On 2nd October, 2023, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted raids across various locations belonging to various democratic and pro-people activists in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The organisations that have been targeted, include, Coordination of Democratic Rights Organizations (CDRO), Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (AP CLC), Chaitanya Mahila Sangam (CMS), Pragatisheela Karmika Samakya (PKS), Patriotic Democratic Movement (PDM), Praja Kala Mandali (PKM), Vasantha Meghum, Virasam (RWA), Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL), Kula Nirmulana Porata Samiti (Struggle Committee for Caste Annihilation; KNPS), Amarula Bandhu Mitrula Sangham (ABMS), Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP)and Human Rights Forum (HRF). During the raids, Chandra Narasimhulu, State Executive Committee member of the Pragathiseela Karmika Samakya (PKS) was arrested. The NIA has claimed to have seized Rupees 13 Lakh and a pistol with multiple live cartridges. However, according to the family, the money was for the approaching marriage of his daughter. Reportedly, these raids have been conducted in relation to “Maoist Link” case dating back to 2021.
It is pertinent to mention that these organisation have been vocal against blatant human rights violations and suppression of democratic assertion against corporate loot in mineral rich central Indian regions. Recently, CDRO (of which APCLC is a constituent member) conducted a Fact-finding into the allegations of aerial bombing in villages of South Bastar on 11th Jan, 2023. They ascertained that multiple bombs were dropped using drones, while helicopters were involved in aerial fire. The CDRO report titled “When Sky Spits Fire” released in October 2023 also signals towards foul play in the rejection of such allegations in 2021 and 2022 by the police. Furthermore, Virasam and other progressive organisations organized a public meeting condemning the drone attacks in Bastar in March, 2023.
It is also important to point out that there is a pattern in these NIA raids, currently being carried out across the country in the name of “Maoist Link” investigations. If we look closely, these raids are being conducted against the Democratic and pro-people organizations and individuals who have been critical of the development model that has displaced and disinherited Adivasis of the country. These organisations have opposed displacement induced by rapacious mining, corporate loot of resources and state’s brutal excesses in its war of plunder under the guise of addressing the “Maoist question”. In this pattern of witch-hunt, which can be traced back to the arrest of democratic activists critical of corporate loot in Bhima Koregaon Conspiracy case in 2018, this tried and tested method is repeatedly being implemented whether be it raids on anti-displacement and democratic rights activists in Jharkhand, in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, slapping of UAPA cases on anti-displacement activists in Niyamgiri and the most recent of it all, the raids on premises of NewsClick and residence of CPI (Marxist) General Secretary, Sitaram Yechury. Barely 24 hours after the NIA raids in Andhra-Telangana, Delhi Police Special Cell conducted raids on Newsclick and leaders of CPM in a bogus case of “Chinese Terror Funding” and arrested Newclick’s editor Prabir Purkayastha and HR head Amit Chakravarty. We see these raids as a bid to suppress any voice that speaks against rising Brahmanical Hindutva Fascism and the corporate plunder of our people’s resources. It is also evident that no voice shall be spared from the witch-hunt under this regime that survives by creating a sense of threat among the people, particularly those democratic forces who speak for the people. The tool used by the government agencies can be branding of such forces as Islamic terrorists, Maoists or Chinese aggression in internal politics.
It is imperative for us to understand why such onslaught has intensified with the conclusion of G20 summit, Changes in Forest laws and approaching union elections. In the past, the forest laws required the permission of the local Gram Sabhas for “developmental” projects being undertaken on forest land but now the state has diluted these protective norms by making exceptions in the rule to allow for acquiring 5 hectares of forest land for construction of special infrastructure such as paramilitary camps, without seeking any such permission. This helps in suppressing the movement against plunder of resources. Further, exemption is also granted with regard to Forest land over mining belts, for easier extraction of resources. Even more so, exceptions have been made to acquire forest land for constructions of zoos, safari areas and wild life sanctuaries, that will facilitate displacement of local populace. Various others state forest laws have made specific changes to facilitate corporate loot of resources in their region. Odisha State assembly has recently passed a bill exempting projects from Social Impact Assessment. With these rampant change in forest laws and eroding of bare minimum safeguards against corporate induced destruction, the people’s resistance against displacement will be demonized and the exploitation justified in the name of “development”. It is in the backdrop of these regression and state’s bid to fill the big corporate’s bottomless pit of greed, the state is unleashing NIA raids and slapping UAPA on Anti-displacement and democratic rights activists who are vocal against corporate loot, displacement and state’s excesses in its war against the Maoists.
Forum Against Corporatization and Militarization strongly condemns the raid on Democratic and pro-people organizations in Andhra-Telangana, carried out by NIA on directions of State that is hand in glove in the corporate loot of resources. We also condemn the raids and arrests on NewClick, CPM leaders and other democratic rights activists, currently being undertaken as a ritualistic practice to establish a Brahmanical Hindutva Fascist State. We call upon all democratic progressive forces and individuals to forge broader solidarity and resistance. An attack against one is an attack against all.
FORUM AGAINST CORPORATIZATION AND MILITARIZATION (FACAM), DELHI