Archive for October, 2006

Indian Government draws up hit-list of top 100 Maoist Leaders

October 30, 2006

The reactionary ruling class is planning to use it’s
Asura Sena(Demonic Army) which comprises of the
Khaki Rakshasha’s(Indian Police Force), CRPF
(Central Rakshasha Police Force ) and a couple of
battalions of the Indian Army to target the
revolutionary people’s movement and has
has drawn up an elaborate plan to finish of the entire
top leadership of the Revolutionary Maoist Movement that
has spread like wild fire throught the country.

True to their Mafia style of functioning and organisation
they have now started issuing hit-lists, a trend
popularised in India by petty criminals like
Dawood Ibrahim and Chotta Rajan.

100 Naxals on govt ‘hit list’

NEW DELHI: Centre and Naxal-affected states have drawn a ‘hit list’ of 100 top Maoists who have to be neutralised as part of an aggressive strategy to tackle the serious internal security threat.

Law enforcement agencies have been asked to target the 100 ‘A List’ red ultras on a priority basis in what also marks the burial of the earlier approach to engage the Maoists in talks.

The list, comprising Maoists engaged in a number of violent incidents, exchanged hands for the first time among senior police officers drawn from nine states worst affected by ‘red terror’ during a day-long meeting here on Friday.

Although names of the listed Naxal leaders were not immediately known, they were, sources in the home ministry said, mainly those identified by Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the respective intelligence wings of the nine states as members of ‘military unit’ of the CPM.

The group was formed in September, 2004, with the merger of two prominent Naxal outfits People’s War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC). “Nodal officers of the states discussed the strategy to neutralise all the listed extremists in a co-ordinated manner.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/223242.cms

Indian Police Brutality – Non violent protestor slapped like a bitch

October 30, 2006

Indian Police Brutality – Non violent protestor slapped like a bitch

Watch it on the google video website

If you have any videos of Indian Police Brutality
then please email them to us at our email id.

Bihar Police – Death by AIDS,

October 30, 2006

I couldn’t help but recall these words of prostitute.

” The police are there to beat us during the day
and rape us during the night”

Considering that a DIG himself has got AIDS one can only
speculate as to how many poor working class women he and his
men would have exploited,raped and transferred the deadly
virus to.

I am not even suprised by such news anymore
it is the same story all over the country.

In Kashmir the police and state ministers organised
themselves into a rape cartel which included
two former state ministers, an ex-additional advocate
general of J&K, an IAS officer, a BSF DIG, two Deputy
Superintendents of Police and raped dozens of teenage
kashmiri girls, the youngest being 15 yeats old
with the use of force and coercion.

It is the same scenario in the many states of
North-East and Chattishggarh where civil war rages on.

Bihar DIGs test positive for HIV

Bihar: They fight Maoist revolutionaries, they have seen gangwars between parliamentary politicans. Now, the Bihar Police is staring into the face of a new, dreaded enemy – one which exists within its own ranks – the HIV virus.

There are 20 reported cases of HIV positive patients in the Patna Police hospital. Concerned by the rising numbers of HIV cases in the state police force, doctors have forwarded some suggestions to headquarters.

They feel that all new recruits in the Bihar Police force should carry HIV negative certificates and that men presently serving in the force should undergo HIV tests. They also say that such tests should be carried out periodically.

Says police hospital doctor Dr P Ojha, “I have requested the authorities to make sure that all police officials undergo an HIV test. A complete health profile should be made necessary for all.”

And the government is taking the issue quite seriously especially after the names of two senior DIG rank IPS officers figured in the list of HIV positive cases.

Says Bihar Home Secretary Afzal Amanullah, “Doctors have reported that there has been a considerable rise in HIV positice cases among officers, not only among those ranked lower and constables, but senior officials as well.”

Blood samples of the two senior officers have been sent to leading laboratories in Delhi for further confirmation.

The problem lies not in the fact that two senior DIG rank officials have tested positive for HIV. The real problem lies in the fact that a large number of the police force has not undergone any test.

The real numbers of those suffering from the dreaded virus could be mind-boggling and the government’s intervention is expected before the situation compeletly gets out of hand.

Desperation turns Bihar policemen into pink panthers/painters ?

October 30, 2006

Demoralisation , depression have taken a heavy
toll on the bihar police, So desperate are they that
they have now turned into painters and believe
painting a town pink is going to solve all problems
created by the ruling establishment.

Why only paint the town pink ?
I propose all the policemen of Bihar be made to wear pink unifrom.
Here is a design that may appeal to you

Future uniform of Bihar Police Force.

Rohit Bal will be proud of you guys !
Hell ! you guys could take part in next year’s
India Fashion Week!!!

Bihar blushes to pink to beat terror
Aurangabad: An image makeover is on in Bihar’s Aurangabad district which has been a hotbed of Naxal violence.

The district town is being painted pink to boost its sagging morale and people here are hopeful that this new colour will lift people’s spirit and bring down the crime rate.

“The colour pink might help in maintaining peace,” says a resident of Aurangabad.

“This is being done to beautify the city,” says another local.

This is a brainchild of the new Civil SDO of the town, Arvind Kumar Singh, who’s just returned after a trip to Jaipur.

Inspired from the original pink city, he introduced this campaign with the slogan “Pink Aurangabad, Green Aurangabad; Clean Aurangabad, Disciplined Aurangabad”.

“We want to make our city a pink city. It will help instill a positive attitude in people here,” says Singh.

Though people in the city were reluctant initially, they’re now convinced that pink will counter red terror.

It’s not clear how painting homes and offices pink will bring down the city’s crime graph but people are certainly taking to this unique idea.

(With inputs from Prabhakar Kumar & Mansi Sharma)

http://www.ibnlive.com/news/bihar-blushes-to-pink-to-fight-terror/24957-3.html

24-hour naxal bandh

October 30, 2006

24-hour naxal bandh
Monday, October 30, 2006 07:38:25 am

The banned Maoist outfit, CPI (Maoist) has called for a 24-hour bandh on Monday (Oct 30) in 4 states-Jharkhand, Bihar, Chattisgarh and Orissa.

The bandh is called by the naxals to protest the recent arrest of its top Maoist leaders. While Shela Marandi of Nari Mukti Sangh was recently arrested by Orissa police, another top maoist leader was also arrested by the Bihar police.

The Bihar Police has sounded a high alert in the naxal-infested northern and southern parts of the State.

Jharkhand and Bihar police are taking adequate precautions in view of the bandh. Extra precautions are being taken to ensure the safety of railway lines since the railways are often targeted by the naxals.

http://www.timesnow.tv/articleshow/224507.cms

Lenin quote

October 29, 2006

Translation of the below poster : Lenin lived, Lenin lives, Lenin will live!

Capitalists are no more capable of self-sacrifice than a man is capable of lifting himself up by his own bootstraps.-Lenin

Lenin Video – October Revolution

October 29, 2006

A clip of scene from the movie ‘October’ by Eisenstein, with the tone ‘I Lenin Takoi Molodoi’ (Lenin Is Young Again)

I recommend all those who are in a position to view this to do so,
I personally found the soundtrack to be excellent.
This video clip is from the russian movie October.

Click here to watch the video on the Youtube website

Mangalore: Police Resort to Art as Counter-Propaganda

October 29, 2006

Mangalore: Police Resort to Art as Counter-Propaganda

Mangalore, Oct 28: Men in khaki are often at the receiving end of some nasty criticism by naxalites operating in Malnad region of the State.

They manage to ransack some remote forest office or paste anti-government pamphlets at bus stops in the heart of Malnad town. And each time, they target the policemen.

Now the State Police Department has decided to take the naxalites head on in this ongoing propaganda war through the medium of drama. Sangama Kalavidar of Manipal will aid them in this task. Starting this Saturday members of Sangama Kalavidar will stage the drama “Haseeru Naadina Kempu Haadhi” (Red Path of Green Land) in nine places in Chikmagalur and Udupi district every weekend till November. The troupe had staged this drama in Bangalore.

The drama would be staged in Sringeri (October 28), Basarikatte (Ocotober 29), Kigga (November 4), Shamse (November 5), Shankarnarayana (November 11), Ajekar (November 12), Hebri (November 18), Siddapur (November 19) and at Amasebailu (November 25). These places in the two districts have been the centres of naxal activities in the recent past.

H.N. Sathyanarayana Rao, Inspector-General of Police (Western Range) told The Hindu the main aim of staging the drama in areas affected by naxal activities was to create awareness about the issue. Even the department had to present its side of the story before the people.

http://www.daijiworld.com/news/news_disp.asp?n_id=27300&n_tit=Mangalore%3A+Police+Resort+to+Art+as+Counter-Propaganda+

Hard-core Naxalite Sreenivas grilled

October 29, 2006

Hard-core Naxalite Sreenivas grilled
Sunday October 29 2006 11:41 IST

BELLARY: The hard-core Naxalite and one of the main accused of Paritala Ravi murder case, Sreenivas was thoroughly interrogated by the district police on Saturday.

The accused Julakanti Sreenivas Reddy alias Moddu Sreenu was brought to the city with tight security. He was taken to some of the secret places in the city.

He is one of the suspects in murder of R K (Rayalaseema King), a former PW leader of Anantapur district and mentor of Paritala Ravindra.

Sreenivas is facing murder charges of Malepati Venkateswara Rao, a close associate of Paritala Ravi and former hard-core Naxalite on October 9, 2004 in the city. Malepati Venkateswara Rao was gunned to death, when he was on his morning walk near VIMS, here. The accused, Sreenivas along with G Suryanarayana Reddy alias Suri, P Narayana Reddy, Damodar Reddy and others indiscriminately opened fire on Malepati Venkateshwara Rao that day, police sources said.

The accused was arrested recently in Andhra Pradesh and kept in the Fazal Haque sub-jail.

In last February, a police team from the city went there with a prisoner’s body warrant issued by the city local court and requested for Moddu Sreenu in connection with RK murder case.

But, the Superintendent of Sub-Jail Fazal Haque said the accused health condition was not good and he could not be handed over to them in the present condition.

That time doctors had advised complete rest for Moddu Sreenu for some more time. But, this time the officials of AP police handed over him to Bellary police, for one-day interrogation on the basis of prisons body warrant. After his interrogation the accused was handed over to AP police.

The accused was brought to city with tight security of over 100 police personnel, including the newly formed Anti-Naxal Forces.

http://www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IEK20061029012005&Page=K&Title=Southern+News+-+Karnataka&Topic=0

Group narrates story of struggle, pain,suffering at the hands of the Salwa Judum militiamen

October 29, 2006

Group narrates story of struggle, pain against Salwa Judum militiamen
Anand Bodh

Chandigarh, October 28: It seems like the protector is turning into the destroyer. To oppose alleged suppression by members of Salwa Judum, a group formed to counter naxalites in Chhattisgarh, in Bastar region, a group of young people have set out on a journey to gather public support to oppose their atrocities.

Presently in Chandigarh, this group of seven young tribals, including two girls, from Bastar have so far performed in 12 states across the country. Salwa Judum literally means collective hunting, and in their case, it was hunting down the naxalites.

The members of the group, attired in their traditional clothes, presented a song that narrated their suffering at the hands of Salwa Judum and exhorted the people to come together to eliminate the Salwa Judum.

Sandhya Markav, a member of the group hailing from Kanker District of Bastar region, said the objective of this song and dance performance was to make people aware of the plight of tribals at the hands of Salwa Judum. “In the name of suppressing naxal movement in Bastar, Salwa Judum is forcing tribals to migrate from their ancestral land located in deep jungles. Many tribals have got killed at the hands of Salwa Judum,” she added.

Seema, another group member, said the group was formed in 2003. “After collecting money from fellow tribesmen, we sat out on our journey to narrate the truth of Salwa Judum to others,’’ she said.

Raj Kumar Salam, the group leader, said Salwa Judum has forced people of around 600 villages to migrate. Due to the fear, around 30,000 people are living in the jungles.

“The tribals of Bastar are facing onslaught at the hands of Salwa Judum for supporting the naxalites,” he said.

Three killed in Chhattisgarh by Maoist insurgents

October 29, 2006

While the media is quick report any deaths when Maoists retaliate
against Salwa Judum violence it has almost never reported any of the
gang rapes and cold blooded murders of hundreds of maoist sympathisers
and local people.

Anyone who wants to know what I am talking about click on the
Salwa-judum label on the right hand side index.

Three killed in Chhattisgarh by Maoist insurgents

Submitted by aftababedin on Sat, 2006-10-28 16:12. India News

Raipur, Oct 28 (IANS) Three people were killed in Chhattisgarh’s forested Bastar region in overnight attacks by Maoist militants, police said Saturday.

Two bodies of tribals were found on a roadside in Narayanpur area while a middle-aged man thought to be an activist of Salwa Judum (anti-insurgency militia), seemed to have been beaten to death, a police official said.

Both the incident took place Friday night in the Bastar region, some 450-km south of Raipur bordering Andhra Pradesh that has been facing Maoists insurgency.

The police claimed to have arrested three insurgents from the remote northeast Surguja region in the state Friday.

The government has deployed 11 paramilitary battalions in the state to tackle the insurgency in the region.

http://www.indianmuslims.info/news/2006/october/28/india_news/three_killed_in_chhattisgarh_by_maoist_insurgents.html?PHPSESSID=c4e0548c907ab7854f2669168cb1a241

Eight naxalites surrender before police

October 29, 2006

Eight naxalites surrender before police

Nagpur, Oct. 27 (PTI): Taking advantage of the Maharashtra government’s surrender policy for naxals in the district, eight naxalites, including a 17-year-old girl, have laid down their arms here, police said today.

The state government had extended the naxal surrender policy for one year upto August 28, 2007.

The naxals, who recently surrendered before Gadchiroli police, are Ramlal (19) of Patnam Dalam, Mahesh (20) of Perimili Dalam, Naresh (19) Balaghat Korchi Dalam, Chaitu (18) of Sangam Dalam, Raju (18) who is the Gramrakshak Dal member and Pramila (17), the Gramrakshak.

Two other naxalites — Babaurao (21) and Raso (23)–, who hail from Aheri Dalam, had laid arms before police on October 25.

While the eight had been active in the naxalite movement for the past two to three years, Baburao and Raso had been involved for past five to six years, Gadchiroli police said.

http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/004200610271422.htm

Tech Madhu will surrender: Jana

October 29, 2006

Tech Madhu will surrender: Jana
Saturday October 28 2006 11:14 IST

VIJAYAWADA: Home Minister K Jana Reddy on Friday indicated that Naxal activist Tech Madhu and his wife Sridevi were planning to surrender to the police.

The Naxal couple, involved in manufacturing and transporting of rocket launchers to Maoists, have approached the government through some mediators indicating their willingness to give up.

“They have approached the government and we are talking through the mediators,” Jana Reddy, who briefly halted at Kaikaluru enroute West Godavari district, told reporters here on Friday.

He said the Naxal couple could surrender in a couple of days. He said the media was trying to blow up a simple issue. “The government has been adopting a three-tier strategy to tackle the Naxal menace and making key Naxals surrender and join the mainstream is a regular process,” he added.

Maoist bandh: Alert sounded in Bihar

October 29, 2006

Maoist bandh: Alert sounded in Bihar

Patna, Oct. 29 (PTI): Bihar Police has sounded a high alert in the naxal-infested north and southern parts of the State and intensified patrolling in view of the bandh called by proscribed CPI (Maoist) on Monday in protest against the arrest of its top leaders in the state.

The Bihar-Jharkhand Special Area Committee and the People’s Liberation Guerilla Army have extended support to the bandh call.

All the Superintendents of Police in the zone had been asked to intensify patrolling in naxalite-hit areas, IG (Tirhut zone), Sumit Kumar, said.

Protection of government property, including railways and jails, would get special attention, he said.

“The SSB, which guards the Indo-Nepal border, has been asked to cooperate with the district police to nab ultras trying to sneak into Indian territory from neighbouring Nepal to create disturbances,” Kumar said.

Security is also being tightened in Gaya, Jehanabad, Nawada and Aurangabad districts in south Bihar.

The ultras had targetted railway property in Bagaha, Samastipur, Darbhanga and Motihari (East Champaran) and Gaya during the bandh call in the past.

In north Bihar, Vaishali, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, East and West Champaran, Samastipur, Darbhanga, Begusarai and Madhubani districts are considered vulnerable from security point of view.

The CPI (Maoist) is protesting against the arrest of its top leaders in Bihar and Jharkhand.

http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/002200610290325.htm

Fear of Maoists drives CRPF soldiers to buy multiple insurance policies

October 29, 2006

The CRPF( Central Rakshasa Police Force ) is so
afraid of the fast growing Maoist movement, that they have now
resorted to buying multiple Life Insurance policies.

The CRPF has played no greater role than that of pawns in the
treacherous games played by India’s ruling classes.

Fear of Maoists drives CRPF soldiers to buy multiple insurance policies
[ 29 Oct, 2006 0007hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]
RSS Feeds| SMS NEWS to 8888 for latest updates

NEW DELHI: Union home minister Shivraj Patil on Saturday announced a string of welfare measures for CRPF, topping the list with an insurance cover for its personnel at par with the armed forces.

Patil promised better housing and medical facilities for CRPF jawans and officers deployed in varied duties inside the country, ranging from law and order to counter-Naxalite operations.

He announced a Rs 10 lakh life and disability insurance cover for jawans, in addition to the compensation they get in case of death or disability, while on duty.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/208859.cms

Maoists make a mark in Singur – Indian Corporate mafia trembles with fear

October 29, 2006

Maoists make a mark in Singur – Corporate mafia trembles with fear

Rajib Chatterjee/SNS

KOLKATA, Oct. 28- The state Intelligence Branch has asked Hooghly Police to keep watch on the movement of activists belonging to the Naxalite outfits ~ Krishak Committee and Shramik Sangram Committee ~ considered to be “frontal organisations” of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). Activists of both outfits are trying hard to win over the disgruntled farmers of Singur.

They even distributed leaflets yesterday among villagers who had gathered to attend the public hearing on the controversial land acquisition bid of the state government, convened by social activist Ms Medha Patkar.

Police suspect that the two Naxalite outfits have drawn up a blueprint to add momentum to the peasants’ agitation in Singur so that it can develop into a large-scale movement without any support from mainstream political parties.
The two outfits have targeted not only the CPI-M but also the Congress and the Trinamul Congress. They described the two parties as “anti-peasant” forces which are “trying to compromise” peasants’ interest.

That the two Naxalite outfits have established base in Singur was evident from the content of leaflets distributed by the Naxalites yesterday, a senior police officer said. “The Maoists joined the Trinamul Congress after the anti-land acquisition stir had begun.

Now, the Maoist outfits seem to have gained considerable support from local people in Singur. They seem to have made up their minds to go ahead with the movement on their own,” the officer said.

http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.php?clid=6&theme=&usrsess=1&id=134940

Jharkhand Maoists all set to re-distribute 10,000 acres of land

October 29, 2006

Jharkhand Maoists all set to re-distribute 10,000 acres of land
Web posted at: 10/29/2006 2:47:56
Source ::: IANS

Ranchi • Despite a good monsoon, farmers in Jharkhand are refusing to till their land due to fear of Maoists who have warned them against cultivation. The result is that around 10,000 acres of cultivable land is lying fallow in the state.

Maoists of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) say the land belongs to the poor and hope to redistribute it soon to the poor and needy.

The CPI-Maoist put black flags on thousands of acres of land in different parts of the state before the monsoon and decreed against farming activity there. The worst affected districts are Palamau, Hazaribagh and Chatra. Maoist rebels threatened the land owners to face their wrath if they dared to plough the fields.

“The rebels think the land belongs to the poor,” he said.

Jharkhand was declared drought-affected for four consecutive years by the state government. But this year the rainfall was enough for sowing of paddy. Palamau, one of the worst drought-affected districts that fall under the rain shadow zone, had good rains. However, the joy of farmers at the hope of tilling their fields evaporated when the Maoists issued the diktat.

According to an estimate, more than 10,000 acres of land is lying fallow due to the Maoist threat.

“We have information about the Maoist ruling. At some places we deployed security forces but the farmers did not dare to plough the fields,” said Uddayan Kumar, superintendent of police, Palamau. “We find it difficult to take action as the farmers do not lodge any complaint to police,” he said. The farmers said the police cannot ensure their safety since the Maoists run a parallel government in rural areas and the cops themselves are at a disadvantage.

Link
http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/Display_news.asp?section=World_News&subsection=India&month=October2006&file=World_News2006102924756.xml

Call for jailed bloggers to be freed

October 27, 2006

Call for jailed bloggers to be freed
By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles
Published: 27 October 2006

Amnesty International is launching a campaign on behalf of a whole new category of prisoners of conscience – internet bloggers and chatroom visitors arrested by repressive governments for expressing unwelcome views or disseminating sensitive information online.

In an appeal issued today, the human rights watchdog is urging webmasters around the world to stand up for their imprisoned fellow bloggers – in countries such as Iran, Tunisia, Vietnam and China – and denouncing major internet service providers, including Yahoo! and Microsoft, for providing foreign governments with the information they need to purge the web of dissenting voices.

The appeal comes on the eve of the inaugural meeting of the Internet Governance Forum, a UN-sponsored gathering in Athens to consider the future of online communication – including freedom of expression as well as security and intellectual property rights.

“People have been locked up just for expressing their views in an e-mail or on a website,” said Steve Ballinger of Amnesty. “Sites and blogs have been shut down and firewalls built to prevent access to information. Companies have restricted internet searches to stop people accessing information that repressive governments don’t want them to see.

“Countries and businesses have failed to respect, protect and promote the rights to freedom of expression, association and privacy, and the rights of human rights defenders.”

Amnesty is issuing an urgent appeal on behalf of an Iranian blogger called Kianoosh Sanjari, who was arrested earlier this month after he provided reports on clashes between security forces and supporters of a Shia cleric called Ayatollah Boroujerdi. “He is being held incommunicado and [we fear] that he may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment,” Amnesty said.

A number of governments have resorted to filtering and blocking mechanisms to keep unwelcome political content off the internet, Amnesty said. But the group also criticised big private Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for acceding to the demands of repressive governments and passing on information identifying bloggers.

It pinpointed Yahoo!’s Chinese partner Alibaba, which it said had provided information used to prosecute the journalist Shi Tao and led to Shi’s sentencing to 10 years in prison for “illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities”. Shi had sent information to a US website about the Chinese government’s plans for containing media coverage of an anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Amnesty criticised Microsoft for acceding to China’s request to restrict freedom of expression on its MSN Spaces blog service, including the shutdown of a blog written by a New York Times researcher, Zhao Jing. Amnesty also joined the criticism that greeted Google’s decision to launch a censored version of its search engine for China.

Mr Ballinger said it was vital for the online community to make its voice heard at the Internet Governance Forum. “Freedom of expression online is a right, not a privilege – but it’s a right that needs defending,” he said. “We’re asking bloggers worldwide to show their solidarity with web users in countries where they can face jail just for criticising the government.”

Today’s appeal comes after publication of an Amnesty report on internet censorship in Vietnam, where the group said ISPs have to inform on their users, internet café owners must monitor the activities of customers and web users themselves must denounce sites they encounter which criticise the government.

The Vietnamese government reserves the right to block sites, ostensibly to prevent the spread of pornography.

Kianoosh Sanjari’s blog

Ahmad Batebi’s doctor is arrested

[Student activist Ahmad Batebi was briefly released from prison for medical treatment]

A few minutes ago I had a phonecall saying that Dr Hesam Firouzi [Ahmed Batabi’s doctor] was arrested at his house. His wife told a friend of his at noon that five or six plainclothes people from the Ministry of Information came to the house. After searching the house and collecting Dr Firouzi’s belongings like computers, letters and writings, they arrested him and took him. Dr Firouzi’s wife managed to see the arrest warrant. It says “Hesan 209”. 209 is a section of Evin prison known as the Security Detention Centre.

Saturday 7 October

[reportedly the day of Kianoosh Sanjari’s arrest]

Last week I wrote a piece about a writer and producer of Islamic Republic TV News programmes. He phoned me from cell 350 at Evin prison. He said he had different responsibilities in the government, above all he was writer and producer of the news programme “Import and Distribution of contaminated meat”. [this is a big issue in Iran] Apparently he used to work with Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of the Keyhan newspaper, at Tehran Keyhan.

Tonight he phoned again and informed me that last Wednesday morning, he was transferred from Cell 350 at Evin prison to a detention centre in Islamshaht, where he was originally arrested. He said on Thursday, he was taken to No. 1 revolutionary court, where he was accused of spying for foreigners. He rejected this accusation. After the court hearing was finished, he was taken back to Evin prison.

Amnesty International is launching a campaign on behalf of a whole new category of prisoners of conscience – internet bloggers and chatroom visitors arrested by repressive governments for expressing unwelcome views or disseminating sensitive information online.

In an appeal issued today, the human rights watchdog is urging webmasters around the world to stand up for their imprisoned fellow bloggers – in countries such as Iran, Tunisia, Vietnam and China – and denouncing major internet service providers, including Yahoo! and Microsoft, for providing foreign governments with the information they need to purge the web of dissenting voices.

The appeal comes on the eve of the inaugural meeting of the Internet Governance Forum, a UN-sponsored gathering in Athens to consider the future of online communication – including freedom of expression as well as security and intellectual property rights.

“People have been locked up just for expressing their views in an e-mail or on a website,” said Steve Ballinger of Amnesty. “Sites and blogs have been shut down and firewalls built to prevent access to information. Companies have restricted internet searches to stop people accessing information that repressive governments don’t want them to see.

“Countries and businesses have failed to respect, protect and promote the rights to freedom of expression, association and privacy, and the rights of human rights defenders.”

Amnesty is issuing an urgent appeal on behalf of an Iranian blogger called Kianoosh Sanjari, who was arrested earlier this month after he provided reports on clashes between security forces and supporters of a Shia cleric called Ayatollah Boroujerdi. “He is being held incommunicado and [we fear] that he may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment,” Amnesty said.

A number of governments have resorted to filtering and blocking mechanisms to keep unwelcome political content off the internet, Amnesty said. But the group also criticised big private Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for acceding to the demands of repressive governments and passing on information identifying bloggers.

It pinpointed Yahoo!’s Chinese partner Alibaba, which it said had provided information used to prosecute the journalist Shi Tao and led to Shi’s sentencing to 10 years in prison for “illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities”. Shi had sent information to a US website about the Chinese government’s plans for containing media coverage of an anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Amnesty criticised Microsoft for acceding to China’s request to restrict freedom of expression on its MSN Spaces blog service, including the shutdown of a blog written by a New York Times researcher, Zhao Jing. Amnesty also joined the criticism that greeted Google’s decision to launch a censored version of its search engine for China.

Mr Ballinger said it was vital for the online community to make its voice heard at the Internet Governance Forum. “Freedom of expression online is a right, not a privilege – but it’s a right that needs defending,” he said. “We’re asking bloggers worldwide to show their solidarity with web users in countries where they can face jail just for criticising the government.”

Today’s appeal comes after publication of an Amnesty report on internet censorship in Vietnam, where the group said ISPs have to inform on their users, internet café owners must monitor the activities of customers and web users themselves must denounce sites they encounter which criticise the government.

The Vietnamese government reserves the right to block sites, ostensibly to prevent the spread of pornography.

Kianoosh Sanjari’s blog

Ahmad Batebi’s doctor is arrested

[Student activist Ahmad Batebi was briefly released from prison for medical treatment]

A few minutes ago I had a phonecall saying that Dr Hesam Firouzi [Ahmed Batabi’s doctor] was arrested at his house. His wife told a friend of his at noon that five or six plainclothes people from the Ministry of Information came to the house. After searching the house and collecting Dr Firouzi’s belongings like computers, letters and writings, they arrested him and took him. Dr Firouzi’s wife managed to see the arrest warrant. It says “Hesan 209”. 209 is a section of Evin prison known as the Security Detention Centre.

Saturday 7 October

[reportedly the day of Kianoosh Sanjari’s arrest]

Last week I wrote a piece about a writer and producer of Islamic Republic TV News programmes. He phoned me from cell 350 at Evin prison. He said he had different responsibilities in the government, above all he was writer and producer of the news programme “Import and Distribution of contaminated meat”. [this is a big issue in Iran] Apparently he used to work with Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of the Keyhan newspaper, at Tehran Keyhan.

Tonight he phoned again and informed me that last Wednesday morning, he was transferred from Cell 350 at Evin prison to a detention centre in Islamshaht, where he was originally arrested. He said on Thursday, he was taken to No. 1 revolutionary court, where he was accused of spying for foreigners. He rejected this accusation. After the court hearing was finished, he was taken back to Evin Prison

Antonio Gramsci Quote

October 27, 2006

Antonio Gramsci Quote

Folklore should instead be studied as a ‘conception of the world and life’ implicit to a large extent in determinate (in time and space) strata of society and in opposition (also for the most part implicit, mechanical, and objective) to ‘official’ conceptions of the world (or in a broader sense, the conceptions of the cultured parts of historically determinate societies) that have succeeded one another in the historical process. – Gramsci, Antonio, Selections from cultural writings. London (Lawrence & Wishart) 1985, 189

Naxalite Movement and Cultural Resistance – Experience of Janakiya Samskarika Vedi in Kerala (1980-82)

October 27, 2006

EPW Special Articles December 10, 2005

Naxalite Movement and Cultural Resistance

Experience of Janakiya Samskarika Vedi in Kerala (1980-82)

In the early 1980s, the Janakiya Samskarika Vedi saw itself as a cultural resistance movement involved in establishing its own cultural sphere of ideas and ethics as opposed to the earlier bourgeois ethos. However, its attempt to clearly separate the realms of the cultural and the political was opposed by adherents within the Vedi and also by other left groups that saw the “seizure” of power and establishment of a left wing hegemony as the overarching goal of the revolution.

However, attempts by the Vedi to assert its own autonomy were hindered by the fact that it had a symbiotic relationship with the radical left political parties. While opposing the dominance of those political parties, it also relied on the latter for support. This article traces the short history of the Vedi, its attempts to chart its own independent existence, autonomous from the “party line” and how it disintegrated in the weight of own contradictions.
Sreejith K

Revolutions do not begin with the thunderclap of a seizure of power – that is their culmination. They start with attacks on the moral-political order and the traditional hierarchy of class statuses. They succeed when the power structure beset by its own irresolvable contradictions can no longer perform legitimately and effectively. It is often forgotten that the state has often in the past been rescued by the moral-political order than the class hierarchy (authority) that the people still accepted. – Franz Shurmann

Left cultural movements have hitherto played a crucial role in the advancement of radical politics. However, the relationship between the party and its cultural wing has not always tended to be smooth. Central to this conflict has been the debate over the relative primacy of culture or politics, and the question of autonomy of the former from the latter.

In this backdrop, this paper seeks to trace the history of Janakiya Samskarika Vedi in Kerala, which in the early 1980s, was engaged in what Gramsci would have called the “War of Position” and which privileged the ethical-cultural aspects of the conquest of power. In the process, an attempt would be made to bring out how its ideal of a “dialectical” relationship with the CPI (ML), a party led by the Bolshevik concept of capturing power – a “War of Movement”, in Gramscian terms – could not resolve the contradictions that manifested in the course of time, ultimately bringing the movement to a premature end.

Origins and Early Years

Prior to the withdrawal of Emergency in 1977, when democratic freedom was at a premium, revolutionary cultural activities did not take root in Kerala. After the Emergency, in a more democratic set-up, the situation changed somewhat. The Emergency had been an eye-opener for the various Naxalite groups in the sense that it made them realise that, in ordinary times, the Indian form of bourgeois democracy does offer some space, however limited, for protest. In the post-Emergency period, in contrast to their sectarian past, the Naxalite groups began to field various legal and semi-legal mass organisations which reflected their new orientation.

In Kerala, the Naxalites reorganised themselves into the Central Reorganisation Committee Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) [hereafter CRC CPI (ML)], and resumed the publication of the party organ Comrade which had been banned during the Emergency. More intellectuals were now prepared to side with revolutionary democracy, and Prerana the Malayalam magazine which later became the organ of the Janakiya Samskarika Vedi was started in 1977.

The stories of the excesses committed during the Emergency had turned popular mood against all forms of authoritarianism. In May 1977, while inaugurating a camp for radical cultural activists at Olarikkara, the noted dramatist N N Pillai declared that “there is only one solution, and that is revolution.”1 The statement reflected the mood of the times. The convention had issued a manifesto of revolutionary writers and artists which stressed the need for transforming the production relations of the capitalist system and its ideological and cultural meanings. The concluding paragraph of the manifesto read:

It is the responsibility of revolutionary artists and literary men to discern between progressive and decadent forces in history, to stand with the forces that make progress, to assess their growth, to assimilate them, and to be honest to one’s times. Only thus shall we be able to realise the idea of a militant cultural front and to fight by means of new artistic-literary creations the cultural domination of the ruling classes.2

The period witnessed the proliferation of small theatre groups, Wynadu Samskarika Vedi with its play “Padayani” and Ranachetana through a dramatic presentation of Gorky’s novel Mother achieving notable success. The stage was now set for bringing together organisationally the various revolutionary cultural groups active in different parts of the state. In August 1980, during a convention held with this objective at Antikkad, the Janakiya Samskarika Vedi (hereafter Vedi) came into being.

A state committee was constituted with Kaviyur Balan as state secretary and B Rajeevan, Civic Chandran, K S Sadasivan, amongst others, as members. Most of them had Naxalite leanings. The party’s ties with the Vedi becomes clear in the message of K Venu, state secretary of CRC CPI(ML), read out on this occasion.3

The leadership of the Vedi was familiar with the recent history of Marxist cultural movements where, in most cases, cultural activities had become a mere appendage to the political and economic imperatives of the party. It was thus keen to avoid potential pitfalls. “The cultural front”, it was made categorically clear, “was not meant to become the open face for propaganda work of a secret party.”4 The manifesto of the Vedi states that the view which always gives primacy to the base over the superstructure is non-Marxist and that the relationship between the two, and consequently between the party and the Vedi should be dialectical in nature.

Thus it was clarified that even though “cultural activists should have ideological affinity with that political organisation which upholds working class politics, this unity should not be at the cost of making cultural activities organisationally subjugated to it.”5 The separate domains of the party and the cultural front were clearly demarcated. As one article in Prerana, the Vedi mouthpiece put it, “the political front represents the vanguard for the political liberation of a people, the cultural front gives the lead to their spiritual emancipation.”6 The party was quite happy with this arrangement, as a reply its organ gave to a question on the relationship between the party and the Vedi suggests – “the party and the Vedi work in two different spheres. The party’s main task is to transform the economic base in the production relations, whereas the Vedi stands for transforming the superstructure.”7 However, as we shall see later, this ideal relationship between the two was difficult to achieve, especially during the latter stages of the movement.

Towards a ‘New Democratic Culture’

The manifesto of the Vedi had declared that the task of the revolutionary cultural activists was to create a “new democratic culture” in the country, allying with all the forces of the “new democratic revolution”. It foresaw struggles at different levels, important of which were against:

(i) The still prevalent feudal culture which tries to “take us back to the medieval ages with its emphasis on caste, religion and the promotion of a spiritual atmosphere which hinders the growth of scientific ideas”; (ii) the all pervasive “consumer culture which generates base instincts among people and directs them to a fantasy world far removed from their material existence”; (iii) “Modernism” (as it got expressed in Malayalam literature ) which “inactivates people and creates pessimism and alienation among them”; and (iv) “Revisionism” which endorses a mechanical culture, and while preventing man from realising his full potential and creativity, prepares the ground for the growth of “social fascism”.8

Thus, apart from the fight against the remnants of a feudal culture and a growing consumer capitalist ethos in the state, the Vedi accorded a high priority to the struggle against “modernism” and “revisionism”. “Modernism” in writing was thought to have originated as a kind of reaction against revisionist literature which could not break free of the shackles of bourgeois consumer culture and aesthetics. As an article in Prerana observed:

For the revisionists, human beings get satisfied with the acquisition of consumer goods…Those who see the accumulation of material goods as the sole basis for human emancipation are, in effect, trying to convert the working class into capitalists. Here, the mechanical culture of the revisionists capitulates to the consumer culture of capitalism.9

K Satchidanandan, a poet and an important figure in the Vedi in its heydays wrote that “as revisionism had accepted capitalist institutions and yardsticks while hoping to bring about a revolution through them, it followed the same capitalist market laws in its art as well.”10 In a detailed critique on the cultural policy of the established left, an editorial in the Prerana pointed out that:

The revisionists do not realise that even within culture there are elements of class struggle. That is why they commodify art and culture and sell them in the market; that is why they mechanically attach art and culture to their party politics, and fail time and again.11

Raymond Williams once described left cultural movements ideally as attempts “to defeat that system of meanings and values (which an unequal society has generated) through the most sustained skills of intellectual and educational work”. In its activities, the Vedi conforms to a similar view. It made use of various forms, one of which was the street play, ideally suited for an organisation of its kind as it incurred less expenses and could be staged even without prior notice to the administration.

More importantly, it had better scope than the conventional proscenium theatre to reach the masses. Apart from the dramatisation of famous novels like Gorky’s Mother and Howard Fast’s Spartacus, the Vedi took up local issues and contemporary injustices as its plays MLA, staged during the assembly elections, and Chasnala dealing with the miner’s tragedy amply illustrate.

As part of their critique of the established left in the state the Vedi activists, during this time made a critique of Thoppil Bhasi’s famous play Ningalenne Communistakki12 which was believed to have played an important role during the early phase of the communist movement in the state. Civic Chandran, for instance, wrote that in this play, the cruelty of landlord oppression is shown to be an individual aberration, and as a consequence, feudalism as a system goes unscathed.13

He also portrayed the drama as one where the last cry of feudalism is heard, whence the younger generation in feudal families along with some of their elder members go over to the winning side, i e, communism.14 In a later article, he was to trace the origins of the present day commercial theatre tradition in the state – “a little bit of revolution, a little bit of comedy, a little bit of love” – to Ningalenne Communistakki which had all these ingredients in ample measure to ensure a commercial success.15

Seen in this context, the play Nadugaddika staged by the Vedi in hundreds of places throughout the state constitutes a radical break from the past, not the least because a majority of whom were involved with it were adivasis themselves. Nadugaddika illustrates how the naxalite cultural activists, unlike their predecessors, were able to use the folk traditions and myths of a people to convey, from a working class perspective, the oppression they had been going through for generations. “Gaddika”, a tribal ritual of the Adiyars of Wynad, was used to exorcise evil spirits. Here, the “gaddikakaran” (exorcist) is none other than Varghese, the naxalite leader who was killed by the police in Wynad during the early phase of the movement in the state.

Nadugaddika ends with the tribals reclaiming the red flag from the landlords who had turned communists in 1957, following the party’s victory at the hustings. The ‘gaddikakaran’, at one stage, pointing to the flag, tells the landlord that “this is not meant for making your loin cloth.”16 The Left Front government which had returned to power in the state in 1980, expectedly, did not take kindly to the staging of this play, and CPI(M) attacks on Vedi activists on this account were not rare.17

Malayalam poetry acquired a new meaning during the Vedi days. In their poems, Kadamanitta Ramakrishnan, K G Sankara Pillai, Satchidanandan, Civic Chandran and others did not exhibit any metaphysical anxieties, led as they were, by a harsh political reality. In one of the earliest instances where Varghese, the Naxalite “martyr” finds a place in Malayalam literature, Civic Chandran wrote:

Radhakrishnan, the journalist, just back from the trip
To the hills of Brahmagiri and Narinirangi says
That his tribal guide cherishes warm memories
of a fighter he calls the ‘peruman’
He says that the summer forests of Wynad are waiting for
Their spark
And the rock of Kumbarakuri is bleeding still,
that the corridors of the press club are still
haunted by a pair of eyes gouged out of their sockets.
Radhakrishnan, the journalist, upon the testimony of
Marachathan, his guide,
says for certain that the river Kabani will turn red again.18

To shake the readers out of a complacency bred by familiarity, these poets resorted to what has been called “linguistic shock”. Thus, in their poems, “soft melodies of birds”, for instance, are missing, and instead, we hear only “the roar of landslides and floods.”19 Kadamanitta’s poem ‘Avar Parayunnu’ and Attoor Ravi Varma’s ‘Cancer’ illustrate how these urban middle class poets used morbid symbols of decadence and carefully selected images of revulsion to critique the existing system.

The most famous poem of Kadamanitta in those days was ‘Kurathi’, which, significantly the CPI(M) found to be an ‘extremist’ poem.20 ‘Kurathi’, which narrates the saga of a marginalised tribe was widely used by the Vedi during its poetry evenings and “kavyayatras”. The Vedi also introduced the genre of political poetry represented by the likes of Mayakovsky and Neruda to a larger Malayalee audience. For this, apart from the pages of Prerana, it took recourse to a new form, “poster poetry”, i e, posters filled with the lines of these poets as well as those of communist legends like Mao and Che Geuvara.

Louis Kampf defined the tasks of radical culture as the attempts “to bring about a social revolution; to make institutions democratic; to make us free; to make life more beautiful and humane.”21 For the Vedi too, cultural activities did not remain confined to art and literature, but instead included whatever activities that revolutionised the consciousness of man. As an organisation, it was “committed to create an aggressive cultural consciousness against a system dehumanised from top to bottom.”22

To be more precise, it represented a social movement rather than being a cultural organisation of the conventional type. Its activities ranged from settling domestic discords to organising bonus strikes. In March 1981, the Vedi led an agitation in Kannur against public gambling, which allegedly, “got support from the local police and DYFI activists”.23 The movement led to the banning of gambling during exhibitions. In the process, however, Ramesan, a Vedi activist who had been in the forefront of the struggle was stabbed to death. The killing did not go unprotested, though. On March 23, some Vedi members entered the legislative assembly and after distributing pamphlets, shouted “down with gamblers both inside as well as outside the legislatures”.24

People’s Political Power

Alongside attempts to bring about a “new democratic culture”, the Vedi and the CRC CPI (ML) were engaged, during this time, in setting up what they termed parallel centres of “people’s political power”. Citing instances from the Russian and Chinese revolutionary experiences, and from India’s own santhal rebellion in the mid-19th century upto the Naxalbari uprising, they stressed the need for people’s political power to be established in the course of the revolutionary struggle.

It was argued that involving people with political power would lead to the growth of self-confidence amongst them, whereas in its absence in the post-revolutionary phase, political power could easily lapse into the hands of the party, or worse, “a new ruling class”.25 For the Naxalites, bourgeois courts were institutions meant for the protection of the interests of the propertied classes. They saw in the “people’s courts” and people’s trials which ran counter to the bourgeois system of justice, instruments for the establishment of people’s political power at the local level. They were seen as institutions whereby people could think and decide for themselves on matters affecting them instead of depending on outside agencies. According to the party leadership:

Today the people have begun to understand that people’s political power cannot be established by voting to determine who will oppress them every five years and that it can be brought into existence only by the people in each area seizing power locally to take decisions and implement them in all economic, political and social problems faced in their own locality.26

Attempts in this direction achieved a fair degree of success at Calicut, where in March 1981, the Vedi “tried” a corrupt doctor through a people’s court, an event which also brought to the forefront of social activism the question of medical ethics. The “trial” was well received by various sections with even a former chief justice forced to admit in public that “the people’s trial was the sign of a social revolution” and that it could be viewed as “the resistance of a people against injustice.”27 Not insignificantly, even the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of the CPI (M) was constrained, in the wake of the success of the doctor’s trial, to fill up the walls of the state with the graffiti “corrupt bureaucrats should be beaten up”.

The activities of the Vedi had won for the CRC CPI (ML) unprecedented popularity during this phase. At many places, the differences between the two were negligible, and where the party had only a marginal presence, the Vedi assumed the role of a mass front leading many a struggle. However, the contradictions between the two proved to be too fundamental, in the final analysis, for them to be united for long. The party leadership, increasingly wary over the way its “military line” was being sacrificed at the altar of “mass line”, reintroduced the former to the forefront of the struggle through the annihilation of Madathil Mathai, “a people’s enemy” at Kenichira in Wynad in May 1981.

In the aftermath of the Kenichira action, the movement had to face severe state repression. The government resorted to draconian laws even as the holding of “people’s trials” were banned, and Prerana threatened with confiscation.28 On July 9, 1981, T K Ramakrishnan, the home minister, declared in the state assembly that 191 cases had so far been registered against the “extremists” and that 930 arrests were made.29 The movement could not survive this “white terror”!

The Rift Within

More than the state repression, however, it was the irreconcilable differences between the Vedi and the party which brought the movement to an abrupt end. Here, it should be noted that the two did not constitute monolithic structures with no two opinions within them. For instance, there was a small but vociferous section within the party who opposed the “annihilation”, indicating a vigorous two-line struggle on this issue.30 Similarly, inside the Vedi, there were some people who toed the official party line. Thus, when we speak of a party or a Vedi line, it relates to the “dominant” line or the line that prevailed.

The Vedi leadership was quick to denounce the annihilation and dissociate itself from it. Satchidanandan saw elements of fascism in the action, and in a letter to a popular weekly, expressed the view that the annihilation did not “suit the civilised political sensibility of Kerala” and that it “nauseated a big section of the populace”.31 In the days following the annihilation, when the schism between the two widened, their acrimony became public, the Vedi accusing the party of trying to capture the organisation through a fraction, while the latter blamed the former for going public with these differences violating all organisational principles and thereby exhibiting “anarchist” tendencies.

When, in the next few months, the party continued to uphold the annihilation, some members including its state secretary Kaviyur Balan resigned from the Vedi. It was also stated through the press that Nadugaddika which had played a pivotal role in the movement would not be staged hereafter under the party’s banner.32

The break did not occur overnight. The ideological differences between the Vedi and the party had a long history. For instance, on the question of base/superstructure, the party held on to Stalinist orthodoxy which accorded primacy to a self-contained economic sphere, with a secondary, passively reflexive superstructure. The Vedi, on the other hand, tried to strike a balance between this “vulgar” Marxist position and the opposite idealist view that art/literature is an isolated sphere determined by its own laws.33 Connected to this debate was the question of the relative importance of politics and culture within the realm of the superstructure.

In one instance, countering the party line according to which changes in the base get reflected first in politics, the latter being the concentrated expression of these changes, Satchidanadan argued for the simultaneity of expression of changing production relations in all areas of social life.34 The inherent tension that persisted throughout the tenure of Vedi between the cultural and political activists finds expression in an anguished piece written by one of the former in Prerana:

Is the cultural activist inferior by birth. Is not the political activist viewing his cultural counterpart as Gulliver would a Liliput. Is it justified that somebody who has learnt the party programme by heart and who has fortuitously achieved some success in one or two struggles should get more recognition than the cultural activist.35

The differences in perception between the Vedi and the party could be seen in the way the two viewed the cultural revolution in China. The Vedi, influenced as it was by Mao’s assertion that during the socialist phase, emphasis should be laid on the struggle at the superstructural level, characterised it as a revolution in the cultural sphere.36

For the party, however, the cultural revolution, though it had other dimensions as well, was essentially a resistance by the socialist forces under Mao against revisionism in the international communist movement as well as against the resurgent bourgeoisie which had entered the Chinese Communist Party. It was, in fact, a continuation of the class struggle within a socialist society.37

In the realm of culture, the movement had given a blow to the bourgeois belief that arts and the sciences are the monopoly of a few intellectuals, and instead reiterated that it was the working classes who alone are the creators of culture. This lesson, according to the party leadership, was lost on a section of the Vedi who continued to be influenced by bourgeois thinking. It attacked the Prerana editorial board for making the periodical one that was laced with “dry philosophical terms understood by only a handful of middle class intellectuals” and for “not going to the masses”.38

Though the Vedi as a whole had been opposed to the bourgeois system per se, there were sections within it who were not “Marxist” in the true sense of the term. Rather, by their own admission, they had come to the movement carrying the burden of an existentialist and anarchist past.39 Others were influenced by the New Left, which, for the party leadership, constituted an attack on Marxism from within. The party saw as one example of the “anti-Marxism” in the New Left ideology, Wilhelm Reich’s prescription of a sexual revolution to precede a social revolution.40

A Vedi member, clearly under Reich’s influence, in a rejoinder to the Vedi manifesto, had lamented that the party in its rigorous attempts at class war, ignored the sexual needs of its activists.41

The ideas of Lukacs too had attained wide currency within Marxist circles in Kerala during this time. In his History and Class Consciousness, Lukacs had reduced Marxism to sheer methodology. For him, thus, one could forego the basic assumptions of Marx and still claim to be a Marxist, provided he did not relinquish historical materialism.42 Obviously, under his influence, Subramanyadas, a young party/Vedi activist, in a series of articles, questioned the party’s position vis-a-vis, the formation and polarisation of classes in Kerala society, resulting in his getting censured by an offended party leadership.43 In distress, Subramanyadas committed suicide. The revolution had, as its wont, devoured one of its own.

At 24, Subramanyadas had been one of the most outstanding individuals in a movement which had attracted the cream of Malayalee intelligentsia. The tragic irony was that a while earlier, he had been fighting on the side of the party against the “bourgeois liberal” trends within the Vedi. From there, it did not take him too long to jump to the other extreme, a trend that was symptomatic of the petty-bourgeois predilections that informed the movement.

Conclusion

Gramsci had discounted the possibility of a Bolshevik type revolution in the west. Here, unlike in pre-revolution Russia, there was a civil society which involved the “thick web of interpersonal relationships and represents the social surface over which is extended the cultural hegemony of the ruling elites.”44 It is here that the dominant class creates, through its diffusion of values, myths, beliefs and ideals, its hegemony.

According to Gramsci, a subordinate class should be able to elaborate its own ideological system, one competitive with the dominant system of beliefs and values. “In the west,” he says, “a social group can or rather must be in control even before it acquires governing power.”45 The key word in Gramsci, thus, is hegemony as when he says that the struggle between the classes for domination is in essence a “struggle between two hegemonies”.46

However, it is not only in the west that the state rules with the consent of the people. As Eric Hobsbawm observed, “the struggle for hegemony before as well as during the transition of power is not merely an aspect of the western countries but of all revolutionary strategy.”47

In Kerala, where, following lower caste and communist movements in the earlier decades, there was a vibrant civil society, the struggle for hegemony resorted to by the Vedi looked appropriate. Such a struggle was facilitated by the fact that the party to which it was aligned had, during this time, adopted an approach marked by “a strong fight against terrorism and utmost confidence in the masses.”48 However, ideological differences between the two did not allow this state of affairs to continue for long.

In the contest over strategies, “massline” was to become sidelined, and the proponents of the “military line” would have the final say, as reflected in the “annihilation” at Kenichira. The consequence, however, was that the Vedi disintegrated, and the party, badly bruised by severe state repression, had to start once again from the scratch. By then, postmodernist moods had set in Kerala. Those like Civic Chandran, the last secretary of the Vedi, broke away from the movement citing irreconcilable differences with Marxism, to take up social activism of a new kind. The era of new social movements had begun in Kerala. As for the Vedi, though officially not disbsanded, it never became active again. An experiment, in spite of its initial success, had failed.


Notes

[I am grateful to K N Panikkar and Urmita Ray for their comments on an earlier draft of this essay.]

1 Civic Chandran, interview to Sukrutham, Vol 2, No 3, June 1995, p 8.
2 Cited in Omji George, The Janakiya Samskarika Vedi’ in Kerala, Negations, No 12, October-December 1984, p 11.
3 ‘Samskarika Pravararthakarkku K Venuvinte Sandesam’, Prerana, September-October 1980, Nos 30-31.
4 Kapada Pracharanangalum Yadharthyangalum: Janakiya Samskarika Vedi, Entu, Entinu? (leaflet), p 3.
5 Ibid.
6 ‘Janakiya Samskarika Vediyile Aashaya Samarathinte Pradhanyam’ unsigned article, Prerana, Vol 3, No 14, October 16-31, 1981, p 4.
7 Comrade, Vol 7, Nos 26-27, May 17, 1981, p 6.
8 Janakiya Samskarika Vedi: Naya Prakyapana Rekha, pp 5-6.
9 ‘Thiruthalvadavum Viplavasamskaravum’, unsigned article, Prerana, No 8, July 1980, p 3.
10 Satchidanandan, ‘Kavita Manushyan, Viplavam’ (Introduction), in Pudhupiravi (collection of poems), Trichur, 1980, p 11.
11 ‘Thiruthalvadavum Viplavasamskaravum’, unsigned article, Prerana, No 28, July 1980, p 4. The rather mechanical approach the “established left” in the state took towards culture is proven by a “model poem” it sent to one of the poets associated with its cultural organisation, to emulate. Attoor Ravi Varma, interview to Prerana, Vol 2, No 6, February 15-28, 1985, p 17. Later on, Attoor was to shift his allegiance to the Marxist-Leninist movement in the state which consciously tried to be different in this regard. In his message to the first convention of the Vedi, K Venu, the party leader, assured the cultural activists that “the party will never prescribe what type of artistic creations” they should produce. ‘Samskarika Pravarthakarkku K Venuvinte Sandesam’, Prerana, Nos 30-31, September-October 1980, pp 39-40.
12 Thoppil Bhasi, Ningalenne Communistakki, Ernakulam, 1956.
13 Civic Chandran, ‘Nadugaddika Teaminte Anubhavangalilude’, Prerana, No 28, July 1980, p 11.
14 Ibid.
15 Civic Chandran, ‘Ningalenne Communistakkiyil Ninnu Nadugaddikayilekkulla Dooram’, Introduction, K J Baby, Nadugaddika, Wynad, 1983, pp 14-15.
16 K J Baby, Nadugaddika…, p 64.
17 “Once, a day after a CPI (M) attack, Vedi artists and activists with bandages on, staged the play at the same place where they were attacked. Later under pressure from local people, CPI (M) attackers were made to apologise publicly. Mukunadan C Menon, ‘Kerala: People’s Cultural Forum’, Frontier, Vol 13, No 46, July 11, 1981, p 9.
18 Civic Chandran, ‘Kabani’ in Sumanta Banerjee (ed), Thema Book of Naxalite Poetry, Calcutta, 1987, p 10.
19 Satchidanandan, ‘Kavita, Manushyan…’, p 18.
20 Kadamanitta Ramakrishnan, ‘Kala Kalekku Vendiyo’ in Kala Kaumudi (weekly), No 883, August 15, 1992, p 27. Ironically, later, Kadamanitta was to head the Purogamana Kala Sahitya Sangham, the cultural front of the CPI (M).
21 Louis Kampf, ‘Towards a Radical Culture’ in Prescilla Long (ed), The New Left: Collection of Essays, Boston, 1969, p 423.
22 ‘Janakiya Samskarika Vediyile Aashaya Samarathinte Pradhanyam’, unsigned article, Prerana, Vol 3, No 14, October 16-31, 1981, p 3.
23 Mangalat Raghavan, ‘Kannur Kathu’, Mathrubhoomi, April 4, 1981
24 Mathrubhoomi, March 24, 1981.
25 ‘People’s Committees – Some New Experiences in Kerala’, Liberation, organ of the CRC CPI (ML), Vol 8, No 3, December 1982, p 55.
26 Gopan (pseudonym for K Venu, who was then underground), ‘The Question Posed by Kenichira – Which Side Are You On?’, Liberation, Organ of the CRC CPI (ML), July-September 1981, Vol 7, Nos 7-9, p 41.
27 Y B Indrachud, quoted in Malayala Manorama, July 10, 1981.
28 The government resorted to Section 17 (1) of the 1908 Criminal Law Amendment Act which the British had used to arrest Tilak on the charge of sedition as well as the Travancore-Cochin Public Safety Act which had been used in the 1940s against the communists.
29 Mathrubhoomi, July 10, 1981.
30 One state committee member who visited Wynad to prepare a report on the’ “Kenichira struggle” was so critical of the annihilation that the party organ refused to publish, forcing him to try elsewhere. In the report, he pointed out that the “annihilation line” of Charu Majumdar meant to release the initiative and class hatred of poor landless peasants looked out of place in an area like Kenichira where the feudal mode of production had given way to a capitalist type of farming. He also disputed the claim of the party that through the annihilation, “people’s will” in the area had been implemented. Instead, he found that those involved in the annihilation sought the support of only sympathisers for carrying it out, making him conclude that instead of the contradiction between the people and the “people’s enemy” getting resolved, only the one between the party and its enemy had been settled through the annihilation. P C Josey, “Kenichira Nalkiya Nishedathmakamaya Uttaram”, Red Guards, Vol 1, No 1, February 1981, p 10.
31 Satchidanandan, letter to Kala Kaumudi (weekly), No 305, June 28, 1981, p 31. Taking a dig at Charu Majumdar in this context, he argued that ‘Kenichira’ and its consequences had been due to the work of “an adventurist group lacking in originality and who considered the views of an activist with low intellectual prowess as infallible”.
32 Mathrubhoomi, June 11, 1981.
33 Janakiya Samskarika Vedi: Naya Prakyapana Rekha, p 2.
34 Satchidanandan, Prerana, No 3, September 1978, p 27.
35 ‘Rithumenonu Snehapoorvam Prashantinte Kathu’, Prerana, Vol 3, No 7, April 1-15, 1981, p 7.
36 Mao, however, had categorically stated that politics constitutes the most important element in the superstructure. To quote him:
Literature and art are subordinated to politics, but in their turn, exert a great influence on politics…When we say that literature and art are subordinate to politics, we mean class politics. Mao-Tse Tung, Selected Works, Vol III, Peking, 1975, p 86.
37 In an article which underlines the Maoist position on the cultural revolution, K Venu writes of how “it was a life and death struggle between the new bourgeoisie and the working class to capture political power.” K Venu, ‘Samskarika Viplavam: Paraspara Virudhamaya Randu Veekshanangal’, Prerana, Vol 3, No 15, November 1-15, 1981, p 21.
38 K N Ramachandran, ‘Prerana, Samskarika Vedi Ippozhum Liberalisathinte Swadheenathil’, Prerana, No 52, May 1982, p 14.
39 For instance, A Soman, a prominent Vedi activist, in a letter to a friend wrote of his anarchic past before joining the movement. A Soman, Letter to Yakub, February 8, no year, Private Records of Mandakini Narayanan, Calicut University Archives. Similarly, Civic Chandran, in an interview, says how he and others in the Vedi were more inspired by existentialism and anarchism rather than Marx and Mao before joining the movement. Civic Chandran, interview in Sukrutham, Vol 2, No 3, June 1995, p 6. In an earlier article, under the guise of a “special political observer”, he had written: “the second phase of the Naxalite movement in Kerala was anything but politics…their thoughts were determined by existentialism and modern literature…spiritual discontent led them to the streets…Not having gone through the test of class struggles and mass movements, these middle class intellectuals might have been against the system, against power, but were not Marxists, not revolutionaries” unsigned article, ‘Naxalittukal Thirichuvarumo’, Vaakku, Vol 1, No 1, August 1984. In the aftermath of the Kenichira annihilation, during a human rights convention at Kozhikode, some Vedi leaders declared that even if “a real working class party” came to power, it would continue to resist injustice, Mathrubhoomi, May 28, 1981. An example of this non-Marxist, anarchist trait which runs through the writings of some of the Vedi members could be seen in an editorial on events in China which ended with the call “let us salute Chiang Ching and other comrades by conducting an uncompromising struggle against all centres of power”, Prerana, No 6, February 15-18, 1981.
40 Wilhelm Reich, Mass Psychology of Fascism, New York, 1964. An example of Reichian influence in literary criticism could be seen in Satchidanandan’s study of Sukumaran’s short stories during this time, Satchidanandan, ‘Sukumarante Prasakthi’ in Muhoorthangal, Kottayam, 1994, pp 193-228.
41 Chittaranjan, ‘Nayaprakyapanarekha: Oru Viyojanakurippu’, Prerana, Nos 54-55, July-August 1982, p 10.
42 George Lukacs, History and Class Consciousness, translated by Rodney Livingstone, London, 1971.
43 Subramanyadas, ‘Adhikara Vyavasthiyile Varghasamaram’, Uttaram, No 2, November 1982, pp 12-14. In this article, he argued that classical Marxism had become outdated to comprehend the complex reality of social life in Kerala, and expressed the view that political terminologies like “working class” and “class struggle” need to be reconsidered. See also his ‘Reethiye Kurichu Thanne’, Prerana, No 16, January 1-15, 1982, p 15.
44 Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, edited and translated by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York, 1971, p 245. 45 Ibid, p 235. 46 Ibid, p 236.
47 Eric J Hobsbawm, ‘Gramsci and Marxist Political Theory’ in Anne Showstack Sassoon (ed), Approaches to Gramsci, London, 1982, p 30.
48 K Venu quoted in Mukundan C Menon, ‘Kerala: People’s Cultural Forum…’ p 8.