ML Update 30 | 2014

July 23, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 | No. 30 | 22 – 28 JUL 2014

BRICS Summit

Potential and Inherent Limitations

The sixth BRICS summit was held at Fortaleza, Brazil on 15 July 2014 in the immediate aftermath of the World Cup football tournament, also hosted by Brazil. The Fortaleza summit produced a 72-point declaration and a 23-point action plan, and was followed by a larger meeting with leaders of UNASUR, the regional forum of South American nations including Brazil. The highlight of the sixth BRICS summit has been the announcement of the agreement to launch the BRICS bank, called the New Development Bank (NDB), and a common fund called the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), to help member countries cope with any possible short-term balance of payments pressure.

BRICS is a unique cross-continental grouping of five countries with little in common in terms of their specific historical, cultural or geo-political background. It is a peculiar reflection of the developing situation where the former number two and current number two of the world economy – Russia and China – have joined hands with three emerging economies across continents to defend their shared economic interests. It is significant that the grouping has taken shape in the backdrop of the global financial crisis which has had a more adverse impact on the three traditionally dominant centres of post-War global capitalist economy – the US, Western Europe and Japan – than these emerging players.

It is futile to look for signs of any radically alternative economic policy approach in BRICS declarations. All five members of BRICS are closely integrated with the existing processes of economic globalisation. But the commitment to the UN and multilateralism as against the unilateral domination of the US and other western powers, the quest for greater freedom for developing countries from the domination of dollar and the Fund-Bank establishment, and the stress on infrastructural investment and state-owned firms and small and medium enterprises as opposed to the unmitigated domination of speculative finance and MNCs do mark some areas of contention within the ongoing processes of globalisation.

The real challenges to the development of the BRICS potential come from the conflicting strategic priorities of member countries, particularly India. If BRICS really has to emerge as a platform of economic cooperation for the global south in opposition to the disastrous hegemony of the Fund-Bank establishment, the spearhead must be directed consistently against the US. Yet, the Indian ruling classes remain bound by the dictates of New Delhi’s strategic partnership (a euphemism for subservience) with Washington. The insistence on a pro-US foreign policy reinforcing the Indian ruling classes’ growing integration with the structures of neoliberal globalisation undermines India’s potential as a responsible contributor to BRICS.

The contrast between Modi’s BRICS braggadocio and India’s shameful silence and advocacy of neutrality on the issue of Israel’s war on Gaza has once again exposed the foreign policy hypocrisy of the Indian ruling classes. The BJP’s inability, nay refusal, to boldly advocate and stand by the Palestinian people’s integral right to peace, dignity and independence in the face of the US-backed Zionist offensive of Israel, only goes to expose the hollowness of India’s pro-global south posturing in the global economic arena.

While BRICS remains relevant in the context of the growing worldwide quest for multipolarity and freedom from the oppressive domination of the Fund-Bank establishment and the hegemony of dollar, popular pressure must be developed within India for reorienting India’s economic and foreign policies in correspondence with the BRICS theme of greater assertion of the global south. Brazil is trying to dovetail its role in BRICS with the perspective of greater economic and political cohesion with other South American countries; India must also combine her commitment to BRICS with closer cooperation with SAARC and other Asian countries.

Dharna at Lucknow Against Rape and Murder

AISA activists held a dharna at Saraswati Vatika in Lucknow University on 22 July 2014 to protest against the brutal incident of rape and murder in Mohanlalganj, the subsequent attempts by the administration to cover up the incident with false stories, and attempts of the Samajwadi Party leaders to hide behind false statistics.

Addressing the dharna AISA State President Sudhanshu Bajpayi said that today the incidents of sexual violence in the State as well as the country are on the rise. Putting the central government also in the dock he said that our Prime Minister is silent on such an inhuman crime, and these crimes are being perpetrated on the very home ground of the Home Minister, and yet our Home Minister remains silent. Cornering the State government he said that it is evident from the manner in which the top officials of the administration are giving evasive reports about the incident, that the administration is bent on shielding the criminals.

Sudhanshu Bajpayi also strongly opposed the ploy of hiding behind false statistics by the Samajwadi Party leaders. He pointed out that the State government has totally failed to maintain the law and order system in the State; moreover, the SP leaders are defending their failure by saying that in a State with such a high population like U.P., these incidents are actually quite low. He said that if the government is incapable of maintaining the law and order system, it has no right to remain in power.

AISA campus secretary Nitish Kanaujiya, campus Vice President Ashwini Yadav, Apoorva Verma, Shalini, Chandrakant, Rajiv Gupta, Sushant and others participated in the dharna.

Ramgarh’s Dalits Threatened As They Testify in Court Against Attack

Dalits of Ramgarh village (Dadri, UP), have begun testifying in court against the gram pradhan Kuldeep Bhati and his henchmen, who had subjected them to a murderous attack on March 14, 2012. They have been waging their battle for justice under the banner of the CPI(ML). To prevent them from testifying in court, or to pressure them to turn hostile, the gram pradhan and his men have intensified their campaign of intimidation.

A CPI(ML) team comprising PB member Kavita Krishnan, State Committee members Aslam Khan and Shyamkishor, as well as Anas Kidwai, Mohit Kashyap, Rituparna Biswas and Prashant Gupta of RYA, Susanne Adley visited Ramgarh on July 20, 2014.

The March 14th Attack

On March 14, 2012, the Dalit Jatav families of Ramgarh (Dadri, UP) had been subjected to an assault by the gram pradhan Kuldeep Bhati, and his henchmen. This attack, happening soon after the UP Assembly poll results, had the purpose of punishing the Jatavs from having staked claim to panchayat land that had been allocated to Dalits as homestead plots.

Men, women and even old people were attacked with rods and axes in their houses, which left dozens of them with broken bones and skull injuries.

One of the youths who had been at the forefront of this battle, Tikaram, had his legs chopped off in July 2013 by Bhati and his supporters.

Fresh Intimidation

The first testimony in the case against the perpetrators of the 14th March, 2012 attack, was registered in the Gautam Budh Nagar District Court (Surajkund) on 2nd June, 2014. Brahm Jatav was to appear in court again on 23rd July, where the lawyer for six of the accused would cross-examine him.

Brahm is the first and one of the key witnesses in the whole case. There are 19 other witnesses from the Dalit community, apart from the police witnesses. Now, ‘Operation Intimidation’ is on, to silence their voice.

Brahm told us that the Dalits were asked to attend a Gujjar Panchayat on 8th June to ‘settle’ the ‘dispute’. He and other Dalits were reluctant to go, but some of Bhati’s men came to Brahm’s home and pressurised him and other Dalit youth to attend. Brahm asked that the Panchayat be held on neutral ground. Instead it was held in an area completely populated by the dominant caste, locally known as the Dak Bangla.

At Brahm’s home, Bhati’s men accused Brahm, Tikaram’s brother Bhuvanesh and other Dalits of ‘harbouring Pakistani terrorists’ in their homes. This was a transparent insinuation against CPI(ML) activists Aslam Khan as well as RYA activists Anas Kidwai and others who happen to be Muslim. At that time, RYA activists Anas Kidwai and Prashant Gupta were at Tikaram’s house. Seven of Kuldeep Bhati’s henchmen, packed with pistols, arrived there to ‘meet’ Anas and Prashant. Barely veiling their threats, they told Anas and Prashant, “Why are you interfering in village matters? We would not like something bad to happen to you. There are more than a 100 of us gathered close by.” The henchmen then coerced seven of the Dalit youths to go to the panchayat.

This was the day after the murder, in Dadri, of BJP leader Vijay Pandit. As a consequence, Section 144 was imposed in the area, prohibiting mass gatherings. Yet, when Brahm and the handful of Dalit youth arrived at the panchayat, they found 150 people gathered there. This was a gathering of dominant caste men, from a total of 12 villages. Though this massive armed gathering was in clear violation of Section 144, the police were nowhere to be seen; they had turned a tacit blind eye.

“They had lathis and pistols with them,” said Brahm, “The gathering was menacing and did not inspire confidence in us.” The panchayat began by reminding the Dalits of the borrowed money they owed to the dominant case lenders. They asked for the money back, on the spot: “We’ll tie you here and keep you till you pay.” Having begun on an offensive note, they then began to talk of a ‘compromise.’

Bhati’s men said that they would clear the occupation of the 4.75 bighas of panchayat land, and would pay medical expenses incurred by the Dalits injured in the attacks, and in return the Dalits must agree to sign an affidavit on a ‘stamp paper’, stating their willingness to withdraw statements against the accused in the 14 March 2012 attack. They were told that they could be killed anywhere as they had nowhere to go, being surrounded by villages that are dominated by the Gujjars: “Even if some of us go to jail, we will still manage to kill you from inside the jail.” The Dalit youth, fearing for their lives, stated their agreement but resisted the pressure to sign the affidavit then and there, saying they would do so the next day.

In the next couple of days, immense pressure was brought on Brahm and others to sign the compromise affidavit. He stalled, asking for the land to be cleared of illegal occupation first. As a gesture that he was willing to clear the land of occupation, Bhati had an illegal shop demolished, that had been blocking the road used by the Dalits to access the panchayat land. But Bhati’s emissaries then told Brahm and his father Harpal that they would have to pay Rs 2 lakh for the demolition of the shop!

On 20th July, the Dalits, though clearly disturbed and terrorised, expressed their intention to stand firm and not give in to the intimidation and pressure to ‘compromise’. Prakashi, one of those worst injured on March 14, 2012, declared, “I’ll identify the accused in court and face the consequences. I refuse to be scared of them. We do need the land, but we know they’ll never clear the occupation or let us use it. It’s a fight for our dignity now.”

A young man, Virpal said, “They too are scared of us, else they would never have to collect 150 people in order to talk to us! They are scared that we might stop fearing them. And their fear is justified.” He recounted an instance where he and another youth were accosted by some powerful men of the dominant caste. In such an altercation, in normal circumstances, the latter would have slapped the Dalit boys. But this time, Virpal said, they did not, and that only indicated that the court case was acting as a fetter on Bhati’s henchmen.

Vikas, an RYA activist from the village, said, “We all know they’ll never let us have the land. Moreover, the ‘affidavit’ they’re asking us to sign is meaningless, since it is the State that files the case, not us. So the affidavit, even if we were to sign it, would not end the case, but it would merely weaken our side of it. It would require us to lie and turn hostile in Court. We are not going to do that.”

Observations

1. It is clear that the UP police and administration have taken no lessons from Muzaffarnagar. How come dominant caste ‘panchayats’ of armed people are allowed to gather in defiance of Section 144, in an sensitive area where horrific violence has already taken place many times? Section 144 is used often enough to prevent peaceful protests; yet it is not enforced to prevent actual rioting and organised violence!

2. Moreover, the echoes of Muzaffarnagar can be heard in the ugly insinuations against activists who happen to be Muslim. The ease with which such activists can be branded as ‘Pakistani terrorists’ and threatened with violence is of great concern.

3. The coercive nature of the caste ‘panchayats’ is also underlined by the episode. We often hear khap panchayats legitimised as a community’s way of dispute resolution, avoiding litigation. The actual nature of such ‘dispute resolution’ is exposed by this episode, whereby Brahm and his Dalit friends did not have a real choice not to attend the ‘panchayat.’ Note, this was a dominant caste panchayat where the Dalits were ‘summoned’; this was no dispute resolution between ‘equal’ members of a rural ‘community’. The Dalits were outnumbered by an intimidating gathering of armed men from the dominant caste. The Gujjar ‘panchayat’, in the name of dispute resolution, was staged to threaten the Dalits into turning hostile as witnesses in an atrocity against Dalits. And the sheer absence and apathy of the police and local administration gave the Dalits an unmistakeable message that they are isolated, and left to fend for themselves. The police apathy creates a situation where it is possible for perpetrators of unmistakeable crimes – a daylight assault on Dalits and dismemberment of a Dalit youth – to force the victims to ‘compromise’ in the name of dispute resolution rather than stand their ground in Court.

Demands

It is clear that there is an immediate threat of fresh violence against the Dalit witnesses and their families.

1) We demand that the witnesses in the 14th March 2012 attack case, and their families, be provided with police protection, as they face very serious threats to terrorize them into not appearing in court.

2) We also demand that the occupied land be immediately cleared of occupation and handed over to the rightful claimants of the Jatav community.

Dalits Observing Memorial Day for Ilavarasan Face Brutal Repression in Dharmapuri, TN

A public hearing was held in Salem on 13th July, in which Dalits of Natham Colony testified to the brutal police repression unleashed on them by the Dharmapuri police. The repression was unleashed when they attempted to observe the first death anniversary of Ilavarasan, a dalit youth, who was found dead in mysterious circumstances on 4thJuly last year after he married a Vanniar girl, Divya. The marriage of Ilavarasan and Divya was used as a pretext by the Pattali Makkal Katchi party to organise arson and violence against dalit villages in Dharmapuri.

When Ilavarasn’s family members and the people of Natham village began talking about observing the first death anniversary of Ilavarasan, the Dharmapuri police clamped Sec 144 on June 27th in Dharmapuri block, and latter expanded it to the entire district. Six members of the village, illegally held in the police station, later had several cases slapped against them. They were jailed on charges of engaging in a conspiracy to eliminate PMK leaders, possessing lethal weapons, and getting arms training with Naxalites. After 11 days, the arrested Dalit youth were charged with NSA!

More than 1500 police were engaged to encircle the entire village. From dawn to dusk, houses were ‘searched’. Members of the villages and relatives were restricted from even entering or leaving the village.

The women, elders and children spent several sleepless nights. The family members, mostly women, ran from pillar to post to every police station to know if their loved ones were alive. From every police station they got only arrogant responses and threatens.

Women in large numbers with their children approached the district collector and demanded to stop the police brutality. If not, they declared, they would surrender their voter ids and family cards and walk out of the village. Even then the inhuman police repression continued.

The village people approached the high court for a remedy, seeking to be allowed to observe the memorial day. Instead of upholding civil and democratic rights enshrined in the constitution, the HC placed restrictions, stating that only Ilaravarasan’s immediate family members could observe the memorial day from 3-4 pm, and other relatives could join from 4-5 pm! Moreover, the HC banned political parties and organizations entering the district even! In such a background, the public hearing was held in Salem.

The jury of the public hearing comprised Rathinam, a senior HC advocate, Balamurugan, an advocate and novelist and Murugavel, an advocate and writer.

Six women from Natham colony deposed before the jury. Ramani, a native of the village, who is also an SCM of Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist)(People Liberation), said that the repression was staged under the direct supervision of the District SP Asra Garg. When the women complained about the brutality, he arrogantly replied, “I will plant bombs in your houses and send you all to jail.” She also revealed the police-PMK nexus. Even before the FIR could be filed before the magistrate’s court, PMK founder Ramadoss and his newly elected MP-son Anbumani Ramadoss were reading out the FIR in their press conference, she said.

Sumathi, Saalammal and Selvi, residents of the Natham colony, who were leading the women in the trying times, narrated the police brutalities with tears in their eyes.

Sumathi said, “The police called our kith and kin to the station for a routine enquiry on 27th June around 12 noon, but illegally held them. We were made to run to every police station to look for our people but in vain. Starting from 1 pm of 27th June to 4 am of 28th June, we ran from one police station to another. Several of us fainted, unable to withstand hunger, thirst and sleeplessness. While our people suffering inhuman tortures inside the police lock-up, we were subjected to intimidation and insult by the women police outside the police station! And when we were able to see through the window, six policemen were standing on the knees and thighs of our people, and beating them all over, even as they shouted out in unbearable pain.”

Selvi said, “On Nov 7, 2012, the fatal day when our villages was razed to the ground by the frenzied mob of PMK, AIADMK, and DMDK men, the police was a mere mute spectator. But now when we just wanted to observe the death anniversary of Ilavarasan, we have been subjected to such inhuman tortures. Don’t we have even the right to observe death anniversary of our loved one?”

Ramachandran of Karur spoke about the role of the police and administration in another incident. Instead of arresting the culprits who did the heinous crime of rape and murder of a dalit student in the area, the police harassed the friends of the victim in the name of inquiry, and planted stories assassinating the character of the victim!

Rajasankar from Cuddalore district narrated their fact finding report about attacks on Dalits in Vadakkumangudi village, that took place to deter Dalits from voting for Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (the party allied with DMK and headed by Tirumavalavan) and to tilt the balance in favour of PMK in this reserved constituency.

One participant, Venkatesan from Villupuram district, recounted how an upper caste (Thevar) DSP had encouraged the Vanniar mob to attack a Dalit colony there, when the Dalits of Kunnathur claimed their due share of drinking water from the panchayat president. Throughout the attack, the said DSP simply sat in his jeep, having tea and biscuits.

A college girl Sofia, narrated her bitter experience of humiliation and castiest slurs even in the city of Salem.

After the depositions, Balamurugan on behalf of the Jury concluded that the Dharmapuri police’ case against Dalits is a fabricated one. He pointed out a gaping hole in the police FIR: the named accused are in police custody right from 27th June onwards, but the FIR says the accused were apprehended on 28th June. The cases framed are illegal and the repression unleashed is totally against constitutional rights.

The Public Hearing was organized by CPIML (Liberation), Marxist Party and Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) (People Liberation). Gunasekaran of Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) (People Liberation), Gangadaran of Marxist Party and Balasundaram State Secretary of CPIML also spoke at the hearing. CPIML SCM Chandramohan, District secretary Mohanasundaram also participated.

Resolutions were passed condemning the police repression and demanding a judicial enquiry; that the November 7th 2013 attack on 3 dalit villages by a PMK mob be tried by a fast track court and the culprits punished speedily; all the police excesses in Kodiyankulam, Tamirabarani, Paramakudi and Dharmapuri, Chidambaram must be re-enquired by a special Judicial Commission and the culprits punished.

Several Left and Dalit intellectuals, professors, students, TU activists, CPIML activists, and women in large numbers participated in the hearing.

More Protests Against Attack on Gaza

CPI(ML) held protests demanding an end to the attack on Gaza in Puducherry, Chennai and Kanyakyumari. In Kanyakumari, the CPI also joined the demonstration. The Chennai demo was addressed by Politburo member Comrade Kumarswamy, State Secretary Balasundaram, and the Chennai City Secretary Sekar. The Government’s refusal to allow a Parliament resolution condemning Israel’s attack was strongly condemned by the protestors.

ML Update | No. 29 | 2014

July 17, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 | No. 29 |15 – 21 JUL 2014

Indian Government Must Break Its Silence

And Demand End to Israel’s Racist Genocide in Gaza

The ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza has now claimed nearly 200 lives of Palestinian civilians, and still counting. The abduction and killing of three Jewish young boys in the occupied West Bank is condemnable. But, instead of identifying those responsible, Israel used this crime as a pretext for yet another massacre of the Palestinian people.

The fact that the abduction and killing are only a pretext is underlined by the words of Israeli hardliners who in 2012 had referred to the annual massacre of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli state, as “mowing the lawn.” Israeli political leaders have a long history of using such language to dehumanize the Palestinian people and justify occupation and genocide. In 1969, Israeli PM Golda Meir had declared that Palestinians ‘didn’t exist.’ In 1982, Israeli PM Menachem Begin described Palestinians as “beasts walking on two legs." In 1988, another Israeli PM Yitzhak Shamir declared that the Palestinians “would be crushed like grasshoppers.”

Even as major world powers maintain a shameful silence on this massacre, the Israeli PM Netanyahu has declared that "world pressure will not stop us…there is still more to go." The Israeli PM has openly and shamelessly justified deliberate bombardment of homes, hospitals, and other civilian locations. Yet, this blatant admission of war crime has invited no serious action from the United Nations to ensure an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, even as the UN reports that the 80% of those killed in Gaza are civilians.

The silence of the Indian Government on the ongoing genocide is a mockery of India’s long history of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. Indian solidarity with Palestine is forged in India’s own experience of anti-colonial freedom struggle. This is why India’s freedom fighters, including Gandhi, unequivocally recognised and resisted the colonial occupation of Palestine. Gandhi famously declared that “Palestine belongs to the Arabs as England belongs to the English or France to the French.” This is the understanding that informed India’s long standing foreign policy approach to Palestine. As India’s ruling class drew closer to the US imperialist regime in the past couple of decades, it began advocating a ‘pragmatic’ relationship with Israel. During the last NDA Government, this relationship acquired even closer ideological affinities, with Zionism and Hindutva echoing each others’ Islamophobia. And of course, cementing the bonhomie between Israel andIndia’s rulers from both Congress and BJP, is India’s position as the biggest client of Israel’s arms industry. Now, with the Modi Government in power, the cadres of Sangh Parivar are striving to erase the memory and legacy of the strong shred anti-colonial ties between India and Palestine. By doing so, they are seeking to mould India in Israel’s image in the subcontinent – both in its treatment of neighbours and of its own minority populations and oppressed nationalities.

At such a time, it is crucial to underline that ordinary Indians who protest the Israeli occupation and aggression, are in fact defending the highest traditions of India’s own freedom struggle. And they are also standing by the millions of people across the globe who are resisting their own governments’ support for the Israeli occupation and calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

The Indian Government cannot be allowed to play havoc with India’s precious anti-colonial legacy and conscientious foreign policy towards Palestine. Democratic and anti-imperialist Indians must demand that the Indian Government immediately condemn and call for a halt of the Israeli aggression, convey relief to the Palestinian people, and appeal to the UN to intervene to enforce an immediate ceasefire. The Indian Government must also reaffirm its commitment to support the cause of a free Palestine, and must walk the talk of this commitment by ending arms purchases from Israel.

Palestine today is the longest ever people’s resistance to colonialism, occupation, and racism. It is ironic that the Israeli state, supposedly a monument against Nazi racism and genocide, is itself the worst perpetrator of racism and genocide in today’s world. Ending this racist occupation and genocide is a call for conscience for the whole world.

Delhi Police Assaults Peaceful Protesters at Israel Embassy

Nearly 100 people peacefully gathered on July 14th near Hotel Claridges on Auragzeb Road to protest against the Isreal’s bombardment of Gaza.

Protesters from JNUSU, AISA, AISF, RYA, NAPM, DSG and many other civil society organisations marched from Hotel Claridges towards the Israel Embassy. The Delhi police made all-out attempts to stop the bus carrying the protesters from leaving JNU.

Finally, the bus was forced to stop around 2 kilometres from the Embassy, from where the students marched on foot towards the Embassy. On way to the Embassy, the police tried to stop protesters by the use of force and lathicharge. The police beat up activists ruthlessly and when some students reached the embassy, they were not allowed to stage a silent sit in! Women activists were roughed up and manhandled, and male activists were thrashed, leaving several injured. The protesters were forced into a bus and taken to Tughlaq Road police station where they were greeted by abusive language, use of unprovoked force and hostile treatment. Student leaders were thrashed without any reason. All this took place on the orders of the DCP.

Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, and Politburo member, CPI(ML), was dragged away from in front of the Embassy and hit on her lip by a policewoman’s helmet when she raised a slogan.

In all, nearly 100 people including JNUSU President Akbr Choudhury were bundled together in two police vans and taken to Tughlaq Road police Station. Inside the thana, Kavita Krishnan was also stopped from talking to the press, was dragged inside and verbally abused. When the JNUSU President questioned the language that was being used, he was also slapped and abused – all this in the presence of and on the orders of the SHO Pramod Joshi.

Activists from several organisations were injured, and clothes were torn. Inside the thana, the police selectively asked students with beards (presumed to be Muslims) for identity cards.

It is to be noted that, while protests at the embassy were allowed the day before, JNU students were specifically targeted, halted, beaten up and misbehaved with. The police were heard saying, inko sabak sikhao, inko mat chodna, baar baar aa jaate hain (teach them a lesson, don’t spare them, they repeatedly return to protest). The JNU students in particular are being targeted repeatedly by the Delhi police in the past month.

Two activists from AISF, who were returning home after the detention was over, were targeted outside the police station, and one of them was beaten up. This is a totally unprovoked attack on two citizens who were simply going home. It is a shame that present political establishment in India, known for its pro-Israeli stance, has not only failed to condemn the Israeli war offensive on Gaza, but are going the extra mile of cracking down on democratic protests by Indian people against this racist offensive. However, these attacks on activists cannot silence the voice for justice and democracy.

The protesters were eventually released in the evening. Another joint protest will be held at the Israel embassy on 17th July.

CPI(ML) Statement on Union Budget

The Modi Government’s first Union Budget has continued and severely intensified the offensive on common people and benefits to corporations that marked the previous UPA-II regime.

The Budget has opened the floodgates of disinvestment of PSUs to the tune of 43000 cr, with FDI being increased to 49% in defence, insurance and e-commerce.

The Budget is remarkably silent on MNREGA and Food Security that directly affect the poorest sections, also on concrete measures to quell inflation, such as taking essential items off the list of commodities that can be traded in the futures and forward trading market. The Finance Minister, on being asked, said that the existing allocation for MNREGA will stand. Allocations for MNREGA have not been increased for years, in spite of steep inflation, and the Modi Government has continued with the same policy.

Total social sector expenditure has plummeted steeply from 10.8 % in 2013-14 to 4.42 % of the total budget in 2014-15, and from 26.7 % in 2013-14 to 16.7 % in 2014-15 of total planned expenditure.

The huge infrastructure outlay in railways, roads, and ports has been allocated in the PPP framework. Experience has shown that PPP has been a system which has involved huge corruption, and which has meant private profits at public cost. In this case, the huge outlay will prove a bonanza for the real estate sharks who will use the PPP model to milk profits.

The allocation for schooling and higher education is highly inadequate and reflects the Modi Government’s lack of any concern for the country’s youth. The Budget allocates a mere 500 cr for 5 new IITs – contrast this with the 200 cr allocation for a single statue of Sardar Patel, a pet project of Modi’s Gujarat Government that the Centre has now adopted! The Budget indicates that education will be left to predatory mercies of privatisation, which will put it out of reach of the vast majority of students in the country.

When it comes to employment too, the Budget fails to recognise the vast army of para teachers, ASHA, anganwadi and other rural health and education workers as government employees. The Modi Government continues with the model of insecure, casualised employment that exploits youth and women and also affects the quality of education and health services.

Similarly, the Budget allocates a mere 500 cr for 5 new AIIMS like medical institutions in 5 states. Again, this amount can be put in perspective by contrasting it with the 200 cr allocation for a single statue.

Some of the Budgetary decisions have immediate benefits to specific corporations. FDI in e-commerce has also been introduced; this in spite of an earlier white paper by the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) stating that FDI in E-commerce would go against the spirit of restrictions imposed on FDI in multi-brand retail. BJP’s posture has been one of opposition to FDI in multi-brand retail, yet it is allowing it in by the back door with FDI in e-commerce. Modi’s team is known to have close connections with the e-commerce giant, eBay CEO Pierre Omidyar, with BJP MP Jayant Sinha having earlier served as head of the Omidyar Network in India.

The Finance Minister has also virtually put a hold on the restrospective taxation legislation that was enacted after the Supreme Court’s ruling in favour of Vodafone in 2012. This legislation allowed for retrospective taxation of overseas transactions which involve assets primarily in India. Now, the Finance Minister has set up a high-powered committee to vet each case before invoking this law. It may be remembered that the Finance Minister Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recently recused himself from matters pertaining to the Rs. 20,000 crore Vodafone tax dispute and delegated decisions in this matter to his junior Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. It may be presumed that he recused himself because of a conflict of interest emerging from possible prior association with the corporation in his capacity as a lawyer. Surely a conflict of interest is also indicated if the retrospective taxation legislation that directly pertains to the Vodafone case and similar matters, is weakened by the present Finance Minister?

The Budget extends the 10-year tax holiday to power companies.

The Finance Minister has also indicates that ‘hurdles’ in the path of mining will be removed and mining will receive a boost. Those hurdles, of course, have been the adivasis fighting for their survival and their rights to forests and land. The need of the hour was the nationalization of mining, to end to open plunder of our precious mineral resources by corporations and MNCs, resulting in huge corruption. Instead the Budget Speech indicates that hurdles in the path of this plunder will further be removed.

The Economic Survey also indicates a shift to a regime of cash transfers and erosion and undermining of the MNREGA.

All in all, the Modi Government’s first Budget is openly pro-corporate and anti-poor in its orientation, and does nothing to alleviate price rise and usher in the relief promised to the people by Modi’s election campaign.

ML Update | No. 28 | 2014

July 9, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 17 | No. 28 | 8 – 14 JUL 2014

Modi Sarkar:

Rolling Back Hard-Won Rights, Intensifying Ongoing Assaults

Even as the Parliament session begins and the Budget is soon to be presented, it is clear that the Modi government is intensifying various offensives that the UPA Government had begun; and rolling back various hard-won rights and entitlements.

The UID Aadhaar scheme is a case in point. This is a scheme that the UPA Government had rushed in, without Parliamentary approval and steamrolling various substantial concerns about privacy, surveillance, and corporate access to personal data of citizens. A parliamentary Standing Committee headed by Yashwant Sinha of the BJP had endorsed many of these concerns and had rejected the National Identification Authority of India Bill. Now, the Modi Government is rushing through the same Aadhaar scheme. Moreover, though a March 2014 ruling of the Supreme Court said categorically that the Aadhaar card could not be made mandatory for government subsidies, the Modi Government is proposing to make Aadhaar compulsory for allotting cooking gas cylinders. A meeting headed by Narendra Modi himself has reportedly decided to bring back the Aadhaar-based Direct Benefit Transfer DBT scheme, which had to be withdrawn following the March 2014 Supreme Court order.

Following the Rajasthan Government’s lead, the Modi Government is now planning to usher in what it is euphemistically calling ‘job-oriented labour law reforms’. In essence this is to facilitate hire and fire, make widespread exploitation of contract work legal, and loosen the labour laws in favour of employees.

The Rajasthan Government has also initiated a move to dilute and dismantle MNREGA. The Rajasthan CM has written to the Centre asking why MNREGA needs to be a law, and why it should not be a scheme. Prior to MNREGA, there have already been multiple rural employment guarantee schemes – but these did not imply a legal entitlement. What is new and significant about MNREGA that a reluctant UPA enacted, is that it imposes a legal responsibility on the Government to guarantee employment. The fact is that Governments all over the country and the Centre have resented this legal obligation, and have tried their utmost not to implement it. But the MNREGA has galvanised the rural poor in struggles to claim and avail of their legal entitlement to jobs. Now, the Modi Government proposes to do away with this legal entitlement.

The Land Acquisition Act enacted by the UPA Government itself left many loopholes to allow land grab. But still, the people’s movements against land grab did win significant protections to check the untrammelled plunder of land. Now, the Modi Government proposes to dilute the Land Acquisition Act, in particular to change the criteria of consent of farmers required for acquisition to take place.

Meanwhile, the Modi Government is proposing to retain spending capacity of Rs 32 per day as the cut-off for rural poverty, while raising the urban poverty cut-off to Rs 47. Both these rural and urban ‘poverty lines’ are ridiculous, in that they exclude the vast majority of the obviously poor. The Governments that shamelessly impose steep price hikes on the poor, also refuse to acknowledge the poverty of India’s people.

The Modi Government, emboldened by the lack of even a semblance of Parliamentary Opposition, is rushing to do the bidding of corporate, roll back pro-people subsidies, rights and entitlements. But the Parliamentary Opposition, even in earlier times, has done little to safeguard the rights of peasants from land grab or the legal rights of workers, or the interests of the people and the poor. It is the people’s opposition on the streets that will have a crucial role to play against the ongoing offensive. The Modi Government that exploited people’s aspirations to ride to power, cannot be allowed now to betray those aspirations and impose hardships on people demanding relief and rights. ‘Acche din’, from being the broken promise of the Modi Government, will become the battle cry of people on the streets against price rise and land grab, demanding the expansion rather than erosion of legally mandates right to employment and labour laws.

CPI(ML) Statement on Rail Budget

New Delhi 8.07.14

The Modi Government’s first Rail Budget is a step in the direction of handing over the precious national asset of Indian Railways over to private interests and FDI – at the cost of the common passenger and the health of the Railways in general.

99% of Indian passengers demand safety, amenities, affordability and adequate availability of accommodation. The Modi Government’s budget sacrifices all of the above in the name of the fad of a ‘bullet train’ for a tiny minority.

One of the burning concerns of people has been the spate of Railway accidents. The Rail Budget of the new Government does nothing to address these concerns. The main reason for the repeated accidents has been the failure to fill up 3 lakh vacant posts, leading to a situation where the Railways lack adequate staff to carry out basic safety procedures, and drivers are overworked and forced to work long inhuman hours without sleep. The Kakodkar Committee Report on railway safety in 2012 had estimated that some 15000 people die every year in railway accidents and fires, and had termed this an unconscionable ‘massacre’. The Committee had recommended an expenditure of Rs 20000 crore per year on safety measures. The Rail Budget totally fails to allocate such an amount or outline measures to bring down accidents by employing sufficient staff, upgrading maintenance, and shifting to fire-resistant materials in coaches.

In the name of shortage of funds, the Railways are being privatised through the PPP route and by introducing 100% FDI in Railways. The experience of airports has shown that PPP is a gateway for corruption and for facilitating exploitation of a public asset for private profits, inevitably leading to greater cost burden borne by the passenger and no improvement in efficiency, safety or comfort.

The Rail Minister has admitted that only one out of 99 projects sanctioned in the last decade has been completed – but has failed to outline a comprehensive plan to complete these projects.

The Rail Budget has tried to divert attention from its failures in these crucial areas by highlighting the Bullet trains.

Are the Railways short of funds, necessitating privatisation and FDI? On December 31 last year, the Times of India reported that a CAG test audit revealed that iron ore exporters had cheated the Railways of close to Rs 50,000 crore during 2008-12 (as reported by RUPE in its January 2014 Report ‘The Truth about the Railways’). The iron ore exporters illegally availed of the subsidised rates offered for those moving iron ore for domestic consumption. The RUPE report had observed "Thus, in order to provide a giant subsidy to firms plundering the country’s natural resources, the Government starves Railways of safety and developmental expenditures, in which the travelling public and the Railway workers have a common interest."

Even before the Rail Budget, rail passenger and freight fares were massively hiked. Fares will also go up with every increase in fuel prices, since the Budget links future fare increases with fuel adjustment.

The Rail Budget is a blueprint for privatisation and corporatisation, imposing greater burdens on common people and displaying complete callousness to the existing crisis of passenger safety and rail workers’ conditions.

- CPI(ML) Central Committee

Message of Greetings from CPI(ML) CC to the 9th Congress of CPN(UML)

(A CPI(ML) delegation comprising Central Committee member Comrade Rajaram Singh and Bihar State Committee member Comrade Virendra Gupta attended the 9th Congress of the CPN(UML). Comrade Rajaram Singh addressed the inaugural session of the 9th Congress. CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya sent a message of greeting on behalf of the Central Committee, which is reproduced below).

Dear Comrades,

On behalf of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and the progressive and democracy-loving people of India, we send our warm revolutionary greetings to all comrades who have assembled for the 9th Congress of CPN(UML). We also take this opportunity to extend our felicitations to all foreign guests and express our solidarity with the international communist and progressive movement, especially with all our comrades from South Asia.

Communists and democrats in India have been watching with great admiration and joy the victories won by the communists and democrats in Nepal resulting in the historic abolition of the monarchy and the initiation of the process of transition to a constitutional democratic republic. We also share the dismay of the people of Nepal that the First Constituent Assembly of Nepal could not accomplish the task of constitution-making just as we share the hope the current Constituent Assembly will be able to accomplish it to the satisfaction of the people of Nepal in their quest for a democratic republic upholding the rights of the people in diverse spheres of life.

The reckless speculative ways of global finance, the insatiable greed of corporations for super profit and for ever greater control over the resources of the planet and the complete collusion of the ruling classes in most countries with the interests of global capital coupled with the abdication by states of their responsibilities to fulfil even the basic needs of the people – all these trends have contributed to a deep and protracted global economic crisis. The least developed and developing countries of the world are being subjected to great hardship, condemned as they are to bear a heavy burden of this crisis and pay a disproportionately high price in terms of aggravated misery of the people and heightened degradation of the environment.

The global environment is being further vitiated by the dominant global powers’ policies of promoting and manipulating various local and regional conflicts, with the threats of war and devastation looming large almost permanently over large parts of the world. Multiple patterns of terrorism, fundamentalism and sectarian violence keep getting reinforced in this situation of conflict, terror and imperialist intervention. Forces of democracy, freedom and progressive social transformation all over the world have to grapple with this complex situation and we in South Asia have more than our fair share of such complexities and challenges.

We in CPI(ML) greatly cherish and value our relationship of mutual trust and cooperation with the CPN(UML) and draw great inspiration from the struggles and victories of our Nepali comrades. We wish your 9th Congress every success and look forward to many more victories in the days and years to come. CPI(ML) will continue to stand by the people of Nepal in their quest for a democratic republic and fulfilment of their aspirations for progressive social transformation.

Long live CPI(ML)-CPN(UML) friendship and cooperation!

Long live Indo-Nepal friendship!

Victory and power to the people of Nepal!

(Dipankar Bhattacharya)

on behalf of

Central Committee,

CPI(ML)

Exhibition of Ashok Bhowmick’s Paintings

To Mark Emergency Anniversary

Amidst pouring rain in Kolkata today well-known painter Ashok Bhowmick held an exhibition of 12 of his paintings in the verandah of Vivekananda Hall at Jadhavpur University campus, after which in the afternoon he gave a talk on “Progressive Trends in Indian Painting”.

It was the occasion for remembering the Emergency in today’s context. During the Emergency Ashok Bhowmick was in Azamgarh town of U.P. Those were the days when he was gaining an understanding of well-known Hindi poet Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh’s poem “Andhere Mein”. The paintings in the exhibition, inspired by Muktibodh’s “Andhere Mein” and other poems, have an impact similar to that of paintings by Goya and also Picasso’s “Guernica”. All the 12 paintings included in the exhibition were painted in the 1980s.

The exhibition was organized under the joint aegis of the Kolkata chapter of Pratirodh ka Cinema (Cinema of Resistance) and the art group Jan Kala Samooh of the Jan Sanskriti Manch. Introducing Ashok Bhowmick, Pratirodh ka Cinema Kolkata chapter convenor Kasturi said that he is one of those rare artists of today who relate art and politics. Inaugurating the exhibition, lyricist, singer and musician Nitish Roy (associated with Gana Sanskriti Parishad) appreciated the significant contribution of Bhowmick in taking the identity and work of Indian progressive artists to the people and compared his contribution to Hindi literary society to that of Kolkata artist Khaled Choudhury. Speaking on the occasion national convenor of the Pratirodh ka Cinema campaign Sanjay Joshi highlighted the importance of the cultural-political atmosphere nurtured by Bhowmick along with the Progressive Students’ Association (now AISA) in Allahabad and credited him as the creator of the poetry-poster movement and the new genre of calligraphy. On this occasion Bhowmick gave the audience a detailed introduction to the context of each of the pictures in the exhibition.

In his talk on “Progressive Trends in Indian Painting” Bhowmick explained to the people the identification of progressive elements in Indian painting and the finer points and politics of painting. His talk was divided into sub-headings and accompanied by slides of examples from world art. In this context he stressed that the responsibility of today’s artist is to take art to the common people. He discussed the progressive elements in Indian painting under different sections. In the first s section titled “Modern Indian Painting in Search of its Roots” he said that the emergence of what is called modern poetry must be seen in juxtaposition with the formation of the Indian Society for Oriental Art. In this phase the work of painters such as Avanindranath Thakur, Asit Haldar, Nandlal Bose, Raja Ravi Varma and Hemendra Majumdar show that our early painting was limited to the female body, kings and queens, and the quest for religion. Sister Nivedita’s remark on Nandlal Bose’s painting “Sati”, that “becoming a sati is the ideal of Indian womanhood” is a telling commentary on the early development of Indian painting. Taking a small diversion here Bhowmick analysed the reasons why some paintings triumph over time and death, and mentioned Goya’s “Facing the Firing Squad: the 3rd of May 1808” and Picasso’s painting (1951) “Massacre in Korea” as two such immortal creations.

Bhowmick then took up the section “Art in Times of Trouble” and spoke about “Gassed”, a painting by American artist John Singer Sargent which depicted the heinous use of gas by Germany during the war and which is today counted as a great anti-war painting. In the same section he also spoke about George Clausen’s painting “Youth Mourning” and Picasso’s “Guernica”. Bhowmick considered it very significant that Picasso broke his form and created a new form when he painted “Guernica” in 1936.

Bhowmick then spoke about Indian painting in its new avatar, calling this section “The New Face of Indian Painting”. He felt that the post-independence transformation of Delhi into a new art market was significant and was possibly due to the many foreign embassies located in the capital facilitating a new market here. During this phase the old People’s Art Group also changed. According to Bhowmick the PAG on the one hand blindly followed Picasso and on the other developed “mechanical” art. Citing the example of Souza he said that unlike Picasso, Souza had no reason to break his form, and therefore his pictures do not have the same significance. In the context of the new avatar of Indian painting he cited near-replicated paintings by G.R. Santosh, Raza and Sohan Kadri to show how they were mechanically replicating ideas and were far removed from new ideas and the people.

In the penultimate section “Metro Art” Bhowmick commented sharply on the outlandish institutes that are coming up in the name of art. Citing Subodh Gupta’s work, he explained how art is now being run according to the market rules. He said that art, instead of communicating emotions, has become trapped in the play of glamour and size; that is why we see Subodh Gupta painting “Absolute Vodka” in the shape of a bottle, or shaping a measure with 1 kg gold and calling it art, and Thukral and Tagra coming up with “Gold Flake”. Bhowmick regretfully owned that the number of fools inhabiting the world of painting today is greater than that in any other art form. He deemed it unfortunate that one can “buy” painting whereas even today poetry and prose are beyond price.

In the final section Bhowmick focussed on “Paintings of Drought” and showed the audience the true progressive elements in Indian painting. He introduced the audience to the works of Zainul Abedin, (Drought series), Sudhir Khastigar (woodcuts), Ram Kinkar, Gobardhan Ash, Atul Basu, Kamrul Hassan, Gopen Roy, Somnath Hod, and Debabrat Mukhopadhyay. According to him Chitta Prasad was an Indian painter in the true sense, who painted a variety of subjects like the Bengal famine, Tebhaga peasants’ revolt, Birsa Munda, Durbhiksh of Kolhapur, and the fighting people of Kashmir. The trend of giving space to the common man in art started by Rabindranath in 1931 continued with K.K. Hebbar, B. Prabha, N.S. Bendre, Sadequain and Kamrul Hassan. It was this awareness and sensitivity which enabled Kamrul Hassan when he went to Dhaka after partition, to disregard dictatorial rule and include training in sculpture as well as enrol girl students in the art college he established. When the time came, he also created the poster “Aise Janwaron ki Hatya Karni Hogi” against a powerful ruler like Yahya Khan.

After the talk Bhowmick had a 45 minute question and answer session with the audience. Answering a question on whether the progressive legacy is still alive post Kamrul Hassan (in this era of Metro Art), Bhowmick replied that there are certainly some young painters who are preventing their paintings from becoming “goods for sale” and whom he would definitely discuss in a future talk.

The programme was conducted by Pratirodh ka Cinema Kolkata chapter convenor Kasturi.

Tapas Pal isn’t alone, remember Sanjeev Baliyan and Amit Shah

Tapas Pal’s remarks should be treated as distinct from the common or garden variety sexism that politicians regularly spout. This is incitement to rape, riot, and murder, plain and simple. So, ‘apology’ just isn’t enough, and the TMC has no excuse for not expelling him; the police have no excuse not to arrest him; and the Speaker has no excuse not to dismiss him from Parlliament.

It also needs to be said: Tapas Pal isn’t the only MP who has incited violence including rape, with toxic hate-speech. We also have Sanjeev Baliyan, a Cabinet Minister, one of those whose inflammatory speeches resulted in the communal violence and rapes in Muzaffarnagar.

Now, the BJP’s answer to why Baliyan is a Minister is that the Samajwadi Party Government has apparently not tried very hard to garner evidence to nail Baliyan. So Samajwadi Party and BJP will now furnish each other’s excuses and clean chits!

The other man whose inflammatory speeches are captured on camera is Amit Shah, likely to become BJP President after being furnished with his own personal ‘clean chit’ in fake encounter cases. But what ‘chit’ can wipe out the footage of him telling a Muzaffarnagar audience in an election meeting that the Muslim community is a community of rapists, and that ‘no one likes to riot, but riots happen when a community rapes our mothers and daughters’?

So when BJP spokespersons say ‘No BJP leader has ever called for rape’, we must remind the country of Baliyan who incited rape and riots and Shah who justified rapes and riots and stoked up more hate for votes.

BJP Leader Promises ‘Bihari Brides’ for Haryana Men

BJP’s Dhankar thinks of women as instruments of production, as a ‘commodity’ to which men are entitled. He says in acche din, wives from Bihar will be supplied to Haryana men to correct the ‘shortage’ created by sex selective abortion and female infanticide. Leaders of the same BJP accuse Left women leaders of standing for ‘free sex’. The situation is summed up perfectly by the Communist Manifesto quote below:

"But you Communists would introduce community of women, screams the bourgeoisie in chorus.

The bourgeois sees his wife a mere instrument of production. He hears that the instruments of production are to be exploited in common, and, naturally, can come to no other conclusion that the lot of being common to all will likewise fall to the women.

He has not even a suspicion that the real point aimed at is to do away with the status of women as mere instruments of production."

AIPWA’s Bihar unit held protests at various places in Bihar including the state capital Patna, stressing that Dhankar’s shocking remark exposed the BJP’s humiliating ideas on women, as well as their contempt for Bihar and women of Bihar.

ML Update Vol. 17 No. 27 1 – 7 JUL 2014

July 2, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 No. 27 1 – 7 JUL 2014

Prices Continue to Soar Unabated:

Modi Breaks His Biggest Election Promise

One of the main planks of Narendra Modi’s election campaign was his promise to curb inflation. With people reeling under the relentless rise in prices of essential commodities, Modi’s ‘Enough is enough of the blows of price rise – Vote Modi Government’ (Bahut ho chuki mahengai ki maar – ab ki baar Modi Sarkar) slogan touched a chord with people. However, in Modi’s first month in power, his Government has intensified the blows of price rise all around, without even waiting for any discussion in Parliament. Such arbitrary and ruthless price rise marks only an accentuation of the UPA-II’s policies. And even the excuses peddled by the Modi Government are the same old ones peddled by the Manmohan Singh Government!

Huge hikes have been effected in passenger rail fares. Freight charges have not been spared either, which would have a cascading effect on the prices of essential commodities that are transported by rail. Sugar prices have gone up. And the prices of essentials, especially retail prices of onions, are also soaring. Petrol and diesel prices have been hiked, and non-subsidised cooking gas (LPG) has been hiked by Rs 16.50 per cylinder. Gas prices are due to be hiked, which will lead to a hike in the prices of urea. In sum, common people, the poor, and farmers are feeling the brutal blows of price rise – and the blows are especially painful because they carry the sting of shamelessly broken election promises.

Hoarding and speculation are responsible in considerable measure for the hikes in prices, and the BJP Government is yet to take any effective measures to crack down on the hoarders and speculators.

Neoliberal apologists of the Modi Government have tried to blame the price rise on the nominal increases in Minimum Support Price (MSP) of paddy and pulses announced by the Government, accusing the latter of ‘buckling to demands of farmers’. In fact, the increases in MSP are far from adequate, given the fact that the costs of production have steeply risen and government support for farmers has been severely cut back. The Government does not even acknowledge the urgent need to tackle the deeper structural causes of price rise – i.e, the need to invest in farm subsidies for fertiliser, irrigation, power, and infrastructure, so as to bring down production costs.

Moreover, price rise does not benefit the farmers. Take the example of the hike in sugar prices. The Modi Government announced substantial benefits to the sugar mills, with a hike in import duty and reduction in export duty as well as continuation of doles by way of massive interest free loans. But the Government made no attempt to ensure that the sugar lobby paid its astronomical arrears (to the tune of 110 billion rupees) to sugarcane farmers!

Increase in import duty on sugar could be a welcome measure if it were accompanied by measures to ensure that the benefits reached the cane farmers. Instead, although there is no supply constraint, the hike in import duty was treated by the sugar lobby as a signal to hike domestic sugar prices instantly! It is also to be noted that the Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, who has substantial sugar lobby interests in Maharashtra, attended the meeting which took the decisions that have brought a bonanza for the corporate sugar mills, no relief for sugarcane farmers, and woes for consumers.

The impending hike in gas prices will, likewise, benefit Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance. Since gas accounts for 4/5ths of the costs of making urea, the hike in gas prices will undoubtedly push urea fertiliser prices up, creating an extra burden on fertiliser subsidies and farmers.

The Modi Government is busy blaming all its anti-people decisions on the previous Government. Modi, in his blog on completion of one month of the Government, has said that the Government, while working in ‘national interest’, has not ‘communicated’ its decisions properly. Justifying burdens on people and bonanzas for corporate lobbies in the name of ‘national interest’ is something that all neoliberal regimes, including the previous UPA-II Government, excelled in. The people of the country are not willing to wait indefinitely for Modi’s ‘acche din’ promises. If the Modi Government imagines that corporate-backed ‘communication’, that brought it to power, can keep people’s disappointment and anger at bay, it will be sorely mistaken.

Protests Against Rail Fare Hike

The rail fare hike was greeted with protests by CPI(ML) from the very first day.

Party workers all across Bihar came out on the streets on 21 June as part of a nationwide protest and expressed strong protest over the Modi government’s stiff rail fare hike of 14.2% in passenger fares and 6.5% in freight charges. The Patna-Gaya passenger was stopped at Masaudhi due to which rail traffic in that sector was obstructed for hours. In the capital Patna scores of ML leaders and activists took out a protest march from the radio station to station circle. Protest marches were also taken out and effigies of PM Narendra Modi burnt at various places including Ara, Fatuha, Paliganj and Naubatpur of Patna rural, Jehanabad, Darbhanga, Siwan, Aurangabad, Gaya, Arwal, Nalanda and Madhubani.

The march in Patna was led by Party leaders including Central committee members Com. Meena Tiwari and Shashi Yadav, State standing committee member Com. RN Thakur, Patna city secretary Santosh Sahar, Patna city leader Murtaza Ali, and a meeting was organized at station circle. The meeting was presided over by Com. RN Thakur.

Earlier during the march from the radio station, party workers shouted slogans such as “Achhe din ki shuruaat”, “Abki baar sabse mahangi sarkar”, “Modi sarkar sharm karo, janadesh ka samman karo”, “Petrol diesel rasoi gas moolya vriddhi nahi sahenge”, “”Rail kiraya badhotri vaapas lo”, “Corporate poonjipatiyon ki samarthhak Modi sarkar sharm karo”.

At Masaudhi (Patna rural) Com. Gopal Ravidas led the campaign to stop the Patna-Gaya passenger train. At Fatuha about 200 party workers led by State committee member Com. Umesh Singh and Block secretary Shailendra Yadav blocked NH 30 and burnt the effigy of Narendra Modi. Protest marches were also taken out at Naubatpur, Paliganj and other places.

A protest march was also taken out at Ara, and State committee member Naeemuddin Ansari, AIPWA leader Sohila Gupta, Jainath Yadav and other leaders led the march at Siwan. 50 party workers led by ML youth leader Com. Neeraj Singh marched in protest at Aurangabad and burnt the effigy of Narendra Modi. Protest marches and effigy burning were also conducted at Jehanabad, Arwal, Gopalganj, Gaya, Darbhanga, Samastipur, Bhagalpur, Betiya, Muzaffarpur, and other places. CPI-ML leaders said that strong protest movements would be organized against this government which is attacking the democratic rights of the people.

On 23rd the CPI(ML) held protests all over the country against the massive hike in railway fares by the BJP Government.

In Delhi, at Jantar Mantar, CPI(ML) activists gathered to protest the rail fare hike. The protesters raised slogans and displayed placards saying “Acche Din Poll Rhetoric Has Turned Into Bure Din Reality – Shame On Modi Govt.” Mocking the Modi campaign poster of ‘Bahut Hua Mahengai ki Mar, Ab ki baar Modi Sarkar’ (Enough of being hit by price rise, This Time Elect Modi govt), protesters displayed posters saying ‘Ab ki baar phir mahengai ki maar, sharm karo Modi sarkar’ (This time again we’re hit by price rise – shame on Modi govt). The protest gathering was addressed by Delhi State Secretary of CPI(ML) Sanjay Sharma, AICCTU Delhi State President VKS Gautam, AICCTU leader Mathura Paswan, CPI(ML) Politburo member and AIPWA National Secretary Kavita Krishan, AISA leader Agnitra Ghosh, Jan Sanskriti Manch’s Sudhir Suman, CPIML Delhi State Committee member Surender Panchal and trade union leader Shambhu Kumar and Munna Yadav.

Protests were held at various places in Uttar Pradesh also, the very day that the fare hike was announced. In response to the national call for protest on 23rd June, a protest march with a massive effigy of Narendra Modi was held at Lucknow, from the party’s office at Lalkuan through the busy Husainganj crossing, where the effigy was burnt amid slogans. Protests were also held at various places in Ghazipur district, as well as Balia, Chandauli, Mau, Bhadohi, Jalaun, Ambedkarnagar, and Pilibhit. At Mathura, CPI(ML) held a protest jointly with CPI.

Protests were held at Puducherry, and statewide protests were held all over Tamilnadu. At Chennai, on 22 June, workers demonstrated in front of the Ambattur Railway station. At Coimbatore, demonstrations were held in Pricol plant 1 and Plant 2 in which hundreds of workers participated. Both the programmes were addressed by Com Kumarasamy, PB member of CPI(ML), as well as State committee members N K Natarajan, Damodharan, and Balasubramanian. At Vilupuram, the Ulundurpet Railway station was gheraoed on 25 June, and police arrested party cadres including state secretary of the party Com Balasundaram and district secretary Com Venkatesan. They were later released in the evening. At Pudukottai, demonstrations were held at Athanakottai and Gandarvakottai. At Nagapattinam, a demonstration was held at Mayiladuthurai on 26 June; at Namakkal on 30 June and at Cuddalore, the RYA held a demonstration.

On FYUP in Delhi University

The students and teachers of Delhi University must be congratulated for their victory in restoring the 3-year degree programme.

Since last year, March 2013, the teachers and students of DU had been waging a relentless struggle against the DU VC’s hurried and forced imposition of the ill-thought out and disastrous FYUP. The reasoned arguments of the DUTA, students and noted academics and educationists were trampled upon by the VC using important bodies like the Academic and Executive Councils as mere rubber stamps to push through his dubious agenda with the blessings from the UPA Government.

It is the sustained campaign and agitation by students and teachers that made the FYUP an issue of national debate, forcing the new Government and UGC to finally accept the illegality and undesirability of the FYUP programme. Most importantly, the first batch of students affected by the FYUP had, in a historic referendum in August 2013, expressed their rejection of the FYUP and its substandard courses.

By refusing to abide by the UGC order for a week, the DU VC put lakhs of admission seekers from all over the country to immense stress, uncertainty, and trouble.

The Spirit of University’s Autonomy

The DU VC claimed that the UGC instructions violate the University’s autonomy. This is a specious and self-serving logic. The DU VC dealt body blows to the University’s autonomy and internal democracy on multiple occasions. It is in fact the movement of students and teachers that best expressed and defended the University’s autonomy.

To ram down the FYUP, the well-established processes in DU of framing syllabi for new courses and papers – such as departmental councils, and committees of courses – were summarily violated through administrative fiats within a month. Courses were formulated by hand-picked individuals and hastily passed through Academic Councils and ECs called overnight. The result was a bundle of courses of a laughable standard, that would not withstand any serious academic scrutiny.

The FYUP never got the requisite approval from the Visitor or the UGC, yet it was implemented.

The VC’s autocracy cannot pass off for University’s ‘autonomy’. The VC had been violating all internal processes and checks and balances, squashing debates and discussions, ramming down decisions in the face of massive opposition from the University’s main stakeholders (its teachers and students). By doing so, it is the DU VC who has made himself autonomous from the rest of the University community.

The University must have the fullest autonomy in terms of composition of courses, syllabus etc from outside political influence and so on. But a central University like Delhi cannot have a structure that is at odds with the structure (10+2+3) prevalent in the rest of the country. To bring DU in line with an American course structure, while pitting it against the National Education Policy of 10+2+3 cannot be accepted under any pretext of ‘autonomy’.

The DU VC refused to defend DU’s autonomy when it really was attacked by saffron goons.At the VC’s personal initiative, DU meekly removed AK Ramanujam’s scholarly essay ’300 Ramayanas’ from the English syllabus, against the reasoned arguments of concerned departments, following threats from the Hindutva brigade.

Safeguard the Students Already Enrolled

Students already enrolled under the B Tech programme must be safeguarded, as the B Tech programme runs for 4 years all over the country. All that UGC and AICTE must ensure is that the content of DU’s B Tech programme conforms to national standards and equivalence.

To ensure that those already enrolled in 2013 under FYUP, are able to complete their Honours Degree within 3 years, the coherent and reasoned formula suggested by students and teachers must be adopted.

Onwards to Struggles Ahead

In the days to come, there are likely to continuing assaults of privatisation of higher education and fresh assaults of saffronisation of syllabi. The FYUP struggle has shown that students and teachers can indeed score a victory in the face of all odds. This inspiring example will certainly be wind in the sails of the movement against privatization and saffronization.

AISA’s Role in FYUP Struggle

AISA first protested outside the Delhi University’s Academic Council (AC) and Executive Council (EC) meetings on 7 and 9 March 2013 in which the first draft on FYUP circulated by DU VC was passed.

AISA campaigned outside all the ‘open house meetings’ held by the University with new entrants in different colleges and schools in May 2013, and students who asked questions inside the meetings were snubbed or ignored. Outside the last open house meeting held on 30th May in the Conference Centre, AISA organised a big students’ open meeting – genuinely open to students’ participation and questions – to expose the farcical nature of the ones organised by the University.

AISA then held a protest rally in the North Campus of DU on the first day of sale of forms on 5 June 2013. AISA also protested at the MHRD and were detained while protesting at India Gate in June 2013.

When the campus opened on 21 July, AISA carried out an intensive campaign of two weeks, speaking to new students about their own experience of FYUP, and sharing AISA’s own critique of FYUP. In almost all the colleges, students spoke of the huge chaos and irregularities due to lack of infrastructures, faculties and even books and syllabus. Students were also upset that neither the University nor even the DUSU nor anyone but AISA had come to hear their complaints.

As the problems compounded, AISA conducted a two week campaign, after which AISA called a university wide Class Boycott and massive rally in North Campus on 7 August 2013, in which more than 1500 students participated.

As the situation worsened and the campaign intensified, AISA felt the need to create a platform for students’ own opinions to be voiced. So, at the end of one month of classes under the FYUP, AISA organised a historic referendum on FYUP on 22 August outside more than 20 colleges of DU. More than 10,000 students participated in the referendum, with the vast majority voting strongly against the FYUP. AISA gave the University 10 days to respond to the referendum mandate, after which, on AISA’s call, 5000 students sent submitted postcards to the Vice Chancellor on 2 September after a massive rally in North Campus.

AISA held a Students’ Public Hearing on 4 October, where students testified to the many problems of syllabus, teaching, and evaluation of ‘Foundation Courses’ – which were of a scadalously bad quality. As similar scandals were witnessed in the first semester exams and its question paper, AISA organised an open meeting on 15 January on the experiences of the first semester.

AISA then initiated the ‘Our DU Our Right Our Fight’ campaign on the issues of quality and affordable education, transportation, accommodation. More than 15000 students were approached from more than 20 colleges, who filled up forms about their experience and their demands on these issues. More than 500 students then marched to Delhi Secretariat in a Mass Students’ Delegation to the Delhi CM on 31st January.

On 14 February AISA marched to Sonia Gandhi’s residence, and on 18th February AISA participated in a 2000-strong joint teachers’ and students’ March to Parliament, led by the DUTA.

Against the unresponsive attitude of government AISA decided to make FYUP the biggest students issue in the Lok Sabha elections, and organised a Delhi-wide Yatra from 26 February to 12 March, which ended with a Delhi-wide bikers’ rally which covered more than 20 colleges.

On 9th June 2014, AISA held an Open Meeting on ‘No More FYUP, The Alternative is here’ , in which AISA placed its blueprint for an alternative scheme by which FYUP could be scrapped and the present batch under FYUP could be given an honours degree in the three years. Apart from First year students sharing their experiences of one year under FYUP, the meeting was also addressed by Dr. Nandita Narain, President, DUTA and Dr. Saikat Ghosh, Executive Member, DUTA.

AISA participated in the Halla Bol protest called by the DUTA on 19 June 2014. On 23 June, AISA burned the effigy of the DU VC and held a demonstration outside the MHRD demanding intervention by the MHRD to ensure that the Visitor of DU, the President of India intervene through the powers vested upon him by Section 31(6) of the DU Act.

AISA activists were detained by the Delhi Police and taken to the Parliament Police Station while trying to March to Rashtrapati Bhavan on 26 June (Emergency Day), to demand that the President of India intervene as Visitor of DU. AISA continued its protest inside the Police Station. Kavita Krishnan, National Secretary of AIPWA also came to express her solidarity with the AISA activists protesting inside the Parliament Street Police Station. A Memorandum was submitted to the President.

Later in the day AISA held a Protest Demonstration at UGC protesting against the DU’s last ditch proposal to salvage FYUP. AISA also submitted its own alternative for students of 2013 batch. AISA leaders Om Prasad and Niraj Kumar met UGC Joint Sceretary Jitendar Kumar.

On 27 June, AISA held a victory procession from the VC House to Arts Faculty Gate hailing the rollback of FYUP. AISA also demanded that the current batch of students must be provided a degree in 3 years and that the B Tech course must be made to meet AICTE standards and allowed to remain. AISA also demand that the present VC and his team must not go scot free, and an inquiry must be initiated against the VC and his team to probe the many allegations of financial and administrative irregularities against them.

Emergency Anniversary Observed as Anti-Repression Day

On 26 June, a mass meeting was held by the CPI(ML) in the Wazirpur slum cluster in Delhi, to mark the anniversary of the Emergency, and also to protest against the ‘undeclared Emergency’, whereby repression is unleashed on protesting workers, dissenting voices are jailed, students are booked for jokes against the PM Narendra Modi, and fake encounters and custodial torture are a daily reality. Party Area Secretary Mathura Paswan and union leader Munna Yadav addressed the meeting.

Tamil Nadu Updates

On June 19, a demonstration was organised at Mayiladuthurai by RYA demanding implementation of the Verma committee recommendations on sexual atrocities and also a 13 point programme announced by CM of Tamilnadu.

Public meetings were held at Sriperumputhur and Ambattur demanding protection of workers of Nokia and its ancillaries, in the backdrop of 10,000 Nokia workers below 30 years of age being compelled to go on VRS. More than 300 workers attended the meeting in Ambattur. At Sriperumputhur, workers of Asian Paints, Tenanco, Nippon Express, OLG, and GE Topaz Tools took part.

In Salem, residents of the slum clearance board demonstrated in front of the collectorate demanding house site pattas on 23 June.

On 20 June, the AIKM held a demo at Salem condemning Private Toll plazas collecting toll from Yercaud tribals in the Hill areas.

AISA demonstrated at Madurai demanding resignation of the VC of Madurai Kamaraj University, after the Maduarai bench of Madras High Court held that her appointment was not as per norms. AISA also held a ‘Save University’ demonstration and petitioned the collector.

When party cadres Avudaiyappan, Sundar Raj and Kannan petitioned the Mayor demanding renovation of the public toilet at Thanchanallur area, they were ill treated by the Mayor. Condemning this, a demonstration was immediately held under the leadership of Sundar Raj , DC member. Com Balasundaram, state secretary, Com Ramesh state VP of AICCTU , Com Anbu selvi of AIPWA and other district committee members took part.

Women gheroed the PDS ration shop at Tirunelveli against the move to hand over kerosene distribution to private outlets. The move was withdrawn after the CPI(ML) District Committee gheraoed the shop.

A Public meeting was held at Tirunelveli by AIPWA demanding roll back of Railway fare hike, an end to atrocities on women and Dalits, against the impending increase in prices of cooking gas, kerosene etc. The demonstration was at the Pettai area under the leadership of Com Sumathy, and more than 70 women took part.

ML Update | No. 26 | 2014

June 25, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 | No. 26 | 24 – 30 JUN 2014

In Lieu of Editorial

AILC Statement

Protest the Massive Railway Fare Hike

New Delhi, 21 June 2014

The All India Left Coordination (AILC) strongly condemns the massive hike in railway fares by the BJP Government.

The hike, to the extent of 14.2 per cent in all classes and 6.5 per cent in the freight charges, will place a huge additional burden on ordinary people, who are already battling price rise. Commuters and monthly season ticket (MST) holders are the hardest hit by the fare hike, with MST fares being almost trebled in some routes and more than doubled in almost all routes. The increase in freight rates will undoubtedly result in a further escalation of prices of essential commodities that are transported by rail. The ‘achhe din’ (good times) rhetoric has turned very quickly into ‘bure din’ reality for hard-hit common passengers and working people who commute everyday for a living. This decision of the Modi Government to hike fares by the backdoor, ahead of the rail budget, is in continuation of the UPA Government’s policy of delinking the Rail budget from fare fixation.

Narendra Modi’s high-powered election campaign that swept him to power, had promised that “Modi Sarkar” would mean an end to the “blows of inflation” (mehengai ki mar). Ironically, in 2012, Modi who was projecting himself as the would-be PM, had written a scathing letter to then PM Manmohan Singh, protesting the UPA-II decision to hike freight fares ahead of the rail budget! Modi had then pointed out how such a hike would escalate the costs of food grains and fertilizers, as well as the cost of coal and power generation. Modi has then asked Manmohan Singh, “Was the Central Government waiting for the results of the elections to five State Assemblies to impose an anti-people and anti-farmer policy?” Today, the people of India might well ask Modi if he was waiting to become PM, in order to drop the mask of “acche din” (good times) and impose the “hard times” of anti-people and anti-farmer policies?

The Modi Government today is disclaiming responsibility for the decision to hike rail fares, claiming it was a pending decision of the UPA Government. The ‘Modi Sarkar’ is showing that, far from delivering any relief from the UPA regime of price rise and plunder, it is merely going to continue and intensify that anti-people regime.

The All India Left Coordination (AILC) demands immediate rollback of the price hike, and calls on people to hold vigorous protests between 23-25 June against the increase in rail fares all over the country.

-This statement and call are issued by the All India Left Coordination (AILC) that is now in session in Mumbai and is being attended by leaders of four of the constituent parties

Dipankar Bhattacharya,

General Secretary, CPI(ML) Liberation

KS Hariharan, Revolutionary Marxist party (RMP), Kerala,

Mangat Ram Pasla, Secretary, CPM Punjab,

Bhimrao Bansod, LNPI(L) Maharashtra

Bury Rajasthan’s Anti-labour Amendments in the Sands of Thar

- Bhuvana

‘With adequate profit, capital is very bold. A certain 10 per cent will ensure its employment anywhere; 20 per cent certain will produce eagerness; 50 per cent., positive audacity; 100 per cent will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 per cent., and there is not a crime at which it will scruple….’

- Marx, quoting from T J Dunning, in Genesis of Industrial Capital

The BJP government in Rajasthan is emerging as BJP’s laboratory for its intended onslaught on labour. The Rajasthan cabinet has cleared some major anti-labour amendments in the labour laws such as Industrial Disputes Act, Contract Labour Act and Factories Act. These amendments will come into force once they are passed in the State Assembly and then get Presidential assent.

The amendments seek to further facilitate the already existing hire and fire process by raising the minimum limit of employed workers for an industrial establishment to need permission from the government for retrenchment, from 100 workers to 300. An industrial dispute has to be raised within 3 years. Only a trade union with a membership 30% of total workforce can register, contract labour legislation will apply in an establishment only where the number of such workers is 50 (earlier it was 20) and Factories Act will apply to an establishment which uses electricity and employs 20 workers and which does not use electricity and employs 40 workers (earlier it was 10 and 20 respectively).

These amendments are sought to be done in the name of ‘creating 15 lakh jobs per year’ in the state. The chief secretary of Rajasthan government says the existing labour laws are anti-employment and without these amendments it is not possible to generate employment. Let us examine this claim more closely.

As per the ASI 2011-2012, the report published in March 2014, the total number of factory workers, and thus protected by the existing labour laws, in the country is 1,34,29,956. They are distributed in 1,75,710 factories. TN has the highest number of factory workers with 19,40,819 workers in 26,654 factories, which is closely followed by Maharashtra 18,80,606 in 22,615 factories and distantly followed by Gujarat by a difference of around 5 lakhs (13,83,773 in 17,529 factories). Rajasthan has 4,74,883 workers in 7,622 factories. In none of these states, the average number of workers in a factory exceeds 100.

Of the total 1,75,710 factories 1,25,301 factories employ less than 50 workers which is 71.31%. Factories employing 200 or more workers constitute just 8.94% of the total factories. Factories employing 5,000 or more workers constitute a meagre 0.21% of the total factories. 1,60,009 factories employ less than 200 workers. The number of factories with 200 – 499 workers is 9,094. In Rajasthan, where amendments to labour laws are proposed, the number of factories employing workers less than 200 is 7,102. There are 343 factories with 200-499 workers. Even if an average of 150 from this is added to the factories employing lesser number workers it will be 7,252. The remaining number of factories in Rajasthan is then just 370. Of the 1,34,29,956 factory workers in the country 36,10,056 workers are employed through contractors. In Rajasthan these corresponding numbers are 4,74,883 and 1,33,080.

These numbers fly in the face of Rajasthan government’s claim of creating 15 lakhs jobs a year.

Creating jobs should essentially mean creating a livelihood for the whole life of the worker and his family. It is not creating a temporary, insecure green patch for a while. Employment generation has got to do with the lives of the workers and not just numbers. The number of ‘jobs being increased’ by the proposed amendments means just throwing the existing workers away and recruiting new workers in their place! Even if this is done, Rajasthan cannot see 15 lakhs jobs a year. The announcement about amendments is not accompanied by any statement regarding setting up new industries in the state, private or public, which can bring jobs as claimed. In the existing conditions, if the amendments get clearance, workers of 7,252 factories in Rajasthan can be thrown out by their employers without seeking any permission from the government.

The first round of struggles of Maruti workers was for registration of their new union. The Haryana government refused to register their union, and workers could succeed in this only after persistent struggle. Now BJP government in Rajasthan is legalizing such refusal by amending that 30% workforce should be members of the union to make it eligible to register. This essentially takes away the right of collective bargaining of the workers.

What about the rights of workers of some 370 factories in Rajasthan which are employing more than 300 workers? The latently turbulent industrial scene in TN can explain why they too are not protected by labour laws. AIADMK and DMK rulers usually claim they have made TN numero uno in terms of attracting foreign and domestic investment. ASI figures correspond positively to this claim too. But Nokia, which has enjoyed tax reliefs and other related investor benefits of an amount equal to that it invested, has closed shops in TN after the Microsoft take over. Microsoft did not take over the 9,600 permanent, contract and trainee workers employed by Nokia. They are in the age group of 25-28. The contract employing 3,000 workers was terminated in January 2014. 750 trainees had to take the compensation Rs.2.5 lakh offered. 5,000 permanent workers have opted for the VRS offered by Nokia. The amount ranges from Rs.6.2 lakhs to Rs.3 Lakhs based on the years of service.

It is being argued that this amount is hefty in the general standards of VRS offered these days. With Rs.6.2 lakh they cannot invest in another Nokia company! This will vanish in a few months’ time in feeding the families of the workers. All of them have joined the army of unemployed and have started looking for a livelihood. This virus of VRS for young workers below 30 years old is now spreading to the factories which are supplying spare parts for Nokia such as Foxconn and BYD (Build Your Dream). 600 BYD workers were arrested for blocking the road on June 21. They are not demanding employment. They are forced to demand a better compensation package at least on par with Nokia workers. BYD employs 1,000 workers and Foxconn has another 1,700 permanent workers, 3,600 contract workers, and close to 1,500 trainees. Hyundai and its subsidiaries in Sriperumbudur sent out 5,000 trainees, who were filled with dreams of going in a Hyundai car after being regularized, three years ago. They are yet to get a decent job.

Thus all these numbers, 9,600, 1,000, 5,000, 6,000 have not done anything to protect employment created, which were claimed as success stories by AIADMK and DMK. These numbers once added at the time of setting up the factories will remain ever in the statistics and get counted as ‘jobs created’. This side of industrial situation seldom attracts attention of mainstream media and the affected workers are washed away in the floods of next round of talks about investment and job creation. While Jayalalitha at the age of 66 and Modi at the age of 63 will continue to be government employees and Karunanidhi at the age of 90 will make another bid to become Chief Minister, workers at the age of less than 30 will go on VRS!

If the Rajasthan model is photocopied (as suggested by neoliberal ideologues like Manish Sabherwal) to create ‘29 centers of job creation in the country’, we will have 29 centers of slave generation in the country. We will have permanently temporary workers, permanent trainees and permanent contract workers who will be constantly under the pressures to produce more and receive depressingly less, forced to compete among themselves to grab any job for a temporary oasis of survival in a sea of despair.

To quote T. J. Dunning again, “Capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.” While the ‘Mazdoor No.1’ has a posh, sprawling, security-decked government house, office, hefty salary laced with attractive allowances, special but free air travel, different helps for different tasks including simple ones such as holding his cell phone, giving him a sip of water every now and then and so on and so forth, the nth Mazdoor of this country of 121 crores will be denied the dignity of being human, of even having the right to visit the toilet as often as s/he needs.

The TN government passed an amendment to the Industrial Establishment Standing Orders Act which has the scope of limiting the number of trainees in an industrial establishment in 2008 during the DMK regime. The amendment was unanimously passed by the TN Assembly. But it has not got the mandatory Presidential assent to take effect. Around 4 lakh powerloom workers in TN have raised the demand of announcing their workplace as factories under Section 85(1) of Factories Act. This will bring them the rights of a factory worker. Workers of Pricol and Hyundai are in the forefront in raising the demand to amend Trade Union Act for recognition of TU with majority of workers. These demands are alive as they are related to the day-to-day lives of the workers.

The BJP’s Election Manifesto had promoted the concept of ‘Industry Family’, in which “industry owners and labours bond as a family.” Inside a ‘family’, there can be no room for Unions and workers’ struggles and entitlements; and the BJP Manifesto had, likewise, promised to “bring together all stakeholders to review our Labour laws”. But the Rajasthan Government’s amendments to Labour laws have not even been through a nominal tripartite process. In the tradition of the good old feudal-patriarchal family, the ‘mai-baap sarkar’ has snatched away the rights of workers to promote the profits of industrialists.

Any amendment made to labour laws will have to widen the contours of industrial democracy in the country and improve the working and living conditions of the workers. The number of workers in this country is far larger than the number of industrialists in the country. The new government at the center and government in Rajasthan will have to bury the anti-labour amendments in the sands of Thar else the workers of this country will take the lead in doing it.

(With inputs from Comrade Desikan)

Jute Workers’ Plight – And Resistance

- Atanu Chakravarty

The jute industry is in the news nationally – with sensational headlines about a CEO being killed. Unfortunately, the lives of the jute workers and other workers get scant attention unless in the wake of such tragic and unfortunate incidents. Let us take a look at the facts and background of this particular incident.

On 15th June, a workers’ agitation took place at North Brook Jute Mill, which is located at Bhadreswar, Hoogly District. The management took a unilateral decision to run the mill 3 days a week. In this mill, all the labour laws are violated (which is a common phenomenon in all the jute mills of West Bengal) with impunity. The legal dues of statutory leaves were paid in 4-5 instalments, and workers were thrown out of employment at the drop of a hat. All sort of undignified, undemocratic, feudal and exploitative work conditions are prevalent in the mills. The workers were seething with anger and discontent, and the decision to reduce the working days was the last straw. The actual circumstances of the unfortunate death of the CEO are not clear. But as a consequence, work was suspended in the factory, and there have been indiscriminate arrests of local TU leaders and police terror unleashed on ordinary workers – following the same pattern as has been seen at Maruti and Pricol. TMC leaders denied their presence in the mills but the fact remains that the Board of PF Trustees is controlled by a fraction of TMC union.

Even as the Chief Minister points accusing fingers upon the ‘BJP-CPIM nexus’, the ‘owner’ of the Mill, Prakash Churaria blamed ‘some miscreants from outside’ and said workers were not all involved in this incident. Sanjay Kajaria, ex-Chairman of Indian Jute Mills Association(IJMA) squarely blamed both the state & Central Governments for the present crisis in the jute mills.

New Central Jute Mill (NCJM), is actually the only factory in the state which is run by a ‘workers’ co-operative’, located at Budge Budge, south 24 Parganas. In this sham co-operative, the workers and state government have 52 & 42 percent share respectively (some others have the rest), and the Managing Director is appointed by the Industrial Reconstruction Dept of the state government. Interestingly, the present ‘owner’ of North Brook controls the day to day affairs of the NCJM management. After colluding with Ashoke Deb, the local MLA of Trinamool Congress and some Trade Union leaders of the mill, Prakash Churaria forcefully ‘took over’ the affairs of the company. The management, in league with some TU leaders of the mill decided to sell the machines & replace it with the ‘new’ ones, under the pretext of modernisation. The AICCTU-led Bengal Chatkal Mazdoor Forum (BCMF), a fraction of CITU and one more union, opposed this move. BCMF organised a massive deputation against this decision in one of its units (Albion).

The news of this agitation spread fast and the workers of another unit (Lothian) struck work, and gheraoed the management. In a shrewd move, the management tried to divert the workers’ ire towards the TU leaders and named a few leaders alleging that they ‘compelled’ him to sell the machines. The next day the workers gave a befitting reply to those leaders, the agitation continued, and all the management staff fled. To foil the management’s attempt to declare suspension of work, the workers virtually took over the mill, peacefully stayed inside their workplace, defying all the threat of the bouncers.

After active intervention of AICCTU state leadership, the SDO of south 24 parganas convened an urgent meeting with all the stakeholders of the mills on the following day. In the meeting, the management was forced to withdraw their notice and was ordered to pay the due wages by 17th June. The management stopped purchasing raw materials and daily maintenance of the machines was ignored. The workers became apprehensive and when wages were not disbursed on the said date, by 10am, thousands of workers blocked the adjacent railway line and GT Road. Despite huge police bandobast, the blockade continued. The top brass of district police forced the management to put up a notice regarding wage payment. After it was displayed, the blockade was withdrawn at midnight. Wages were disbursed the following day.

On 19th June , nearly 1000 workers took out a militant rally from the mill premises and marched through the locality under the leadership of AICCTU & Shramik Suraksha Manch.

The workers of this mill are the lowest paid and the industry-wise wage structure has not been implemented despite repeated assurances, job security of even permanent workers is a myth in this mill after the present management took over, the statutory dues of the retired workers are not paid. The Secretary of BCMF’s union was refused work for leading the agitation a month before. Only after the Labour Directorate intervened, the management was forced to back track.

The workers of the Finishing Department of Victoria jute mill of Bhadreswar, Hooghly, ceased work when the management refused to give scheduled jobs to 10 workers of that department.

Auckland Jute and Waverly jute mills of north 24 Parganas declared suspension of work w.e.f 17th and 18thJune respectively, after the workers’ agitation. The workers of Auckland jute were demanding reimbursement of their deducted wages on the day of LS election.

Why have things come to such a pass?

This century-old labour intensive industry employs more than 2.5 lakh workers directly in the mills. These are now owned & controlled not by the industrialists, but by the raw jute suppliers, promoters and intermediaries who have found a happy hunting ground in all these jute mills. The wages of the jute industry are governed by industry-wise tripartite agreements, which the present owners want to dismantle. The jute owners are trying to introduce daily wages, sans fringe benefits. Gradually, unregistered, casual-contract-voucher workers have outnumbered the permanent work-force and the ultimate goal of these owners is to transform the composite mills into smaller units .The present owners are only interested to extract huge profits within the shortest possible period without reinvestment. The textile ministry in their report has mentioned that the annual turnover of jute industry is more than 10,000 crores, but data reveals that, between 2007-2011, the industry spent Rs 274 cr, a paltry 2.7 % of the annual turnover, on modernisation and technological upgradation. All the statutory laws (PF, ESIC, Gratuity) are violated. The Factory Act is not followed and the workers are forced to work under suffocating, highly uncivilized, medieval working condition. The staggering amount of PF default , as on 31.03.2013 is a telling example. Let’s cite a few examples:

NORTH BROOK JUTE 125.43LACS

NEW CENTRAL JUTE MILLS 1172.85 LACS

KANORIA JUTE 1097.78 LACS

VICTORIA JUTE 1155.51 LACS

NUDDEA JUTE 3419.03 LACS

MEGHNA JUTE ( Arjun Singh, TMC MLA from Bhatpara assembly segment is a de-facto owner of this mill) 308.24 lacs (Labour in West Bengal, 2012-13)

Under the Jute Packaging Mandatory Act,1987 (JPMA),the industry enjoys a sheltered market and JCI purchases the jute bags meant for packaging food grains. Of late, the National Fibre Policy, 2011 has already recommended on phasing out protection, sheltered market and subsidy to jute sector through JPMA, 1987. Widespread use of synthetic bags have told upon this sector. The Central Govt has cut down the previous guaranteed order of jute bags, resulting in a market crunch.

The Mamata Government introduced the Industrial Policy in 2013 which is termed as Industrial and Investment Policy, 2013. The thrust of this policy was to revive Jute and Tea industry, but no meaningful steps have been taken yet to stem the rot. In the above-mentioned policy, the State Government declared its commitment towards a ‘No Bandh’ regime, and the policy statement says “there has been a significant decline in number of mandays lost due to strike in the state. Mandays lost drastically reduced in from 65,80,000 in FY 2010-11 to 5,200 to FY 2012-13’’. But, on the contrary, mandays lost due to lockout in the FY 2012-13 was 99.97% (according to Labour In West Bengal, the annual report of the labour department)! The shameless pro-employer industrial policy has helped the management to unleash an unprecedented attack upon the workers & employees of the State.

All the operating Trade Unions of the Jute mills submitted a fresh charter of demand (COD) after expiry of the previous one on January 30, 2013. Till date, the State Government has miserably failed to settle the COD, which has led to widespread discontent among the jute workers in general. Without delving deep into the problem, the State Government is describing the situation as a breakdown of law and order within the jute industry.

ML Update | No. 25 | 2014

June 18, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 | No. 25 | 17 – 23 JUN 2014

‘Good Times’ Poll Rhetoric Makes Way for ‘Hard Times’ Post-Poll Reality

Wooing votes in elections, Modi promised "good times". Once in power, he has not taken long to change his tune. In a recent speech, he warned that "hard times" lay ahead since he would have to take “tough economic decisions” in the “larger interest of the nation”, even if it cost him popular support. Inevitably, the "tough decisions" are those that will impose fresh burdens on India’s poor, rather than curtail the privileges and profits of corporations.

With Modi in the PM seat, the Gujarat Chief Minister only had to express her wish to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam by 17 metres, for the Narmada Control Authority to grant it. The same day, the Gujarat CM did ‘puja’ to initiate the fresh construction. This, despite the fact that the project is yet to comply with a range of obligations mandated by the Supreme Court – including full rehabilitation for those already affected, clearance by the Grievance Redressal Authority in MP and Maharashtra, and safeguard measures such as command area development and catchment area treatment. People’s movements have risen up in protest against the decision, pointing out that 2.5 lakh people would find their land and livelihood deluged.

Meanwhile, the Intelligence Bureau has come out with a blueprint to stream-roll struggles to pave the way for big projects, defying environmental and safety regulations and people’s rights over land, forests and water. In a report submitted to the PM, the IB has accused a range of people’s movements of being ‘foreign-funded NGOs that stall development projects’. This report repeats some of the canards spread by the previous UPA-II Government against the anti-nuclear struggle at Koodankulam, while also lifting words and ideas unchanged from a 2006 speech by Modi.

The strategy is to brand people’s movements raising environmental and livelihood concerns as ‘anti-national’, just as the Sangh Parivar has always branded those raising concerns for civil liberties and rights as ‘anti-national’. The Manmohan Government, together with BJP-led state Governments, had already been united in waging a war on adivasi people on the pretext of combating Maoism, with the real goal of paving the way for corporate plunder. The same strategy is now getting a boost and an expansion under Modi.

The Modi Government isn’t alone in seeking to brand people’s movement activists as a threat to the nation’s security and development. Reports prepared at the behest of the defence establishments of the imperialist US and UK have similarly sought to brand all activists with ‘anti-capitalist’ or anti-inequality and anti-imperialist agendas, as well as poor, immigrant and minority communities, as potentially ‘extremist’.

The script of the Modi Government’s brand of governance is before us. The promise of "good times" will come true for big corporations, and the hardships imposed on the poor will be justified in the name of "larger interests of the nation" – and all those who resist the plunder of the country’s resources or the robbing of people’s land and livelihoods will be branded as "foreign-funded anti-nationals." And make no mistake, the same big corporations, domestic or foreign, have been among the biggest funders of the most extravagant ‘Modi for PM’ election campaign that India has just witnessed.

People’s movements will not be silenced by such intimidation though. They will continue to expose the Government’s policies promoting corporate plunder and yawning inequality, and serving imperialism, as the real ‘anti-national’ agenda. And the best way to serve the country will be to defend its natural resources and environmental fabric and the rights and livelihood of its people.

Resolution on Unity in Action in Defence of Democracy, Pluralism and People’s Livelihood and Rights

(adopted by the CPI(ML) Central Committee in its meeting held in Delhi on 25-27 May 2014)

The sweeping victory of the BJP and NDA in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections poses a new challenge to all justice-loving democracy-loving people of India. Even as the new regime starts unveiling its agenda, pronouncements made by various leaders of the new dispensation and cases of hate crime, political terror and police highhandedness being reported from various corners of the country point to a testing time for democracy and communal harmony. Fresh attacks on people’s livelihood in various forms like cuts in transfers to the poor, upward revision in gas prices and FDI limits etc. and selective silence of the new prime minister on a whole range of shocking events mark ominous early portents.

The new government has come to power promising to usher in ‘good days’, but Modi’s Gujarat track record rests on unfettered corporate domination, state-patronised communal violence, systematic misuse of the state apparatus and wholesale violation of constitutional norms and rights and an unmistakably authoritarian mode of governance that stifles dissent in every form and engineers large-scale assaults on people’s rights and liberties.

While championing popular aspirations for basic rights, improved living and good governance, every defender of democracy will have to be vigilant and battle-ready to combat any attempt to replicate and amplify the inherently anti-democratic features of the much-trumpeted Gujarat model on an all-India scale.

The BJP’s unprecedented countrywide electoral ascendance has come not just at the cost of the Congress but also large sections of the non-Congress non-BJP spectrum including the Left. Evidently the big message of these elections for the Left and all other sections of progressive democratic forces is an urgent need for expansion and rejuvenation of the fighting base and capacity of the people’s movement and for wider cooperation and united action.

The CPI(ML) Central Committee hereby makes an ardent appeal to all fellow defenders of democracy to come together against every assault on democracy, pluralism and people’s livelihood and fight hard for the realisation of people’s aspirations and rights and solemnly reiterates the party’s commitment to explore and expand all possible avenues of cooperation and contribute to the development and strengthening of the people’s movement by all means.

Venezuela’s revolution has our solidarity still!

(Socialists in Asia-Pacific pledge support for Venezuela’s socialist revolution, a year after Chavez’s death, in a resolution adopted at the 10th National Conference of the Socialist Alliance in Sydney)

March 5 marked one year since the death of Venezuelan president and revolutionary Hugo Chavez. An outspoken fighter for the oppressed in Venezuela and Latin America, the loss of Chavez is still felt keenly by socialists and anti-imperialists globally.

But the Bolivarian revolution that Chavez led is a mass movement of millions of people that lives on in the barrios and workplaces in Venezuela. This process, led by the government of President Nicolas Maduro, is facing fresh attacks by right-wing forces backed by the United States.

The recent violent protests by a minority that has repeatedly been defeated at the ballot box has caused widespread destruction and terror. Along with at least 20 deaths and hundreds of injuries, public buildings and government-run, pro-poor social missions have been attacked by opposition protesters, at the estimated cost of up to 10 million bolivars.

The international media has presented this fascist violence as a peaceful democracy struggle that has been repressed by a dictatorial Maduro government. This turns reality on its head.

The forces behind the protests were the same as those that carried out the coup against Chavez in 2002, destroying democracy and killing dozens of people before being defeated by a genuine mass democratic uprising.

We know this is part of ongoing efforts by the US-backed right-wing to destabilise the elected government and undermine the Bolivarian revolution. The right-wing’s campaign has included an “economic war” involving sabotage, hoarding and speculation by capitalists.

We know the rich elite in Venezuela and internationally will never forgive the Bolivarian movement for attacking the political and economic interests of capitalists in otrder to advance those of the majority. No matter how many times the pro-imperialist forces are defeated, they will continue to try to destroy the revolution’s gains.

In a global era of austerity and war, the gains of the Bolivarian revolution are an inspiration for ordinary people everywhere – increasing living standards and democratic rights of the poor majority, and spearheading Latin American integration as an alternative to imperialist domination and exploitation.

On the anniversary of Chavez’s death and in the face of fresh lies and attacks on the revolution he led, we reiterate our support for Venezuelan democracy and the Bolivarian movement’s attempt to create “socialism for the 21st century”.

Signatories:

Socialist Alliance (Australia); Awami Workers Party (Pakistan); Parti Sosialis Malaysia (Socialist Party of Malaysia); Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation; Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Labouring Masses – Philippines)

Joint Regional Statement Against US Meddling in Venezuela

End United States’ interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela!

No sanctions against Venezuelan citizens!

June 17, 2014

We, the undersigned parties and organisations in the Asia region, condemn the moves by the United States government to impose sanctions on Venezuelan citizens it deems to have “abused human rights”.

The US House of Representatives’ May 28 vote for such sanctions is a violation of the right of all nations to sovereignty and self-determination.

The bill is not motivated by a desire to end supposed human rights abuses in Venezuela. Rather, it seeks to support the openly stated aims of Venezuela’s right-wing opposition to overthrow the democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro. This is revealed by the bill’s authorisation of millions of dollars of increased funding to opposition organisations in Venezuela – the same groups responsible for a wave of violence within Venezuela this year that has left at least 40 dead and hundreds injured.

The US bill ignores the opposition to sanctions expressed by Latin America’s main regional bodies, including the Organisation of American States (OAS), the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

It also dismisses the 73% of Venezuelans polled on May 10-12 who oppose US sanctions, as well as the calls by Venezuela’s president and government for peace and dialogue.

We strongly endorse the May 27 statement of the 188 countries of the Movement of Non-Aligned Nations that condemns the proposed sanctions as a violation of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of another country. We agree with UNASUR’s May 22 statement approving the peace process initiated by the Venezuelan government and declaring US meddling an obstacle to national dialogue.

In the interests of international peace and justice, we call on the US Senate and President Barrack Obama to respect the sovereignty of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and reject this bill.

Further, we call on our own governments to express their clear opposition to the proposed sanctions, and to use all channels available to pressure the US government to end its interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela.

Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM)

Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM – Philippines)

Awami Workers Party (Pakistan)

Communist Party of India (ML) Liberation

Socialist Alliance (Australia)

Nepal Venezuela Solidarity Network

CPI(ML)Team Visits Muzaffarpur Hospitals To Investigate Encephalitis Epidemic

Since 1995 the advent of summer every year has brought the ravages of the disease called encephalitis in Bihar, claiming the lives of hundreds of children. This year also encephalitis started its scourge in April and will continue till just before the heavy rains arrive. In spite of being well aware of this fact, our governments are not taking the situation seriously. As a result, this year also more than 89 children have so far succumbed to encephalitis. Most of these children were also suffering from malnutrition. The government has done nothing to provide a permanent solution to the problem. Moreover, immediate relief operations are also very slow and hampered by negligence. There is a dire lack of facilities in hospitals, and primary health centres are decrepit, due to which children’s lives are unable to be saved.

The above facts have been brought to light by the CPI(ML) in its investigation report after inspecting the SKMCH and Kejriwal hospitals at Muzaffarpur. The investigation team included former MP and AIALA National President Rameshwar Prasad, CPI(ML) CC member Com. Meena Tiwari, State committee member Com. Kamlesh Sharma, Muzaffarpur district Secretary Com. Krishna Mohan, AIALA district Secretary Shatrughan Sahni, and Office Secretary Sakal Thakur.

The investigation team said that instead of showing seriousness towards saving the children from the disease, the Centre and State governments are indulging in mere tokenism and posturing. The CM of Bihar, along with other Ministers, bureaucrats, and Central ministers have toured the area. Big declarations and tall promises have been made but the snail’s pace of the response still remains the same.

Until last year JD(U)-BJP were in government in Bihar. The Health Department was with the BJP. It is the failure of the Health Department which had been in power for 8 years that it could not find effective ways to stop the deaths due to this disease. Constructive suggestions: to get rid of contributory factors like malnutrition, to break the cycle of transmission (usually through pig and mosquito), to have proper preparation to treat the early patients, as well as to form a team of specialists, conduct research, and find effective means of treatment for this disease which is an annual scourge – were brushed aside. This has resulted in the loss of several children’s lives this year also.

Apart from Muzaffarpur, Beguserai, Sitamarhi, Shivhar, and eastern Champaran areas are also in the grip of this disease. More than 250 children have so far been admitted to the SKMCH and Kejriwal hospitals in Muzaffarpur, out of whom 89 have died. 132 children were admitted to the government hospital, out of whom 40 died, 43 are in ICU, 14 are in the wards, and only 35 have been able to return home.

The CPI(ML) investigation team said that they understood from their talks with the doctors that if first aid is rendered within 4 to 6 hours after the onset of the disease, the child’s life can be saved. But the district level primary health centres, and Block level health centres are all in decrepit condition. As a result, by the time the children are brought to the main hospital, their condition becomes very serious and it is difficult to save them. The two district hospitals also lack facilities. Patients at Kejriwal hospital have to go outside for CT scan and treatment for respiratory ailments, as these are not available in the hospital.

The team said that the government boasts of achievements but has failed to provide facilities like adequate treatment for children and raising the number of mobile vans, which is why this disease is now fast assuming the form of an epidemic.

It is a result of the insensitivity and wrong health policy of the Central and State governments, BJP and JD(U) that today the children are unable to be saved from encephalitis. The team said that the government should make arrangements for Block level medical treatment on a war footing, mobile vans, CT scans, etc. They demanded a compensation of Rs 5 lakhs for the families of the children whose lives have be claimed by encephalitis.

Mahadalits’ Protest Against Land Grab in Patna

Tired of repeated and futile pleas to free 10 katthas of mahadalits’ shmasan (burial) ground in Siddharthnagar coming under Airport thana of capital city Patna, the mahadalits and poor of Jagdev Path, Ashiyananagar, and neighbouring mohallas expressed their strong anger against the district administration and State government by blockading Bailey Road on 16th June.

Thousands of mahadalit and poor families living around the western part of Patna’s Bailey Road in Jagdev Path, Ashiyananagar, Konhara, Rukanpura and Mahua Bagh have been burying their dead in the burial ground located at Siddharthnagar (Murlichak). But a company of builders, namely Mssrs. Jainiwas Constructions have started enclosing this land with the intention of capturing it. This is a total of 24 katthas of land out of which a portion of 14 katthas has already been captured by land thieves.

The builder company and its so-called partner Amit Kumar Poddar had tried to capture this ground about 3 years ago on 5 April 2011 and had shot dead Buti Devi, a mahadalit woman who was opposing them. Several others were injured during that protest including Maliya Devi, Surti Devi, and Ramji Manjhi.

After the incident the then DM had announced that the family of deceased Buti Devi would be paid a compensation of Rs 2 lakhs, the culprits guilty of firing and murder would be arrested, the disputd land would be ensured to remain in the custody of the mahadalits and would be fenced in at government cost, and a community hall and toilet would be constructed in the name of Buti Devi in the mahadalit tola at Jagdev Path. The police had even arrested builder Rajiv Kumar and two of his associates Rajesh Kumar and Kumar Gaurav. In addition, Airport thana in charge Mithilesh Jaiswal, SI Ramnarayan Thakur, and 3 home guards were suspended.

After lying low for 3 years, recently Mssrs. Jainiwas Constructions again resumed the work of putting up boundary walls on this land. The mahadalit community organization Shahri Garib Morcha (Front of Urban Poor) and CPI(ML) have in the past few days submitted written applications to Patna DM, Police SP, as well as to CM Shri Jitan Ram Manjhi requesting removal of the builders’ capture of the shmasan ground. However, seeing that the State government and administration have not taken any steps, the people today took recourse to blockading the road.

From 9 in the morning on 16th June, hundreds of men and women from mahadalit and poor mohallas in Jagdev Path, Ashiyananagar, Konhara, Rukanpura etc., gathered near the Jagdev Smarak at bailey Road. The 80 ft. broad road was blocked in several places and from several directions with bamboo poles. Tyres were also burnt in several places. The blocking of traffic started near the Ashiyana turning. Blockades were also put up at more than 3 places on the Jagdev Path-Phulwari Road. Traffic also came to a standstill between Jagdev Path crossroads and Saguna turning and no vehicles were plying including auto rickshaws and buses.

The protestors demanded the removal of the builders’ capture of the shmasan ground and also demanded that the announcements made by the DM after the incident 3 years ago should be implemented. They carried placards demanding compensation of 3 lakhs, land and housing to Buti Devi’ family, and a community hall in her name. They also demanded cleaning up of mahadalit bastis, water, toilets, drainage, pucca streets, and anganwadi centres and schools for mahadalit children.

The road jam was carried out under the banner of Shahri Garib Morcha, led by mahadalit community local leaders along with CPI(ML) leader Murtaza Ali and Shahri Garib Morcha city convener Ashok Kumar, and others.

The local residents were fully aware of the injustice to the mahadalits and poor in this matter, and so they gave their full support to the road jam. Groups of local residents were seen at various places requesting vehicle drivers to turn back. The road block continued unobstructed for over 5 hours.

Arriving at the spot, Patna Sadar SDO Pankaj Dikshit, local CO ad area DSP spoke to the protestors, took stock of the construction site, and put an immediate stop to the construction work. They assured the mahadalit community leaders and Shahri Garib Morcha leaders spearheading the protest that the procedure of burying their dead on the disputed land would continue as before.

The officers assured the protestors that they would convey their demands to the Chief Minister Shri Jitan Ram Manjhi who would soon be meeting the protestors and listening to their complaints.

ML Update | No. 24 | 2014

June 13, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 No. 24 10 – 16 JUN 2014

Bhagana-Badaun-Pune: India Shocked and Shamed, Modi Keeps Mum

A young Muslim IT professional was beaten to death on a Pune street by a Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS) mob wielding hockey sticks and stones. In a case of premeditated communal hate crime, an innocent Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh was targetted for markers of his Muslim identity – beard, skull cap and Pathani suit – as he was on his way back from offering evening prayers at a mosque. Post killing, members of the HRS gang exchanged a gleeful message on their mobile phones that read ‘pahili wicket padli’ (the first wicket has fallen). Have the saffron senas of the Sangh Parivar interpreted the BJP/NDA victory in Lok Sabha elections as a license to attack and kill people at will?

Prior to Shaikh’s murder, and after it, workers of several Hindutva outfits including the HRS, Shiv Sena and the BJP rioted in Pune for several days over some derogatory morphed photographs of Shivaji and ex-Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackerey that were posted by unknown person(s) on Facebook. Buses were burnt, public property and private vehicles damaged, shops shut down and the minority community attacked. Mosques, madrassas, graveyards and Muslim shops and homes were vandalized by mobs on a rampage. The then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s sinister invocation of the so-called action-reaction theory to justify the Gujarat killings of 2002 had a second coming as Anil Shirole, the BJP MP from Pune, justified the violence as ‘natural repercussions’ that were bound to follow in the wake of the alleged humiliation of Hindutva icons like Shivaji and Thackerey.

The manner in which the Pune violence and killing were incited in the run up to the Assembly elections in Maharashtra has uncanny parallels with the instigation of communal tension in Bangalore (affecting the migrant workforce of the North-East) and Muzaffarnagar. In both cases, fake videos/text messages circulated by ‘unknown’ persons were used to spread rumours loaded with communal rhetoric, leading to community exodus in the former case and riots in the latter. Harvests of communal polarisation were sought to be reaped in the ensuing elections.

The Maharashtra Police has registered close to two hundred rioting cases and arrested over seven hundred miscreants belonging to various radical Hindu outfits; but questions remain whether those guilty of riots and Mohsin’s killing will be punished. The state police’s communal bias in the past is well-documented by the Justice Madon and Justice Srikrishna commissions of inquiry. Justice has eluded the victims of ’92-’93 Mumbai riots, when most of the accused evaded punishment because witnesses to their crimes, who had earlier given graphic details of riots and lynching of innocents, had later turned hostile in court.

The Pune killing and riots again bring to the fore the role of outfits like the HRS and their regular activities of spreading communal venom and terror. Dhananjay Desai, the HRS chief, had multiple cases registered against him. He had been interrogated in connection with the killing of rationalist Dr. Narendra Dabholkar. His communal hate speeches and writings are all over the internet, defying police ‘notices of restraint’. If the morphed Facebook photos were offensive, Desai’s activities were crimes under the IPC. Yet, action was not taken against him or his outfit for provoking enmity on religious grounds.

The BJP has predictably sought to distance itself from terror acts by the HRS. In a long tradition of denial dating from Nathuram Godses of yesteryears to the Brahmeswar Singhs, Pragya Singh Thakurs, Pramod Muthaliks and Dhananjan Desais of today, the BJP has always sought to deny its links with saffron flag-wielding, unrecognized ‘first cousins’ of the Sangh Parivar. But what has come as an early shocker for many who had believed that they had found a vocal and outspoken leader in Narendra Modi is the highly suggestive and deafening silence of the Prime Minister over the Pune killing as also the brutal rapes and murders of the Badaun sisters and the forcible eviction of the Bhagana rape survivors and protestors in Delhi even as he waxes eloquent on sundry subjects.

As the myth of ‘clean chits’ and the reincarnation of ‘Modi 2.0′ continue to do their rounds on television and print media, one can recall a highly-publicized, seen-as-reconciliatory election speech where Modi said that he wanted to see the Muslim youth with ‘the Quran in one hand and a laptop in the other’. As Shaikh’s lynching showed, Muslim youth are being targeted on both pretexts. It’s increasingly the educated and computer-savvy Muslim youth who are being framed and hunted as terrorists by the state or lynched by thugs in globalised urban enclaves like Pune.

In the wake of Verdict 2014, there is palpable fear and angst among Muslim youth in the country. As thousands of riot victims wait endlessly for justice, thousands of detainees and undertrials languish and face torture in jails on flimsy/unsubstantiated terror charges, as vicious communal rhetoric begins to shape mainstream political and media discourse with constant mischievous references to ‘minority appeasement’, ‘votebank politics’, ‘love jihad’, ‘pink revolution’, ‘illegal Bangladeshi immigrants’ and ‘Pakistani terrorists’, the Muslim community is in the throes of a threatening and uncertain future. Refuting this mischievous propaganda and vicious attacks, India must reassure the Muslim youth of its fullest right to live and love, to work and worship in their own country. The insecurity of Muslim youth must become a key concern of today’s democratic youth movement.

New Government’s Pre-Budget Consultation Meeting With Central Trade Unions

The Finance Minister of the newly elected BJP-led NDA government held its First pre-Budget consultation meeting with representatives of central trade unions on 6th June 2014 at North Block, New Delhi. The meeting was held in connection with the forthcoming Union Budget 2014-15.

In this meeting a joint memorandum signed by 11 central trade unions was submitted with Finance Minister which consisted of their collective demands and views regarding the Budget. The representatives of following 11 CTUs took part in the meeting: BMS, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AICCTU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, UTUC and LPF.

On behalf of AICCTU, Santosh Roy, national secretary participated in the meeting.

While speaking on the various aspects of the memorandum, he stressed upon specific demands like ‘equal pay for equal work and regularization’ of contract workers and highlighted the privatization of DTC and issues of contract workers employed here apart from uncontrolled privatization of various essential services; giving the status of worker to honorarium workers including social security; and widening the coverage of EPF. He warned the new govt. that it was the peoples’ anger and movements against UPA government’s policies of price rise, corruption and destruction of livelihood and lives that had given it mandate, and so it is hoped that it stops pursing the same policies, instead of pursuing the same policies more vigorously in the name of solving the ongoing economic crisis as has been clearly indicated in new government’s last few days’ governance.

The joint memorandum in its ‘Proposals’ for the forthcoming union budget put forward the demands of working people which, among others, are as follows:

Take effective measures to arrest the spiraling price rise and to contain inflation, Ban speculative forward trading in commodities, Universalize and strengthen the Public Distribution System, Ensure proper check on hoarding, Rationalize, with a view to reduce the burden on people, the tax/duty/cess on petroleum products; Massive public investment in the infrastructure in order to stimulate the economy for job creation, The plan & non-plan expenditure should be increased in the budget to stimulate jobs creation and guarantee consistent income to people; Minimum wage should not be less than Rs.15,000/- p.m. and linked to Consumer Price Index; FDI should not be allowed in crucial sectors like defence production, telecommunications, Railways, financial sector, retail trade, education, health and media; PSUs should be strengthened and expanded. Disinvestment of shares of profit making public sector units should be stopped forthwith. Budgetary support should be given for revival of potentially viable Sick CPSUs; The ban on recruitment in Govt. deptts., PSUs and autonomous institutions (including recent Finance Ministry’s instruction to abolish those posts not filled for one year) should be lifted as recommended by 43rd Session of Indian Labour Conference, Condition of surrender of posts in govt. departments and PSUs should be scrapped and new posts be created keeping in view the new work and increased workload; Proper allocation of funds be also made for interim relief and 7th Pay Commission; Under MGNREGA employment for minimum period of 200 days with guaranteed statutory wage be provided, as unanimously recommended by 43rd Session of Indian Labour Conference; The massive workforce engaged in ICDS, Mid-day meal scheme, Vidya volunteers, Guest Teachers, Siksha Mitra, the workers engaged in the Accredited Social Health Activities (ASHA) and other schemes be regularized, No to privatization of centrally funded schemes, Universalization of ICDS be done as per Supreme Court directions by making adequate budgetary allocations; Steps be taken for removal of all restrictive provisions based on poverty line in respect of eligibility coverage of the schemes under the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act 2008 and allocation of adequate resources for the National Fund for Unorganised Workers to provide for Social Security to all unorganized workers including the contract/casual and migrant workers in line with the recommendations of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour and also the 43rd Session of Indian Labour Conference; Remunerative Prices should be ensured for the agricultural produce and Govt. investment, public investment in agriculture sector must be substantially augmented as a proportion of GDP and total budgetary expenditure. It should also be ensured that benefits of the increase reach the small, marginal and medium cultivators only; Budgetary provision should be made for providing essential services including housing, public transport, sanitation, water, schools, crèche health care etc. to workers in the new emerging industrial areas, Working women’s hostels should be set up where there is a concentration of women workers; Requisite budgetary support for addressing crisis in traditional sectors like Jute, Textiles, Plantation, Handloom, Carpet and Coir etc.; Budgetary provision for elementary education should be increased, particularly in the context of the implementation of the ‘Right to Education’; Income Tax exemption ceiling for the salaried persons should be raised to Rs.5 lakh per annum and fringe benefits like housing, medical and educational facilities and running allowances should be exempted from the income tax net in totality; Provision of minimum pension of Rs.3000/- p.m., Govt. and Employers contribution be increased to allow sustainability of Employees Pension Scheme and New Pension Scheme be withdrawn and newly recruited employees of central and state govts. on or after 1.1.2004 be covered under Old Pension Scheme, Threshold limit of 20 employees in EPF Scheme be brought down to 10 as recommended by CBT-EPF, Pension benefits under EPS unilaterally withdrawn by the Govt. should be restored; Demand for Dearness Allowance merger by Central Govt. and PSUs employees be accepted and adequate allocation of fund for this be made in the budget; All interests and social security of the domestic workers to be statutorily protected on the lines of the ILO Convention on domestic workers; The Cess Management of the construction workers is the responsibility of the Finance Ministry under the Act and the several irregularities found in collection of cess be rectified as well as their proper utilization must be ensured.

In regard to ‘Resource Mobilization’, the memorandum emphasized that; a progressive taxation system should be put in place to ensure taxing the rich and the affluent sections, Increase taxes on luxury goods and reduce indirect taxes on essential commodities; Concrete steps must be taken to recover huge accumulated unpaid tax arrears which has already crossed more than Rs.5 lakh crore on direct and corporate tax account alone; Effective measures should be taken to unearth huge accumulation of black money in the economy including the huge unaccounted money in tax heavens abroad and within the country; Concrete measures be expedited for recovering the NPAs of the banking system from the willfully defaulting corporate and business houses; The rate of wealth tax, corporate tax, gift tax etc. to be expanded and enhanced; ITES, outsourcing sector, Educational Institutions and Health Services etc. run on commercial basis should be brought under Service Tax net.

The memorandum reiterated ‘10 point Charter’ backed by several collective nationwide programmes including several successful general strikes and expressed its expectation that this Govt. will take initiative to discuss these issues with the Central Trade Unions in order to find a solution.

The memorandum also expressed its opposition to the so called Banking Reforms and the New Manufacturing Policy.

Lastly, the memorandum called on the govt. to arrange a post-budget meeting with trade unions also as it holds such meetings with the Corporate Associations/Employers Federations.

Statewide Protest by AIALA in Bihar

AIALA units all over Bihar held protests at block offices for non-distribution of rations, cancellation of BPL cards and non-implementation of Food Security measures in spite of repeated announcements by the state government.

The Bihar government is yet to implement the food security act passed by the Parliament, though Nitish govt. had announced to start this by February last. The existing system of PDS is allowed to collapse gradually as ration cards are being cancelled in huge numbers without any explanation and food-grains are not distributed by ration outlets.

The new Food Security Act effectively excludes large numbers of vulnerable sections of poor, AIALA has demanded guaranteed food security by including every needy household under the purview of this Act.

The lack of transparency in various pro-poor governmental schemes, corruption, Nitish govt.’s betrayal from its own promise of giving 3 decimal land to landless and Land Reforms were also raised in these protests.

Reports from Jharkhand

Dhanbad: Coal Mines Workers Union (CMWU) gheraoed officials of Sudamadih Shaft Mines on June 1 in protest of Coal India Ltd. (CIL) decision for closure of the mine. Situated in Jharia coal belt of Dhanbad district, the management has deliberately removed water pump from the mine so that water will be filled and the mine will automatically be closed. The workers led by CMWU leader Nakuldev Singh held out a militant protest. As a result management abandoned the eviction process and fled from the spot, leaving crores of implements inside the mine including electricity transformers etc.

Ramgarh: A month-long campaign against privatisation of electricity was conducted in district Ramgarh from 23 April to 23 May. The campaign targeted a franchisee company which the government has entrusted for electricity supply in the rural belt of the district. A large number of peasants were mobilised against this privatisation drive forcing the said company to leave. This campaign was concluded in a big mass meeting which was addressed by CPIML leader Bhubaneshwar Bedia. The Revolutionary Youth Organisation (RYA) has now announced a regional level protest on this issue.

RYA also organised an agitation against fare hike by local tracker owners which resulted in Rs. 3 curtailment in the fare from Ramgarh town to Ghutua, which was announced earlier to be at Rs. ten.

Koderma: A protest dharna was organised in Koderma district headquarters on 7 June to highlight problems in water and electricity supply and black-marketing of PDS foodgrains.

Ranchi: Owing to governmental policies leading to unabated exploitation of forests, people of Panch Pargana region are facing attacks of elephants which is being overlooked or undermined by the officials and politicians leading to further escalation of the problem. On 4 June, a party supporter Ravilochan Munda was killed by an elephant while another CPIML cadre Gaur Singh Munda was injured. Angered people gathered in an spontaneous protest and blocked the highway. Only then the officials came to listen to the grievances of the people, where they also announced compensation money for the family of the deceased, people continues to wary of assurances given on the spot. Incidents of elephant attacks also happened in Humta and Gitildih panchayats where many houses of rural folk were raged to the ground. A protest meeting was organised in Humta where people ‘arrested’ forest officials for four hours till they got assurance for some concrete measures including a special forest dept. team to be engaged in diverting the elephants.

In Chandandih of Silli block people protested against the inaction of administration and police over a worker’s death on duty, a road blockade was held and two local politicians who tried to broker a deal with the employer were even beaten up by the public. Ultimately local administration came in action and the blockade was lifted.

Khunti: Jharkhand Construction Workers Union organised a protest rally in Khunti and submitted a 10-point charter to the district labour office. The rally held on this occasion was addressed by Bhuvaneshwar Kewat, Secretary of the Union, Laldhari Manjhi, Gopal Mahto, Poonam Oraon and many other workers.

Struggle for Land in Kanyakumari

On June 2, CPIML’s determined and united struggle for the homeless came to fruition, when hundreds of activists came to streets to celebrate the victory of persistent struggle over reclaiming land illegally occupied by land mafia and political bigwigs. The activists unanimously declared that now it is people’s land and the task of distributing the land to homeless will be taken up. Addressing the demonstrators CPIML Tamilnadu State Secretary Balasundaram said, at a time when corporates and saffron forces are celebrating the victory of BJP and Modi, we the poor and down-trodden celebrating the victory of our sustained struggle for land. A Govt. with resound mandate might have ascended but only the united and determined struggle of the people has given respite to the people.

This 48.50 acres agricultural land was given to the hang-men (Arachaar) by the erstwhile Trivancore Samasthanam. Although the Nagercoil Sub court ruled that the Arachaar land belongs to TN govt., for the past 22 years no steps were taken up to acquire the land. Land mafia with the connivance of the officials encroached illegally, and to the extent that a plot was registered even in the name of CM Jayalalithaa too! On December 28, a housing patta and house right conference was organized in Nagarcoil. More than 1200 houseless poor attended the conference. Comrades Anthonymuthu, Marystella, Chandramohan and Susila besides several prominent personalities participated in the conference. Comrade Balasundaram inaugurated the conference. The conference decided that the Arachaar land must be reclaimed and distributed among the homeless.

Series of agitations was organized by the party involving several thousand through our mass organisations. On January 18, dharnas were held in eighteen centres. On January 26 a road blockade agitation was held in Nagercoil near the Arachaar land cite at Parvathipuram. This also attracted the support of several CPI(M) supporters. Due to the pressure mounted, the District Collector assured that the demand will be looked into, but case was registered on leaders and general public including Balasundaram, State Secretary of the Party. On Feb 3 a road-block agitation was announced in front of the Collectorate. Police indiscriminately arrested agitators including children. It drew wider condemnation. Then on March 15 more than 1200 women stormed the Arachaar land. The district administration once was forced to give an assurance to the agitators. The issue of this land was also raised in the election Campaign of CPIML. In the midst of the election campaign AIPWA activists staged an agitation right in the Arachaar land, while police brutally attacked the activists and slapped cases on them. Meanwhile on behalf of the party a case was filed in the High Court (Madurai Bench) on the question of this Arachaar land. And a case was registered on the police for their indiscriminate actions against our activists. This has restrained police to some extent.

In the course of the sustained agitations AIPWA district conference was held in the district in which 800 participated. This conference was inaugurated by Comrade Bhuveneswari, CCM of the party. AICCTU also organised its district conference in which around 650 unorganised women and men workers participated. AICCTU State Vice-President G. Ramesh attended the conference as observer. These conferences gave a fillip to the ongoing struggle for land.

Due to our sustained agitations it became an important issue in the district. State and district administration forced to take some steps. The agitational efforts drew support from various quarters. Both the struggles and legal steps forced the administration. On May 26 the district Collector acquired the illegally occupied land worth of several hundred crores and sealed illegal structures erected. The collector also announced that Tamilnadu Slum Clearance Board will build houses for the houseless. Though the administration has announced housing scheme in 11 acres, how the remaining 37 acres will be utilized is not clear. Moreover, without considering more than 3000 petitions submitted to the collector, he announced that 900 people, who were not part of the agitations, will be provided houses in the scheme!

Retrieval of the total extent of land, arrest and prosecution of the culprits and officials who connived with land-mafia, distribution of the land to the houseless as per the govt.’s promise, retrieving the illegally occupied lands throughout the district which is estimated around 5000 acres, and that the state govt. in its upcoming July session must declare to acquire all illegally occupied lands and fulfill AIADMK promise of house-sites are the issues on which this struggle will be taken up into the next phase.

Workers Protest Hindustan Motors Management’s Arbitrary ‘Suspension of Work’ in West Bengal

The management of the Hindustan Motors Ltd. (Hindmotor) plant in Uttarpara, that produced the iconic Ambassador car, hung up a ‘suspension of work’ notice on the factory gates in the dawn of 24th May, without any prior intimation to 2400 workers who were driven out of jobs. A CPI(ML) delegation met with the workers the next day. It was learnt that the workers had not been paid salaries for the past 6 months and that the biggest Trade Union, the INTTUC, led by the ruling Trinamool Congress leader Dola Sen had been sitting idle even on such gross violation of workers’s rights like non-payment of salaries! The delegation met with the sole struggling union, the non-party independent Sangrami Sramik Karmachari Union (SSKU) leadership who alleged that the SSKU rank and file have been under intimidation, threats and harassment to prevent a genuine workers’ resistance gather steam at the Hindmotor plant. The Hindmotor-Konnagar local party committee, AICCTU and the Construction Workers’ Union affiliated to AICCTU brought out a joint workers’ rally in the area in solidarity with Hindmotor workers. The rally demanded scrapping of the arbitrary suspension notice, immediate payment of workers’ salary dues and State government taking up the responsibility of lives and livelihoods of the Hindmotor workers. A joint convention of central Trade Unions and federations was held on 3rd June focusing on the ominous scenario of sick and closed factories, with Hindmotor joining a long line of prominent predecessors like Dunlop, Duckback, Jessop, numerous jute mills, textile mills, engineering units and tens of thousands of factories fast disappearing from the industrial landscape of the state. The flawed industrial policy (ironically under the hype of ‘industrialization’), labour policy and the Labour and Industrial ministries were put in the dock, and demands raised for the way forward.

Left Parties and Groups Call for Defending Secularism and Democracy

Leaders of the CPI(ML) Liberation, CPI(ML) Red Star, Party of Democratic Secularism, Communist Party of Bharat, and other groups like the Bhasha O Chetana Samiti, DSF (JNU) came together with expelled leaders from the CPI(M) – Rezzak Mollah and Prasenjit Bose, ex-CPI(M) MLA Sumanta Heera and other speakers in a joint meeting held at Esplanade on 1st June. CPI(ML) State Secretary Partha Ghosh represented the Party at the meeting, which underlined immediacies in the political scenario of West Bengal following a TMC/BJP victory at the state/center respectively. What is being projected in the media as a benign-sounding ‘post-poll violence’ in West Bengal is in reality gross political violence unleashed on a ruthless scale by the ruling Trinamool Congress on grassroots workers and local leaders of the political opposition, emboldened by the ‘brute force majority’ in numbers attained by the TMC in the hustings. Added to the TMC’s heinous assaults on the rural poor in particular, leading to several deaths, is the danger of communal polarization coming out of the woodwork. The BJP’s vicious hate speeches during the elections, harping on sieving ‘illegal infiltrators’ (read Muslim migrants) from ‘genuine asylum-seekers’ (read Hindu migrants) from Bangladesh and its subsequent poll-gains in the form of an increased vote share has emboldened saffron forces on the prowl. The BJP central team’s televised visit to their party supporters under TMC attack at Sandeshkhali was also given a communal colour, mischievously painting it less as a political assault and more as a religious assault of Muslims on lower caste Hindus! Given the context where the poor working people of Bengal are now withstanding a two-pronged attack by authoritarian, corrupt, intolerant and fascist communal forces and the near-total paralysis/surrender of the CPI(M) leadership to stand up to resist the naked assaults, the meeting called for all the left, democratic forces in the state to unite in struggles to reassert the working people’s agenda and to defend the values of secularism and democracy at all costs.

Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail: mlupdate, website: www.cpiml.org

ML Update | 23 | 2014

June 5, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 No. 23


3 – 9 JUN 2014

Atrocities on


G

irls


F
rom Dalit and oppressed castes at Badaun and Bhagana


U

nderline lethal connections


B​
etween gender, caste and class dominance

The brutal gang rape and lynching of two minor girls aged 14 and 15 in a village in the Badaun district of Uttar Pradesh is a grim reminder of the gender, caste and class based atrocities that women from Dalit, oppressed castes face on a daily basis in India. Two months earlier, four teenage Dalit girls aged 13-18 were gang raped by higher caste landowners in Bhagana in Haryana, where the survivors are still fighting for justice to take off.

The fact that the higher caste rapists at Badaun chose to finish off their vile crimes by murdering the victims and leaving their bodies on brazen display in full public view, rather than make any attempt to hide their deeds, shows that the act was intended as a chilling spectacle of higher caste dominance over the Dalits and oppressed. It also displays the confidence of the perpetrators, that they would not be punished for commiting crimes against women from oppressed castes. Indeed, less than a percent of rape cases of Dalit women by non-Dalits end in conviction.

In the Badaun case, the police refused to investigate when the girls’ families reported them missing. Two policemen have now been arrested with charges of conspiring with the higher caste rapists. The families of the victims of Badaun have been warned with dire consequences for seeking justice. They have been threatened with retribution once media and public watch ends in the village. In Bhagana, the survivors have been forced to travel to and camp in Delhi and stage a long protest to demand the arrest of the rapists after the police refused to register cases against the powerful men – the village Sarpanch and his uncle – named by the girls in their testimonies.

In UP, where Mulayam Singh Yadav, chief patriarch of the ruling Samajwadi Party, declares that rape is a ‘mistake boys make’, and the Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, instead of giving out a strong message against gender violence, stubbornly tries to defend crimes against women in UP by comparing it with other parts of the country, is it a surprise that the police try to help the rapists and refuse to file an FIR or arrest the culprits? In Haryana, where the all-male Jat-dominated Khap panchayats continue to enjoy social ‘legitimacy’ and enormous political clout, is it a surprise that bodies of Dalit women are treated as sites of ‘dishonour’ and entitlement that savarna castes ‘enjoy’ over the oppressed castes?

That the perpetrators of caste-gender violence enjoy utter impunity can readily be gauged from the role of the police.Neither Badaun nor Bhagana are stray incidents or ‘aberrations’ as claimed by the respective governments in power. In 2011, a 14 year-old Dalit-Muslim girl was raped and killed by UP police and then hung up on a tree inside the police station. The tree was cut down and evidence destroyed. Police, doctors, ruling politicians, the then government – all united to protect the perpetrators, and tried to bury the crime as deep as the girl’s body was buried. Last year in April a Dalit child was raped and murdered in UP, and when her family protested they were beaten up by the police. The beating was caught on camera. In another case in Aligarh, the police refused to file an FIR in the case of a missing Dalit child, and later her body was found – raped and murdered. When the family protested, they were viciously assaulted by a police officer – again, caught on camera. Even as the Badaun case came under intense public scrutiny, in another instance of shocking brutality, the mother of a rape victim was brutally beaten up by the father of the accused in Etawah. A week after the Badaun tragedy, a minor girl was raped, murdered and hanged from a tree at Sitapur. Notably, in Badaun too, the government acted only after there was a huge public outcry.

In the amendments to the criminal law that followed the anti-rape movements of 2012-13, a significant step-forward was Section 166A IPC, that mandates that police personnel who refuse to file FIRs or otherwise refuse to do their duty, must be criminally prosecuted, and can be jailed for a term between 6 months and 2 years. Although there have been multiple instances of police refusing to do their duty, or intimidating the victim’s family – in Delhi, Kolkata, UP, Haryana – nowhere have FIRs been lodged against the accused cops.

It is no strange coincidence that at Badaun, Bhagana and Sitapur, the households of the victim girls lacked basic amenities, including toilets. In all the cases, the girls had gone out to relieve themselves in open fields at night. That the girls in some cases went in groups did little to ensure their safety. The utterly insecure environments of day-to-day work and living in a sharply caste-hierarchical society, where women are compelled to travel miles to fetch water or are forced to work and relieve themselves in fields beonging to higher-caste landowners, make Dalit and oppressed caste women several folds more vulnerable and prone to being targets of sexual violence.

Dalit women have been targeted for sexual violence wherever Dalit communities have challenged caste and class exploitation. In Bhagana, the four girls were raped in ‘revenge’ after Dalits demanded that the upper caste controlled village council hand over the commons land which had been allocated to the entire village community by the government, and protested against eviction, socio-economic boycott and harassment. In Bihar, the Ranvir Sena, a landowners’ militia aligned with Narendra Modi’s ruling BJP, had targeted Dalit and Muslim women for horrific violence when the rural poor organized for land rights and a living wage.

In the wake of the Badaun rape-murders, the BJP has condemned the appalling levels of gender violence in opposition-ruled UP. But Amit Shah – the BJP’s chief campaigner in UP – promised in election speeches to ensure that all FIRs against Jat accused in Muzaffarnagar riots and rapes be withdrawn. The fact that the BJP-led ‘Modi Sarkar’ has given no less than a ministerial berth to Sanjeev Baliyan, one of the main accused in instigating the Muzaffarnagar communal violence in UP last year which involved mass rapes of Muslim women, gives the BJP’s indignation a lie.

We demand speedy trials to bring all culprits to justice. The UP Government must ensure that the cops who have been suspended, are booked and arrested under Section 166A IPC (Criminal Law amended in 2013). We demand that the victims of Bhagana be rehabilitated with dignity, and that the families of Badaun and Bhagana victims be protected against all intimidation. That the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act be invoked in all cases where it is applicable. Rape is an atrocity against women, a display of the male sense of entitlement and dominance over women. Feudal culture has always held that Dalit and oppressed caste women must be ‘available’ for the ‘use’ and ‘enjoyment’ of dominant caste men. From Bathe, Bathanitola, Khairlanji to Bhagana to Badaun, such instances abound, showing that endemic atrocities against dalits and oppressed castes continue to persist and thrive in 21st century India. The last year and a half has seen a powerful movement against gender violence in India. But the Badaun and Bhagana cases painfully underline once again that the struggle continues, and can only succeed if the lethal connections between gender, caste, class and communal violence are recognized and fought.

Police Trying to Evict Protesting Bhagana Dalit Families from Jantar Mantar

In the morning of 4 June, the day 16th Parliament was scheduled to begin its first session, police in large numbers encircled all protesters at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, and forcibly evicted them. Police demolished the tents put up by dozens of families from Bhagana staging in a day and night sit-in since weeks. They were told to leave immediately as ‘the Parliament will start its sessions from today’.

Similar treatment was met with many other protesters. They are now sitting in open in scorching summer. AISA and JNUSU called for an immediate protest before Parliament Street police station same day against forceful eviction of peaceful demonstrators of Bhagana.

Attempts to Create Communal Tension in Siwan

Immediately after the Lok Sabha polls there have been attempts in Siwan to create communal tension at many places. Efforts are on to give communal colours to even small or insignificant incidents by the Communal elements. Simultaneously, peoples resistance is also growing against these forces.

There was an incident of simple quarel between two drivers which was given a communal turn to the extent that led to the boycot of shopkeepers of one community in Raghunathpur block. CPIML leader Amarnath Yadav has immediately went to the area to initiate a dialogue and to foil and expose such nasty designs. In Jeeradei block one muslim boy has been attacked after reports of his affair with a hindu girl. He is struggling with life in hospital.

Criminals are also on the loose in the district after the elections. Recently doctors in Siwan town held a protest against an incident of decoity in the house of a doctor.

Protest Against Rape in Fatuha

CPIML held a protest against an incident of gang rape and murder of a teen age girl by criminals on 20 May at the block office. The incident had occured on 16 May when the girl was returning from school.

Fatuha town, near Patna, is witnessing many struggles against rising criminal incidents. People are also struggling against the menace open trade of liquor there.

Bihar Govt.’s Another Attempt to Cover-up Farbisganj Firing Incident

Home Secretary in Bihar has recently stated in public that the village road in Farbishganj which was grabbed by BJP backed industrialist leading to repression of resisting people and killing of four villagers in 2011, will be given to the same industrialist. He has said that efforts will be made to ‘convince some people in the village’. As far as justice for the victims is concerned he very arrogantly said that they can be compensated when an inquiry report will come. The government had already rejected the demand for a CBI inquiry.

Farbisganj killings were a direct outcome of BJP-led conspiracy of grabbing village land and road. Last year CPIML led peoples resistance and mobolisation rebuilt the road at the same place, openly declaring strong resistance to any attempt of grabbing lands. People in Farbisganj, besides justice due to them, still want secure their land and road in place, but this statement of Home Secretary Amir Subhani is another attempt to apease corrupt industrialist lobby on the part of the government.

Sanitation Workers’ Protest in Bhilai

A demonstration was held outside the Bhilai Municipal Corporation office on 26 May to demand solution of the problems faced by contractual sanitation workers in the Bhilai Municipal Corporation, after which representatives of the protest met the Commissioner and submitted a memorandum. Thereafter, the Commissioner took steps to arrange talks between the Union representatives, contract company CEO Manish, and the Commissioner. The Union representatives included JP Nair, U Shekhar Rao, Gajanand Jangde, Manoj Kosre, Neman, Dileep, Vishnu Pawar, Motam, Raj Kumar Bharti, Ramchandra and Ram Kumar. The demands raised in the memorandum include appointment letters, ID cards, uniforms, security equipment, minimum wages, ESI facilities, and payment of wages by the 10th of the month. Besides these, the issue of threatening workers with removal from work if they participate in dharnas, rallies, demonstrations, etc. was also raised. After the talks the contractor has given the assurance that all demands will be fulfilled.

Demand for Re-investigation of the Shankar Guha Niyogi Murder Case

On 25 May a dharna was organized at Bhilai Power House Ambedkar Chowk, demanding re-investigation of the Shankar Guha Niyogi murder case, naming of Bhilai Power House railway station after Shankar Guha Niyogi, and building a memorial to the martyred workers killed on 1 July 1991. A memorandum was submitted through the local administration to the President of India and the Union Railway Minister. The dharna led by Bhim Rao Bagde of Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha was addressed by activists from CMM, AICCTU, and CPI-ML (Liberation), including Brijendra Tiwari, JP Nair, AG Qureshi, Sariba Tekam and others.

Pithoragarh Update

There is shortage of teachers in Uttarakhand and officially they can’t be attached to any other department or place of their convenience. Recently two Shiksha Mitra in Pithoragarh district have been ‘attached’ by the administration! On the one hand governments consider them ‘volunteers’ only to deprive them of their due wages and rights and are supposedly to be posted in their locality/village, on the other there is a ban in place for any such ‘attachment’ for even regular teachers in the state, but this has been done to grease hands of some well connected people to satisfy political biggies. There are talks of Uttarakhand CM planning to contest Assembly election from this seat hence an ‘amicable’ atmosphere is being created. While demanding cancellation of the said order, CPIML’s Pithoragarh unit has also raised the issue of existing scarcity of teachers and of new appointments particularly in schools located in distant border areas.

The villages severely affected by natural calamity still awaiting relief and rehabilitation by the state government. Nothing substantial being done so far, the chief minister is making regular visits of the area for his electoral preparations and trying to woo dominant sections with various favours. Jagat Martolia, CPIML leader, has termed this as misappropriation of CM’s position and government funds. After a couple of years of the calamity even hill pathways are not repaired and water connections at many places are not restored. Compensation money for many affected people has not yet reached, but the government is busy in manipulating tenders to give contracts to its own people.

Students and Workers Occupy the Administrative Block in JNU

Unite to Demand Hostels and Workers’ Rights

In the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), a Dera Dalo campaign was launched by the AISA-led JNU Students’ Union on 26 May 2014. Since then, students and workers in JNU have virtually occupied the Administrative Block (Ad Block) to demand that the JNU administration immediately address their basic demands of constructing hostels for students and ensuring the legally mandated rights for workers in JNU.

This ‘Occupy Ad Block’ campaign -with the slogan ‘Hostels for all students, rights for all workers– has now completed 10 days.The demands of the movement are to immediately start construction of a new hostel, upgrading the existing dormitory facilities as well as ensuring an alternative rented accommodation for students, stopping the intimidation and victimization of contractual workers, and guaranteeing ESI/PF, bonus, overtime and safety for workers.

Earlier this year, the workers in JNU had organized themselves under the ‘All India General Kamgaar Union’ associated with AICCTU.

Over the past few months, the JNUSU and the workers had carefully and painstakingly documented various violations of workers’ rights taking place in JNU. For instance two 2-day PF camps were organized and extensive data on the illegal siphoning of PF was documented and submitted to the JNU administration.

In the 10 days of the DeraDalo till now, as students and workers occupy the Ad Block, everyday protest meetings and activities like movie screenings are organized. Apart from iconic films on the nexus of the big business, corporate media houses and governments (such as Neecha Nagar and Jaane bhi do Yaaron), a documentary film made by JNU students on the lives of the sanitation workers in JNU ‘Sehar se Pehle’ was also screened. Sehar se Pehle is a chilling reminder of the conditions of sanitation workers in JNU and how they work each and every day without even basic health protection to clean up the campus of all the dirt. JNU students and workers are also joined by the Sangwari group for several long sessions of protest songs. Cultural groups in JNU, such as Janrang have also participated in the DeraDalo campaign – with performances of various songs of resistance and workers’ unity.

JNUSU and the workers have also been campaigning amongst the faculty members of JNU to build broad-based support for the ongoing campaign. An appeal with the detailed demands as well as the underlying vision guiding the demands – has been circulated amongst the faculty members. A solidarity meeting with faculty members was also organized at the site of the DeraDalo campaign – which was addressed by several faculty members of JNU and DU including noted labour historian Prabhu Mahapatra, Prof Bimol Akoijam from JNU, Prof. Arun Kumar (JNUTA president), Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Prof. Vivek Kumar, Prof. Maninder Thakur, and Prof. Kaustav Banerjee.

As a result of the campaign, there have been some significant developments regarding workers’ rights:

• The JNU administration was forced to send notices to all JNU Departments and contractors to resolve following labour issues latest by 20th June, 2014:

1. Payment of salary by 7th of the month, with proper salary slip.

2. Refunding of all arbitary deductions (in the name of Uniform etc).

3. Proper Overtime Payment (double rate), those working extra hours in any day, weekly and national holidays.

4. Workplace safety for ALL – boot, gloves, mask for sanitation workers, umbrella and cabin for security guards, helmet, safety belt and net for construction workers.

5. Proper First Aid Box in every work-site.

6. Permanent ESI Card to all workers.

• The JNU administration has also agreed to hold a PF camp in JNU on 12-13 June to document the violations of workers rights. Moreover, the JNU administration has promised to take action against all those companies who have defaulted on making proper PF payments to the workers.

• Balaji contractor was forced to provide proper PF Account Number to all mess staff.

• The Vayudoot contractor was forced to provide boots, gloves and masks to sanitation workers.

In the midst of this intensive campaign, the contractors in JNU however resorted to open threat tactics. The CCTV cameras installed in JNU’s Ad Block are being used to monitor and record which workers are participating in the ongoing movement, and there have been attempts and threats by contractors to remove workers. The supervisor of the SIS company in JNU (which provides security services in JNU) for instance issued new ‘guidelines’ that no SIS guard should carry a mobile phone while on duty! The SIS guards were also made to work for 16 hours, apart from a 2-hour briefing every day. Fines of Rs 1000 are being charged on the SIS guards for the flimsiest reasons, and those who are joining the movement are being threatened and even shifted out of JNU by SIS. However, as a result of the continuing struggle, some of these moves to threaten, intimidate and punish workers for demanding their rights were revoked. One of the important demands of the movement is that women workers should be allowed to avail of maternity leave without any punitive action. Recently, a worker (who was in the position of a supervisor) was removed because she took maternity leave. After sustained protests during this movement, she has been offered a job in JNU. However, she is not being reinstated as supervisor and therefore the movement continues to demand justice for her.

The AISA-led JNUSU leaders have constantly been reiterating that this is not merely a movement for some ‘infrastructural’ demand for more hostels – this movement is to defend the idea of an institution which will open its doors to people from all sections of society. The absence of hostels effectively means that women and students from deprived backgrounds are denied the opportunity to avail of higher education, and blatant violation of workers’ rights means that the university is built on a foundation of oppression and exploitation of those who keep it going. Therefore, the ongoing DeraDalo campaign seeks to reclaim the idea of a just society with all rights for the most marginalized people. It is moreover a campaign that refuses to accept artificial divisions between students and workers, and forges a combined organic resistance.

Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail: mlupdate, website: www.cpiml.org

ML Update | No. 22 | 2014

May 30, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 No. 22 27 MAY – 2 JUNE 2014

Modi Government:

Initial Symptoms and Signals

As Narendra Modi takes over as Prime Minister, and a BJP Government takes the reins of power, what are the signals his Government is sending out?

Even as Modi calls himself the ‘Mazdoor No.1’, the most powerful ‘maaliks’ – corporate biggies Ambani, Adani and Hinduja – were prominent at his swearing-in ceremony.

The invitation to foreign guests was essentially more of an exercise to secure international projection for Modi than a concrete foreign policy initiative. The choice of invitees was also subject to controversy and questions. The invitation to Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse, notorious for war crimes and an ongoing policy of majoritarianism and ethnic cleansing of the Tamils in Sri Lanka, has led to anger and protests, especially by the people of Tamil Nadu. Apart from SAARC countries, Mauritius, an invitee to SAARC, was a guest at the swearing-in – begging the question why other SAARC invitees who are also India’s immediate neighbours, like Myanmar and China, were not invited?

Modi’s ‘minimum government’ mantra seems to mean concentration of key Ministries and decision-making in the PM and a coterie of Ministers – effectively a super-PMO and super-Cabinet. The clubbing of Finance and Corporate Affairs ministries indicates that economic policy priorities of the Government will be led by corporate interests.

Modi’s decision to give a Ministerial berth to Muzaffarnagar riot-accused Sanjeev Baliyan is a deliberate step, intended to display majoritarian arrogance and impunity for the riot-accused. We can recall that Modi had likewise patronised Maya Kodnani in his Gujarat Government, until a Court convicted her for her role in the 2002 communal violence.

The choice of retired Army General VK Singh for Minister of State (Independent charge) for North East Affairs is also significant. The Modi Government is indicating quite brazenly that it will view the North East from a military prism, mocking the demands for scrapping the discriminatory and draconian AFSPA.

The statements of various newly appointed Ministers are cause for concern. Najma Heptullah, Minister for Minority Affairs, has declared that Muslims are too large in number to qualify as a genuine minority, and that Parsis – a genuine ‘miniscule minority’ in her view – will instead be a priority for the Government. The fact is that Muslim and Christian minorities in India are the ones at the receiving end of the maximum violence and discrimination, while Muslims are the minority community that is economically and socially most deprived and stigmatised. To pit the Parsi minority against other minorities, and to declare that Muslim minorities are not really deserving of the Government’s protection, is another early display of brutal majoritarianism by the Modi Government.

Jitendra Singh, MoS in the Prime Minister’s Office, has declared that the Modi Government is ‘already’ taking steps to abrogate Article 370 that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir. How can the PMO claim to move independently to meddle with a key Constitutional provision like Article 370, without any discussion in Parliament?

Given that Modi’s USP is his personal leadership over every aspect of his Government, these statements by Heptullah and Singh cannot be seen as mere ‘loose canon’ remarks, but as indications of the RSS footprint on the Modi Government’s policy orientation. With daily RSS-BJP parleys over Cabinet formation and policy-making, the RSS control over this Government is blatant, with no pretence of being covert.

The Modi Government, right from day one, has displayed its readiness to twist and distort the law to suit its whims. The appointment of a former TRAI Chief to the post of PS to the PM was in violation of the TRAI Act that forbade post-retirement Government jobs for TRAI Chiefs. When this came to light, the Government promptly promulgated an ordinance to do away with this safeguard on conflict of interest, and ‘legalised’ the illegal appointment post facto!

There are other worrying signals that the new Government will wield power to ensure impunity for its political partners and its own leaders. RSS leader Indresh Kumar, accused in terror blast cases, campaigned for Modi in Banaras – and has now demanded payback, saying that the Modi Government must ‘review’ terror cases in which RSS elements are implicated. Why should the politics of the accused be the basis on which terror cases will be reviewed? The induction of Baliyan likewise indicates that the Central Government is likely to back the demand for release of key Muzaffarnagar riot-accused. And the first statement by the new Minister of State (Home) has been that the Government will ‘review’ the Snoopgate probe – in which Amit Shah and Modi are both seriously implicated in the illegal surveillance of a young woman and several other citizens.

Emboldened by the Modi victory, lumpen saffron brigades have indulged in violence in several places: these include communal violence and minority-baiting by a BJP victory procession in Karnataka, communal violence in Ahmedabad on the eve of Modi’s swearing-in, and the attack by ABVP on a seminar held at the AN Sinha Institute in Patna. Other disturbing signals include the arrest of some individuals for anti-Modi remarks on social media, the crackdown on several protests in the capital city in the name of Section 144.

Another disturbing symptom is the unwillingness of much of the mainstream media to live up to its professional responsibility. The Supreme Court verdict holding the Gujarat police and then Home Minister Modi responsible for framing innocents in the Akshardham blasts case was buried by most of the media. Likewise the media’s discussion of the Cabinet formation and new Government innings largely avoids questioning the appointment of a riot-accused as a Minister, or the issuing of an ordinance to legalise an illegal appointment to the PMO, or the propriety of the Government insulating its leaders from being investigated in the Snoopgate matter.

The Modi Government is just beginning its innings. It must be held accountable to its promises to end price rise, corruption and unemployment, as well as farmers’ distress and the rights of students and youth. The PM who calls himself Mazdoor No.1 must make his stand clear on labour laws and the rights of workers. And the Government must be held accountable to the strictest Constitutional obligations – including the rights and liberties of all citizens including dissenting voices, minorities, women and the oppressed castes. With the diminished Opposition inside Parliament, and the self-censorship embraced by much of the media, the role of the people’s opposition on the streets will be crucial.

The Other Verdict of 16 May 2014

In an ironic coincidence on 16 May 2014, alongside the electoral verdict, the Supreme Court too delivered its verdict on Akshardham Temple Terror Attack case (of Gujarat, September 2002), acquitting all the six accused including three who were sentenced to death by a lower court, and slamming the Gujarat Police for framing innocents.

Acquitting all the six convicts, the judgment said: “We intend to express our anguish about the incompetence with which the investigating agencies conducted the investigation of the case of such a grievous nature, involving the integrity and security of the nation.”

“Instead of booking the real culprits responsible for taking so many precious lives, police caught innocent people and got imposed the grievous charges against them which resulted in their conviction and subsequent sentencing,”

The Supreme Court in its judgement categorically slammed the then Gujarat home minister – today, Prime Minister of India – for “non-application of mind” and failure to verify the criteria for granting sanction to prosecute the 6 under POTA.

The Verdict

The verdict says, “We intend to take note of the perversity in conducting this case at various stages, right from the investigation level to the granting of sanction by the state government to prosecute the accused persons under POTA, the conviction and awarding of sentence to the accused persons by the Special Court (POTA) and confirmation of the same by the High Court. We, being the apex court cannot afford to sit with folded hands when such gross violation of fundamental rights and basic human rights of the citizens of this country were presented before us.”

The verdict notes that for a year after the Akshardham attack, “the ATS was shooting in the dark for about a year without any result. No trace of the people associated with this heinous attack on the Akshardham temple could be found by the police.” The verdict notes that “Then on the morning of 28.03.2003, the case is transferred to Crime Branch, Ahmedabad. This was followed by D.G. Vanzara giving instructions to the then-ACP G.S. Singhal (PW-126) about one Ashfaq Bhavnagri (PW-50). PW-126 was thereafter made in charge of the case on the same evening at 6:30 p.m. and the statement of PW-50 was recorded at 8 p.m., i.e within one and a half hours.” On 29.08.2003, 5 of the accused were arrested, and the next day, POTA was invoked.

The apex court commented on how these dates give rise to suspicions of framing: “This shrouds our minds with suspicion as to why such a vital witness- D.G. Vanzara, who discovered the link to the accused persons, was not examined by the Special Court (POTA). The courts below accepted the facts and evidence produced by the police without being suspicious about the extreme coincidences with which the chain of events unfolded itself immediately that is, within 24 hours of the case being transferred to the Crime Branch, Ahmedabad. …We are reminded of the legendary lines of Justice Vivian Bose in the case of Kashmira Singh’s case (supra) wherein he cautioned that: ‘The murder was a particularly cruel and revolting one and for that reason it will be necessary to examine the evidence with more than ordinary care lest the shocking nature of the crime induce an instinctive reaction against the dispassionate judicial scrutiny of the facts and law.’ The courts below have not examined the evidence with ‘more than ordinary care’.”

The court concluded that the confessional statements of the accused were invalid in law, and that there was no evidence of their having participated in any conspiracy. Categorically holding them to be innocent, the court ordered their release without a stain on their character.

The Innocents

One of those wrongly convicted, Mohammed Saleem, said after his release that the Gujarat Police had given him the “choice” of being implicated in the Godhra train burning, Haren Pandya murder and Akshardham terror! He was sentenced to life under POTA for involvement in the Akshardham case, before being freed by the Supreme Court. Another, Qayyum, was quoted by a newspaper as saying, “The police tortured and forced me to write the letters. They claimed the letters were found from the pockets of the fidayeen killed during the attack. But the Supreme Court noticed that the letters were clean, not torn, or soiled/stained with blood or soil — which was highly unnatural and improbable as the terrorists’ bodies were covered with blood and mud, and their clothes had multiple tears and holes due to the bullets.” All six were proved innocent after 11 years. Two of those who have been exonerated in the Akshardham case today, have already served the term of their sentence. They have already been punished for a crime of which they are totally innocent.

Who Will Compensate for the Lost Years, Ruined Lives?

Let us not forget, post-Godhra and post-Gujarat pogrom of 2002, a grand narrative unfolded in Gujarat and went on unabated till 2006: there was Akshardham temple terror attack (24 September 2002, 25 dead, 77 injured) and a series of “encounters” of the alleged “Islamist terrorists” out to kill Modi and his men. These encounters include that of Samir Khan Pathan (2002), Sadiq Jamal (2003), Ishrat Jahan (2004), Sohrabuddin Sheikh (2005), and Tulsiram Prajapati case (2006). All the incidents had more than one similarity: a common narrative of ‘terrorists targeting Modi’, all under the same set of police officers and political leaders, all involving the killing of ‘conspirators’ who allegedly belonged to terrorist outfits like LeT or Jaish, and all, now, carrying the taint of fake encounters. Politically, each episode went to build up Modi’s image as a ‘Hindu nationalist’ hero being targeted by so-called ‘Muslim terrorists’.

Many of the top cops involved in these acts are behind bars today. One common actor among them, DIG D. G. Vanzara, languishing in Sabarmati Central jail since 2007, in an explosive letter in September 2013, explicitly charged: “Gujarat CID/Union CBI had arrested me and my officers in different encounter cases, holding us responsible for carrying out alleged fake encounters. If that is true, then the CBI investigation officers of all the four encounter cases of Sohrabuddin, Tulsiram, Sadiq Jamal and Ishrat Jahan have to arrest the policy formulators also as we, being field officers, have simply implemented the conscious policy of this government, which was inspiring, guiding and monitoring our actions from very close quarters… I’m of the firm opinion that the place of this government, instead of being in Gandhinangar, should either be at Taloja Central Prison in Navi Mumbai or at Sabarmati Central Prison in Ahmedabad.”

In January 2012, a Supreme Court Bench, acting on petitions filed before it since 2007, appointed a Monitoring Authority to probe 22 cases of fake encounter deaths in Gujarat from 2003 to 2006. And a week before the 2014 verdict, another Supreme Court verdict rebuffed the Gujarat Government’s plea seeking uniform guidelines for dealing with cases of encounter killings. The highest Court dismissed the pleas saying that there cannot be such an advisory in a federal structure.

Would the Prime Minister today, who touts his ‘Gujarat model’ on every occasion, take responsibility for this terrible miscarriage of justice on his watch as Chief Minister? Will he apologise for the framing, torture, forced confessions of innocents, and failure to prosecute the real culprits? Will he offer any compensation and public apology to the innocents? Will he take steps to ensure that FIRs are filed against the cops implicated in framing the innocents in the Akshardham case, and punishment ensured?

The habit of framing innocents, however, is not exclusive to the Gujarat police. Police all over the country routinely use torture as a substitute for investigation. And in terror cases, the media and public opinion also tends to give police a licence to torture and frame innocents, with communal prejudice and the enormity of the crime serving to silence or stigmatise any questioning voices. It is high time that the terror laws like UAPA and NIA Act that legalise the violation of rights and create space for torture, are scrapped.

Why are protest spaces being closed off even the new Government prepares to assume office?

Why is the Delhi police using Section 144 to arrest protesters or prevent protests in public spaces? JNU students planned to protest at Gujarat Bhawan to demand justice for the Akshardham innocents, but cops hijacked their bus and took it to Jantar Mantar!

The protest was inspired by the Supreme Court acquittal of the 6 Akshardham convicts; the SC held that they were all innocents who had been framed by the Gujarat police, and held that the then Gujarat Home Minister, Narendra Modi, had ‘not applied his mind’ when he gave sanction for prosecution under POTA. Actually the ‘non-application of mind’ by Modi in Gujarat’s terror cases, is pretty deliberate – just like Manmohan Singh’s looking the other way in scam cases.

Students wanted those cops who framed innocents punished, apology and compensation for innocents, also scrapping of draconian laws. But Delhi Police did not allow protesters to reach Gujarat Bhawan – it detained students, entered the bus and made the driver go to Jantar Mantar instead!

Why is Section 144 being deployed like a weapon in Delhi to prevent protests at places where protests have been held routinely for years? Since when is it illegal to hold protests at State Bhawans in the capital?

Students held the protest at Jantar Mantar; the demonstration was addressed by JNUSU President Akbar Chawdhury, and leaders of AISA, DSF, DSU, AISF, SFI, Untouchable India, Jamia Solidarity Forum, and DU Queer Collective.

After the protest at Jantar Mantar, the cops ‘escorted’ students back to JNU!

The anger of young people when Section 144 was invoked to prevent/suppress anti-rape protests in 2012 December is still fresh in people’s memory, also when Section 144 was used against anti corruption protestors by the Congress and UPA.

Courts have taken Delhi Police to task for illegal, repetitive and unjustified use of Section 144. In its judgment in the Ramlila Maidan midnight crackdown incident involving Ramdev’s supporters, the Supreme Court had said that Section 144 must be invoked only in emergency situations having grave consequences. In a May 2011 order, the Delhi High Court had criticised the Delhi Police for “passing of repetitive orders” under Section 144 and had disposed of the writ petition after the police submitted in an affidavit that the “repeated use of power under Section 144 CrPC has been discontinued in the New Delhi district”.

The UPA Govt’s prolific use of Section 144 to suppress protests was one of the reasons people punished it with defeat. But now, even before the new Govt has taken the reins, the Delhi Police is going on the offensive, arresting AAP activists for ‘violating Section 144 at Tihar Gates’ and preventing a peaceful dharna at the gates of Gujarat Bhawan by students! The memories of BJP leaders are notoriously short, of course. The same BJP leaders who waxed outrageous at the UPA Govt’s use of Section 144 and raised the cry of ‘Emergency’ when the Congress and UPA did it, now tell us that indiscriminate use of Sec 144 is perfectly fine.

Delhi and India have a powerful record of defying arbitrary impositions of Section 144, of fighting attempts to shrink the available public spaces for protest, of reclaiming protest spaces – like India Gate – that the Govt decreed to be ‘out of bounds’. The new Govt and PM rode the wave of people’s anger – especially young people’s anger – against the UPA Govt’s craven attempts to choke off dissent and protests. But the signals the new regime is sending are unmistakeable threats to dissent and protest. Well, times of street protests for truth and justice, are truly good times, in every country and clime.

Dalits Evicted for Protesting Rape

On the night of March 23, 4 dalit teenage girls aged 13-18 were abducted from their village of Bhagana in Haryana’s Hisar district, drugged and raped. They had gone to a field near their homes to urinate, when they were attacked by five men (from the dominant Jat caste), drugged, gang raped in the fields and carried off in a car. They were found outside Bhatinda railway station in Punjab the next morning.

On March 23rd, when the parents of the missing girls approached the village sarpanch Rakesh Kumar Pangal and his uncle Virender for help, the sarpanch sent them home with reassurances. Within five minutes, he called them back, saying that all four girls were with his relative in Bhatinda, and were to be fetched the next day.

The next day their families, brought to Bhatinda by Rakesh and Virender, found the girls. Rakesh and Virender put the four girls in the car and asked the relatives to go back by train due to lack of space. En-route, the girls allege that Rakesh abused them, beat them and tried to threaten them to stay silent or else lose their lives. When they reached Bhagana around nightfall, Rakesh tried to drive them to his place, wanting them to agree to marry the rapists so he could claim the girls ran away from home to get married. The girls were eventually rescued from the car by Dalit youth.

The police delayed filing an FIR. And when one was eventually filed, Rakesh and Virender’s names were absent, despite the girls naming them in their testimonies. When the girls and their families refused to back down from their statement, they have been forced to flee Bhagana, and have since camped in Delhi, demanding justice.

Bhagana, like other parts of Haryana, has a history of atrocities against and eviction of Dalits. The Jats, during Rakesh’s tenure as Sarpanch, have socially boycotted the Dalits since 2011, grabbed 208 acres of their common land and not let any social welfare schemes be implemented. In 2011, 138 Dalit families left Bhagana, and have since been living at Hisar’s Mini Secretariat. About 150 Dhanuk families stayed back. The protest made no dent in the living conditions. Dalit girls are still harassed, molested and chased by Jat boys on their way to school, Dalit boys are beaten up for standing up for them, Dalit labourers are physically exploited and abused. Three of the Bhagan rape survivors had left school after Std. VIII, unable to face daily harassment. In 2010, Dalits had been forced to flee Mirchpur in Haryana. Now, there are only 40 Dalit families left in Bhagana. The protestors camped at Jantar Mantar in Delhi are very clear – they want rehabilitation in some other safe place, since they fear returning to Bhagana.

They have held sustained protests – at Jantar Mantar, at Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda’s residence, at the SC/ST Commission. The television channels, usually avid to cover rape incidents, and which covered every minute of the protests that followed the December 16th gang rape – have, mostly ignored the Bhagana protests.

The JNU Students’ Union and various student groups including AISA, along with many Dalit organisations, as well as women’s organisations including AIPWA, have been with the Bhagana protestors every step of the way. The JNUSU has initiated a signature campaign to the President of India and a solidarity fund to support the protestors.

(This report has been prepared with some inputs from a report titled ‘Reliving a Nightmare’ by Aradhna Wal, The Hindu May 17, 2014)

JK Dhaundiyal

JK Dhaundiyal, a progressive intellectual and close sympathiser of CPI(ML), passed away in a hospital in the national capital region, early in the morning on June 22. He was 66.

Hailing from the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, he had come in touch with the party as a student in Allahabad University, where he studied history. When he came to Delhi in the 1970s, he was among the many writers and young journalists influenced by the Naxalbari movement. He retained that strong sense of social and political commitment, even as he became a copyrighter in an advertising agency and a distinguished maker of ad films, especially about preserving our archaeological heritage.

He had been suffering from diabetes and cancer. CPI(ML) expresses condolences to his family. The revolutionary Left, along with progressive writers and cultural activists, will miss JK Dhaundiyal sorely, and remember him with warmth.

Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail: mlupdate, website: www.cpiml.org

ML Update | 21 | 2014

May 21, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 No. 21 21 – 26 MAY 2014

Implications of Lok Sabha Polls 2014 Outcome

If there is an element of surprise in the eventual outcome of the 16th Lok Sabha elections, it lies not in the fact that the BJP is going to head the next government but in the kind of majority that the NDA has secured. The BJP securing a clear majority on its own and adding nearly 100 seats to its previous best tally is surely more than what most opinion polls and exit polls predicted.

Only ten years ago we had seen an NDA government get voted out in India. That was when the NDA claimed Indians were ‘feeling good’ even as tens of thousands of farmers committed suicides across India and the lives of thousands of Muslim families were devastated in BJP-ruled Gujarat. The Gujarat genocide and the man who presided over it were counted among the principal factors responsible for that ‘shock’ defeat suffered by a complacent BJP/NDA.

If ten years later the current elections have catapulted the same Narendra Modi who now promises to be the harbinger of ‘better days’ to the Prime Minister’s chair in Delhi, the irony tells us a lot about the immediate situation and the developing context as well as the peculiarities of the Indian electoral system.

Massive corruption, soaring prices, vanishing jobs and irresponsible and unresponsive governance had become the hallmarks of the UPA government, especially in the last few years, and we could see the severity of the people’s anger against the Congress/UPA misrule in the results of the Assembly elections held in November and December. It was clear that in large parts of the country the BJP was destined to be the most dominant beneficiary of that anger and consequent desire for change.

The spectacular rise of the AAP in Delhi did provide a glimpse of a popular quest for change beyond the BJP, but the way Kejriwal and his team resigned after just seven weeks took the AAP out of most middle class minds, and once Kejriwal started questioning the Modi-Ambani-Adani nexus, the corporate media’s dalliance with the AAP was all but over. Thereafter the Modi marketing mission virtually took over the mainstream political discourse and the results are now here before all of us.

The Modi campaign tapped the depth of the public despair and sold hopes of good times. Questions regarding Modi’s past record were brushed aside as an obstinate obsession with the past and Modi was presented as the fast forward call of the future. Mani Shankar Aiyar’s arrogant ‘tea seller’ comment or Priyanka Gandhi’s ill-advised ‘neech rajneeti’ remark were all lapped up and used to the hilt by Modi to highlight his OBC origin.

And of course there was the systematic use of communal venom – whether it was Amit Shah invoking Muzaffarnagar for ‘revenge’ or demonising Azamgarh as a den of terrorists or Giriraj asking Modi baiters to go to Pakistan or Modi himself asking Bangladeshis to pack up or attributing the issue of poaching of rhinos in Assam to a grand conspiracy of settling Bangladeshi immigrants and benefiting from ‘votebank politics’. This has played no small role in the BJP’s electoral mobilisation.

The BJP victory has also benefited immensely from the inherent imbalance of the first-past-the-post system. The BJP’s current vote share of 31% – phenomenal going by the BJP’s past record and considering that it has got votes from across the country including 15% from West Bengal and 10% from Kerala – which has fetched it more than 280 seats is actually 3 percentage points less than the Congress vote share in 1977 when the Congress got routed almost everywhere beyond the southern states! The BSP with 20% vote share has drawn a blank in UP as has the AAP in Delhi with 31% vote. The DMK and its allies in Tamil Nadu also failed to win a single seat despite a vote share of 27% while the Left Front got just 2 seats in West Bengal with 30% vote. It is time to reform the electoral system and introduce aspects of proportional representation as in neighbouring Nepal if not effect a complete shift to a proportional system based on the party vote as in many European countries.

The verdict has challenged and dented several myths and conventional wisdom. The Congress which now stands reduced to less than 50 seats will have to find ways to re-energise, if not reinvent itself, even though the question of finding a non-dynastic cementing factor has perhaps been deferred for a while with both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi retaining their traditional seats. The hypotheses about the supposed inevitability of coalitions and invincibility of identity politics have also proved to be overrated. The Nitish Kumar plank of trying to create an overarching politics of sub-nationalism or ‘Bihari identity’ has failed miserably. With 4 seats and 2% vote share, AAP’s debut parliamentary election has been significant in its own right, but certainly a massive climb-down from its initial claims of 100 seats and no government at the centre without AAP!

The CPI(M) and CPI attempts at winning seats and intervening in national politics through the ‘third front’ route have also reached a dead end. The conventional script of a Left revival in West Bengal, banking on the Congress-TMC split and the assumption of a rising BJP eating into the TMC vote, has not come good and the Left Front has clearly lost sizable chunks of vote to both TMC and even the BJP. We in CPI(ML) are also faced with the challenge of raising our level of electoral assertion by expanding our pockets of work and influence and backing them up with greater interaction and vigorous intervention in the wider democratic arena.

Going by the central slogan of the Modi campaign, the coming days are promised to be ‘good times’. The corporate houses who have lavishly funded the Modi campaign will surely insist on quick paybacks and a freer run and greater control over the country’s natural and financial resources along the lines already seen in Modi’s Gujarat. The RSS, the organisation which even the BJP now openly admits has played a huge role in managing the BJP’s election machinery, will also have a wider role in the affairs of the NDA-III government. And finally there is the whole question of how the Modi phenomenon will unfold.

The personality cult and the authoritarian mode of the Modi brand of governance – the systematic stifling and even physical elimination of every voice of dissent within or outside of the establishment – which Gujarat has been experiencing and which will now be sought to be replicated nationally along with other core features of the ‘Gujarat model’ will pose a whole new challenge to democracy as we have known it so far in India. There are already some reports of attacks on minorities and opposition parties. In other words, the ‘good times’ promised in the Modi campaign will turn out to be ‘difficult days’ and ‘challenging times’ for the Indian people and India’s parliamentary democracy.

The corporate media has already proved its readiness to crawl even before it is asked to bend. During the dark days of Emergency, the state had imposed censorship on the media, what we see now is ‘voluntary censorship’ choreographed by ‘invisible’ corporate-controlled strings. It remains to be seen how far the institutional edifice of India’s constitutional order can assert its independence in the face of systematic subversion and manipulation. But at the end of the day India has always defied regimentation and stagnation, and the Indian people will surely not allow democracy to be transformed into Modicracy.

CPI(ML)/AILC Performance in the 16th LS elections

In the 16th Lok Sabha elections, the CPI(ML) had fielded 83 candidates across 15 states and 3 Union Territories. With one nomination cancelled in Uttar Pradesh, 82 had remained in the fray. The party has polled a little above 1 million votes, around the same level it had polled in 2009. But given the increase in the size of the electorate and in voting percentage, our vote share dropped marginally, giving us 0.2% of the all-India vote.

Even though we knew we had no chance of polling ‘respectable’ votes in most of the seats we contested, we nevertheless decided to field candidates in almost all our areas of work, because elections provide a major opportunity to assess our work and measure our political influence apart from campaigning on the burning issues confronting the people and propagating the political viewpoint of revolutionary democracy.

Our goal was to try and secure at least 10,000 votes in all our major areas of work and a minimum of 5,000 votes in other areas/states. As results stand, we have managed to poll more than 10,000 votes in 15 seats and more than 5,000 votes in another 29 seats. In as many as 21 seats we failed to reach even the 3,000 mark.

The statewise break-up of candidates and votes are as follows: Bihar – 23 candidates, 463,045 votes; Jharkhand – 8 candidates, 319,222 votes; Assam – 5 candidates, 42,015 votes; Uttar Pradesh – 10 candidates, 37,712 votes; West Bengal – 5 candidates, 34,843 votes; Odisha – 3 candidates, 25197 votes; Tamil Nadu – 5 candidates, 13,081 votes; Punjab – 3 candidates, 11,605 votes; Uttarakhand – 3 candidates, 11,392 votes; Gujarat – 1 candidate, 9,702 votes; Rajasthan – 3 candidates, 9,512 votes; Tripura – 2 candidates, 8,670 votes; Karnataka – 4 candidates, 7885 votes; Andhra – 2 candidates, 6,626 votes; Chhattisgarh – 2 candidates, 3,925 votes; Union Territories – 3 candidates, 2842 votes.

Among our best performances, we once again finished second in Kodarma in Jharkhand despite a significant increase in our votes from about 150,000 in 2009 to more than 265,000. In Bihar, we once again finished third in Arrah and Siwan polling 98,805 and 81,006 votes respectively. Among other major seats in Bihar we polled 51,623 votes in Pataliputra, 34,365 votes in Jahanabad, 32,686 votes in Karakat and 19,477 votes in Nalanda, with Pataliputra, Nalanda and Siwan witnessing a modest increase in our votes over 2009 while in Arrah we failed to reach the 1 lakh mark for the first time since 1989.

As far as other seats are concerned, we experienced major decline in these elections in Koraput (Odisha), Autonomous District (Assam) and Katihar (Bihar). Seats where we have made a positive beginning or improved on our previous levels include Lohardaga in Jharkhand, Garhwal in Uttarakhand, Supaul and Bhagalpur in Bihar, Koliabor in Assam, Sriperumbudur and Viluppuram in Tamil Nadu, and Chandigarh among Union Territories.

Our allies in All India Left Coordination have also played an active role in these elections. CPM Punjab put up 3 candidates in Punjab and polled nearly 24,000 votes, LNP(L) contested from Kolhapur in Maharashtra and polled 7,067 votes while RMP fielded 7 candidates in Kerala, polling 50,705 votes. CPRM and CPI(ML) jointly supported independent candidate Mahendra Lama from Darjeeling and he polled 55,767 votes.

CPI(ML) Statement on the 2014 Lok Sabha Election Outcome

The outcome of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections shows an overwhelming countrywide rejection of the Congress and UPA and a decisive majority for the BJP and the NDA. The BJP and NDA clearly emerged as the biggest beneficiaries of the widespread mass anger against the UPA misrule and non-performance marked by massive corruption, price-hike and all-round economic crisis.

Ten years ago the NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee which claimed India was ‘feeling good’ was voted out of power. Narendra Modi and the 2002 Gujarat carnage he presided over were clearly a major factor that determined the 2004 outcome. Ironically enough, ten years later India has elected another NDA government headed by the same Narendra Modi promising to usher in ‘good times’.

The unprecedented rise of the BJP on a truly national scale clearly marks a concentrated political expression of the continuing rightward shift in policies and politics and growing corporate domination over the spheres of economy and mass communication. While the BJP has secured close to 300 seats on its own, the Left bloc in Parliament has been reduced to just a dozen seats. The AAP which had captured considerable democratic imagination in the wake of its spectacular debut in Delhi Assembly elections has had to remain content with 4 seats that it managed to win quite surprisingly in Punjab.

The corporate sector which invested massively in Modi’s campaign obviously expects an even freer run under the new government, and the Sangh Parivar has already claimed a mandate for rapid escalation of its communal agenda. But a majority among the millions of people who have voted for a ‘Modi Sarkar’ expect a solution to their pressing economic problems and governance that is responsive, transparent and accountable, a hope which can only be disappointed by the new dispensation. In the difficult days to come the CPI(ML) will stand firmly by the people and their hopes and aspirations, and needs and interests.

The BJP election campaign did have an unmistakable communal aspect to it. The Muzaffarnagar riots were engineered with a clear purpose of creating a communal polarisation and the election speeches of several BJP leaders, Narendra Modi included, injected enough communal vitriol into the political discourse. In the middle of the elections we saw horrific communal violence in Assam and reports of post-poll attacks on minorities are also coming in from different parts of the country. The election outcome does not legitimise past crimes or exonerate the guilty, nor does it give any licence for fresh crimes against humanity. The battle for equal justice and equal rights for all will surely go on unabated.

The CPI(ML) is committed to continuing and intensifying the struggle against the corporate-dictated policies that are the root cause of corruption, price rise, unemployment and deepening economic crisis. The CPI(ML) is also committed to the ongoing struggles against all kinds of injustice and oppression, and to expose and resist any attempts to whip up campaigns against the rights of marginalised and oppressed sections of people. The party appeals to all defenders of democracy to remain vigilant against any possible attempt to vitiate the socio-political climate, subvert democratic institutions and curb people’s rights.

The 2014 outcome has highlighted the inherent vagaries of the first-past-the-post system where parties do not win seats despite securing significant votes. A 31% vote share has fetched the BJP a clear majority whereas 4% vote share for BSP has not translated into a single seat. It is high time to reform India’s electoral system and introduce aspects of proportional representation for a more realistic reflection of the political choice made by the people.

While the new government unveils its agenda, the forces of people’s movements will step up their vigil and democratic intervention and assertion on every available platform and by all possible means.

- Central Committee
CPI(ML)(Liberation)

Protests Follow Suicide of Woman Worker at Factory Gate

(With inputs from a news story titled ‘Activists demand justice for woman who killed self’ by Anumeha Yadav in The Hindu, May 15, 2014, and Comrade Abhishek of AISA, JNU)

Rakhi Sonkar, a single mother of 3 small kids was terminated by managers of Swiss Auto Pvt Ltd on the pretext of being a few minutes late. After trying in vain to persuade the factory authorities to take her back on the job, she consumed rat poison at the factory gate, in full view of fellow workers and the police. Before doing so, she publicly names the supervisor and other factory authorities who pushed her to take this extreme step.

She died in hospital two days later. Her brother recounted that even the doctor at the hospital slapped him – a reminder that workers cannot expect dignity and respect at their workplace, or even when they accompany terminal patients to a hospital!

“There were three policemen at the factory gate, but they simply watched while she threatened to kill herself and drink the rat poison. She fell over and they acted only after she showed no signs of movement,” said a 25-year old worker, who worked in the crimping section with Rakhi.

He and other workers alleged that the factory owners had fired Rakhi for supporting Amarjeet Singh, a 22-year-old former line manager at Swiss Auto in contesting his dismissal at the Deputy Labour Commissioner’s office in 2013.

Further, she had filed a complaint against the Wazirpur labour court alleging mistreatment on factory premises, they said.

“Rakhi helped me get my employment reference letter from the factory when I challenged my termination at Deputy Labour Commissioner’s office. She came to the DLC office during my hearing. She was under tremendous pressure and faced verbal abuse and she had complained about this at the DLC office three weeks back,” said Amarjeet Singh. He recounted that he had started working at the factory when he was 14.

“I worked there for six years and rose to the position of line manager. I objected to our working conditions — permanent employees were being dismissed on flimsy grounds, a five-minute delay in arriving at work meant losing a day’s wage, we were not allowed to go to the toilet for more than a few minutes a day, many workers were not being paid provident fund. When labour inspectors visited the factory, owners would not allow us to speak to them,” recounted Mr. Singh. Women workers in Wazirpur say that they are not allowed to visit the toilet when needed, even when they are having their monthly period.

Rakhi was persecuted and eventually thrown out of her job because she spoke up for the rights of other workers. Following her suicide, workers at her factory protested spontaneously. Women workers lay down on the main road near the factory gate, blocking traffic, demanding arrest of the factory authorities whom Rakhi had named as responsible for her suicide. When chased by the police, they would get up and occupy another portion of the road. The police brutally lathicharged the workers, injuring several of them, and detaining them in the police station.

AICCTU held several demonstrations and gate meetings at the factory gate, demanding justice for Rakhi, arrest and punishment of the factory authorities implicated in her suicide, compensation for her family and care of her children, and strict implementation of all labour laws in all factories in the Wazirpur Industrial Area. Every time, the police attempt to prevent activists from distributing leaflets and holding gate meetings, and try to forcibly disperse workers who gather at such meetings. The episode is a comment on the state of industrial democracy in the national capital.

In another episode in JNU, a woman sanitary worker, employed earlier in Koyna Hostel through SE Services, was not been taken back on work after she went on leave due to pregnancy. Despite the fact that the worker has the ESI documents, which shows her to be fit for work from date- 12 December-2013, the Dean of Students office, particularly the Sanitary Inspector has refused to take the worker back on duty. This is a blatant violation of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. After this case, another woman worker in an advanced state of pregnancy refused to avail of the maternity leave she was sanctioned, for fear that she would lose her job. AISA activists took up these cases and have been struggling in support of the rights of workers on the JNU campus. In solidarity with the woman worker, and also in protest against the non-payment of monthly salary, workers stopped work for a day. The contractor was forced to make the monthly payment to the workers, while the crucial issue of taking back the woman worker still remains unsolved. It is as though the university administration are implying that the workers must refrain from bearing child in order to save an already underpaid job!

Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail: mlupdate, website: www.cpiml.org


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