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Maoist Political Prisoner, Septuagenarian Sushil Roy

See, below, four articles on Sushil Roy:  -- an appeal for justice and humanitarian medical release;  -- an interview on current CPI(Maoist) political relations;-- a brief biographic note;-- and a 2006 letter written soon after Sushil Roy's arrest, challenging the CPI(M)'s parliamentary road and the WB "Left Front" repression of revolutionaries.


Septuagenarian Maoist Sushil Roy, known as Comrade Som, who is one of the two oldest political prisoners of the India at present, an inmate of Giridih Mandal Kara (district level jail), has been admitted to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) after being brought from a ward at RIMS, a government medical hospital at Ranchi of Jharkhand. He was shifted from the jail to hospital after an inordinate delay first to RIMS in Ranchi, when he was not able to swallow any food for over 10 days and had become extremely weak and virtually crippled as a result of his medical history and cruel neglect of medical treatment for 7 years in jails. This delay was caused by the refusal of the Jharkhand police to provide him a secure mode of transport from Giridih jail to Ranchi. Had it not been for the hue and cry raised by several people's organizations and his younger brother, Dr. Shyamal Roy, who happens to be his only close relative, about his likely death in that jail, even this belated treatment would not have been possible. Shushil Roy is considered to be the senior most leader of the CPI (Maoist) after the united Party emerged in 2004 and he inaugurated the United CPI (Maoist).

Several people's organizations in India have been demanding:

1.      Shushil Roy should be unconditionally released forthwith.

2.      If his unconditional release is not possible forthwith, he may be allowed to remain a free citizen as long as he is still under trial, so that he can obtain the necessary medical treatment, and receive the due care and attention under the charge of his younger brother.

3.      Also, a high-level judicial committee should be constituted to probe, and give a report at the earliest, on the veracity of the charges foisted against him in the remaining cases.


The following is the full version of the interview Shushil Roy gave to Indian Express, an English language daily recently.

Indian Express (IE): What relations do the CPI(Maoist) have with the Nepal Maoists? Is it still going strong?


Sushil Roy (SR): The CPI (Maoist) seeks, as part of its international responsibilities, to have fraternal relations with Maoists and all progressive forces struggling for the working classes all over the world. Nepal is one of them.

Specifically today in Nepal there are three Maoist parties to my knowledge. One called UCPN(Maoist) led by Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai, the other called CPN(Maoist) led by Matrika Yadav who was the first to part with the UCPN(Maoist), and the third, also called CPN(Maoist) led by Kiran, which was formed very recently. Earlier, all the three were within a single party CPN(Maoist). The splits have taken place because Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai's policies of late amounted to a betrayal of the Nepalese new democratic revolution. To my knowledge, the CPI (Maoist) has had a fraternal ideological and political relationship with the Maoists of Nepal, which entails both unity and struggle on common issues. Whether the Nepal Maoists are still leading the revolution there or have betrayed it, we have common aims and objectives, common enemies in the present phase, and common friends as well. That is the essence of our unity on ideological and political issues. Where we differed on questions related to the strategy and tactics of revolution in our respective countries, we had been having internal or mutual debates, but we do not interfere in each other's actual work, other than politically supporting mutual revolutionary causes.

Now, with the formation of three Maoist parties in Nepal, and one of them generally perceived as having betrayed their new democratic revolution, and the two others yet to emerge with effective strategy and tactics to take ahead that revolution, I would think that the CPI(Maoist) would be in the process of reshaping the forms of its ideological and political relationship with the three parties.


IE: What has been the West Bengal government's stand towards the Maoists after Mamata Banerjee came to power?


SR: The government of West Bengal has been antagonistic and inimical towards the Maoists, both before and after Mamata came to power. While she was in the Opposition, Mamata, to begin with, tried to feign as if the Maoists had no significant present at all. Then, as the elections drew closer, and Singur, Nandigram and then the Lalgarh peoples' resistance movements emerged as a big force, she realized that with the support-base of the Maoists widening and deepening, it would be beneficial to pose as a supporter and sympathiser of them. Then again, when she came to power, when she had the props of the state with its repressive apparatus of police, paramilitary and armed forces, and draconian laws, as well as the court, colonial bureaucracy etc. to hold her in power, she had no need any more to elicit the support of the masses rallying around the Maoists, or the support of the radicalised intelligentsia of Bengal. She, therefore, did a quick somersault on occupying the chief minister's chair and began to show her true colours as regards the Maoists. The brutal murder of Kishenji, the beloved leader of the Indian revolutionary masses, left no doubt about her real political and military character.


IE: Is the government sympathetic towards them? Is any government sympathetic towards the Maoists?


SR: No question of that. There is not a single government in the country which could be sympathetic towards the Maoists. That is reflective of the strength of the Maoists. Only the masses are sympathetic.

IE: Something about Mamata Banerjee's policies?


SR: Mamata's policies are as anti-people as that of any other party of the exploiting and ruling classes. Today if she feigns opposition to the UPA's thrust towards foreign direct investment in retail, broadcasting and civil aviation, it is only because she wants to save face in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, after using the UPA prop to acquire a larger political stature. She is an opportunist par excellence. There should be no difficulty in seeing through her dramatics and histrionics. She has learnt a lot from her predecessors who ruled West Bengal for so many decades.


IE: During the panchayat elections will you set up dummy candidates?


SR: Why would any Maoist party set up any dummy candidates? As far as panchayats are concerned, we Maoists believe that they are first an extension of the corrupt, exploitative, oppressive and repressive state. Panchayats generally serve to preserve feudal power in the villages, and imperialist, feudal and comprador bureaucratic bourgeois rule as a whole, down to the grass-roots. The only way is to launch and intensify the revolutionary class struggle at the grass-roots, and in this way build revolutionary peoples' committees at the local levels. That is how the Maoists believe in letting the toiling masses take over power from those who exploit and oppress them, right from the panchayat to the parliament.


IE: What is the biggest hurdle for the Maoists in the present day?


SR: Especially in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and some areas of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh etc., the state, with its heavily armed forces, and now with the direct involvement of the Army and the Air Force, has been encircling and suppressing the people in its efforts to wipe out the Maoists and their supporters by the thousands. This encirclement and suppression entails extremely brutal and inhuman attacks on the poorest of the poor and on their most devoted leaders and soldiers. Such cold-blooded, pre-meditated attacks are accompanied with devious means to wean away the weaker cadres to different rival formations, and with draconian laws to arrest at will and detain for long periods, also for life, and inhuman torture in custody, etc. Intelligence agencies are proactively managing the media to plant and spread false stories. These are all the major hurdles today. In addition, the Maoists have to consistently wage an internal struggle against whatever non-proletarian trends may remain and emerge within their ranks. Overcoming all the internal shortcomings and weaknesses is also a major challenge before the Maoists as they gear up to take on these biggest ever onslaughts in the history of the Indian new democratic revolution.


IE: Is there a setback for the Maoists in Bengal and Jharkhand?


SR: I am not in a position to make any such assessment. Inside jail, I only had newspapers and some magazines as my sources. I had no proper information. Even now, when I am under medical treatment at the AIIMS, Delhi, I have hardly any information. But what I can safely say on the basis of whatever I have been able to gather until now is that the Maoists in Bengal and Jharkhand are faced with a full-scale war, whose intensity and viciousness are increasing constantly. It is a terrorist attack by the state against the downtrodden people, the adivasis, poor peasants and their beloved leaders. The Maoists are at the forefront of this war against the Indian people, whether in Bengal, Jharkhand or anywhere else. The circumstances of this war are tough and adverse. But I am hopeful that the Maoists, armed as they are with the ideology of the working class, the proletariat, they will have behind them the tremendous moral strength of history and the love and support of the masses. On this basis, they will develop the appropriate political and military tactics, in order to gain victories and turn any defeat into victory, and failure into success in their overall strategy of this current phase of new democratic revolution in our country.


IE: Do the Maoists take active help from the North-Eastern groups?


SR: The Maoists support the struggles for self-determination, including the demand for secession, which are being waged by different nationality movements in the North East. Some of these nationalities, and their organisations may support the Maoists politically, just as the Maoists support them.

If you are talking about active military help, as of date, I don't think there is anything like that actually taking place. But the Maoists would welcome whatever political support these democratic, progressive and radical movements may offer. They would also look forward to broadening the sphere of mutual help and co-operation in the future, not only with the North-East, but also with the Kashmiris, and also with various persecuted minorities, such as the Muslims.


IE: Since you are a political prisoner, did the government extend any help to you?


SR: The government did not extend any help to me while in jail. In our country, there is no official recognition to political prisoners like us. Unless we fight for our rights, we are treated like animals, like dogs. Whatever treatment I am getting here at AIIMS is just the human right of any prisoner. But with me there was also an attempt to let me die out of utter neglect and lack of medical care, first in Chaibasa jail, then in Giridih jail and worse still, at the government hospital RIMS in Ranchi where I spent 15 days in excruciating pain and squalor. I would have died there if my dear ones would not have taken up cudgels for me, and if various democratic rights organisations had not lent their support in Jharkhand, from West Bengal, Delhi and other parts of the country. Without struggle from within and support from outside, a political prisoner has no hope, no entity.


IE: Are the Maoists willing to reciprocate P Chidambaram's offer to surrender arms and then come to talking terms?


SR: Why should the Maoists surrender the arms which actually belong to the people of India? Chidambaram's talk about surrender of arms was just empty rhetoric. He did not want any talks with the Maoists. Surrendering arms would mean entirely giving up the struggle. For talks, we can at the most talk in terms of putting one's arms on hold. That is, a mutual cease-fire or a cessation of hostilities to some extent. Asking the Maoists to give up arms while the state actually stepping up its Operation Greenhunt - that was nothing but double standards. What the Maoists were asking for was putting the military operations of the state against the people on hold, and working at the modalities of a mutual ceasefire and such things. In West Bengal the Maoists even carried out a unilateral ceasefire for a whole month to pave the way for talks. But all governments have been betraying anyone who hopes for talks by unilaterally continuing attacks while the Maoists put their arms on hold. This is the real obstacle to talks - the governments in power and not the Maoists.

IE: What do you think about the Bijapur massacre?


SB: In Bijapur in Chhattisgarh, it is now well known that 20 unarmed adivasis from three neighbouring villages were massacred by the paramilitary forces. Such a massacre speaks volumes about the training that the paramilitary forces are getting from Israeli and US imperialist agencies and to what extent the Indian state, at the behest of its imperialist masters, considers the people of India as its enemies.

The unarmed adivasi peasants had gathered in their own village to discuss the modalities of the forthcoming sowing season for their paddy. In an area of influence of the Maoists if the toiling masses get together to take their own decisions collectively and democratically, it is not tolerated by the state. This is because the state today does not tolerate the practice of democracy by the toiling masses. The state does not want the toiling masses to take their own decisions regarding their agriculture-based economy. This shows that the rulers can go to any extent to demonstrate that they can only allow their imperialist masters to control and direct the country's economy, not the people of India backed by the Maoists.


IE: Anything else you would like to share with the readers?


SR: Yes, a lot. First thing is about how to read newspapers, how to view TV channels. Most newspapers and TV channels are so run that the realities get distorted. The ideas, which the ruling elite ascribe to, are propagated vehemently, even unethically. Therefore, one has to perceive the news and the news analyses that we see in the newspapers and TV channels very intelligently. Conscientious reporters and editors in today's dominant media have become an endangered species.

Secondly, what I wish to say is that if your readers wish to know what is the actual situation on the ground as regards the struggle between the Maoist-led peoples' war and peoples' movements on the one hand and the repressive forces of the state on the other, one will have to actually go and see for oneself, and see with an open mind.

Thirdly, it is important to understand that whether you are a Maoist or not, what our country needs is freedom from the shackles of imperialism, feudalism and comprador bureaucratic capitalism. All the woes of the Indian people are rooted in these three evil "isms", which pervade every nook and corner of our subcontinent. The only answer is a new democratic revolution based on an agrarian revolution carried out by armed peasant masses, motivated and led by the ideology of the working class.

Last but not the least, readers must learn to distinguish between the truth and the stories fed or simply planted by the police and their intelligence wings and not get influenced by the police's lies and distortion of the reality.


The published version of the above original interview can be seen at the following link:



Shushil Roy -  A short Profile

Indrajit Dasgupta was so annoyed hear