The “Urban Naxal” threat just got a new lease of life outside the Twitter timeline of flop film director and certified Modi bootlicker Vivek Agnihotri on Tuesday, 28 August, when the Pune Police conducted simultaneous raids at nine locations targeting prominent human rights, Dalit and Adivasi activists and left-leaning intellectuals.
Homes of Vernon Gonsalves – Susan Abraham and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai; Gautam Navlakha in Delhi; Sudha Bharadwaj in Faridabad; Stan Swamy in Ranchi; Varavara Rao (Gadar) and his family members, including his son-in-law famous journalist KV Kurmanath, Kranti Tekula and Naseem in Hyderabad; Anand Teltumbde in Goa were raided by the Pune Police in connection with Maharashtra’s Bhima Koregaon violence of 1 January 2018.
The label of “Urban Maoist” was used as an excuse to arrest prominent revolutionary Telugu poet Varavara Rao, rights activists Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and Gautam Navlakha, and trade union activist-cum-lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj from Hyderabad, Mumbai, Thane, New Delhi and Faridabad respectively.
Not only did the Pune Police break into the houses of these nine well-known activists and thinkers, who are critical of the Modi-led Hindutva fascist establishment and its politics of divisiveness and vitriol, without any proper warrant, they also didn’t inform the police of another state, Goa, before illegally breaking into the house of Anand Teltumbde during his absence. Things, including electronics gadgets like laptops, pen drives and other devices, were confiscated by the Pune Police without providing proper seizure lists to the arrested people.
Two dubious letters, purportedly written by an anonymous Maoist commander to Rona Wilson, a human rights activist and a research scholar, who was arrested in June on similar charges along with human rights lawyer Surendra Gadling, Dalit rights activist and journalist Sudhir Dhawale, former Prime Minister Rural Development fellow Mahesh Raut and associate professor of Nagpur University Shoma Sen, were used by the Pune Police to justify the arrest of these five activists as well. The Pune Police claimed that these five recently arrested activists and intellectuals were involved in the Bhima Koregaon violence and a plot to assassinate the Prime Minister and his senior BJP colleagues.
The hasty raids, without any full-proof legal backing, the use of sheer muscle power to intimidate and coax the activists, and, above all, the arbitrary usage of the term “Urban Naxal” by the Pune Police, taking cue from the verbiage of Hindutva-incensed rabid hatemonger TV show hosts and public disgraces like Vivek Agnihotri, prove beyond doubt that the Pune Police executed a political vendetta on behalf of the RSS-led Hindutva fascist brigade.
At a time when the country is reeling under the juggernaut of constantly increasing fuel prices, which reached its record high in August, falling price of rupees vis-a-vis US dollar, skyrocketing inflation, negative growth of different sectors of the economy, high rate of unemployment, deepening agrarian crisis in the countryside and other severe economic and political issues, the subterfuge of a conspiracy and some spicy rumour mongering over it would surely divert the attention of a section of influential voters from the deteriorating national political, economic and foreign affairs of India. In a crucial election year, this is the best strategy that Modi and the Hindutva camp can come up with.
A letter, which has no validity in legal or even in intelligence criteria, is used to vindicate the accused intellectuals and activists who have spent their lifetime in raising the issues concerning the marginalised sections of the society. The letter was constantly cited by a Hindutva fascism-incensed Public Prosecutor, Ujjwala Pawar, in a Pune court where Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves appeared on Wednesday, 29 August. The Public Prosecutor termed the arrested accused as “anti-fascists” in a manner that equates opposing fascism with crime in a democratic republic. She kept referring to the mysterious letter, while presenting her case, which the Pune Police claimed to have recovered in April 2018.
The charges were drafted in such a way that the accused are vilified, especially those like Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves, whom the Indian ruling classes despise for their very different and critical viewpoints. A few years ago, Ferreira was acquitted by a court from charges of being a “Maoist”, which the Maharashtra Police levelled against him and imprisoned him for a long period. His re-arrest is a sign that the Modi regime is trying to impose its will on the people and no dissent will be tolerated in India, where peace of the graveyard is enforced by a notorious regime.
Though a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, later converted the arrest of these critics into house arrest at their own homes until 6 September, which gave these people a bit of relief, the fact that these five still remain under the surveillance of the Hindutva fascist state, which is visibly trying to implicate them in dangerous cases of terrorism for their critical thinking, looks quite paradoxical when the Supreme Court itself declared that the right to dissent is important in a democracy.
Narendra Modi-led Hindutva fascist regime and its rabid Hindutva fanatics are keen to see all intellectuals, academicians, journalists, artists, students and other people, whoever is capable of thinking critically, either getting a painful death like Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh, or converting themselves into the puppets of the empire and eulogising its leadership in public. To hide their own inferiority complex, due to their sheer obeisance to mediocrity, the Hindutva fascists loath critical thinking and consider it correct to physically intimidate and even eliminate such voices.
It’s not surprising that since the arrest of Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut and Shoma Sen, there has been a spurt of malicious propaganda over a purported “Urban Naxal” conspiracy to kill the Prime Minister and top BJP leaders, which is used to rake up paranoia among the urban, upper-caste Hindu elites and middle-class citizens, who form the core of India’s decision-making lobby during crucial elections. The target of the propaganda is to build up a backup to the faltering Hindutva polarisation of voters before the crucial assembly elections in BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, which the RSS is considering as an acid test for Narendra Modi’s final re-election in 2019 general election.
As the economic condition is worsening and unemployment is turning into a widespread discontent, the RSS is not confident to lock its initiatives only in polarising the unemployed Hindu youth under the saffron banner and use them for rioting and genocide of minorities, rather at an intellectual level and on an organisational scale, the RSS wants to launch a large-scale war against left-leaning individuals, organisations and institutes, which pose serious challenge to its mission of seeking absolute hegemony of Hindutva fascism in India in all fields and domains.
While, as part of this agenda, following the propaganda on “Urban Naxal” movement popularised by the Prime Minister, the likes of Arnab Goswami or Vivek Agnihotri have given a lot of thrust to the campaign that aims at unleashing state persecution against people who speak against injustice.
Arnab Goswami, the tv anchor working under BJP’s MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, used his prime-time debate show to spew venom against Sudha Bhardwaj in the month of July, lately he used his demagogy once more to vilify the “Urban Naxal” thinkers and intellectuals who defy his ordeals and refuse to subscribe to the ideology of the ruling clique. His propaganda and the enormous support it receives from the few million English-speaking elites and urban upper-caste middle-class, helped the Pune Police to pursue a case against the intellectuals following the diktat of the RSS leadership.
Recently, Vivek Agnihotri organised a meeting at North Campus of the Delhi University, under the patronage of the RSS leader Rakesh Sinha, on the topic of “Urban Naxal” to build up mass opinion against critical thinkers and the revolutionary ideology of Naxalbari-inspired peasants’ rebellion, which threatens the very foundation of the Modi regime’s dream Hindutva fascist empire. The meeting was restricted for Sangh-affiliated people only and students who could criticise Agnihotri were not allowed to enter this programme by RSS volunteers. This meeting was a prelude to what was to be unfolded in India in a few days.
As a well-thought-out campaign, the “Urban Naxal” campaign is paying richer dividends to the BJP than its otherwise notorious communal vitriol targeting the Muslims and Christians. Even urban “liberal democrats”, who would bash the Modi regime over many things, would not question the veracity of the police story when the accused are tagged as “Maoist” because each and every liberal democrat loath the communist ideology and its goal of establishing a just, class-less society.
For many of these liberals, like Ramachandra Guha, Naxalism has not much difference with Bajrang Dal activities. This political myopia and utmost opportunism of the liberal democrats who strongly support the rule of the predatory neo-liberal economy with a human face, help the Modi regime to carry out its anti-communist and anti-poor vendetta with absolute impunity.
It’s indeed time now for the critical voices of the country to shun and purge the filth of liberal opportunism from within their ranks, and thread together the fragmented, scattered and small-scale struggles waged by the working class, the peasantry and the toiled people throughout India to form a nationwide high tide of resistance against Hindutva fascism, which can bring down the fascist empire in making.
To harp their hopes of liberation on the whims of the liberal democrats and the utmost corrupt opposition political parties of all hues, who are yet to form a rainbow coalition, will be suicidal for the truly anti-fascist people of the country and for the working class, peasantry and toiled masses. It’s time that the people rely on their own revolutionary genius and take the path of class struggle to resolve the problem of democracy that stands before the nation and threatens the existence of the masses. Because all vitriol of the ruling classes are designed to wreck the unity of the poor people at the grassroots so it’s by undoing the damage caused by Hindutva polarisation, the democratic revolutionary struggle of the people can progress towards its goal.
An avid reader and a merciless political analyst. When not writing then either reading something, debating something or sipping espresso with a dash of cream. Street photographer. Tweets as @la_muckraker