Thursday, July 26, 2007


Shillong, Meghalaya: Lafarge, the world’s largest cement manufacturer, has mortgaged to Bangladesh banks land it was given in Meghalaya to set up a $225 million limestone plant.

Nongtrai, a Khasi tribal village near the India-Bangladesh border, leased 100 hectares of community forest to Lafarge to extract limestone. Village headman Binlinda Lyngdoh says the village allowed the company into its forest because it wanted economic development. That faith may have been broken though.

A CNN-IBN report has proved that Lafarge got permission to enter the forest based on a misleading environment impact assessment report, which was describes the plant site as rocky and barren.
The company has also told the Supreme Court that its plant is on a wasteland—a claim challenged by the Environment and Forests Ministry. B N Jha, Chief Conservator of Forests with the Ministry, insists the company’s mining site is on a forest and not on a wasteland. “If you ask me this area has one of the richest forests—no topsoil, thick canopy cover—and even a layman can see that this is a forest and not wasteland,” says Jha.

Local activists allege that Lafarge has mortgaged to seven banks, including two in Bangladesh, the 100 acres forestland it got from Nongtrai villagers on lease. The Bangladeshi banks are called Standard Chartered Bank Bangladesh and Arab Bangla Bank. They have mortgaged the land to a bank in Bangladesh. Tomorrow, if they cannot pay the loans does it mean Bangladesh can take over the land in India?” asks human rights activist Dino Dinpep.

The company, in an e-mailed statement to CNN-IBN, said it had the Reserve Bank of India and the Meghalaya Government’s approval to mortgage the land. But does that mean if Lafarge defaults on its bank loans then will land under India's sovereign control be transferred to Bangladesh?

People in Meghalaya are debating if Lafarge is bringing them economic development or taking away their land and mortgaging it to banks in Bangladesh


When you go home, tell them of us and say..
For your tomorrow, we gave our today.......

These lines are probably the most moving words ever scripted in memory of soldiers.Engraved on the Kohima war memorial in Nagaland,it marks the Battle of Kohima on
31-5-44 ie. 63yrs. ago when the Japanese tried to invade India. They failed at Kohima and the war saw death of more than 18000 British and Indian soldiers.Kohima was the Last stop of the Japanese army's march to Delhi.

In thousands of epitaphs all over the world the famous lines, known as the Kohima prayer are repeated.The words are attributed to John Maxwell Edmunds(1875-1958) an English classicist, who put them together among a collection of 12 epitaphs for World War I. According to British officials the words were used for the Kohima Memorial as a suggestion by Major John Etty Leat the GSOII of 2nd division.
On the occassion of Vijay Diwas, symbolic of our victory at Kargil..a salute to all our war heroes..known and unknown.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


By, Cm.Ajay Ghosh
( Cm. Ajay Ghosh was one of close comrade and was co-accused in the Lahore conspiracy case )
( This was first Published in 1945)

Few cases in this country have attracted such attention as the Lahore conspiracy case of 1929-30. From the day bombs exploded in the Central Assembly till the time curtain was rung down with the execution of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev, the floodlight of public attention was focussed on the case, on the prisoners, on the countless struggles they waged for the cause of political prisoners and for the principles they cherished. Bhagat Singh and his comrades became the heroes of many legends - some of them were true, some were fond creations of the popular mind. Songs and poems about them could be heard wherever one went.
Who were these people that overnight became so popular? What was it they stood for? Why did they evoke such sympathy and admiration? These questions I shall try to answer in the following pages.

I believe it was sometime in 1923 that I met Bhagat Singh for the first time. A young boy of about my age - I was fifteen at that time - he was introduced to me by B.K. Dutt in Cawnpore. Tall and thin, rather shabbily dressed, very quiet, he seemed a typical village lad racking smartness and self-confidence. I did not think very highly of him at that time and told Dutt so when he was gone.
A few days later I saw him again. We had a long talk. Those were days when we used to dream boyish dreams of revolution. It seemed round the comer -a question of a few years at most. Bhagat Singh did not seem so confident about it. I have forgotten his words but I remember his speaking about the torpor and apathy that prevailed in the land, the difficulty in rousing the people, the heavy odds against us. My first impressions about him seemed confirmed.
Our talks drifted to past attempts at revolution and a change came over Bhagat Singh as he spoke of the martyrs of 1915-16 and especially of Sardar Kartar Singh, the central figure of the first Lahore conspiracy case. Neither of us had met Kartar Singh. He had already been hanged when we were yet kids but we knew how he, then a mere youth of 18 and a comrade of Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna, Baba Rur Singh and Prithvi Singh Azad, had become the undisputed leader of the Ghadr Party. He came to India in 1915-16 with the aim of organising armed revolt against British rule. A fearless fighter and a superb organiser, Kartar Singh was a man admired even by his enemies. I literally worshipped him and to hear one talk inspiringly of my hero was a great pleasure. I began to feel a liking for Bhagat Singh. Before he left Cawnpore we were close friends though I never ceased to make fun of what appeared to me his pessimistic outlook.

Kakori Arrests and After

In 1925 like a bolt from the blue came the Kakori arrests most of our leaders were in prison within a few weeks. More round-ups followed: searches and arrests, harassment of suspects became the order of the day. but what really shattered my dreams was the effect of these arrests. Men who had professed sympathy with our
cause would now avoid us. Boys who had talked now began to leave the gymnasium we had started in Cawnpore for physical culture and as a recruiting centre. The whole province was in the grip of panic.
In January 1926, I went to Allahabad to join the university. We tried to rebuild the party out of the shattered remnants of the Kakori round-ups. It was an uphill task. Revolution, it seemed now, was far, very far off.
This sense of frustration, which prevailed in the ranks of the revolutionary minded youth of that period and inevitably drew them towards terrorism was the outcome of the general political situation then prevailing. Following the failure of the great mass movement of 1921-22, the Congress had split into two factions—no-changers and pro-changers-and now the Swaraj Party with Gandhiji's blessing held the field. Of political activities outside the legislatures there were none, mass meetings were rarely held and scantily attended. Stillness hung over the land, the stillness of a stagnant pool.
Prolonged discussions took place in our ranks about what to do to break this stagnant calm. Socialist literature was trickling in, the triumph of the November revolution, the consolidation of the socialist regime in Russia and more than anything else, the aid given by the Soviet Union to Asian countries like Turkey and China against imperialist powers attracted us towards the new socialist state and towards the ideas and principles it embodied.
Simultaneously another phenomenon whose significance we could only vaguely grasp then was being witnessed in our own country. At a time when the whole country seemed quiet and sunk in the morass of apathy the great strike of the Bombay workers led by the Gimi Kamgar Union, strike struggles in Calcutta and Cawanpore, were attracting universal attention.
Terrorism, armed action against the enemies of the people, we were convinced, was indispensable to rouse the nation. But, clearly, terrorism by itself could not lead to freedom. In what channels and by what means was the mass movement unleashed by terror to be directed, what sort of government would replace British rule? These questions, vaguely formulated were beginning to be asked in our ranks.
Bhagat Singh was in the meantime active in the Punjab. He and his comrades had formed the Naujawan Bharat Sabha, a militant youth organisation which was to propagate socialist ideas, preach the necessity of direct action against British rule and serve as a recruiting centre for the Terrorist Party. The Sabha became tremendously popular in the years that followed and played a leading part in the radicalisation of the youth of the Punjab.
Bhagat Singh also worked for some time on the editorial staff of the Kirti - a socialist journal edited by Sohan Singh Josh.
One day in 1928, I was surprised when a young man walked into my room and greeted me. It was Bhagat Singh but not the Bhagat Singh that I had met two years before. Tall and magnificently proportioned, with a keen, intelligent face and gleaming eyes, he looked a different man altogether. And as he talked I realised that he had grown non-merely in years.
He was now, together with Chandra Shekhar Azad - the sole remaining absconder of the Kakori conspiracy case, the leader of our party. He explained to me the changes that had been made in our program and organisational structure.
We were henceforth the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association with a socialist state in India as our avowed objective. Also the party had been reorganised with a central committee and with provincial and district committees under it. All decisions were to be taken in these committees, majority decisions were to be binding on all.
As for the most important question, however, the question in what manner the fight for freedom and socialism was to be waged, armed action by individuals and groups was to remain our immediate task. Nothing else, we held, could smash constitutionalist illusions, nothing else could free the country from the grip in which it was held. When the stagnant calm was broken by a series of hammer blows delivered by us at selected points and on suitable occasions, against the most hated officials of the government, and mass movement unleashed, we would link ourselves with that movement act as its armed detachment and give it a socialist direction.
Our very contribution towards ensuring the success of the movement would ensure that free India became socialist India. All those who met Bhagat Singh then and afterwards have testified to his remarkable intelligence and to the powerful impression he made when talking. Not that he was a brilliant speaker, but he spoke with such force, passion and earnestness that one could not help being impressed. We talked the whole night and as we went out for a stroll when the first streaks of red were appearing in the grey sky, it seemed to me that a new era was dawning for our party. We knew what we wanted and we knew how to reach our goal.
Such was our socialism in those days. We had lost faith in the existing national leadership, its constitutionalism, its slogan of boring from within disgusted us. And we looked upon ourselves as men who by their example would create the basis for the rise of a new leadership. Socialism for us was an ideal, the principle to guide us to rebuild society after the capture of power.

The First Blow

The visit of the Simon Commission in 1928 was the occasion for countrywide strikes and demonstrations. The Bombay workers came out in a gigantic one-day protest strike. "Simon go back" was the slogan that rose from the seething sea of humanity wherever the commission went. Such scenes had not been witnessed since the non-cooperation days.
A wave of indignation swept over the country when news came that at Lahore the protest demonstration had been broken up by the police and Lala Lajpat Rai, who was leading the procession, had himself been seriously injured. A few weeks afterwards he died. The country was plunged in mourning.
Even more than sorrow the common feeling was one of hatred and anger and also of frustration. Here in broad day light in full view of tens of thousands, an aged and universally respected leader had been done to death and nothing could be done to meet out justice to the cowardly perpetrators of the crime.
Our party decided to strike a blow. In November 1928 Saunders, the assistant superintendent of police, the man who had led the lathi charge, was shot dead in front of the police headquarters in Lahore. Well-timed and daringly executed, it was an action that was acclaimed by the public with joy. The first of the blows by means of which we expected to stir the country had been struck.

Bombs in the Assembly

Things seemed to be moving apace. At its Calcutta session in December 1928 the Congress resolved to unfurl the banner of independence if dominion status was not conceded within a year. Torpor that had hung over the land like a black cloud for years was slowly lifting. Youth Leagues were springing up everywhere, another gigantic strike was impending in Bombay.
We felt a big fight was ahead, an upheaval like that which had convulsed the country in 1921-22. We were feverishly busy preparing to play our part in it -collecting arms and money, training our cadres in the use of arms. Jatin Das was brought from Calcutta to teach us how to make bombs.
In April 1929, streamer headlines announced the arrest of communist and trade union leaders all over the country P.C. Joshi then a student in the Allahabad University and a Youth League Leader, was arrested his arrest being followed by a huge protest demonstration of students.
Bhagat Singh and some others among us had already met a number of communist leaders. We felt sympathetic towards them and at one time even contemplated some sort of a working alliance with them - communists to organise the masses and conduct the mass movement, we of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association to act as its armed section. But when we learned that communists considered armed action by individuals to be harmful to the movement, we dropped the idea. While we did not look upon communists as revolutionists - revolution for us meant primarily armed action - we felt one with them in many respects: in their hatred for imperialism, in their opposition to constitutionalism and insistence on direct action, in their striving for socialism.
And so the countrywide arrests of communists were felt by us to be a matter of vital concern for the revolutionary movement. It was imperialist attack against a cause, which was our own, against a movement which had our love and sympathy. We resolved to protest not merely against the arrests but against the whole imperialist policy of fostering the growth of constitutionalist illusions on the one hand and unleashing terror against the people on the other.
A few days later bombs exploded on the official benches in the Central Assembly just after the Trades Dispute Bill - a measure directed against the working class movement-had been passed. Bhagat Singh and Dutt were arrested on the spot.
In a ringing statement that revealed the powerful pen that Bhagat Singh wielded they admitted their responsibility and explained what had led them to it. They were sentenced to transportation for life.
Soon followed the accidental discovery of our bomb factory in Lahore and the arrests of Sukhdev, Kishori Lal and others. Jai Gopal confessed, then Hansraj Vohra, and the result was more round-ups, more confessions and within a few weeks most of our active workers and leaders of Bihar, United Provinces and the Punjab were in the hands of; the police. Others went underground. My arrest came just when I was preparing to go underground.
It all seemed over, our dreams and our hopes. More depressing than anything else was the shocking fact that, unable to stand police torture, no less than seven, two of them members of our central committee had turned approvers.

The Trial Begins

In July 1929 we were produced in court - 13 of us - and there we met Bhagat Singh and Dutt again. No longer was he the Bhagat Singh of the magnificent physique whose strength had been a byword in our party. A shadow of his former self, weak and emaciated, he was carried into the court on a stretcher.
For months he and Dutt had been tortured by the police and now they were on hunger strike demanding human treatment for all political prisoners. Our eyes filled with tears as we greeted them.
Though sentenced already to transportation for life Bhagat Singh and Dutt were our co-accused in the new case that now began - the Lahore conspiracy case of 1929. For three days we paid no attention to the proceedings but held prolonged discussion which Bhagat Singh, though so weak that he had to recline in an easy chair all the time, took the leading part.
The first thing, he emphasised, was the need to get rid of the idea that all was over. Ours was not to be a defence in the legal sense of the word. While every effort must be made to save those who could be saved, the case as a whole was to be conducted with a definite political purpose. Revolutionary use was to be made of the trial, of every opportunity to expose the sham justice of the British government and to demonstrate the unconquerable will of revolutionists. Not merely by our statements when the time came but even more by our actions inside the court and prisons we were to fight for the cause of all political prisoners hurl defiance at the government and show the contempt we had for its courts and its police. Thus we were to continue the work we had begun outside the work of rousing our people by our actions.
These talks had a galvanising effect on us. As a first step we resolved to join the hunger strike that Bhagat Singh and Dutt had already had already begun. Our central demand was the placing of all political prisoners in a single class, better diet for them, newspapers and reading material and writing facilities.

The Hunger Strike

Thus began the great Lahore conspiracy case hunger strike that continued for 63 days resulting in the self-immolation of Jatin Das and stirring the country to its very depths.
In the beginning the government and the jail authorities did not take the strike seriously. They believed it would peter out in a few days and this belief on their part was strengthened when two of the prisoners gave up the strike after a few days. Some of us were none too confident either and I for one wondered how long it would be possible for me to remain without food. All of us had undergone hardships before physical conflict with the police now did not frighten us, but the prospect of starving ourselves for days, weeks and even months - this was a chilling prospect indeed.
For ten days nothing big happened. Hunger grew and with it physical weakness. Some had to take to bed after a week and, as the trial continued, it was a' real strain for them to sit in the courtroom. But our first terror had gone. Hunger strike did not seem such a hard job after all. But we did not know that the real fight was yet to come.
After ten days forcible^ feeding was started. We were all in separate cells at that time. Accompanied by a number of tough and strong nambardars (convict overseers) the doctors came to each cell, the hunger striker was thrown on a mattress, a rubber tube was forcibly pushed into his nostril and the milk poured into it.
Violent resistance was offered by everyone but with little effect at first. It almost seemed as if they had already beaten us.
In the night on the thirteenth day of the strike news reached me in my cell that Jatin Dass was in a bad state and had been removed to the jail hospital. At first I could not make out what had happened for Das had appeared quite fit only a few hours ago. Then the man who had brought the news - he was a subordinate jail official - hesitatingly told me that something had gone wrong during forcible feeding and Das was now lying unconscious.
This was shocking news indeed. I like most others amongst us, had never met Das before my arrest. But during the few days that we had come to know him in prison he had won everyone's affection. Though quiet and unassuming, he had a keen sense of humour and a fund of stories and anecdotes, which he used to narrate to us and make everyone laugh.
I called the jailor and by bullying him got the permission to visit the jail hospital.
Das was lying there on a cot, unconscious, with doctors attending on him. They feared he might die that very night. He recovered but developed pneumonia and that weakened him so much - he refused all medicines and nourishment – that forcible feeding was now out of question.
From now on the strike became grim and determined. Das was followed by Shiv Varma and others. Soon the hospital was full. Court proceedings were now adjourned.
It was a veritable race for death that now began. Who would be the first to die - this became the subject of competition.
Many were the methods we devised to defeat the doctors. Kishori swallowed red pepper and boiling water to cause sore throat so that the passage of the tube led to such coughing that it had to be taken out lest he might die of suffocation. I swallowed flies immediately after forced feeding to induce vomiting. These devices came to be known to the doctors and guards were kept on us.
Determined to break us the jail officials removed all water from our cells and placed milk instead in the pitchers. This was the worst ordeal imaginable. After a day thirst grew unbearably. I would drag myself towards the pitcher, hoping every time to find water but drew back at the sight of milk. It was maddening. If the man who had hit upon this device had been there before me, I would have killed him.
Outside the guard sat - watching every movement -mute, impassive.
I could not trust myself much longer. I knew that a few hours more and I was bound to give way and drink the milk. My throat was parched, my tongue swollen.
I called the guard. As he stood outside the barred door I asked him to get me a few drops of water at least. His reply was: "I cannot do it. I have no permission".
Fury took possession of me. I snatched the pitcher and hurled at against the door, breaking it to pieces, spilling the milk on the guard. He recoiled back in horror. He thought I had gone mad. He was not far from right.
The same torture was being undergone by Kishori and others who were then in cells. And everyone, as I leamt later, had done the same thing -broke their pitchers before their guards.
The jailor gave away. Water was brought to our cells. I drank and drank. Then I fell sick and vomitted out every drop.
In the meantime sympathetic hunger strikes were taking place wherever there were political prisoners. A powerful mass movement had grown to back our demands. Mass meetings and demonstrations were taking place in every part of the country.
The Meerut conspiracy case prisoners went on hunger strike after a few days. The news was flashed across the seas. It created a stir in England. World attention was now focused on conditions in Indian prisons.
Several times during the hunger strike Bhagat Singh came to our jail on the plea of consultation but really to meet us and know how we were faring. Though himself weak and emaciated he would sit by the side of Das and other comrades and cheer them up. His very presence infused new life in us and we looked forward eagerly to these visits.
At last when Jatin Das was on the point of death and the conditions of Shiv and others were very serious, the government yielded. A committee with a non-official majority was appointed to recommend changes in jail rules. The committee met us in prison, assured us that most of our demands would be conceded and on the basis of its assurances we resolved to end the strike.
Jatin Das was now beyond any hope of recovery. He could no longer talk or even hear. Victory, so it seemed at that time, had been won but the man who had more than anyone else contributed towards it was not to live to share its fruits.
There he lay, with all of us sitting round him, and a lump rose in my throat. As he passed away and I lifted my head, I saw tears even in the eyes of hardened jail officials. When his body was borne out of the jail gate, to be hauled over to the huge crowd that was waiting outside, Hamilton Harding, superintendent of police Lahore, bared his head, bowing in reverence before the man whom all the might of the British empire had failed to defeat.
The promise made by the government on the basis of which we abandoned the strike were not kept forcing»,us to resort to two more hunger strikes and even afterwards the new rules were interpreted in such manner as to exclude the vast majority of political prisoners from any benefit. But public attention was focussed on the terrible conditions prevailing in the jails-conditions far worse than today. The sham pretensions of the government stood exposed.
One event during the hunger strike moved us deeply. Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna, the founder of the Ghadr Party and a hero of the Lahore conspiracy case of 1915-16, who was then in the Lahore central jail, joined the strike; he had already served 14 years in the Andamans and in Indian prisons and was about to be released. We were informed by the superintendent that if he persisted, he would lose his remissions and would have to remain in prison much longer. Moreover, Babaji was old and in ill health, 14 years of hell had shattered his body and the hunger strike might end disastrously for him.
In vain, however, Bhagat Singh saw Babaji and pleaded with him - he was in tears when he reported the interview to us - to desist. Babaji continued the strike as long as we did. He lost a good part of his remissions and had to remain in jail for a year more.

The Man and His Ideas.

Bhagat Singh had none of the characteristics of the traditional terrorist leader. We had differences amongst us on many occasions, several of the meetings we held were stormy and more than once Bhagat Singh had to follow a course of action with which he did not agree. Impetuous and strong willed, he lacked the coolness and imperturbability of Azad and would at times fret and fume and lash at those who seemed to vacillate. But only seldom did he give offence and whenever he did so he felt mortified and begged forgiveness with such candour and sincerity that one could not bear any grudge against him. Of affectionate nature, tender towards ailing comrades, frank and open hearted, with no trace of pettiness in his make-up, he was a man who claimed the love of all who were even acquainted with him.
Always passionately fond of studying Bhagat Singh spent most of his time in prison reading socialist literature. Perhaps the first among us to be drawn towards socialist ideas, he was an avowed atheist and had none of the religious beliefs of earlier terrorists. It would be an exaggeration to say that he became a Marxist, but more and more as a result of his studies, of discussions which we held frequently and under the impact of events outside - stirring events took place while we were in prison: the Sholapur uprising, the Peshwar upheaval, the heroic stand of Garhwali soldiers led by Chandra Singh - he began to stress the need for armed action only in coordination with and as an integral part of the mass movement, subordinated to its needs and requirements.
Studies in prison deepened the love that we already cherished for the Soviety Union and on the occasion of the 1930 anniversary of the November revolution, we sent greetings to the Soviet Union, hailing its victories and pledging support to the Soviet State against all enemies.

Ex-Parte Justice

Throughout the trial we strove to carry out the policy we had chalked out in the very beginning, the policy of propaganda by action. The success of that policy and the tremendous publicity that our case received made the government furious. Every opportunity was seized to break us. We were equally determined never to give into humiliating orders, never to bow before the court and the police. And the result was frequent struggles, physical clashes with the police, prolonged adjournments.
The effect of each of these was better exposure of the government more publicity and more popular sympathy for us.
After nine months of trial before the magistrate and long before even a small number of prosecution witnesses had been examined, the proceedings were abruptly ended and "in view of the emergency" that had arisen threatening "peace and tranquillity" a special ordinance was promulgated by the viceroy to try us known as the Lahore conspiracy case ordinance of 1930, its provisions were of an unheard of character. We were to be tried before a special tribunal that could, if it deemed it necessary, dispense with our presence. There need be no lawyers, no defence witnesses, no accused in the court. Any sentence, including the sentence of death, could be passed by the tribunal. And to crown it all, against its judgement there was no right of appeal. Never had any government calling itself civilised adopted such measures.
What the government intended, above all, was to defeat our policy of using the trial for revolutionary propaganda. Another thing, it seemed, was worrying them. Mr. Frane, the only police official present at the spot when assistant superintendent Saunders was killed, had failed to identify Bhagat Singh. Due to the tremendous popular enthusiasm that the case had evoked, a number of key witnesses had turned hostile, more were likely to follow suit and two of the approvers had retracted their confessions.
The whole case was in danger of ending in a fiasco if ordinary legal procedure were followed and ordinary legal facilities allowed us.
Before the trial had proceeded in the court of the special tribunal for a fortnight the expected clash came. Orders were passed by the president of the tribunal to handcuff us for raising slogans when entering the court. On our pointing out that this had never been objected to in the magistrate's court or even in the High Court where we had been taken once the police were ordered to use force.
There, in the presence of lawyers and visitors, scores of policemen armed with lathis and batons pounced upon us. This was the order they had been waiting for. We fought back with bare firsts but the odds against us were too heavy. Blows rained on our chests, on our,.arms. Thrown on the ground we were kicked and beaten with lathis. We were removed from the court by force, bloodstained and severely injured. The injuries were so serious that several comrades could not move for days together.
We demanded withdrawal of the order and assurance that such things would not be repeated. This was not forthcoming. Justice Agha Haider, the only Indian member of the tribunal, was so moved by the scene he had witnessed that he issued a statement that he had been no party to the order to handcuff us and to use force. A few days later the tribunal was reconstituted. His name was missing from the reconstituted tribunal.
And so the trial proceeded, without defense lawyers, without defense witness, before a court from which the one judge whose sense of justice would into permit illegal beating-ups and who therefore might take an independent stand on the question of sentences also had been removed. What the judgment would be was a foregone conclusion.

In October 1930, after a farcical trial lasting five months, the judgment was announced. Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were sentenced to death, seven to transportation for life, others to long terms of imprisonment. I was among those acquitted because the only evidence against me was that of two approvers, the third approver who had deposed against me having retracted his confession. As the jail gates closed behind me and I stood on the street outside, I felt like a man who had deserted his comrades.
What Bhagat Singh had come to mean to our countrymen I realised only when I was out. "Bhagat Singh Zindabadh" was the slogan that rent the air' wherever a meeting was held. "Inquilab Zindab" -the slogan he had been the first to raise-had replaced "Bande Mataram" as the slogan of the national movement. His name was on lips of the millions, his image in every young man's heart. My chest swelled with pride as I thought of my long association with such a man.
Hopes there were still of saving Bhagat Singh and his comrades. Everyone expected that the release of the Lahore case prisoners or at least the commutation of their death sentences would be one of the terms of any agreement between the Congress and the government. That expectation was belied. We had been guilty of violence and so while the congress leaders desired to save Bhagat Singh that could not be made one of the conditions of the Gandhi-Irwin pact.
In April 1931, just on the eve of the Karachi session of the Congress, the death sentences were carried out. Bhagat Singh was barely 24 at that time.
I was then on my way to Karachi. Men who heard the news wept like children. As for me I was too stunned even to think.
Like a meteor, Bhagat Singh appeared in the political sky for a brief period. Before he passed away, he had become the cynosure of millions of eyes and the symbol of the spirit and aspirations of a new India, dauntless in the face of death, determined to smash imperialist rule and raise on its ruins the edifice of a free people's state in this great land of ours.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007


(Mukhtiar Mai-Gang Rape Victim)
She lies in a trance, not knowing if it's night or day..
Just yesterday,her life was full of laughter,
She returned from the fields with a song on her lips,
With the fragrance of the soil about her.
The sun had just spilt its orange hue all over,
The birds too returning to their nests, just as she
Secure, safe and at peace in her little home she wanted to be.
But, the lurking danger she could'nt forsee.
A demon in green,out to hunt, to destroy, to hurt,
He laid his claws on her.
Her bronze body quivering with fear..."you ought to protect,she said"
He laughed, the wretched creature, he plundered her,
left her tattered,her world now devoid of joys.
Her world now was BLACK, the colour of agony, of pain, of shame.
Father was wrong, she told herself.
When in fear, ask the uniformed Sahebs for help,he'd said.
They are always here, our land they protect
For us they camp here.
How was he to know..
That Green was not just the colour of the paddy just sown,
or the colour of their lush green forests,
But Green was also the colour of malice, of greed , of lust
And of the wretched man's uniform!

Monday, July 16, 2007


This is the story of the conflict between the people of two small adivasi or tribal villages, which led to several violent confrontations in 2005. The two villages were Dhain and Dhobh Jhirna, in Hoshangabad district in the state of Madhya Pradesh (MP). The former were trying to evict the latter from the lands they had been tilling for some years on the edges of the Pachmarhi-Bori Tiger sanctuary. This would read like any other inter-village conflict over land. The only difference in this case was that the entire conflict was instigated and presided over by the forest department of the government of MP. Dhain is one of the fifty odd villages that lie deep within the sanctuary and the government has decided to relocate them outside the sanctuary, so that the tigers may have an undisturbed habitat. The people of Dhain were allotted lands at the edge of the sanctuary technically part of forest lands. Accordingly the forests were cleared and new hutments built. However some of the lands earmarked for the people from Dhain, had already been under cultivation. These were being tilled by some of the people of a neighbouring village Dobh Jhirna. They did not have title to those lands but had been illegally cultivating them for over a decade. The two villages were also at loggerheads over pastures for their animals as the forests cut down had been the pasture for Dobh people. Now instead of amicably sorting out the matters between the two villages the forest department sought to pit the new settlers against the old settlers and instigate a violent conflict between them. In this they were helped by the district authorities including the local police.
On hearing of the conflict a local socialist organisation of Adivasi peasants, Kisan Adivasi Sanghatan reached the place and had extensive discussions with the villagers, pointing out the need to maintain peace among the two villages and understanding the underlying factors. Several hundred villagers marched to the district collector’s office demanding action against the police and forest officials and an amicable settlement of conflict between the villages. Subsequently it was decided to place all the issues in perspective before all the villages threatened with relocation and galvanise them into action. A village to village contact programme was initiated just before the onset of monsoons. It was pointed out to the villagers that what happened at Dobh was a pattern that was repeated ad nauseum in all such cases of relocation. The government just did not have the land to relocate people and most of the so-called free land was already under occupation of marginal peasants who have toiled on those lands and as such cannot be made to give up their rights. Under such conditions the government sought to pit the villagers against each other. The villagers were persuaded not to agree to relocation from their existing sites and anyway they were being offered far inferior land in exchange. The villagers pointed out that the forest officials visited them repeatedly threatening them with dire consequences if they did not shift to new sites. They were told that even if they continued to stay they will be alone as all the other villages would have shifted, they will not be allowed to use forest roads, or have access to pasturage, or wood or other minor forest produce essential to their survival. The villagers were surprised at such measures as they knew for certain that there were no tigers in the forests around and that the forest officials had concocted pugmarks to cook data regarding a nonexistent tiger population. It was obvious that the forest officials had done this to garner the international grants for tiger conservation!
Thus a nascent movement of resistance is shaping up among the villages located inside the sanctuary area. The main problem before them is their lack of contact or communication with the outside world. They live in inaccessible forests and all approaches to their villages are monitored by the forest department. The Kisan Adivasi Sanghatan which has taken up their case has a weak organisational structure and will find it difficult to rise up to the challenge of organising these distant village people. Its earlier successful project of ensuring fishing rights in the Tawa reservoir to a cooperative of tribal fishworkers displaced by the dam, is now under threat as the forest department has ruled that the reservoir is within the sanctuary and as such no fishing could be allowed as per sanctuary laws. It is a matter of deep concern if the organisation can tackle the two issues together given its meagre resources.. The Indian state has been asserting its ownership and control of tribal lands so as to garner international investments, whether for mines, dams or for various projects for conservation of forests. The conservation of tropical forests has become essential for international capital, in view of the global environmental crises being precipitated by the unbridled emission of toxins and burning of fossil fuels by its industries. These forests have also proved to be the inexhaustible genetic assets from which to draw upon for the bio and genetic engineering industries, and as such have become too valuable to be left in the control of the local communities. Over the last century and quarter the state has sought to gradually tighten its hold over the forests and their assets. The control has reached unprecedented dimensions during the last two decades even as the tribal people have begun asserting their rights. The rapid depletion of the tiger population despite the growing control of the Indian state over the forests has in effect questioned the very legitimacy of its claim to protect the forests. It is increasingly becoming clear that neither the trees, nor the genetic resources including the animals are safe under the sole protectorate of the Indian state. In fact it is now amply established that it is the forest department which has been responsible for the decimation of the forest resources in its charge. The disappearance of the tiger standing at the apex of the forest ecosystem not only symbolises this process but has also set the alarm bells tolling.
Hunting tigers, traditionally regarded as the masters of the forests, symbolised valour and the claim to rule. What was a major feat in the pre firearm days became a wanton pastime in the colonial period. The tigers were hunted down mercilessly by the colonial and feudal rulers and their lackeys who wanted to emulate their masters. There was also an unprecedented intervention in the tiger habitat, deforestation and decimation of lesser animals. Over the last few decades tiger shikar is out of fashion with the elites. Yet tigers are being killed in large numbers to cater to a growing international market for tiger skins, bones etc. During the last few years illegal tiger poaching has been on the increase. This has been accompanied by shrinking and degradation of the tiger habitat.
Any government report on the matter will tell us that the principal reason for this shrinking and degradation of the tiger habitat is the growing demographic pressure on forests. In other words the forest dwellers and those eking out a living on the margins of the forests are being accused of encroaching on the forests and disturbing the delicate ecological balance. Even while we investigate this problem of demographic pressure we should remember that the principal exploiter of Indian forests is the Indian state which earns crores of rupees annually from the sale of forest produce. This is in addition to the amount earned illegally by the functionaries of the forest department and politicians associated with illegal felling trade of forest produce. Hence to place the problem at the door of the starving tribal household is to divert from the issue.
Nevertheless we need to address the problem of marginal peasants and tribal people encroaching upon the forests which promises to blow into a major confrontation. The secular demographic upswing has not been accompanied by any radical redistribution of lands of landlords in the region or by any generation of alternative employment in the forms of industries. This has forced the marginal farmers not only to increase dependence upon minor forest produce and animal herding but also to encroach on forest lands to cultivate some lands. They have put in decades of toil and now are threatened with eviction on the plea that they have no title to the lands.
On the other hand the government is also trying to resettle the project affected villages cheaply, by forcing them to settle on disputed lands on the edges of the forests. Instead of buying them land equivalent to the ones they would be losing at appropriate costs or acquiring them from the landlords of the region the government is trying to get the poor tribal peasants to subsidise the cost of tiger conservation.
The fact remains that despite all these sacrifices demanded of the tribal people tigers continue to vanish and schemes are being drawn up to protect non-existent tiger.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

On June 5, the PURIFICATION HUNT or Salwa Judum completed two years.It has pitted the people versus the police.This so called purification campaign headed by Mr.Mahendra Karma.The members of Salwa Judum are on a spree of destruction, terrorising people, burning down villages and driving away peasants.What has the Salwa Judum really achieved in the past two years?..Lots...
More than 500 adivasis murdered by the Salwa Judum and CRPF
644 villages and still counting, burnt out of existance.
Around 45958 people dumped into dreary 27 camps.
Property worth millions looted.
Sexual atrocities against hundreds of women by the Salwa Judum activists, the paramilitary forces and the police.
No weekly markets in many villages, thereby people can neither buy nor sell essential items.
Schools in over dozen villages turned into camps.
Payments at checkposts controlled by the Salwa Judum activists.
Violation of civil and democratic rights of the people.
Cultural life is affected too.Ghotuls have disappeared, NO collective celebration of festivals.
Collection of forest produce is affected, as the people fear going deep into the jungles
In short Salwa Judum has ruined the political, social and economic lives of the locals.
Mr. Shivraj Patil proudly announced that 33000 strong para military forces are deployed in Chattisgarh.CG police between 10000 to 40000 and SPO's numbering around 5000.A total of 80000 armed personnel are deployed.But are they able to bring positive results? peace?
Why has the Salwa Judum become so important for the ruling class?
Earlier the adivasi landlords and tribal chieftains dominated the villages.Gradually non adivasis migrated to this area and grabbed vast areas of adivasi land by unfair means, violating all laws that are supposed to protect adivasi lands.These outsiders even dominated the institutions of local power like Panchayati Raj etc.
The adivasis toiled sweat and blood and the landlords savoured the fruits of labour.Gradually the Maoists started organising the people against the exploitative practices.The people backed by the Maoists initiated the slogan of 'land to the tiller'.Thousands of acres of land was occupied while fighting against the state.They seized land from the landlords and distributed amongst the peasants, especially the landless and the poor.This land reform started to weaken the very foundations, based on which the feudal exploiters were able to dominate the adivasi society economically, socially and politically.The feudal oppressors lost their authority over the adivasi areas due to the revolutionary movement.The people who lost their authority started and are continuing the Salwa Judum campaign in a desperate bid to regain lost power.The central and State Govt. launched a false propaganda that the Salwa Judum was a mass movement of the adivasis who wished to drive out the naxalites.They managed to convince a section of the population.
Dandakaranya area is rich in mineral resources.In Dantewada district alone there are an estimated 700 million tonnes of iron ore deposits.Dandakaranya has about 18% of the country's total iron ore deposits.Apart from this graphite ores, limestone in Bijapur and Uranium deposits are plenty.There is no dearth of Water resourses for hydel projects too.Due to this MNC's and other plunderers attracted.The State govt. has signed MOU's of 134 billion$ with them.For these devious schemes to see the light of the day the revolutionary movement has to be uprooted, this is precisely why the Salwa Judum was launched and supported by the ruling class.
The only positive outcome of the Salwa Judum is, it has brought the inherent potential of people in waging a war of resistance to light, thus unmasking the genocidal nature of SALWA JUDUM the PURIFICATION HUNT.

Sunday, July 1, 2007


Ice plays an important role in our environment in form of glaciers, ice caps on mountains, sea ice and snow.Snow reflects the suns heat and thus helps cool the earth.
Snow free earth absorbs heat.As ice disappears, earth retains more of the suns heat.The earth warms up thus causing more melting of ice.A viscious cycle is born..and adds to global warming.
Our planet is getting hotter.This is evident in the Arctic where the average temperature has risen twice as compared to rest of the world in the past few decades.
Depletion of sea ice causes devastation to the flora and fauna adapted to the Arctic temperatures and in addition to the people dependent on them.The Arctic has become the final dumping ground for wastes from the industrial world brought by the sea and currents.Melting ice will have a global impact too.A rise in temperature is leading to decreasing snow in the Himalayas,this will in turn affect the freshwater systems via revers thus affecting plants ,animals and humans dependant on this water.
Melting sea ice will cause the sea level to rise, posing a danger to people living in low lying areas and coastal areas, focing them to move out and further disturb the atmosphere.
This issue demands immediate attention of the public and policy makers.Environmental protection is the need of the hour.
Make a small but significant step...SAY NO TO PLASTIC