Mainstream, VOL LIV No 26 New Delhi June 18, 2016
CPI General Secretary’s Letters to Union Home Minister and Chhattisgarh CM
Saturday 18 June 2016
The following is the text of the two letters sent by CPI General Secretary S. Sudhakar Reddy to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh on the police treatment meted out to a fact-finding team to Chhattisgarh.
I am writing to express my deep anxiety at the false charges that the Chhattisgarh Police is drumming up against a visiting delegation comprising CPI and CPM members, and professors from Delhi University and JNU.
A delegation, comprising Vineet Tiwari, Joshi-Adhikari Institute, a CPI member, New Delhi; Sanjay Parate, Chhattisgarh State Secretary, CPI-M; Archana Prasad, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and CC member, AIDWA; and Nandini Sundar, Professor, Delhi University who does not belong to any political party, visited the Bastar Division from May 12 to 16, 2016. The focus of the visit was to study the situation of ordinary villagers who are living through the conflict between the state and Maoists.
The group visited Nama and Kumakoleng villages on May 15 and interacted with the villagers, who complained of harassment by both Maoists and police. The group in its press release has faithfully reported whatever the villagers said, including criticism of the Maoists (copy of the press release attached).
However, the Chhattisgarh Police are falsely claiming that the delegation instigated villagers against the police and threatened them into supporting the Maoists. They have produced what is self-evidently a fake complaint in the names of the villagers, and also organised rallies with Samajik Ekta Manch-type vigilantes in front of the Darbha thana demanding that an FIR be registered against the group. Is it believable that some professors come from Delhi and threaten people in Bastar to join the Naxals? Why should people be afraid of somebody who come for a few hours to discuss with them and go? This apparently looks like a cock and bull story.
It seems that the District Collector of Bastar, Mr Amit Kataria, posted the so-called complaint of the villagers on his facebook without verification—is it the practice to post all unverified complaints received as part of his official work on his facebook? This is a highly irresponsible behaviour for a Collector, and is part of an effort to whip up hysteria against JNU and researchers in general.
The police have also been cross-questioning all those who interacted with the team, including the driver of the hired vehicle, in order to intimidate them.
It looks that the whole affair is part of the ongoing intimadtory tactics that the Bastar Police, especially the IGP, Mr S.R.P. Kalluri, have been employing against journalists, researchers, lawyers and others, to prevent them from visiting Bastar and reporting on violations of human rights.
The understanding that all those, who are not with the police, are pro-Naxalites is utter nonsense. Why are the police so touchy about anybody visiting Bastar and enquiring about the atrocities of the police and Naxalites over there? Why should people believe only the police version? Chhattisgarh is a part of India.
More than four journalists have been arrested and kept in jail. All the journalist unions all over India are agitating on it. Two innocent tribal boys were killed by the police while they were taking bath in the river. There is a feeling of police raj, it will tarnish the image of Chhattis-garh in India and abroad.
The CPI has been working in Bastar since many years, and our party members are under severe pressure from the Maoists and the police both. We have complained to you in the past about this. In a democracy, the law should not be used to harass political opponents.
The CPI and CPI-M ideologically, politically differ with the Naxalites. Our leaders and cadres are attacked by Naxals and killed in many places. There are some police officers who do not understand the difference between the CPI, CPI-M and Naxals. Surely we are the against killing innocents in the name of Naxalites. We fight against the Naxals‘ ideology. But we also fight against police atrocities and cold-blooded murders. This is irritating some police officers. The police is only a department that looks after Law and Order. They should not guide government policies. They can only advice. Unlimited power will cause damage to the democratic society.
I trust that you will rein in your adminis-tration and police and instruct them not to harass and falsely implicate our party members and independent researchers, journalists and others.
S. Sudhakar Reddy
[Former Member of Lok Sabha,
General Secretary, CPI]