Asit Das asit1917 at gmail.com
Fri Sep 20 04:33:26 CDT 2013

Invites you to Protest & Cultural programme on‘State Repression on Cultural

                                    Parking Area, Sri Ram Centre, Mandi
House, New Delhi
21st September (Saturday), 2 pm to 5 pm

*Repression on cultural political activists*

Repression of people's movements and struggles of workers and peasants have
intensified across India. A recent manifestation of this is the crackdown
on cultural activists and intellectuals - numerous cases of sanctions,
physical attacks, incarceration and arbitrary arrests have surfaced in the
last few months.

Recently, Hem Mishra, well known cultural activist and former student of
JNU, was arrested  by Maharashtra police on false charges of being a Maoist
courier. As per police sources, Hem was arrested in Gadchiroli along with
two other youth Pandu Narote and Mahesh Tirki. It is not a coincidence that
Gadchiroli is one of the epicentres of so called ‘Operation Green Hunt’, a
state and corporate led war that intends to evict the tribals from their
land so that multinationals can lay siege to huge mineral deposits.
Cultural activists like Hem are a threat to the state because they carry
untold stories of horrifying atrocities; forcible eviction, loot, murder
and rape, to the outside world and forge solidarity between the people
struggling over different issues. In Pune, Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) active
since 2002 sang songs and poetry and staged street plays on caste
oppression, atrocities on Dalits, class inequality and farmer suicides
among other issues. In 2011, two of its members Deepak Dengle and Siddharth
Bhonsle were branded as Naxalites and arrested under the UAPA. Cases were
also filed against other members which forced Sheetal Sathe, Sachin Mali,
Sagar Gorkhe and three others to go underground. Presently, Sachin Mali,
who along with Sheetal Sathe had voluntarily appeared before the court in
April, continues to be imprisoned while Sheetal was granted bail. Last
month, when FTII students invited KKM to pay homage to Dr. Narendra
Dabholkar, an anti-superstition activist who had been targeted by Hindu
fundamentalist groups and was killed in broad daylight, they were attacked
by Sangh affiliated ABVP goons. FTII Students and KKM members were thrashed
and were asked to chant praises of Narendra Modi to prove their
‘nationalist credence’. In a similar incident, Kanwal Bharti, an eminent
Dalit writer, was arrested for his critical comments on the Uttar Pradesh
government last month.

Jiten Marandi, a cultural political activist involved in mass movements in
Jharkhand, has been militantly protesting displacement, loot of natural
resources and exploitation of the adivasis by the state-corporate nexus in
Jharkhand, through his songs.  Jiten was arrested on fabricated charges and
was awarded death penalty by the sessions court.  Jiten was finally
released this year but he spent five years in prison, solely for being a
political cultural activist. On 30th August 2013, another cultural activist
from Jharkhand Utpal Bhaske and anti-displacement activist Ispat Hembram
were kidnapped by Jharkhand police. Utpal was in fact travelling from his
village to Ranchi to attend the hearing of a previous case. He has been
arrested several times and had also faced brutal torture in the police
custody for being a member of the revolutionary cultural group led by Jiten

*Imperialist attack on culture*

Repression on cultural activists is not isolated from the broader political
events. It is part of the systematic persecution of voices of dissent that
have resisted an all-out attack by imperialist forces not only on our
livelihood but also on our cultural beliefs and values. The wide reach of
television is being used to propagate a deadly cocktail of consumerist
ideas and feudal ideologies, particularly catering to regressive dominant
caste/brahmanical sensibilities. This is in tandem with the celebration of
archaic elements like astrology and mythology to divert attention from the
excesses of feudal and capitalist exploitation. The loot of economic
resources then gains its power and legitimacy precisely from the new
cultural and social forms generated by the caste biased-corporate media.

While the corporate media increasingly sensationalizes issues of violation
of 'freedom of speech' of celebrities and privileged writers, it
intentionally ignores the suppression of the cultural freedom of
anti-establishment and radical artists. But the issue at hand is not just
of an assault on freedom of speech and creative expression. These are
people's artists who are engaged in a life and death struggle to expose the
anti-people policies of the state. We must strive to secure the right of
cultural and political activists to sing, perform and produce revolutionary
cultural forms. We believe that cultural activity is not separate from
political action. Neither is it merely a front to political resistance. It
plays a very specific role in the people’s movements, in unmasking
structural exploitation, to protect which state terror is being daily
waged. It speaks to and is one with the aspirations and struggles of the
toiling and struggling masses.

We invite cultural-political groups, students, teachers, workers,
pro-people intellectuals to join the public meeting to express their
solidarity with incarcerated cultural activists and people’s struggles.

*Revolutionary Cultural Front, Paltan, Viplav Sanskritik Manch, Jan Rang,
Jan Sanskriti Manch, Sanhati Delhi*

*(P**lease assemble at Mandi House Metro Station, Himachal Bhavan exit, New
Delhi, 2PM sharp**)*

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