mass line follower groups of ML as well. Prof. Harbhajan Sohi remained close comrade of T.Nagi Reddy and one of the important theoreticians and leader of this group. In early seventies, he wrote a booklet on Bhagat Singh in the party name of Baldev, in which he analyzed the revolutionary legacy of Bhagat Singh.
Professor Sohi was a literary figure too. Known as ‘Bhajan’ among family and friends, he wrote poetry and once won poetry competition prize of Language Department Punjab and feasted his friends of Bhhotwara(Ghost House) with the prize money. He wrote a touching poem on the assassination of revolutionary Punjabi poet-Paash at the hands of Khalistani terrorists in 1988, which was published in translation in reputed Hindi journal ‘Aalochna’, edited by Naamvar Singh. Dalip Kaur Tiwana, Saraswati Samman winner Punjabi author, describes him as ‘Bhajan Bathinde wala’ in her autobiography. Gyanpeeth award winner Gurdial Singh was his personal friend. He was good player of Volleyball. He was tall, healthy and handsome. With other student friends, they started life with ‘Happy Home’ in Bathinda, where young boys and girls met on equal footing and later dreamt of ‘Happy India’ based on Socialist principles. During Punjabi University days, he was part of ‘Bhootwara’(Ghost House), the group of young scholars and writers, many of them like Dr. Gurbhagat Singh, Dr. Sutinder Singh Noor(Vice President, Sahitya Akademi), Harinder singh Mehboob(Sahitya Akademi award winner) Navtej Bharti and Sohi himself have earned a reputed name in Indian society.
Though ML group of Sohi never took part in violent activities, yet it never became overground. It remained underground without having any substantial cases against their activists. There is dichotomy, they professed and practiced mass line, and there was no situation of uprising to keep organization secret. Sohi has been meeting Nepal comrades, including Babu Ram Bhattrai, during my student days at JNU during 1977-82. Many of ML groups became overground and many started participating in parliamentary elections as well. Sohi’s group neither gave call for election boycott nor participated in these elections. But they did take part in student union or employee union elections in institutions. Leaders of mass organizations of the group have earned some name in society, but the leaders leading them from behind are going down in anonymity, this is rather ironic.
It was on 26th June 1975, the first day of emergency, when I was arrested along with Prof. Harbhajan Sohi by Punjab police in early morning raid at Prof. Harbhajan Sohi’s house in Bathinda, when he was overground for a brief period. He got out on bail after two months and since has been underground, more than 34 years. I spent about seven months before coming out. His memorial meeting in Bathinda is ironically being held on this 26th June. Only way to remember him for me is to think of left unity in the country. Bhajan loved life and faced all odds with confidence. Indian middle class is getting more and more fascist in its moorings. In such situation, after loosing Baba Bhagat singh Bilga, Vimla Dang in quick succession, the loss of Harbhajan Sohi in relatively early age is even more sad and damaging for the democratic movement of Punjab. Yet the life must be celebrated and the struggle to change it for the better must continue, that would be the best tribute to Prof. Harbhajan Singh Sohi.

Chaman Lal
centre of Indian languages,
New Delhi