Violence rules God’s own country

| | in Oped

That CPI(M) goons have been using violence as a political tool is fairly known. What is surprising, however, is that their violence does not make a damning headline. It does not compell the so-called civil society to hit the streets to hold placards like ‘Not In My Name' as it did for Junaid

In a democracy, political groups are ought to compete via ballots. It is also a fact that political violence happens. But the way the communists use violence, especially in States where they dominate — be it Kerala or West Bengal — is something unprecedent in the history of India. For example, in Kannur, which is the stronghold of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M) in Kerala, murders not only exemplify brutal savagery but they do so in broad daylight.

Along with 34-year-old Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker, E Rajesh, who was hacked to death by a gang, allegedly led by a history-sheeter, 17 people have been killed during the 17-month rule of the Left Democratic Front in Kerala, according to BJP leader, Kerala Prahlad.

And for those who doubt, BJP MP, Meenakshi Lekhi, listed more than a dozen names of people who were killed by CPI(M) goons. In fact, the history of violence in the State goes back to the 1950s, when the communists clashed with the Praja Socialist Party (PSP). Later, when PSP disintegrated; and its workers joined the Jana Sangh, communists stated targeting RSS and Jana Sangh members.

The first RSS activist who was killed by them was Vadikkal Ramakrishnan in 1968 in Thalassery. And even as the RSS is the main target, it is not the only victim of this murderous politics, as Lekhi pointed out. The CPI(M) members are not only killing activists of the Congress or the Muslim Leagues;  they have not even spared rival communists factions. For example, TP Chandrasekharan, who broke away from the CPI(M) to form the Revolutionary Marxist Party was hacked to death on May 4, 2012, by his former CPI(M) colleagues.

In present day world, monopoly of the legitimate use of violence within a given territory rests with the State or the sovereign, which is supposed to use it to maintain peace and harmony. The Union Government is just an arm of the State and it has various checks and balances to its power. But from a communist point of view, as said by communist leader Vladimir Lenin himself, Government is a “power that is limited by nothing, by no laws, that is restrained by absolutely no rules, that rests directly on coercion”.

As in communism, where the Government and the party overlaps each other under an ideology and for whom violence is not something to abhor; it is not surprising that communism has been a major force for violence for more than 100 years.

Stéphane Courtois, in his book, The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression, said, on a global scale, communist regimes are responsible for hundred million deaths.  Steven Pinker of Harvard University too said, “Violence was built into its ideology — that progress comes through class struggle, often violent”.

So, when it comes to the use of violence and killings, communists in India are not different from their counterparts in the world. If we take the whole spectrum, which ranges from the Communist Party of India(CPI)-CPI(M) to the Maoists, the toll will raise well above 15,000 to 20,000, depending upon various sources. Other than Kerala, where the CPI won the Assembly election by a slim majority, just after a decade of independence, forming the first communist Government, the communists are a force only in West Bengal and Tripura.

Highlighting the politics of violence which West Bengal witnessed during the communist regime, Trinamool Congress leader, D Bandyopadhyay, wrote in his article, ‘Census of Political Murders in West Bengal during CPI-M Rule—1977-2009’, published in Mainstream on August 22, 2010, that “devoid of high ideology and believing in the cult of violence the CPI(M) used murder as a political instrument since 1978 in an organised manner”. He further says that in the entire period of 1977-1996, on an average, 125.7 murders were effected in a month, which means four murder a day.

But as Anirban Ganguly wrote in his article, ‘Five Massacres That Every Indian Communist Must Be Reminded Of’, published in Swarajya on August 12, 2015, “The CPI(M) was experimenting with murder as a political instrument much before they came to power.  In 1970 CPI(M) cadres murdered two important Congress leaders belonging to the Sain family of Burdwan and the level of bestiality that they stooped down to was evident by the fact that they made the mother of the two Sain brothers eat rice drenched with the blood of her dead sons.”

Most surprising thing about all these is that except a few cases, like one’s  Singur and Nandigram, the CPI(M)’s violence goes unnoticed and unreported. You will neither find any articles nor books documenting these atrocities. It happens because if the West, which in the words of Alan Charles Kors, a historian (of European intellectual history) at the University of Pennsylvania, is “almost silent on the crimes of communism. Letting the bodies lie, unnoticed, everywhere”, in India silence prevails because of two reasons.

First, along with committed criminals, as Ganguly says, “CPI(M) effectively nurtured and created a web of committed intellectuals who were often party card holders and were prolific in literary and intellectual output”.

Second, weak response from the organisation other than RSS-BJP. For example, pointing out that political violence has been normalised in Kerala, as Paul Zacharia said, “Even in areas with Congress legislators, the administration and police look the other way when violence happens and this has created distortion in the politics of the region.” The question however is that when historians are on the same page as that of history-sheeters; TV channels don’t scream; communist violence does not make a damning headline; the civil society does not hit the streets holding placards ‘Not In My Name’ as it did for Junaid, how many Rajesh will be there in god’s own country?

(The writer is a post-graduate student, Centre for Informal Sector and Labour studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University)

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