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We’re Leftist, not anti-India

21 February 2016

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The Times of India

We’re Leftist, not anti-India: Wanted JNU girl’s motherAbsconding’ JNU girl is pride of Bihar’s dalit village
Sayantanee Choudhury | TNN | Feb 20, 2016, 11.04 PM IST

Ara: "Chintu’s parents are members of CPI-ML (Liberation) and Chintu is a functionary of its student wing, All India Students Association (AISA). We are Leftists to the core of our hearts, but not anti-nationals — not even in the wildest of our dreams," 40-year-old Sarojini Devi says, sounding far more articulate than a woman who has never been to a school. The 40-year-old is mother of Chintu Kumar, the former Jawaharlal Nehru Students’ Union general secretary who is accused to have raised "anti-India slogans" on the central varsity campus in New Delhi on February 9.

Labelled an anti-national by the Delhi Police, Chintu, however, is the pride of Harijan Tola of Kolodihri village in Bhojpur district. Every villager, mostly illiterate Dalits, know about the Ravidas girl’s feats: Initially an anganwadi school student, Chintu was sponsored by the CPI (ML) to study in Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya in Delhi. She later made it to prestigious JNU where she is doing M.Phil. As an AISA nominee, the village girl in her 20s was elected the JNUSU general secretary in 2014.

Chintu’s father Ramlakhan alias Lalji has gone in hiding ever since Ranvir Sena, an upper caste militia, massacred 21 Dalits in neighbouring Bathani Tola in 1996. Lalji had led the farm labourers’ agitation for wage increase, which had angered the landed gentry. The south Bhojpur region, in which Kolodihri and Bathani Tola are located, was infamous as "killing fields" of Bihar as ultra-leftist CPI-ML, then an outlawed outfit, took on the upper caste landlords leading to the loss of many lives from both sides in carnages in late 1980s and 1990s.

The JNU scholar’s mother sells bangles to earn a living while her two younger sisters are being schooled in Delhi, courtesy the CPI-ML. Her brother Sandeep stays at the ML office in Ara, the district HQ of Bhojpur 50km from the village, where he is a BA student in a college.

Not that a stranger like the TOI reporter can visit Sarojini without the CPI (ML)’s "permission". "That’s for safety reasons," an ML functionary explained.

Sitting in a dingy room of her three-room thatched house where probably Sarojini and her goats sleep together, Chintu’s mother sounded furious. "All we want is that our children should be educated (for which the party is bearing the expenses) so that they can serve the country. We don’t expect them to earn and feed us or build a house for us," she said and berated the BJP-led government’s "nefarious bid" to brand Chintu an "anti-national".

Ask her why Chintu was absconding, and Sarojini asks in return, "Why should she surrender — to be beaten up by black coats belonging to the saffron brigade in full view of police and right on the premises of court like Chintu’s friend Kanhaiya Kumar (arrested JNUSU president) is being assaulted every second day?"

So concerned is the ML leadership about the safety of the family (because of the massacre connection) that at least two calls came to Sarojini’s cellphone during the 30-minute conversation this reporter had with her. "No, she and her photographer are still here... She is talking only about Chintu... Everything is fine...," she told the caller every time.

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The Times of India

Arrested JNUSU president’s Bihar village a ’mini Moscow’

Rajiv Kumar | Feb 15, 2016, 09.00 AM IST

BEGUSARAI: Glued to a TV set in a dingy room of their thatched house at Bihat village in Bihar’s Begusarai district, 120km from Patna, Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar’s parents on Saturday appeared to be struggling to come to terms with the arrest of their son on Friday from the varsity’s New Delhi campus on charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy.

"Leave alone sedition, my son has never been booked for even a petty crime," said Kanhaiya’s father Jai Shankar Singh who is "proud of my son and his courage to raise voice against injustice".

"Kanhaiya nurtures unflinching loyalty to his village and country; he cannot even think of indulging in anti-national activities. He has become a victim of BJP’s vendetta politics," said the sexagenarian, who worked as a small-time contractor till he suffered a paralytic attack eight years ago.

Kanhaiya’s mother Mina Devi’s job as an anganwadi sevika, which fetches her Rs 3,000 per month, is virtually the only source of income for the family though their eldest son, employed with a private firm in Assam, does help them monetarily in times of need.

While Kanhiaya’s sister has been married off, his younger brother Prince is a postgrad who is preparing for competitive examinations. Kanhaiya, third among the siblings, studied in a government middle school at Bihat before going to Barauni, Mokama, Patna and Delhi for higher studies. He is currently doing PhD in international studies.

Prince boasted of Kanhaiya’s "bright" academic records. "Bhaiya passed Class X from R K Chamaria High School in Barauni with a first division. He did Class XII from Ram Ratan Singh College in Mokama before graduating from Patna’s College of Commerce where he was the president of All India Students Federation (AISF)’s college unit. Before going to JNU to prepare for civil services exam, he did MA in sociology from Nalanda Open University."

Still an activist of the Communist Party of India’s student wing, Kanhaiya is in fact the first AISF member to become the JNUSU president.

His village Bihat was the epicentre of Left politics for long. Known once upon time as ’mini Moscow’, the village has produced many communists.

"Our entire family subscribes to the Left ideology," said Kanhaiya’s father.

[see also: ]

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Other relevant material:

Bajitpur: Rape of a village

Begusarai, the Leningrad of Bihar, where Left is still a force to reckon with