The recent raids and subsequent house arrests of the dubious Maoists, masquerading as human rights activists, lawyers and civil rights activists, have rattled many in the establishment. The violence in the name of ‘Maoism’ has killed many more civilians and soldiers than the Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. So-called intellectuals like Varavara Rao have openly defended this in many interviews, terming all the victims ‘on the wrong side of the war’. What is this war all about and why? What are the repercussions for the ‘people’ in whose name this war is being fought? What is the politics and economics of this ‘war’ that is being controlled from the urban intellectual centres? By denouncing the Constitution and democracy, what kind of ‘New Democracy’ they want to establish by taking over the State? These are the real questions that we should address as a nation. Instead of addressing these issues of national importance, the political opportunists like the Congress and the Communists and their prodigies in the ecosystem are questioning the Government that is ensuring the implementation of the ‘Rule of Law’
Capt Smita Gaikwad
Just ten arrests have shaken the self-proclaimed liberals so much that they declared ‘Emergency’. There is lots of misinformation being circulated in this regard. This piece is to bring forth the facts.
Rao is one of the founders of Viplava Rachayitala Sangahm (Revolutionary Writers' Association), popularly known by its acronym Virasam, that supports and propagates Naxalite ideology and practice. He has been arrested earlier on many occasions for propagating the Naxal ideology through literary activism. Under NT Rama Rao Govt in Andhra Pradesh 1980s, with Rajiv Gandhi-led Central Government, Rao was arrested in 1985. Six cases were foisted against him in 1985 alone. His interviews were restricted, and he was kept under severe surveillance. His mails, including registered newspapers, were censored for months together. He was implicated in two more cases while he was in jail. One of them was another conspiracy case by name, Ramnagar Conspiracy Case. Rao was acquitted in 2003.
He was again arrested in 2005 when the deceased Congress leader YS Rajasekhara Reddy was the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. It has been reported that Rao shouted "long live revolution" as he was detained then.
The arrests on June 6 and August 28, 2018, are based on FIR filed by Tushar Damgude in Pune against Elgaar Parishad organisers. He filed FIR against Kabir Kala Manch and Republican Panther members. Based on this FIR, houses of members of the alleged persons were raided and evidence collected by Pune City Police. The complete process of search and seizure has been photographed and video graphed by the Pune City Police. The seized electronic data was submitted to Pune Court, and it was forwarded to the Forensic lab for analysis and reports. Subsequently, Labs submitted the report to Pune Court. As stated by Mr Ravindra Kadam, former Joint Commissioner of Pune City Police, ‘The Police has received cloned copies of the communications from the Forensic lab and are being investigated. It contains information about several of the several activities and planning of Maoists at different places in India.’ There is no deviation from any legal processes. Similarly, Mr Kadam stated that the Maoists used to use coded language for communication. However, as Technology advanced, they started using Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption program for the security of their email communication.
Bharadwaj is an Indian trade unionist, a civil rights activist against land acquisition, is also associated with Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha. She was born an American citizen and became an Indian citizen only after she turned 18. Her elder sister Krishna Bharadwaj was the founding Chairperson of the Economics centre at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University. In July 2018, Republic TV reported that Bharadwaj, a trade unionist, had allegedly written a letter to one Comrade Prakash about a meeting that took place in March 2017 in Nagpur. According to the channel, the meeting Bharadwaj mentioned in the letter was attended by Comrade Surendra Gadling and Comrade Shoma Sen, later arrested by Pune police in the Bhima-Koregaon case. The channel also says that the letter exposes the link between Maoists and Kashmiri separatists.
The Koregaon Bhima case is being investigated by Pune Rural Police, and Pune City Police are investigating Elgaar Parishad case. These arrests are about Elgaar Parishad. Pune Rural Police are separately handling the case of Bhide and Ekbote. Action has already been taken against Ekbote, and currently, he is out on bail. There are no sufficient grounds to arrest Bhide. Those claiming to have enough evidence against Bhide could have gone to court with evidence to challenge Police inaction. They could not do that as there is no ground to arrest him. There are FIRs against five people in Koregaon Bhima violence filed by three different individuals. Bhide and Ekbote are two of them. The FIR also mentions that Sambhaji Bhide was there at Koregaon and was seen attacking people. However, Sambhaji Bhide, Founder of Shivpratishthan, was present at Sangali for post-death rituals of the mother of NCP leader from Sangali.
Gautam Navlakha has been dubbed as civil liberties, democratic, and human rights activist; and a journalist. However, his activism has only been active at the fault lines of Bharat to sharpen them more. According to a report ('My Book is Red', Outlook, May 17, 2010) Navlakha (who is also a consultant editor of the Economic and Political Weekly), spent about a fortnight deep in the Dandakaranya jungles in January 2010 and got a close-up look at the way the Maoists function. In 2011, Navalkha was detained at Srinagar Airport. Back then, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir had said that "his presence could disturb peace and order in the Valley." After the killing of terrorist Burhan Wani by the security forces in 2016, he had written an article allegedly sympathetic to the militants. In the article, Navalkha had addressed the terrorists as “Burhan Wani and his comrades”.
There is a narrative being promoted that Liberals and leftists are being targeted for criticism of the current Government. It is important to note here that series of arrests of Sanatan Sanstha members took place in Maharashtra this month itself. The action is being taken against people involved in extremist or anti-National activities irrespective of their ideologies.
Ferreira is dubbed as a human rights activist and lawyer and an alumnus of St Xavier’s college, Mumbai. He was arrested in 2007 on the charges of being a Naxal operative but was later acquitted. Ferreira was arrested along with senior Naxalite leader Arun Satya Reddy alias Murali in Nagpur in 2007 when they were trying to hold a secret meeting at Deekshabhoomi. They were charged with the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Indian Arms Acts and 353 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). He was re-arrested with another case of Naxalite violence in Gadchiroli immediately after the court released him. It is being claimed that he was proficient in computers and was the in-charge of propaganda and communication network of CPI (Maoist) while Murali was the divisional secretary of North Gadchiroli division of CPI (Maoist).
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sent a Notice to DGP, Maharashtra and Chief Secretary taking suo moto cognisance of the media report and asking for authenticating information on standard processes followed by Police while conducting these arrests. The fact that NHRC can and is demanding explanation from Police for these operations without any political pressure, Media can express their views (biased or otherwise) without suppression, Activists and supporters of these alleged Maoists being able to organise protests, suggests that Democracy and Constitutional principles are being followed in letter and spirit even in case of those who are alleged of their involvement in anti-Constitutional terrorist Organisation CPI (Maoist). It is the evidence that Democracy and Constitution prevail in India. Every arrested person was produced in court and all legal procedures were ensured.
Gonsalves was arrested on the charges of helping banned Naxalite organisations in 2007. In 2013, he was convicted under Arms Act. However, he was released as he had already undergone the period he was sentenced for. A gold medallist from Mumbai University and a former lecturer at Ruparel College and HR College, Gonsalves, security agencies claim, was an ex-central committee member and former secretary of Maharashtra State Rajya Committee of Naxalites. He was charged in around 20 cases and has been acquitted due to lack of evidence, after serving six years in jail.
Another matter of concern is the narrative on Social Media or mainstream Media. ‘ The arrested people are Social Activists or Human Rights Activists or respected Intellectuals so they cannot be guilty and should not be arrested'. Does the Constitution say so? Those who make such demands and statements believe in the Constitution? It has been proven time and again in the past that Maoist leadership comes from the so-called elite class of Society comprising Lawyers, Intellectuals, and Professors etc. GN Saibaba and Vernon Gonsalves, the convicted Maoists, were academicians and professors by profession.
Principal Task of the CPI (Maoist)
Principal Task of the CPI (Maoist): Develop and intensify the people’s war throughout the country. Take up the basic and principal task of building PLA and Liberated Areas by advancing armed agrarian revolution. Take up concrete, time-bound plans to transform guerilla zones into base areas. Orient all activities to precipitate implementation of the central task. Foil every attack of state and central governments, aimed at liquidating our party and PLGA and suppressing the peasant revolutionary struggles, by waging people’s war. Strengthen the Party, PLGA, and United Front and intensify the guerrilla war with the perspective of liberated area.
Other Immediate Tasks: Develop class struggles in the urban areas paying special attention to the working class. Since urban areas have great potential to become powerful centres of anti-imperialist, anti-CBB, anti-feudal struggles especially in the background of growing imperialist exploitation and stranglehold over our country’s economy due to the policies of globalisation and liberalisation.
Uphold the struggle of nationalities for self-determination including secession and condemn brutal state repression on these nationalities. Support the struggles of various nationalities like Kashmiris, Assamese, Nagas, Manipuris, Tripur is for the right of self determination including the right to secede and the struggle of the people of Telangana, Vidarbha and others for statehood, while at the same time the necessity of comprehensive programme for emancipation from exploitation and oppression should be propagated amongst the people.
Isolate and defeat the Hindu fascist forces; concentrate the attacks in particular on the BJP, RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena and other Hindu chauvinist and fascist organisations
-Political Resolution, Central Committee (P) CPI(Maoist)-2004
Late Anuradha Ghandy, Former Maoist Central Committee member was also a professor. When I interviewed Varvara Rao three years back at his residence, he was justifying how violence is the only way forward. In the past, he has explained CPI (ML) (PWG) stand and mentioned clearly that ‘The party believes in capturing political power through protracted armed struggle. Let us not judge them basis their profession or societal status. Let Law takes its course. In 2013, MHA filed an affidavit in Supreme Court about Urban Maoists. The affidavit reportedly says “The ‘frontal’ organisations of CPI (Maoist), operating under the garb of human rights NGOs, have kept the Maoist movement alive and are more dangerous than armed cadres. These ‘mass organisations’ (‘frontal’) are generally manned by ideologues, who include academicians and activists, fully committed to the party line. Such organisations ostensibly pursue human rights related issues and are also adept at using the legal processes of the Indian state to undermine and emasculate enforcement action by the security forces. They also attempt to malign the State institutions through propaganda and disinformation to further the cause of their ‘revolution’. The state governments are required to initiate legal action against the Maoist front organisations in towns and cities, which are the primary source of recruitment of underground cadres and also disseminate the unconstitutional and violent Maoist ideology to vulnerable sections of the population. However, initiating legal proceedings against them has often resulted in negative publicity for the enforcement agencies due to the effective propaganda machinery of the CPI (Maoist).
Another observation is the difference in the level of outrage. When arrests of Kabir Kala Manch and other junior members happened in 2011, the senior members from so-called elite class did not get so much involved to support them. It made me notice the caste and class discrimination amongst the self-proclaimed ‘Equality Rights Activists’.
The urban movement is one of the primary sources for Maoists, which provides cadres and leadership having various types of capabilities essential for the people’s war and the establishment of liberated areas. From the beginning of the so-called revolutionary movement to its end, the urban areas remain as strong recruiting centres for them. Mobilising and organising masses, Building United Front (Network of Mass Organisations), Military Tasks are three essential objectives of Urban Maoist movement. These arrests have caused severe dent in CPI (Maoist)’s anti-Bharat conspiracy. Law will take its course and truth shall prevail. Meanwhile, citizens need to ensure that the word’ Urban Maoism’ need to be used responsibly so that its credibility and threat-gravity does not get diluted.
(The writer is a former Army Officer and researcher at Forum for integrated National Security)