Monthly Archives: December 2013

Condemn the political assassination of Telangana People’s Leader Akula Bhoomaiah!

Rise!                        Resist!                        Liberate!

Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF)

Contact: revolutionarydemocracy@gmail.com

Press Statement, 26 December 2013

Condemn the political assassination of Telangana People’s Leader Akula Bhoomaiah!

Boomaiah’s murder is a preplanned act of Seemandhra leaders and bureaucrats!

Senior Telangana people’s leader Akula Bhoomaiah was brutally murdered by the state actors in Hyderabad on Tuesday night (24th of December) at 9:45 pm. Bhoomaiah was returning from the local Press Club at Basheerbagh after a book launch on Telangana when a mysterious Garbage Tipping Van of the Municipal Corporation waiting at Vidyanagar first hit his scooter dislodging him and then ran over him till he died. This was witnessed by the people who live in the vicinity. They then promptly caught the driver who was attempting to flee after ensuring Bhoomaiah’s death. On being taken to the nearby police station and after repeated enquiries by democratic rights activists, it became clear that he was neither the regular driver of that van and nor was he supposed to be in that job. Perhaps, he was employed solely for the purpose of killing Bhoomaiah and to make it look like an accident. It is clear that not just was it no accident but was a premeditated act of murder of a man who was the President of the Telangana Praja Front (TPF).

 

Akula Bhoomaiah was a longstanding leader of the teacher’s movement in Andhra Pradesh. In fact, he never limited himself to the teacher’s movement and actively participated in all social and revolutionary movements of the people in Telangana since the 1960s. As a student, he participated actively in the first phase of the separate Telangana movement in late 1960s. Why did the coastal Andhra ruling clique choose to assassinate Bhoomaiah now? Bhoomaiah and his organization, the Telangana People’s Front, not just stood for the separation movement for the statehood of Telangana, but also for the people of all oppressed classes and communities including adivasis, strove for their equal share in land and resources and fought for their democratic rights along with their right to statehood. This is not a stand taken by any other political force in Telangana. Though Telangana People’s Front’s perspective is singularly and deeply democratic in nature, all ruling class parties of Telangana, including Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), failed to adopt this democratic stand despite sometimes working in alliance with the TPF. But it is the ruling class cliques and their exploitative leadership of the coastal Andhra region that have been deeply irked by the slogan of democratic Telangana. Therefore, most leaders of the people’s organizations in Telangana have openly expressed that Bhoomaiah’s death is not an accident but a premeditated assassination planned and executed by the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema ruling clique.

 

Akula Bhoomaiah was born in 1948 in the village of Kabapur in Pedapalli block of Karimnagar district of Telangana. When he was studying for his PUC, he was deeply inspired by the people’s movement for Telangana and participated in the first phase of the militant separate Telangana statehood movement in 1969-70. He organized the students of his college in Karimnagar as part of the ‘Andhra Go Back’ movement. He was arrested and sent to jail as part of this struggle. When the separate statehood movement was suppressed, his attention turned to the class struggle in Telangana and he studied Marxist philosophy. He took up a job as a teacher in 1973 but was arrested soon after that in 1975 during the period of Emergency. When he came out of prison in 1977, he started organizing teachers in Panchayat Raj Teachers Union (PRTU) till 1983. After this, Andhra Pradesh Teachers Federation (APTF) was initiated in Telangana. Along with others, Bhoomaiah played a crucial role as a leader in building a strong and militant teacher’s movement in Telangana.

 

Bhoomaiah was a voracious reader and a prolific writer. As a teacher and leader of the teacher’s movement that involved lakhs of teachers, he was well known as a friend, philosopher and guide to tens of thousands. He wrote numerous documents, articles, books and booklets in his 40 years of tireless struggle for the oppressed people of Telangana. Through his in-depth study of the most backward regions of the state, he provided the correct direction and perspective to these movements. In December 1997, All India People’s Resistance Forum (AIPRF) organized a two-day convention and a massive rally and public meeting where more than half a million people from all districts of Telangana participated. That was the largest mobilization of people for Telangana and set the stage for the second phase of the separate statehood movement wherein the historic Warangal Declaration was passed by the people. The Warangal Declaration founded the concept of a democratic Telangana and defined the Telangana movement not merely as a regional movement but as a nationality movement notwithstanding the one language spoken across the regions of Andhra Pradesh. Bhoomaiah participated and enriched the debate during the convention and public meeting and also took the spirit of the movement ahead and founded the Telangana Janasabha. From then on the Telangana Janasabha stood as the guiding star of the movement and brought it to its present stage, fighting all deviations brought in by various political parties.

 

Bhoomaiah was elected as the convener of the Telangana Janasabha. He traveled across the ten districts of Telangana and built the Janasabha amidst the worst phases of repression faced by all the people’s organizations in Andhra Pradesh under the regime of Chandrababu Naidu. At this time, Telangana cultural activists like Belli Lalita in Nalgonda district and Ravinder Reddy in Karimnagar were brutally murdered by the state government. The Chandrababu Naidu government forced an undeclared ban on the Telangana Janasabha by killing its activists like Kanakachari, who was Bhoomaiah’s fellow teacher and crusader for the statehood of Telangana, in Mahboobnagar district. In these circumstances, Bhoomaiah started a broad united front on Telangana called Telangana Aikya Karyacharana Committee (Telangana United Activities Committee). He wanted the support of the CPI (Maoist) in this movement. In this effort, two of the activists close to Bhoomaiah were killed in a fake encounter after being captured by the police while Bhoomaiah narrowly escaped. In October 2010, along with Gaddar, Bhoomaiah forged Telangana Praja Front which has spearheaded the people’s movement for separate statehood of Telangana till date. The last four years have been a tumultuous period for the people of Telangana as it saw betrayal after betrayal by the all ruling class parties even as the whole of Telangana was turned into a battlefield and captured by the state police forces. It is during this crucial period that Telangana People’s Front played a crucial role under the leadership of Bhoomaiah thwarting every betrayal and awakening the people against all conspiracies and Chanakya like intrigues of the ruling parties to permanently suppress the idea of Telangana.

 

However, Bhoomaiah’s role as a leader, activist and thinker was not limited to Telangana. He played a crucial role in an all India anti-imperialist movement by joining all India fronts like anti-WTO forum called JAFIF – an anti-imperialist movement, Forum Against Imperialist Globalisation (FAIG) and later in Mumbai Resistance in 2004 and People’s Democratic Front of India. He traveled across many states and participated, guided and spoke in innumerous public meetings, seminars and struggles. In the last one decade, Bhoomaiah was under the shadow of threat of murder by the state forces. He received such threats and calls several times and was even kidnapped once from his Adikmet office of Telangana Janasabha. Each time Bhoomaiah faced these state sponsored attacks, he boldly confronted them and even succeeded in evading attacks with deft tactics. This time, the marauding killers came in a la Latin American style in the shape of the city municipality garbage van driver. This is a new style increasingly followed in the last two decades to assassinate people’s leaders and activists by passing it off as accidental deaths or deaths by private actors.

 

The remotest possible link in the chain was used to assassinate Bhoomaiah at a time when the state government ceased to function after the Central cabinets decision to form Telangana State. All the ministers, including the Chief Minister, have stopped the business of governance and are now indulging in Mafia like elimination of the voices of the people to thwart the formation of the Telangana state. In the ensuing anarchy, the ruling class clique of politicians and bureaucrats of Coastal Andhra saw an opportunity to take everything into their own hands and have focused their targets on people’s leaders like Ganti Prasadam on the 4th of June and now Akula Bhoomaiah on 24th of December. Ganti Prasadam, our all India Vice-President who hailed from North Andhra – a region purposefully kept backward by the coastal Andhra comprador-feudal classes, was brutally killed by the same state forces who have now taken the life of Bhoomaiah as part of their effort to spread fear among the people and rake up the anti-Telangana movement. It is no coincidence that within 6 months of Ganti Prasadam’s killing another people’s leader was assassinated at a time when the parameters – form and shape of politics is being decided for Telangana. It is a great loss for the people of Telangana that they have lost a leader who guided them throughout the second phase and the concluding period of the Telangana struggle. There are still many forces to be defeated and a long road ahead to realize the dream of democratic Telangana envisioned by the people over many decades. The assassination of Bhoomaiah is not only a loss for this vision of democratic Telangana, but for all revolutionary and democratic people everywhere in the subcontinent.

 

Varavara Rao                                                                                                 G N Saibaba

President (09676541715)                                                                     Joint Secretary

 

Unmask the “legacy” of betrayals & compromises by Nelson Mandela that is being celebrated today by the ruling classes and their agents across the world!

Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF)

 

Press Statement

20 December 2013.

Unmask the “legacy” of betrayals & compromises by Nelson Mandela that is being celebrated today by the ruling classes and their agents across the world!

Denounce the path of “reconciliation”!

Pave the way towards a complete transformation of society through Revolution!

 

In the aftermath of the death of Nelson Mandela, when the most flowery tributes are being showered on him by a wide spectrum of the ruling classes all over the world over the last two weeks, Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) finds it imperative to recall how Mandela, through his historic betrayal, sold out the enormous revolutionary potential of the anti-racist struggle that was raging through entire Africa against years of brutal racist oppression and exploitation.  While the face of US imperialism Barak Obama “led the world” in paying tribute to “his personal hero”, the speeches his lieutenants in Britain, much of Europe, and across the world reverberated the same. The mass murderer president of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapakshe who oversaw the genocide of the people of Tamil Ealam also had tears to shed for Mandela.

 

The Indian state also gargled the same and declared a four day long state mourning. From the Hindutva fascists to various shades of the parliamentary revisionist left – all vied with each other in presenting their laurels to their “hero”. This spectrum is certainly striking, and may even confuse a few as to the real “legacy” of Mandela. However in reality, it is precisely this unanimity of imperialists and their agents that is most revealing. Mandela’s so called legacy is built upon on an illusion, the seeds of which were laid by Mandela himself. It is extremely important today that this collective iconization, mystification and the illusion of Mandela’s legacy be challenged and broken.

 

We must look into the history of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa for a correct analysis of Mandela’s “legacy”. The checkered political career of young Mandela began with a revolutionary vision to fight injustice and exploitation by white racial tyranny that was weighing heavily upon the black majority of South Africa. It is with this purpose that he joined the African National Congress in 1942 and founded the Radical Youth League to wrest economic and political power from the oppressive apartheid regime that racially segregated the people of colour (black, coloured & Indian) from the white ruling minority. This was a regime that came with the mission to fight the “Swart Gevaar” (the “black peril”) and the program of “Die Kaffer op sy plek” (“The negro in his place”). In the face of increasing fascist repression, massacres (of the likes of the Sharpeville massacre, 1960) and the banning of several organizations to crush this black assertion, Mandela shunned the path of passive resistance. In 1961 he launched an armed struggle under the military organization Umkhonto we Sizwe (the spear of the nation) to overthrow the white regime. He was arrested soon after in 1963 at the age of 42 and sentenced to life in prison where he would remain for the next 28 years.

 

The armed resistance with its revolutionary agenda however galloped through the 1970s & 80s thereby swelling the ranks of Umkhonto we Sizwe. This was despite the brutal massacres like the infamous Soweto massacre (which was the epicenter of the struggle) where close to 600 blacks were butchered by the racist regime. But alongside, this was also the time when the agenda of the black militants proved too radical for most of the exiled ANC moderates who not only were prepared for a negotiated “peace” but were also instrumental in sabotaging the struggle. During the 1980s, the apartheid regime offered generous loans to a handful of black businessmen leading to the rise of a new black bourgeoisie that was essentially comprador. ANC chieftains quickly moved into mansions in “golf and country estates” and were eager for “peace”. All this while, the brutal apartheid regime enjoyed the support of the west (particularly US & Israel). By this time, the imperialist forces very well realized that with the rising groundswell amongst the black masses, the choice was between revolution and “reconciliation. In other words, a complete economic transformation OR a “peaceful transition” that would leave the white property-owning minority and Western corporate’s interests intact albeit with cosmetic changes. Through the long clandestine negotiations that finally led to his release, Mandela (and the moderate ANC) chose the latter. It is this betrayal of the cause for which thousands of people across Africa gave their lives which made Mandela into an “icon” that he is for the oppressors now.              

 

“From revolutionary to economic manager: Mandela’s lesson in change”. Ironically, this is not the opinion of a trenchant critic of Mandela. Rather, this is the title of an article written in praise by a corporate media-giant. It succinctly captures the historic compromise of Mandela and ANC in the service of global capital. As early as 1985, years before the world would behold his release, this compromise was being scripted when a group of South African industrialists led by Gavin Reilly, chairman of the Anglo-American mining company, met prominent ANC officials in Zambia. Both sides agreed upon a “transition” from apartheid to a “black-governed liberal democracy” with the requisite “order” & “stability”. In other words, justice was sacrificed at the altar of “free market”. Leading figures in the ANC, such as Cyril Ramaphosa, head of the National Union of Mineworkers (now a corporate giant), was already negotiating a power-sharing “deal” with the apartheid regime. Secret meetings also took place in England, at which a future president of “liberated” South Africa, Tabo Mbeki, brokered “peace” with the heads of corporations that formed the bulwark of years of racial apartheid. Mandela meanwhile had secret negotiations with the authorities from the Pollsmoor Prison. To facilitate these negotiations, Mandela was shifted from Robben Island Prison (where he was not allowed visitors) and these negotiations culminated in his final release in 1990. Soon after that in 1993, he shared the Nobel Peace Prize with his own oppressor, the last president of the racist apartheid regime de Klerk “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime”.

 

This “peace” of course came with a grave price. Till very late Mandela pledged to take over or nationalize the mines and other monopoly industries. This was based upon the ideals of the Freedom Charter adopted by him in 1955 that stated that “The national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people; the mineral wealth beneath the soil; the banks and monopoly industries shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole; all other industries and trade shall be controlled to assist the well-being of the people”. He also boasted that “a change or modification of our views in this regard is inconceivable”.  But, soon after his release, on his first visit to US, he reassured the imperialist west that “The ANC will reintroduce the market to South Africa”. When criticized of emulating the ruthless Thatcherite model of neo-liberalism that further impoverished the black majority, his reply was: “You can put any label on it if you like, but, for this country, privatization is the fundamental policy.” Lauded as the most “reliable steward of sub-Sahara Africa’s largest economy, embracing orthodox fiscal and monetary policies” by the Financial Times, Mandela, made sure that the flow of profits from South African mines and agriculture into the coffers of foreign investors and the white business elite was never interrupted.

 

Mandela facilitated the process of maintaining racial hegemony over resources. While the mandate from the people as enshrined in the Freedom Charter was nationalisation of the country’s assets and the mines, Mandela went into several deals with the white big business to leave their share in the pie intact. He held regular meetings with the likes of Harry Oppenheimer, former chairman of the mining giants Anglo-American and De Beers, the economic symbols of apartheid rule. Shortly after the 1994 election, Mandela, the newly elected black president, even submitted the ANC’s economic program to Oppenheimer for “his approval” and made several key revisions to address “his concerns”, as well as those of other top industrialists. The outcomes of those meetings were that there could be an illusion of “political power” for the oppressed black masses, but the gold and diamonds were to be retained in the hands of the same few who controlled it before. Another shameful instance of the betrayal was the negotiations held around the ownership of the Reserve Bank of South Africa, the most powerful institution in the country. While the people’s mandate as per the Freedom Charter was to nationalise it and bring it under the elected government, Mandela was instrumental in betraying this demand and maintaining it till date as a privately owned bank with 650 (predominantly white) shareholders. Not only was its “autonomy” (i.e., private ownership) safeguarded by the new constitution, but it was headed by the same man who ran it under apartheid. Several such apartheid era figures in key positions, like finance Minister Derek Keyes, retained their positions in the new administration under Mandela. Another fundamental pledge of the Freedom Charter that demanded the complete redistribution of land was set aside, replaced with a new clause in the constitution which “protected all private property”. The transfer of ownership of resources and land that forms the real basis for any genuine transformation was deliberately obfuscated by creating the façade of “Truth & Reconciliation” and “rainbow-nation”.

 

All that Mandela’s “Reconciliation” and embracing of the “free market” entailed was the further pauperization of South Africa’s black majority. He only bolstered racial apartheid by encouraging economic apartheid. While the disparities between the whites and a handful of beneficiary black elites narrowed, they widened between the latter and the teeming black majority. The vast majority of the blacks were pushed into worse conditions than under apartheid. The adoption of privatization as the “fundamental policy” by Mandela right after coming to power spelt the betrayal of all the promises. The blacks who constitute 80% of the population today control only 5% of wealth. Only a tiny fraction (3%) of land owned by whites (87%) was transferred to blacks since 1994. So, while 60% of the blacks remain landless, almost all agricultural land is owned by 60,000 whites. Post-apartheid, the income of 40% of the poorest black families has further shrunk by about 20%. 2 million of them have been evicted from their homes. The privatization of the basic services has deprived millions from water and electricity. The unemployment crisis is also defined along racial lines wherein by 2010, 30% of blacks were officially unemployed as compared to only 5% of whites. In terms of racial distribution of per capita income, black income levels in 2008 was still only 13% of white per capita income, compared to 10.9% in 1993. Behind the charade of “free & fair” environment in Mandela’s South Africa, the blacks were far from being free, and very little was fair. The massacre of 34 protesting miners (mostly shot on their backs by the state police) in the British-owned platinum mine at Marikana last year only serve to testify the ruthlessness of the post-apartheid regime built by Mandela. Liberation was betrayed for ‘Liberalization’.

 

It is this historic betrayal and compromise that makes Mandela the favoured “saint” of the oppressors – from Obama to the Indian state. They draw inspiration from his “legacy” not only for his compromises, but also for his ability to use his prestige & charisma to persuade his own followers – the oppressed – to “reconcile” or sacrifice their own interest for the “greater good” of the oppressive ruling classes. This precisely has been the ‘historic mission’ of all subservient ruling classes across the world. Same was the role of the likes of Gandhi, Nehru and the Indian National Congress in brokering the transfer of power in 1947 from their masters that at the same time safeguarded the oppressive feudal-imperialist nexus. But for the ongoing heroic struggles of the people there can be no “reconciliation” with feudalism, with fascism or with imperialism.

 

RDF will continue to stand against, reject and expose all attempts at “reconciliation”, compromise, betrayals and surrenders with the genuine struggles of the people. RDF yet again pledges to stand by the ongoing people’s struggles, whether in India or across the world, for justice towards the making of an equitable and egalitarian society free of all forms of oppression and injustice. The only way forward towards liberation is the completely overthrow of the present unjust order through revolutionary social transformation.

 

Varavara Rao President                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
G N Saibaba 
Joint Secretary

09676541715

 

We will not forget the 6th of December!

Rise!                                                             Resist!                                                    Liberate!

 

Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF)

 

Contact: revolutionarydemocracy@gmail.com

  Press Statement

 

We will not forget the 6th of December!

Unite, organize and resist communal-fascism! Annihilate caste!

 

6th December 2013

History will not let us forget the 6th of December. Today, we stand at the brink of another year, which will expose to the world this farce that calls itself the largest democracy. The Indian subcontinent has witnessed this experiment with ‘democracy’ for over sixty-seven years. Then again, it has been fifty-seven years since Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s death (mahaparinirvana) and twenty-one years since the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Both these milestones reveal the real agenda of the ruling elite within this carefully crafted regime handed over by the colonial state to the Indian big bourgeoisie. This agenda spells neither the annihilation of caste nor the secular fabric of Indian society. Instead, the fascist fangs of Hindu majoritarianism masquerading as patriotism at the time of Partition have been nurtured, and now openly tear apart the oppressed and minority communities in the name of safeguarding Hindutva. Meanwhile, the system of caste has found deeper roots within our society, gradually wedging open ever-expanding holes in the fabric of an internally differentiated society. It is not an accident of fate that Ambedkar’s mahaparinirvana and the demolition of the Babri Masjid coincide. We must remember the days of violence that preceded the demolition of the masjid and all the days since where it has been perfected as an electoral weapon in the hands of the sangh-giroh.

 

After Partition, the chant for a Ram Mandir at the Babri Masjid had begun. The right wing had been preparing itself in the image of the protectors of the Hindu-rashtra and all that it stood for as part of the struggle for Ramjanmabhoomi. The Congress government had already laid bare its fascist credentials with the Emergency under Indira Gandhi’s regime and then once again with the 1984 Anti-Sikh riots in and around Delhi. Thus, the opening of the gates of Babri Masjid by Rajiv Gandhi in 1990 followed the programme of the Congress of diving society along sectarian lines to further its class and caste interests and provide a crucial fillip for communal forces. This was paralleled with the opening of the economy for neoliberal reforms that utilized these fractures in society to create a loyal urban base among the newly emerging Hindu middle class. Though the blueprint for communal violence was drafted and developed by the leaders of the RSS-VHP and implemented by the BJP cadres in the closing months of 1989 in Bhagalpur, Uttar Pradesh, the beneficiaries cut across party lines and included the traditional Hindu landed elites. The violence saw the systematic targeting of Muslims, the destruction of their lives and livelihood, and their large scale displacement resulting in a dramatic demographic reorganization in the affected states. The collusion of the state authorities in breeding violence and the subsequent participation of the police and the armed forces were clear for all to see. Both the BJP state government of Uttar Pradesh, and the Congress central government, built the stage for the open assault on the minority community in Ayodhya in the December of 1991. L. K. Advani’s rath-yatra’s expansive route and agenda and the free rein of the karsevaks confirmed these assertions and revealed the premeditated violence in more ways than one over the two years leading up to the demolition.

 

The world was watching as the Babri Masjid was attacked by karsevaks inebriated with communal fervour and a sense of impunity, fracturing society along the lines of religion even as comprador forces prepared the ground for foreign direct investment into the country. It would be remarkable if anyone still believes that the demolition and the consequent violence were spontaneous or unplanned. By 1992, even as the violence spread to cities known as economic nerve-centres of the country like Bombay, Kanpur, Surat, Ahmedabad and Delhi, its fangs grew as it consumed land, property, livelihood, and countless lives and left divided, ghettoized communities in its wake. The destruction of the economy of the minority community, specifically the burning of mills owned by Muslim traders, leaves no scope for speculation on the true agenda of the violence. The subsequent restructuring of society confirmed this as it provided fertile ground for economic reforms that promised a deluge of capital for the new urban elites taking up positions of power within the neoliberal economy. Thus, the march towards a fascist state continued alongside the ascendance of this urban workforce that invoked patriotism in defence of the economic policies of the state. In the countryside, this communal-fascism found its staunchest supporters among feudal landed elites in states like Bihar. Here, Bhumihars formed militias to assert their feudal exploitation over land and resources and brutally attacked dalits who dared to resist. Besides the massacres in Bathani Tola in 1996, Laxmanpur Bathe in 1997 by the Ranveer Sena, with the active patronage of the state forces, these caste-based militias spread to the districts of Jehanabad, Nawada, and Aurangabad and specifically targeted dalit women and children to ensure complete submission of these oppressed communities.

 

The nature of violence changed form and extent and found its fullest expression in the February 2002 in the state of Gujarat. The magnitude of the pogrom brings to light the roots of fascism within the subcontinent. In the past, it was common occurrence for the state to be partial towards the Hindu mobs. But Gujarat in 2002 stands witness to the open and unapologetic participation of the state apparatus in the form of the administration, the executive in the form of the state government with BJP’s Narendra Modi at the helm, right down to the constabulary in the perpetuation and justification of the riots. The active mobilization of the widest section of classes and castes in the violence, the systematic targeting and isolation of the minority community, and the manufacturing of a theater for violence through communalized spaces are marked departures from the general pattern of riots witnessed in the subcontinent. The experience of Gujarat became the model for the communal-fascist State to reorder society to fit its needs. The threat of violence was enough to ensure electoral victory. The decade that has followed has shown us the ways in which the state apparatus continues to defend and justify the deliberate (in)action during the communal riots.

 

 

This definitive model of violence was adopted by various governments to appease the dominant electorate. Despite its claims as a secular party, the Congress, in competition with right wing opposition BJP, has overseen some of the worst communal riots over the years. From Gopalgarh in 2011 and Bhilwara in Rajasthan to Dhule in Maharashtra in early 2013 as part of state governments, and as mute spectators during the most recent riots in Muzaffarnagar as part of the central government, the Congress has clearly announced its class and caste interests. Thus, even as the Congress government deceitfully reaches out to the minority communities in some states, it burns the oppressed and marginalized dalits and adivasis alive in others. Even as Gujarat government defends the encounter killing of Ishrat Jahan in 2004, the Samajwadi Party of Uttar Pradesh ensures the murder of Shaheed Khalid Mujahid in 2013. Even as the struggles for land and resources and against corporate loot continue over two decades in central India, especially against Naveen Patnaik’s regime in Orissa, the ostensibly Left CPM led state government orchestrates bloody assaults on protestors in Singur and Nandigram to establish an SEZ for the TATAs in 2007. Even as protests take place in Delhi and across the country for laws to protect women from being attacked and raped, women like Soni Sori fight the system from within a jail in Chhattisgarh as it repeatedly raped her while she is under the custody of the police and the law constituted by the State. Even as the frequency of riots in Uttar Pradesh grows and finds expression in Pratapgarh, Faizabad, Bareilly, Lucknow, Allahabad, Kosi Kalan and finally in Muzaffarnagar in 2013, the violence expands form to include mass displacement from land and eventual appropriation by ruling elites, loss of livelihood and repeated assaults on women and children to demoralize the already devastated minority and other oppressed communities.

 

 

Today, this model for a fascist state has found sympathizers amongst the very class that stands to benefit from a polarized electorate and fractured society- the comprador elite eyeing the immense resources of the country. The relations between the state and corporations and its complete disregard for the vast majority of people in its path to ‘development’ is reflected every time it signs MOUs to exploit the mineral rich hills of Central India. Since state sponsored extra-judicial vigilante groups like Salwa Judum failed to displace adivasis, the Indian State under the rule of the current Congress government has undertaken the task of clearing the ground for corporations through a war on people codenamed ‘Operation Green Hunt’. In the name of religion and caste, the landed ruling elite has inflicted indescribable horrors on dalits and adivasis, be it in Laxmanpur Bathe or Jehanabad in 1997 in Bihar, Ramabai Colony in 1997 or Khairlanji in 2006 Maharashtra, Kandhamal in 2008 or Bolangir in 2012 in Orissa, Paramakudi in 2011 or Laxmanpur in Andhra Pradesh and Dharmapuri in 2012 in Tamil Nadu. The brutality with which nationality struggles in the North-East and Kashmir are crushed by the armed forces needs to be seen alongside the Indian State’s utilization of the very same colonial laws like AFSPA legislated by the British for the colonization of the subcontinent. These laws provide impunity to the armed forces as it rapes and murders hundreds of women in Kunan Poshpora in 1991, Manorama Devi in Manipur in 2004, Asiya and Nilofer in Shopian, Kashmir in 2009, in the name of protecting sovereignty. Despite these overtures of a communal-fascist state, the Indian State feebly continues to assert its secular credentials from time to time, most vociferously before elections. It should come as no surprise that with every instance of violence the ruling elite under the banner of RSS-VHP, Bajrang Dal, or as parliamentary parties like BJP, Congress, SP, BJD, AIADMK, or CPM, or in the form of feudal militias like Ranvir Sena in Bihar, has vied for electoral positions and won. By creating a regime of fear, these fascist powers create spaces for themselves within the mammoth structure that fancies itself a democracy.

 

 

Today, the nature of the state is exposed to us. In the wake of the Lok Sabha elections next year, the country is being sliced open, divided on communal and caste lines, and served up to the highest and bloodiest bidder. The architects of communal discord use socio-economic fissures to break not just the palpable unity across communities, but attack the social, economic and cultural backbone of the minority and marginalized communities and all symbols of their progress. These symbols are seen as threats and prime reasons for the growth of the Hindu rashtra. Fascists like Narendra Modi are openly declaring themselves as the inheritors of Congress leader Sardar Vallabhai Patel’s legacy. This historic inheritance of communal-fascism feeding neoliberal globalisation is gladly shared across parliamentary parties. The recent violence in Uttar Pradesh has decisively set the agenda of the ruling class for the days to come. The role of rumours and rabble-rousing rhetoric during riots and the role of the media in reporting the communalised opinions, the subtle distortions and the clever misinformation in these tense situations show us that the ruling government is in cahoots with the neo-fascist forces egged on by corporate media that sensationalises and caricatures human tragedy. The poor, the marginalized, the landless, the dalits, the women and the minority community suffer at the hands of the ruling classes. It is up to us to expose these agents of death and their vested electoral interests feeding the imperialist aspirations in this semi-feudal, semi-colonial state. On this day, faced with the legacy of Ambedkar and the brutal face of communalism we must decide which side are we on. We must ask ourselves the question that Ambedkar once asked – You must have the courage to tell the Hindus, that what is wrong with them is their religion – the religion which has produced in them this notion of the sacredness of Caste. Will you show that courage? RDF stands in solidarity with revolutionary struggles in the country, calls for the annihilation of caste, and demands the rebuilding of Babri Masjid on the same site!

 

 

Varavara Rao                                                                                                                                                  G N Saibaba

President                                                                                                                                                           Joint Secretary

09676541715

On the heinous incident of sexual assault by Tarun Tejpal

Press Statement 28 November 2013

The heinous incident of sexual assault on a young woman journalist of Tehelka by its editor-in-chief, Tarun Tejpal, at the ThinkFest, an event organized by the news magazine, in Goa and the course of events that followed over the last three weeks have once again foregrounded the sordid social reality of entrenched patriarchy and unequal relations between men and women that allows and sustains the dominance and abuse of power in our society. RDF condemns in the strongest possible terms the sexual assault on this young journalist and demands the immediate punishment of the guilty for justice to be done.

Sexual harassment in work places and educational institutions is one of the many spaces wherein patriarchal dominance over women manifest in overt and covert ways, lead to criminal acts of violence, abuse and intimidation, affecting the lives, mobility and dignity of women. The Vishakha Judgment of the Supreme Court recognized this in 1997 and was a result of a long struggle on the part of the progressive and democratic sections of society. It mandated the formation of anti-sexual harassment committees at work places and educational institutions where people could lodge complaints against such violations and harassments.

These committees were to be compulsory bodies in these public institutions, headed by a woman, with at least half its members as women. Despite this landmark judgment, bodily violence and other equally repulsive forms of sexual harassment in these institutions have continued unabated. In some cases, the forms of such violations have changed and the instances continue to grow, even as these bodies hardly function or even exist in most institutions. At places where they have been formed, it was only a result of protracted struggles by progressive forces, and even then, at most times, they stand sabotaged and undermined according to the whims of the governing body of the institution.

This incident within the Tehelka establishment, therefore, is neither an isolated incident, nor does it come as a shock to many who have been following the terms of the debate on the need for legislation to protect and safeguard women in this country. The incident took place in ThinkFest, a corporate sponsored event endorsed by some of the biggest mining giants known for illegal mining activities across the country and sponsored the extra-judicial vigilante group Salwa Judum like Essar and Tata Steel, big corporations known for land-grab like the Adani group and DLF, CocaCola, Unitech, defense equipment manufacturer Pipavav, major corporate owned and backed media-houses, some politicians, and well known leaders of civil society. The event itself boasted of speaking for the poorest of the poor but closed its doors to this very poor with its inaccessible entry charge.

Behind all the glitz and glamour of such events, what lies unveiled is the perpetuation and accentuation of the unequal power relations inherent in this semi-feudal Indian social reality. Moreover, these same notorious corporations have been the motive force behind Operation Green Hunt and other such brutal wars and counter-insurgency operations executed by the Indian state in which hundreds of adivasi and Dalit women have been raped and murdered. When the founders of an organization like Tehelka openly proclaim the same values as the sponsors of an event organized by it, it comes as no surprise that the same unequal man-woman power relations and social inequality will be perpetuated and defended by it.

The invoking of a self-ordained penance by Tejpal and the managing editor Shoma Choudhury’s defense of this man and refusal to go to the police by calling it a mere ‘untoward incident’ in light of his ‘unconditional apology’, and the act of recusing himself for six months smacks of the feudal loyalty to the tainted and fallen institution that has lost all journalistic credibility in its attempt to shamelessly cover up the incident as ‘an internal matter of the Tehelka family’. Instead of standing with the complainant in her struggle for justice, Choudhury did the rounds of the media defending her decisions to safeguard the interests of Tehelka. Rabid slandering, character assassination, intimidation of the concerned woman are all common practices in such cases of sexual harassments and a weapon with which patriarchal forces regularly operate and vilify women who dare to stand up against it. In this case, too, such smear campaign has aggravated the agony of the complainant.

Citing such slander, intimidation and lack of support, the complainant has resigned from Tehelka. Though initially he ‘accepted’ his crime and even decided to ‘recuse (him)self’ for six months to ‘atone further’ and ‘do the penance that lacerates (him)’, but in characteristic about-turn of a wronged patriarch faced with the possibility of answering to his crimes, Tejpal cries foul. After the filing of the police case, he has backtracked from his original stance and frontally attacked the woman by called her a ‘right wing agent’, ‘a conspirator’ and a loose woman who up until now he had no qualms employing within his organization. Swimming in turn-of-phrases and verbose statements, today Tejpal shuttles between consensual and non-consensual, misreading and misconduct, sexual encounter and rape. A man who, up until now, thought he enjoyed impunity from such accusations due to his position within the media and the corporate world, finds himself outraged at the isolation he enjoys in his ivory tower of paternalistic concern he extended to the journalistic fraternity.

At the same time, the sensationalization of this incident by the corporate media with no sense of responsibility, journalistic ethics or even sensitivity is condemnable. In a bid to raise their TRP ratings, different media houses covered explicit details of the complaint and other information regarding the complainant leaked to them at times directly by the Goa police. Despite knowing that such media trials and coverage of extremely confidential details only affect the complainant and the case, the irresponsible coverage of news ignores cases of sexual harassment that abound aplenty in these media houses.

Irresponsible coverage affects the complainant in this case and dissuades women from speaking up against such harassment generally. After the mass outrage and protests against the rape of a young paramedic student in Delhi last year, the discourse around preventing sexual violence, crimes against women, and gender justice has occupied the centre stage of various debates. The month of April saw the definition of rape being redefined to include a wider range of sexual assaults on women. Despite that, the various forms of sexual violence have continued unabated even as forms of violence within the household or ‘marital rape’ remains outside the purview of the law.

Rape as a weapon continues to be used as it was during the Muzaffarnagar riots though its coverage was atrociously lacking when compared with the sordid stories of rapes by self appointed god-men like Asaram Bapu. The coverage of the acquittal of the rapists and murderers of Laxmanpur Bathe pales in comparison to the distasteful coverage of the judgment on the Arushi-Hemraj murder in Delhi. While hundreds of stories of custodial rape like that of Soni Sori in Chhattisgarh, rape by armed forces in Shopian in Kashmir, Manipur; the right wing forces in Gujarat in 2002, Kandhamal in Odisha, dominant castes in Khairlanji in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu get lost in the pages of news as everyday occurrences, these debates on TV channels and newspapers bring us back to the reality of entrenched patriarchy that stares us in the face.

This violence against women reflects the inextricable alliance between the patriarchal structure of society and the unequal semi-feudal, semi-colonial relations that sustains it. The various wings of the state machinery have actively served to strengthen this social reality while thwarting and suppressing all struggles for democratization and gender justice. This extreme inequality between men and women is inherent to this system and all other forms of inequalities and oppression only strengthen it. Today, it is clear that only radical and assertive struggles that recognize patriarchal domination and all other forms of oppression embedded in society, and organize and challenge these structures, and unite to smash patriarchy will lead towards a gender just world. Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) extends its solidarity with the complainant and all other journalists working in Tehelka who have dared to stand up against Tarun Tejpal. RDF pledges to be a part of the struggle to ensure justice to the concerned woman and for the punishment of the guilty.

Varavara Rao
G N Saibaba