Maoists Insurgency and Freedom Of Expression K G Kannabiran

Look at the recent events that engulfed our administration. April 16: 76 CRPF Jawans and local policemen killed; May 9 25000 sq km of forest area of Bastar were implanted with mines according to the DGP of Chattis Garh; May 16 eight  informers killed; May 17 : 35 dead. We feel these deaths could have been avoided if your governance were to be in tune with the Constitution. Instead what your Government had done is to reduce the issues raised by the Maoists into a public order issue and left to the Para Military forces to deal with Maoist Politics. After every incident what we do is to gather around various electronic media outfits and shed tears for the dead and this has become a routine and a compulsive ritual.

We are in the twenty first century with development in various spheres of human activity and more particularly in the cyber electronic and in the field of manufacture of arms and explosives and other Auxiliary devices. The entire Indian Military might was held at bay on 26/11 by a mere handful of people and the fire power they wielded, and this fact does not disappear with the hanging of Ajmal Kasab. It should be realized that the state alone does not have the monopoly over fire power.

When Charu Manjumdar led the arm revolt of Naxalbari he told his cadre to use indigenous weapons for individual annihilation. Now you find the Maoists who are the followers of Charu Manjumdar getting expertly  trained in ballistics and have become experts in making and planting  IED’s and training in the areas they occupy  and the expertise with which they assault appears to be much better than those that pay  for their training in Khadakvasla  and other Army schools. This is not flattery of Maoists but to defuse the Governments, blinkered vision and assumptions that they alone are experts in the field.  No assessment can be dubbed as flattery. I always am reminded of what Churchill, a sworn enemy of Stalin ideologically said on the latter’s death. Talking about Stalin, Churchill said he came to power when the country had a wooden plough and left it as a first rate nuclear power. He was not flattering Stalin. Assessments will be made by the people outside the close circle of Maoists or the Governments. Many find much to agree with comrade Azad’s remarks in the widely reported response. they read Azad’s  Statement  (it was published in the Hindu and other print media and their web-sites)saying that the Home Minister did  not take note of the human rights violations of the people by Government  forces while dealing  with Maoists. Comrade Ganapathy, their party leader, pointed out that the Government should adhere at least to the Constitution … there is nothing wrong in asking the Government to adhere to their constitution, which they obviously are not and in other place he remarked the Government has consigned the Constitution to the Dust bin. It is unfortunate that he should point out these lapses in our governance. If any person concurs with this assessment would he be branded as a Maoist as the governments have alleged in the case of Binayak Sen., TG Ajay, Dr. Rati Rao in Bangalore, Kirit Roy in WB or Seema Azad in Allahabad?

It was during the Emergency 1975 that people became conscious of their rights and liberties. Lok Nayak J P founded the PUCL and several other fraternal civil liberties and Democratic Rights organizations came into being. Without reference to the political parties these organization have been campaigning for rights of the people, helping them to enforce their rights either politically or by approaching the Court if the Court can give relief. These organizations are committed to compel the Governments and their instrumentalities to respect human rights and human dignity and campaign for enforcing mandated obligations in the Constitution. The third preamble to the Declaration of Human Rights points out, human rights have to be enforced to prevent arbitrary autocratic tyrannies from emerging. Rights activism cannot by itself bring about social transformation but preserve democratic governance and prepare the county for a swift transformation into a better world which Brecht talked about.

We are also aware that in areas of turbulence the Government unleashes repression and the activities of Human Rights activists will always be at its height. Several human rights activists are killed during such activities. The present accusation of PUCL or other Human Rights Activist is nothing new. The arrests and accusations that have been made were attempts to silence political protests and protest by Human Rights Activist.

In our country the assault on rights commenced with the Naxalbari uprising in 1968. From the commencement whether in Andhra after the emergence Sricululam, the policy adopted by the Government was liquidation and arrests of whom they considered sympathizers. The same policy liquidation was rigorously practiced were in West Bengal quite a few hundreds were killed. There was no organization to raise their voices in protest against the on going atrocities. These two stats were in the grip of fascist methods of governance. The absence of protest gave legitimacy to their extrajudicial and arbitrary killings and illegal custody and brutal treatment. Here the various tourist guest houses became the detention places of persons held in illegal custody. These brutalities were slowly exposed but the conditions of living of the tribal’s and majority of people never changed. Their governance gave reasons for people to get ready with arms for social change, and their brutal practices of liquidation of dissent have given the reason for organizing a strong human rights and civil liberties movement. The prohibition of land transfers in tribal areas in the Schedule V areas and land reforms did reduce adherence to politics of violence for sometime revolutionary movement was at work but they were lying low for some time.

In a severe from these movements have again re-emerged after globalization and the government parting with large tracts of land displacing the poor in Singur, Nandigram and Lalgarh areas. Maoists revolutionaries equipped with arms and explosives have emerged to confront the fully equipped State forces. After losing monopoly over arms and ammunitions the Government has been mauled in the confrontation heavily. Maoists declared that they are present in fifteen states. It would be totally wrong to assume that poor peoples are not behind them. The presences of Maoists ensure dignity to their person and the officials at the rural level respect them as citizens and persons.

The Government unable to deal with the issue thrown up by the Maoist insurgency is under an illusion that force is the only solution. One cannot go about saying like the Home Minister that the Maoists have around fifty leaders and that if they are targeted then they are finished. That was what Vengal Rao thought when around three hundred leaders were killed in encounters in the Srikakulam phase of Naxalite movement. The movement survived for over four to five decades. Political movements do not get eliminated by liquidating the leaders. From the same people fresh leaders emerge. When in 1975 people tried to suppress speech people fought against such practices whether they be covert or overt. The Home Minister’s accusation that some intellectuals are sympathetic or his admonition that they should choose their words; these are not answers to governance\e when assessments are made or criticisms are offered to the manner in which people are governed.

This is not the classical Hitler – Mussolini type of fascism. This is administrative and friendly fascism where silence is enforced by laying emphasis on cultivating a law abiding quality by the people on pain of incarceration. This would be possible of compliance without any rider, if the elected people in governance and opposition, true to their oath are Constitution abiding, engaged in furtherance of work for economic democracy set out in the Directives on state policy. If the Government does not perform it fundamental obligations there will be protests and revolts.

The other aspect which is used as leverage to silence politics is the casualty suffered by public servants viz the police forces. I have set out the particulars at the beginning itself. We feel these deaths could have been avoided if our governance were to be in tune with the Constitutional obligations set out in the Directives (part IV of the Constitution) and the tribal rights. Instead what the Governments have done is to reduce the issues raised by the Maoists into a public order issue and left it to the Para Military forces to deal with Maoists every incident what wed is to gather around various electronic media outfits and shed tears for the dead and this has become a compulsive routine and ritual. We do, as human rights activists, are upset by such large scale casualties suffered by the State forces, who join these forces in pursuit of their Right to life. We also look beyond these casualties and at the real causes for the violent protests. If you compare sections 3,4 & 5 of the SEZ Act and their application with the Directives Principles of State Policy you will realize how unconstitutional are your development policies and your governance .

The attack on state servants not new to this country alone. Such situation have cropped up in England and is written about. “The Social reconstruction of state servants as perennial victims of violence has become normalized to the point where it is now taken for granted by the majority of academics, politicians, media experts, policy makers and the public. This deeply divided social disorder. This point becomes even more significant when considering the deaths of state servants. These events have a social and symbolic significance that extends far beyond the demise of the individual or individuals concerned. When police officers are killed on duty, as happened in England at Sheppard Bush in 1960, in Black Pool in 1971, in inner London in 1985 and in Manchester in 2003, these killings come to represent “potent symbols of Lawlessness: in a society that is alleged to be degraded and scarred by the hostility of the deviant of authority and order. “ (State talk State violence: work and Violence in U.K Joe Sims and Steve Tombs article Socialist Register 2009.)

But then the home Minister might say any hostile opinion from citizen groups may hinder the operation against the Maoists. Harold Laski deals with this situation very convincingly. “Does hostile opinion mean hostility to the inception of the war, the methods of prosecution, to the end at which it aims? ….. If a man believes that peace by negotiation is preferable to victory in the field because of the human cost that the victor entails, has he no obligations to fellow citizens who are paying that cost?” To limit opinions in periods of large social disorders would be to give complete authority to the state and dispense without obligations to fellow citizens at large. It would also amount to imposition of moral moratorium on free speech. The organizations like PUCL and others should prevent such moratorium being imposed and if imposed to fight and dismantle it.

From the Rowlatt Act to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 as amended by the Act of 2004 has been the cloak that is donned by State force. In ‘Violence as Moral Action (Law ‘violence: Amherst series in Law, jurisprudence and Social Thought). Robert Weisberg writes “Olivecrona calls it” a fatal illusion “to think violence is alien to the law just because it is contingent, in the background, just as it is false to distinguish the commands of law from the slightly less malign concept of force. Any effort to distinguish the commands of law from the common sense notion of forceful violence is a residue of hoary metaphysical illusions about law. Law for this realist, is a social fact, not a platonic cloud, and as such includes violence ………..Law is precisely a body of rules – rules that help shape ideas about rights – and it is use of force that must be monopolized by the organization”. Law has seldom been independent of force.


Defamatory and slanderous allegation against the PUCL

— Letter to the Home Minister by PUCL President, Prabhakar Sinha, 30 March 2010

[ See also, An attempt to silence independent voices ]

Dear Mr. Chidambaram,
I wish to bring to you the highly objectionable uncalled for aspersions against PUCL made in the final Report of 18/02/2010 in FIR 58/2009of 20/09/2009 under section 173CRPC filed by Bhisham Singh ACP Special cell NDR, and forwarded by Alok Kumar Dy. Commissioner of Police Special cell Delhi. I must protest at this false and defamatory allegation against PUCL.

PUCL was formed in 1976 under the leadership of Jaya Prakash Narain Ji. It has had consistent record for upholding human Rights. Of course it has raised and will continue to raise its voice against the excesses and illegalities of the governments and public authorities.

A charge sheet has been filed against Kobad Gandhy under various sections of unlawful Activities (P) Amendment Act 2008, 419/420/468/479/120-B I.P.C. which will be answered by the named individuals, parties PUCL has no concern with it. But I am outraged at the audacious untrue allegation made at Pg. 15 of the Final Report to the effect “other civil Liberties and Human Right organization i.e……..PUCL (People’s Union for Civil Liberties) (Emphasis supplied) ……. also take up the issues of their outfit CPI (Maoist).These organizations play a very important role to broaden the base of the outfit. Their outfit CPI (Maoist) has assigned codes to various front organizations to maintain secrecy. The leaders of these organizations send reports to their party/outfit in the same way.” The allegation regarding PUCL is a total lie and is hereby repudiated. Similar outrageous statements have been made with regard to other organization, with which PUCL is not concerned – I am sure they will reply as they deem fit.

The whole tenor of the allegations seems to be effort to present PUCL as a front organization of CPI (Maoist) which is a total lie. PUCL is an independent Civil Liberties organization founded in 1976 by Jaya Prakash Narain Ji. It has had as its President Mr. Tarkunde, a great believer in Human rights and Civil Liberties. Of course PUCL condemns any violation of Human Rights, by state agencies and does not accept the lame excuse by State agencies of the alleged party or individual acting prejudicially to law or security to condone State terrorism or illegality against any party or citizen of the country.

Our position in this respect has been categorically stated in the resolution adopted by the National Convention on 7 March, 982 in Madras, which reads as follows:

“The PUCL reaffirms its faith in the democratic way of life. It appeals to all to use the utmost the agencies and methods available in an open society. Apart from other factors, violence, even for laudable objectives, will legitimize counter-violence by the State and other groups. It affirms that even those who have taken to violence are entitled to due process of law. We believe this commitment is the very faith of an open society and also that adhering to this commitment is an effective way of converting all to the democratic and peaceful way of transforming our society.”

PUCL is like an open book with no secret chapters. However, in spite of this, the Special Cell of Delhi Police has in the charge sheet filed against Kopad Ghandy’, in which it is stated that our organizations i.e. …..People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), is a front organization of CPI (Maoist)

This is a total lie. Such slanderous accusation is possible only because the police are not made answerable for their conduct as is imperative under a democratic system. When such grave allegation are made by the agencies of a democratic government, it must be done conscientiously and with a greater sense of responsibility.

I hope Prosecution agency CBI will be properly advised to withdraw this defamatory observations in the FIR. If it is not done, PUCL of course will resort to all the legal avenues to proceed for defamation against CBI and the department under which it functions.

Of course PUCL will on its own take all legal courses open to it against the state agencies for making such defamatory and slanderous allegation against it. It is in this context that I am requesting you, if you feel proper to look into this matter of violation of constitutional rights of bodies like PUCL. Could I also request you to ask the public prosecutor to look into the matter and on his own examine the matter with a view to withdrawing the allegation which are baseless – this course will avoid bitterness and a necessary collision course because PUCL obviously cannot permit such scandalous imputations to be made with impunity by State agencies and will take necessary legal steps.

With best wishes,

Prabhakar Sinha
President National PUCL

Blatant act of intimidation

Press statement on home ministry notice to citzens
— Pushkar Raj General Secretary, PUCL, 17 May 2010

PUCL views with serious concern the Home Ministry’s unwarranted statement appearing in press threatening arrest of those who criticize the so called policy of home department of Govt of India in dealing with tribal Maoist problem.

The threat to use Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (which itself is a shame for any democratic government to have enacted) is a gross attack on the fundamental right of free speech guaranteed by the constitution. PUCL fully reaffirms its and of other human Right organisation’s right to criticize unrestrainedly the wrong policies of the Home Department.

These threats given in the press can only bring shame to our democracy and is a crude and unsuccessful attempt to curb the fundamental Right of speech. PUCL calls upon the Home Ministry to withdraw this obnoxious circular and offer a public apology for its threat to the public that they might be booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 on the lame excuse of supporting the violence in the tribal areas. It is quite clear that the government is targeting those who are pointing out its inhuman omissions and faulty policies of dealing with the maoist problems in the tribal areas. PUCL firmly believes that under our constitution every group or individual has a fundamental right of free speech, howsoever distasteful to the Home Ministry’s narrow minded thinking. The home ministry advisory is a blatant act of intimidation and it goes against the basic tenets of democracy and our constitutional values.

PUCL strongly condemns it and demands that it should be withdrawn with immediate effect. — — Pushkar Raj General Secretary, PUCL

Fourteen trade union leaders and activists arrested in Gujarat in the name of maoist activity

The fishing expedition of Gujarat police has now reached Delhi. After having arrested 13 trade unionists, forest rights activists and ordinary workers of Gujarat against the omnibus FIR number 1-37/2010 Police station Kamrej, Surat range*, dated 26th of February, u/s 120 (B), 121(A), 124(A), 153 A& B of the IPC, and sec 38, 39 and 40 of the UAPA, 2004, Shakeel is the new catch, the 14th person arrested in this FIR on 17th April, 2010.

Abdul Shakeel Pasha, for the last six years had been working relentlessly with homeless and street children with organisations like *Aman Biradari(2004 to 2008) and since 2009 with *Shahari Adhikar Abhiyan. His work with Aman Biradari also took him to Gujarat several times as the work on “Justice to the victims of the 2002 Gujarat genocide” was carried out through the Nyaya Grah project of Aman Biradari.

I too interacted quite closely with him both when he was with Aman Biradari. Since in the Centre for Equity Studies the office of Aman Biradari was housed so was the work of the Supreme court commissioners in the Right to Food case. So we used to go very frequently. When Bengali Speaking Muslims were being arrested and evicted from Delhi he wanted our experience on it including the court orders that we had procured from the Rajasthan High Court. He also participated in several “release Dr. Binayak Sen” programmes in Delhi where I met him. I worked with him when he and some others undertook on behalf of the CES a study of the implementation of the right to food schemes in Jaipur slums. As recently as April when he was associated with the Shahari Adhikar Manch he was one of the key volunteers of the dharna of the right to food campaign from 15 to 19 April, 2010. He mobilised hundreds of people and got them to the dharna sthal.

The Kamrej police station FIR was very cleverly filed, so that the hands of the Gujarat police could be strengthened for the witch hunt of activists, trade unionists and the newly emergent leadership working amongst the tribals and dalits who are demanding their rights from the Indian State. It is clear from the sections under which the people have been booked meaning sedition, waging war against State, conspiracy and the UAPA sections of being members and supporting a banned organisation that at the minimum anybody arrested will stay in jail for two to three years before they are granted bail.

Courts in this country are not questioning these framed up cases and trials take up so much time. Charge sheets have a large number of witnesses as well as the moment the police feels that the case of the prosecution is getting weak, they are notorious for filing more and more charge sheets. We have seen this pattern in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and now in Gujarat.

Secondly, they also moving with the assumption that following the arrests of activists under these sections the brotherhood and sisterhood of the activist world may be demoralised, they may be gripped by fear and thus they get an edge in the psychological war that is taking place through the media, when every now and then human rights activists are flogged for supporting Maoist violence.

Only the State of Gujarat could have entertained this kind of generalised FIR, a piece of paper devoid of who is committing what crime, so vague that all and sundry could be booked when it says, “this FIR is against the underground leaders and members of banned Naxalite organization CPI (Maoist) who are very secretly active and with the intention of starting anti-national revolutionary peoples war by making at front the people towards”.

The only remand paper that we have is of Avinash which actually throws more light on the fishing expedition. How through the arrest of one of the persons in Orissa, they reach Niranjan Mahapatra, the trade unionist from Surat and then through him they have reached others. They also mentioned that Avinash Kulkarni was with the CPI (Jan Shakti) even before he came and worked in the Dangs in 1989. They go on to say that “Avinash Kulkarni played behind the scene role of instigating tribals to start violent agitation and as he was conducting naxalite activities of instigating the tribals by remaining in touch with CPI (Maoist) through CPI (ML) Janshakti Party”.

Now all of us know that CPI (ML) Janshakti is an over ground party and has been fighting elections for the last fifteen -seventeen years. And if in the past somebody had some association, they have all the right to choose new or redefine their ideologies. Each one has a right to begin lives afresh according to our choice. Regarding Avinash Kulkarni, activists of Gujarat have told us that he was pioneering the entire struggle in the area of implementing the Forests Rights Act and when teh Government had rejeceted over 80,000 claims of tribals, the people had carried out non-violent protest. The Adivasi Maha Sabha has already condmened his arrest.

This style of opening old files and picking up people is what the Andhra Police had also done some time back, when they picked up in 2005 – 2006 activists who in their student or youth days in the eighties had been with some or the other ML group. I was told by Harish Dhawan of the PUDR that the AP police rounded up so many activists that finally Mr. Bal Gopal took the matter up with the Human Rights cell within the Anti Naxalite Operations of AP. ( please note there is this cell in the ANO) following which harassment stopped.

The police learns very fast from each other so the “Fishing Expedition” run by Andhra State Police has been adopted by Gujarat. But this time there is a difference. The Central Government led by Chidambaram and others is vehemently backing such actions of the State police. As well as the more you show that Maoists are at work, it becomes easier for the different States to get money in the name of combating Maoists. We are told that Haryana and Punjab both got Rs. 50 crores in one stroke, after showing some fake cases of people as Maoists.

We had brought up the facts of these arrests clearly in our application to the NHRC. Unfortunately, as I had mentioned in my earlier mails, that the charge sheet was filed against 12 of the people arrested, soon after the NHRC issued notices on the 4th of June, to the Gujarat DG police demanding why they had arrested so many activists from the Dangs. As all of you are aware once a case comes in a court (here the charge sheet), the NHRC does not pursue the case. Although it can, however, it does not wish to petition the court and get orders to continue investigating the case.

The tasks that need to be done are as follows:

– Informing the NHRC about the arrest of Shakeel in the case number 501/6/23/2010/ UC /M-2. This will be done by Pushkar Raj.

– The 1800 page charge sheet should be obtained from the lawyers of the 12 who were charge sheeted in Surat on 12th June.

– We must also collect the remand papers of Kishore Kuruputty, Shakeel from the lawyers in Surat.

– Can somebody put together a short brief of all the persons arrested. We have it for Avinash, Bharat Pawar and Krishna.

– A brief profile on Shakeel somebody should write.

– The profile of the ten others has to come from Gujarat. can somebody take this responsibility and send it to us.

– Coordination with the Gujarat groups including Darshan, PUCL Gujarat, journalists like Nachikea Desai and lawyers like Mukul Sinha and others who called a meeting on 8th June and had set up some committee’s to follow up on these arrsts.

– Participation in the 30th June dharna and rally in Ahmedabad against these arrests. contact person: Hiren Gandhi: 09426181334

And finally, we need to ask ourselves especially when we are on the eve of emergency day, 26th June, thirty five years later, whether we are going to surrender our Constitutional rights of dissenting and holding and expressing views, to the police state that India is becoming.

This is a call for help to all friends that we get together and oppose the terror unleashed by the Gujarat police.

Kavita Srivastava ( National Secretary)

PS: I am attaching the application filed by the PUCL to NHRC, the show cause notice issued by the NHRC, the translated version of the FIR and the remand application of Avinash Kulkarni.

— Kavita Srivastava (General Secretary) PUCL Rajasthan

Address for correspondence : 76, Shanti Niketan Colony, Kisan Marg, Barkat Nagar, Jaipur-302015 Tel. 0141-2594131 mobile: 9351562965 .

A Note on Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia’s Views on Caste R.M. Pal

Since the time I took over as

editor of the PUCL Bulletin, I gave

the utmost importance to the

eradication of the twin evils in India,

Caste and Communalism (i.e.

societal violation of Human Rights

caused by these two evils). It is a

matter of great regret that these two

evils continue to threaten the very

existence of our country even though

our leaders including Pandit Nehru

and even Gandhi had announced that

these two evils would disappear once

the British left. Most of my articles

written on these two evils have been

included in my recently published

book Human Rights Issues and

Other Radical Essays published by

Aakar Books. Those who have come

down heavily on the Brahmanical

religion remain my gurus. When I

came in contact with M N Roy, one

day I said rather abruptly that I had a

very sad experience with a Brahmin

family. The family compelled me to

wash my plates after having a meal

at their place. Since then, I have

found it difficult to have any respect

and tolerance for a Brahmin. Roy at

once interjected and said ‘you mean

the brahmanical religion and not any

individual Brahmin’. Since that day I

began to examine the tenets of the

brahmanical religion or what I later

called the Sanskritic Hinduism.

Since the time of my association

with PUCL, I have been studying the

literature on the subject. And whoever

has said anything substantial I have

read with great interest. It is in this

spirit that I came to read Dr. Lohia’s

book on caste and found it

interesting. I must narrate an incident

in this context. Once I wrote an

editorial in the PUCL Bulletin on the

question of caste and concluded that

the human rights situation in our

country will not improve until caste

is abolished lock, stock and barrel.

And for that we need a philosophical

revolution. In a PUCL conference

held in Mumbai which was presided

over by the then PUCL president

Justice Rajendar Sachar, the well

known Indo-Anglian creative writer

and intellectual Prof. Nissim Ezekiel,

made some very critical comments

on the editorial.

My political guru described

caste as an ugly relic of the past.

Dr. Lohia does not use this

expression but his conclusion is

almost the same. I must narrate

another incident in this context when

M N Roy started his ambitious

quarterly magazine of ideas, The

Marxian Way, which influenced my

thinking on caste in our country. He

sent a circular letter to many

intellectuals in the country to join the

editorial team. He also wrote to Dr.

Ambedkar. In Dr. Ambedkar’s reply,

now a moth eaten letter preserved in

the M N Roy archives in the Nehru

memorial museum and library, he

wrote that he would be happy to

contribute articles but in his present

position (member of the Viceroy’s

executive council) it is not advisable

that his name should appear as

member of editorial committee.

In the very first issue of the

Marxian Way, Roy published two

articles; one Caste system and

India’s Future by diplomat historian

K.M.Panikkar, two Jyotirao Phule –

Rebel and Rationalist by the great

Maharastrian rationalist and

philosopher Tarkateertha Laxman

Shastri Joshi. That Dr. Lohia is all for abolition

of caste can be seen even from a

reading of the contents of the book.

I may quote here what M N Roy wrote

in his editorial note on the article ‘The

Caste System’ which is of relevance

today in the context of abolishing

caste. A trenchant criticism of cultural

nationalism, Mr. Panikkar’s

contribution suggests that freedom

cannot come to India unless it is

forced on her. Though not exactly in

these words but in effect Mr. Panikkar

declares that only a revolution can

pull down the hoary structure of the

caste ridden Hindu society which

holds a majority of Indian people in

cultural and spiritual servitude. (I may

mention here in passing that a careful

reading of Dr. Ambedkar’s writings on

this subject hold more or less the

same view). Here the problem of

freedom results from the absence of

the urge for freedom. Freedom has

not become an ideal, but it is a

necessity. Therefore, it must be

enforced by a small group utilizing

the secular power of the state.

Revolutionary dictatorship

speculated, perhaps unwittingly, as

the condition for freedom. Evidently,

this bold view is not compatible with

formal democracy and what is known

as constitutionalism. Apart from that

familiar controversy there is a more

fundamental question which is not

new. An original analysis of the caste

system leads to the conclusion that

this ugly relic of the past can be

cleared away only by the secular

authority of the state. Here Roy

raises a fundamental question, can

a social revolution take place before

a philosophical revolution has

disrupted the authority of traditional

values? The history of Europe has

answered the question in the

negative. The spiritual value inspiring

the required philosophical revolution

is the urge for freedom which is

identical with their biological struggle

for existence.

Let me now get to Dr. Lohia. He

begins his essays thus: ‘The Indian

people are the saddest on earth.

They are so because they are also

the poorest and most diseased.

Another equally important reason

however consists in the peculiar bent

their spirit has received. I am

convinced that two segregations of

caste and women are primarily

responsible for this decline of the

spirit. The president of the Indian

Republic publicly bathed the feet of

two hundred Brahmins in the holy

city of Banaras. To bathe another’s

feet publicly is vulgar. To restrict this

vulgar privilege to the caste of

Brahmins should be a punishable

offence. To include among this

privileged caste a majority of no

learning nor character is a complete

loss of discrimination, an inevitable

accompaniment of the caste system

and lunacy.’

Dr. Lohia entered into a

correspondence with Dr. Ambedkar.

His letter in this context to Mr. Madhu

Limaye is extremely important. Let

me quote a few lines. ‘You can well

understand my sorrow at Dr.

Ambedkar’s sudden death has been

and is somewhat personal. It had

always been my ambition to draw him

into our fold. Not only organizationally

but also in full ideological sense and

that moment seemed to be

approaching. Dr. Ambedkar was to

me a great man in Indian politics and

apart from Gandhiji as the greatest

of caste Hindus. This fact has always

given me solace and confidence that

the caste system of Hinduism could

one day be destroyed. I have always

been trying to communicate to the

Harijans of India an idea which is

basic with me. Dr. Ambedkar and Mr.

Jagjeevanram are the two modern

Harijans in India. Dr. Ambedkar was

learned, a man of integrity, courage

and independence. He could be

shown to the outside world as a

symbol of upright India. He refused

to become a leader of non-Harijans.

I can well understand the agony of

last 5000 years to their continuing

impact on Harijans. Such a great

Indian as Dr. Ambedkar, I had hoped,

would someday be able to rise above

the situation, but death came early.

Mr. Jagjeevanram maintains an

apparent goodwill towards all Indians

and Hindus and although he is known

to flatter the caste Hindus when he

deals with them, he is reported to

sing to the bitter tunes of hatred in


Dr. Lohia concludes this letter

by suggesting that if Dr. Ambedkar

were alive today we all would

welcome him not merely as a leader

of scheduled castes but as a leader

of India as a whole. It is in this context

I may refer to the situation that

obtains today. During the last general

elections the NDA leader Mr. L K

Advani and his right hand man Mr.

George Fernandes (a devoted

disciple of Dr. Lohia) went to all

political formations asking them to

join NDA in a coalition, but

scrupulously avoided Mayawati. If Dr.

Lohia were alive today, I venture to

suggest that his first task would have

been to find ways and means to stop

Rahul Gandhi from becoming the

leader of the Congress and thus bring

an end to the Gandhi-Nehru dynastic

rule. Now that he is no more, I only

hope that his disciples will prevail

upon Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav, a

great and devoted follower of Dr.

Lohia, to join hands with Mayawati.

I also hope that Dr. Lohia’s disciples

would prevail upon Lalu Prasad Yadav

to join hands with Mayawati and

defeat dynastic rule in Bihar. Once

UP and Bihar defeat the members

of the dynastic rule (the Congress)

the Government in New Delhi will

come into the hands of Mulayam

Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav and


Dr. Lohia wanted to bring about

a change in Indian polity through the

parliamentary form of democracy,

whereas his friend and colleague

Jayprakash Narayan wanted to

reconstruct Indian polity by

introducing a new Indian political

theory of partyless politics and

democracy. Since we cannot

dispense with the present system,

let us hope Dr. Lohia’s followers urge on leaders like Mulayam Singh,

George Fernandes and Lalu Prasad

Yadav to stop the rise of Rahul

Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi and join

an Ambedkarite like Mayawati.

I may conclude Dr. Lohia’s

approach to caste system by

quoting from his discussions with Mr.

E V Ramaswamy Naicker. Dr. Lohia

went all the way to Madras to meet

and have a talk with Mr. Naicker who

was at that time undergoing six

months’ prison sentence on a charge

of inciting his followers to violence

against Brahmins. That took place

in Madras General Hospital where

Mr. Naicker was lodged and lasted

for an hour. The conversation took

place in Hindi and Tamil (Mr. G

Murahari acted as the interpreter).

Mr. Naicker: I never incited my

followers to violence. The Prime

Minister while speaking at a public

meeting has done injustice to me by

saying that I was mad and that I must

get the maximum punishment.

Dr. Lohia: Indeed injustice has

been done to you. A case of

contempt of court can be instituted

against Mr. Nehru, for the case is

subjudice. Lohia added that it should

be stated in clear terms that there

should be no violence against

individual Brahmins. Lohia further

added I am with you in the fight to

eradicate the caste system and I am

prepared to go to jail with you. I

would also welcome if a movement

is started for removal of caste name

plates. Burning photographs of

Gandhi and violence against

individual Brahmins must stop. Lohia

concludes thus: The main purpose

of my talk with Naicker was to

persuade him to accept the Unity of

India. I have admiration for two

qualities of Mr. Naicker. He is a man

of action and he had a burning sense

of resistance to injustice. I told Mr.

Naicker that I stood for the

destruction of caste. Mere caste

reform would not suffice. I promised

to accompany Mr. Naicker in a

campaign even breaking laws for

achieving this object.

I have written this essay by way

of paying my homage to great

Indians like M N Roy, Lohia,

Ambedkar and Mahatma Phule for

their life long struggle to abolish

caste. What I have written about Dr.

Lohia’s book on caste, clearly

indicates that Dr. Lohia was all for

abolition of caste. I may mention here

that if Gandhi were alive today he

might not have agreed with

everything that Lohia has written in

his book. I therefore appeal to Lohia’s

disciples, many of whom are

acknowledged intellectuals, to find

out what Gandhi has said about

caste and also to find out how their

leader Dr. Lohia is nearer the truth in

regard to caste.