Statement from Sanhati on recent developments in Lalgarh

June 16, 2009

From the very inception of the adivasi-moolvasi people’s movement, led by the Peoples’ Committee Against Police Atrocities, in Lalgarh and the entire jangalmahal region of West Bengal, we have expressed our solidarity with their struggle for dignity and the right to be free from state terror in their daily life. The political development in that region has received widespread support and also inspired people across the country. Having challenged the usual manner in which state machinery functions, the people have had to face the terror unleashed on the movement by the private militia (”harmads”) organised by the ruling CPI(Marxist). Such attacks have been strongly condemned by us, along with other political platforms. We feel that the Lalgarh movement has been historic in form and content and we will continue to support it in every possible way.

We are very concerned about the incidents over the past few days, in which a rally of the Peoples’ Committee Against Police Atrocities was fired upon by gunmen allegedly belonging to CPI(M) harmads near the village of Dharmapur. As usual, the front ranks of the rally had women in large numbers, who became the targets of this attack. The rallyists retreated, but thereafter regrouped again and retaliated, resulting in the death of a number of CPI(M) cadres. After this attack by alleged CPI(M) cadres, there has been a spontaneous outburst of popular anger which has resulted in the torching of a CPI(M) party office, CPI(M) leaders have fled from the area, and the police have vacated the three camps near Lalgarh which they had reoccupied. We think that the state might take this opportunity to send in paramilitary forces into the area in the pretext of combating the squads of CPI(Maoist) who are being accused to be behind this unrest. The corporate press is also paving the way for such intervention by the state by representing this peoples’ movement as a front of the Maoists and crying hoarse about the absence of “state control” in the area. We condemn any moves to send in paramilitary forces into the area to let lose a reign of repression on the adivasi-moolvasi people of Lalgarh.

However, we have also been alarmed by incidents in the recent past where some purported CPI(M) supporters in the area have been murdered or inhumanly attacked, allegedly by squads of the CPI(Maoist). We condemn these acts of violence – we feel that such actions are counter-productive for the growth and sustenance of the movement, which itself is directed against state-sponsored violence and which probably has origins in the years of organisational work done by these radical left organisations in the jangalmahal area. We strongly feel that any organisation or group involved in these incidents should refrain from such acts and owe an explanation to the people regarding why such acts were committed.

The recent parliamentary election has resulted in the formation of a central government which is allied to neoliberal interests. Therefore, there is every possibility that more and more anti-people policies will be enacted and thereafter enforced on the common people. This would require increased and widespread mass resistances through alliances of people from different segments of the society. Such a situation necessitates continuous dialogues among different streams of radical left and other democratic voices and evolving programmes, which are inclusive of all forms of struggles, through a process of debate and discussion – we remain committed to this process.