The Operation Green Hunt reached the urban landscape long ago, and in tandem with the brutal war waged against the poor tribal people of the mineral-rich zones of India, the oppressive state machinery has launched a concerted attack on those voices that echo support for the cause of the marginalised and oppressed people, who are subject to the grotesque sadist state’s pleasure-seeking exercise every day and night. At the early morning of 6 June 2018, when the Maharashtra Police arrested Advocate Surendra Gadling, General Secretary of Indian Association of People’s Lawyers and the lawyer of arrested Prof Dr GN Saibaba, Prof Shoma Sen, Head of Department of English, Nagpur University, Sudhir Dhawale, the editor of Vidrohi from Mumbai, Rona Wilson, the Public Relations Secretary Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners and Mahesh Raut, an anti-displacement activist from Bharat Jan Andolan and a former Fellow at Prime Minister’s Rural Development (PMRD) for Gadchiroli District, it became clear that a terrified Indian state under the utmost unapologetic Hindutva fascist regime of Narendra Modi is leaving no stones unturned to achieve its target of neutralising and annihilating people’s democratic resistance against its policies that are targeted against the tribals, the Dalits and the Muslims, lest these forces dig a grave for the fascist mobocracy that rules India.
What made the Maharashtra Police to arrest these activists from Delhi and Maharashtra? The police of the BJP-ruled state are driven by a vengeance against the left-democratic forces who are speaking up against state terror in Gadchiroli, the caste oppression laden on the Dalits of the state by the upper-caste feudal landlords and rich farmers and the corporate houses that are trying to annex land of the farmers and the marginal communities to build up huge real estate projects. The activists were arrested this time because the police have accused them of playing a crucial role in the outbreak of violent clashes between the Dalit activists and upper-caste Hindutva thugs in Bhima Koregaon this January. One Dalit was killed in the violence, which resulted in a state-wide anti-BJP and anti-Hindutva agitation of the Dalit community. The RSS strongmen, who were accused by the Dalits of inciting violence and leading the murderous Brahmanical thugs, remain scot-free till date, while those activists who have steadfastly fought against feudal, casteist and corporate attacks on the poor, are now thrown behind the bars as the police want them to confess that they are “Maoist” conspirers.
The corporate-controlled Indian mainstream media is milling the same press release of the police as gospel truth by projecting the arrested men and woman as “urban Maoists” who are spreading violence. The Maoists happen to lead one of the longest-running armed struggles against the Indian state machinery with an aim to overthrow it and to establish a people’s democratic state of the poor and marginalised people in its place. Thousands of communist rebels, known as the Naxalites or Maoists, have died in India fighting against an oppressive state machine. The continuous oppression laden on the poor and the marginalised by the Indian state and its bankrupt character has inspired thousands of young men and women to join the militant movement since last five decades. The Indian state, irrespective of which of the coalition that serves the ruling classes is in power, labels the activists who question its ways as Maoist and then jails them. Similarly, the Indian state jails Muslims by framing terrorist charges against them, as the Islamic terrorism is a fancy tale that the international monopoly and finance capital has invented to divert the people’s attention from real burning issues. Though the courts will let genociders like Maya Kodnani, Amit Shah and other Hindutva terror mongers free, the Muslims, tribals and Dalits languish in jails for a longer time and they don’t get bail soon. It’s only after decades behind the bar, that these people are released after the police-planted stories are quashed in courts; however, not after such stories do well in the press and penetrate deep inside the mind of the average Indian middle-class and upper-middle class to help them form an Islamophobic opinion.
Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote played a pivotal role in instigating a Hindutva-incensed mob against the Dalits observing the bicentenary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon, in which the Peshwa’s army was defeated by the British forces, mainly consisting of the Dalit Mahars. The duo, Bhide and Ekbote, has a long record of anti-Muslim violence, rioting and spreading enmity between the people. They are on the payroll of the RSS, they are men who spread communal enmity in Maharashtra on behalf of the Mossad and the CIA, and one among them, Bhide, is a highly revered figure in the Hindutva fascist camp, whom even Narendra Modi calls Guruji. This clout that the 85-year-old Hindutva fascist leader enjoys among those perched at the high and mighty seats of Indian state apparatus, makes him immune from the law. Therefore, despite the ruckus created by Bhide and Ekbote, despite them desecrating the memorial of a Dalit icon, despite the violence instigated by them claiming lives of people, the police will leave Bhide and only arrest Ekbote to do a hogwash.
However, the feudal-corporate nexus that runs the Indian state has a requirement of scapegoats to blame, denigrate and then sacrifice on the altar of the neo-liberal economic regime to satisfy the lust and greed of big foreign capital. Rona Wilson, Adv Surendra Gadling, Prof Shoma Sen, Sudhir Dhawale and Mahesh Raut are becoming those scapegoats for the Indian ruling classes, who can be portrayed in the darkest shades, blamed and persecuted for speaking on behalf of the marginalised, oppressed and exploited people. The best way for the state to persecute the activists who are fighting for people’s cause, like Rona Wilson, Adv Surendra Gadling, Prof Shoma Sen, Sudhir Dhawale and Mahesh Raut is to slap draconian laws like the UAPA on them and deprive them of their Constitutional rights. In doing so, as discussed above, the “Maoist” label is the most commonly used weapon of the Indian ruling class to persecute people’s activists, while the “terrorist” label is used by the state to malign and imprison Muslims. Following the same modus-operandi, the Maharashtra Police has blamed the arrested activists of being frontal, “urban Maoists”, working to destabilise “Modi’s development cavalcade”. This police story, backed by no evidence but vendetta, is now being propagated by the majority of the corporate-owned mainstream media outfits without raising a single question on the authenticity of such claims.
The Pune Police, working as a lackey of the Modi regime and the corporate-feudal nexus that the latter serves, has provided two letters to the press, which they claim certain Maoist leader wrote to Rona Wilson and the latter preserved them in his computer so that the police can get it when they raid him. The letters have two different tonalities; in one of them, the Maoist leader, who the police allege is Milind Teltumbde, gives up names of several student activists of left-wing USDF, Radical and Ambedkarite BAPSA to Wilson, with their phone numbers, saying that these people are their overground activists doing an incredible job. Surprisingly, one of them is JNU student Umar Khalid, who was arrested by the Delhi Police during the JNU fiasco of 2016 and Rona Wilson was a vocal critic of the state repression on JNU students. It’s unlikely that as alumni of JNU and a regular visitor to campus events, Rona Wilson has not known Umar Khalid until April 2017, when “Comrade M”, the nom-de-guerre of Milind Teltumbde, as alleged by the police, gave Rona Wilson his number.
Moreover, an infantile thriller plot-type assassination plan of Narendra Modi was revealed in one of the letters and the police claimed that the arrested people were a part of the conspiracy. Now, apart from the letter containing the assassination plot, which Rona Wilson allegedly saved in his laptop, there is no other substantial evidence against the men arrested to connect them either with the Bhima-Koregaon violence or to Narendra Modi’s so-called assassination conspiracy. Hence, the police used the media trial, as per the diktats of the RSS-led Sangh Parivar and carried out a character assassination of the arrested activists. The Modi government started showing extra precautions regarding Narendra Modi’s security as if he travels alone, and new letters started coming out, thanks to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who claimed that the Maoists are sending him threatening letters.
These incidents, following the arrest of these civil rights and Dalit activists, who have spent their lives organising the marginalised people against oppression and exploitation, and many of whom, like Prof. Sen and Mr Wilson, who took a break from active participation in activism since some time, have provided ammo to the Sangh Parivar to train its gun at the opposition and divert people’s attention from the burning issues of the time. The ministers of the Modi government, the BJP leaders and the paid trolls ransacking the social media space since 2013-14, have started their campaign of virulence against the left and democratic force. Using the histrionic behaviour of the BJP, which is playing a victim card even when in power and when it’s spending millions of dollars behind security, the Sangh Parivar and Narendra Modi are trying to buy people’s sympathy before the crucial Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Rajasthan election.
No more discussions on fuel price hike, rising cost of living, unemployment or the crisis engulfing the Indian economy. No more talks on the farmers agitating against the policies of the Modi government, no more talks on recovering the NPAs of the PSU banks; as everything has snowballed into the discussion on the assassination plot by the Maoists, who the BJP claims have connection with the Congress, and even Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who remained aloof from the press when the economic crisis started mounting, suddenly reappeared to declare that “urban Maoists” are a threat to the Modi regime’s idea of governance and development. The finance minister didn’t utter a word on the economy but remained vocal about how Maoists are planning to kill Modi, while the Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he is reviewing the prime minister’s security.
The non-stop jubilation in the RSS camp since the arrest of these five activists, the continuous propaganda by the affiliates of the RSS in favour of the police story and the continuous media trial show that the Modi government is trying to heat up the electoral battleground by using the sympathy and by playing the victim card. However, as the economy sinks deeper into the mire of tremendous crisis, the people are in no mood to listen to Modi’s wailing. The majority of Dalits, tribals and democratic people from all walks of life have gathered together against the arrest of these five and these people are loudly demanding the unconditional release of these activists. The Maharashtra government of Devendra Fadnavis and the Modi government in New Delhi are complicit in this heinous crime committed against the activists because they are in dire need of a crack in the pot of Dalit unity against the Hindutva camp. It’s only by uniting the Dalits and tribals under the Hindutva banner, the complete polarisation of the society against the Muslims and Christians will be possible and the RSS will be able to secure its political position in the country. Therefore, the Modi government and the RSS are trying to wean away the Dalits and the tribals from the fold of the anti-Brahmanical and anti-feudal democratic forces.
At present, Maharashtra is the hotbed of Dalit rebellion against the Brahmanical hegemony on one hand, and the farmers’ rebellion against the BJP-led state and central government on the other hand. The government is in the retreat as the farmers are rising up against its exploitative policies, while the Maoists are making inroads into the tribals belts of the state. The Kisan Long March in March this year opened the eyes of the nation towards the semi-pauperised state of the Maharashtra farmers and now the government is slowly retracting on the promises made to the farmers. To safeguard the interests of the core support base of the RSS, i.e. the upper-caste feudal landlords, moneylenders and usurers, the Devendra Fadnavis government will not take any concrete step against the mounting debts of farmers, the growing cost of farming and the falling prices of agri products in the farmers’ market. The farmers are realising this and therefore they are relentless in their struggle against the Fadnavis regime. The BJP and the RSS will now use the opportunity provided to them with the arrest of the civil rights activists like the five to crack down on farmers’ movement. But the people can’t be cowed that easily anymore and even by playing the communal card the BJP and the RSS will not be able to polarise rural Maharashtra. Alike the poor of other parts of India, the farmers, workers, Dalits and tribals of Maharashtra are rising and very soon there will be very little room left for the RSS and its affiliates in the very state where it was formed due to the intense heat of the people’s struggle. The victory of the people against the Modi regime and the Hindutva fascist RSS will be the only key to free not only the arrested activists like Rona Wilson, Adv Surendra Gadling, Prof Shoma Sen, Sudhir Dhawale and Mahesh Raut, but also for Prof Dr GN Saibaba, Hem Mishra and many more people’s activists jailed by the brutal regime.