Arrest of author of Bloodshed in Kandhamal in the name of religion
The Orissa police has arrested writer Lenin Kumar and two of his associates, Ravi Jena and Dhananjay Lenka, for publishing his book Dharma Naanre Kandhamalare Raktanadee (Bloodshed in Kandhamal in the name of religion). They have been charged under Sections 153A, 295A and 34 of the Indian Penal Code.
Section 153A: Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony
Section 295A: Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
Section 34: Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention [When a criminal act is done by several persons in furtherance of the common intention of all, each of such persons is liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone]
For those who have been following recent events in Orissa, sections 153A and 295A read like a description of the Sangh Parivar's activities. However, Lenin Kumar and his associates have been arrested for raising their voices against the Parivar. According to Pramodini Pradhan, Convenor of PUCL (Bhubaneswar Unit): The specific section of the book – pages 38 to 41 – (which has been cited by police) relates to a letter allegedly written by the RSS to its members for anti-dalit, anti-minority activities.
Quoted in these pages are parts from a piece written by CPI leader D Raja and first published in the June 18-24, 2000, issue of the party's mouthpiece New Age. This piece, say the police, makes various allegations against the RSS, including that the Hindutva outfit asks followers to store firearms for use in riots, coerces Dalit Christians to chant 'Shri Ram' and 'Om' and forces Dalit, Muslim and Christian girls into prostitution.
Apparently, the same objectionable (for whom?) material has been published in various outlets in and outside Orissa. The Indian Express report also quotes a civil rights activist, Sudhir Patnaik, on violations of due process in the arrests:
The two sections under which Lenin was held warrant that police take permission from either the state Government or Centre before an arrest is made. How can Lenin be arrested for writing against communal violence while organisations like the RSS and VHP, which incited communal disharmony in Kandhamal through their writings and press statements, have not? (emphasis mine)
While the stated reason for the arrests is the printing and publishing of the said book, and the police also confiscated about 700 copies of the book and shut down the press, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Bhubaneswar) Himanshu Lal has claimed that some Maoist literature was also seized from the press and more charges will be pressed against Kumar. A confusing report in The Hindu also insinuates a Maoist connection, though the logic escapes me:
The police had swung into action and booked Mr. Kumar in the wake of the appearance of Maoist posters in different localities of the Capital city. The posters, which bore the name of Communist Party of India (Maoist), warned people against joining organisations such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The police had seized some posters and registered a case, but no one has been arrested in this connection so far.
The Orissa police seem to have taken a leaf out of their Chhattisgarh colleagues in harrassing and imprisoning dissenters as Maoists and Maoist sympathizers. This August, advocate Protima Das, anti-displacement activist Pradeep and U.S.-based educator Dave were detained while on a fact-finding trip. Upon his return to the U.S., Pugh wrote:
At approximately 8 pm, the car transporting us was pulled over by local police for a traffic-related reason. My translator Pratima Das, my guide Pradeep, our driver, and I were taken to a police station for questioning. For the next eight hours, all of us were interrogated, first by the local police, and then by the chief police official of the state of Orissa. The latter was particularly hostile, accusing me of being an "anti-government agitator." When I insisted that I was a teacher researching the issue of forced displacement in India, he insisted that only "communists" would be interested in speaking with villagers. (emphasis added)
These arrests triggered a debate on whether the police was seeking to muzzle the voices of anti-displacement activists by dubbing them as Maoists. Interestingly, the police seem to have attempted to concoct a Maoist link with Lenin Kumar at that time, by placing reports in the media that the arrested suspects (whose links with Maoists were not proven) had named Kumar's magazine Nishan. Kumar's observations then have now proven prescient:
[Kumar] alleged that of late voice of protest against government policy or system in Orissa has been branded as an act of treason or terrorism. He referred to the Dr Binayak Sen case and noted Orissa may soon witness many more Binayak Sens being put behind bars. [source: The Statesman]
Journalists Protest against arrest of writer Lenin Kumar
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Bhubaneswar: Activists, journalists and writers sported black badges and gagged their mouth Thursday as they staged a sit-in outside the official residence of the Orissa governor here to protest the arrest of writer Lenin Kumar for writing a book on the recent violence in Kandhamal. Lenin Kumar, the editor of the quarterly magazine Nishan, was arrested Monday after his book 'Dharma Nare Kandhamalare Raktara Banya' (Flood of blood in Kandhamal in the name of religion) came out. Police termed the publication provocative and intended to disturb communal harmony. Two others who helped him print and circulate the book are also arrested and jailed in Bhubaneswar after their bail pleas were rejected. The protesters sat in front of the governor's house for nearly three hours holding placards and banners that read 'Stop communalism', 'Free Lenin and others with apology', 'Thinking and writing is not crime', and 'Support the right to Dissent'. A delegation later handed over a memorandum to the officials at the governor's house demanding immediate release of the writer. 'Everybody has the right to express his thoughts. It is an attempt by the government to suppress writers who have independent voices,' eminent writer and columnist Bibhuti Patnaik said. The Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), journalist associations and writers associations across the state have also issued statements condemning the arrest of Lenin.
Posted on December 10, 2008 by Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Bhubaneswar Police has arrested the editor of progressive journal, Nishan, Mr. Lenin Kumar Roy along with two of his colleagues, Dhanjaya Lenka and Rabi Jena, under suspicion that they were the authors of alleged Naxal tracts that the rightwing media had claimed to have stumbled upon in the capital city last week. They are remanded to judicial custody.
It seems, squeals of right-wing media over suspected Naxal presence in Bhubaneswar has made the police pounce on the editor of the progressive journal. Poets and authors of the State have put on records their protests against the police highhandedness.
What is Lenin's offense that the police is harping on? Firstly, his comment carried by Nishan on the flare up that communalism had ignited in Kandhamal and secondly, presence of CDs that allegedly carry data of human tragedies, stored also in the hard disk of his computer, which, according to police interpretations, are pro-Naxal.
When the matter is subjudice, one hopes, the judiciary will unveil the truth.
But as the instant reaction of thinkers and writers of Orissa suggests, one finds that progressive intelligentsia is not taking police version as free of prejudice. As such, the right thinking Oriya intellectuals, poets and authors and fighters for freedom in expression – all apolitical patriots – have started defending Lenin and his team very openly and unambiguously.
But without any prejudice, one may say that it is quite difficult to understand as to how possession of certain data of human tragedies constitutes an offense. This is a part of intellectual pursuit that an editor of a progressive journal is supposed to have as it helps him interpret contemporary issues so germane to his profession.
On the other hand, fundamental duties that the Constitution of India has assigned to every Indian include individual and collective endeavor to interpret scriptures and religious occurrences in such manners that a socio-scientific tenor should be evolved out of such interpretations to pave the path for a future society free of religious infestations.
Progressive authors, specifically the journalists, have to bear the burden of this responsibility.
In doing this, they may make comments on religious practices that may look like disparaging to dogmatism. And, any religious fanatic may raise a cry that thereby his or her religious belief has been outraged. Notwithstanding presence of Sections 153A and 295A of IPC, police should desist from invoking these draconian provisions against such progressive journalists and authors as the same may kill the spirit of fundamental duties enshrined in the Constitution and defeat the fundamental rights that the citizens are given in the matter of free expression. Police in Nishan case has preferred not to think about this.
Beyond this, if intellectuals of the State refuse to stand with police action against Lenin and his team, it is because the police personnel in various occasions have been marked for having falsely implicated innocent people in criminal cases.
This time, it seems as if the police is executing a conspiracy of rightwing media against the intellectually accepted progressive journal, Nishan.
A rightwing TV channel that feeds its viewers mostly with superstitions and other recipes of theism in apparent support to religious revivalism was the first to raise a tempest over pasting of typed sheets of papers allegedly containing the Naxal warnings at dingy joints in the city when election propaganda for Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation was at its peak and went on noising that the police is too smug to nail Naxal menace even though the Capital of the State is threatened by its presence. And, rightwing print media went on repeating the same.
Assembly session added the fuel. Police pounced on the team of the only journal that is considered by even the apolitical intelligentsia as progressive.
Cases may be cooked up. Courts may be hoodwinked. Patriots may be punished. But can conscience be extinguished? No.
As long as exploitation continues, protest against exploitation shall go on. Responding to call of conscience peoples will sure rise to protest against exploitation. So prosecuting a progressive editor would not stop spread of protests.
But if protests become violent, our motherland shall bleed. And, no creative person, poet, author, artist, journalist, none of the lovers of human society, can support any action that may make the motherland bleed.
Therefore, the Naxals are not yet getting popular support. Nonetheless, they are spreading.
We must cogitate.
Everybody knows that economic inequality is the basic reason behind spreading of Naxalism. It has grown out of failure of Communists to steer the nation into political economy of socialism. So it is an economic phenomenon; not a matter only of law and order as the rightist say.
Police cannot curb it. Military cannot.
Only a politico-economic formula can curb Naxalism.
This formula must urgently be evolved to remove the inequality.
If we are serious, we must seriously think of our beloved Bapuji. We have forgotten him. He had wanted the country to run in a manner where upliftment of the poorest of the poor must form the core of planning. But our planning is addressed to devise ways to gift stimulus packages to the rich to help consolidation of imperialism.
If the country belongs to every Indian, the deprived Indians must revolt against deprivation. Who can stop?
In his reply to debates on the third reading of the Constitution in the Constituent Assembly of India, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar had given vent to his fears that the hard-earned freedom of India may not last for long if the Parliament to be constituted under the Constitution fails to remove the economic inequality, which, overwhelmed by the propertied class representing the Indian National Congress in majority in the Assembly, the makers of the Constitution had failed to undo. Showing the shortcomings of the Constitution he had said,
"On 26th January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradiction. In politics, we will have equality and in social and economic rights we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one man and one vote, one value. In our social and economic rights we shall by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny one man one value…We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which this Assembly has so laboriously built up."(Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol.XI, p.979)
Instead of curbing inequality, the Governments, hand-in-glove with the rich, have spread inequality. Unless they stop it, peoples shall stop it by force. In words of what Ambedkar has warned, "they will blow up the structure of political democracy". Police can't stop that.
So, stop prosecuting the Nishan team if at all they are opponents of inequality and try to remove social and economic inequality as soon as possible in right earnest if you love the motherland. By prosecuting Lenin Roy, Dhanjaya Lenka and Rabi Jena, police can't stop victims of inequality from "blowing up the structure of political democracy".
But let us stop it collectively without creating any cause of confrontation.
To do this, let us go back to beloved Gandhiji, whom the Congress, represented by the propertied class, had ignored in making of the Constitution.
He had the foresight to know what would happen to India if economic inequality widens the gap between the poor and the rich. He had devised a unique method called "Theory of Trusteeship". The rich must stop exploiting the poor and treat himself as the trustee of the property of the poor. This is perhaps the only way of stopping class war in the most non-violent way. This is time; we must address our entire political consciousness to bring Bapuji's Theory of Trusteeship to practice in India, if we are really serious about stopping blood bath on politico-economic ground. If the rich does not voluntarily accept the theory, it must be made to accept.
To do this, two steps are essential. Firstly, the government must retrieve democracy from the labyrinth of plutocracy. It must stop economic gifts in any guise to the rich to make them richer. And, secondly, it must put a ceiling on accumulation of property. When Indian farmers are distress selling their paddies, women are distress selling their bodies, mothers are distress selling their babies, workers are distress selling their abilities, why should a single Indian Ambani, son of a man of obscure beginning, be allowed to have a home that would, when finished, be the costliest building under the sky to live in? Why should India be two Indias like this? To stop this, we must stop concentration of unlimited wealth in individual hands. And for this, ceiling on property must be an unavoidable must.
The state must be told to stop prosecuting Lenin, as the remedy to Naxalism does not lie therein, but lies in removal of social and economic inequalities.
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