Revolutionary Cultural Front statement on the arrest of Chetna Natya Manch activists

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12 December, 2013

Condemn the arrest of 15 members of Chetna Natya Mandli by the Chattisgarh Police and the Special Task Force!

Stop state repression on cultural activists!

15 members of Chetna Natya Mandli (CNM), including 11 women were arrested last week, while performing in Biriyabhumi and Jaigur villages of Bijapur district in Chattisgarh. The joint forces have arbitrarily branded CNM to be the cultural wing of the CPI (Maoist) observing the Peoples’ Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) Week.

They have been booked under the Chattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005, accused of “inciting people against the government” and propagating Maoist ideology through their songs, performances and speeches. Without anyevidence they have been indicted of recruiting villagers for CPI (Maoist) and PLGA. All of them are in their early 20s, and all that has been found on them are“strange” attires, banners, pamphlets, musical instruments and props.

Though repression of cultural activists has always been a tool in the hands of the state to stifle dissent, since the inception of Operation Green Hunt in 2009,every fang and claw of Indian state’s juggernaut– be it police, paramilitary, judiciary or press– has been sharpened to maul even the basic rights to life, livelihood, expression and dignity. Along with the murders, rapes, massacres, dispossession and displacement of adivasis in central India, targets have been made out of intellectuals and cultural activists who speak against the state’s “development” project of selling off the country’s resources to big mining corporations.

The latter’s super-profits in turn, maintain the agent status of the Indian state and comprador bourgeois in the log-books of their imperialist masters. Some glaring instances of targeting include Jeetan Marandi, who was incarcerated for four years on false charges of planning a political assassination. False witnesses were propped up and he was even sentenced to death by the lower court (later Ranchi High Court acquitted him). When false cases could not contain the voice of Ganti Prasadam, he was shot and hacked to death by goons of the AP govt. Members of Kabir Kala Manch were hounded for years by the Maharashtra police, forced to go underground and then imprisoned.

Artist Arun Ferriera was incarcerated for almost 5 years on absurd charges of planning to blow up the Deekshabhoomi Complex. Armed with tall claims of confiscating naxal documents and microchip, Maharashtra police keep Hem Mishra behind bars, although in 3months they have not even been able to produce minimum evidence for a charge-sheet. This state will never be short of ploys to silence the aspirations of the people to break the shackles of oppression and pave a path of alternative development and true democracy.

In case of Chetna Natya Manch, musical instruments and pamphlets were enough for the joint forces to conclude that they were Maoists. But history has shown that as the state turns more authoritarian and brutal; the resistance against it too becomes united and bold. History has also shown a progressive section of intellectuals, writers and cultural activists who have stood in solidarity with the revolutionary masses. It is this comradeship that will show yet again that no amount of massacres, torture, jails or hounding are enough to imprison the will of the people.

(Issued by Srirupa Bhattacharya on behalf of RCF)

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