BJP Must Not Be Allowed to Reduce Jharkhand to a Police State

[Excerpts from Comrade Dipankar's Letter from Birsa Munda Central Jail, Ranchi , March 4, 2001 .]

Three days after the March 1 gherao of Jharkhand Assembly, I am writing this note from extremely overcrowded Birsa Munda Central Jail where I am currently lodged along with 40 other comrades. These 40 comrades include one young adivasi construction worker, Motu, who was picked up by the police nearly an hour after we were taken into custody. His only crime was that he happened to be standing near the site of the gherao and police lathicharge. Motu's wedding was scheduled for yesterday, but he spent the day in our company, privileged as a co-accused under section 307 and the Criminal Law Amendment Act!

This so-called central jail of Ranchi has a sanctioned capacity of accommodating 364 prisoners, but more than 2,100 prisoners are currently lodged here. The number keeps swelling as hundreds of poor and mostly dalit and adivasi prisoners who have been implicated in false cases are left to languish for years without any legal aid or judicial relief. These are prisoners who have already served their full prison term, but are being forced to overstay for months and even years. There are nearly a hundred septuagenarian prisoners who are incarcerated defying all judicial norms and court rulings. And then there are dozens of innocent Muslim youths from Doranda and adjacent neighborhoods in Ranchi , victims of the continuing spree of indiscriminate firing on the day of Id last December.

Soon after the deck was cleared for the formation of Jharkhand, Advani and his colleagues made no bones about their vision of the new province. They wanted a model of police state. The first budget of the new state presented on March 2 this year has reiterated this priority earmarking as much as Rs. 90 crore for the police forces' modernization. All this talk of police modernization and improving the morale of the police are aimed at legitimizing the order of lawlessness imposed by the very machinery entrusted with the task of maintaining 'law and order' and the so-called 'rule of law'. This is all the more necessary for the Sangh Parivar in its bid to push through its project of saffronisation and appeasement of multinational capital.

If a police state thus becomes a political imperative in the saffron scheme of things, democracy remains the battle-cry for all who want to improve their own living and working conditions, and free Jharkhand from the clutches of communal fascists, mafia gangs and capitalist predators. After the formation of Jharkhand as India 's 28th province and the installation of the RSS-led Babulal Marandi regime, the question has now been posed squarely on the agenda of the day : Whose Jharkhand? What kind of Jharkhand? The oppressed and fighting people of Jharkhand are determined to brave all odds to intensify the battle for democracy and secularism, for a new Jharkhand in a new India .

Let me take this opportunity to thank all comrades and friends who have condemned the police crackdown on the March 1 gherao of Jharkhand Assembly.

- Dipankar Bhattacharya