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Am I then a Naxalite?

May 6, 2013

This post is about a group of youngsters singing their way to change and about the tyranny of a state hell bent to crush any form of dissent whatsoever.

Kabir Kala Manch” is a group of young people who have taken upon themselves the task of making people aware of various social issues through their passionate songs and street plays. Drawing inspiration from Kabir’s compositions, with social messages, they chose to name their group after the seer.

“People like Kabir, Pablo Picasso and others who used their art for bringing in revolutionary changes are our ideals. Our aim is clear. We do not wish to get into commercialization nor will we go with any political party or non-government organisation. We wish to make people aware and motivate them to fight injustice. We aim at individuals and not at groups or communities. It’s only when individuals will rise to revolt that a change will come,” says one of the members Sagar Gorkhe (from an interview with DNA India).

What would you do if you see such a group of young musicians come to your town to sing songs about the injustice, to mobilize the oppressed, prepare them for struggle, create consciousness and bring about positive change?

Well, no not on a weekday. Weekday, you wouldn’t really have time. Coming back from your office late in the evening, you would want something light and entertaining and not all this “justice” and “injustice” stuff. What if they are performing a play on a weekend? Yes, may be. May be some of us would go out to listen to them, listen to what these young people are talking about. Wouldn’t you? A song about the dissent against the mining corporations… I would.

But something atrocious happened to these youngsters. Indian state somehow could not digest their songs and plays. It could not take in the dissent. They saw them as a threat. Well why wouldn’t they. If the mining corporation gets affected then the associated industries also get affected. If that happens then the consultancies and banks would also get affected. GDP and all that! Our precious jobs! All this was too much for the State of India to handle. Anti Terrorist Squad was called and they instantly declared these musicians as Naxalites. Result – On May 16, 2011, Deepak Dengle and Siddhartha from the group were put in jail. Two other, Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali, both 27 years old, went underground in order to escape the wrath of the State. After spending nearly 2 years in prison they have now been released on bail. Deepak, after his release, described how acid was used on his back, forced statements taken and how his family was threatened. On 2 April, Sathe and Mali surfaced in full media glare, staged a ‘satyagraha’ outside the Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai, and courted arrest.

There are scores of such people thrown in jail in the name of Naxalism. Many rot in jail for no fault of their as we read this. How is it that we came to know about these people from the Manch? Luckily for them and unluckily for the State of India this group had been part of the National award winning film by Anand Patwardhan called, “Jai Bhim Comrade”. Owing to popularity ensued through the movie and support voiced from various people like Girish Karnad and Patwardhan himself the state relented and after two years released the two. Sathe and Mali were also released.

A group of musicians who sing songs against the injustice, tyranny, who aim to reduce atrocities committed by those in power are arrested as being Naxalites? Story reminds me of Binayak Sen and his arrest. So by this definition anyone who voices anything in writing, through songs, plays etc against the state (state and not the people) of India is a Naxalite.

Wikipedia says – Naxalite is a generic term used to refer to various militant Communist groups operating in different parts of India under different organizational envelopes.

Rediff says – The Naxalite is a loose term used to define groups waging a violent struggle on behalf of landless labourers and tribal people against landlords and others. The Naxalites say they are fighting oppression and exploitation to create a classless society. Their opponents say the Naxalites are terrorists oppressing people in the name of a class war.

Kabir Kala Manch people were merely writing and singing against the atrocities they saw. Like many who are put behind the bars by Indian state they too were not militants, they never used violence. They were merely showing their dissent.

I am really confused. Questioning the system, showing dissent against unjust authority is what I would teach even the young kids. Is everyone who questions the authority of Indian state a Naxalite? Well, I know there are very few who question or who care to question. But still. To be clear I not only question but also do not believe in the state of India. I sympathize with the tribal and the displaced and write against the innumerable atrocities committed by the state and police force. Am I then by definition a Naxalite?

Ironically, painful sedition, introduced by the British rulers of India to silence those seeking independence from their tyranny, is today the most powerful tool in the hands of Indian rulers of the country, once again against people seeking freedom from the state’s tyranny.

Indian state. A shame indeed.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 7, 2013 11:42

    Yes Amit. The question you are raising is very potent and real in today’s scenario. I happened to see ‘Jai Bheem Comerade’ recently and was touched by it. We are oppressing anything and anyone who dares to see the disparity and incongruence in ethics of those in power. Their voice becomes a threat for the authority whether it is in a family system, school system, social system or organizational system, including the Govt. And every effort is made to snub that voice and that sentiment. This is a very significant issue which has dire consequences. What can be done about it?


    • May 7, 2013 12:11

      Sometimes the enormity of the force used to curb any form of dissent seems scary. The two musicians spent two years in jail. Binayak Sen spent years in jail. Many who do not get any recognition or support are rotting in jail for years for no fault of their. Hope this gives the group a greater force to sing songs with even more vigor..


  2. aparna permalink
    May 22, 2013 23:30

    but what surprises me is their courage. such people say ‘come what may.let us not leave the path of truth’….hats off to them!!!


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