India’s Operation Green Hunt: A Looming Crime

The following article is from A World To Win News Service. It should be mentioned that when the article mentions CPI(M), they are refering to the Maoist Party, the CPI (Maoist), not to the CPI (Marxist), which is the organization typically designated by that acronym:

14 December 2009. A World to Win News Service. The Maoist or Red Corridor stretches from West Bengal in India’s northeast through the states of Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra in the west. It includes many forest areas including the Dandakaranya forest. Its millions of adivasis (Hindi for original settler, an umbrella term for ethnic and tribal groups who were among the original inhabitants of the subcontinent) were pushed into forest regions by waves of invaders and generally excluded from “mainstream” Hindu society. They have a long history of rebellion and militant uprisings against British colonial rule, from the Santal revolt of 1855-57 to numerous smaller uprisings and have been a major base for communist organising.

The forests where the adivasis are concentrated have abundant mineral wealth (iron, coal, bauxite, manganese, corundum, gold, diamonds and uranium). Over the last years foreign and Indian corporations, with the protection of the Indian state apparatus, have been exploiting them and violently suppressing the people in the process. The struggle over forest resources and land rights are important aspects of a larger dynamic.

Two sides are shaping up in the “Red Corridor”. One side consists of the adivasis and the Communist Party of India (Maoist), whose members have lived and fought side by side with them since the 1970s, following the Naxalbari rebellion of that period inspired by Maoism and China when it was still revolutionary. The Maoists have helped lead the tribals in their struggles for just demands, such as an end to the theft of their lands inflicted by the Indian government, their starvation conditions as a reserve for labour to be sent all over the country, and their rape, torture and humiliation at the hands of the police and other authorities. The Maoists also have support among the landless peasants including those who are Muslim, Dalits (who are considered impure in the Hindu caste system and are often referred to as “untouchables”) and others. They have helped organise the people to improve subsistence agricultural methods, build wells and educate and struggle against backward feudal practices (for example, the barbaric practice of punishing women accused of witchcraft). For all this the Maoists have earned the label of terrorist and are seen as the biggest internal threat to the Indian state.

On the other side with its military and police force stands the central Indian state, the representative and protector of the ruling classes that live off and suck the life out of the Indian masses. For years when they considered these isolated forested hills peripheral to their projects, they left the adivasis in a state of utter poverty with no development but profiting from their labour. Huge numbers had to migrate annually to different parts of the country such as Punjab. This helped fuel India’s capitalist development while maintaining tremendous backwardness in these areas. Now the Indian state urgently wants to clear the obstacles for a new wave of foreign investment and capitalist development to take advantage of the region’s resources. They are even more concerned by the deep ties the Maoists have made with the region’s people. Their goal is to wipe out any revolutionary vision of a better world the masses might hold and any force that embodies that vision.

With the beginnings of Operation Green Hunt, six battalions (a battalion consists of 700 soldiers) of India’s paramilitary police forces have taken up positions in the states of Maharastra and Chhattisgarh. A police spokesperson said that after pushing the Maoists out of the area, and with further anti-guerrilla training of the police forces, the operation would move to other states one by one. By March 2010 they hope to have eradicated the Maoists and anyone who dares to support them and resist the government’s armed presence. According to the Indian state’s rough estimates, over 60,000 security personnel from the central paramilitary forces will “fight against 6,000-7,000 armed Maoist cadres”. Officials complain that the Maoists are heavily armed but it is likely that most of the weapons in their possession were seized from the government forces.

In later stages of the operation a force specially trained for jungle warfare, the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA), will move into the area. Once these forces have “cleared and sanitised” the area of Maoists and hold the territory, another phase is to take place. Various government agencies will move in the area to initiate “developmental work”. (Times of India, 2 November 2009)

Over the years, the CPI (M) and their base of support have already braved serious attacks on them by the Indian government. The government has tried to drive a wedge between the revolutionaries and the people  by setting up local paramilitary groups like the Salwa Judum to make life hell for the masses and force them into prison-like camps modelled on the “strategic hamlets” the U.S.. used to try to separate the guerrillas and the people in Vietnam. Lower level cadres have been killed in combat. Important communist leaders have been imprisoned, while many others have been killed in “encounter killings”, a euphemism for when the police capture and execute people and dump their bodies elsewhere and then report that they were killed in a gun battle.

Still the rebels have grown in numbers and their influence has spread. During the uprising in Lalgarh, West Bengal, that reached a boiling point last November, tribal people forced out of their villages government agents belonging to the Communist Party (Marxist) which runs West Bengal and long ago dropped any Marxist trappings. The CPI (Maoist) has broad support in the Lalgarh area due to their uncompromising stand against rich landlords and corrupt officials.. At the time of the Lalgarh uprising, the party called the area the first liberated zone in West Bengal.

Urban intellectuals from Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) went to Lalgarh and publicly exposed the fact that the armed forces were beating and humiliating the masses in every way imaginable and herding them into refugee camps. (See AWTWNS090629 and AWTWNS091012, for more details). With the beginning of Operation Green Hunt, many prominent intellectuals and others have come to vociferously oppose what they see as an onslaught on the masses.

While the Indian state is rattling its paramilitary apparatus in the west side of the “Red Corridor”, at the other end of the “Red Corridor” in West Bengal, CPI (M) organised a public celebration of the founding of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army on 2 December. People from 50 surrounding villages attended the event as did a politburo member of CPI (M), Kisenji and the head of the West Bengal-Jharkhand- Orissa border regional committee of CPIM, Rakesh. Red-faced senior police officials have demanded explanations from the police stations in the area, which includes Lalgarh (police-occupied since the uprising there), over their failure to raid the gathering. The date and venue of the celebration was openly announced in some of CPI(M)’s pamphlets and distributed widely.

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