Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

Orissa: Interview with CMAS Leader on Police Killings

Posted by Ka Frank on December 1, 2009

Narayanpatna is in southern Orissa near Andhra Pradesh

Posted on Sanhati, November 23, 2009

Narayanpatna: An Inteview with Gananath Patra

On the 20th of November three adivasis, including a leader of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS), were gunned down near the police station of Narayanpatna. The CMAS has been struggling for the redistribution of land among tribals in the region. Nachika Linga and Gananath Patra have been spearheading the movement since its inception. The police alleges the CMAS of conducting violence.

According to the police, hundreds of adivasis had come to loot the police station; the police had to fire in retaliation and hence the incident. Later, a section of media claimed that the government has issued a shoot-at-sight order against Nachika Linga. Kumudini Behera, another leader of the CMAS, is already under arrest. The following is a telephonic interview with Com. Gananath Patra, conducted by Satyabrata. This interview has also been published at Radical Notes. Satyabrata: The media is projecting that hundreds of members of CMAS had organized themselves around the police station in order to loot weaponry. How much truth does this statement of the police carry?

Gananath Patra: It is ridiculous that the police is even able to say such things. Firstly, there were only hundred and fifty adivasis who had come to the police station. There was a genuine reason for that. The previous night, in the name of hunting down the Maoists, innocent adivasis were beaten, looted and women were molested in Kumbhari panchayat. They had only come to seek an explanation. They were naturally agitated because of what they had to face the night before but they had no intentions of looting the police station, they were unarmed; they came without even their traditional weaponry. Moreover, if they had intentions of looting the police station, they could have easily conspired that in the night. Why would they, in broad daylight, come to the police station unarmed!

Satyabrata: Curfew has been declared in the region with the enforcement of Section 144 of the IPC. Cobra battalions have reached the region. The situation is being militaristically dealt with by the government. Why so?

Gananath Patra: Due to the pressure of our movement, several landlords and liquor merchants ran away from the area, and they have organised themselves in adjoining Laxmipur in the name of a Shanti (Peace) Committee under the patronage of the BJD, the ruling party of Orissa. The State has its class character and this move only explicates it. The State is against the movement of the adivasis for their rights because their rights mean loss to the landed propertied classes which are the class base of the ruling party in that region.

Satyabrata: The state has militarized itself. What will its effect be on the movement?

Gananath Patra: We know very well that behind the military intervention of the State is its intention to militarize our movement in order to find a plea to brutally subjugate it. We know their intentions and we are careful about any move we shall be taking. The movement must continue.

Satyabrata: The CMAS is being projected as the frontal organization of the Maoists. Is that true?

Gananath Patra: You mean the CPI(Maoist). No. we have considerable differences with the CPI(Maoist) line, though they are our sympathizers and critics. I believe in Marxism-Leninism- Mao Tse-tung Thought, which has considerable differences with the Maoism of the CPI(Maoist). Our method of occupying and cultivating land is mass line task and has nothing in common with the CPI(Maoist).

Satyabrata: Why are you being projected as Maoists then?

Gananath Patra: We pose a danger to the status quo the ruling class wants to maintain and hence it wants us to be branded as Maoists. Then the matter becomes simple; pick up anyone who is against this status quo, brand him a Maoist and rob him of his movemental potentiality by either putting him behind bars or by gunning him down. History has been spectator to this strategy of several States at several conjunctures in the past. The state has banned the CPI(Maoist) to facilitate this purpose.

Satyabrata: Your message to the people who will be going through this interview.

Gananath Patra: The movement at Narayanpatna is the struggle of the indigenous adivasis against the exploiters. Time will show, if things go our way, we will be able to produce agricultural products in a quantity many times more than that produced under exploitation, and the produce will go to the producers. We don’t need any Green Revolution. Of course, the State is trying its best to subjugate the movement, but, this is our struggle – the struggle of indigenous adivasis against our exploiters. The State and the media have joined hands in projecting it as a terrorist movement and CMAS as a terrorist outfit. Let us join hands to prove them wrong.

One Response to “Orissa: Interview with CMAS Leader on Police Killings”

  1. Ka Frank said

    Report on harassment of a women’s fact finding team;

    On 9 December an All india Women’s Fact Finding team went to Narayanapatna. Before they reached Narayanpatna they were at the police station nearby. They were treated inhumanly and asked them to come at evening. They were beaten up and harassed by the Policemen in plainclothes. They have been chased by the Shanti Commitee goons and a senior member of the team Kusum from Pune, who is 72 years old was injured in the attack by the Shanti Committee and the police.

    When the women’s team came out of the police station and was proceeding towards Bandhugaon, they were followed by plain clothes police men on motor bikes. The Shanti Commitee had blocked the road before Bandhugaon by a bullock cart. The vehicle in which the women’s team was travelling was stopped near the bullock cart, the local landlords, the Shanti Commitee goons attacked the vehicle and in the process Ms. Kusum Karnik, Mamta Dash and other women member were injured. The driver of the vehicle was badly beaten up. When the team reached the Andhra Pradesh border, the Andhra police arrested them. Later they were released.

    It maybe noted that Shanti Commitee (equivalent of Salwa Judum in Orissa) which has been formed by the local landlords, money lenders, liquor mafia and the local leaders of Congress and BJD has been terrorising people has forcibility harvested the paddy crop of the adivasis and carrying on relentless atrocities on adivasis with active support of the police and the district administration.

    Later the team members addressed press in Parvathipuram before leaving for Bhubaneswar where they will address the press tomorrow that is on 10th Dec, the International Human Rights Day.

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