Kishenji killing: Maoists call for two-day Bengal shutdown
Maoist guerrillas Friday called a two-day shutdown in West Bengal from Saturday to protest against the killing of rebel leader Kishenji in what they said was a "fake encounter".
They have also sought an independent probe into the death of Kishanji, a politburo member of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist.
Police sayd he was killed in a firefight in West Midnapore district Thursday.
Akash, a Maoist state committee member, alleged that Kishenji was arrested and then gunned down in cold blood.
"Our people were present close to the spot where he was arrested. We are convening a two-day shutdown in protest against the killing by the state agencies. We demand an independent probe into the circumstances leading to his death," said Akash.
Kishenji's bullet riddled body with a part of the face blown off was shown to journalists Thursday night.
Kishenji killed in "fake" encounter: Family members
The family members of slain top Maoist leader Kishenji today alleged that he was killed in a "fake" encounter and demanded that his body be handed over to them for performing last rites
The 58-year-old Molajula Koteswar Rao, better known as Kishenji, was gunned down by security forces in a forest in West Midnapore district of West Bengal yesterday. He hailed from Peddapalli in Karimnagar district.
Talking to the media at Peddapalli, Anjaneyulu, elder brother of Kishenji, maintained the killing was result of a conspiracy hatched by the West Bengal and Central Governments.
Anjaneyulu alleged his brother was killed in a "fake" gunbattle. He appealed to Government to handover the Maoist leader's body for cremation at his native place.
The body of Kishenji was first taken to Jhargram hospital morgue and then to the Midnapore police morgue for post-mortem.
After coming to know about the death of the top Maoist leader, his relatives and friends visited his house.
Meanwhile, police are maintaining strict vigil in the district after the killing of Kishenji.
Samajwadi Party today alleged that Maoist leader Kishenji was killed in a "fake encounter" in West Bengal and said Naxalism cannot end through "mass massacre" of Naxal leaders.
"The way reports of Kishenji's killings have come out, it does not look like Kishenji was killed in an encounter.... It is a fake encounter," Samajwadi Party leader Mohan Singh told reporters outside Parliament.
He said, "You cannot end Naxalism through mass massacres of Naxal leaders. You cannot end Naxalism while sitting in power. There are other ways of ending it."
The Samajwadi Party general secretary alleged that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee "did not fulfil all the promises she made to Naxal leaders before coming to power".
"After Naxal leaders started killing Trinamool Congress leaders, she is now trying to end Naxalism with the help of police force, administration and Rapid Action Force. Now one after the other, Naxal leaders are being killed," he said.
He said that the earlier path of resolving issues through talks adopted by Mamata Banerjee was right.
Singh claimed he had opposed hanging of Naxal leaders many years ago and had sought commuting of their sentence to life term. He lamented that Naxalism has now spread in 350 districts across the country, against 10 districts only a few years ago.
A call for a two-day bandh in West Bengal from November 26 was also given by Maoists in protest against the alleged fake encounter.
"Kishenji was killed in a fake encounter. To protest this we are calling a two-day statewide bandh from November 26 and a week-long protest," Maoist state committee member and spokesperson Akash told PTI on phone from an undisclosed location.
Rejecting the allegation, CRPF Director-General Vijay Kumar said Kishenji was killed in a 'very clean and successful' operation by the joint forces in West Midnapore district.
"It was a very clean and successful operation and our boys did not waste a minute," Kumar told reporters in Burisole forest in Jhargram area where Kishenji was killed.
"No, no, no" he said when asked about the allegation that Kishenji was eliminated in a fake encounter.
Telugu poet and Maoist sympathiser Varvara Rao also alleged that Kishenji had been killed in a fake encounter.
"Kishenji was arrested two days ago and kept in police custody. He was killed in a fake encounter. It is a murder case which should be probed,'' Varvarao Rao told reporters at Kolkata airport.
Rao had also said that the "story" of an encounter was a fabrication.
Maoist spokesperson Akash when asked to substantiate his allegation said, "He was arrested when our people were present nearby and then murdered in cold blood. We demand an independent investigation into the killing of our leader".
CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta in a letter to Home Minister P Chidambaram said, "The story of the encounter appears to be fake, needs to be inquired into and the government must clarify".
Questioning the manner in which Kishenji was killed, Dasgupta asked government to clarify whether he was done to death in "cold blood" after being arrested.
Dasgupta, who spoke to Chidambaram on phone, quoted a "source" to say that Kishanji was arrested at noon yesterday and "subsequently killed in a cold-blooded murder".
"If my information is right, then it is an act of dastardly crime in violation of all national as well as international laws," he said in the letter.
Human rights activist and the head of government-appointed interlocutors, Sujato Bhadra also demanded an inquiry into Kishenji's killing.
Samajwadi Party also levelled the allegation of a fake encounter and said Naxalism cannot end through "massacre" of Naxal leaders.
"The way reports of Kishenji's killings have come out, it does not look like Kishenji was killed in an encounter... It is a fake encounter," Samajwadi Party leader Mohan Singh told reporters in New Delhi.
In Bihar, the CPI(M-L) Liberation urged West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to order a judicial inquiry into the killing of Kishenji, just as she had demanded one for the death of rebel leader Azad in Andhra Pradesh last year.
"There is a similarity in the encounter deaths of Azad and Kishenji. Mamata Banerjee should order a judicial inquiry into the killing of Kishenji," CPI (M-L) leaders Raj Kumar Singh and Krishna Adhikari told reporters in Patna.
Maoist leader Kishenji was tortured before being killed: Varvara Rao
Telugu poet and Maoist sympathiser Varvara Rao Friday alleged that top Maoist leader Kishenji was tortured before being killed in a fake encounter and demanded a white paper from the West Bengal government.
"Kishenji was subjected to inhuman torture as his body bore marks of several injuries and he was killed in a fake encounter 24 hours after being nabbed. I demand a white paper on the killing," Rao told reporters at the state secretariat.
Rao also demanded filing of a case under section 302 in compliance with NHRC norms against those responsible for the killing in a memorandum to Home Secretary G D Gautama.
He alleged that four other Maoists were still being held in captivity 'like Kishenji'.
Rao said that Kishenji's niece Deepa Rao had arrived with him from Peddapalli in Andhra Pradesh and should be allowed to identify the body.
"Kishenji's mother is very old and a cancer patient. She wants to see her son. Kishenji's body should be brought to Kolkata for preservation and sent to Hyderabad.
"The body should be handed over to the family with due honour as he was a political worker," he said, acknowledging that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced that Kishenji's last rites would be performed with honour.
"The Andhra Pradesh government killed many Maoists in this way, but at least it conducted the post mortem complying with NHRC norms. Azad's body (another Maoist top leader killed in encounter few years ago) was sent to his Delhi residence in accordance with NHRC norms," Rao said.
Alleging that the present state government was closely following the style of functioning of the preceding Left Front regime, he said "I think there is no need for any discussions with the fascist, imperialist and feudalistic government in the present situation".
"Kishenji, (CPI-Maoist secretary) Ganapathy and many others favoured talks which is no longer required in the present situation, nor are interlocutors," he said.
Rao was accompanied by two Association for Protection of Democratic Rights members, besides Deepa.
Maoist strikes plays on Mamata's mind
TNN | Nov 25, 2011, 05.53AM IST
KOLKATA: Samaresh Basu, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Suchitra Bhattacharya - these are writers that generations of Bengalis have grown up with. But there is literature beyond this league of extraordinary authors, too - like Anil Gharai, Mahitosh Biswas and Kalyani Thakur Charal. Coming from dalit families, these writers concentrate on dalit society that has, in recent times, been brought into focus by identity politics. Now, as dalit writings find their way into the literary mainstream and consciousness, a city college has decided to showcase dalit writings in English during a two-day seminar on November 29 and 30.
"Dalits have never got a platform to speak of their experiences or voice their anger," says Manohar Mouli Biswas, writer and editor of 'Dalit Mirror', a bi-monthly English magazine. He feels the seminar will help take dalit writings to more people. "Even a few years back, I had no takers for such writings and was turned down by publishers. I started Dalit Mirror around 1987 to provide a platform for the oppressed sections of the society." The seminar, on "Writing as Resistance: Bengali and other Dalit writings in English", has been Jogesh Chandra Chaudhuri college in collaboration with Bangla Dalit Sahitya Sanstha and is sponsored by the UGC. The event will see writers and scholars come from various parts of the country present their works and speak extensively on dalit writings.
Champa Ghosal, head of the college's English department, said, "Dalit writings have been neglected for long in academics, with Barasat State University being the exception. Our aim is to focus on dalit writing, which is an integral part of literature but is conspicuous by its absence from the syllabus in our state."
Shipra Mukherjee, associate professor of English, West Bengal State University, said it was time dalit writings found space in grand narratives. "Civic society can't move forward if the marginalized sections are ignored," she added.
Dalits are increasingly coming together to expose the atrocities they face. The anger manifests itself through powerful writings and autobiographical essays. Though dalit writing in Indian languages have flourished over the years, the shift to English is a recent phenomenon. That has led to a spurt in interest in dalit literature, and consequently, more demand, according to publishing major Oxford University Press.
"Dalit literature in India is structurally alternative to models prescribed by traditional Hindu aesthetics precisely because it is the literature of sociological oppression and economic exploitation. Dalit literature is essentially a shock to the so-called traditional senses. It is an assault on the anthropomorphic practice of casteism in India. A sound piece of Dalit literature is that which is militant in texture," said Dalit critic and assisstant English professor Jaydeep Sarangi.
'Killing Maoist leaders will not solve the issue'
Mollajulla Koteswar Rao alias Kishenji, the Maoist Politburo member who ranked third in the outlawed group's hierarchy, was killed by security forces in Junglemahal, West Bengal on Thursday, November 24.
"Killing 40, 50 or 100 CPI Maoist leaders will not solve the issue. Hundreds and thousands of tribals in these regions now know the power of a gun. They will fight in one form or the other for their rights," Rahul Pandita, author of Hello, Bastar: The Untold Story of India's Maoist Movement recently told Rediff.com's Prasanna D Zore.
"If there were no Maoists tomorrow it does not mean that violence will go away. And that is something the government should worry about," he added.
Pandita, who has been reporting from the Maoist-affected areas of Bastar since 1998, has emphasised in his book the beginning of the Maoist movement in the region after a band of 50 committed people entered the jungles of Bastar, Chhattisgarh, and began to organise exploited Adivasis to demand for their rights.
In an hour-long interview he discussed the idea behind the book, the Supreme's Court order earlier this year on Special Police Officers, the Indian Army's 'footprint' in Bastar and the repercussions if it gets 'actively' involved, why schemes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act with the potential to wean away tribals from the Maoist camp have not been able to do so, and the gradual spreading of the Maoist influence to urban areas.
Pandita quotes Maoist supreme commander Ganapathi (Mupalla Laxman Rao) reasoning that when Giridih -- a Maoist stronghold in Jharkhand -- has fallen, how far could Gurgaon, with its scores of BPO offices, be.
"In fact, they are much closer to Gurgaon than what the government would like to think," Pandita warns.
The Supreme Court passed an order calling the Salwa Judum as unconstitutional or illegal and has asked the Chhattisgarh government to stop funding and arming it. What kind of implications will this order have on Maoism in India, especially the Chhattisgarh government's campaign against Maoism?
This is a very complex issue. It began in 2005 with the Chhattisgarh government arming young men, and calling them Salwa Judum. They were given very basic training in handling arms for two months, and paid a stipend of Rs 3,000 (per month). Because of their basic training they don't have the discipline of a paramilitary force, or the army.
One can only imagine what kind of trouble these half-trained men can cause for journalists, especially reporting out of Dantewada. They stop your vehicle, check inside your car, and more often than not, take away your money at gunpoint.
While the state government has been projecting these special police officers to be a crucial factor in their fight against Maoism, the fact is that since 2005-2011, more than 200 SPOs have died.
These SPOs are soft targets for Maoists. After the Supreme Court order, the Chhattisgarh government will have to disarm them, and provide them with adequate security. This is because once their arms and stipends are taken away, they will have no other option than to go back to their villages.
Once that happens, there is a possibility that they could be massacred by the Maoists.
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The government will have to protect the monster that they created.
You have been reporting from Bastar for quite some time now. What has been your experience with these SPOs?
I have had lot of opportunities to report out of conflict areas, so I know better how to deal with SPOs whenever a situation arises. But there have been instances when you are travelling to Chhattisgarh and these guys come out of nowhere, and try to intimidate you or use foul language. Some of my colleagues have had nastier experiences.
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Image: Rahul Pandita with Maoist guerillas