Green Hunt's Grim Toll Rises
The Maoist ambush of Central Reserve Police Force )CRPF( jawans on April 6 in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh which claimed the lives of 74 jawans is yet another tragic and terrible toll taken by Chidambaram's war. The CRPF Battalion was reportedly returning from a 4-day 'area domination operation' when they were ambushed, and were heavily armed with sophisticated weapons which were captured by the Maoists.
The jawan's deaths are being cynically used by the security establishment, the State, and most sections of the media to justify the Government's military offensive and indeed, to raise a shrill cry for 'final solutions' to the Maoist challenge, including deployment of army and Air Force.
These dangerous exhortations need to be exposed and challenged powerfully. It must be asserted that the cycle of bloodshed will continue unless the Government puts an immediate stop to Operation Green Hunt and initiates dialogue, not only with the Maoists but with the range of people's movements.
Chidambaram made a grand gesture of offering to resign, accepting responsibility for the Dantewada killing, and promptly there was a great show of unity in the ruling class, with the main Opposition, the BJP, expressing confidence in Chidambaram's leadership. At the same time, there have also been voices within the ruling class that have sought to project some kind of discomfort with the OGH model. Congress leader Digvijay Singh wrote a piece in a leading English daily, expressing differences with Chidambaram's strategy of containing Maoists. Mani Shankar Aiyar too has expressed similar sentiments. On the face of it, Digvijay Singh's remarks appear to be a repetition of the familiar argument that the Maoism issue should be addressed as one of 'development' rather than of 'law and order'; the article ends on the note that the Government should be “paying more attention to issues of livelihood and governance rather than converting Bastar into a battlefield.” Is Digvijay Singh, then, evidence of a saner and more democratic voice within the ruling class and the Congress party? Far from it. Digvijay's article exhorts the Government to “learn from the Andhra Pradesh experience of adopting pro-poor policies and closely targeting the Maoists leadership.” 'Closely targeting Maoist leaders' the Andhra Pradesh way, is nothing but a commendation of the spate of fake encounters by Greyhound squads unleashed by the AP Government. These supposed voices of 'dissent' within the ruling party are reminiscent of the 'swadeshi' protests by RSS outfits when the Vajpayee Government was adopting neoliberal policies: they are a transparent attempt to retain credibility for the Congress even amongst the sections of the people who oppose Green Hunt. There has even been a laughable attempt by one apologist for the Congress to claim that Green Hunt is in fact a conspiracy by corporate lobbies against the “progressive and pro-poor” policies of the Congress President! Such fictions and poses will find few takers: it is clear that the so-called 'pro-poor' policies - such as an emaciated NREGA and a farce of a food bill - are a mere 'human face' mask for the basic pro-corporate policy orientation of the Congress which is reflected in its annual Budgets, its SEZ Act and policy of encouraging corporate land grab, all-round privatisation of public sector assets, neoliberal policies responsible for price rise and unemployment, as well a concerted offensive of state repression on people's movements, now being intensified and dressed up as a war on Maoists.
The Dantewada attack may be seen by the Maoists as a major military blow - but the evidence is that on balance, it is a boost in the arm for the ruling class, and underlines the political bankruptcy of the Maoists. 44 of the jawans killed were from poor peasant families in UP. The arrival of the bodies in UP villages and towns and funerals are being attended by thousands of local people. The grief and anger of the families at the death of their kith and kin is being exploited by the State to organise peasant reaction not just against Maoists but against the entire revolutionary left movement.
The Maoists might claim the support of tribals in Dantewada and Bastar - and indeed, for local tribals who have witnessed mass eviction by police and Salwa Judum, and rapes, massacres and fake encounters by security forces, the attack on the CRPF may well garner some sympathy. But villages near the site of the attack are desolate and thousands of villagers have fled in a mass exodus to Andhra Pradesh, fearing reprisal from the police who suspect them of having facilitated the Maoist attack. For police to retaliate to a Maoist action by all-out repression against adivasis is common and predictable practice - recall that the entire Lalgarh movement began after atrocities during police combing operations following a Maoist land-mine blast. The mass exodus of Dantewada villagers is proof of the terror inspired by the police among tribals. But it is also evidence that the Maoists leave unarmed adivasis to face the brunt of police terror unleashed after their sensational actions.
The adivasis of the country's mineral-rich forest areas and activists of people's movements and democratic organisations all over the country are paying for Operation Green Hunt with their lives and liberty, the country is paying with its peace and democracy, and the hapless jawans killed at Dantewada are also fodder in that same war on the people of India.
Comrade Kanu Sanyal: Enigmatic End of a Communist Leader
Since 1931, March 23 is remembered all over India as the martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev the martyrdom that epitomized and further ignited the revolutionary anti-imperialist spirit of the Indian freedom struggle. This year, March 23 witnessed a tragic footnote when veteran communist leader Kanu Sanyal was discovered hanging dead at his residence at Hatighisa village near Naxalbari in Darjeeling district.
For people who have known Kanu Sanyal since the stormy days of the Naxalbari peasant uprising and after, it was indeed quite difficult to imagine or accept the fact that the debilitating state of his body and mind would drive him to such a tragic end. The corporate media of course did not lose a moment to pounce upon his suicide and project it as the ultimate denouement of the Naxalbari movement and the CPI(ML)! Some CPI(M) leaders have begun attributing Sanyal's enigmatic end to his frustration with the Maoist variety of militarism, conveniently ignoring the fact that if Sanyal had been critical of the Maoists, he had been no less critical of the CPI(M)'s growing degeneration as a ruling party and its corporate land-grab drive in Singur and Nandigram.
In the wake of the Naxalbari peasant uprising of May 1967, Kanu Sanyal's name had become an integral part of the revolutionary communist lore in the country. Any animated discussion on Naxalbari would throw up the three names of Charu Mazumdar, Kanu Sanyal and Jangal Santhal. On May 1, 1969 it was Kanu Sanyal who made the historic announcement about the foundation of the CPI(ML) at a public rally on Kolkata's famous Shahid Minar ground.
However, Sanyal's differences with Charu Mazumdar and many other CPI(ML) leaders began to surface quite early on. After CM's martyrdom on 28 July 1974, Sanyal went on to denounce the entire legacy of Charu Mazumdar and even rejected the very relevance of the CPI(ML).
Contrary to the expectation of CPI(ML) ranks, after his release from jail in 1977, Sanyal never joined the attempt to revive the CPI(ML). Instead, he tried to launch a new organization of communist revolutionaries. Over the next three decades, he would be involved in a series of such attempts, first in the name of OCCR (Organising Committee of Communist Revolutionaries), then COI(ML) [Communist Organisation of India(Marxist-Leninist)], and finally even in the name of CPI(ML). But every time, the organization would start disintegrating before it could acquire any real momentum.
While Sanyal's attempts at building or running a communist party did not succeed, he remained an authentic representative voice of the tea garden workers and other oppressed people in his home district Darjeeling till the end of his life. With his spartan lifestyle and rural moorings, Sanyal also continued to offer an inspiring contrast to the dominant present-day political culture of power, wealth and five-star comfort.
Sanyal was not mistaken in pointing out some of the excesses of the early CPI(ML) phase. But he failed to grasp, articulate or develop the very revolutionary spirit that distinguished Naxalbari from the beaten track of peasant struggles. Charu Mazumdar saw Naxalbari as a historic event that would go way beyond the agenda of bourgeois land reforms, for him it was a definitive beginning of a protracted revolutionary war for political power. It is this revolutionary message of Naxalbari that had spread like wildfire and unleashed the revolutionary imagination and initiative of a whole generation, inspiring a countrywide contingent of revolutionary fighters and activists in an unprecedented display of courage, defiance and determination.
CM and CPI(ML) did commit many mistakes while attempting to hasten this spread, but these were an integral part of a glorious revolutionary chapter of the Indian communist movement. Sanyal's attempts at building an error-free perfect communist party, by contrast, could not create any revolutionary ripple anywhere in the country and failed to produce either a viable organization or a sustained movement. While not agreeing with much of Sanyal's post-CPI(ML) political role, revolutionary communists will however always cherish Kanu Sanyal's signal contribution to the rise and spread of the Naxalbari peasant uprising.