Are the recent attacks by Maoists desperate attempts to take the revolutionary struggle to a level which would precipitate a crisis in which it would be impossible for right thinking people not to take sides? asks Apooravanand.
The news of the killing of nearly 50 people travelling in a bus blown by a blast in Dantewada on Monday is only a new chapter in the book of brutalities that is being scripted in Chhattisgarh and other parts of India in the name of the people.
On the same day Congress leader Hemant Bege was shot dead in Jharkhand. Six people were found slain in Rajnadgaon just a day before the bus blast. A day before that four villagers were killed in Bengal because they were thought be close to the Communist Party of India-Marxist and were labelled informers. Two days before these killings in Bengal, two villagers who were gram rakhis were killed in Orissa. In addition, six paramilitary staffers were killed in a landmine blast Chhattisgarh.
Are these operations a response to the Operation Green Hunt launched by the government? Or are they part of the protracted people's war that is being carried out by the purest revolutionaries of our earth who do not waver and shiver at the sight of blood? Or are they 'false flag operations' conducted by some rogue elements of the state machinery or directly endorsed by the state? How are we to know who is the perpetrator of these crimes?
Do we wait for a statement from the Maoists and if they deny their involvement, launch an investigation to find out the real culprits? It took nearly a month for the Maoists to officially own the attack that killed 76 CRPF men in Dantewada. The Maoist leadership congratulated the bravery of its combatants who had achieved the feat of eliminating a whole company of the Indian paramilitary force.
Some friends from the human rights groups while expressing sorrow over the death of these jawans pointed out that since they were combatants, their deaths cannot be construed as violation of the right to life. One of these groups felt bold enough to say that they, generally, or a matter of principle, do not condemn the deaths of combatants.
This cold clinical approach to the issue of human rights gives you a chilling feeling. Or it is perhaps good news that we now have fairly professional human rights technocracy in our land which tries to take an objective view of things and does not get emotional whatever be the number of dead or whatever the method of killing.
I remember reading a letter by human rights activist Sujato Bhadra addressed to the Maoists, after the beheading of policeman Francis Induwar in Jharkhand last year. It was a long letter in which he tried to argue against capital punishment. Even this bold letter sounded defensive when he had to write seeking their attention, "You represent the advanced elements striving for social transformation. What should be your role as the vanguard? Will you submit to that violent emotion, or will you uphold advanced democratic values and guide the people under your influence along that path?"
Pleading with them against killing or beheading informers he appealed to them to find a better way of isolating them. He wrote, "And Mao was in favour of beheading only a few." Which implies that if the beheadings are only a few, they can still be excused.
But to fair to Bhadra, his letter builds a case against the violent ways of the Maoist politics.
Responding to Bhadra's appeal, Maoist leader and spokesperson Kishenji makes a very interesting point. He says, "As there was a resurgence of revolutionary movements in Andhra Pradesh and erstwhile Bihar in the 1980s, civil rights movements, by degrees, was beset with a crisis. That was the time when the masses rose to shake off the image of 'oppressed masses' and asserted their identity as the 'resisting warrior masses'. Thus old model of civil rights movement could not fit in the new situation. Human rights movements in West Bengal still remained untouched by that crisis. This is because the revolutionary movement in Bengal, as yet, had not regained its relevance in the political scenario.
"Today the movement in Lalgarh has raised a question before the human rights movements. Will the civil rights activists, who are accustomed to stand by the side of the 'oppressed masses', equally not be successful in standing by the side of the 'resisting warrior masses'?"
Should the people fighting against fascist rule be satisfied with saving their skin by holding the hands of leaders along the constitutional path? Or will the people protect themselves by destroying the fascist fortresses like that of Bastille?
He calls upon the civil right workers to shake their indecision and join the resisting warrior forces who are led by likes of Kishenji.
There is indecision among human right workers. They feel or are convinced that the Maoists are led by an advanced consciousness, that these killings are perhaps sacrifices at the altar of evolution, that Maoists are still not a State. Therefore, the criticism which applies to a State cannot be directed at them.
Even this argument which refuses to equate Maoists with the State forgets what they themselves have been saying in their travelogues written after their journeys to the land of the rebellion. By their account we get a picture of small liberated zones being governed by the Maoists. Where their people do not drink voluntarily, watch movies like Magal Pandey or Rang De Basanti, read and write and run their own reform programmes! Kishenji says that in Dankaranya spies and informers are tried and kept in 'people's jails'. He laments that the situation in Bengal in different. Since there are no people's jails what is the alternative before the people's police or army but to put down them?
In the beginning of the note some questions were raised. But cannot one see a pattern in these killings? Are they desperate attempts by the Maoists to take revolutionary struggle to a level which would precipitate a crisis in which it would be impossible for right thinking people not to take sides?
I know that this latest incident would invite criticism from the right thinking people because there were some commoners among the killed. However, the silence of the last ten days on our part does gives an indication of the crisis our democratic and human rights movement is in.