Revolution #193, February 21, 2010
From A World To Win News Service:
India: Bengali People's March editor dies in custody
We received the following from A World to Win News Service:
February 8, 2010. A World to Win News Service. Swapan Dasgupta, 59, the editor of the Bengali edition of the monthly publication People's March, died while in custody at the SSKM Hospital in Kolkata after his arrest and imprisonment October 6, 2009. He had been interrogated by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and police Special Branch. Already ill from asthma, Dasgupta underwent severe mental and physical torture and was refused proper medical treatment. (Times of India, 3 February 2010) By the time he was hospitalized December 17, his condition had become critical. He died on February 3.
The police knew Dasgupta had done nothing illegal, but they held him anyway and let him die. West Bengal is the state in India where the Lalgarh uprising of tribal people has taken place. Never a revolutionary party, the Communist Party Marxist that governs the state of West Bengal has gone after the tribals and their Maoist leadership with the vengeance called for by the central Indian government.
An anonymous senior CID official said: "We interrogated him for several days. But we did not find anything substantial to book him under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (the law used by the Indian state to ban the Communist Party of India [Maoist]). In the case diary, it was mentioned that he used to publish a banned magazine and also published an exclusive interview of elusive Maoist leader Kishenji and PCAPA chief Chhatradhar Mahato (one of the leaders of the Lalgarh Adivasi movement). But it was not something unique to his publication, as several newspapers also published such interviews and articles. No charges were proved against him and we did not get any evidence against him to submit the chargesheet." The commissioner of police said Dasgupta had several other charges pending against him but those charges had not been actually filed. Human rights activists have protested this death, calling for the withdrawal of UAPA.
The Indian Press & Registration Appellate Board (PRAB) lifted the ban on the central edition of People's March on August 7, 2009. The editor of this English-language edition based in the state of Kerala, P. Govindan Kutty, was kept in prison for 21 months. As a consequence of this legal decision, he was released in September 2009—two months before Dasgupta's arrest.
This criminal death occurs in a larger context. Over the last few months the Indian government has initiated a military assault of 100,000 troops, using high-tech intelligence, helicopters and drones. This so-called Operation Green Hunt is focused in the eastern and central regions of India (Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra). This is the area where, since the 1970s, the CPI (Maoist) has been leading the masses of the most poor and downtrodden to fight for a different kind of society where they no longer have to tolerate theft of their lands, starvation conditions, rape, torture and humiliation at the hands of the police, other authorities and high castes.
Despite government efforts to suppress news of Operation Green Hunt and any opposition to it, widespread anger has been rising all over India. Intellectuals, authors, filmmakers, academics, lawyers, doctors and other professionals have joined mass gatherings and rallies to raise their voice in protest and to defend the just cause of the oppressed tribal people in India. People who want to report on what is happening are being thwarted and intimidated in every way possible by the authorities.
The following paragraph is from Outlook India, February 1, 2010: "In Narayanpatna, Orissa, an all-women's team out to investigate last November's killing of two adivasi leaders in police firing was first attacked inside a police station and then on the road. The attackers were plainclothesmen and civilians who were later 'dispersed' by policemen. In Chhattisgarh, the police have set up an obstacle course for teams trying to reach the Maoist heartland of Bastar. On December 14, they seized the vehicles of an all-women team, citing irregularities in the drivers' documents. When the women tried to go ahead by bus, the police warned the bus drivers not to carry them. All this was to 'save' them, the women were told. The police let them have a taste though—a mob punctured the tires of the bus in which the team was returning. Professor Nandini Sundar of Delhi, a petitioner in the Supreme Court against the government-backed Salwa Judum [a government-organized counter-revolutionary militia], was stalked by the police, turned away by hotels and hounded by Bastar's unique tribal Special Police Officers in the hostel she stayed the night. She, too, had to return without reaching her destination. Only Medha Patkar managed to breach, briefly, the police's 'No Entry' sign, but not before her team was attacked with eggs by Salwa Judum tribals on Dantewada's main road as police stood by, watching."
In another area, journalists trying to reach the area of Operation Green Hunt were finally able to get into the region only after local residents gave them a motorcycle with no license plates so that the police could not trace it back to the owners. (see, among other reports, "Mao and the Motorcycle Diaries," Tehelka.com).
The recently-formed International Campaign Against War on the People of India reports, "Already more than one hundred tribal people have been killed in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal and Jharkhand as part of this brutal war, 'Operation Green Hunt'. Several thousand tribal people have been tortured, maimed, and pushed out of their villages, women raped, houses burnt and villages burnt to ashes. Though the Government of India unofficially imposed a censor on media to publish reports from the killing fields, democratic journalists, and civil rights bodies have been making efforts to bring the facts of this war out for the public." (See icawpi.org for more information)
A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine (aworldtowin.org), a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world’s Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.
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