The Bandi Mukti Conference
The fourth state conference of the West Bengal Bandi Mukti Committee was held on 20 December, 2015 in the Mahabodhi Society Hall, Kolkata. Delegates from Kolkata and various mofussil districts of West Bengal attended the conference. On the eve of the conference, a leaflet was circulated on behalf of the Bandi Mukti Committee. In the leaflet, the West Bengal TMCFgovernment was accused of going back on its promises of releasing political prisoners and withdrawing joint forces from the Jangalmahal region. The TMC government was also accused of murdering Kishenji in cold blood, implicating Chatradhar Mahato and others in trumped up charges and giving them life imprisonment. The conviction of SUCI prisoners was also condemned. In the leaflet, it was observed that the government is treading the path of the Left Front in dealing with opposition. Besides, the aggressive attacks on the dalits, Muslims and rationalists with the covert and overt support of the Narendra Modi Government were denounced in strong terms.

The conference opened with two bold and inspiring songs by Pritthiranjan Dasgupta (Meghnad). Prof Sukhendu Sarkar conducted the proceedings of the conference, and Chhotan Das, the existing secretary, submitted the report on the activities of the Bandi Mukti Committee, discussing the achievements and weaknesses of the BMC. Several speakers denounced the flagrant violation of human rights, even in defiance of Supreme Court orders, by the police. Cases of inhuman treatment of women with babies in their arms were cited, and one speaker informed how even one octogenarian prisoner was stripped naked in the Lalbazar central lock-up. One speaker of the Jhargram-Lodhasuli region of West Medinipur described how the police-TMC combine was trampling underfoot all sorts of democratic rights in the most blatant manner.

Finally the state committee was reconstituted with 63 members, and Mahsweta Devi as president and Professor Sukhendu Sarkar as working president. Chhotan Das was reelected the secretary.
A Participant,

Elephant and Mining
Human-elephant conflict is one of the greatest threats to elephants in India today. The relentless increase of human population resulting in loss and fragmentation of elephant habitat is the main cause behind this.

In the state of Chhattisgarh, deforestation has given rise to increasing conflicts between the community and elephants. 198 human deaths and 14 elephants deaths have been recorded in eight years as a result!

To halt the increasing conflict, The Ministry of Environment and Forests gave consent to two elephant reserves in the region in 2007. This was a result of a resolution by the Chhattisgarh government in 2005.

But the proposed Lemru Elephant Reserve in Korba was shelved to clear way for coal mining.

The cost to both sides in the human-elephant conflict is immense and the proposed reserve would be an effective solution.

The forests of Chhattisgarh are rich in bio-diversity and also home to leopards and sloth bears. And instead of protecting them, the government is selling off the land to coal companies.

If humans keep destroying their habitat for various 'needs' one can hardly blame elephants for straying into human settlements. Not only are elephants incredibly unique, they are also regarded as 'umbrella species'. That is, their conservation also protects a large number of other species.
 A Reader,
New Delhi

‘What it Means to be leftist’
The title [The editorial 'What it Means to be Leftist' in Frontier, December 20-26, 2015] attracted me very much, but the text disappointed me at least as much. You put a fundamental question, but what you serve us in response is only a critique of the current political maneuvers of only two Indian parties that are traditionally considered to be left parties. It is far from adequate to the title-question. I know this question is being put in many parts of the world.

In the last paragraph you write: "The communist left needs theory ...".I agree very much. I suppose you mean a new theory. Otherwise you would have written that the communist left should follow their traditional theory, namely Marxism or Marxism-Leninsm or Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, in order to define their task at the present time. But then you yourself arbitrarily lay down very narrow parameters within which this new theory should be produced: "... a theory which can generate momentum in people's struggles within Indian borders,...." Why within Indian borders? A new theory, especially one that should be produced by the communist left, should be meant to have validity for the whole world. Communists are not supposed to be provincial. Such a new theory building process must begin with an objective analysis of the present world situation. Only then should one define the task at the present juncture.

I am feeling tempted to suggest a beginning of this new theory building process: Walter Benjamin wrote:
"Marx says revolutions are the locomotive of world history. But perhaps it is entirely different. Revolutions are perhaps the attempt of humanity travelling in a train to pull the emergency brake."
Saral Sarkar,

Badruddin Omar’s Article
The tenor and contents of Badruddin Omar's 2-part article [Yechuri's 'Idea of India and Communalism' November 29-December 5, 2015 and December 6-12, 2015, Frontier] ostensibly criticizing Sitaram Yechuri's ideas on secularism and communalism but in effect throwing mud on all the top nationalist leaders of the freedom movement times branding them as Hindu communal with High Caste attitudes and characterizing Muslims as oppressed community along with Christians and scheduled castes, tribes etc—is not only totally false and highly objectionable but also completely ridiculous. I am yet to find 'oppressed Muslims' in India, especially of the pre-indepcndcnce times. At least in Hyderabad and Bhopal they were not oppressed, but rulers, oppressing and cruel. In Hyderabad, the majority community was not even allowed to use its own language and open schools in its own language but an alien language, Urdu, was imposed on them and 80-90% of all government employment was allotted to Muslims only. In Madras province which was under British rule, I don't know what oppression Muslims suffered since by all factual data they were having all rights and facilities equally with other communities. If any anomaly was there, it was the cruel and oppressive conduct of Mappillah Muslims (so called Moplahs) of Malabar, but not the other way round. He forgets even to mention the so many struggles carried out by the Congress and the so many years spent by its leaders in jails against the British imperialists while the bulk of the Muslims under Jinnah were colluding with the British. Badruddin Omar strangely not even mentions the worst treatment the post-independent Bangla Muslims meted out to their Hindu colleagues there—with 20% of the Hindu population there reduced to less than 10% or so at present, and bulk of the massacres and rapes committed against Hindu population in Bangladesh. Strangely when Badruddin Omar's cherished Pakistan and Bangladesh have been ethnically cleansing and reducing their Hindu populations to a nullity gradually—here in India and Bengal the Muslim population is growing by leaps and bounds and all this due to Hindu communalism!? Facts and situations have to be met squarely on realistic grounds or otherwise India will go down in ruins.
I Mallikarjuna Sharma,
Advocate and Editor,
Law Animated World, Hyderabad

Vol. 48, No. 28, Jan 17 - 23, 2016