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Of Peace and Other Illusions

July 17, 2012

This week I reviewed War and Peace in Jangal Mahal, edited by Biswajit Roy, for The Hindu. Kafila readers will be familiar with at least two of the essays in the compilation – by Nivedita Menon and Aditya Nigam and will remember our hectic debates on the subject.

The collected letters of correspondence between the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and the Indian state is an archive of corpses: policemen and guerrillas, commanders and comrades, police informers and Maoist sympathisers. The body count racked up by each serves as a signalling mechanism for the other.

Except for the police and Maoist commanders, the dead usually don’t get to choose sides; their identities are written in reverse, a teleological narration that details seemingly insignificant decisions that end in death.

In June this year, the CRPF, state police and CoBRA battalion killed 19 men, women and children in an anti-Maoist operation, claiming those killed were hardened Maoists. When newspapers reported that villagers said they were conducting a public meeting when they were surrounded by police and shot, the police pointed to six troopers injured in the encounter and asked why villagers were holding a meeting in the middle of the night.

The Maoists have an explanation for their violence as well. “The notion of just principle in a normal situation is different from that [in] a war-like situation,” wrote Maoist commander Kishenji in a letter to the Bengali daily, Dainik Statesman , in which he explained his party’s policy of killing police informers, “During war, freedom of thought, consciousness, initiative and innovation is much limited in scope.”

Read the rest of the review here

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 18, 2012 9:08 PM

    Thanks Aman for sharing your Review with Kafila friends. As I had followed the earlier debates in Kafila on Maoists-State stand off, I had requested Aditya, Nivedita, Suddha, Saroj and you to contribute to our collection on war and peace in Junglemahal. I am happy that i managed to get Aditya and Nivedita’s copies, though published earlier. I take this opportunity to request the interested friends to renew the debate/discussion in the context of replacement of CPM and later Maoist hegemony by the TRinamul and latest massacre in Bijapur by the state forces and the proto-state practises of the Maoists.
    Biswajit Roy

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