Thursday, February 18, 2010

Worst thing that can happen in Telangana

Telangana students are walking into a trap cynically crafted by the media and government. The police are just getting impatient with what they forgot decades ago in Telangana: taking orders from and reporting to, the government. The police are unhappy with two things they eliminated in Telangana for decades before the present bout of movement for Statehood changed it: 1. spectacular mobilization of people with relatively less repression 2. A severe dent in the police autonomy (autonomy very often means unaccountability and with it, arbitrariness).
It is the media which convinced the effectiveness of using the "logic of provocation" to justify police highhandedness in handling Osmania students. Eenadu, biased news papar, but very rarely distorts publicly available facts, experimented and demonstrated the success of this argument. Government picked it up. Yesterday, the Home Minister said students provoked the police. And, the Opposition did not fight it back, if not reinforced it. While the point is that the police were illegally (courts repeatedly ruled that the security forces must get out of the campus) present on the campus, now student protest against it will increasingly be projected as ‘provocation.’
Alas, one expects that Osmania student leadership is wise enough to change the strategy and invent some agitational forms that go beyond the emphasis on protest and demand for justice. They could have done so had the police not systematically destroyed any possibility of stable, planned conduct of agitation. The police kept on arresting student leaders and even any student with leadership qualities. This created a bizarre situation in which Osmania students could afford only spontaneous, unplanned outbursts. This crooked plan designed to destroy discipline, expansion of the student agitation and degenerate it. Though this police plan successfully prevented Osmania struggle remain spontaneous, leadership-less, without stable Joint Action Committees and collective decisions the campus is known for, it failed to degenerate it. Mind-boggling achievement of Osmania students in continuing protests yet remaining peaceful deserves our deference and defense. Yet, they need to change strategy to frustrate the government's barely-disguised plan to force the students to do something which the media-government combine can use to justify the worst- what the police have been arguing for and government is not yet ready for- shooting down some students.
TRS, actually a marginal force in terms of appeal but media, governments and opponents bent on seeing as the leader of movement, or even the ‘instigator’ is cynical enough to see some more of martyrs.
Actually, the real gain of the movement for statehood has already been achieved. It is the restoration of democratic, public and large-scale protests in Telangana. With killings we not only lose the invaluable lives of some young men but also the restoration of democratic right to protest, mass mobilization for achieving demands.
This must be avoided by all means. It is necessary but not enough to assert that actual provocation was the government’s own. Even if students don’t provoke but are only provoked, still victims will be students.  If the ‘right to protest without risking life’ is retained, Statehood could be achieved later. If it is lost, even a separate State is not going to much good for Telangana people.  

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