Maoists in the jungle, Bhagat Singh in the fields—welcome to India Burning


Spotlight | Sting operation

 via ‘Red Ant Dream’
Nandini Ramnath, Live mint 

A still from ‘Red Ant Dream’
A few days after a Maoist attack on a Congress party convoy killed at least 27 people, including the founder of the erstwhile militia Salwa Judum, a poll on the website of the television channel CNN-IBN asked: “Bloodbath in Chhattisgarh: Have human rights groups failed to strongly condemn Naxal violence?”
The options were yes or no, the assumption being that civil liberty activists are more worried about armed insurgents than civilians. That assumption is a familiar one for film-maker Sanjay Kak, whose documentaries Words on Water, on the struggle against the Narmada dam, and Jashn-e-Azadi, on the Kashmiri pro-independence movement, dispense with objectivity and take an explicit and vocal stand against the Indian state.
He has encountered his fair share of dissenters to his brand of dissent, but he sees the debate deepening over such prickly issues as the Maoist insurgency, with which he deals in his new documentary Red Ant Dream. “I don’t get asked any more if I am a Naxalite,” he says in a phone interview from Delhi, where he lives and works. “We have gotten past that one.”
Sanjay Kak at his Delhi residence. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

After screenings in Delhi and Punjab, the film will travel to Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad in the coming weeks.

Although Kak makes the case that tribal resistance goes back several decades, and that governments in states like Chhattisgarh are only new manifestations of systemic oppression, the recent killings makeRed Ant Dream a red-hot documentary. The film maps three troubled zones—apart from the Maoists in Bastar in Chhattisgarh, there are tribals battling industrialists in Niyamgiri in Orissa, and a culture of protest built around the memory of Leftist revolutionary Bhagat Singh in Punjab. Seen together with Words on Water (2002) and Jashn-e-Azadi (2007), Red Ant Dream is about India Burning, as it were. The three films are about “the idea of resistance”, Kak says, but he traces this resistance through its foot soldiers rather than its generals and ideologues.
“I am not interested in fundamental questions of power relationships,” Kak says. “The film does not try to be a Naxalism 101, just likeJashn-e-Azadi was not trying to be a Kashmir 101.” His films are about ideology, he says, but “not terribly concerned with party formations” or a “party line”. Words on Water inaugurated his attempt to move beyond being a visual stenographer of movements. “Words on Waterbegan as a campaign film and I tried to make it something else, but it eventually is neither,” Kak says. “In the Kashmir film, I was not particularly interested in what X or Y or Z was saying but in evoking another kind of space.”
Red Ant Dream is three films rolled into one. It is in the mould of documentaries like Amar Kanwar’s A Night of Prophecy (2002), which examines protest music, theatre and literature across India, and Anand Patwardhan’s Jai Bhim Comrade (2011), whose examination of caste taps a rich vein of Dalit protest music. The Punjab segment in Red Ant Dream, which follows groups inspired by Bhagat Singh’s pre-independence Marxist critique of colonialism and inequality, intermingles with on-ground footage of rallies against mining in Niyamgiri and a clandestine encounter with Maoist groups in Bastar.
Kak could have focused on the Maoists, but he chose not to. “The core material came from Bastar, but that’s not the film I wanted to make,” he says. “The most urgent thing was to say something that would start a conversation about the idea of revolution. There has been an effacement, an invisibilization of radical politics. But I don’t have an abstract nostalgia—there are real engagements and these are about real things.”
The Punjab chapter too could have been its own film. Kak first went there trailing the revolutionary poet Avtar Singh Sandhu, who wrote under the pseudonym Pash. “I asked a professor what remains of Naxalism in Punjab today, and he said culture and poetry. Of course, the connection between Pash and Bhagat Singh emerged, and I could see the mobilization around this constellation.” Some viewers have embraced the seeming digressions into Punjab, while others have been “baffled and annoyed” by it, Kak says.
The most talked about section, at least for the moment, is likely to be the one that gives the documentary its name. Kak travelled to Bastar with writer and activist Arundhati Roy for two weeks in February 2010. He shot Maoists speaking about their motivation to engage the government in battle and sharing a dietary secret—a paste of the eggs of red ants.
Although Kak spent a little over six weeks in Bastar, Orissa and Punjab, it took two years to sculpt a 120-minute film out of the footage. The documentary is packed with crisp, terse images of dissent that aim to provoke thought rather than emotion. “What you don’t want to show is long, vérité sequences of affect and consequence,” Kak says about editor Tarun Bhartiya’s approach. “You don’t want people to say, I loved that girl in the forest. But you do want people to see somebody for 20 seconds and never forget them. It’s a rhetorical or didactic assemblage of images—the idea is to engage people on a continuous basis. You are never trying to seduce them into a state of relaxation.”
The approach to editing pretty much sums up Kak’s larger perspective on the role of the documentary. He belongs to the strain of independent documentary film-making that developed in the 1970s in stark opposition to the broadly propagandist Films Division vision of an India on the up. The country spotlighted by these film-makers is an unequal and unjust place in which tribals are being kicked off their land, women abused by population control policies and slum-dwellers ignored by urban policies. The documentaries are diverse in style and ideology, but they are bound together by disagreement with the way things were.
Kak’s own practice has crystallized in recent years into tracking down ordinary practitioners of radical ideas. He didn’t formally study film-making, but learnt on the job while assisting on documentaries and on Pradip Krishen’s feature Massey Sahib. “It’s about footage and how you view footage—it’s why I am never interested in following a set of characters, or one family or one squad,” he says. “The examination of what is going on is an endless process. These three films are an exposition of a certain idea, formally too. One has tried to fashion for oneself, in the way the three films are edited, a language that is appropriate for one’s politics.”
However, even radical film-makers must make “pitches” at fund-raising conferences and festival marketplaces these days to get their films off the ground. Red Ant Dream was financed by funds given by an IDFA Fund grant and a prize from the Busan International Film Festival, South Korea. “I didn’t pitch for the film, we raised the money based on a trailer,” says Kak, who has strong views on the pitching process. “We are in the process of recouping not inconsequential sums of money from DVD sales—there is solid potential there.”
Part of the thrill, and stress, of making political-minded documentaries comes from raising money, ensuring distribution (usually free screenings at friendly venues) and the odd festival exposure. “You compensate for the fact that you don’t have a budget by doing everything yourself,” Kak observes. “Everything is done with people’s pyaar-mohabbat (love and affection). The economics are always exhausting, but this too shall pass.”
Red Ant Dream will be screened in Mumbai at the Alliance Française on 14 June, 7pm, and at the Films Division auditorium on 15 June, 4pm. Click here for details about screenings in other cities.

You Say You Want A Revolution – Film Review


Sanjay Kak’s new documentary is a love song to people across the country fighting to save our soul. Saroj Giri takes a first look

SAROJ GIRI

11-05-2013, Issue 19 Volume 10

2 / 2
Director’s cut: Sanjay Kak

Gandhi taught us that while a political or public victory is possible in war, it however degrades you as a moral being. Think of, say, the Rwandan genocide or the Bosnian conflict. Going by this, the Adivasi Maoists involved in a war in Chhattisgarh, should come across as utterly degraded beings caught in a spiral of violence. With a scribe and a camera in front of them, they should’ve started wailing about their miseries, pleading for exit from the hellish war.

Indeed, what kind of a filmmaker is it who comes back with news that something beautiful and forward-looking is flowering precisely in the midst of all the war and conflict? For God’s sake, why is he not talking about ‘conflict resolution’ or making the Maoists surrender arms, or restoring the government’s writ in the ‘red corridor’ and initiating ‘development’, and so on?

Instead Red Ant Dream — filmmaker Sanjay Kak’s new documentary — starts with Bhagat Singh declaring that “the state of war does exist and shall exist”. The viewer is already pushed to think: what is this war, which goes back to Bhagat Singh and is not just the ongoing war between the armed guerrillas and the security forces?

Brecht once asked what is the robbing of a bank compared to the founding of a bank. Or as one old saying goes, the law catches the thief who steals the geese off the land, but lets off the bigger thief who captures the land off the geese. Banks and law, among other things, are part of a class war, but they are perceived as normal functioning, business as usual. There is no class war, we are told, only peace and democracy. There is no real structural inequality, only asymmetrical life chances or bad luck for some. There is no corporate land grab, only development and growth, without which India will be left out in the global arena.

Everything is nice, everything is fine, except for some exceptions here and there, some terrorists or violent guerrillas! What we have then is a social order constituted by war, but where the war never appears as war as such, appearing instead as peace and/or democracy, or simply ‘growth’. Because of this, revolutionaries who accept that this war exists and take sides are easily smeared as violent, or as terrorists, as immoral. This film challenges this narrative and establishes that revolutionaries open up real utopian possibilities through war, and renders the existing order less impenetrable, less unchallengeable than it appears. It intimately moves along the pregnant fissures and faultlines revolutionaries have patiently furrowed in the belly of the beast.

Red Ant Dream maps the ongoing dirty war over mineral resources. It opens with big dumper trucks ferrying goods, ores and minerals, with big dusty factories in the background. Next, it sets up the ‘two sides’: armed guerrillas in the forest and severe looking security forces. War over resources morphs into the war between these two sides: this is the purported, perhaps intended, frame within which the film signals its unfolding.

But as the film unfolds, it becomes clear that there are no two sides, since they simply do not mirror each other. The guerrillas come across not as warmongering soldiers but, to use Rasta-speak, as souljas, or, in Gandhi-speak, as moral beings. They are not just opposing the enemy. Real opposition is achieved only when you are no longer determined by the conditions set by the enemy you are fighting. The film brings us signs of a real freedom and emancipation, where the Maoists are pointing to a different social order, a different way of relating and approaching life.

Far from being merely one ‘side’ in a dirty war, the Adivasi and the jungle become a metaphor for a rupture and a utopian stirring. From deep within the jungle, a voice emerges: violence is a structural feature built into our hierarchical, oppressive and rotten society. It feels like an infinite judgement on the present order. It refuses to be an ‘opposition voice’, refuses to engage in the rhetoric of ‘democratic opposition’ or the ‘struggle for hegemony’, and instead heralds the dissolution of this order

And then it is the Bhumkal festival. Here the many red flags amidst Adivasi drumbeats and brightly costumed dancers and ‘Gandhians with a gun’ will leave the middle class red radical riveted to the screen. It feels like a dream where you go and touch that other world of freedom. The Adivasi leader Gundadhur is celebrated amidst calls for “death to imperialism” and “long live the new democratic revolution”. You forget that in the melee of the crowds are women People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) soldiers with guns dancing to the drums. Weren’t these soldiers supposed to be atop watchtowers?

There is then, in effect, no two sides, only one side — the side of revolution and life. The big companies live through loot and plunder, through exploitation and terror, trying to live off our land, lives and resources. They, as the Niyamgiri Adivasis explain, only have the pot with boiling water, but “the rice is with us”. And so if we don’t give them the rice and what we have in our mountains, “they are in trouble”. In other words, they need us, we don’t need them.

The philosopher Alain Badiou reminds us that there aren’t two worlds, one of the capitalists and another of the oppressed and marginalised. We must claim that there is only one world and it is all ours: “Ek baag nahi, ek khet nahi, hum saari duniya maangenge”. The same voice is heard from the Adivasis of Niyamgiri, Lakhpadar, Muniguda and beyond, to the activists in Punjab upholding the legacy of Bhagat Singh, and Pash, the poet of revolutionary dreams.

And yet, in the meantime, there are ‘two sides’, for there is a war. Hence the enemy enlists the poor in its ranks, in the army and, worse, you have the Salwa Judum, which has many ordinary Adivasis in its ranks. You see state propaganda videos in which Mahendra Karma (a founder of the vigilante militia) tells us that Salwa Judum is a spontaneous uprising of the Adivasis against Naxalites. And then goes on to boast about the support of the government and the police!

In Red Ant Dream, we see rare footage from the training camps of the Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College in Kanker. We hear about plans for the “creeping reoccupation of territory” from the Maoists and establishing the writ of the government. “Towards this aim,” we learn, “the entire spectrum of national power must be mobilised with the security forces at the forefront.” There’s also Maoist video footage that documents torture by security forces.

Overall, the film’s strength is that it wants to go beyond the spatial specificity of the Adivasi struggle as an indigenous movement (in this forest, against this particular mining company, and so on) and tease out a wider revolutionary left current. Hence its basic orientation is not one of romanticising the Adivasi way of life.

There is, however, one major tension in Red Ant Dream: in the way it presents industrialisation and modernity. The factories and plants are rightly presented as scary and oppressive. The long shot visuals of the industrial plants conjure up this image. But then these industries appear as an absolutely repressive deadweight thing and not as constituted by internal social relations (of capital exploiting labour), not as internally riven by class struggle. Hence the fact that there are potential allies of the Adivasis inside those factories — the workers — does not get taken seriously. Or, for example, that striking Maruti workers could be (potential) allies of displaced Adivasis. This would require an inside-out close-up of the industrial plant so that displaced Adivasis and workers can be seen together to form the proletariat — the properly communist perspective. The proletariat demands the whole world, and not just the protection of its own habitat (jal, jangal, jameen).

The film does come close to exploring this dimension. At one point, there is a conversation with two workers of the Vedanta mining company. They are in solidarity with the Adivasi villagers but still work for the hated company. They know that the company exploits them, that the real wealth is in the mountains and not in the city. But they have to work in the factory since they have no other way to feed their family. The jal, jangal, jameen option is not available to them. So what will be their terms of solidarity with those Adivasis who can revert to their jal, jangal, jameen and who want the company out? Only a wider movement can address these questions.

Another tension is with regards to the use of Bhagat Singh’s legacy. Here ‘anti-imperialism’ seems overloaded with nationalist or patriotic fervour. So the three men shouting “bagawat, bagawat, bagawat” to defend and “give our life for the nation” would surely run counter to the Adivasis in Niyamgiri who want to question the nation itself. Those upholding the legacy make tall promises about sacrifice and revolution. This contrasts with the fighting guerrillas who make no such claims.

At another level, the convergence of rebels and forests in the film is of wider provenance. The movie Pan’s Labyrinth has the little girl running away from the fascists only to find support from the rebels in the forests. Here again the fascists are parasitic and vampirish while the rebels stand for the rupture of the status quo, for life and a brighter future. The rebels seem a realisation of the freedom the girl always yearned for. Or think of Satyajit Ray’s Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, when the dancing spirits of the forest offer boons to Goopy and Bagha. These boons set them on a fantasmatic high, give them a footing as it were to critique or reject existing society for its harshness and inequalities: the impossible becomes possible.

Unlike these movies, there is nothing oracular in the Red Ant Dream: here, the fantastic is snatched from the jaws of reality, of war and class struggle, through patient work among the masses. The imposed reality of war is turned around into the possibility of a better society: what else can be more fantastic!

Red Ant Dream will be screened at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, on 7 May

letters@tehelka.com

(Published in Tehelka Magazine, Volume 10 Issue 19, Dated 11 May 2013)

Saroj Giri     

24  2  0 Tumblr0   – See more at: http://tehelka.com/you-say-you-want-a-revolution/#sthash.12IqeVad.zT4oA5dV.dpuf

 

An open letter to Shri Manna Dey- Call for endorsements


Dear Manna da,                                                                                                          

Last week brought us shock by the West Bengal Police’s brutal assault on a peaceful demonstration of students in Kolkata, killing a young activist, Sudipto Gupta, and inflicting serious injuries to many students. While the victim was battling for his life, the Chief Minister, who is also in charge of the police department, Ms. Mamata Banerjee, was active in the Indian Premier League (IPL) opening ceremony extravaganza. With stains of blood in her hand, within a day, she came down to Bangalore to “honour” you!

Our question before you, Manna da, is as follows.

Do you really need this “honour” from her, who has blood in her hands? Did you not check her record before you gave your approval to this “honour”?

Is it not a tragic irony that while you are a musical genius, the boy’s father, an unknown violinist, is also a musician? While the bereaved father plays the tune of mourning, can you – Manna da, accept this “honour” from a person, who publicly label the brutal custodial death of a student a ‘petty matter’ – who is the cause of it?

You have enthralled us with your unforgettable Puchho na kaisey mayne rayen beetayee..? Can you ask the same question to Sudipto’s father and sister, as to how, they spent the dark night of April 2, 2013 and thereafter?

Manna da, your voice became ours, when you sang Manbo na e bondhoney, manbo na e shrinkhaley (We shall not accept these chains that shackle us). That still is our aspiration. We are sure that you too have not strayed away from that.

This reminds us of an episode in the life of Bhagat Singh. An admirer of of Lala Lajpat Rai, Bhagat Singh was shocked when Lajpat Rai joined the communal organization, The Hindu Mahasabha. In agony, the young freedom fighter, Bhagat Singh , wrote a letter of protest to his leader, quoting from Robert Browning’s poem, The Lost Leader, which was Browning’s condemnation of Wordsworth’s betrayal of the cause of “liberty, equality and fraternity”. The poem begins with the words, Just for a handful of silver he left us. It pains us to believe that you could have accepted this “honour” from Ms. Banerjee “just for a handful of silver.”

And, it would always give us pain, to say about you,

We, who had loved him so, followed him, honoured him,

Lived in his mild and magnificent eye…..

…..He alone breaks from the van and the free-men,

He alone sinks to the rear and the slaves!

It would, hence be a great sorrow for us to say,

 

Blot out his name then, record one lost soul more,

One task more declined, one more footpath untrod,

One more devil’s triumph and sorrow for angels,

One wrong more to man, one more insult to God.

We are sure that what has happened is a cynical ploy by a discredited political agency to purchase credibility, by making you a victim of it. We, in no way would like to allow your name to be linked with them. For it was your voice which described them as,

Anna ditey narey bubhukkhu janataye,

Kantha rodh karey lathi raifele.

(Those who do not give food to the hungry mouths but throttle their voice with batons and rifles.)

But Manna da, we do not believe in infallibility of humans, even of the greatest of the great. We want you in our midst and thus request you to return this “one gift”. As Rabindra Nath Tagore had said, while returning the knighthood to the British crown in the wake of the Jallianwallah Bagh massacre, “The time has come when badges of honour make our shame glaring in the incongruous context of humiliation.”

Please, do consider whether the time has come for you too, to “give voice to the protest of millions of my countrymen, surprised into dumb anguish of terror.”

Do not be shackled, Manna da, by this “honour”, which heaps insult on you.

Manbo na e bondhone,  manbo na e shrinkhale

Mukto manusher swadhinata adhikar, kharba korey jara ghrinnyo koushaley…

(We shall not accept these chains that shackle us

We will unshackle from those, whose shameful machinations trample upon the right to liberty of free human beings.)

With reverential honour to you from the depth of our hearts.

Sd/-

Subhankar Chakraborty,

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Human rights activist, Mumbai

 

(If you agree pl sign in the comment section, name, org/profession, city

25th Anniversary of Paash – A Punjabi Poet who died for opposing Fanaticism #mustshare


SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

The Most Dangerous – Poem by Paash

Most treacherous is not the robbery
of hard earned wages
Most horrible is not the torture by the police.

Most dangerous is
To be filled with dead peace
Not to feel agony and bear it all,

Leaving home for work
And from work return home
Most dangerous is the death of our dreams.

Most dangerous is that watch
Which runs on your wrist
But stands still for your eyes.

Most dangerous is that eye
Which sees all but remains frostlike,
Most dangerous is the moon
Which rises in the numb yard
After each murder,
But does not pierce your eyes like hot chilis

By Gurpreet Singh

Twenty-five years ago when leftists across the world were commemorating the hanging of Bhagat Singh—a towering revolutionary who fought against the British occupation of India—another progressive voice was silenced by the terrorist bullets in Punjab, India.

Paash, whose real name was Avtar Sandhu, was gunned down by Sikh separatists on March 23, 1988.

It was a sheer coincidence that his murder came on a historic day that commemorated the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh and his two comrades, Rajguru and Sukhdev, who were hanged together by the British government on March 23, 1931. But the political ideology of Paash, who was born in 1950, made him inseparable from them.


True to his commitment toward the secular and progressive ideology of Bhagat Singh and his comrades, Paash was assassinated for his writings, which opposed religious fundamentalism. 

Much like Bhagat Singh, Paash was opposed to religious fanaticism of every shade and pulled no punches while criticizing both Hindu and Sikh extremists.

Yet the terrorists, owing allegiance to the Khalistan Commando Force seeking a separate theocratic Sikh homeland, shot him dead. 

His death shocked secularist Punjabi scholars in B.C. where a Paash Memorial Trust is still active and continues to hold events in his memory once a while.

Although Paash lived in California, he never made it to Canada. He was visiting India at the time of his murder.

It was thanks to Maxim Gorky’s Mother that Avtar Sandhu came to be known as Paash. Born in a peasant family, he loved to identify himself after Pasha, the hero of the classic novel by the same name.

This pen name gave him a new identity which remained with him until his assassination. There were some striking similarities between legendary Pasha and Paash as both stood for the working class and opposed both the establishment and theocracy.


Paash started writing poetry during his early teens and was an ardent reader, who had a personal library that housed books on range of subjects including science, philosophy, and literature. Though he wrote essays and published two Punjabi journals, Haak and Anti 47, as well as a “wall newspaper“, he gained much prominence as a poet. 

His poetry was so popular that its translation from Punjabi into other languages attracted attention widely, both outside Punjab and all of India. Even some Bollywood stars were among his admirers.

In the late 1960s he became involved in the youth wing of the Communist Party of India, but slowly he became fed up with its politics and instead joined with supporters of the ultra-leftist Naxalbari movement. It believed in an armed struggle for the sake of landless farmworkers.

He borrowed the idea of publishing a wall newspaper from Chinese revolution. It is a separate matter that he was not a sectarian leftist and remained critical of the flaws within Communist parties and groups.

Paash was briefly jailed for being a Naxalite but this did not deter him from writing for poor and against state repression. His poems were frequently smuggled out of prison and published. His rebellious poetry was widely circulated among the youngsters. Even a section of police and bureaucracy was influenced by his poetry.

It is not surprising that the BJP, a Hindu nationalist party of India, opposed an attempt to include one of his highly provocative poems in the school curriculum. 

Paash also opposed the state of emergency imposed by the Congress government from 1975 to 1977, and expressed his anger at the then-Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi in his poetry.

He even returned a paycheque to a Hindi newspaper that censored lines about Gandhi in his poem as a mark of protest.

It was his journal Anti 47 that provoked the Sikh separatists. Since he studied a lot, he questioned and denounced their separatist ideology by quoting from Sikh scriptures. He shamed them by arguing that the real Sikhism was all about equality and compassion—and not fascism.

The title of the journal symbolized a challenge to another attempt to divide India on religious lines like in 1947, when Muslim Pakistan was separated from India.

As a result, he was gunned down by the extremists in his native village Talwandi Salem. As one says, you can kill a person but not an idea. Paash may have been murdered physically, but his rebellious rhymes will continue to live.

Gurpreet Singh is Georgia Straight contributor, and the host of a program on Radio India. He’s working on a book tentatively titled Canada’s 9/11: Lessons from the Air India Bombings

#India- Observe 23-30 March week -unconditional release of political prisoners and repealing draconian laws #AFPSA


COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS
185/3, FOURTH FLOOR, ZAKIR NAGAR, NEW DELHI-110025

ON MARCH 23—BHAGAT SINGH, SUKHDEV AND RAJGURU’S MARTYRDOM DAY

OBSERVE THE WEEK 23-30 MARCH 
FOR THE UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!
TO REPEAL ALL DRACONIAN LAWS INCLUDING AFSPA & UAPA!
FOR POLITICAL PRISONERS STATUS TO ALL THOSE WHO HAS BEEN INCARCERATED FOR THEIR POLITICAL VIEWS!
NO TO DEATH PENALTY!

Revolutionaries never die. The martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru once again reiterate this truth. Their martyrdom epitomises the veritable saying even in death we shall dare! Yes the indefatigable spirit of the three martyrs still enlivens the struggle for justice and truth for many of the oppressed and exploited in the Indian subcontinent as well as the world. The conviction of the three martyrs as young revolutionaries to swim against the tide, to dare to dream of a new world and break new paths for the emancipation of the vast sections of the toiling masses of the subcontinent still lingers in the dreams of many in Post-47 India.

Today when we observe the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh-Sukhdev-Rajguru little have things changed from the days of colonial vintage with the vast sections of the people of the subcontinent living in abysmal conditions—literal hand to mouth existence—with uncertainties abounding their lives. All the efforts of these peoples to make their world a better place to live, with dignity, equality, security as human beings have been met with the worst forms of violence from the powers that be. The pro-imperialist, Development State that was ushered in, post-1947, in the Indian subcontinent has systematically pushed these peoples to the margins so much so that their survival is under peril. Every effort of the people to do away with this model of development that replicates the exploitative, oppressive structures of surplus maximisation of the local parasitic classes in alliance with imperialist interests have been met with criminal profiling by the Indian State. Several draconian legislations enacted since 1947 by the Indian State have been in one form or the other retained in many such legislations to follow till date despite protests from the progressive, democratic sections of the society. The present day Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) has turned out to be one of the most draconian legislations with scores of people put behind the bars under this act. Along with this is the notorious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that is in force in the regions of the North East and Kashmir as well as a surfeit of draconian security laws framed by the various state governments in India. The simultaneity in the spate of legislations of various kinds of draconian security acts by almost all state governments in India along with the aggressive implementation of the policies of Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation is significant. The last 15 years itself has witnessed this unprecedented rise of different forms of penal laws that are being used with impunity to silence and incarcerate many a Bhagat Singhs, Sukhdevs and Rajgurus in the length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent. But despite the beastly demeanour of the Indian State not a single project or policy initiative—be it mining, land grab, dam construction, super highways, forest land, or setting up of mega-steel plants etc—of the Indian government has gone without the news of protests from the masses of the people who have resorted to every form and means to defend their land and livelihoods.

At a time when from the various ministries of the central government to the Governors and chief ministers of the states let alone the lowest commandant of the paramilitary at the ground are all preaching ‘development’—an euphemism for further violence on them in the form of land grab, displacement from their habitat, a policy of unbridled loot and plunder of people’s resources—to the people the real violent face of the state has never been exposed so blatantly before the people. The duplicity of this talk of development of the State has never been more evident as it is today. The struggle of the vast sections of the people left with little options should also be seen in this context as an attempt to stay alive amidst the dance of death in the form of malnutrition, hunger, lack of opportunities of production and reproduction of their material world. The rural economy which has traditionally been the backbone of the vast sections of the people as the largest employment provider has been perilously stagnant the situation moving from bad to worse as the state has totally neglected any form of constructive expenditure in this area. The fear of more Bhagat Singhs and his ilk rising again from this genuine anger that vast sections of the toiling masses share with their martyred freedom fighter is palpable in the response of the state as more and more forces abound those areas of the subcontinent where the land is rich abundant with resources inhabited by the poorest of the poor. More and more prisons and state-of-the-art police stations are being built in the areas populated by the poorest of the people. The garrison state teethed with penal laws is fast becoming a reality.

Thus the target of the State which is in service of moribund capital in deep crisis has been the poor Adivasis, dalits, various nationality groups such as the Kashmiris, Nagas, Manipuri people, Assamese, Kamtapuris, the Muslim minorities who have become easy targets of the so-called war against terror. Around 25000 adivasis have been put behind bars in various prisons in the states of Chhattisgrah, Jharkhand, Orissa, Jungalmahal in West Bengal etc. Hundreds of Muslims framed in several cases as part of the ideological campaign of the Indian State which as pitched itself as the able partner of US imperialism in the so-called war against terror. The undeclared number of Kashmiri Muslims kept in various prisons as well as secret torture and detention centres run into thousands. Further India has become the biggest purchaser of weapons in the international market while it has little to spend on health and education.

As every form of dissent—struggle for better wages and working conditions, better and subsidized education, employment, livelihood, against displacement and land grab etc., is being criminalised by the State as the activists and their leadership of various struggles are being put behind bars with trumped up cases, anyone who has taken the trouble to question the anti-people, pro-business/capital policies of the government has become a Maoist. Anyone who empathises with the oppressed and discriminated, anyone who has given his/her time apart from their personal life for the betterment of the greater common good, for the cause of the poorest of the poor, the salt of the earth cannot be but a Maoist a la the perception of the police and an obliging, sensation driven media.

In such a scenario when prisons are being crowded with more and more people clamouring for their rights, with the State constantly in search of a submissive, naive subject as its people, the spirit of the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru becomes alive, as the long and arduous struggle to do away with all kinds of prisons that has become fetters to the overall development of humanity cannot be wished away.

CRPP calls upon all freedom loving people of the subcontinent to come forward to be part of the legacy of the martyrdom of our beloved freedom fighters and their cherished goals for a just and equitable society. The struggle to release all political prisoners and to do away with all kinds of draconian laws and to put an end to all forms exploitative and oppressive violence of the State in the form of capital punishment and other extra-judicial forms of killings are inseparable from the cherished dreams of the Great Martyrs.

In Solidarity,
Amit Bhattacharyya

 

Political prisoners observe Hunger strike on 23rd March Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom day for ABOLISHMENT OF #Deathpenalty


PRESS RELEASE,  NAGPUR , MARCH 21, 2013

Numerous countries across the world have abolished the death sentence as a form of punishment. However India, claimed repeatedly by its rulers to be a democratic country still retains this inhuman practice and the bloody eye-for-an-eye code of justice. Capital punishment is unacceptable with democratic principles and hence we believe that it should be abolished in India. With this demand about forty political prisoners of the Nagpur Central prison, including ten women will observe a one day token Hunger strike on 23rd March 2013.

Bhagat Singh, Sukhdeo and Rajguru, who fought against British Imperialism and underwent a prolonged struggle against the colonial prison administration for recognition of their political prisoner status were hanged to death by the British. As part of this struggle, political prisoners across the country observe the day of their martyrdom, 23rd March each year as ‘Political Prisoners Day’.

On this occasion, the government never fails to sponsor full page advertisements in the daily papers, whilst killing his thoughts and opinions. The government colluding with Imperialism and making numerous agreements for the sale of the nation, is like the British brutally crushing those who resist- the revolutionaries, democrats and patriots. Those who believe in freedom, equality and liberty are branded as anti-nationals and some are sentenced to death by hanging to make an example.

Through this press note, we call that all those imprisoned for their rights, justice, freedom, equality and liberty be recognized as political prisoners and be unconditionally released.

Yours faithfully,

Undertrial Bhimrao Bhovate

Date: 21st March 2013

Place: Nagpur Prison.

 

Meri Skirt se Unchi ,Meri Avaaz hai.. #delhigangrape #Vaw


skirtfinal

Skirt  Se Unchi Meri Awaaz Hai

मेरी स्सक्रट से उँची मेरी आवाज़ है !

माँगे जो पीने को पानी कभी ,
भाग जाते हो दिल्ली, से लंडन तभी , 
सारी जनता को रो कर तब दिखाते हो , 
आज भर भर के पानी की तोप चलाई , 
बताओ अब पानी “कहाँ” से लाते हो? … 

मेरी स्सक्रट से उँची मेरी आवाज़ है , 
माना की सर पे तेरे ही ताज़ है , 
नारी हूँ , मिट्टी इसी की मैं भी , 
बता दूँगी दिल मेरे मे ” क्या आज है” … 

मेरी स्सक्रट से उँची मेरी आवाज़ है , 
क्या दिखता है “तुझको” , टॅंगो का चमडा, 
हैवान , तुझ मे “हवस” का राज है , 
क्या दिखता है , जब “काली” को तू देखता है ? .
क्या तब भी हवस से खुद को सेकता है ? 

मेरी स्सक्रट से उँची मेरी आवाज़ है , 
कानो को तेरे हिला दूँगी आज , 
वो गंदी नज़र को जला दूँगी आज , 
उस क्रांति मे तर्पण होगा तेरा , 

अब तेरे “तर्पण” मन हल्का होगा मेरा … 

चेत जाओ . ओ , नेता, ओ वेता सभी, 
मैं , नारी हूँ , यह जान लो , 
मेरी रग रग को पहचान लो , 
फिर यह जान लो …
मेरी स्सक्रट से उँची मेरी आवाज़ है .

 

By- Rahul Yogi Deveshwar

Call for Action ! Send #SoniSori a Postcard #actnow #mustshare


 

 

Soni Sori’s struggle for justice gets solidarity from various parts of the country

Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) has launched a solidarity campaign for Soni Sori incarcerated in Raipur jail for the past one year under false charges of being a Maoist engaged in extortion and violence.

In two of the eight cases fabricated against her by the Dantewada police, Soni Sori has already been acquitted. In a third significant case in which she, her husband and her nephew Lingaram Kodopi are all charged and imprisoned,  the key eye witness, Avadhesh Gautam, has given vital testimony on  27th September 2012, confirming that none of these three were present at the incident site.  This corroborates what Soni Sori has been saying all this while, that the Chhattisgarh police have been foisting all these false cases against her and her family, merely in order to harass and punish them for refusing to obey the illegal diktats of the Chhattisgarh police.

Soni Sori is an ordinary school teacher in Chhattisgarh, who chose to think and act independently and refused to go with either the Maoists or the state security forces.  However, her cries of being only an ordinary school teacher, albeit with an independent mind, have fallen on deaf ears. She was arrested in Delhi on 4th October 2011 and remanded to police custody of Chhattisgarh police on 7th October 2011 for three days. It was during those three days that she was subjected to heinous violence and sexual torture under the orders of the Superintendent of Police Ankit Garg. Ironically, instead of being suspended, SP Ankit Garg was decorated with the President’s Police Medal of Gallantry on the occasion of the Republic Day earlier this year.

While her tormentor was thus feted, Soni Sori was left to deal with the physical and mental trauma of the torture on her own and even visitors from reputed womens’ groups through out the country, who only wanted to offer her solidarity, were refused permission to meet her in jail. But instead of breaking her spirit, the state only managed to break her silence and Soni Sori wrote at length about the degrading treatment she was subjected to. An appeal before the Supreme Court gave her a partial respite and she was sent to Kolkata for a physical examination, where stones were discovered from her private parts proving the terrible torture that she was subjected to. Chhattisgarh government has not relented and did not even provide her the recommended medical treatment.

Soni Sori is a spirited woman and has been on extended hunger strikes in the jail to push for humane treatment of prisoners. On the occasion of the birth Centenary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh a post card campaign has been launched where people from across the country will send her post cards to express their solidarity with her struggle for justice.

It should be recalled that Bhagat Singh also used his incarceration to further his political message and nothing could break his spirit.

WSS calls upon everyone to join in this campaign. Post cards were signed in Delhi, Bhopal and Indore today to launch the campaign and were sent to Soni Sori, Central Jail Raipur, Chhattisgarh 492001

PLEASE SIGN ONLINE PETITION FOR HER RELEASE !!

Inline image 1

 

Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi held on sedition charge for ‘mocking the constitution’


NDTV, MUMBAI

The police insist that the arrest is a procedural formality, saying they have acted on a complaint. The First Information Report states that the accused had put ‘ugly and obscene content’ on his website.

“He has shown disrespect to the National flag and therefore he has been arrested under section 124 A,” said Chandrakant Bhosale, Senior Inspector, Mumbai Police.
The arrest comes at a time when Mr Trivedi was scheduled to visit Syria to collect the 2012 Courage in Editorial cartooning award. He was scheduled to fly on September 12.

“If telling the truth makes one a traitor, then I am happy. Likewise even Gandhi, Bhagat Singh are traitors. If while doing service to the nation I am booked under sedition, I will continue to do so and get arrested,” Mr Trivedi said today.

AK Khan, a friend of Mr Trivedi, alleged that the cartoonist is being repeatedly manhandled since his arrest. India Against Corruption or IAC, which has been attacking the government over a series of alleged scams, has lent support to Mr Trivedi, saying the arrest is politically-motivated.

“If anyone is talking against corruption, proclaiming it as anti-national and slamming charges of sedition, one needs to understand that this (drawing cartoons) is against the government and not against the country,” said Mayank Gandhi, a member of IAC.

“He is not a member of IAC but is fighting against corruption and we are here to lend him moral support,” Mr Gandhi added.

“Whoever raises their voice against corruption is termed as a seditionist, anti-nationalist and a Naxalite,” said Preeti Menon, member IAC.

INVITATION- Seema Azad and Vishwavijay – speak in JNU on 3rd September


The singer was singing
And they question him
Why do you sing?
He answers them
as they seize him
Because I sing
And they have searched him:
In his breast only his heart
In his heart only his people
In his voice only his sorrow
In his sorrow only his prison
And they have searched his prison
To find only themselves in chains
Mahmoud Darwish

Friends,
As it is well known Seema Azad and Vishwavijay, two civil rights activists,

editor of a well known magazines and literary persons were arrested in
2010, were arrested from Khuldabad, Allahabad. Their ‘crime’ was that
they possessed literature of Bhagat Singh. The state saw them as ‘potential
terrorists’ as threat to the country. They were sentenced for life on charges
of criminal conspiracy, waging war and under several provisions of the
draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
As the Organising Secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in
Uttar Pradesh and editor of the  magazine Dastak Seema had
consistently reported and gave  voice to the growing dissent of the
people against the anti-people  policies of the government in the
form of Ganga Expressway which  brought forth the nexus of the
politicians, bureaucrats and the  land mafia. As we may recall the
Ganga Expressway can result in  the displacement of thousands of
peasantry. It was her initiative to  expose the increasing arbitrary
arrests, torture and incarceration  of Muslim youth in Azamgarh.

The magazine Dastak became a vehicle for expressing the voice of the
voiceless. And this is precisely what the government would want us to
believe as ‘waging war against the state’! And this is why the police officer
would find fault with both of them, for ‘waging war’ with the state, for
reading Bhagat Singh at a time when the state is flaunting a sham ‘growth
rate’, but the material condition of the people are deteriorating every day!
The verdict against Seema Azad and Vishwa Vijay w against the grain of
fundamental rights of the people of the subcontinent as it goes a long way
in criminally profiling any political dissent or opinion or even spreading
that as ‘waging war’ against the state. The state would tell us how we
should think and express ourselves. We can be only part of the state in
‘managing’ the perception of the people.

Seema and Vishwavijay were finally granted bail by the Allahabad High
Court this August. Huge public pressure that was mounted on the court by
consistent campaign by civil rights and democratic activists finally forced
the court to grant them bail. Although this is indeed a huge victory for the
democratic movement, it is also a grim reminder that even now thousands
of activists including cultural activists are still being incarcerated after
being framed as ‘terrorists’ or ‘extremists’ just because they dare to raise
their voices against exploitation and oppression of the people. Sudhir
Dhawale, Jeetan Marandi, Deepak Dengle or Utpal Bashke are a few
among the thousands who are languishing in various jails of the country,
charged with the ‘crime’ of being fearless cultural and literary activists who
stood by people’s resistance for land, livelihood and dignity. The fight to
release all these political prisoners must go on. As a part of that effort, we
invite you to this convention, where along with Seema and Vishwavijay
many other well known poets and writers will raise their voice against the
war that has been declared on our
fundamental rights by the Indian state.

उठाने ही होंगे  अभिव्यभि केख़तरे दमन के भख़लाफ़ प्रभतरोध की सस्ं कृभत

Uthane hi honge abhivyakti ke khatre: daman ke khilaf pratirodh ki sanskriti”

Speakers:
Seema Azad
Vishwavijay
Anjani
Manager pandey
Pankaj Bisht
Mangalesh Dabral
Madan Kas

Ranjit Verma
Neelabh Ashq
Anuj Lugun
Kapilesh Bhoj
Prashant Rahi
Vidrohi

3rd of September in SSS Auditorium JNU at 2pm.

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