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International Campaign Against War on the People in India

 

Stop all attacks against the people!

 

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  • Arundhati: 'An independent Kashmiri nation may be a flawed entity, but is independent India perfect?'

    As a section of the political class and the media bays for her blood, author Arundhati Roy tells Shoma Chaudhury why her opinions do not amount to sedition.

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  • Campaign starts to arrest Arundhati Roy for support for Azadi Kashmir

    October 24, 2010 , Pioneer News Service

    Serial sedition: Will Govt act this time?

    Under pressure from the BJP to act against controversial Booker prize winner Arundhati Roy for her latest reiteration of Azadi for Kashmir, as the Congress-led UPA Government continues to weigh legal options, it turns out, social networking sites like the Facebook not only had the instant emergence of ‘Arrest Suzanna Arundhati Roy’ — like petitions no sooner than she made her opinion public a couple of years ago but also dished out the course of action.

    The ‘arrest Roy’ petition on Facebook, addressed to the Government of India and the Prime Minister, demands arrest of the 49-year-old author-turned-political activist under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967 (amended in 2008).

    “The offences listed under this law include any assertion or statement ‘which is intended, or supports any claim, to bring about, on any ground whatsoever, the cession of a part of the territory of India or the secession of a part of the territory of India from the Union, or which incites any individual or group of individuals to bring about such cession or secession’,” the petition points out to back its demand.

    Roy’s remarks on Kashmir aren’t new. She has been there and done that on earlier occasions too, only to invite customary rebuttals like “Kashmir is and will remain an integral part of India”.

    But often dubbed by critics as the ‘one-book-claim-to-fame’ author, Roy does seem to have perfected the art of hogging the limelight courting controversies with her opinions perceived by many as “anti-national” and a direct challenge to the law of the land. Be it her espousal of the cause of Kashmir’s azadi or her support to the Maoists; be it her terming as “unconstitutional” the Supreme Court’s death sentence to Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru or her assertion that the Mumbai terror attacks were not akin to US’ 9/11 and could not be seen in isolation.

    Not surprising then that pro-Pakistan websites and organisations have more than lapped up Roy’s remarks. In fact, much before her latest statements on Kashmir they had already gone around to highlight her reported assertions about how “Pakistan will win hands down” in case of a referendum in Kashmir in an interview to David Barsamian, her co-author of Checkbook & Cruise Missile: Conversations with Arundhati Roy.

    Her statement to an English daily in 2008, when she visited the troubled State, that “India needs azadi from Kashmir as much as Kashmir needs azadi from India”, too got circulated big time. Roy has been reiterating this assertion ever since.

    “For the past 60 days or so, since about the end of June, the people of Kashmir have been free. Free in the most profound sense. They have shrugged off the terror of living their lives in the gun-sights of half-a-million heavily-armed soldiers in the most densely militarised zone in the world…. …Hadn’t anybody noticed that in Kashmir even minor protests about civic issues like water and electricity inevitably turned into demands for azadi?” Her opinion in an article in an English weekly magazine the same year saw responses ranging from demands for booking her on charges of sedition to praises of being bold enough to speak out her mind.

    But that didn’t deter her from speaking aloud her mind, even on an issue as sensitive as the Mumbai terror attacks. “November isn’t September, 2008 isn’t 2001, Pakistan isn’t Afghanistan and India isn’t America…. The Mumbai attacks are only the most recent of a spate of terrorist attacks on Indian towns and cities this year. Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Delhi, Guwahati, Jaipur and Malegaon have all seen serial bomb blasts in which hundreds of ordinary people have been killed and wounded…”

    “In much the same way as it did after the 2001 Parliament attack, the 2002 burning of the Sabarmati Express and the 2007 bombing of the Samjhauta Express, the Government of India announced that it has “incontrovertible” evidence that the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba backed by Pakistan’s ISI was behind the Mumbai strikes. According to the police and intelligence agencies the Lashkar operates in India through an organisation called the Indian Mujahideen. Two Indian nationals have been arrested in connection with the Mumbai attacks. So already the neat accusation against Pakistan is getting a little messy,” she wrote in her piece in UK’s Guardian newspaper.

    If she justified the ‘war’ waged by the Maoists against the corporates wanting to have control over natural resources like minerals, water and forests, she termed the Operation Green Hunt against them as a ‘war’ by the Government to move tribal people to ensure the hundreds of “secret” MoUs the States of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and West Bengal signed with the corporates translated into real money.

    Her run-in with the Chhattisgarh police establishment too was much publicised. When asked why the State Government did not act against her, Chhattisgarh DGP Vishwaranjan said, “I don’t want to comment on a person who has been discredited across the nation. She had visited Chhattisgarh and went around meeting hardcore Maoists and their sympathisers in Dantewada and other places. She keeps on refuting her statements and we don’t want to give her that much importance.”

    In 2006, Roy, who was jailed for a day for contempt of court in 2002, yet again took on the judiciary. She said the Supreme Court’s ruling that Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru must be hanged ‘to satisfy the collective will of the nation’ though there is no proof of his involvement is in itself “unconstitutional”.

    With the latest controversy surfacing, whether the Government will or can act now remains to be seen.

  • News of Maoist resistance to Operation Green Hunt

    Gulf Times, October 24, 2010

    Patna: Security was tightened across the eastern state of Bihar yesterday after six policemen died in a blast triggered by suspected Maoist rebels, officials said. A hidden mine targeted a police vehicle over a small bridge in Bihar’s Sheohar district.

    The blast came two days after a six-phase, month-long electoral process to choose the state legislative assembly began. The second phase will be held today, and security was increased across the state after the explosion, police said. “Combing operations were intensified,” Bihar’s additional director general of police P K Thakur said. “Security has been tightened to give a sense of confidence among people a day ahead of polls following the Maoist strike.”

    The attack forced the Election Commission to change the poll timing in Sheohar district. Polling will now be held between 7am and 3pminstead of until 5pm.Bihar police chief Neelmani has urged voters not to panic. “I appeal to the voters to exercise their franchise without any fear...security forces will be available for their security and protection. I will request people to come out of their homes and reach polling stations,” Neelmani said. “There is no need to panic...the police will ensure violence-free polls,” he said. Police officials admit the threat of more Maoist violence looms large over the Bihar assembly polls.

    The rebels had declared early this month they would intensify attacks to disrupt the elections.?Maoists violence was also reported from several others parts of the country.

    An Intelligence Branch officer and an NGO worker were reportedly abducted by the Maoists from West Bengal’s Purulia district.

    In Orissa, about 30 Maoists early yesterday blew up warehouse, police said. “The rebels blew up the warehouse at Niliguda village with land mines,” police officer Debashis Mishra said.

    Meanwhile, life continued to remain paralysed in Chhattisgarh’s Maoist stronghold of Bastar region yesterday, the second and final day of shutdown by rebels, as buses did not ply and shops were closed. The shutdown had a strong impact in five districts of Bastar - Dantewada, Bijapur, Bastar, Narayanpur and Kanker as buses are off roads.

    The rebels called the two-day shutdown to oppose a crackdown launched this month.  Even the only passenger train that connects Kirandul town in Dantewada district to Andhra Pradesh has been restricted to Jagdalpur, fearing disturbances by Maoists. Reports coming in from Bastar also said that truckers are not willing to operate as the rebels had targeted them earlier.

    Security has been further stepped up in Bastar where police say nearly 25,000sq km of its total 40,000sq km area is intensively mined by Maoists. “Security has always been in top gear in Bastar but surely some more bold steps have been taken to bolster security arrangements during the shutdown period in areas vulnerable to be attacked by the rebels,” Bastar range inspector general of police T J Longkumer said.

  • Government Says It Will Break the “Maoist Grip on $80 Billion Investments in India by 2013"

    Bloomberg

    Pillai to Unlock Maoist Grip on $80 Billion Investments in India by 2013

    By Bibhudatta Pradhan and Santosh Kumar – Sep 17, 2010

    Maoist insurgents blocking $80 billion of investments will be subdued within three years as India pours security forces into contested regions, builds roads and opens schools, Home Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai said.

    “The tactic of keeping a hold on areas is working,” Pillai said in an interview at his office in New Delhi’s British-era government buildings yesterday. Security forces have clawed back 10,000 square kilometers (3,860 square miles) of territory where rebels operated almost one year into a major offensive, he said.

    Pillai, 60, and Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram last October started the campaign against leftist rebels who have attacked security forces, railways and mining infrastructure in a third of India’s 626 administrative districts. India needs to clear the so-called “Red Corridor” to access deposits of iron ore, coal, bauxite, and manganese that London-based Execution Noble Ltd. says may secure investments of $80 billion.

    To maintain control, India needs to recruit as many as 30,000 security personnel each year, Pillai, the top bureaucrat in the home ministry, and security analysts say. Ambushes by rebels in the jungles of central and eastern India have claimed 211 police lives up to mid-July this year.

    “We are nowhere near the required policing, training, and technology to check the Maoists’ growth,” said Ajai Sahni, executive director of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management. “There’s no reason to believe that the situation will suddenly improve in the next three years.”

    Uprising’s Epicenter

    The epicenter of the attacks lies in the forests of the eastern state of Chhattisgarh, which has accounted for almost half of the 573 police and civilians killed in Maoist violence in the first half of this year.

    NMDC Ltd., Asia’s third-largest iron-ore producer, operates its biggest mine in the region, and Essar Steel Ltd., India’s fourth ranked producer of the alloy, plans to build a $1.5 billion steel plant there. The Maoists last year blew up Essar’s pipeline built to transport iron ore from NMDC’s mine.

    As the rebels have pursued their revolution, Indian governments “ignored the problem for a decade, thinking it will go away,” Pillai said yesterday, conceding Maoist guerrillas targeted by police may have regrouped elsewhere.

    Pillai said he doesn’t expect the rebels to agree to put down the guns in the next two years. “If you are comfortable, you are expanding and you are making money, why should you come for talks?” he said.

    ‘Peal of Thunder’

    The leftwing insurgents are known as Naxalites after the West Bengal village of Naxalbari where demands for land reform coalesced into a radical uprising in 1967 inspired by Mao Zedong. The Indian revolt was greeted as “a peal of spring thunder” by China’s People’s Daily.

    The Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of poor villagers and tribal communities whose resources are, the rebels argue, being exploited to propel India’s $1.3 trillion economy with few benefits for local people.

    Pointing to what he says are newly opened police stations on a map of Bijapur district in Chhattisgarh, Pillai highlights the expanding area colored yellow, in contrast to a shrinking red region still patrolled by the insurgents.

    In these areas, roads have been built, schools have started functioning and markets have been opened for the first time in years, he said.

    In April, 76 policemen were killed in Dantewada district, the neighboring region to that displayed on Pillai’s computer, in the biggest strike on security forces in four decades of conflict.

    Districts Gained

    “The government strategy of clear-hold-develop is gaining the upper hand in some patches, mainly in Chhattisgarh,” N. Manoharan, an analyst at the Center for Land Warfare Studies in New Delhi, said today. “But the overall spread of the Maoists is increasing” with 10 to 15 more districts coming under their influence in the last year, he said.

    The government needs to improve intelligence gathering, protection for informers and build its forces, Manoharan said.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the Maoists the greatest internal security threat to the world’s biggest democracy and its third fastest growing major economy.

    India’s Insurgencies

    None of the insurgencies at India’s margins — from a 21- year rebellion in Kashmir to even older separatist movements in the northeast — reach into the heart of the subcontinent.

    Pillai, who as secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and Industries from Sept 2006 to June 2009 played a leading role in expounding India’s opposition to developed world farm subsidies at global trade talks, said four Maoist attacks that resulted in large numbers of police fatalities obscured the fact that overall deaths were just below those of a year ago.

    In Dantewada, Pillai says, there are 1,500 police personnel, a fraction of the 45,000 based in the similarly sized northeastern state of Tripura, where a separatist insurgency is now largely dormant.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Bibhudatta Pradhan in New Delhi at bpradhan@bloomberg.net

  • India: Bihar police in no mood to fight the Naxals

    Operation Green Hunt is in disarray. Bihar’s forces are in no mood to fight the Naxals

    BY VK SHASHIKUMAR

    Broken will -- Members of the Bihar Special Auxiliary Police look desolate while taking a break from Naxal ops

    YOU DID nothing for me. The police and the government did nothing to rescue me. My family negotiated with the Naxals for my release. I am pleading with folded hands, please let me go home. I will not accompany you to the police station. I don’t want to be in the police.” –Sub-Inspector Abhay Yadav to Lakhisarai Superintendent of Police, Ranjit Kumar Mishra, after the Maoists released him on 6 September.

    Eventually Lakhisarai’s new SP forced Abhay, Rupesh Sinha and Mohammad Ehsan Khan, the three surviving policemen from the abductors, to take a detour to the police station for a debrief session. These policemen survived an eight-day ordeal as captives of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) in Lakhisarai, Bihar. The PLGA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), popularly known as Naxals.

    It is unlikely that Abhay will give up his job. Employment in the government service, especially the police, is coveted because it brings in unaccounted wealth. “I want to leave my job. But my family will decide,” he says. “Dheeraj Rakhiye” (Please be patient). These words were used every time a police officer spoke to those in the lower ranks. But each expression brought despair and a sense of inadequacy to the policemen in Lakhisarai, Jamui, Munger and Banka.

    In some areas of the dense hills connecting these districts, several team