Monthly Archives: August 2012

THE BAN ON RDF IN ANDHRA PRADESH: A Background Note

THE BAN ON RDF IN ANDHRA PRADESH

A Background Note

Introduction to Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) :

RDF is a federation of revolutionary and democratic people’s organizations working at grassroots level in different parts of the Indian subcontinent. Each of its constituent organizations works among the various sections of the people on their issues to democratise the society as per the understanding of New Democratic Revolution (NDR). RDF holds that NDR is the stage of democratizing the society by smashing the feudal and imperialist shackles which are obstacles in building a democratic social fabric in India. This also involves raising the consciousness of the people who are being kept in backwardness by the semi-feudal semi-colonial and reactionary social set-up that has emerged in the last two hundred years. This backwardness is due to the historic confluence of brahminical feudalism and colonialism, which built the foundations for the continuation of imperialist plunder.

RDF was formed in May 2005 through the merger of All India Peoples’ Resistance Forum (AIPRF) and Struggling Forum for Peoples’ Resistance (SFPR). It aspires to establish a new democratic society in India by building and leading anti-imperialist and anti-feudal struggles, by coordinate among peoples’ movements and to give it the form of an organised and united political resistance struggle. RDF also stands united with all forms of peoples’ struggles that envision the aspiration for a new democratic India. The organisation further holds that political mobilization of the working people is the only way to democratize the South Asian Subcontinent, and much of its political activity is aimed at building such democratic mass movements which stand up against the reactionary classes, challenge their anti-people policies and resist the might of the state when it is pitted against the people. Throughout its seven years of existence, RDF has been providing a platform for a large number of mass organisations which have been serving the people by taking up their issues or by protesting against the exploitation and injustice on various sections of the masses in the society. As a result, RDF and its constituent organisations have become an eyesore for the rulers of the country, leading to the persecution and even banning of RDF in several states including Odisha and very recently in Andhra Pradesh.

Ban on RDF in Andhra Pradesh :

RDF has been banned under Section 3 of Andhra Pradesh Public Security Act, 1992 by the Andhra Pradesh government through Government Order No.430 dated 9 August 2012. The Government Order alleges that “Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) a front organisation of Communist Party of India (Maoist) – Declared as Unlawful Association”. The government further claims that RDF “is a part ofTactical United Front” and enlists the following as the organisation’s ‘unlawful activities’:

 

(1) Sub serving the interest and objectives of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) whose avowed objective is to overthrow the lawfully established Government by means of force and violence through terrorist activities involving the use of firearms and explosives;
(2) Urging people to fight against the Police and join the Maoist movement;
(3) Opposing and demanding stoppage of anti extremist combing operations of the police and security forces in the left wing extremism affected area of the States and there by abetting and encouraging the violent activities of Maoist;
(4) Organising dharnas, rallies and other forms of agitations in support of the unlawful activities of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and
(5) Opposing lawful actions of police and criminal justice system and inciting the people to take violence against the democratically elected government established by law.

 

The government goes on to allege further that “RDF interferes with the administration of the law and upsetting the maintenance of public order constituting a danger to the public peace”, thereby justifying the declaration of the organisation as an ‘unlawful association’.

 

 

The ban is totally baseless and arbitrary :

 

There is absolutely no basis for the Andhra Pradesh government to declare RDF as an ‘unlawful association’. Indeed, the Government Order banning RDF itself is unlawful, because it violates the basic rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Indian Constitution, including the right of the citizens to form associations and freely express their grievances against or opposition to the government. By proscribing RDF the Andhra Pradesh government has launched a direct assault on the right to association and freedom of expression of the citizens of the country, which is nothing short of authoritarian and arbitrary use of political power against an established peoples’ organisation. The arbitrary nature of the ban becomes even more apparent if one notes that RDF is yet to form its organisational structure in Andhra Pradesh, and has only two persons as its members from the state – Varavara Rao (Viraam member and President, RDF) and Ganti Prasadam (Secretary, Association of Martyrs’ Families and Friends and Vice President, RDF). Both are well-known public figures and to attribute such a long list of ‘unlawful activities’ on the two of them is highly malicious in intent on the part of AP government. This is particularly so because RDF started functioning in the state only from the month of April this year. Its first activity was to hold its First All India Conference in Hyderabad on 22-23 April 2012, barely three months before the ban.

 

The hostility of the AP government towards RDF was visible during the conference as well. It banned the Public Rally of 23 April in an arbitrary manner by serving RDF a letter which alleged that some Maoists were present in the conference and that the Rally would ‘disturb’ the law and order situation of the state. Under instructions from the state government, Andhra Pradesh police also arrested a team of 35 cultural activists from Chhattisgarh on false charges and prevented them from attending the conference.

 

The only activity conducted under the banner of RDF in Andhra Pradesh after the Conference was a round-table meeting that raised voices of protest against the recent massacre of 20 adivasis in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh. This was a well attended meeting with the participation of several prominent intellectuals, writers and representatives of civil rights organisations besides being attended and addressed the meeting by three senior editors of newspapers. By no figment of imagination can these activities of RDF be justifiably labelled as “sub-serving the interests and objectives of CPI(Maoist)”, “Urging the people to fight against the police and join the Maoist movement”, “inciting the people to take violence”,

“encouraging and abetting the violent activities of the Maoists”, and such like. However, these are among the charges on the basis of which RDF has been banned in AP.

 

It is also necessary to note that RDF held a day-long dharna against the Bijapur massacre on 31 July 2012 on a space allotted by the Delhi Police in front of the Parliament Street police station. A number of prominent speakers and democratic organisations from different parts of India participated and addressed the dharna. Justice Rajinder Sachar, Dr. B D Sharma, Bojja Tharakam, Prof. Haragopal, Jean Dreze, prominent Hindi writers, poets and artists like Madan Kashyap, Manglesh Dabral, Ashoke Bhowmick and others raised their voices against the massacre of adivasis. After the dharna RDF submitted two memorandums with a charter of demands to the President Mr. Pranab Mukherjee as well as UPA and NAC chairperson Ms. Sonia Gandhi. This completely exposes the frivolous and baseless nature of the Andhra Pradesh government’s charge on RDF of ‘unlawful association’.

 

 

The dark history of banning peoples’ organisations by governments in India :

 

The Indian government has inherited the policy of banning peoples’ organisations and movements from its British predecessors who used this fascist method to stifle the anti-colonial and democratic aspirations of the masses fighting the British colonial regime. While CPI(ML) was outlawed just after its formation in late 1960s, the next decade saw the imposition of Emergency and the suppression of all democratic voices of dissent. Subsequently all the organisations spearheading the national liberation struggles in the North East, Kashmir and Punjab – be it National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN), Mizo National Front, United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) etc. – have been declared ‘unlawful’ and repressed. In 1992, CPI(ML) Peoples’ War was banned for the first time under the same Andhra Pradesh Public Security Act which has now been invoked to proscribe RDF. In August 2005, Revolutionary Writers’ Association (Virasam) was banned by Andhra Pradesh government. Varavara Rao and G Kalyana Rao, two members of the organisation acted as the representatives of CPI (ML) Peoples’ War and participated in the talks with the AP government in 2004. The same government banned their organisation and arrested them soon after the talks broke down. Virasam waged a successful struggle along with intellectuals, writers and democratic forces against the Andhra Pradesh government to withdraw the ban.

 

Apart from a fresh ban on RDF, Andhra Pradesh government has continued its ban on CPI(Maoist), All India Revolutionary Students Federation (AIRSF), Federation of Workers of Singareni Coal Mines, (Singareni Karmika Samakhya or SIKASA), Radical Students Union (RSU), Peasants and Workers Association (Rythu Coolie Sangham), Radical Youth League (RYL) and Revolutionary Workers’ Federation (Viplava Karmika Samakhya or VIKASA). This is in addition to the ban imposed by the central government on 35 organisations under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA).

 

Similarly, Odisha government imposed a ban on RDF, Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh, Kui Labang Sangh, Bala Sangam, Daman Pratirodh Mancha and Krantikari Mahila Sangh in June 2006 under sections of the colonial CRPC of 1881 amended in 1967 as Criminal Amendment Act. RDF has been consistently fighting against these bans. A petition challenging the ban on Daman Pratirodh Manch in Odisha is at present is before the Supreme Court which has issued notice to the Odisha government to file its affidavit.

 

In all the cases of banning such organisations under trumped-up charges, hardly any proof of ‘unlawful activities’ has ever been provided by various governments. One of the most glaring of such blatant suppression of popular organisations is the case of Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which was banned just after the attack on WTC on 11 September 2001. Aligning with the US imperialism-sponsored ‘War on Terror’, the Indian government banned this organisation without an iota of evidence. The ban has been repeatedly extended by the Indian government for the last eleven years even though no evidence could be brought to light by its investigative agencies to implicate SIMI in any unlawful activity. The Unlawful Activities Prevention Appellate Tribunal of Justice Geeta Mittal threw out the ban on SIMI in 2008 citing lack of evidence, but this judgment was set aside by the Supreme Court and the ban on the organisation still continues.

 

 

The politics of ban needs to be steadfastly opposed :

 

The provision of ban is a draconian instrument of coercion which the government have consistently used to stifle political opposition, as has been made clear by the circumstances and the manner in which RDF is banned by Andhra Pradesh government. We must stand up for our right to freely subscribe to and propagate any political opinion or ideology without fear and favour. We must uphold our right to freedom of expression. We must defend our democratic space and our basic rights as citizens of a free country. We must not allow the government to criminalise dissent.

 

RDF refuses to accept this authoritarian ban. It pledges to resolutely fight against this undemocratic and criminal ban on the organisation. It will take up all means of democratic protests, mass rallies, meetings and dharnas to compel the AP government to withdraw the ban. All judicial avenues to revoke the ban and to challenge the draconian Andhra Pradesh Public Security Act, 1992, will be explored.

 

RDF appeals to all the democrats and democratic organisations in the country and worldwide to raise voices against the authoritarian, arbitrary and undemocratic ban and to fight for its immediate withdrawal.

Oppose and Fight Against Ban on RDF in Andhra Pradesh

Rise! Resist! Liberate!

REVOLUTIONARY DEMOCRATIC FRONT (RDF)

Contact: revolutionarydemocracy@gmail.com

PRESS RELEASE

11 August 2012

Oppose and Fight Against Ban on RDF in Andhra Pradesh

Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) has been banned by the Andhra Pradesh government on 9 August 2012 through Government Order No.430 under Andhra Pradesh Public Security Act 1992. This comes as the latest of the anti-people repressive measures that the Andhra Pradesh government have persistently adopted to over the last few decades to crush democratic voices and peoples’ movements under the garb of fighting Maoism. This comes as another glaring example of the hollowness of Indian government’s claim as ‘largest democracy of the world’. We strongly condemn this act of banning and criminalisation of our organisation and demand the immediate withdrawal of this authoritarian ban.

The Government Order brands RDF as “unlawful” and bans it “with immediate effect”. The GO links RDF with the banned CPI(Maoist) by calling it a “frontal organisation” of the Maoist party. Falsely implicating RDF as “part of Tactical United Front”, it dubiously enlists the following as “unlawful activities” of the organisation:

 

(1) Sub serving the interest and objectives of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) whose avowed objective is to overthrow the lawfully established Government by means of force and violence through terrorist activities involving the use of firearms and explosives;

 

(2) Urging people to fight against the Police and join the Maoist movement;

 

(3) Opposing and demanding stoppage of anti extremist combing operations of the police and security forces in the left wing extremism affected area of the States and there by abetting and encouraging the violent activities of Maoist;

 

(4) Organising dharnas, rallies and other forms of agitations in support of the unlawful activities of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and

 

(5) Opposing lawful actions of police and criminal justice system and inciting the people to take violence against the democratically elected government established by law.

 

The arbitrary and knee-jerk reaction of the AP government in banning RDF in the state comes just three months after the organisation successfully held its First All India Conference in Hyderabad on 22-23 April 2012. The indication of the AP government’s response was visible during the conference as well. It banned the Public Rally of 23 April in an arbitrary manner by serving us a letter which alleged that some Maoists were present in the conference and that the Rally would ‘disturb’ the law

and order situation of the state. Under instructions from the state government, Andhra Pradesh police also arrested a team of 35 cultural activists from Chhattisgarh on false charges and prevented them from attending the conference.

 

There is no organisational structure of RDF in Andhra Pradesh at present. It is therefore ridiculous to attribute the so-called unlawful activities to our organisation. Presently only the RDF All India President Varavara Rao (member of Virasam or Revolutionary Writers’ Association) and Vice-President Ganti Prasadam are our members from this state. The only activity conducted under the banner of RDF in Andhra Pradesh after the Conference was a round-table meeting that raised voices of protest against the recent massacre of 20 adivasis in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh. This was a well attended meeting with the participation of several prominent intellectuals, writers and representatives of civil rights organisations besides being attended and addressed the meeting by three senior editors of newspapers. Is there any basis or justification for terming such a meeting as ‘unlawful’?

 

Opposing and resisting the massacres of adivasis or protesting against the police and armed forces’ operations in the tribal tracts is being frivolously mentioned in the Government Order as unlawful activities. All democratic individuals and organisations across the country and the world have been opposing and demanding a stop to the paramilitary operations in the tribal regions of central and eastern India in the name of fighting the Maoists. RDF too has been consistently raising its democratic voice against all forms of state and ruling-class violence – be it massacres, murders in the name of encounters, torture, arrest and burning down of tribal villages, and so on. By criminalising dissent and silencing democratic political opposition through the ban on RDF, the government has once more exposed its fascist fangs.

 

RDF held a day-long dharna against the Bijapur massacre on 31 July 2012 at the Parliament Street with space allotted by the Delhi Police in front of the Parliament Street police station. A number of prominent speakers and democratic organisation from different parts of India participated and addressed the dharna. A number of renowned public personalities of the country including Justice Rajinder Sachar, Dr. B D Sharma, Bojja Tharakam, professor of economics, Jean Dreze, prominent Hindi writers and poets like Madan Kashyap, Manglesh Dabral and others joined their voices with us against the massacre of adivasis. After the dharna RDF submitted two memorandums with a charter of demands to the President Mr. Pranab Mukherjee as well as UPA and NAC chairperson Ms. Sonia Gandhi. In fact, we requested both the President and Ms. Gandhi for a meeting with a delegation of concerned citizens, which was duly acknowledged. Does the Andhra Pradesh government consider these activities too as unlawful?

 

We stand against the draconian instrument of ban which the government have consistently used to stifle political opposition. In 2005, Revolutionary Writers’ Association (Virasam) was banned by Andhra Pradesh government. Varavara Rao and G Kalyana Rao, two members of the organisation acted as the emissaries of CPI(ML) Peoples’ War and participated in the talks with the AP government. The same government banned their organisation and arrested them soon after the talks broke down. Virasam waged a successful struggle along with intellectuals, writers and democratic forces against the Andhra Pradesh government to withdraw the ban.

 

Similarly, Odisha government imposed a ban on RDF, Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh, Kui Labang Sangh, Bala Sangam, Daman Pratirodh Mancha and Krantikari Mahila Sangh in June 2006 under sections of the colonial CRPC of 1881 amended in 1967 as Criminal Amendment Act. RDF has been consistently fighting against these bans. After Daman Pratirodh Manch challenged the ban in Odisha High Court, it did not approve of the ban and suggested that these organisations should register their names and fight elections. A second option given by the High Court was that the organisations should approach the government to review its decision. The case at present is before the Supreme Court which has issued notice to the Odisha government to file its affidavit.

 

RDF strongly condemns the ban imposed on the above organisations by the Odisha government and and demands their withdrawal. We demand that the Andhra Pradesh government revoke the ban on CPI(Maoist) and six mass organisations – All India Revolutionary Students Federation (AIRSF), Federation of Workers of Singareni Coal Mines, (Singareni Karmika Samakhya or SIKASA), Radical Students Union (RSU), Peasants and Workers Association (Rythu Coolie Sangham), Radical Youth League (RYL) and Revolutionary Workers’ Federation (Viplava Karmika Samakhya or VIKASA). We also demand that the ban imposed by the central government on CPI(Maoist) and 30 other organisations under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) be lifted immediately.

 

RDF is a peoples’ democratic organisation working at the all-India level, raising issues and demands of the masses. We consider this ban as a direct assault on the democratic rights of the people to organise and protest against the anti-people policies of the government and the ruling classes. RDF refuses to be cowed down by this authoritarian ban. We pledge to resolutely stand amidst the people and join shoulder to shoulder with all democratic and revolutionary organisations in the country and worldwide to fight against this undemocratic and criminal ban on our organisation. We declare that we will take up all means of democratic protests, rallies, meetings and dharnas to put pressure on the AP government to withdraw the ban. We will also explore all judicial avenues to remove the ban and to challenge the draconian AP Public Security Act, 1992.

 

RDF appeals to all the democrats and democratic organisations in the country and worldwide to raise voices against the authoritarian, arbitrary and undemocratic ban imposed on our organisation by the Andhra Pradesh government, and fight for its immediate withdrawal.

 

Rajkishore

General Secretary

09717583539

Varavara Rao

President

09676541715

First conference, 3 resolutions

All India Executive Committee of Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) passed the following three Resolutions in its meeting held on 1-2 August 2012 in Delhi after the First Conference in Hyderabad on 22-23 April 2012.

1. On Maruti Suzuki Worker’s Struggle

 

RDF hails the militant movement of the workers of Maruti Suzuki factory at Gurgaon, and strongly condemns the management of the company as well as the government who have undertaken a severe repressive campaign against the workers. The company has declared a lock-out which leading to the loss of jobs of thousands of workers. More than a hundred workers including the office-bearers of the Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union have been arrested and charged with murder, while most of the other workers have been forced to go underground to avoid arrests. RDF resolves to extend solidarity and all possible support to the struggling workers of Maruti Suzuki. RDF demands that the plant be immediately reopened, the arrested workers be released, the cases against them withdrawn unconditionally, they be restored to their previous jobs, and all the demands of the workers’ Union be resolved forthwith. We call upon the workers to continue and step up the struggle till these demands are achieved.

 

2. On communal clashes in Asom

There have been widespread clashes between peasants belonging to the Bodo tribal community and Bengali Muslim peasants. The violence has spread to four western districts of Asom – Kojkrajhar, Dhubri, Chirang and Gossaigaon – leading to the death of over a hundred people and rendering lakhs of people homeless who are living in government-run refugee camps. Even though on both side of the divide are mostly small peasants and landless people, and is a contradiction among the people, the devious role of the ruling classes have transformed it into an inimical contradiction. The attacks on the Muslim peasants in particular strengthens the Hindu communal forces. And it is not the first time that the rulers have instigated such communal violence between these two communities in this region. On many occasions in the past a large number of people from both sides have lost their lives and hundreds of thousands lost their property. The unresolved land question has been made use of by the ruling classes to instil suspicion, hatred and violence between these two sections of the people, who are both oppressed by the exploitative social relations. All so-called communal clashes are always state-sponsored. In the absence of a progressive or revolutionary force among the people, such incidents are going to be enacted repeatedly by the rulers to consolidate their own rule and to divert the attention of the masses from the real issues. RDF stands by the affected Bodo and Bengali peasants of western Asom.

 

3. On caste atrocities that are taking place across India

 

Several incidents of caste atrocities on Dalits have been committed by the dominant caste forces in different parts of the country – spanning from Bolangir of Odisha to Lakshimpeta of Andhra Pradesh and recently in Bhagana in Haryana, in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and in other places. While the massacre of five Dalit peasants in a gruesome manner in Lakshimpeta village by dominant caste landowners and rich peasants have shaken the country, other incidents of casteist attacks like the burning of houses and assault on 60 dalit families in Bolangir or the social boycott and banishing of 128 Dalit families in Bhagana have not attracted much attention from the progressive and democratic sections of the country. In Lakhsimpeta, the landed section of the Backward Caste Kapus have adopted the brahmanical ideology as a result of their acquisition of private property – most importantly, land, and became perpetrators of caste violence on the ‘untouchable’ Mala people. Lakshimpeta massacre also involves the questions of dam and displacement, since the people of the village are evictees of a dam constructed by the government. While other evictees got compensation and land from the government, Dalits could get nothing and lost everything due to this forced displacement.

 

Caste atrocities in UP and Bihar too are being perpetrated on a daily basis, including the murder and rape of Dalits, without any visible protest or resistance. Land is the central question in most of these incidents of atrocity in rural India which takes the form of caste violence. Moreover, the dominant castes resort to brutal caste violence whenever the Dalits assert their independence and freedom, challenging the dominant castes. Class struggle and class violence often takes the form of casteist violence  and repression in a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country like India which has the specific attribute of brahmanical caste system. This shows the entrenched nature of feudalism in Indian society and the need to intensify the anti-feudal struggle as an immediate and urgent task before a revolutionary organisations like RDF and its constituent mass organisations. The complicity of the ruling classes in instigating and perpetrating caste violence is apparent in each and every incident of attack on Dalits, whereby the administration and the police invariably side with the dominant castes and further oppresses the Dalits. The Supreme Court’s acquittal of the culprits involved in the Baithani Tola massacre in Bihar and of similar bloodbaths of Dalits show that Dalits cannot expect any justice and fairness from the existing system, nor will the attacks on Dalits will stop unless there is organised resistance and retaliation on the part of the Dalits and other oppressed people.

 

It should be also understood that the spiralling world economic crisis has been showing its ugly manifestations in the form of fascist attacks by the dominant ruling classes/castes and their state on Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims – the most vulnerable sections of the oppressed people.

 

The attacks on Dalits and their conscious assertion however is not confined only to the rural areas. Even in urban areas Dalits face the ire of the dominant castes as well as the Indian state. For instance, the workers of Maruti Suzuki factory in Gurgaon started their recent agitation when a Dalit worker was humiliated and targeted by the management on caste lines. We have also witnessed the state’s persecution of Kabir Kala Manch– an Ambedkarite cultural organisation which espouses the ideals of New Democratic Revolution working in urban Maharashtra. To counter the incidents of caste violence – whether perpetrated by the dominant castes, the ruling classes or the state – retaliation is the only answer. RDF calls upon the Dalits to fight back all occurrences of caste violence. RDF calls upon all its constituent organisations to participate and lead retaliations against the violence of the dominant castes in their areas of work. RDF will launch a militant and aggressive campaign against incidents of caste violence.