Maoists issue a statement, the media plays it down
The CPI (Maoist) has issued a statement after the killing of the CRPF men in Dantewada. You would imagine that the statement should be all over the media. If you Google you will find it here and there, and if you’ve been reading the papers I won’t blame you for missing it. It’s buried in the inside pages today, and only the Hindustan Times yesterday had put it on its front page. This is not surprising considering that after the CRPF killings the media has gone into war mode. It’s war out there, they’re saying again and again. Anchors are shouting, news-magazines are declaring war and calling the Indian state impotent and the top editors are saying it’s a turning point, ab bas bahut ho gaya, now let’s just shoot ‘em dead. What, no air strikes? get real guys.
When that is the over-all tone being set, a Maoist statement doesn’t fit in. The news editors’ official excuse is that the statement, faxed to newspapers in Kolkata, was signed by one Bikram whose designation in the party was not mentioned, may or may not have actually come from the CPI (Maoist). However it’s been two days and the Maoists have not denied it.
You may like or dislike the statement, agree with it or condemn it, but you can’t do any of that if the media downplays it. At Kafila there have been numerous responses on the Maoist issue and Operation Green Hunt. But if the media will suppress what one of the two parties has to say, how can there be meaningful engagement with the issue?
Apart from the HT story, the others don’t even tell you much about what’s in there. They want to focus on the war – Maoists say there will be bigger strikes – and not the other points in the statement. The Indian Express this morning had it on page 6. One page one they were obeying the Home Minister’s command of extolling the bravery of the CRPF.
I don’t have the full statement but here is what I can recreate from HT and some others:
1) On the CRPF attack:
HT: The Naxals offered to compensate the families of the jawans and policeman killed in Dantewada on Tuesday. “The wrong policies adopted by the government have caused these deaths. We do not want to kill them but are being forced to. We offer deep sympathy to families of the dead security personnel,” the release said. They also urged families of the paramilitary forces and policemen to bring their near and dear ones back home from the warfront.
This Time magazine story has something no one else has: the Maoists’s reasons for the CRPF attack: While admitting that it lost eight fighters in the three-hour long attack, the Maoist spokesman justified the massacre in a three-page faxed statement, saying: “The CRPF battalion deployed in [in Chattisgarh] were killing innocent people, burning villages, raping women and displacing… people. We also wanted to take revenge of killing of our top leaders…”
2) On talks:
HT: The Maoists stated they had no reservation against talks if the government creates the conditions for it, but insisted the government should talk not only with them, but with all revolutionary and progressive forces [emphasis added]. According to The Times of India, there are pre-conditions for talks: ‘‘We are still open to talks. Lift the ban on our party and try to solve the problem on the talks table. Release the hundreds of innocent people who are dumped behind bars and slapped with false cases,’’ said the statement.
3) If not talks, more attacks:
HT: The statement issued by “Vikram” (whose designation is not mentioned) stated the Maoists will continue to carry out strikes on security forces as they did at Silda in West Bengal, Malkangiri in Orissa and Dantewara in Chhattisgarh. The latest operation will be called ‘Peace Hunt’, the statement read, also threatening attacks on government establishments and leaders of mainstream political parties such as the Congress, CPM and Trinamool Congress who support the anti-Naxalite operation. It also threatened to carry out strikes on roads and railways used for transporting security forces. Corrupt bureaucrats and government officials would be punished, it added.
This DNA story says the threat of more violence is about West Bengal in particular.
And now see the Press Distrust of India.