(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 13, 2009
YECHURY SPEECH IN RAJYA SABHA
'Neither Communalise nor Politicise the Fight against Terror'
Below we give excerpts of the speech delivered by CPI(M) leader in Rajya Sabha Sitaram Yechury while participating in the debate on Internal Security in the House on December 2, 2009.
ON the issue of terrorism, to my mind, I record the powerful words of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore when he returned his Knighthood after the Jalianwala massacre. He had said these words, which I think, are the powerful expressions of our anger and anguish at this menace of terrorism. Rabindranath Tagore said, "Give me a voice of thunder, That I may hurl implications upon this cannibal, Whose gruesome hunger, Spares neither the mother nor the child." It is this menace of terrorism which is anti-national, anti-human which neither spares the mother nor the child and is something for which, at least, I and my Party have zero tolerance. Therefore, there can be no compromise in the fight against terrorism and the struggle against terrorism is non-negotiable. Having said this, we have to recognise the Indian reality also where terrorism cannot be categorised into any compartment. Neither is it something that has some boundaries nor some religious delineation. We have in our country lost Mahatma to the bullets of a religious fanatic; we have lost a sitting prime minister to the bullets of a Sikh fanatic; we have lost a former prime minister, who was contesting those elections, to the bullets of the LTTE assassins. We are losing today everyday hundreds of people in the North-East because of various insurgent groups that are operating. We have had a situation in our country where we have to combat terrorism of fundamentalists of all sorts of religious hues. You also have Hindutva terror that has to be combated.
You have this situation in the country and, therefore, we cannot label terrorism as belonging to any one particular religion, to one particular group or to one particular region. Any attempt to communalise or politicalise the fight against terrorism will only undermine our resolve to get rid of this menace. While we have to tackle cross-border terrorism, we have to tackle internal factors that give rise to terrorism and we have to tackle also the conditions that give rise to another variety of terrorism. The prime minister has said that the single largest menace to India's internal security is the 'Maoist' violence. Now, if this has to be tackled, there are two premises that, I think, all of us must unequivocally accept. The first is to create an atmosphere that does not breed the growth of such terrorism. You cannot have a situation like you had during the anti-Sikh riots; you cannot have a situation like you have during anti-Muslim progroms; you cannot have situations like you have during anti- Christian attacks and the more you have such situations, the more we are feeding these terrorists' activities to grow. Now, that is something that all of us should, if we are serious about our fight against terrorism, resolve to abjure. Otherwise, terrorism in our country with such diversity cannot be gotten rid of.
BREEDING GROUND FOR TERROR
The second important thing is the question of growing economic inequalities. Yes, that is a breeding ground for terror. Today there are two Indias that are in the making. We have the largest number of billionaires in Asia on the one hand; people spending Rs 4000 crore to build private houses and you have 77 per cent of India that barely lives on Rs 20 a day. If this sort of economic inequality is widened, which is indeed happening, then you are laying a fertile basis for the growth of such activities like terrorism which we cannot afford. So, inclusive growth is a necessity for us if you want to combat terrorism. So, create an atmosphere that does not divide our people in the name of religion or in the name of anything else and create an atmosphere that includes everybody in the growth process. These are two conditions that we must fulfil if we want to combat terrorism and if we want to re-underline our resolve to combat terrorism.
Then we would like to add the third element where the State will also have to show a certain degree of vigilance so that State persecution does not lead to people being thrown into the arms of terrorists. You have seen such encounter deaths earlier. You have seen the Sohrabuddin case, you have seen the Ishrat Jahan case, and, you have seen all the instances where you are pushing certain people to resort to these sorts of methods out of frustration. That also cannot be allowed.
Therefore, the issue of maintaining a direction, which does not divide our people on communal, religious, castiest, or, whatever grounds; the issue of having 'inclusive growth', including all people in the development process, and, the issue of State taking necessary measures not to push people through persecution into this path, are three issues that need to be underlined. Once we recognise this, we come to the question where all of us have paid our homage to those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks, more particularly, on the anniversary of the attacks of 26/11, and, people who are losing their lives because of such activities of such groups everywhere else. After 26/11, we have enacted two new laws in this very House, and these two new laws were to strengthen the arms of the State in order to pursue terrorists after the terrorist activity has taken place. At that time, we were promised a relook at these Acts with regard to the federal issue connected with the centre-state relations. That has not happened. I wish that the government will adhere to its promise and come back on those issues with its experience of the last one year.
The point that I wish to raise here is that these laws have been brought into place to tackle the terrorist after the terrorist attacks. What we are interested in is tackling it before terrorist attacks and prevent the terrorist activities from taking place. There is a lot that was discussed but very little has been done. What is the degree of coordination that has been there since 26/11 amongst various arms of the State intelligence? You have the central intelligence, you have the state intelligence, you have the military intelligence; what is the coordination amongst them that is taking place You have various patrols. We have discussed a lot about the coastal patrol and the inadequacies of it. That is an issue on which nothing substantial has happened. You still have an awful situation. I say it 'awful' because your police today acts under the antiquated Police Act of 1861, which was brought into force in order to tackle the 'natives', as the British called us. But you do not have any further modern law.
The United Nations stipulates that for one lakh population, at least 222 police personnel should be there. In our country, the sanctioned strength is 145 policemen per lakh and the actual strength is 117 policemen per lakh. Unless you take measures in all these areas, the entire question of resolve against terrorism cannot be implemented in practice.
Much discussion has taken place on the question of growing 'Maoists' violence. I wish to quote a few sentences from the speech of the prime minister made at the chief ministers' conference on internal security held in August this year. He said, "Left wing extremism is a serious challenge. I would like to emphasise the growing intensity of the problem. There have been heavy casualties inflicted recently on security forces by Naxalite groups. There are also indications of yet more offensive action by these groups. The problem of Left wing extremism is indeed a complex one. There is a need for a balanced and nuanced strategy to deal with it. On the one hand, the State should discharge its responsibilities and obligations and re-establish the rule of law in areas dominated by the Naxalites. At the same time, we should work towards removing the causes which lead to alienation of people and problems like Naxalism." The prime minister has outlined a dual approach. The law and order issue and tackling the problems that give rise to such manifestations like Naxalism, and, in his own speech, he appends it with statistics. The prime minister has informed the country that in the calendar year, 2009, and, as per data available till November 16, out of a total of 1979 lives lost in the country, 873 have been due to 'Maoist' violence.
That means an overwhelming majority of the people lost their lives because of 'Maoist' violence. In fact, if you look at all the categories and data that he has given, this is the single most danger to our internal security. Now, once this is accepted, what the prime minister has said, then, the resolve in the country should be to unitedly face this menace. Instead if you try to politicise it, like you try to politicise any other issue of terrorist attack, then, I think, we will only be cutting the branch on which we are sitting. Now, this morning a school teacher belonging to our Party has been butchered in front of his class, in front of the students by the Maoists. We have lost 130 of our cadre in these attacks by the 'Maoists' since the general elections have been over. Therefore, it is with full pain and anguish I am speaking.
Often, charges have been made that the 'Maoists' and the CPI(M) are cousins and that we have woken up belatedly now to 'Maoists' violence. I think people should recollect the history.
In 1967 the word 'Naxalite' came from a village called Naxalbari in Bengal which is still there. An armed uprising in Naxalbari took place in 1967 led by a band of people who left our Party, CPI(M), and later formed CPI(ML). They deserted us and took a different line arguing against us saying that we are legitimising bourgeois democracy. While we were brining Left into democratic mainstream, those who wanted to keep the Left out of democratic mainstream in the trap of anarchy and violence, and while we were strengthening democratic process, they were disrupting that. And, because we were 'legitimising' so-called bourgeois democracy, we were the principal targets of these Naxalites since then. We have lost thousands of our comrades in the attacks by them. There is no other political party that has lost more people to the Naxalite attacks than our Party, and that is all across the country not only in Bengal. In Andhra Pradesh, there was a literal three-way split in the Communist movement. So, our antagonism with the Naxalites or who are today 'Maoists' stands from this very basis of their formation in the 1960s which we believe was on the basis of an erroneous ideological understanding. And, this ideological combating we have been doing, and we will continue to do. We have suffered the most, and, therefore, to now brand us as some sort of a cousin who have woken up late is actually a travesty of history, as also a travesty of the truth.
IMPORTED INTO BENGAL
Then, today the main point that we have to understand is how after 32 years have the Naxals re-entered Bengal. I heard our friend, Keshava Rao, talking about actual problems of the land, problems of people etc. He confessed and I am grateful to him for having confessed that though the Congress raised the slogan of land reforms, they never implemented it and that is why Naxalism has grown. He has actually admitted it on record. I am grateful on that point. The only state in the country where land reforms have been implemented to the maximum extent possible is West Bengal. And that is the important point to note. It is not that they have come into Bengal because of the objective conditions there. They have been brought and imported into Bengal. They have been imported into Bengal and I will tell you how.
They have been imported into Bengal by an ally of yours today in your government. That is a fact. Here is a statement given by the head of the Maoists' Nandigram zonal committee. He is telling the leader of the Trinamul Congress. I quote, "You had said at a rally at Sonachura recently that it was the CPI(M) who brought us to Nandigram in 2007 and provided us with safe passage to flee. You know it is a lie." This is said by the 'Maoists' chief of the Nandigram zonal committee. Then he goes on to give the details of how members of parliament of a certain party have attended meetings jointly with the 'Maoists' in that particular place and spoken together with them. Here, I want to make two fundamental points on this and leave. You had a situation where the prime minister of this country and the home minister of this country had gone on record a number of times saying that the single largest threat to India's internal security is the 'Maoist' menace. Now, we, as a whole, unitedly should face this menace.
Now, I would want this august House and the country to remember that there were occasions when we created our own Frankenstein that had consumed our own leaders. The country has suffered, and more importantly, the Congress Party has suffered. You had the Dal Khalsa; you had Bhindranwale; you had the assassination of Mrs Gandhi. You had the IPKF; you had the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. Don't create Frankensteins. For the sake of remaining in power, do not patronise people who are encouraging the 'Maoists' in our country today.
So, I am only making an appeal to this government that with our own experience of the past, let us not create new Frankensteins. You have been given the mandate to rule for five years. You have no problems of wanting to create such Frankensteins because you want to rule. You have that mandate. But even then, why are you adopting this approach whereby the resolve to fight against the 'Maoists' is being compromised and undermined by having a partner who is patronising and protecting them! Finally, my appeal to all the political parties, to everybody here is, let us not be partisan on this issue; neither communalise it nor politicise it. I am saying that let us fight it unitedly. I am asking the home minister, when he responds, to reflect the united will of the country and not politicise it. Thank you.
(Sub-headings added - Ed)