It’s people’s right to boycott elections: Maoist leader
CPI (Maoist) Dandakaranya special zonal committee secretary Ramanna speaks on the party’s stand on the Chhattisgarh assembly elections and justifies the May 25 attack on Congress leaders that killed Mahendra Karma and V C Shukla among others.
Q: Why have you appealed for election boycott?
A: As usual, we have appealed to people to boycott the elections because they are a farce. Elections only renew five-year tenures of loot and torture by the elected representative in the present system. Our target is to change this system from the root and establish a people-centric society and that is not possible through elections.
Q: Will the poll boycott be violent this time too?
A: This does not depend on our saying anything. Like always, this time too, the government has deployed a huge a number of security forces in the name of conducting free and fair elections, which are already exploiting and torturing people. Attacks on villages in the name of search operations, arrests, beating up people, fake encounters are consistently on. It is important to resist such acts. Therefore, I can only say that when the government tries to defuse our poll-boycott movement through crackdown on the people, then there will certainly be a counter to it.
Q: How do you justify threatening people that their fingers will be cut if they vote?
A: This is utter rubbish. Never in the history of our 33 years of struggle in Dandakaranya have we threatened people with such consequences. You will not find a single example. This has been the tactic of the government, to use the media and spread misinformation to defame us and hurt our cause. Our poll boycott move is a political act. Our focus is on making people aware. We believe political purpose cannot be achieved through force.
Q: It is a democratic right to vote. Why ask people to boycott polls?
A: Just as voting is a democratic right, so is boycotting elections. Recently, even the Supreme Court said that if voters are unhappy with the choices on the ballot paper, they can opt for the ‘none of the above’ choice. It means the courts had to acknowledge that people are losing faith in the election process. So, it is people’s right to boycott polls.
Q: The Raman Singh government says Maoists are anti-development. What do you say?
A: Yes, we do stand in the way of development of those handful of exploitative-looters for whom Raman Singh (chief minister) is totally committed. We will never allow his dream of giving away Chhattisgarh’s land to be controlled by corporates like Tata, Essar, Jindal, Vedanta etc to be fulfilled. If this stand is called anti-development, we are proud to bear the tag.
Q: Why did you attack Congress leaders on May 25? Was that a change in tactic as usually political leaders are not targeted?
A: Like we have already stated in our press release earlier that this was our protest against Operation Green Hunt and the Salwa Judum movement unleashed against us. This was a retaliatory attack and also self-defence. Salwa Judum and then Operation Green Hunt was used to kill a large number of tribals, villages were burnt down… this was our retort. As for change in tactic, we have targeted political leaders earlier. The biggest achievement in this operation was the killing of Mahendra Karma.
Q: What about reports of differences within your party and women facing exploitation?
A: Our revolutionary struggle is all about ending differences of all kinds and exploitation of people. In this struggle, over years, people have come across various experiences. Cases of exploitation of women have significantly gone down. These are issues nobody can deny, but it is also known to all that surrendered party members speak the untruth in accordance with the way the police tutors them. Since the government is unable to finish off our movement, they try the divide-and-rule policy taught by British rulers. They create these tales and nobody believes them.
Top Naxal leader arrested in AP
A top Naxalite leader Poosa Shiva Narayana (45) was arrested by police during a routine vehicle-check at Prangnapur in Medak district on Monday. According to Gajwel Circle Inspector Amirtha Reddy, Shiva Narayana was involved in several offences, including murder and arson. He was on his way to meet a doctor for treatment of paralytic stroke that he is suffering from recently. He was produced before Gajwel First Class Magistrate U. Udayabhaskar who remanded him to Charlapally jail near Hyderabad, where he will be shifted by Monday evening, police said.
School blast: Cops round up 5 with little evidence
NAGPUR: The interrogation of five suspects, rounded up for their alleged involvement behind a blast at Motazeliya zilla parishad school in Gadchiroli’s Korchi tehsil on Wednesday night, has revealed that Naxals had planted the explosives in the school in June. Three Special Action Group (SAG) commandos who had made a halt at the school were killed in the explosion. However, sources say that apart from confessions, the police have little to show by way of concrete evidence against those who have been detained. These suspects were among the tribals who were mercilessly thrashed by cops on the morning after the blast.
The villagers are still without medical assistance with the local Primary health unit of Gyarapatti denying them treatment. After being thrashed on Thursday morning, the villagers were summoned at the Gyarapatti police armed outpost at 8pm for questioning. It was following this episode that the Gadchiroli district police, after 48 hours of the incident, claimed to have zeroed down on Mochhi Boga, Ramdas Hurra, Matru Kumotti, Ganesh Puro and Rajesh Mangalsingh Dhurve for their involvement in the blast. The five, belonging to Gond tribal community, are natives of Motazeliya village. Even a senior officer of Gadchiroli police has denied these villagers being part of any dalam.
The officer also sounded unsure about these villagers being part of Naxals’ jan militia or village-based supporters. “The five suspects held by the cops were instrumental in planting the mine,” said Superintendent of police, Gadchiroli district, Mohd Suvez Haque. Police have so far claimed that these villagers were part of the conspiracy hatched by Naxal’s local Divisional committee member (DVC) Dinkar Gota and Tippagarh dalam commander Savaji Tulavi, apart from Company Four members Suraj and Jugnu.
The cops have also claimed that the explosives were planted to avenge the death of Aheri dalam commander Vinod’s wife Geeta who was from this village. Geeta, also a deputy commander of a platoon, was among the six cadres eliminated by C-60 commandos of Gadchiroli police at Govindgaon in Aheri tehsil in January. DVC Gota is also learnt to be from the same village. It was also not clear as to how the SAG commandos halted at the school for rest despite the fact that there were active Naxal supporters in the village.
This also contradicts the senior official’s claim of SAG commandos having checked the location manually before entering the school where they had lunch and decided to spend the night. “The commandos couldn’t identify these Naxal supporters during the day. Then how is it that they were identified and arrested only after the blast,” asked a local resident. “The police have also claimed that operations and patrolling were going on in the region. If it was so, then how could Naxal cadres manage to remain present and trigger the blast in the village,” said the local.
Over 3,000 polling booths ‘hyper sensitive’ in Chhattisgarh
More than 3,000 polling booths in the Left insurgency-hit Chhattisgarh have been identified as “hyper sensitive”with authorities keeping a close watch. The poll panel headed by its the chief election commission, V S Sampath, on Saturday, held a high-level meeting with the state officials to review the preparedness for the ensuing state polls. Chhattisgarh would go to polls in two phases, first on November 11 and second on November 19.
“The commission is satisfied with the level of preparedness,” Sampath told reporters later in the evening. Of the total 21,424 polling booths in the state that has 90 assembly constituencies, 3,249 have been marked as hyper sensitive, he said, adding that 6,920 polling booths have been identified as sensitive. The poll panel discussed about the security situation in the “red zone” of Bastar for conducting free, fair and peaceful elections. “The law and order is under close watch (of the commission),” Sampath said. The booths in the worst Naxal infested pockets would be shifted to safer place as polling parties would find it difficult to reach the spot and conduct peaceful polling. The state police had proposed some 323 booths but the state electoral office identified around 300.
Ex-Naxals allege police harassment
Alleging harassment by police, former Naxalites in Telangana have demanded that the government direct the police to withdraw the cases filed against them. Speaking at the Telangana Maji-Naxalite Sankshema Sangham meeting here on Sunday, Sangham president and former Janashakti secretariat member Ramachander alias Bhupathi alleged that whenever elections come or some violent incidents take place, police bindover former Naxalites, causing hardship for them and their family members.
The government should put an end to this practice and see that all former Naxalites are rehabilitated properly, he asserted. “At the time of surrender, the government makes a number of promises and announces benefits. But later it goes back on its promises and starts harassing them. Till now, only 10 percent of the surrendered Naxals have received benefits and the rest are still waiting,” he alleged. “When we surrendered, we thought we could lead a normal life, but to our dismay, the government is harassing us and not allowing us to live a peaceful life,” he said.
“The government has deceived us and ruined our lives. We have lost the prime time of our life fighting against the system and when we decided to join the mainstream, the government is not allowing us. Because of the government’s anti-people policies, we have joined the Naxal movement and again because of the government’s assurance we gave up arms, and now when we want to be part of the society the government was keeping us away, and torturing us mentally and physically”, he alleged. He demanded that the government should rehabilitate all the former Naxalites and provide suitable source of livelihood to them. Around 30 former Naxalites took part in the meeting.
Panic in Maoist heartland ahead of polls
RAIPUR: With elections round the corner in Chhattisgarh, the Naxalites seem to be working overtime to instill fear among villagers and keep them away from voting. They are putting up display boards and issuing threats through pamphlets, banners and flags in the Bastar region, asking voters to boycott the two-phased polls scheduled on November 11 and 19. Sources in state intelligence bureau (SIB) said that Maoists hanged effigies of chief minister Raman Singh, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, protesting against parties and instilling terror among people. The rebels also threatened voters in Pankhajur area of Kanker, asking them to form their own government..
The Communist Party of India (Maoist) threw pamphlets near houses of locals to not allow any candidate campaign in the area. Pamphlets have been issued in the name of Dandkaranya special zone committee. Fear looms in the interiors and many sensitive parts of state. The pamphlets are warning people from stepping out of their houses on polling day or even enroll themselves in the voter list. State intelligence sources said series of meetings were being conducted by the Maoists in the forests of Bailadila, targeting Mahendra Karma’s family.
Maoists were threatening locals not to provide any kind of help/assistance to the family, an official said. Karma family, though till now, sounds confident about people’s support and sympathy, Devti Karma and sons, have, however, expressed fear over their security during campaigns. Talking to TOI, Pramod Karma said that they had demanded tight security from the Centre as well as state administration but didn’t get any response.
State director general of police Ramninwas, has already expressed apprehension about a spurt in Maoist violence in the run-up to the elections, but police were prepared for the smooth conduct of polls, he said. Intelligence officials said the Maoists were also planning to destroy CCTVs, which Election Commission has planned to put up in hyper-sensitive areas. The chief election commissioner of India, VS Sampath, who was in the state capital, had announced installation of as many as 1,000 cameras for video monitoring in the hyper-sensitive areas.
Maoist posters calling for Chhattisgarh poll boycott found at bus stand
Maoist posters calling for boycott of the upcoming Assembly polls were found pasted at a bus stand in the Kanker district in Chhattisgarh, where as many as 18 Maoist-affected constituencies will go to polls on November 11. Three posters and two banners were found put up at the waiting hall of the bus stand under Pakhanjore police station limits on Saturday evening, a senior police official told PTI on Sunday. Although, security personnel regularly visit villages to instill confidence in the people to vote, the rebels have appealed to villagers to kick both the BJP and Congress out of power, the police said, adding that a case has been registered in this connection.