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Letters

Khokan Chatterjee
Khokan Chatterjee, a life-long activist of the people's movement, passed away in Calcutta on 18 April after a long struggle with the fatal disease of cancer. He was about sixty-nine at the time of death.

Khokan Chatterjee, ever since his boyhood, was connected with radical leftist politics. Influenced by the Naxalbari uprising of 1967, he went to the district of Birbhum to work among the peasantry under the assumed name 'Tarapada'. After the debate inside the newly formed CPI(M-L) on the necessity of mass organizations, he however dissociated himself from this party, but did not give up the political work. After the setback that befell the movement in 1971-72, he came back to Calcutta, but unlike the degenerated Naxalites, who took the decision not to have anything with politics or ideology, he kept touch with the people. It was however not a mean achievement for one brought up in the urban milieu to spend three to four years in the villages trying to organize the peasantry in the midst of tremendous hardship. Since the late seventies of the last century till his death, he worked for civil liberties and democratic rights, and led a lifestyle that was austere by common standards. He was all along a member of the APDR, which has definitely lost an old warrior at his demise.
Anirban Biswas, Birbhum

The Lookout Notice
That the Kerala police have been issuing the look-out notice of certain alleged Maoists is news in the print and electronic media for quite some time. But this time the intention of the police—to criminalise all leaders, activists who have been openly working among the people for years—is very clear as is evident from the lookout notice they have issued.

A Lookout Notice placed by the Kerala Police in Mananthawadi Police Station limits in Wayanad district has the names of well-known social and human rights activists of Kerala. The ‘Lookout notice’, ostensibly containing names and pictures of alleged Maoists, also carry the names and pictures of Adv. PA Pouran, state general secretary of Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties (and also the President of the Kerala Chapter, CRPP), N Subramanian, social activist with more than three decades of public presence, Adv. Thushar Nirmal Saradhy, President of the Jankeeya Manushy-vakasa Prasthanam (also secretary of the Kerala Chapter CRPP), MN Ravunni, general convener of Porattam (also one of the Vice Presidents, CRPP Central Chapter), CRPP member Nikhil, CHRD member KK Rajeesh, RDF President Sugathan, Secretary Ajayan, Joint Secretary Devarajan (all of them with years of public life), C. Ajithan, a trade union activist in public life for more than two decades, activist Karthikeyan, NCHRO member Vilayodi Sivankuti, Jaison Cooper, a social activist and Adv. Manuel, another activist with over two decades of public life. Around 40 people with their names and photographs have been shown in the Lookout Notice.

Such outrageous acts from the side of the police and the intelligence agencies have become a pattern, specifically designed to create in the public memory and self, a sense of acceptance of such perceptions or representation of people/activists and their activities as something to be viewed with suspicion, bordering on that what is accepted or received as 'crime'. This is nothing but to isolate such people/activists from public life, so that any of denial of their fundamental rights by the State is coerced into consent from the public, as a necessary step in consonance with the general maintenance of 'law and order'; for the safeguard of the so-called 'national interest'. In the prevailing political atmosphere of deepening fissures within the economy of the subcontinent in the form of increasing unemployment, retrenchment, cut in pay packets, general slump in real industrial production, the only way for the political class in the corridors of power is to latch on to the hyperbole of jingoism, hate and xenophobia which is very much the flavour and rallying point for all political parties contesting the present elections to the Indian parliament. In such situations those who strive to talk for or on behalf of the people, those who strive to rear the sapling of freedom, those who dare to raise public questions against denial of freedoms, discrimination and oppression become the prime targets of a belligerent State out to penalise every form of dissent against its anti-people policies. The last two decades since 1991 has seen increasing instances of brutalisation and criminalisation of every form of dissent of the people.

To publicise the names and pictures of persons, leading a public life with commitment to the people, participating in democratic struggles taking place in different parts of the state as well as outside, tagged along with the alleged Maoists who are supposedly operating in the forest terrain of the state shows beyond doubt the intentions of the police and the intelligence agencies to prepare further ground for their unhindered long history of impunity that has characterised the scenario of growing instances of gross violations of the rights of the masses of the people. The persons named above are not only staying in their usual places of dwelling and freely moving around having participated in numerous struggles such as marches, protest meetings etc. It is important for such a penal- state machinery to vilify and criminalise the defenders of human freedoms. This also shows that the State in its over drive to push the pro-market policies of loot and plunder of people's resources and wealth in service of the international and local money bags have scant regards for the lives and livelihoods of the people. The State does not want to be accountable at any level and it fears that the gross violations of freedoms and the attendant miseries of the people if brought to the attention of the people of the subcontinent let alone the world can adversely impact on its plans to aggressively push the pro-market policies brushing aside all forms of dissent.

The Kerala police have however denied (TOI, TVM edition, 27 April, 2014) having issued any Lookout Notice on these activists and has downplayed it as just a dossier prepared for the police-men "to make them aware of the threat". Such an admission from the police further reinforces the serious concerns and is a clear cut admission of their criminal intention for the future.
SAR Geelani, President
Amit Bhattacharyya, Secretary General
Rona Wilson, Secretary, Public Relations
Committee For The Release Of Political Prisoners [CRPP]

‘Calcutta Notebook’
I would like to add a few lines as a supplement to what I wrote on Saroj Datta in Calcutta Notebook (March 30-April 5, 2014). As for as I know, a famous Bengali film-star promenading in the Maiden area of Kolkata in early morning witnessed from a distance the murder of Saroj Datta by the police, and also heard the voices of policemen gloaling over this murder. Although the film-star did not have any prior knowledge about Saroj Datta, he was starled by the incident and told of it privately to one or two of his acquitances supposed to know Saroj Datta. As the news got leaked, he most probably under prenure from the police, fled to Bombay (now Mumbai) lest he should have to reveal the truth publicly. A lie manufactured by police was propagated, saying that his flight from Kolkata was caused by the Naxalites’ demand for a large sum of money from him. Mr Soumitra Chattopadhyay who was also a celebrity in the film-world of Bengal, should be able to pronounce with authority on this episode.
A B

Banbehari Chakraborty
Banbehari Chakraborty (1924-2014), a life-long proponent of revolutionary politics in India, passed away at 2 a.m. on 14 April, in his house, surrounded by his political followers and students who were his constant companions for the last 30 years.

He was born in Nalikul, Hoogly district, West Bengal, but his family moved to Sreerampore when he was five. He got involved with Anushilan Samity of Bipin Behari Ganguly in his school days. After his matriculation his family settled in Benares where he became a part of the National Movement. During the Quit India Movement, he was noticed by Rustamji Satin of the CPI, who had a high regard for Banbehari till his last days. Soon after he became a member of the Communist Party of India.

He followed the revolutionary line during the split in the communist party in 1964 and again in 1967-69. He was one of the principal speakers in the 1st May, 1969 rally of the AICCCR held at Shahid Minar Maidan, Kolkata. His revolutionary ideological struggle continued at both the field and ideological levels. His fearless criticism of both right and left deviations within the communist movement made him an outcast again and again among the established political organizations. But he carried on his political organizational practice undeterred throughout India.

Some of his principal writings in chronological order are :
1)     Devaluation of Indian Currency (Bengali)—1966
2)    The gilded value of Shakespeare's Theatre (Bengali)—1966
3)    The lessons of Chinese Revolution (Bengali)—1969
4)    From East Pakistan to Bangladesh? 'Independent Bangladesh' or a new colony? (Bengali) -1972
5)    Against Cultural Aggression : on Rammohan—Incomplete-(Bengali)—1973-74
6)    Whither class-struggle: Inside or outside the Parliament (Bengali)—1977
7)    The Stalin Question (English)—1978
8)    My glimpses of the militant journalist—Mohit Moitra (Bengali)—1982
9)    On journalist Girish Chandra and his era (Bengali)—1983
10)   Marx on the stagnation of Indian society and the tradition of Jajmani (Bengali)—1983
11)    The political psychology of Indians—the tradition of Jajmani (Bengali)—1984
12)   Problems of Marxism (Bengali)—1988
13)   On Socialist Art and Culture (Bengali)
14)   In Search of the sources of Destalinisation (Bengali)—1990
Apart from the above he continued to contribute to various magazines and publications in Bengali, Hindi and English.
Sudipto Mitra, Kolkata

Frontier
Vol. 46, No. 46, May 25 -31, 2014