Sanhati Statement on the Murder of Govind Pansare

March 6, 2015

Sanhati registers its strong protest at the brutal murder of the veteran Communist leader Comrade Govind Pansare. Comrade Pansare waged a life-long struggle in solidarity with the working class, and to his last days was involved in numerous movements in the unorganised sector, from farm labourers, domestic workers, and slum dwellers to the auto-rickshaw union and the anti-toll agitation in Kolhapur. He was also a fearless public intellectual, who raised his voice against the ever-widening encroachment of right-wing fundamentalist forces into social discourse. He had launched an aggressive campaign against the pro-corporate and anti-people nature of the Right, both in Maharashtra and the Center. Numerous threats had only made his voice bolder.

Comrade Pansare’s death comes at a juncture when corporate forces and religious fundamentalists of all hues have all but seized control of our public discourse. This control ranges from the anti-people agenda pushed by media houses bankrolled by corporate funders, the Indian government’s aggressive incarceration of political dissidents under the UAPA and the throttling of liberal voices (recently, for example, Perumal Murugan) by the fundamentalist right, to the outright murder of progressive intellectuals like Comrade Pansare, and before him, Narendra Dabholkar .

Elimination of all kind of dissenting voices is a part of a bigger mobilization that is happening on the ground. On the one hand, communal forces are tightening their grip on state institutions through BJP’s electoral victory. On the other, Sangh affiliates, under the patronage and protection of the state, are fomenting communal hatred and triggering communal violence across the country (from UP to Kerala). The corporate controlled media is oblivious to such mobilization and is busy promoting the personality cult of Narendra Modi.

The fact that the space for prominent intellectuals is being demonstrably closed by an emboldened Right is the tip of the iceberg, since it only reflects the vastness of the scale of attack on the working masses. Furthermore, these attacks by right-wing, religious fundamentalist forces are not limited to India. Across South Asia, majoritarian communalism, which is always tied to ruling interests in every country and is fed by the disenchantment and frustrations of the working class suffering under capitalism, has increasingly shrunk the secular space, as evidenced by the string of murders in Bangladesh (most recently Avijit Roy, and before him Rajib Haider and Humayun Azad). Only working class mobilization can withstand this onslaught.