Anti-Maoist posters mystify police and activists alike

One of the anti-Maoist posters, featuring Arundhati Roy, Aruna Roy and Swami Agnivesh, that were found in Chhattisgarh's Narayanpur district on Wednesday.  

The unexplained appearance of a clutch of anti-Maoist posters bearing photographs of Arundhati Roy, Aruna Bose and Swami Agnivesh in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur district has mystified both, the district police and the featured activists.

Printed in full-colour, with high resolution photographs and multi-coloured text in Hindi, the unsigned poster begins by condemning the “heinous murder” of MNREGA activist Niyamat Ansari by “Maoists and criminal elements” in Jharkhand last month, carries a translated extract of a March 10 statement issued by the three activists, and ends with the declaration that “Maoists are enemies of not just progress but every poor [person]”.

Ms. Arundhati Roy and Mr. Agnivesh said they were unaware of any such posters printed with their names and photographs. Narayanpur Superintendent of Police Mayank Srivastav said the police were unable to trace the posters origins. Ms. Aruna Roy could not be reached for comment.

In the past, Arundhati Roy and Mr. Agnivesh have been sharply critical of the central and state government’s perceived emphasis on militaristic solutions to the Maoist insurgency and have called on both sides to explore the possibility of peace talks.

“Part of the poster contains an extract from a joint statement condemning the killing of Niyamat Ansari and was signed by many activists including myself,” said Mr. Agnivesh, clarifying he had not made any of the other statements in the poster.

“The fact that the poster does not mention its publisher is a bit dubious,” said Mr. Agnivesh, refusing to speculate on the poster’s origins.

MNREGA activist Niyamat Ansari was killed by suspected cadres of the banned CPI (Maoist) on March 2 this year in Jharkhand’s Kope Gram Panchayat. According to newspaper reports, the South Lathehar sub-zonal committee of the CPI (Maoist) had taken responsibility for killing Mr. Ansari on grounds that Mr. Ansari was a police informant.

A subsequent statement issued by National Advisory Council member Jean Dreze and signed by many others condemned the killing and demanded an apology and explanation from the Central Committee of CPI (Maoist). A version of this statement has been translated and reproduced in the posters found yesterday.

“Whoever has put up the fake posters must be truly desperate,” said Arundhati Roy, “Yes I did condemn the killing of the Niyamat Ansari, but I would never say that the Maoists are the enemies of the poor.”

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2021 1:15:46 AM |

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