On the 4th of December, 2009 an order was issued for the immediate arrest of Nachika Linga, leader of the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS). He is now in the “Most Wanted” list of the government of Orissa. Posters have been put up by the government throughout Koraput and other regions of southern Orissa displaying a photograph of Nachika Linga and the “crimes” he had committed written underneath. Cash awards have been announced for anyone who helps arrest him. There are about 46 cases in Nachika’s name which include murder, attempt to murder, dacoity etc. Section 302 (punishment for murder) of the Indian Penal Code among other sections has been lodged in his name.
On the 6th of December, the Superintendent of Police, Koraput publicly announced (which he has no legal authority over) that the CMAS should be banned. Here it is necessary to take a bird’s eye view of who Nachika Linga is and what the CMAS has been doing recently.
Nachika Linga is one of the many indigenous tribals who inhabit Narayanpatna. Lately he became the Nayak Sarpanch of his area. Nachika Linga joined the CMAS which was leading the movement for land redistribution. It is necessary here to mention that the movement was never illegal. Even the issues that it raised were broadly related to a proper implementation of the existing laws. To be specific, there is an act passed by the Orissa Legislative Assembly in 1952 (Act 2) which says that the non-tribals cannot keep the lands of tribals in that region, and the CMAS was simply trying to get this law implemented. The authorities of the region till recently were therefore in constant dialogue with the CMAS. In fact, a collector who facilitated this dialogue most sincerely too earned the name so many progressive people are earning now-a-days: Maoist. Due to this movement, the local tribals were able to acquire their lands and the process of collectivization of ownership of land too was started. There were social reform measures taken within the movement, like limiting the consumption of liquor by the tribals to festive occasions only.
Evidently, the landlords and liquor traders who were thriving on land-grabbing, commercialistion of local economy found their ‘businesses’ hampered. They were ‘forced’ to flee the region. In ‘fear’ they joined hands with dominant political forces, and found the police and their actions the only mechanisms to reenter Narayanpatna. Attempting to limit the movement territorially, and to create ‘a civilian’ support base for the state’s brutal measures to suppress the movement in Narayanpatna, they formed ‘salwa judum’ like groups in adjoining Laxmipur. As reported earlier, two leaders of CMAS were gunned down and today there is a warrant in the name of Nachika Linga.
The whole organization which was giving an organized and definite shape to the spontaneous resistance of the rural poor in the region stands accused of a conspiracy to wage war against the state. Does it not seem parallel to the draconian measures during the initial days of capitalism everywhere through which the states declared every association of workers and poor as conspiracies? What is happening in India today demonstrates that such measures are not simply historical, but rather constitutive of capitalism – capitalists and their states invoke them every time they find it opportune.
There are press reports that inform about the return of the landlords and traders in the region. How brutal the police force in the region has been and whom in the region it is nepotistic to is no secret. Several tribals in fear of arrest and at gun-point have reportedly ‘committed’ not to indulge in any ‘unlawful’ activities of the CMAS. The clean image of the government of Orissa is being projected by the media at a time when a fascist political economy is being nurtured with its very own hands. Under such conditions, as old Marx would have said, force alone can impregnate this old society with a new one. This force has to make its development and is making its development within and in spite of this authoritarian bourgeois rule in the form of territorially limited movements, which have already nurtured many Birsa Mundas who are daily confronting the brutalities of the state – and Nachika Linga is definitely among them. The final expression of this force shall be in bringing down the authority of this state but that is possible only by generalizing the spirit of struggle beyond localities.