• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

Spring Donation Drive

CounterPunch is a lifeboat piggybank-icon of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Kalaratri Appears: Indigenous Women Take-Up Arms in India

“We worshipped the forest god. We got all our firewood from here. This place was green, now it is black with dust…When agricultural land is lost, what are we supposed to eat? Coal?”

— Hemanto Samrat from Gopalpur village, Sundargarh, Odisha, India

Uncharacteristically, the Canadian Press omitted to report the 50 hour abduction last month of a cyclist from Ottawa by Maoist forces in the jungles of central India.  The story was reported with great alarm, however, in all the major Indian papers.

The Canadian had gone missing in the midst of a major recent escalation of violent resistance by the indigenous communist cadres of Chattisigarh that has left up to 50 State paramilitary personnel dead since March 11th, 2017.

Luckily, the “cycling enthusiast”, who in various reports was referred to as a “Canadian social worker” or a “member of the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Center”, was released unharmed and flown quickly back home by Canadian consular officials despite his original intention to make his way to Bangledesh.

Only, he wasn’t a social worker, he was an employee of Canadian High Artic Energy Co., an expert on oil drilling!  No wonder his presence in their region was of interest to the Communist Party of India (CPI), whether he just happened to be passing through on “vacation”, or not.

The drilling of oil and other mining industries are precisely the issue for the indigenous people, referred to as Adavasi, or Tribals, in India.  Their fight is to preserve their way of life in the forest regions in which they have dwelled from time immemorial from despoliation by mining interests.

While Canadian High Artic Energy is not presently active in drilling operations in India, other Canadian companies are.  For example, Saumya Mining recently “signed a Joint Venture Agreement with Lantech Drilling Inc. of Canada to engage and provide specialized services to mining or mineral exploration companies petroleum companies and government agencies”, according to their website.

Saumya Mining boasts that it is a leading Indian Company involved in bauxite, coal, uranium, oil and other mining operations in Chattisigarh and neighboring states; and that it has built its business on “its ability to adapt the working conditions to whatever adversity a site can present”.  In other words, Saumya is a partner in the ferocious war against the indigenous communists which just last week again broke out in deadly violence.

Like an appearance of the Hindu Warrior Goddess Kalaratri, over 200 female cadres of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) emerged from the Jungles of Chattisigarh on April 24th to kill 25 paramilitary soldiers, and in so doing, also shatter much of what remains of the political mythology of the post-WWII era.

Most importantly, the actions of these women challenge assumptions about the political role of their gender. The kind of leadership they represent is certainly not the same as that called for by Ivanka Trump & Chrystia Freeland at the W20 Women’s Summit on April 25th!  They also challenge standard estimations of a woman’s power. The “Jawans” killed were all men who, perhaps not surprisingly, were caught napping!

According to the Hindustan Times, “the Maoists timed their attack during lunch when sentries were relaxed and the main force disengaged their arms. After they received the signal from operatives posing as road construction labourers that the food van had arrived, they took positions on both sides of the road. Unsuspecting, the soldiers considered them laborers. The Maoists waited until almost 80 percent of the troops dispersed for water and food and bolted toward the vans to attack”.

The fact that over 70% of the adivasis warriors who engaged in this attack were women, also poses difficult questions for the post-Ghandhian, post-MLK consensus in the West on the superiority of non-violent resistance.  Arundhati Roy, the Indian Booker Prize winning author, put the question this way in a piece she entitled, Walking with the Comrades:

“I feel I ought to say something about the futility of violence, about the unacceptability of summary executions. But what should I suggest they do? Go to court? A rally? A relay hunger strike? Which party should they vote for? Which democratic institution in this country should they approach? It sounds ridiculous”.

The fact that 99% of the CPI (Maoist) cadres are indigenous tribal peoples engaged in a “protracted people’s war” against the full force of the Indian State; assisted as it is by drones provided by Israel, and helicopter attacks from the air reminiscent of the War in Vietnam; also challenges Stalinist era ideological assumptions.

Not only is this last outpost of communist revolutionary activity found in the jungles, not the cities; but the revolutionaries themselves are not workers nor even peasants; they are “tribals”, even, indigenous women.

And, these indigenous communists are not “Marxists”, “Leninist”, “Trotskyist”, nor “Social-Democrats”; they proudly extoll an ideological eclecticism they call “Marxist-Leninist-Maoist”, which may point the way for the future of the left.

In the end, one may ask whether this episode hearkens back to the matriarchal societies of the North American Iroquois in whose political forms Marx and Engels saw the future of communism. “It will be the same”, Marx wrote in reference to indigenous societies, “but different”.

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
May 17, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Trump and the Middle East: a Long Record of Personal Failure
Joan Roelofs
“Get Your Endangered Species Off My Bombing Range!”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Slouching Towards Tehran
Paul Street
It’s Even More Terrible Than You Thought
Rob Urie
Grabby Joe and the Problem of Environmental Decline
Ajamu Baraka
2020 Elections: It’s Militarism and the Military Budget Stupid!
Andrew Levine
Springtime for Biden and Democrats
Richard Moser
The Interlocking Crises: War and Climate Chaos
Ron Jacobs
Uncle Sam Needs Our Help Again?
Eric Draitser
Elizabeth Warren Was Smart to Tell FOX to Go to Hell
Peter Bolton
The Washington Post’s “Cartel of the Suns” Theory is the Latest Desperate Excuse for Why the Coup Attempt in Venezuela has Failed
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Analysis of Undecideds Suggests Biden’s Support May be Exaggerated
Peter Lackowski
Eyewitness in Venezuela: a 14-year Perspective
Karl Grossman
Can Jerry Nadler Take Down Trump?
Howie Hawkins
Does the Climate Movement Really Mean What It Says?
Gary Leupp
Bolton and the Road to the War He Wants
Jill Richardson
Climate Change was No Accident
Josh Hoxie
Debunking Myths About Wealth and Race
David Barsamian
Iran Notes
David Mattson
Social Carrying Capacity Politspeak Bamboozle
Christopher Brauchli
The Pompeo Smirk
Louis Proyect
Trotsky, Bukharin and the Eco-Modernists
Martha Burk
Will Burning at the Stake Come Next?
John W. Whitehead
The Deadly Perils of Traffic Stops in America
Binoy Kampmark
The Christchurch Pledge and a Regulated Internet
David Rosen
Florida’s Sex Wars: the Battle to Decriminalize Sex Work
Ralph Nader
Trump: Importing Dangerous Medicines and Food and Keeping Consumers in the Dark
Brett Haverstick
America’s Roadless Rules are Not Protecting Public Wildlands From Development
Alan Macleod
Purity Tests Can be a Good Thing
Binoy Kampmark
Modern Merchants of Death: the NSO Group, Spyware and Human Rights
Kim C. Domenico
Anarchism & Reconciliation, Part II
Peter LaVenia
Game of Thrones and the Truth About Class (Spoiler Warning)
Manuel E. Yepe
The Options Trump Puts on the Table
Renee Parsons
The Pompeo/Bolton Tag Team
David Swanson
Where Lyme Disease Came From and Why It Eludes Treatment
Cesar Chelala
Lowering Your Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Our Problems are Deeper than “Capitalism” (and “Socialism” Alone Can’t Solve Them)
Chris Zinda
Delegislating Wilderness
Robert Koehler
War’s Unanswered Questions
Robert P. Alvarez
Let Prison Inmates Vote
Barbara Nimri Aziz
A Novel We Can All Relate To
David Yearsley
Carmen’s Mother’s Day Lessons
Charles R. Larson
Review: Ziya Tong’s “The Reality Bubble”
Elliot Sperber
Pharaoh’s Dream
Elizabeth Keyes
Somewhere Beyond Corporate Media Yemenis Die
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail