Sanhati’s statement on the killing of Azad

Sanhati

We strongly condemn the heinous killing of Cherukuri Rajkumar aka Azad, spokesperson and Politbureau member of CPI(Maoist), and Hemchandra Pandey, a freelance journalist. Although the Andhra police claimed that they were killed in an alleged encounter in the hills of Adilabad in Andhra Pradesh, multiple reports strongly indicate that they were abducted by the Special Intelligence Branch (SIB) of Andhra Police from Nagpur, Maharashtra and then murdered, before their dead bodies were left in Adilabad. We join all democratic-minded people in demanding a thorough enquiry by an independent citizens’ group into the incident which would provide a clear picture of the sequence of events that led to their illegal abduction and killing and which should lead to the prosecution of all personnel involved in the crime. Simultaneously, we demand the immediate disbanding of all such quasi-secret branches of the security establishment, whose sole aim seems to be silencing the voices of resistance.

These killings are occurring with the Operation Green Hunt in the background, in the name of battling the influence of CPI(Maoist) in the forest areas of East-Central India. But, in reality, the Green Hunt is a militarized project of the central and state governments for grabbing land, by breaking and clearing people’s resistances, for eventual exploitation of natural resources by multinational corporations. During this operation, that has been on since October 2009, there has been complete blackout on the information of what is happening in these remote areas, with sometimes news leaking out of incidents of severe state repression in the hands of the joint state and central forces, threatening the life and livelihood of people in this region. Any attempts by civil liberties activists or independent journalists to access these areas have led to detentions and even arrests. In the last few months, several activists belonging to different kinds of resistances in these regions and also in urban areas have either been killed or imprisoned under draconian laws.

Foreseeing the disastrous impact that OGH would have on the common people in those regions, from the very beginning, different sections of the civil society have called for a dialog among the state and different facets of the resistance, including the CPI(Maoist) and different people’s organizations involved in struggles in the adivasi regions. Several attempts to make any progress in these efforts have failed, with different politicians, bureaucrats and security officers continuously attempting to scuttle discussions on these possibilities. In recent days, a glimmer of any headway had risen due to the civil society initiative represented by Swami Agnivesh, with the Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Azad, as spokesperson of CPI(Maoist) responding to him via letters detailing the suitable conditions under which dialog can begin. It is reported that Azad was on his way to consult other members of CPI(Maoist) in order to decide future steps for going ahead with this current initiative, when he was allegedly abducted and killed by the SIB – thus throwing the possibility of talks into complete disarray. Such an act – the murder of a spokesperson of the political organization with which dialog is supposedly being planned – at this crucial juncture by security agencies thus raises serious doubts regarding the sincerity of the state to the process of resolving the conflict through any dialog. Any confidence that the common people would have had in the process is completely shattered.

What happens now ? With sections of media commentators encouraging more pinpointed decapitation of the rebel leadership, and reports of strongly-worded rhetoric from CPI(Maoist) leaders, the possibility of an immediate resumption of the process leading to any dialog seems to be receding, with the spectre of Operation Green Hunt continuing to haunt the lives of people.

Meanwhile, the multitude of protests across the country, after the inception of Green Hunt, has certainly brought to the forefront the single-most important issue confronting us – a debate on the development paradigm to be followed which would lead to justice and prosperity for the vast majority of the people, currently reeling under neo-liberal economic policies of the governments. This is the burning question and this would inevitably be the central issue during any dialog if it was to occur – in which, people from all segments of the society, specially the marginalized, could significantly contribute. This fundamental debate the ruling class certainly does not desire and that is possibly why the state continuously dithers and tries to stall, by various mischievous means, any progress leading to any form of dialog, trying to scuttle, divert and divide people’s movements on questions like violence/non-violence etc. Therefore, the burden of responsibility lies with the civil society to continue to remain focused and united in demanding an end to the military campaign of the state, while vigorously campaigning for a genuine national debate on questions related to development. We remain committed to this process.

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