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BackYou are here: AnalysisOpinion Revolution and Counter-Revolution--Indian State Bares its Fangs as the Class Struggle Intensifies in Orissa


Revolution and Counter-Revolution--Indian State Bares its Fangs as the Class Struggle Intensifies in Orissa

"Once they (Vedanta Aluminium Ltd.) get the final clearance and come here for mining, we will have no option but to fight them tooth and nail... We have started preparations for the confrontation and that is when the government will declare us Maoists and unleash CRPF troops on us. But we have nothing to lose. We will fight it out and die but will not let go of our forest..."   -- Lenju, activist of Niyamgiri Surakhya Samiti in an interview to Frontline, 5-18 June 2010.

by Democratic Student Union (DSU)--Lenju was among the nine people gunned down by the armed forces in Badangmali of Rayagada district last week. After staging this 'encounter' on 9 January 2011, the police claimed that nine 'Maoist ultras', including four women, were killed and advertised it as the biggest 'catch' in its ongoing war against the Maoists in Orissa. The police identified the dead as Ravi, Rajendra, Lenju, Ramesh Kulsika, Rinky, Nirmala, Mamata Sipka, Karuna and Kamala. However, not even a single policeman got injured after this 'fierce encounter' that supposedly lasted for six to seven hours!

In spite of the one-sided reports in the corporate media which uncritically blurted out the police version of the 'encounter', anyone who is aware of the realities of India would know that it was not encounter but cold-blooded murder. Like Lenju who was a member of Dongria Kondh tribal community and a leader of the Niyamgiri movement fighting against Vedanta's incursions, all the dead were activists or supporters of the anti-displacement movements in Rayagada and its adjoining districts.

This was preceded by another 'encounter' staged on 2 January 2011 in Tamka forest of Jajpur district. Five people, including four women - Sabitri, Sujata, Baby and Janga - were killed by the police. The usual claims of heroic success against the Maoists were made. All five of them, however, were picked up by the police from different villages on 20 December 2010 and made to undergo two weeks of illegal custody and torture before being shot. Among them Janga, of merely 12 years in age, was a resident of Baligotha village near Kalinga Nagar. In April 2010, the police attacked her village and raged it to the ground. Though there was no proof of 'illegal activities' against any of them, the murderous gang of police executed the five without taking the 'trouble' of carrying out constitutional and legal niceties, such as arresting or producing them before a court of law. The only crime of the five villagers was to oppose the forced displacement of people to make way for mining. The 'encounter' was staged just a day before the 5th anniversary of the Kalinga Nagar killings where 14 adivasis where shot dead in January 2006 for protesting against the proposed Tata steel plant. It was meant to be a lesson to the people that the state would not hesitate to replicate the mass murder of Kalinga Nagar if they did not submit to the wishes and interests of the ruling classes.

In 2008, Sirimajhi Paleka was gunned down by the police in Birubai village of Rayagada district in a fake encounter for allegedly belonging to the 'Surya dalam of CPI (Maoist)'. When this concocted story was challenged in the Orissa Human Rights Commission, no proof could be provided by the police for his alleged involvement, nor could it give any justification for the 'encounter'. It was impossible to believe that any encounter really took place when none of the 50 policemen who supposedly took part in the exchange of fire were injured, the OHRC observed. It ordered the Orissa government to provide Paleka's widow compensation and a pension. As for the punishment of the guilty policemen, not a word was heard.

None of the perpetrators of state violence has been brought to justice, nor will they ever be in the given political and judicial system. Because the police and armed forces merely implement what the state wants them to do, and thereby receives its full protection. This makes it amply clear to the people that the state, being an instrument of class oppression, sanctions the murder of the vocal members of the exploited classes. This is what happened in Narayanpatna on 20 November 2009 when the police shot dead two members of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha, including its president Wadeka Singana during a peaceful protest demonstration. Therefore, the oppressed masses at times decided to respond with retaliatory violence, much like when a policeman was killed by the people after four persons died in police firing in Gochapada of Kandhmal district on 13 September 2008. And these are but a few recent and more blatant instances of state violence. It is estimated that in the last for decades since 1969, 130 people have been killedin fake encounters in Orissa. Of them, 23 have been killed in the last two months alone, for being part of various anti-displacement and democratic movements. At least three adivasis have been killed in police custody after undergoing torture in October-December 2010.

The intensification of state violence in the last few years signifies a sharpening of the class contradictions, where Orissa has become one central arena of class struggle. This shows the growing influence of the communist movement among the oppressed classes, and the proportionately growing desperation of the ruling classes to crush it by unleashing state terror. Threatened by the growth of the revolutionary movement, the Indian state has abandoned all its democratic pretence, treating all peoples' movements in a dictatorial manner. In this way the ruling classes are desperately trying to preserve the age-old exploitative social and economic relations, be it the feudal land relations or the stranglehold of the comprador big bourgeoisie and international finance capital over Orissa's people and resources. However, these relations are constantly being attacked by the revolutionary and democratic peoples' movements, be it in Narayanpatna where adivasis have reclaimed thousands of acres of land occupied by big landlords of Orissa and Andhra, or in other regions where the exploitation and incursion of extractive industries have been stalled by the people.

It is the same forces of domination that kept the vast majority of the people of Orissa in poverty, misery and subjugation over the years, and fulfilled the needs of a handful of rich and powerful belonging to the ruling classes. Post-liberalisation, multinational companies of various imperialist countries have entered Orissa with renewed vigor, expecting super-profits from the plunder of resources. For instance, out of the total mineral resources of India, Orissa contains 99 percent chromate ore, 92 percent of nickel ore, 65 percent of graphite and pyrophylite, 66 percent of bauxite, 32 percent of manganese, 28 percent of iron ore, and 24 percent of coal deposits. Posco of South Korea therefore has plans to construct a mammoth $12 billion steel plant near Paradip port, which would be the largest single investment in India's history. Arcelor-Mittal likewise has announced plans to invest in another mega steel project amounting to $10 billion. Russian major Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Company plans to set up a 10 MT steel plant. Anil Ambani's Reliance Industries is putting up the world's largest power plant with an investment of US $13 billion at Hirma in Jharsuguda district. The 1.4 million tonne alumina project in Kalahandi district undertaken by Vedanta Resources is the largest investment in aluminium in the country. Profit and not the people are at the centre of these projects.

The Indian state, which is the joint dictatorship of the feudal forces and comprador big capitalist class, is now being boldly challenged by the oppressed masses all over Orissa, be it in Narayanpatna, Kalinganagar, Kashipur, Gandhamardan, Malkangiri, Koraput or Rayagada, etc. And the people here, as elsewhere in the country where the revolutionary movement led by the Maoist revolutionaries is taking shape, are not only fighting to defend what they have - jal, jangal, jameen - they are also fighting to build what they aspire for: a real democracy. Organs of peoples' power are taking shape in many parts of Orissa which are restructuring the society in a revolutionary way, and are putting up the most resolute fight against feudal oppression and corporate plunder.

These areas of revolutionary class struggle, spread over nearly half of the 30 districts of Orissa, are now being identified by the state as 'Naxal affected'. The most blatant instances of state violence in the name of fighting Naxalism are taking place in these areas, and it is here that the counter-revolutionary war waged by the state on the revolutionary and democratic masses and their movements is most intense. Here everyone who is not with the state is a potential target of 'encounters'. But inspired by the revolutionary spirit of Naxalbari and guided by a communist consciousness, the oppressed people of Orissa are boldly carrying forward the banner of class struggle. It is time that we too choose our sides.