INDIA: Stop fake encounter killings under the garb of combating Maoism!

Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners 185/3, Fourth Floor, Zakir Nagar, New Delhi-110025




It is almost a week since the so-called ‘encounter’ (claimed by the top police officials of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa) that has by now seen the death of 39 people—11 adivasis and 28 Maoists (as corroborated by human rights and civil society organizations). Last four to five days also witnessed a slew of psyop stories from the side of the state and the section of the embedded sensation-driven media sold out to the stories of ‘surgical strikes’ and ‘clinical prowess’ of technology. In the din of this ‘success’ story of the greyhounds—a synonym for lawlessness and impunity—slowly we are privy to isolated reports of adivasis of the nearby villages petitioning the SP of Malkangiri of the disappearance of eight of their people who have failed to return to their villages since the encounter happened. From the statements issued to the press by the Maoists it is reported that the killings of their cadre was facilitated through exact information provided by some surrendered cadre.
Despite all the bravado of clinical strike and superior fire-power claimed by the state agencies and its sensational reportage, any serious observer of the modus operandi of anti-naxal forces operating in the respective regions would not buy the story. It is very clear that exact information provided by informer networks and surrendered naxalites turned approvers has enabled this trek of the greyhounds and their counterparts from Odisha (SOG) into the deep inhospitable terrain of the landlocked region in Malkangiri. If you set aside the role of the surrendered naxalite for a while then the process of getting the local villagers on the side of the security forces is all the more insidious. If one looks into the spate of encounter killings happening in the Malkangiri region for some time (last 3-4 months) where scores of adivasis are killed and shown as Maoists, we are not far away from the truth of getting the defiant adivasi as an ‘informer’ on the side of the state. This carrot and stick policy—the former being the lure of the structural violence in the form of some money or material and the latter being the brutal physical manifestation of the perpetuation of that—is what is being carefully camouflaged in the din of fighting ‘terror’.
From the method of the operation of the forces and the way it has been reported and yet acknowledged by the perpetrators themselves, it is clear that the intention right from the beginning was to physically eliminate the cadre of the Maoists. Not to take them as surrendered combatants. The sanction for this murderous route of impunity is through the systematic depiction of Maoists as dreaded terrorists without any political ideology. Separating the political from the Maoists and constantly portraying them as trigger happy elements indulging in extortion and preventing ‘development’—a euphemism for the loot and plunder of resources in the region such as bauxite, aluminum, and iron ore—enables the sanction for impunity when confronting them. Thus anything except the rule book takes precedence, lawlessness becomes the law. So when some reports say that the maoist cadre was sedated before killing them the possibility of such criminality in the behavior of the security forces is quite high given their antecedents while dealing with this 50 year long political mobilization. Further the Maoists in their statement to the press have said that some of their cadre which were shown dead later in alleged encounter killings were actually taken into custody the same day when the first encounter happened and tortured throughout to elicit information to be later killed and thrown in the forest.
With the news pouring day by day of a new ‘encounter’ and the statement of human rights organizations and civil society leaders that the life of Mr. A Haragopal @ Ramakrishna, one of the senior most Maoist leaders to be missing in the developments is in danger. One has every reason to believe that he may also meet the same fate of his comrades from the lawless police. It is ironic that Ramakrishna who had led the then delegation of the CPI (Maoist) that had agreed to initiate talks with the erstwhile AP government in 2004 and had to beat a hasty retreat as many of his comrades were again killed in fake encounters contrary to the agreement between the naxalites and the AP government is today facing the same situation. And it is important to reminisce the words of exasperation of late KG Kannabiran when he lamented that the government of AP was not interested in genuine peace as it had continuously violated the agreement that was reached under the auspices of the civil society and failed miserably to implement a single agreement related to the welfare of the people in the present day Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
The irony is that this so called encounter happened just a day after the Supreme Court advised the Government of India (GoI) to initiate talks with the Maoists so as to bring lasting peace. Given the manner and method of deviousness and criminality of the forces of the state, the SC’s advice is at best wishful thinking as none of the civil society actors who took the risk and responsibility last time to usher in talks in 2004 would come forward as it is becoming clearer and clearer day by day, year by year that the state or the various governments that politically represent it, irrespective of color of the flag they uphold, do not have faith in any of the modalities that it sets forward vis-à-vis the interests of the people let alone the constitution of this country. In short the state does not believe in the rule of law!
The contradiction between the people and the governments of the day are on the rise with all parameters of the economy showing a slump despite the hyperbole and chest thumping jingoism. Increasingly the masses of the people are left to tend with themselves with the centre as well as the states making no bones to toe the interests of the domestic money bags and their imperialist masters. All promises of the Narendra Modi government to usher in a new era of prosperity have become empty talk. More and more of the oppressed are convinced that the law of the land is only a tool in the hands of the powers that be to further repress and exploit the poor and downtrodden. The desperation of the state to face this grim situation is evident from the all round violence in all forms unleashed on the masses of the people. Can such state brutality win the ‘hearts and minds’ of the people of this subcontinent? The lives of Mr. Ramakrishna and his comrades become important all the more for the State if the emperor still has any clothes left.
We demand:
1. Produce A. Haragopal @Ramakrishna and all other cadre of the CPI (Maoist)/adivasis/villagers taken into custody in the operation before the court of law without delay.
2. Withdraw all security forces, paramilitary, from the struggle areas where the adivasis and the local people are struggling for the lives and livelihoods, to protect their resources.
3. Stop criminalizing people’s movements including the Maoist movement.
4. Stop fake encounters.
5. Appoint a SC level judicial commission along with reputed civil libertarians to look into the alleged encounter killings in Malkangiri forest.
In Protest
SAR Geelani
Amit Bhattacharyya
Secretary General
Sukhendu Bhattacharjee
Vice President
Sujato Bhadra
Vice President
Jagmohan Singh
Vice President
MN Ravunni
Vice President
Vice President
Secretary AP-Telangana Chapter
Media Secretary
Rona Wilson
Secretary, Public Relations



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