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Communist activities in Mumbai peaking

Communist activities in Mumbai peaking

Author: Binoo Nair
Publication: Mid-Day
Date: January 16, 2004
URL: http://ww1.mid-day.com/news/city/2004/january/74025.htm

These are important days for the communist trackers of Mumbai police.

In a week of socialist protest that starts today at Goregaon, the World Social Forum (WSF), the Mumbai Resistance (MR) 2004 and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Red Flag, three parties who swear by red in different shades, will be conducting anti-globalisation seminars in the city.

Consequently, after a dormant 15 years following the assassination of trade union leader Datta Samant in 1997 and the death of textile mill unionism by the early 1990s, communist activities in the city are now peaking.

Police officers are once again poring over old files and manuscripts to track the communist elements. Helping the police are a group of 'watchers' - undercover cops who spy on communists and Naxalites, from places stretching from Bihar to Andhra Pradesh. Some of these watchers operate so secretly that they remain unidentified even to Mumbai police, say sources.

According to the investigations, many of the stalwarts of the WSF are from non-governmental organisations that were active during the textile mill unionism of the mid-1980s.

Those who have come under the police's microscope are functionaries of the outlawed People's War Group, the People's War and certain fundamentalist groups masquerading as social organisations after the government crackdown on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

"We aren't expecting violence but some elements spread across all three camps could be problematic. They're a strange mix of religious social groups and hard core Naxalites, and tracking them has been an arduous task. A huge number of officers have been diverted to the task," confirms a senior police official.

With heightened communist activities and many prominent leaders participating in the WSF, security has become problematic.

"If keeping an eye on VIPs is not enough, we have to keep our ears up for speeches that will be made at the World Youth Forum (a part of WSF)," says a senior police official.

The conferences at Goregaon will go on till January 21 and will conclude with a peaceful sit-in demonstration against imperialism and globalisation at Azad Maidan.

Police expect about 70,000 people to attend the WSF event while MR 2004 is expected to attract another 10,000.

The Mumbai police anti-communist cell

The anti-communist cell of the Mumbai police was started by the communism-phobic British government to keep tabs on union activities.
Post-Independence, the cell continued to ferret out information about unions in government offices and companies.

The aim was to see if unionists, in their fight against the establishment, were leaking out information that was detrimental to society.

They did considerable work during the height of textile mill activism in Mumbai. With the fall of the Soviet Union, the cell's importance has been overtaken by those tracking illegal immigrants from nations like Pakistan and Bangladesh.

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