March 10, 2012
March 10, 2012
by Satya Ray
This article is a short critical view of NCTC and asks the following question: why are non-Congress Chief Ministers like Mamata Banerjee or Navin Pattanayak dissenting to it, given their own track records? The article makes the point that, responding to peoples’ movements, the Constitution historically gave maximum possible legislative and executive powers to the central government and goes on to ask “is she fearful of a central ruler tightening its leashes to make the regional satraps like her more accountable and compliant?”
Background: Mamata Banerjee’s track record
Nothing is more ridiculous than the fact that the likes of Mamata Banerjee and Navin Pattanayak, the staunch allies of Mr. Chidambaram in the war of the Indian state against its own people, are decrying National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), one of his ambitious projects, as having ‘draconian implications’.
Though Mamata, in sync with other six non-Congress Chief Ministers, is now raising a shrill voice as a defender of federal rights of the states, she had not uttered a word when, in the wake of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, UAPA(amended) 1967, the most draconian law abridging fundamental rights, along with legislation for NIA (National Intelligence Agency) was passed in the Parliament on the same day. Recently, while laying a foundation stone for the NSG hub in Barasat, West Bengal, Mr. Chidambaram has expressed great satisfaction over the competence of Mamata in tackling Naxals. His assertions point to the fact that her police force in collusion with central agency and special branches has succeeded in eliminating one of the top Maoist leaders, Kishenji. Neither did she revoke UAPA , nor did she put it on hold. Contrary to her pre-election pledge, she has not released a single political prisoner arrested in connection with the Lalgarh movement or charged (mostly fabricated) with Maoist links.
Rather, after coming to power., she has incarcerated 300 more people. Emulating Raman Singh’s Salwa Judum campaign, she has been vociferous for the need of vigilante groups to wipe out Maoists (whom she called dacoits and contract killers). Indeed her party goons have already launched such a group called the Bhairav Bahini. She did a volte face. She has proved her mettle in carrying out the broader neo-liberal agenda of Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram.
Then – the natural question is – what is there in the NCTC, a proposed central organ of investigation, which would have unprecedented and sweeping executive powers to investigate, search and arrest without informing the state authorities, that made her skeptical about its implications? Is she really concerned about the increasing centralization of brute power in line with a police state to serve best the interests of corporate hawks? Or is she fearful of a central ruler tightening its leashes to make the regional satraps like her more accountable and compliant?
Background : Navin Pattanayak’s track record
Curiously enough, Mamata’s letter of dissent was released by none other than Navin Pattanaik who himself has an appalling record of brutally suppressing mass movements against land grab and eviction perpetrated by corporates like Posco, Tata and Vedanta. The ghastly massacre of 14 adivasis in Kalinganagar was followed by killing of two PPSS leaders in the same place last year. Encirclement and repression unleashed on defenceless people of Balitutha and Dhinkia charidesh reminded us of state sponsored brutalities faced by the people of Nandigram. People are still being terrorised by trumped-up charges under UAPA, illegal detention, custodial deaths, and encounter killings. More than 600 people (most of them are adivasis arrested on fake charges of having Maoist links) are languishing in jail.
In stark violation of the agreement reached between the Odisha government and the Maoist interlocutors, Navin Pattanayak government has not released a single political prisoner. Despite his declaration on the floor of assembly, he has not only thwarted their release but went further to intensify terror tactics against the democratic movements and their leaders. Recently, three other CMAS (Chasi Mulia Sangha) activists were arrested and booked under several sections of UAPA.
Why are these non-Congress Chief Ministers critical of the NCTC?
Naturally a question arises as to why the duo is creating so much hullabaloo against NCTC , conceived and built on various provisions of UAPA, which is essentially a repressive tool of the fascist government denying its people of fundamental rights like the freedom of expression, assembly and association .
The legacy of promulgating black laws to stifle the voice of rebellious masses dates back to the early period of British Raj. Starting with Regulation III (1818), with the waves of peasant revolts and armed struggle for independence surging ahead in the early 20th century, they enacted the Defence of India Act (1915), Rowlatt Act (1919) and many others. Following their footprints, the new rulers of the post 1947 era perceived the genuine discontent of people breaking out in the form of peasant revolt, linguistic movement or nationality struggle as a looming threat to their existence.
Considering it a source of divisive forces that could have torn the unified capital market of big bourgeosie funding the Congress Party into pieces, the founders of our constitution crafted our constitution in such a fashion that maximum possible legislative and executive powers were vested with the central government. The state governments were reduced to the status of no more than glorified municipalities. With all kinds of financial and administrative control remaining secured at the central level, the Indian state has emerged a de jure federal state but a de facto unitary state. The framers of constitution had so much bias for a mighty centralised state that the central executives were not only given right to intervene in state matters and give directives to the state executives, they can send central forces suo moto in any state. They are entitled to amend existing laws or make new ones even to the extent of curbing fundamental constitutional rights.
One of the first of such repressive laws enacted in independent India was Madras Suppression of Disturbances Act (1948) which came into being to legalize the use of ruthless military force against the peasant struggle Telengana. With the rise of Naxalite movement, West Bengal (Prevention of Violent Activities) Act 1970 was passed. In the last three decades a plethora of draconian laws like J & K public safety Act (1978), Armed Forces Special Powers Act(1958), Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act.( 1985), NSG Act (1986), SPG Act(1988), POTA (2002) etc. were merrily used by both central and various state governments. UAPA Amendment Act (2008) is not only the current avatar but most venomous of all pre-existing black laws. It criminalizes any act or words spoken or written or any suggestion by signs or any visible representation that intends to or questions or even shows disaffection against India’s sovereignty and integrity by labeling it as unlawful activity.
Within such an authoritative sham federal set-up, the self-styled defenders of state rights are more concerned about stability of their political fortune than the suffering of the people of their state. They surely cannot afford to bear the political fallout of Mr. Chidambaram playing an invisible supercop when he, being inspired by MOSSAD and US version of NCTC, intends to launch a similar shadowy, opaqe and all powerful investigating agency.