[Reader-list] Fw: memories of a naxalite friend
mrsg at vsnl.com
Tue Apr 29 11:33:34 IST 2008
It was so sad to know that Anuradha is no more. I met her in early 80s when
she would come to Delhi for human rights meetings. I still remeber
her courage in an Andhra village when we went as a joint fact finding team
(PUDR, CPDR, APCLC) and got surrounded by angry landowners. Hope her
selfless sacrifice will someday make this wasteland called India little
----- Original Message -----
From: "Sujata & Samantak" <kokopeli at gmail.com>
To: <sabitha_tp at yahoo.co.uk>
Cc: "sarai readerlist" <reader-list at sarai.net>; "nitin"
<nitingulati at yahoo.com>; "JOY" <jdc110 at gmail.com>; "Debraj Mookerjee"
<debraj.mookerjee at gmail.com>; <satchida at hotmail.com>
Sent: Monday, April 28, 2008 11:41 PM
Subject: Re: [Reader-list] Fw: memories of a naxalite friend
> Dear All,
> I agree entirely with Sabitha. What's perhaps worse is the way the
> threat" is being used to terrorise and harass wholly innocent
> ndividuals -
> such as Dr. Binayak Sen and others whose cases are less dramatic and also
> less publicised - who happen to protest against the excesses committed by
> our increasingly neo-con rulers.
> Two days ago, Dr. Debal Deb, a respected ecologist who has published
> in Nature and Current Science and so on, was out surveying sacred groves
> Bankura when he and his companions were picked up by police on suspicion
> being Naxalites/terrorists (as Sabitha says the two words have become
> synonymous in the lexicon of the State). They were, fortunately, let off
> after a few hours of questioning, but when this can happen to someone with
> considerable clout and connections - what hope for lesser mortals?
> My respects to Anuradha Ghandy.
> 2008/4/28 sabitha t p <sabitha_tp at yahoo.co.uk>:
>> Hi all,
>> What I find appalling in Manmohan Singh and the new corporate Congress
>> well as the new corporate CPI-M) is how they use the language of terror
>> describe Naxalites, remaking them as "terrorists", instead of addressing
>> deprivation of millions that leaves them with no alternative but to look
>> for themselves and join aggressive movements of dissent such as Naxalism.
>> The recasting of Naxalites as "terrorists" absolves the state of its
>> responsibility for the brutal police actions against admirable personages
>> such as Dr.Binayak Sen and lesser but no less brave mortals in
>> and elsewhere while shifting the focus away from the cause to dissenting
>> reaction to it.
>> I've grown up with Naxalites and Naxal-sympathizers - including my father
>> -and they're all far from being "terrorists", just a community of brave
>> socially conscious individuals and public intellectuals who want to make
>> difference, who don't want to close their eyes and shut their ears like
>> vast majority of us.
>> See all evil, hear all evil, speak out.
>> --- On Mon, 28/4/08, Sanjay Kak <kaksanjay at gmail.com> wrote:
>> > From: Sanjay Kak <kaksanjay at gmail.com>
>> > Subject: [Reader-list] memories of a naxalite friend
>> > To: "Sarai Reader List" <reader-list at sarai.net>
>> > Date: Monday, 28 April, 2008, 7:31 PM
>> > Apologies for cross-posting: and in respect.
>> > Sanjay Kak
>> > -------------------------------------------
>> > Memories of a Naxalite Friend
>> > Times of India, Mumbai Sunday 20 Apr 2008
>> > by Jyoti Punwani
>> > Cerebral malaria can be fatal, but people have been known
>> > to recover from
>> > it. Anuradha Ghandy, however, didn't stand a chance.
>> > Already weakened by the
>> > sclerosis when she walked into the hospital, it was too
>> > late. Within 24
>> > hours, she was gone. By the time her vast circle of friends
>> > was informed on
>> > the evening of April 12, the 54-year-old had already been
>> > cremated. Better
>> > this than death by 'encounter', after prolonged
>> > torture. For that was the
>> > fate we feared this Naxalite could not escape.
>> > That Anu managed to evade arrest for so long, was an
>> > indicator of the
>> > ruthlessness with which she effaced her identity. This, of
>> > course, meant
>> > isolating herself from all those who would have given up
>> > everything to nurse
>> > her. There was another way she could have recovered, even
>> > while underground.
>> > Anu could have followed medical advice and given herself
>> > the break her body
>> > so badly needed. For someone so important to the Party
>> > (CPI-Maoist), it
>> > might well have allowed it. But that wasn't her style.
>> > Just climbing stairs had become an ordeal five years ago.
>> > Yet, days before
>> > her death, she was in some jungle where malaria was
>> > probably an
>> > inevitability. Anuradha Ghandy, I learnt after her death,
>> > was a senior
>> > Maoist leader. Her political career spans the first radical
>> > student outfit
>> > in Mumbai (PROYOM) in the '70s, and the armed dalams of
>> > Adivasi women in
>> > Bastar. Certain that like her comrades in Chandrapur, she
>> > too would be
>> > implicated in false cases and arrested, Anu went
>> > underground some years ago.
>> > When I first met her in 1970, Anuradha Shanbag was the
>> > belle of the ball in
>> > Mumbai's Elphinstone College. A petite bundle of
>> > energy, bright eyes
>> > sparkling behind square glasses, her ready laughter,
>> > near-backless cholis
>> > and coquettish ways had everyone eating out of her hands,
>> > professors
>> > included. Elphinstone then was an intellectual hub. The
>> > Bangladesh war was
>> > just over, drought and famine stalked Maharashtra. Naxalism
>> > had come to
>> > Mumbai, at that time the industrial capital of the country.
>> > Anu, majoring in
>> > Sociology, was everywhere—inviting Mumbai's leading
>> > radicals to talk about
>> > the reasons for the drought, putting up posters that
>> > proclaimed 'Beyond
>> > Pity' and urging students to get involved with the
>> > crisis in the
>> > countryside, defending this stand against those who felt a
>> > student's role
>> > must be limited to academics and at the most, 'social
>> > work'.
>> > Anu was also the one to question celebrity guest speakers
>> > such as Girish
>> > Karnad, whose path-breaking plays had just hit the stage,
>> > on the link
>> > between theatre and society. And it was Anu who introduced
>> > us to that
>> > feminist bible, Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch.
>> > Those were the days of
>> > 'parallel' cinema. Marathi amateur theatre was
>> > blossoming at Dadar's
>> > Chhabildas Hall. The Dalit Panthers had exploded into the
>> > Marathi literary
>> > scene. Adil Jussawala's New Writing In India was still
>> > making waves. Forum
>> > Against Rape, Mumbai's first feminist group, had just
>> > been founded. Anu, by
>> > then a lecturer at Wilson College, was immersed in all
>> > this. With her wide
>> > range of interests, she succeeded in linking the human
>> > rights organisation
>> > she and few others founded after Emergency with the
>> > city's intellectual
>> > ferment. Among other things, the Committee for the
>> > Protection of Democratic
>> > Rights (CPDR), demanded that the State stop acting
>> > lawlessly with Naxalites
>> > even though they rejected its laws.
>> > Thanks to Anu's ability to talk as intelligently with
>> > George Fernandes as
>> > with Satyadev Dubey, her brother Sunil Shanbag's
>> > mentor, the cream of
>> > Mumbai's intellectuals supported this demand.
>> > Playwright Vijay Tendulkar and
>> > reformist Asghar Ali Engineer were CPDR's president and
>> > vice-president.
>> > It was time for Anu to grow into a successful academic, the
>> > type who writes
>> > books and attends international seminars. Instead, in 1982,
>> > she left the
>> > life she loved to work in Nagpur. The wretched conditions
>> > of contract
>> > workers in the new industrial areas near Nagpur and of
>> > Adivasis in the
>> > forests of Chandrapur had to be challenged. Committed
>> > cadres were needed. In
>> > her subsequent trips to Mumbai, Anu never complained about
>> > the drastic
>> > change in her life: cycling to work under the relentless
>> > Nagpur sun; living
>> > in the city's Dalit area, the mention of which drew
>> > shudders from Nagpur's
>> > elite; then moving to backward Chandrapur. In Marxist study
>> > circles,
>> > 'declassing oneself' is quite a buzzword. From
>> > Mumbai's Leftists, only Anu
>> > and her husband Kobad, both lovers of the good life,
>> > actually did so.
>> > Kobad's family home had been a sprawling Worli Sea Face
>> > flat; he was a Doon
>> > School product. Anu's lawyer-father may have left his
>> > family estate in Coorg
>> > to defend communists in court in the '50s, but she had
>> > never seen
>> > deprivation. Despite her own rough life, neither did Anu
>> > make us feel guilty
>> > for our bourgeois luxuries nor did she patronise us. On the
>> > few occasions
>> > she would suddenly land up over these 25 years, it was as
>> > if she had never
>> > left. She had the same capacity to laugh, even at herself,
>> > the same ability
>> > to connect, even with management types, the same readiness
>> > to indulge in
>> > women's talk. But with those closest to her, she seemed
>> > unnaturally
>> > detached. Her parents doted on her, yet she didn't take
>> > every opportunity
>> > she could to meet them. I realise why now.
>> > Rushing to meet them whenever she came to Mumbai would have
>> > been worse than
>> > an indulgence. It would not only have eaten into the time
>> > she had for Party
>> > work, it would have also made it impossible for her family
>> > to have accepted
>> > what she saw as inevitable—an underground future. In
>> > order not to endanger
>> > her family, Anu simply disappeared from their horizon. When
>> > her father died,
>> > she couldn't go home. That was also the reason for her
>> > harsh decision never
>> > to have children, though her parents would have willingly
>> > brought them up.
>> > That was one bond she knew would draw her away from the
>> > life she had chosen.
>> > The 'Naxalite menace', says Manmohan Singh, is the
>> > biggest threat to the
>> > country. But I remember a girl who was always laughing, and
>> > who gave up a
>> > life rich in every way to change the lives of others.
>> > jyoti.punwani at gmail.com
>> > _________________________________________
>> > reader-list: an open discussion list on media and the city.
>> > Critiques & Collaborations
>> > To subscribe: send an email to
>> > reader-list-request at sarai.net with subscribe in the subject
>> > header.
>> > To unsubscribe:
>> > https://mail.sarai.net/mailman/listinfo/reader-list
>> > List archive:
>> > <https://mail.sarai.net/pipermail/reader-list/>
>> Messenger blocked? Want to chat? Go to
>> reader-list: an open discussion list on media and the city.
>> Critiques & Collaborations
>> To subscribe: send an email to reader-list-request at sarai.net with
>> subscribe in the subject header.
>> To unsubscribe: https://mail.sarai.net/mailman/listinfo/reader-list
>> List archive: <https://mail.sarai.net/pipermail/reader-list/>
> reader-list: an open discussion list on media and the city.
> Critiques & Collaborations
> To subscribe: send an email to reader-list-request at sarai.net with
> subscribe in the subject header.
> To unsubscribe: https://mail.sarai.net/mailman/listinfo/reader-list
> List archive: <https://mail.sarai.net/pipermail/reader-list/>
More information about the reader-list