The “Liberation” of Bamboo – The Caveats

Campaign for Survival and Dignity

The recent victory of village Mendha (Lekha) in securing control over its bamboo deserves celebration. For the first time, after a struggle of decades by forest dwellers across the country, a village has regained control over its forest and over a key livelihood resource. For the first time – despite intense, illegal resistance by the Forest Department till the very last minute – it has been acknowledged that the forest bureaucracy has no God-given right to extract and destroy the livelihood resources of forest dwellers while harassing and repressing them.

But it is also necessary to remember that this is a very limited and partial victory. Claims that “bamboo has been liberated” are greatly exaggerated. This is because in several ways, Mendha is no ordinary village. If this is not to remain merely an eyewash, it is necessary to look more closely at what has actually happened.

First, Mendha is one of the handful of villages in the country whose rights to conserve, protect and manage its community forest resource (CFR) have actually been recognised and recorded by the authorities. In the vast majority of villages these rights have not been recognised at all; and in the few hundred where this has happened, as in Andhra Pradesh, the right has mostly been illegally handed over to the Forest Department-controlled Joint Forest Management committee rather than to the village. In other cases, even if the JFM committee’s name has not been mentioned in the community title, rights only on the area allocated for JFM by the forest department have been recognized (instead over forests falling within their customary boundaries) and the titles made conditional to continuing control of the forest department. As we said in our statement on the Environment Ministry letter on bamboo, the Environment Ministry has now consciously tried to limit ownership and control over minor forest produce to only these handful of villages whose CFR rights have been ‘officially’ recognized. In all other villages, Forest Department control will continue, in violation of the law.

Second, through their earlier struggles, Mendha village’s gram sabha had already wrested control over its community forest from the Joint Forest Management committee in the village. In most cases, the struggle between actual community control and these committees – which, as explained in this link, are actually Forest Department proxies – is still continuing. In its letter on bamboo, also as said in our earlier statement, the Ministry is not only preventing democratic gram sabha control over community forests – it is trying to strengthen JFM committees and blocking the legal recognition of community rights. Had the Ministry’s policy been implemented in Mendha, April 27th would simply not have happened.

The MoEF has a history of saying one thing and doing the opposite in forest management. If bamboo is not to become one more example of this, the Ministry has to be pressurised to abandon its illegal positions and recognise rights over minor forest produce (as well as community forest resource rights) in all villages, dismantle the systems of Forest Department autocracy, and shift to democratic management. In the absence of these measures, April 27th will be remembered as a day when the state gave in to one village’s historic struggle – while betraying thousands of others.

In memory of Pyla Vasudeva Rao, a leader of the Srikakulam Armed Struggle

Naujawan Bharat Sabha (NBS)
Delhi Committee

A memorial meeting for Com. Pyla Vasudeva Rao
Date: April 20 2010 (Tuesday), Time: 5:30 PM o
Venue: Gandhi Peace Foundation, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg (near ITO)

Veteran communist revolutionary of India and one of the foremost leaders of the glorious Srikakulam Armed Struggle Pyla Vasudeva Rao breathed his last at 10:00 AM on April 11, 2010 after fighting cancer. He was 78 years old at the time of his death; of these he had party life of 58 years of which the last 42 years were spent in underground.

Born in 1932 in Rittapadu village of Srikakulam dist, Com. Pyla joined the united Communist Party in 1953 when a party unit was formed in his village. Taking up a teacher’s job on the Party’s instruction, many of his students joined the revolutionary communist movement. He became a professional revolutionary in 1962 and also a member of the district committee of the party.

In response to the clarion call of the Great Naxalbari Peasant Armed Struggle, the Srikakulam Girijan Armed Peasant Struggle started on 25thNovember 1968 and on the decision of the party, Com. PV went underground. As a member of the Srikakulam leadership, Com. Pyla became part of the CPI(ML). He participated in the 1970 CPI(ML) Party Congress (first after Naxalbari). In Srikakulam movement he worked alongside Comrades Panchadi Krishnamurthy, Vempatapu Satyam, Adibhatta Kailasam, Subbarao Panigrahi and others.

Between 1969-70 many important leaders of Srikakulam leaders were martyred and the movement suffered huge losses and setbacks. CPI(ML) PC was reorganized of which Com. Pyla became the secretary. Opposing the line of individual annihilation, Com. Pyla resigned as PC secretary and joined with other Srikakulam comrades to revive CC led by S.N. Singh. Since then he was a member of the Central Committee of the Party. In 1974, APRCP led by Com. CP Reddy merged with the CPI(ML) led by Com. SN Singh and Srikakulam movement became part of the state movement. Com. Pyla was elected state committee secretary in 1976 when Com. P. Ramanarasaiah was killed in a fake encounter.

He was re-elected to the CC in the 1980 Special Congress. For long the Party in AP was identified with his name.

Com. Pyla consistently practiced and supported the revolutionary mass line and struggled against rightism and revisionism. He was an ardent votary of an armed agrarian revolution and of building areas of sustained resistance. His death comes at the time when the peasants of India are rising in many parts against the decadent rule of the ruling classes, against landlord oppression and forcible displacement. Srikakulam Armed Struggle continues to inspire the revolutionaries and struggling people of the country. Srikakulam Armed Struggle which reached the highest point in terms of resistance and people’s participation among all the struggles inspired by Naxalbari continues to serve as a beacon light for the present revolutionary movement. Com. Pyla as one of the leaders of that movement continues to live in the memory of the revolutionaries and the struggling people of the country.

Petition: Stop Encounter Killings in the name of countering Maoism!

To: Home Minister of India

We strongly condemn the recent killings of senior CPI (Maoist) leaders Sakhamuri Appa Rao and S. Kondal Reddy in ‘encounters’ by the Andhra Pradesh police.

While the AP police have claimed that they were killed in gun battles in two different incidents in Prakasam and Warangal districts, there are strong grounds to believe that the two Maoist leaders were first arrested in Maharashtra, taken back to AP and then shot in cold blood.

The use of assassination, kidnapping and torture by the forces of the Indian State to contain the Maoist insurgency is not new or surprising but it remains even now, as before, an illegal, immoral and reprehensible strategy.

Firstly, the use of such methods by the Indian police, paramilitary forces or army – under whatever pretext- go against basic provisions of the Indian Constitution and puts them on par with ordinary criminals or even terrorists. The fact that the Maoists do not believe in the Indian Constitution does not mean the Indian government should also abandon its commitment to the only consensus document that gives it its own legitimacy. The Indian State has a duty to uphold the Constitution, irrespective of the opponents it faces, and failure to do so robs it of its entire claim to represent ‘Indian law’.

Secondly, there is enough evidence to show that the use of such dirty methods, once justified by the political masters, unfortunately becomes a bad habit making the Indian security forces a threat to the lives of millions of ordinary Indian citizens. The fact that India has one of the world’s highest numbers of custodial deaths and ranks extremely high in the list of countries using torture is testimony to this dubious phenomenon. The people at the receiving end of such violations of law by the Indian State on a day-to-day basis are the Dalit, Adivasi, Muslim, poor communities as also the people of Kashmir and the North-East and this is completely unacceptable.

We demand that the Indian government put an immediate end to the use of abduction, torture and fake encounter killings to tackle the Maoist and other armed insurgencies. Lawless governance and impunity for wrongdoers in uniform leads to loss of faith in democracy. The institutional failures that give rise to insurgencies also need to be understood and tackled in a political manner for any lasting solutions.


Please sign

Solidarity Meeting on Telangana (Dec 26 2009)

National Forum for Telangana
JNU forum for Telangana

Venue: Press club, Raisina Road no 1,
Date: 26th December
Time: 3PM

It is none other than the class interests of ruling political parties which pressurized the central government to backtrack their decision over separate statehood for Telangana. Contrary to its statement on 9th December (to initiate the process to create the Telangana state), the central government made a very confusing statement, satisfying the ruling class of Andhra and Rayalaseema on 23rd December. The Home Minister announced that the opinions of all the concerned forces will be taken into consideration from now on. Not a single word was mentioned about the formation of Telangana. The statement not even states whether opinion will be considered to form Telangana or to continue with the united Andhra Pradesh. This particular statement led to the celebrations in Andhra and Rayalaseema, and once again the people of Telangana felt the betrayal.

Now the class dimensions in opposing the separate statehood to Telangana are clearly visible. In one word, this is a war between upper class power coalitions of Andhra Rayalaseema and the poor, marginalized and deprived people of Telangana. The ruling class across the spectrum of political parties came together launching war against the democratic aspirations of the people of Telangana. The huge land interest in the name of SEZ’s and real estate business, of Lagadapati Rajagopal (MP from Vijayawada constituency) and several other similar forces, led to the fabrication of a ‘movement’ in these two regions against the democratic aspirations of Telangana people. All the mainstream political parties and their opportunistic stands were never so exposed in the political history of Andhra Pradesh. Political parties such as Congress, TDP, CPM, PRP, Loksatta extended their support for the formation of Telangana prior to the centre’s decision on the 9th. Some parties even stated that they will support the resolution on bifurcation of the state if it is introduced in the state assembly. However, immediately after the 9th December announcement, these opportunistic political parties took a u-turn and refused to support the people of Telangana. The so-called struggles in these two regions were sponsored by ruling parties in Andhra and Rayalaseema. The keen observation of the ground situation explains the nature of their sponsoring class interests.

The feudal and capitalist forces are unable to visualize a situation of not having control over the rich natural resources of Telangana such as water, coal mines, forest, granite quarries, and vast cultivable lands. Decades of exploitation pushed this region to underdevelopment whereas the Andhra region flourished at the cost of blood and sweat of the Telangana people and their resources. It is a pure class war between the mainstream political lobby of Andhra and Rayalaseema on one side and people of Telangana on the other. At this historical juncture the common people of Andhra need to recognize the same forces as their enemies too and launch a struggle against them in the spirit of the Telangana movement.

Now once again Telangana is burning. The people voluntarily came to the streets expressing their dissent against the centre’s betrayal. The state government deployed forces in universities turning them into battlegrounds. As we all are aware, generations after generations the people of Telangana have spilled their blood for the cause of Telangana. And the people are aware that it is the ruling class interest which is operating underneath the so-called united Andhra Pradesh sentiment. We request one and all to come and express solidarity with the struggling people of Telangana. Your presence encourages us to take our struggle further. The support from like minded individuals will also send an encouraging message to people on ground.