People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
August 05, 2007
Fighting On Without A Pause In The People’s Cause
“ No bullet can threaten, nor baton
The more we are tortured
the riper the fruit, the more fiery and red
On the tree of revolt in our orchard!”
“ Our suffering is your death.
Our death is a new life for those to come
After us, and for our fighters who survive
Who soon shall overthrow your government
Establishing a people’s government.”
This is no prophecy
But calculation of historic logic
Which shatters empires, topples over thrones
And humbles the most insolent of kings
Sending them ragged to their naked graves.
(Harindranath Chattopadhyay’s ‘Tales of Telengana’ at the time of the Telangana armed struggle)
MUDIGONDA, a stronghold of CPI(M) is a small village with a population of 5,654. It is just 13 kilometers away from Khammam district headquarter in Andhra Pradesh.
On July 28, the activists of the CPI(M) tried to block traffic at Mudigonda bus stand centre as part of the state-wide bandh called by the CPI(M) and CPI seeking land for the poor. Without wasting a minute, the police started abusing the local CPI(M) leader, Bandi Ramesh and beat him up black and blue. When the agitators were questioning the police action and were trying to release him from the clutches of the police, the additional SP, who arrived there with police reinforcements, ordered firing. In the indiscriminate firing resorted to by the police, four people died on the spot and another two people died while shifting to a hospital. Another person battled for life for over three days and died on July 31, 2007. Sixteen other people were seriously injured in the firing.
The police were eager and bent upon firing, as they did not follow any due procedure before opening fire. Mudigonda is not a remote or a far off village. The police could have easily brought in more reinforcements, if it wanted to. And not more than five hundred people were present at the said spot. The police did not fire warning shots in the air. Teargas shells were not lobbed. Water cannons were not used. Rubber bullets were not used. And as a last straw, if at all firing had to be resorted to, then it should be aimed below the waist. Instead, the police opened fire right into the people killing four on the spot. The police barged into the hunger strike camp and opened fire there too.
TREATING THE POOR AS ENEMIES
The people killed in Mudigonda firing were all poor people. “They started shooting without any provocation while we were hearing the speech of a CPM leader,” said N Madhu, who sustained a bullet injury. He added that he initially thought that crackers were being burst.
“Everyone started running after they realised that police had opened fire,” said Madhu, who is now in a serious condition. D. Lingachari, who had a bullet injury on his right arm, said that the police shot people when they were running from the scene. “It was like a battlefield,” he said. One person’s intestines spilled out after being shot in the back.
The police fired 80 rounds. AK-47s, SLRs (self loading rifles) were used. AK 47s and SLRs - What for? The people present there were poor, unarmed citizens of this country. In this democratic country, they had every right to protest and air their discontent. But the desperate government silenced their voice by killing them. This government has nothing but scorn for the non-elite sections of the society. The fact that AK-47s and SLRs were used itself reflects the attitude of the government towards the poor people. They were treated like enemies, and were eliminated accordingly as in a battlefield.
Five out of the seven victims belonged to the Scheduled Castes. Banka Gopaiah, 45, was a CPI(M) activist. He was a Party member for the past 20 years. He worked as a wage labourer. The entire family was dependent on him for their livelihood. The government took his life for demanding a house site. His wife, daughter and son are inconsolable.
Pasupuleti Kutumba Rao, 43, was an auto driver and supported his entire family. His old parents and his wife no more have him to take care. He was a CPI(M) sympathiser.
Kathula Peddalaxmi, 50, was a daily wage labourer. She was the only head of the family as her husband passed away five years ago. Her elder daughter though married, stayed with Peddalaxmi with her three children. She was the breadwinner for all these people who was killed by the government.
Usikala Gopulu, 60, was a rickshaw puller. The family depended on him. He worked hard to see that his son did not face difficulties like him, and joined him in an engineering college. He wished to build a hut for the family and joined the struggle for house sites. He was done to death by the government.
Veeranna was a granite worker. He was killed in police firing. He is survived by wife, one and a half year old daughter and a one-month-old son. The government has ruined their family.
J Balaswamy, 32, was a vegetable vendor. He sustained bullet injuries and died after battling for life for over three days. He is survived by wife Ramanamma and three daughters. The government has killed the father of three little kids.
The cruelty of the governing class has yet again come to the fore. As poet Shelley remarked, a tyrannical class like a tyrannical man stops at nothing in order to maintain its position of supremacy. No means are too insignificant, no weapon too ponderous. From the policemen’s ‘nark,’ or spy not a member of police force, to the machinery of a trial for treason, nothing comes amiss to the class that governs.
The people came onto the streets demanding huts and not mansions. The state government in Andhra Pradesh is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Poor people asking land for shelter are told that there is no land available to give them. And at the same time government is not wasting a breath in giving away thousands of acres of land to big realtors, multinational companies, and real estate businessmen and for SEZs. The government so far had given away more than fifty thousand acres of land to such people and is acquiring another one lakh acres to serve these elite sections.
Going by this trend, one can see that in the future there will be no government land left for the people to demand land for house sites. Big villas, mansions, corporate houses alone would be seen in the future.
Poverty, which is the result of the policies of the government, drove away the poor from their natives. Driven by hunger and despair, poor people are migrating in large numbers to towns and cities in the hope of making life better. But eking out a basic living, let alone a decent living has itself become a gruelling task. After a hard day’s work, people need a shelter to relax and recoup their energies for the struggle to earn their bread and butter the next day. All that the poor people were asking the government was to provide little land so that they can build a hut on it. But the government chose not to care for them and instead let loose a reign of terror ever since the movement demanding land for house sites and land for landless poor began. For the past three months, the government resorted to lathicharges, false cases, arrests and what not for intimidating the peaceful protestors. But the people put up a brave front and refused to get bowed down by these repressive measures.
PEOPLE ARE NOT BLIND
The people are not blind to what is happening around them. Cities are flush with advertisements displaying beautiful bungalows and three, four, five bed room apartments of international standards – the ‘dream houses’ providing everything from swimming pools, spas, gyms, lawns and heaven! But right under the hoardings and the railway bridges and flyovers live hundreds of thousands of people in ramshackle tents, their entire day-to-day life open to nature. They cook, eat, work, sleep, bathe, and attend to the calls of nature – all in the open.
Recently, our prime minister Manmohan Singh was lecturing the CII masters to show concern to the poor people and be sympathetic towards them. Now, what would he say to his own chief minister who has head full of arrogance and is insensitive to the issues of the poor people and treats them inhumanly. The honesty in his sermons is once again on test now.
The poor have come onto the streets venting their anger at the false promises of the state government and demanding a shelter for them to live in. The participation of women in the entire course of the struggle was overwhelming. The way the women agitators were handled and treated by the state government rips the mask away of it being a party sensitive towards women’s concerns. It is a party headed by a woman, but of course, it is the ideology and not biology that works, you see. The women agitators were chased, beat mercilessly by the male police. Dragging them by their hair, tearing their clothes and kicking them with their boots, the police hurled abuses on them and women who were running away unable to bear the lathi blows were also not spared and were hit on their heads.
All norms of democracy were thrown to the winds. The convenor of the platform of the 195 mass organisations and the general secretary of the state agricultural workers’ union, B Venkat was handcuffed and produced before the magistrate. Land grabbing cases were booked on the leaders including B V Raghavulu, vice president of the Committee Against Caste Discrimination. To distract the attention away from its savagery and inhumanity, the government is branding the peaceful agitators at Mudigonda as Naxalites and anti social elements. The government considers the people who toil day in day out in the cause of the poor people as criminals to be handcuffed, to be land grabbers and what not. Yes, yes for the one who himself is a land grabber everyone else would also seem to him the same.
The poor unarmed people were ruthlessly done do death using AK-47s, SLRs and lathis. What does this government think it is? These are not 1940s … mind you Rajasekhar Reddy… Your government cannot get away killing innocent poor people in the broad daylight. Even the Razakars were surpassed in their brutality in this incident. People are watching and will definitely teach the state government its due lesson. It is the duty of all the patriotic people of the country to condemn this brutal killing of the people and express solidarity with the people in struggle in Andhra Pradesh.