30 May 2012
“The present reaction of the Indian government against me is a normal - but irrational - reaction of governments when they notice that they are being subjected to an informed international opinion.” - Jan Myrdal in a letter to the Swedish Foreign Minister.
In yet another fascist reaction to strangle all voices of dissent and criticism, the Indian state has banned any future visits of reputed Swedish scholar Jan Myrdal to India, for his support for the people’s movements in India. Recently the Ministry of State for Home Affairs, Jitender Singh made the statement in parliament that any future visit of Jan will be completely banned as he has been found guilty of ‘advising’ the CPI (Maoist) and doing propaganda on their behalf. An accusation that Jan describes as being “so uniformed that it is not even funny!” The real motive behind this what Jan calls “somewhat hysterical behaviour of the Indian Government” is as he rightly points out – the resurgent wave of people’s revolutionary unity and struggle that is forcing the ruling class to reach newer heights of desperation and intolerance. So on the one hand the fascist Indian state is sending its army into Bastar, while on the other hand it attempts to silence all those voices that dare to stand by the people’s struggle. Jan is no exception.
Historically, world over, pro-people intellectuals and scholars have always stood by people’s movements for their basic rights. Jan Myrdal too throughout his life has stood steadfast beside anti-imperialist movements and struggles. He led the movement against US war on Vietnam, in Europe and Sweden and has also written prolifically to support people’s movements in Palestine, Afghanistan, China and other places in the world. In India too he has made several visits in the past and has interacted and written about the Indian situation and people’s resistance. In 2010, at the age of 83, he travelled extensively in Dandakaranya, to have a firsthand experience of people’s resistance against the state backed war on people - Operation Green Hunt. Based on his experiences he wrote a book "Red Star Over India. Impressions, Reflections and Discussions when the Wretched of the Earth are Rising." This year he was invited by the Kolkata book Fair to launch the book, which was followed by a series of lectures in Kolkata, Hyderabad, Ludhiana and Delhi. In Delhi, the Forum against War on People invited him to speak on state repression. DSU invited him on 10 February 2012 to deliver the First Comrade Naveen Babu Memorial Lecture to commemorate the martyrdom of Naveen Babu.
The Indian state is not being able to face the issues, concerns and sharp criticism that Jan has raised and is wary that he being a scholar of such repute his criticism will be well received and taken seriously by the world. In a letter to the Swedish foreign minister Jan says: “The intense discussion and debate in India is not reflected in our media in the Western countries. That is not due to any official Indian censorship. It is due to the censorship of the editorial "gate keepers" in our media (and the self censorship of our correspondents in India)”. And he rightly believes more interaction and exchanges from activists across the world is a necessity of the current times to forge a broad based anti-imperialist solidarity. It is precisely this possibility of international solidarity with the revolutionary struggle in India that makes those in the corridors of power shudder. The progressive and democratic forces in India and the rest of the world must raise their voices to oppose such fascist tactic by the Indian state.
Posted by Democratic Students Union at 9:21 pm
24 May 2012
A report on DSU solidarity visit to Nonadanga, Kolkata Demand the release of people’s activists Debolina & Abhjnan! Resist Mamata government’s anti-people ‘development’ policies and fascist crackdown on the fighting people of Nonadanga!
A five member team of Democratic Students Union (DSU) from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) visited the Nonadanga struggle area in Kolkata on 8th May 2012 as part of a solidarity campaign for the evicted people fighting for their life and livelihood and for the unconditional release of people’s activists Debolina Chakraborty and Abhijnan Sarkar. The team conducted a fact-finding with the affected families including members of the Ucched Pratirodh Committee (Anti-Displacement Resistance Committee). It also handed over contribution of Rs 20,000 raised from students and teachers of JNU in solidarity with the ongoing agitation. The team participated in a convention the following day which was organised to condemn the continuing incarceration of Debolina and Abhijnan by the fascist Mamata government and to demand their immediate and unconditional release.
The Trinamool Congress government replaced the CPI(M) government a year ago with the grand promise of ‘Partbartan’ in favour of ‘Maa-Mati-Manush’, However, it did not take long for the real face of this ‘change’ to unmask itself. Mamata Banerjee who shed crocodile’s tears for the struggling people of Singur, Nandigram and Jangalmahal is today undertaking the eviction of the people of Nonadanga – an area that had been earmarked for the rehabilitation of the thousands who are being displaced by the juggernaut of ‘development’ from various quarters of the city. In 2007 the Times group celebrated the proposed IT Park by Rolta in Nonadanga as “Another feather in Buddha’s cap”. And today under Mamata the cap has merely changed heads, and so has the feather. The vision of a ‘New’ and ‘developed’ Nonadanga is outlined in a report by Kolkata Municipal Development Authority (KMDA) titled ‘Selection of Transaction Advisor for Disposal of Bulk Land at Nonadanga for Comprehensive Development’. It states: “KMDA has in its possession a prime parcel of land at Nonadanga… more or less 80 acres of land, including a few water bodies lying in between. KMDA proposes to dispose off the entire area including water bodies for comprehensive development involving commercial usages..[that will] include, but not be limited to, residential complexes, star/budget hotels, shopping malls, multiplexes, restaurants, serviced apartments, recreational facilities and institutional uses..KMDA expects the entire process to be completed by March 2012.”
So, it is no surprise that the eviction drive began in March 2012 with the bulldozers being escorted by hundreds of policemen razing down an entire settlement of slum dwellers by the 30th of March. The DSU team that visited Nonadanga on the 8th of May observed the desperation with which the state attempted to handover a government rehabilitation site onto the corporate/real estate mafia. We observed the ruthlessness of a process that entailed displacing an entire population of displaced people yet again from what was promised to be their own space of rehabilitation.
Therefore Ayesha Bibi who had been evicted once by the CPM-real estate nexus from Rajarhat in 2009, is again forced to face the same predicament here today in Nonadanga. Being landless she along with her husband came to Kolkata from Murshidabad in search of work. Her husband, a mason, worked as construction worker and was a daily wage earner in the city while she worked as a house-maid. The demolition of their “nijer baari” or own dwelling (as opposed to a rented house with exorbitant rent) devastated her husband. He couldn’t go for his work for more than a week resulting in the loss of his job. “I never knew anything about movements,” said Ayesha Bibi, “but today being homeless myself I understand the worth of coming together and fighting!”
Ayesha Bibi’s family is one amongst the 143 odd dwellings belonging to the Majdur Pally (96 families) & Sramik Colony (47 families) that were demolished or burnt down on 30th March by KMDA, police and local TMC goons. The five member DSU team had discussions with some of the affected families with the help of members of USDF and Matangini Mahila Samiti. Quite a large number of the families here are originally cyclone-victims from the Sundarbans who were ruined by the devastating Aayla. Many of their’s small pieces of land were undone by the salt water from the sea. “Most of them have received no compensation from the (then CPM) government and have merely been dumped here. Government accuses them of not having valid identity proofs. But what proof can a poor and hapless displaced population have?” said Rajkumar of Sramik Colony. The rest, as has been mentioned earlier, are victims of a manmade calamity – ‘development’. Most of them have been moving in search of a shelter or have been displaced on a number of occasions before they settled down in the rehabilitation site of Nonadanga. Minoti Sarkar works as a house maid and lived in a rented house wherefrom they were displaced owing to the construction of a residential apartment. Sabita Das had worked in the city as a maid since she was a child; without any property or family she couldn’t afford the soaring house rent anymore and shifted in here. Purna was first displaced from Assam in early 90s and then landed up in Alipur Duar in North Bengal. The devastating flood in 1993 moved him to a rehabilitation camp where he worked in a sweet shop. But the camp was thereafter burnt down by promoters or ‘developers’ and he landed up in Kolkata working in a furniture shop staying at Nashkar Haat Khaalpaar (i.e., one among the numerous slum settlements along the sewage canals around the city). But the recent spate of canal renovation and ‘beautification’ once again displaced his family and he was rehabilitated here in Nonadanga 7-8 months back.
Most of the residents, as we observed, come from the most oppressed caste/class background – dalits, Muslims and landless sections. They don’t seem to have a fixed source of livelihood and are largely daily wage earners in a predominantly informal and highly exploitative economy. Apart from these slum dwellers, the Nonadanga area also houses the permanent residential buildings meant for the ‘rehabilitation’ of the urban poor. Behind its outward appearance these housing projects hide a grim reality of what ‘rehabilitation’ entails wherein 2-3 generations of a family are herded into a single 10ft/12ft room without even a kitchen and without any proper civic amenities. More importantly, they don’t have any ownership right over the apartments and hence can be displaced at will. And going by the KMDA project, we were informed that today even these housings face the same threat of demolition. As everywhere else in the country, here too it is the most oppressed and most exploited part of the population whose land and livelihood are the most threatened by corporate glitter and ‘shining India’, by Mamata’s project of “turning Kolkata into London”.
And once the people challenge this ‘development’ perspective of the state the repression that has come down upon the protesting people of Nonadanga to crush their agitation is again the same as employed by the ruling classes wherever people are fighting for their land, livelihood and dignity. Here too in the same Salwa Judum strategy, the state is attempting to divide the different colonies while the reality is that they all face the same assault. “Once our houses were broken, the same people with whom we have been mingling as neighbours for last 5-6 years don’t speak to us, don’t allow us to use their water tap just because TMC goons have threatened them to stay aloof lest their houses too be broken,” said Minoti Sarkar. One committe member of Bhai Bhai colony informed “we approached local TMC councillor with certain specific demands of our colony, he agreed to look into the matter. However at the same time he asked us what could we do (i.e.the residents of the Bhai Bhia colony) for the government! He hinted that we must side with the state forces and help them in the eviction of Majdur Pally and Shramik colony.” Such threats, intimidation and divisive strategies employed by the state is off course an impediment for the movement to grow and intensify. However, residents of Majdur Pally and Sramik colony also voiced their determination to defeat these divisive strategies. “I go from house to house saying neither the flats nor a single basti would stay here once the IT Parks are built,” said another resident from Majdur Pally, Malobika.
In much the same way as in Lalgarh, here too police have stationed themselves till date in community health centre and primary school built by the people themselves. “Didi (Mamata) boasted about making garib’r sarkar (pro-poor government), talked about Maa-Maati-Maanush. For a long time we couldn’t believe she could do this to us. They were all lies. Instead of making London out of Kolkata at our cost, she should rather herself go stay in London,” says Purna. Faced with the repressive arm of the state and disillusioned with the farce of the parliamentary system where oppression persists despite regime changes, the people have showed extraordinary resilience in challenging the state-corporate nexus. “We haven’t been rehabilitated yet for sure. But of course we have reconstructed our broken houses again here. We have refused to leave our land. This is unprecedented in the history of anti-eviction struggles. Nonadanga has showed the way. Students are with us. We will surely win. Ours is a just demand...We never knew how to fight. We had our own families and daily chores. We knew nothing about movements. But we were forced into this by the government. Today we speak loudly, meet so many people, know so many things. Sometimes I feel in a way it was good that they broke our houses. We are so much more confident. If they repress thousands of Malobikas, thousands of Debolinas will come up again,” says Malobika, one of the leading woman members of the Ucched Pratirodh Committee.
The ongoing struggle against eviction, for genuine rehabilitation and for the release of arrested residents and activists are being waged under the banner of the Ucched Pratirodh Committee. It is composed of 2 female and 4 male members from each colony. Presently it has 25 members comprising 6 members each from Majdur Pally, Sramik Colony and also Shubhash Pally that has come to join it along with 7 representatives from the various organizations who have been part of the resistance of the residents right from its inception. Despite repeated and false assurances from the Urban Development Minister, the local TMC MLA and the police, the eviction was announced merely by word of mouth. And once the people resisted the eviction and intensified the struggle the police violently cracked down upon them and all those student activists and intellectuals who stood by them. Repeated rounds of lathicharge by police and assaults by TMC goons on rallies took place along with several rounds of arrests and detentions. But none of these have been able to buckle the resistance and resilience of the struggling people of Nonadanga.
The solidarity team after speaking to the evictees at length could clearly perceive that they were very much aware of the state’s vicious tactics of branding and silencing in order to oust the people, as is common in other parts of India where people’s movement is gaining its weight. With both shock and amusement we saw a one year old child who was arrested along with his mother and the fellow residents and made to admit on police records that he was a ‘maoist’ and had indulged in anti-state activities before being released on bail. No matter how absurd it sounds, but such is the real face of fascism, and such are the diktats of the market. As students, intellectuals and activists it is our responsibility to build solidarity and resist such tactics of silencing dissenting voices.
The arrest of both Debolina and Abhijnan comes in the context of both being actively involved in the students and intellectuals’ solidarity with the people of Nonadanga. This however is symptomatic of the fascist crackdown on people’s struggles and the silencing of all those daring to stand by the people that has become a routine affair in Mamata’s Bengal. The vindictive targeting of student activists being pursued by the Bengal government is a matter of grave concern for all democratic, progressive and justice-loving people. As students of Jadavpur University, both Debolina and Abhijnan have for years remained at the forefront of various people’s movements in Bengal – whether in Singur and Nandigram under the erstwhile CPM regime or in Nonadanga today. Despite repeated intimidations, assaults and brandings, they continued to raise their voice against the anti-people policies of loot and plunder being pursued by the state. And it is precisely because of their undaunted courage and determination that they have been singled out by the fascist Bengal government and are behind bars with bogus charges.
We must unitedly demand the immediate and unconditional release of people’s activists Debolina and Abhijnan upholding our right to be part of all forms of democratic people’s struggles, including that of Nonadanga. Such blatant violation by Mamata of our democratic right to dissent, protest and standby the just fight of the oppressed people must not be tolerated. The fight in solidarity with the people of Nonadanga and the fight to release Debolina and Abhijnan are part of the same struggle, against the same enemy, against the same oppression, for the objective of a revolutionary transformation to build a just society.The five member team consisted of Abdul, Anirban, Anubhav, Azram, Chepal
Posted by Democratic Students Union at 10:06 pm
14 May 2012
“The native is declared [by the coloniser to be] insensible to ethics; he represents not only the absence of values, but also the negation of values. He is, let us dare to admit, the enemy of values, and in this sense he is the absolute evil. He is the corrosive element, destroying all that comes near him; he is the deforming element, disfiguring all that has to do with beauty or morality; he is the depository of maleficent powers, the unconscious and irretrievable instrument of blind forces… In the colonial context the settler only ends his work of breaking in the native when the latter admits loudly and intelligibly the supremacy of the white man's values.” — Frantz Fanon
Even after more than ten days after the May Day programme organised by JNUSU with Laal band from Pakistan, the debate centring it refuses to die down. DSU’s critique of the manner in which the last May Day programme was organised by the AISA-led JNUSU and our observations on the underlying politics of Laal has elicited many responses including that from Taimur Rahman, the leading artist of Laal. AISA-led JNUSU – and also SFI, another promoter of Laal in JNU – however, have so far maintained a calculated silence on the entire debate, while their individual activists have been expressing their opinion on public forums. This indicates that AISA organisationally has nothing to say in defense of its own politically bankrupt acts of that night. Why did AISA-JNU invite a self-proclaimed ‘communist’ band like Laal which is furthering the ideological agenda of US War on Terror under patronage not only of corporations like ‘Times Music’ but of the Pakistani and Indian comprador ruling classes? Why did it extend red carpet to the anti-worker JNU VC to address the May Day gathering while shouting ‘VC Murdabad’ just a few hours ago in the May Day Rally? And last but not the least, why did it allow the singing of a Sanskrit hymn praising Hindu god Ganapati by an artist who seems to have no idea of or concern for the historic legacy of May Day? AISA’s silence on these questions speaks volumes of their political bankruptcy.
Laal has been perceived as a progressive group of musicians who claim to adhere to Marxism / Communism. Their ideological commitment has been reflected in the songs they had composed in the past, most notably in their 2009 debut album Umeed-e-Sahar. It was therefore not unusual for the widespread enthusiasm and expectation among the students and teachers of JNU as well as other parts of Delhi in attending their concert organised in the campus, supposedly also to commemorate the International Workers’ Day. Laal has rendered the International – the anthem of the communist movement – and have adapted the poems of revolutionary writers like Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalil. Even though commercially marketing their music (their first album was released by Geo TV group of Pakistan), Laal maintained a spirit of rebellion in the songs and performances, critiquing the comprador ruling classes of Pakistan as well as their master – US imperialism. This expression of popular discontent – from workers, peasants and the youth – which has made the band a household name among the urban middles classes in not only Pakistan but also in India.
By now, however, Laal has remained a mere shadow of its past. The failure of Laal to grapple with the semi-feudal semi-colonial reality of a society like Pakistan, where the people are facing relentless aggression from US imperialism in the garb of ‘War against Terror’, has brought to the fore the hitherto dormant but basic ideological disorientation afflicting the band from the beginning. This failure, which stems from an inability or unwillingness to correctly analyse the nature of the class struggle and the primary contradiction within the society, has led Laal and its party CMKP on the path of revisionism and opportunism. Their failure is all the more telling in the context of the ongoing imperialist war of aggression on the people of North West Frontier Province and Waziristan, and the US occupation of neighbouring Afghanistan. Laal’s politics has resulted in its alienation from the fighting masses, their lived reality and their aspirations. Indeed, the band and its music seem to have increasingly turned against the oppressed and exploited majority of the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan. As a result of its ideological bankruptcy, we find the band now performing in up-market fashion shows and programmes/tours promoted by corporate houses. In its desperation to ‘convey the message of the revolution’ in whatever way possible, Laal has even subordinated their art to commercial companies like Times Music, a rabidly reactionary Indian media conglomerate. With their new song titled ‘Dehshatgardi murdabad’, Laal’s break from the labouring classes and its going over to the side of the oppressors – the Pakistani, Indian and Afghan comprador ruling classes and US imperialism – seems to be complete. It is therefore natural that Laal collaborates with the Times Group, which never gets tired of branding the armed resistance movements in India, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine or Kashmir as ‘terrorism’. One must not forget that Times Group has been at the forefront in profiling the Muslims in India as ‘fundamentalists’ or the Maoists as ‘terrorists’, thereby justifying their persecution by the Indian state.
DSU has criticised Laal for promoting US sponsored propaganda of Islamophobia and ‘War on Terror’ with its song ‘Dehshatgardi murdabad’ (Death to Terrorism), which was performed in JNU as well. When the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and even parts of Pakistan are being devastated by US attacks in the name of fighting ‘Islamic terrorism’ and ‘religious extremism’, to chorus against the same only goes to justify such wars of aggression and occupation. The song says: “Bomb blasts at every corner/ The ignorant march to ‘sacrifice’ themselves/ After having lashed women/ They take the name of Islam/ Then bomb market places/ Burn down girl’s schools/ And reduce our dignity to dirt/ America’s puppets, Since when did they become our friends?/ All together now! Death to terrorism, Death to barbarism…” Who are these ‘they’ referred to here? Above all, ‘they’ signify organisations like Taliban and Mujahideen of Afghanistan as well as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). But ‘they’ could also mean the millions of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan whom these organisations are today leading in their anti-imperialist/national liberation struggles. By the same logic, ‘they’ could also mean Hizbollah, Hamas or the armed resistance in Iraq, who are leading the people of their respective countries against imperialist aggressors. It is true that these organisations uphold Islam as their political ideology and mobilise the people for defending their land, faith and society against foreign imperialist forces. It is true that many of them, like the Taliban, took support and aid from US imperialism to oust Soviet social-imperialism and its puppet ‘communist’ government in Afghanistan. But it is also an irrefutable truth that much like fighting the invasion of USSR and defeating it through an armed struggle, the people of Afghanistan and North-West Pakistan are today fighting US invasion under the leadership of this same Taliban.
In spite of their ideological/political limitations and feudal social outlook, it is a fact that Taliban is leading the anti-imperialist struggle from the front, and to crush it the US-led imperialists are spending billions of dollars and deploying lakhs of armed forces. No doubt the ideology and actions of Taliban cannot be supported or followed blindly by communists, which will amount to the grave error of surrendering the leadership of the labouring classes to feudal forces or the bourgeoisie. However, if we accept that in Afghanistan (and Waziristan) today the main contradiction is between foreign imperialist forces and the vast masses of people, the task of every genuine revolutionary/ communist is to unite with the struggling masses and their organisations which are genuinely fighting their primary and immediate enemy - imperialism. Struggle against such organisations/forces is necessary. But in the context of an ongoing fight for national liberation against external enemies, unity with them becomes primary as opposed to struggle, which becomes secondary. History provides ample examples of such unity by communists, without the latter ever giving up or compromising their principles and politics. Communists of China under the leadership of Mao successfully built a joint front with the reactionary Kuomintang of Chiang Kai Shek during the Anti-Japanese War. Buddhist religious organisations actively participated in Vietnam War under communist leadership.
Moreover, to win over the basic classes from the grip of a feudal and backward ideology or organisations representing such ideology, the communists must work among the people, be a part of their struggles, win their trust and confidence by standing with them, and thereby emerging as the vanguard of their struggle for emancipation – not only from imperialism but also from feudalism and capitalism. Instead of doing or suggesting any of these, Laal (and all revisionist ‘Left’ parties of Pakistan and India) shout abuses at Taliban or other such fighting forces by calling them ‘fundamentalist’, ‘Islamist’ and ‘terrorist’. Denying even the possibility of solidarity and support to the Afghan people led by the Taliban, they indulge in the vilest kinds of propaganda against it in the name of upholding ‘secularism’ and ‘progressive politics’. With such acts, they only end up helping or plays into the hands of imperialism, and in the process alienating themselves from the oppressed masses. Clearly, when the class struggle sharpens, there is no neutral ground to equally condemn both the oppressor and the oppressed. But by castigating the oppressed, Laal has inadvertently sided itself with US invaders, notwithstanding their empty slogans of “Death to imperialism!”
In a series of articles titled ‘Dehshatgardi Murdabad’ in The Express Tribune last November, Taimur Rahman, the leading artist of Laal, elaborated his understanding of ‘terrorism’. He calls the social-imperialist USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan a mere ‘intervention’, and in fact justifies it by saying that “Soviet intervention was a response to the CIA’s plans of aggression against the revolutionary government of Afghanistan”! Taimur is silent on how US imperialism and Soviet Social imperialism in their tussle for redivision and geo-strategic supremacy of the world have exterminated the genuinely revolutionary forces in Afghanistan, thus creating a political vacuum in rural Afghanistan. Najibullah’s government, which Laal considers ‘revolutionary’, was in fact a Soviet puppet representing the interests of the Afghan landlords. Taimur also makes an outrageous and dangerous connection between ‘Jihaad’ and Madrassas in Pakistan, reminiscent of CPI(M)’s Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharya’s notorious statement that Madrassas are dens of terrorists. Among the so-called ‘terrorist’ armed actions by the Taliban in Pakistan recounted by Taimur are included “coordinated strike in Lahore against buildings used by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the Manawan Police Training School and the Elite Police Academy”, i.e., legitimate military targets.
For Laal, even the targeting of government’s army becomes an act of ‘terrorism’! Then he goes on to parrot Pakistan government’s statistics on ‘terrorism’ by stating that “The government estimates that more than 37,000 people have been the victims of terrorism in Pakistan (30,000 of these are civilians)”, and concludes that “Hence, it is clear that religious fundamentalists are in an all-out war with the rest of society”. Laal therefore mistakenly tells the masses to fight ‘religious fundamentalism’ and ‘Islamic terrorism’ as their primary enemy. For Laal, “today these forces have become the most important impediment to the emancipation of the people”! In doing so, Laal ignores the fact that many of these killings were engineered by intelligence agencies. It also conveniently forgets the lakhs of lives extinguished by US attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan in the name of fighting ‘Islamic terrorism’. Interestingly, the paper in which he has written this article, The Express Tribue, is said to be “the first internationally affiliated newspaper in Pakistan, in partnership with The International Herald Tribune, the global edition of The New York Times”. Only the sycophants can forget the role of New York Times as a propaganda tool of US imperialism which broke the news of the non-existent ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ in Iraq – a piece of news that was utilised as a justification for the Iraq War and the total destruction of that country.
Laal has endeared itself to the Indian/Pakistani ruling classes subservient to US imperialism who allowed it to freely tour the country while being promoted by the Indian comprador bourgeoisie who owns Times Now. Such ‘favour’ and ‘benevolence’ from the reactionary classes have been bought by Laal at the price of becoming the paid piper of imperialism, by identifying ‘Islamic terrorism’ to be the main enemy of the Afghan/Pakistani/Indian people while relegating the fight against imperialism to the margins. Would the ruling classes ‘tolerate’ a truly revolutionary / communist cultural group, unless it is considered to be entirely ‘harmless’ to their interests, or worse still, perceive it as an ideological/cultural weapon to further their own interests? After all, the war against ‘Islamic terror’ seems to be the common agenda of Laal as well as the US and their local agents in Afghanistan/ Pakistan/India!
Laal could perform even in Pune, the same city where another cultural group – Kabir Kala Manch – has been hounded out by the Indian state for allegedly being Maoists, forcing them to go in hiding. Why does the state allow Laal to perform while KKM is not even allowed the democratic space to spread their message of land to the tiller, annihilation of caste, social justice and emancipation through their songs? Why is it that the same Indian state pronounces death sentence on a cultural activist like Jeetan Marandi of Jharkhand Abhen, who used only music as the means of social transformation? The answer lies in their respective politics and class outlook: while Laal serves the interests of the rulers and exploiters, KKM and Jharkhand Aven are opposed to them and stands with the exploited and oppressed masses. While Laal or its art stands for status-quo, KKM and Jeetan’s art stand for social change, thereby becoming a part of peoples’ culture and struggle. No wonder Laal was careful not to utter a word against the Indian ruling classes in its entire performance in JNU on May Day, against the policy of exterminating entire populations through Operation Green Hunt, Indian state’s persecution of cultural groups, against Hindutva communal forces and the massacre of minorities.
Ideological degeneration stemming from collaboration with the reactionary classes landed up Laal with ‘Tritha’ on May Day who sang paeans to the Hindu god Ganapati – the mascot of Hindutva, RSS, communal fascism and brahmanism – which has been historically utilised by Bal Gangadhar Tilak to Bal Thakre for communal mobilisation. The same blinkered pseudo-secularism of Laal and their hosts in JNU – AISA and SFI – make them accommodate Hindu brahmanical ideology in the garb of ‘Marxism’. When it comes to the vilification of Muslims, they all reproduce the Orientalist notions of ‘barbarism’ and ‘fundamentalism’ now drummed up by the US against the Islamic world. A Pakistani band that spews venom against the anti-US resistance by Islamic organisations and the Muslim people is a handy tool in the hands of imperialism. For the Indian state and the Hindu communal-fascists, such a band provides the much-needed legitimacy for unrestrained minority witch-hunt and pogroms. Not surprisingly, Laal was allowed to perform in fourteen concerts in various Indian cities whereas it originally planned for only four!
Vocal protests from the audience forced JNUSU president to ask the singer to cut short the Ganapati prayer, but AISA-JNUSU or SFI has not even said a word on this ‘mishap’. Rather, a ‘debate’ has been launched by some ‘progressive’ members of AISA on whether it was correct to stop the singer in the middle of her Ganapati song! While a ‘secular’ Delhi University teacher terms this interruption as “an incident of murdering cultural expression though common consensus”, an AISA activist and former JNUSU councillor calls it “an act of unbelievable intolerance” from JNU students, even the ‘censoring’ and ‘silencing’ of freedom of expression! This however is not an isolated opinion, nor is it confined to only individual members of the revisionist ‘Left’. Indeed, such ‘tolerance’ and ‘soft corner’ for Hindutva communalism and brahmanism – which are the instruments of feudalism and imperialism in India – are the hallmarks of degenerate parliamentary parties like CPI(M)/CPI(ML) Liberation or their student outfits like AISA and SFI. These revisionists nevertheless reject the liberation struggles led by Islam-adherent groups and people the world over accusing them being ‘religious’ and ‘fundamentalist’. Is it not on similar grounds that they oppose the liberation struggles of the Kashmiris calling it ‘Islamist’, or the Naga freedom struggle branding it as ‘Christian’? It is the shared politics of revisionism, status-quo and reaction that makes the convergence of AISA-SFI-Tritha-‘Laal’ possible. They are all united in the opposing the genuine life-and-death struggles of the masses, albeit at times couched in religious idioms. Uncompromising and unsparing ideological struggle against such forces is a necessary precondition for the victory of revolutionary, democratic and anti-imperialist peoples’ struggles.
Posted by Democratic Students Union at 4:38 pm
Condemn the arrest, framing and inhuman custodial torture of Kamlesh, student leader from Junglemahal!
Posted by Democratic Students Union at 4:32 pm
9 May 2012
A few months back a major controversy had erupted in Kerala, with the exposure by the Kerala daily Madhyamam of over 250 emails being hacked by the Hi Tech cell of the home department of the state government. The majority of these emails (over 250 out of 268) belonged to people from the Muslim community – from prominent political leaders, activists, journalists to even school teachers. This serious criminal act by the state to profile the Muslim community through draconian surveillance measures was condemned by many progressive and democratic sections across the country. One of the prominent activists who was instrumental in laying bare these nefarious designs of the state, Shanawaz has now been arrested by the same High Tech cell and arrested on bogus charges. On 1st of May, the High Tech Cell of the Kerala Crime Branch raided his office in Trivandrum, seized all his files and also arrested him. His exposure of the surveillance incident has now been held against as a ‘conspiracy to leak intelligence communication’. There have been many protests in Kerala in the past one week asking for his unconditional and immediate release.
The bogus charges notwithstanding, it is clear as day light that his arrest was made at this time so as to make sure that he is not able to be present in the upcoming legal proceedings of the SIMI tribunal in Kerala. Over the past more than 10 years since it has been unjustifiably banned, the Indian state has not been able to produce even a shred of evidence for all its claims of SIMI being a ‘terrorist’ organization. This however, has not stopped the communal-fascist Indian state, one of the most loyal foot soldiers of the US led war on ‘terror’, from continuing the persecution of muslims across the country. Thousands of SIMI activists and other Muslims have been harassed, tortured, arrested and even murdered in cold blood, despite direct evidence linking the Sangh giroh to bomb blasts in many parts of the country. Shanawaz, who was also one of the executive members of the Central Chapters of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, had consistently stood by the side of the persecuted Muslims in the state of Kerala. As the office bearer of the Minority Rights Watch, he had also exposed the communal reporting of these cases by the corporate media. As someone who was also leading the defense of the incarcerated SIMI activists, many of them booked under the draconian UAPA, he had become an eye sore for the state machinery. He was also assisting the SIMI lawyers for the upcoming proceedings in the tribunal hearings regarding the ban on SIMI. His arrest thus is a clear attempt by the Indian state to stamp down and stifle any voice which exposes and fights its draconian, anti-people and Hindu fascist character.
Even the before the SIMI tribunal proceedings have started, the state government of Kerala has already ‘requested’ the Central Government to extend the ban on SIMI. On the one hand, while it is branding many muslim organizations as fronts of SIMI, on the other it is portraying holding of ‘symposiums’ and ‘seminars’ as anti-national! All of this is of course in line with the larger Hindu majoritarian character of the Indian state. For all parliamentary parties in India, the Muslim community has only two identities – a pliant vote bank or foreign funded terrorists. All parliamentary parties have taken turns to vilify and profile the Muslims as terrorists. In Kerala itself during the previous LDF regime, we have not forgotten how the Chief Minister V.S. Achutyanandan raised the bogey of ‘love jihad’ and proclaimed that muslim organizations are trying to ‘islamize’ Kerala by ‘luring people into conversion’. The consistent propaganda against organizations like Popular Front of India and the continued incarceration of Abdul Naser Madani all point towards the communal fascist character of the Indian state. DSU condemns in strongest possible words the arrest of Shanawaz, and appeals to all progressive and democratic sections to unitedly demand his immediate and unconditional release as well as the withdrawal of the unjust ban on SIMI.
Posted by Democratic Students Union at 9:51 pm
4 May 2012
Looking back at the May Day carnival.. A shameless display of political bankruptcy, opportunism & revisionism by AISA-led JNUSU!
Yesterday on May Day JNUSU conducted the high profile performance of the Laal band from Pakistan. It was supposed to be a celebration of the legacy of International Workers’ Day. The programme once again has only served to show the opportunist, revisionist and ideologically degenerate face of AISA and the current JNUSU leadership.
Laal’s programme was launched by none other than the VC, who informed the student that he was specially invited by JNUSU for this occasion!! Inviting the Vice Chancellor in a JNUSU programme only reflects the ideological bankruptcy of JNUSU and is a betrayal of the progressive legacy of JNU students who have always fought the anti-student administration. Particularly, inviting the VC on a programme for May Day is unprecedented and outrageous. Isn’t it the same VC and his coterie in the administration that is responsible for the blatant violation of workers’ rights on campus? For the past one year the workers are not being given minimum wages according to the newly revised rates. The JNU administration refuses to recognize the fundamental right to workers’ overtime and is hand in glove with the contractors in consistently denying the workers of their ESI-PF. The VC is complacent in all these malpractices and has allowed this extremely exploitative and vicious contractor-administration nexus to grow forcing the workers to work under inhuman working conditions and violating their basic rights. Yesterday, evening itself there was a worker-students’ march which raised the slogan ‘JNU VC Murdabad’ and at night the same VC graced JNUSU’s programme. Such shameless prostration to the VC only brings out the opportunist character of AISA.
The stage was also given to some unknown singer who was being promoted by Times Music and who started to sing a Ganesh Vandana!! How could the JNUSU leadership which was the organizer of the programme allow such reactionary right wing and market dictated promotional-segment to occur in the name of celebrating May Day? Was it an attempt to satisfy the right wing which forms the major vote bank of AISA? Even after she started singing, the organizers did not intervene and only after the entire crowd loudly rebuked her performance that the JNUSU president tried to meekly alert the singer.
Lastly, we would like to ask the AISA led JNUSU clearly what is their position on the overall politics of Laal Band whom they so enthusiastically and uncritically greeted all through? Laal in the name of ‘left politics’ only served to strengthen the propaganda of US-led ‘war on terror’ and Islamophobia. They reiterated the bogey of ‘Islamic terror’ and ‘fundamentalism’ AISA too endorsed such extremely problematic views by uncritically hailing them. The world wide attack on the entire muslim population, the imperialist war mongering by US in Iraq, Afghanistan and even Pakistan did not find any mention or condemnation even once by the band which calls itself ‘Left’. All of this is of course in agreement with AISA’s revisionist, NGO-ised and populist politics.The AISA led JNUSU this semester mourned the death of notorious SP of Dantewada, Rahul Sharma and eulogized him rather than criticizing his atrocious role in carrying forward the war against people in Chhattisgarh. Yesterday too, AISA’s blatant revisionist, right wing and degenerate face was once again exposed!!
Posted by Democratic Students Union at 1:03 am
3 May 2012
Resist the assaults on the people of Nonadanga by the fascist Trinamool government in Bengal! Fight for the immediate release of student activists Debolina and Abhignan! Support the Relief Campaign for the Evicted People of Nonadanga!
Nonadanga, a slum area in the Kolkata suburbs has by now become synonymous with many a things in Bengal. It glaringly reflects how despite the so-called ‘change’ in West Bengal government, after three decades of social fascist rule by the CPM, what did not change is the continuous eviction of people in the name of ‘development’, ‘beautification’ and other jargons used to justify the devastation of imperialist capital. It also shows the mounting state repression on people’s activists who chose to stand by the fighting people, incarceration of democratic activists with trumped up charges, and persistent clamp-down on voices of dissent. On the other hand, it exemplifies the continuing resolute fight of the people against the ruling classes, notwithstanding the party in power, carrying forward the legacy of Singur, Nandigram and Lalgarh struggles. While the new chief minister Mamata Banerjee is going ballistic in the media ‘threatening’ people not to raise their voices in protest of any kind against her fascist rule, the people in Kolkata have once again become vocal against the same, particularly the people in Nonadanga made it clear that they are not going to give up. Despite their houses being razed to the grounds with all their belongings, the people have refused to move from their land, trying to reclaim what was forcefully snatched from them. While the state has erected walls around the seized area of the slum and are planning more demolitions and evictions, the people of Nonadanga are resolutely fighting back unitedly with people of other adjoining slums.
The tale of eviction, demolition and dispossession of people will not stop at Nonadanga, unless we resist it now! Apprehending the mass upsurge of people against her ‘development drives’, Mamata is applying all kinds of fascist tactics to throttle all voices of dissent. The incarceration of two student activists, one of them being booked under the draconian UAPA is a part of that fascist design, while the other under sedition charges. The following is an appeal issued by concerned students and alumni of Jadavpur Univesity to demand the unconditional release of Debolina and Abhijnan who have been falsely implicated and arrested for standing with the Nonadanga evictees. The appeal also gives a call for contribution of relief for the fighting people of Nonadanga. DSU is conducting a relief collection campaign in Delhi, and we request you to contribute for this relief fund. An all India Students team from various universities including JNU will visit Nonadanga on the 8 of May. We appeal to the students, teachers and karamcharis of JNU to contribute for the relief of the evicted residents of Nonadanga and stand in solidarity with the fighting masses and incarcerated activists.
Call for Solidarity with the evicted people of Nonadanga &
for the Unconditional Release of Debolina and Abhijnan
from concerned students and alumni of Jadavpur University
The arrests and continuing incarceration of the people’s activists Debolina Chakrabarti and Abhijnan Sarkar is a matter of concern for one and all. Why is it that Debolina Chakrabarti and Abhijnan Sarkar have become specific targets for the fascist government of Mamata Banerjee? As students of Jadavpur University—Debolina has discontinued her studies while Abhijnan still continues to be a student—both of them have been in the forefront of all people’s movements and their struggle against displacement let alone the policies of loot and plunder of people’s resources aggressively followed by the CPM-led government and now the Mamata Banerjee led regime.
On this occasion both were actively participating in the students and intellectuals’ solidarity with the people of Nonadanga who were forcefully evicted and their settlements demolished by the state forces on 30th March,2012. Nonadanga residents constituted primarily the resettled cyclone victims from Sundarbans or evicted slum dwellers from several other quarters of Kolkata –victims of a manmade catastrophe named ‘development’. The entire 80 acres of land in Nonadanga have been a target for eviction to be handed over to the real estates ever since CPM regime. What is happening today under Mamata is a continuity of the same - exposing her pro-people rhetoric. Ever since the eviction, state forces repeatedly cracked down upon the protesting Nonadanga evictees and its supporters constituting over hundred arrests and lathicharges on April 4th, 8th, 9th, 12th and latest again on 28th. While others have been released eventually after continued public outcry and protests, Debolina and Abhijnan continue to be behind bars.
Debolina and Abhijnan are good examples of students who have conscientiously moved forward from the four walls of their class rooms to the bitter reality of the everyday lives of the toiling masses to be part of them – from Singur to Nonadanga. It is this kind of a political culture in service of the people, to be in solidarity with their struggles to build a new world that Mamata Banerjee is unable to face politically and hence would pull all efforts in her capacity using her lawless police and bureaucracy to criminalise such youth through false cases.
Debolina was a student of the International Relations Department of Jadavpur University. She left her studies to carry on democratic movements and stood by the side of the people. She was associated with the Singur anti-land grab movement that had prepared the ground for Mamata to come to power. When the people of Nanigram raised their voice against the formation of SEZs and Chemical hubs under the notorious Salem industrial group, she went there and took part in the people’s heroic struggle launched by the Bhumi Ucched Protirodh Committee (BUPC) against displacement from their land and habitats and was also instrumental in forming the Matangini Mahila Samiti (MMS). The MMS was a women’s forum that fought against patriarchy, against SEZs and imperialist capital and against CPM hermads. It was associated with the day-to-day struggles against all onslaughts carried out by Lakshman Seth-Binoy Konar-Sushanta Ghosh-Tapan-Sukur-Naba Samanta gang.
After coming to power, Mamata Banerjee turned her ire against the ongoing peoples’ movements and initiated a slander and intimidation campaign by denouncing the Matangini Mahila Samiti as a ‘satanic brigade’. The police as usual described Debolina as a ‘Maoist’ who could be detained, tortured, humiliated and made a prisoner at will. It is crystal clear that the intelligence officials would subject Debolina to brutal mental and physical torture and send her to prison to languish there for as many years as possible. Should we allow such injustice to be done by this vindictive, cruel and anti-people chief minister of West Bengal? Debolina has started a hunger strike to protest against the unjust incarceration.
Abhijnan Sarkar, an engineer and a researcher in the metallurgy department of Jadavpur
university, has been a member of the student group RSF and has actively participated in peoples movements in West Bengal for many years, as part of different solidarity fora. He is the editor of the periodical “Towards a New Dawn” in Kolkata which is circulated throughout India. Abhijnan is also associated with the Sanhati Collective and has reported on the police repression on the Nari Ijjat Bachao Committee in Lalgarh. Abhijnan was detained once by West Bengal CID while he was coming to give an interview in ICSSR in Delhi in 2010. He was thoroughly interrogated about his role and involvement in various people’s
struggle like that in Nandigram. In 2011 he was once again detained along with a doctor by the notorious joint forces while they were attending a medical camp in the remote villages of Lalgarh. But in both the cases the police could not frame him in any case and were forced to release him. Currently he has been booked under the false bogus cases of Haldia. The draconian sedition act and arms act have been slapped on him.
We appeal to all justice-loving and freedom-loving people of the country to raise their voice against the continuing incarceration of Debolina and Abhijnan on the basis of cooked-up charges and demand their unconditional release. Their only crime is to stand in solidarity with the people of Nonadanga and raise their voices against the gross injustice. As conscious students it becomes our duty to stand up for the right to dissent. By demanding the unconditional release of Debolina and Abhijnan we as students in turn make a significant stride towards strengthening the will of the fighting people of Nonadanga. The smokescreen of the ‘unlawful’ and the ‘illegal’ built around Debolina and Abhijnan by the state is actually a deliberate infringement of the right of students to join hands with the toiling masses against a dog-eat-dog policy of the government in the form of Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation. We must stand against such fascist tactics of muffling the democratic struggles of the poeple. We thereby appeal to all students and intellectuals of other universities also to join this struggle in support of the people of Nonadanga and for the unconditional release of Debolina and Abhijnan. We also appeal for the contribution of relief to be delivered to the Nonadanga evictees in solidarity with their continued struggle.
- Concerned students and alumni of Jadavpur University
Posted by Democratic Students Union at 3:01 pm