ToI’s Nagpur-based Intelligence: Labeling Anti-Land Acquisition Coalition a “Naxal Front”!

Courtesy: MediaVigil | Translated by Nitin Vergese

Times-of-India-08.07.2016-730x515

This Friday, the readers of the Times of India in Nagpur woke up to quite a disturbing piece of news, one that declared quite callously that the upcoming national conference, ‘Jal Jangal Zameen’ in Ahmedabad, was being organized by ‘Naxalite frontal organizations’.

It is interesting to note that all organizations that are participants in the national conference are an integral part of the Land Rights Movements across the country which began against the Land Acquisition Bill of 2013, which following major protests across the country had to be withdrawn by the Union. Farmer unions of CPI(M), CPI and other people based organizations and movements such as the National Alliance of People’s Movements and Narmada Bachao Andolan are also participating in the national conference. Interestingly, these organizations do not merely have political disagreements with Naxals but also have been known to support government interventions against them in certain areas.

It is strange that this piece of information that supposedly comes from intelligence agencies of Maharashtra is about an event in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Here is the news clipping below:

The article claims that these ‘Front organizations for Naxalites’ are coming together to oppose government policies of land acquisition, FDI, corporate exploitation of natural resources and the exploitation of workers and labourers under the garb of ‘Jal-Jangal-Zameen’. If this was indeed a secret meeting, it was badly done, since many of the participating organizations had circulated pamphlets and posters of the same, inviting the public to participate, openly so. Hardly something that needed intelligence agencies to spend their resources on.

The national conference of people’s movements for the protection of Jal-Jangal-Zameen-Gantantra is to be held in Ahmedabad’s Gujarat Vidyapeeth between 16th and 18th July. Organizers include famous social workers like Hiren Gandhi, who runs an organization by the name of Darshan in the city. News of the conference was published on a Hindi website, Sangharsh Samvad which posts updates on people’s movements, and all the organizations who were touted to be the organizers have been labelled as Naxal frontal organizations by the Times of India raises questions on the ulterior motives of the newspaper agency.

Other organizers include:

National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sabha (36 Canning Lane), Akil Bhartiya Van Shramjeevi Union, Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sabha, Bhartiya Kisan Union, Akhil Bhartiya Krishak Khet Mazdoor Sanghathan, Jan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti, Insaaf, Akhil Bhartiya Khet Mazdoor Union, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), Kisaan Sangharsh Samiti, Chattisgargh Bachao Andolan, Mine, Mineral and Peoples (MMP), Madhya Pradesh Aadivasi Ekta Mahasabha, Samajvadi Samagam, Kisaan Manch, Vindhya Jan Andolan Samarthak Samooh, Lok Sangharsh Morcha, Sanyukta Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Darshan, Gujrat Social Watch, Paryavaran Mitra, Gujarat Kisaan Sanghathan, Aadivasi Ekta Vikas Andolan, Lok Kala Manch, Swabhiman Aandolan, Gujarat Lok Samiti and other people’s organizations.

Any person familiar with these NGOs and social organizations can easily vouch for these organizations and their lack of any political allegiance to Naxalite politics. In contrast, left parties in Bengal have indeed initiated movements against Naxals, parties whose farmers’ unions are among the organizers of the conference. Narmada Bachao Andolan, NAPM, Samajwadi Samagam etc. organizations follow Gandhian and socialist ideologies.

IMG_5976-1

The fact that one of leading English dailies of the country has touted information freely available on the internet as an exclusive from intelligence agencies is laughable, but also worrying. The picture accompanying the article shows a masked gunman with the iconic communist hammer and sickle in the background. It’s as if the article deliberately wants readers to feel that Gujarat is under immediate threat of sinister Naxalite attacks or something along those lines.

In fact, it begs the question, does the Times of India believe raising issues of farmers, workers, fishermen, Dalits and the poor is a Naxalite practice? Does it find Gandhian, Socialist and similar ideologies to be in the same vein as Naxalism? If not, then it seems that the article has been written to serve the interests of Sanghi headquarters in Nagpur; another new low for print media.