Suchitra Vijayan Profile picture
Aug 28, 2018 32 tweets 7 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
#UrbanNaxals - A Thread
Earlier today, Human rights activist and writers, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao were arrested. They have all been called “#urban Naxal”, a label that is now used even by the Pune Police to "justify" these arrests.
"#UrbanNaxal " is misnomer at best, and a deeply toxic, flawed analytical category that can in practice include any citizen who disagrees with the right-wing status quo.
#UrbanNaxals”, was defined in an essay in the right-wing magazine Swarajya in May 2017 by a filmmaker named Vivek Agnihotri (scroll). He writes -- “urban intellectuals, influencers or activists of importance” who are “the ‘invisible enemies’ of India”.
Some of these people, Agnihotri claimed, “have either been caught or are under the police radar for working for the movement and spreading insurgency against the Indian state”.
Agnihotri's definitions are empty of content. It is ambiguous, and as #GautamNavlakha mentioned in an interview, this ambiguity is deliberate. A definitional category that can encompass anyone. It Mobilises the society to extra-judicially curb dissent and criminalizes it.
But this formulation and the many of the right wing's assault on knowledge has one thing in common -- a deep distrust for reason - an anti-intellectual / anti-reason streak that views anyone with a different opinion as an enemy.
It is the same ridiculousnes s that argues Cow urine can cure cancer and dissent in unpatriotic. You can see #TejalKanitar speech on this here:
Moreover, these allegations of equating "intellectualism" = urban Naxal constitutes an appeal to authority and power that is tyrannical. It ridicules, insults, vilifies and discredits an opponent through toxic smearing rather than specifically addressing their arguments.
"Sickular", "libtard", and "presstitute" are already easily accepted category of insult that automatically vilifies any dissent.
This is not new of course. History provides ample examples from Cambodia to fascists authoritarian states have all gone after their writers, thinkers, and intellectuals first.
In Cambodia, anyone "thought to be an intellectual of any sort was killed. Often people were condemned for wearing glasses or knowing a foreign language. Hundreds of thousands of the educated middle-classes were tortured and executed in special centers.
The most notorious of these centers was the S-21 jail in Phnom Penh, Tuol Sleng, where as many as 17,000 men, women, and children were imprisoned during the regime's four years in power."
GN Saibaba, a wheelchair-bound English professor at Delhi University continues to die a little every day in the prison. What threat does this man pose to the Indian Nation?
A thinking men and women are still the greatest threat to a violent state. #urbannaxals
Now lets come to what Naxal actually means?
Naxalbari was an uprising of peasants and workers in 1967. Their demands were simple - "land to the tiller". The uprising started with state violence (a history that is often never told).
The police opened fire on a group of villagers who were demanding their right to the crops at a particular piece of land. The firing killed 9 adults and 2 unknown children.
The word “Naxal” derives its name from a small village Naxalbari on the tri-junction of India, Nepal and what was then East Pakistan, where local peasants and tribals took up arms against the oppression of the landlords in 1967.
The revolt spread throughout the country, and some of young India’s the finest minds left their homes, abandoned their future in the hope of a revolution that would remake the social reality and create a new egalitarian order.
But lets get to the heart of the matter. Naxal movement did not start as an insurgency against the state it was and still is the demand for rights and a fight against exploitation.
the Indian Constitution "ratified colonial policy and made the state custodian of tribal homelands", turning tribal populations into squatters on their own land and denied them their traditional rights to forest produce. (A. Roy)
"Naxalite conflicts began in the late 1960s with the prolonged failure of the Indian government to implement constitutional reforms to provide for limited tribal autonomy with respect to natural resources on their lands, e.g. pharmaceutical and mining"
as well as pass 'land ceiling laws', limiting the land to be possessed by landlords and distribution of excess land to landless farmers and labourers.(E.N. Rammohan (16 July 2012). "Unleash The Good Force". )
"In Scheduled Tribes [ST] areas, disputes related to illegal alienation of ST land to non-tribal people, still common, gave rise to the Naxalite movement."
Naxal movements have used violence - this is undeniable. But what is often lost in the analysis is this -- the violence of the powerful cannot be equated to the violence of the powerless.
A staffer for LBJ, Bill Moyers, reports that LBJ said, “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”
This quote applies to India today. This is effectively what @narendramodi 's BJP and RSS have done. Create chaos, blame to naxals, Muslims and dalits. Kill and criminalise dissent. And use fear and ignorance to break down the society!
The manufactured hubris conflates a "plot against Modi" and criminalizing dissent.
"Labelling Dalits and Adivasis as Maoists is an old state strategy for crushing dissent and criticism. In ‘Republic of Caste’, published this year, Anand Teltumbde writes about how Maoist and Naxalite labels make Dalits and Adivasis even more vulnerable."…
@scroll reports that - "Not a Modi assassination plot: Arrested activists are being investigated in the Bhima Koregaon case "

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More from @suchitrav

Sep 3, 2018
Lois Sofia (@Red_Pastures ) was arrested earlier today for shouting down with fasict BJP govt.…
BJP state president @DrTamilisaiBJP said “When I am taking my bag, a customer shouts 'BJP’s Fascist government down down'. Is that freedom of speech?” . The answer is a resounding yes.
@DrTamilisaiBJP "Sounderajan alleges that Sofia shouted ‘Down with the fascist BJP’ after the plane had landed."
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I analyzed case transcripts and testimonies from Nuremberg, Rwanda, and Yugoslavia and the frightening reality is this.

India is already primed for genocidal violence. The attack on #UmarKhalid is simply one of the many acts of violence we are yet to witness.
In its 2003 verdict, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) found Rwandan journalists Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza guilty of genocide, incitement to genocide, conspiracy, and crimes against humanity.
The case against Nahimana and Barayagwiza raised important questions regarding the role of the media and their social accountability. For the first time since the Nuremberg trials, hate speech was prosecuted as a war crime.
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