15 May 2016
On 3rd May, five activists from Kerala, Ajithan, Saji, Dileep, Gouri and Chandu were arbitrarily picked up by the anti-people Kerala police for the alleged “crime” of being Maoist sympathisers and for distributing posters calling for the boycott of the upcoming assembly elections in Kerala on 16th May. The draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) has been slapped on the arrested activist. Ajithan and Saji are members of Porattam while Dileep, a student activist, is part of the editorial team of Padantharam magazine. Gouri and Chandu are activists of Adivasi Samara Sangam. It has been more than ten days since their abduction and illegal arrest by the Kerala police in the most shameful manner with farcical charges of campaigning to boycott elections. While the right to campaign for votes or against elections is the democratic right of every individual in a supposed “democracy”, increasing instances of detention, abduction, illegal arrests by branding people as Maoists, incarceration and brutal murder and encounter killing of political activists, students and intellectuals for merely raising their voice of dissent or criticising the anti-people policies of the government, and, now, the arrest of activists for campaigning against the vote bank politics of the brahmanical ruling classes exposes the sham of Indian democracy and its parliamentary stooges. In Kerala, as the election season nears its grand finale with LDF, UDF and the Sangh Parivar trying to woo voters, the perpetrator of the brutal rape and murder of Jisha continues to roam scot free while leaders from all parliamentary parties shed crocodile tears over the heinous incident. While CPI and CPI(M) claim to speak against the illegal arrest and detention of students across the country from HCU to JNU, against draconian laws and for the release of political prisoners, they continue to remain complicit in the on-going frenzy of witch-hunt of activists as Maoist sympathisers and the imposition of UAPA on them by the Kerala State. At a time when activists, students and intellectuals have been fuming over the lackadaisical approach of Kerala State Police in punishing the perpetrators and providing justice for Jisha, the shameless Kerala State Police seems to reserve all its might to arbitrarily arrest democratic rights activists. DSU condemns the illegal arrest of Ajithan, Saji, Dileep, Gouri and Chandu and demand their immediate and unconditional arrest.
However, this is not the first instance of motivated attacks and hounding of people’s activists by the anti-people Kerala government and its abominable police force. The blueprint for the branding of people’s activists as Maoists and their witch-hunt had already been under-preparation for the past two years. In a targeted attempt at vilifying activists, a ‘look-out notice’ was circulated by the Kerala police carrying the names of prominent civil liberties activists from across the state. This was then accompanied by incessant media trials of these activists. The witch hunting of Roopesh and Shiney followed by their incarceration escalated into an appalling slander campaign and hounding of even their children and family. Two years back, Ajayan from RDF was arrested and RDF was arbitrarily banned by the Kerala State by branding them as sympathisers of Maoists. In July 2014, the police seized tapes of several bulletins of Samakalikalam, a popular current affairs programme broadcast by the Kochi unit of All India Radio claiming that they contain ‘subversive messages in support of Maoists’. Bringing to fore the undeclared emergency that prevails where even media persons are not spared, Aradhana, one of the producers of the programme was questioned for several hours by the NIA.
Again, in July a Swiss national Jontathan Baud was arrested by the police after he attended a meeting that commemorated a Maoist leader. It was only after pressure mounted on the govt after condemnations worldwide that Baud was released. In December that year, the office of Keraleeyam, a magazine that focuses on tribal issues was raided by the police. The copies of the magazine, the computers in the office and several pamphlets were all seized and taken away. The police also forcibly kept three staff workers in custody before releasing them after several hours of questioning and intimidation.
In December 2014, two students, Sreekanth and Arun were arrested from Palakkad and booked under UAPA by claiming that the police found Pro-Maoist literature at their homes. More recently, last year in January, Thushar Sarathy of CRPP and Jaison Cooper, a blogger and human rights activist were arrested under UAPA for possessing pro-Maoist literature Earlier this year, a journalist Aneeb was arrested by Kerala police merely for recording the atrocities perpetrated by the police on protesting activists. The notorious Kerala police have been witch hunting and arresting activists of Porattam and other progressive organisations at random of the last two years. Not only that, the Kerala police which is infamous for arresting people merely because they “look like Maoists” in most instances respond to questions about the lack of evidence in arrests under UAPA by stating that all these activists were attracted to Maoist ideology! When even the High Court had passed a judgment stating that no one can be criminalised for professing an ideology, the blatant violation of democratic rights by the Kerala government and the police shows the authoritarian character of a state that criminalises people for their thoughts.
While the brahmanical ruling classes continue to persecute democratic rights activists for exposing the loot and plunder of resources carried out by the government, the continuing spate of arrests of civil liberties activists, students and intellectuals come at a time when the government is aggressively clearing out of forests and other land to make way for SEZs, and more recently, the Western Ghats. The agenda of the congress government in kerala along with the opposition including CPI-CPI(M) is no different from the Hindutva fascist forces at the centre. The deployment of huge battalions of para-military forces and specialised combat forces like the Thunderbolt in the state accompanied by increased combing of Western Ghats in an alleged bid to ‘cull out Maoists’ lays bare the open scheme for the extension of operation green hunt to the Western Ghats. That this is happening at a time when vast tracts of land are being leased out to big corporates and numerous SEZ projects are being given clearances is no coincidence. The rapacious land-grab policies of the Modi-Rajnath government following their predecessors Manmohan and Chidambaram to appease their imperialist ring masters in their death dance of ‘development’ have scoured the western ghats as well. Its speedy implementation by the UDF government in Kerala is in alliance with this larger agenda. And anyone who is vocal against this ‘development’ which is in the interest of big corporates and the ruling classes is branded as terrorists or Maoists. That this routine exercise practiced by the state by unleashing brute terror upon the people and incarceration or execution of those who speak against its policies in fake encounters by is not new to us.
Even in our universities we have witnessed how Prof G N Saibaba and Hem Mishra were abducted and incarcerated for the supposed crime of speaking against the anti-people policies of the government and standing with democratic peoples movements. There are hundreds of such political prisoners across the length and breadth of our sub-continent whose only apparent ‘crime’ is talking about the most oppressed sections of the society and their aspiration for an alternative society. But such arrests also reveal the fear of the state of the intensifying resistance of the people which will raise to the ground the very foundations of this oppressive social order. DSU appeals to all progressive sections to stand in solidarity with Com. Ajithan, Saji, Dileep, Gouri and Chandu and demand their immediate release. We also reiterate our demand to release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally and repeal all draconian laws.