ML Update | No. 43 | 2014

October 22, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 | No. 43 | 21 – 27 OCT 2014

The Maharashtra-Haryana Verdict: Implications and Challenges

That Maharashtra and Haryana were ripe for a change of government was clearly a foregone conclusion. Both dispensations were seriously discredited and had lost all legitimacy in general public perception. Sure of the ouster of the Congress-led governments in both states, the BJP took the risk of going it alone in a bid to maximise its gains. With the BJP now all set to head the state governments in these two states for the first time, the calculated risk, it must be said, has been amply rewarded. But once again the BJP’s gains got disproportionately amplified because of the inherent imbalance of the first-past-the-post electoral system – its vote share is still less than 30% in Maharashtra and about 33% in Haryana.

Significantly enough, the BJP’s gains came at the cost of not just the Congress but also major regional players like the NCP and MNS in Maharashtra and INLD and Haryana Janhit Congress in Haryana. Despite managing to marginally increase its own tally in the state and effectively decimate the MNS, even the Shiv Sena found itself overshadowed by the BJP in virtually every region of Maharashtra, including the traditional Sena stronghold of Mumbai. The BJP’s real gain in Maharashtra lies in its success in reversing the terms of its ties with the Sena – in a revived post-poll alliance, the Sena will now be the junior partner with much less negotiating power vis a vis a BJP which now has a presence twice as big as that of the Sena in the Assembly. The unsolicited and unconditional support offered by the NCP to the BJP has further weakened the Sena’s bargaining capacity.

The Maharashtra election campaign had witnessed an interesting propaganda war among the BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress, NCP and MNS. The Congress sought to attribute the corruption and mess in Maharashtra primarily to the NCP, the BJP too targeted the NCP as the ‘Naturally Corrupt Party’. The NCP hit back at the BJP for its authoritarian design, likening Modi to Hitler. The Shiv Sena and MNS, having all along directed the firepower of their ‘Maratha pride’ against the job-seeking youth and working people from North India, suddenly found themselves pitted against the growing ambition and influence of Gujarati capitalists. Elections over, the NCP has been the first to offer support to the BJP – thereby simultaneously exposing the ‘anti-communal’ posturing of the NCP and the ‘anti-corruption’ rhetoric of the BJP. Whichever way the government is now configured in the state, the post-poll realignment will be no less revealing than the pre-poll break-up.

The remarkable success of the BJP in Maharashtra and Haryana elections will reinforce the grip of the Modi-Shah duo over the government and the party and embolden the BJP to attempt more vigorous forays not only in states like Jharkhand and Bihar where the BJP has shared power in the past but also beyond the Hindi belt, whether in West Bengal and Assam or in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, where the BJP is yet to secure any major presence. And on the plane of policies and legislations, the government will now surely try to bulldoze every opposition and go the whole hog to enforce its pro-corporate agenda in every sphere. The people too will have to be prepared to confront the BJP-led corporate-communal offensive and defend their livelihood and liberties with all their might.

For long, bourgeois opposition politics in India had evolved and revolved around the axis of anti-Congressism. Following the rise of the BJP as a powerful national contender since the 1990s attempts were made to carve out an anti-Congress anti-BJP opposition space. Now with the BJP emerging as the pre-eminent party of the ruling classes across the country, the opposition logic may well shift to anti-BJPism. But with the Congress still in a state of free fall and regional parties having no ideological-political inhibition to do business with a resurgent BJP, it is not easy for anti-BJPism to evolve as a uniting formula for a fragmented opposition.

In any case, the narrow frames of anti-Congressism or anti-BJPism can never be suitable for the Left’s agenda of radical social transformation, comprehensive democracy and alternative politics of the non-ruling non-exploiting classes. The unprecedented rise of the BJP signals an ideological consolidation and resurgence of the rightwing in Indian politics, and the Left must get ready to combat it by re-emerging as the ideological pivot of a bold and broad popular opposition to the BJP’s disastrous model of pro-corporate economics, authoritarian governance, majoritarian nationalism and retrograde-patriarchal social agenda.

Towards a Democratic Platform of People’s Struggles

On 11th October 2014, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Yuva Kendra in Delhi, representatives of several organizations and concerned individuals met to discuss the need and possibility of forging a broad democratic platform – both to take on the intensified offensive on people’s movements and rights in a united way, and to powerfully assert an alternative vision for India.

The resolution adopted by the meeting and endorsed by the participants is as follows:

Representatives of a diverse range of organizations as well as individuals met on 11th October in Delhi, to discuss the possibility of various people’s movements, democratic organizations and concerned citizens coming together on a common platform to assert people’s rights to land, livelihood, education and healthcare, justice, peace, dignity and freedom in the face of the communal-corporate offensive, growing imperialist domination, state repression, social oppression and caste and gender violence and injustice that threatens those rights. We, the undersigned, endorse the concerns and the call issued from that meeting.

The meeting underlined the urgent need for forces of struggle to unite and coordinate their efforts to defend and expand democracy.

The country is witnessing and bearing the brunt of the centralized, intensified offensive on part of the Modi Government and the Sangh Parivar on all hard-won rights and ongoing movements. Communal politics is threatening not only the rights and safety of minorities, but every vestige of existing democracy, diversity and harmony.

Draconian laws like AFSPA or UAPA, continued and intensified militaristic offensive against the country’s own people, the systematic impunity for perpetrators of custodial violence, and the muzzling of voices of dissent are all symptoms of a growing authoritarianism.

Caste violence and atrocities against dalits and adivasis continue to be rampant. Violence against women the offensive on women’s rights and freedom has acquired even more dangerous proportions, with such violence and such an offensive becoming an integral tool, both of state repression as well as of communal politics.

Imperialism, hand in hand with the country’s own rulers and corporate players, is attempting to erode the country’s freedom in all matters of foreign and domestic policy.

The fighting forces face the challenge of combating communal politics, defending people’s land, livelihood, and liberties, asserting and achieving the rights to equitable and affordable health, education and food as well as dignified employment, and asserting an alternative vision of pro-people development.

If times seem dark at present, hope continues to burn bright with the powerful, defiant, vibrant people’s opposition on the streets. We feel that a broad, united, democratic platform of such struggling forces is the need of the hour. Towards forging such a platform, which may simply be called All India People’s Forum in English and Akhil Bhartiya Jan Manch in Hindi, we propose to hold a Conference in Delhi in early 2015. We appeal to all concerned organizations and individuals to actively participate in this endeavour. We shall dream, we shall fight, and we shall win!

[Signatories: ND Pancholi (Citizens for Democracy and PUCL), John Dayal,
Binayak Sen (PUCL/MFC), Anil Sadgopal (AIFRTE), Meher Engineer (AIFRTE), Sumit
Chakravarty (Mainstream), Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Anand Patwardhan,
Anil Chamadiya, Rajendra Chaudhary (academic and activist, Rohtak), Kavita
Krishnan (AIPWA), SP Udayakumar (PMANE), Akhil Gogoi (KMSS), Dipankar
Bhattacharya (CPI-ML Liberation), Vijay Pratap (Samajwadi Samagam), Dr Prem
Singh (Socialist Party (India)), Mangat Ram Pasla (CPM Punjab), Govind Chhetri
(CPRM, Darjeeling), Rohit (Left Collective), KS Hariharan (Revolutionary
Marxist Party (Kerala)), Bhimrao Bansode Lal Nishan Party Leninist
(Maharashtra)), Ambrish Kumar (Samajwadi Samagam), Rajeev (Rihai Manch, UP),
Father T K John, Md Iftiqar Alam and Suraj Kumar Singh (Insaf Manch, Bihar),
Purushottam Roybarman (Secretary, Tripura Human Rights Organisation), Dr
Laxminarayana (PUCL and Karnataka Kaumu Sauhardra Vedike), Gautam Mody (NTUI),
Roma (AIUFWP), Md Salim (Inquilabi Muslim Conference), Anant Prakash Narayan
(JNUSU), Om Prasad and Sandeep Saurav (AISA), Swapan Mukherjee (AICCTU), Ramji
Rai (Samkaleen Janmat), Pranay Krishna (Jan Sanskriti Manch), Dhirendra Jha
(AIALA), Col (Retd) Laxmeshwar Mishra, Radhika Menon (JSM, AIFRTE), Dr. Mongve
Rongpi (United Movement for Autonomous State, Karbi Anglong), Sudhir Suman
(Samkaleen Janmat), Radhakanta Sethi (AICCTU, Odisha), Rafiq Jabbar Mulla
(SDPI), Harminder Singh Ahluwalia (Sikh Youth Forum), Darshana Pathak
(Samajwadi Samagam), Kanwaljeet Singh (RYA), Navkiran Natt (Krantikari Kamkaaji
Mahila Sangathan, Chandigarh), Phoolchand Dhewa (All India Kisan Mahasabha),
Gurnam Singh Daud (Dihati Mazdoor Sabha), KD Yadav (All India Kisan Mahasabha),
Om Dutt Singh (Daman Virodhi Morcha, Allahabad), V Shankar (AICCTU), Amar
Singh, Arun Maji, Nadeem (Sruti), Sanjay Kanojia (Samajwadi Samagam), Trilok
Singh (GIEA-NZ), Amit Srivastav (PUCL Delhi)]

‘Nyay march’ against Escalating Feudal Violence in Bihar

The hopes which the oppressed and marginalised sections of society had placed in Chief Minister Jitan Ram Majhi (who belongs to the mahadalit community) have been belied by the spate of recent atrocities, most recent incident being the burning alive of 12-year old dalit boy Sai Ram in Mohanpur (Karakat, Rohtas district) for the ‘crime’ of letting his goat stray into a landlord’s field. Led by the CPI(ML), the rural poor and women in Bihar have registered sharp protest against this unholy attempt to crush the dignity of the poor and their aspirations for justice and democracy. These protests include a march in Tikari on 10 October against the Pura incident, Bhojpur bandh on 13 October against the Kurmuri gang rape, Nyay march in the capital Patna on 17 October, and a march in Dumariya on 18 October. On 18 October, a protest meeting was also organized at Dumariya village, which is the home of the gang rape victim. Moreover, a bandh was also organized in Rohtas against the burning alive of Sai Ram.

CPI-ML leaders as well as CPI-M, SUCI, people’s rights movements, and journalists participated in the Nyay march held in Patna on 17 October 2014 and called for a united struggle against feudal violence in Bihar. Thousands of people participated in the march which began from Gandhi Maidan and moved towards the R block crossroads, increasing in strength as it proceeded. It was led by CPI-ML General secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya, Bihar State secretary Kunal, CCW member Com. Ram Jatan Sharma, former MP Rameshwar Prasad, AIPWA General secretary Meena Tiwari, ABKMS national General secretary Com. Rajaram Singh, AIPWA State President Saroj Choube, JNUSU secretary Com. Chintu and others. CPI-M state secretary and block member Com. Sarvoday Sharma, SUCI state committee member Indradev Rai, journalist Nivedita Shakeel, Ashish from NAPM, social activist Sudha Varghese and others also participated in the march. The meeting organized at R block was presided over by Com. Rajaram and conducted by Com. Kamlesh Sharma. The meeting was addressed by former MLA Rajaram Singh, CPI-M’s Com. Sarvoday Sharma, Nivedita Shakeel, JNUSU secretary Chintu, Kisan Sabha leader Com. Sudama Prasad, Gaya district secretary Com. Niranjan Kumar, former MP Rameshwar Prasad, AIPWA General secretary Meena Tiwari, and others.

Various political resolutions were passed at the Nyay march. The resolutions condemned the growing instances of barbaric feudal atrocities in Bihar and demanded that the Bihar government put an immediate end to violence and oppression by taking stringent action against all those responsible including the DM and SP at Pura and Kurmuri who scuttled the process of justice and refused to act on time to protect the lives and livelihoods of the poor and dalits. The resolutions also demanded the reinstatement of the Amir Das Commission so that the convicts in the carnages and their political protectors get their due punishment. The march raised the demand for resettlement of all poor families displaced by feudal forces (such as in Lahsuna (Masaudhi, Patna), Mauri (Paliganj, Patna), Belaur (Udvantnagar, Bhojpur), Bagahi (Jehanabad), Lohanipur and Bhanwarpokhar in Patna Nagar) as well as resettlement of the urban poor displaced with the support of the Patna High Court in the name of ‘beautification’. Even as culprits of several feudal massacres keep getting acquitted, 14 innocent people are serving life imprisonment for the last 13 years under TADA in the Bhadasi (Arwal district) case. The Nyay march demanded that the government release all TADA prisoners without delay.

On 18 October, several people participated in the march from the Ara Party office to Dumariya, protesting against the Kurmuri rape incident. As the march, including hundreds of motorcyclists, proceeded from Ara town, more and more people joined in and the road passing through the district became a sea of red flags. At the Jan Pratirodh sabha (people’s protest meeting) in Dumariya, thousands of mahadalits, poor, and women joined in the demand for immediate punishment to the rapists. The meeting was presided over by Com. Kamta Prasad Singh. Prior to the meeting, ML leaders had also met the victims’ families.

The CPI-ML General Secretary, addressing the Dumariya people’s meeting, saluted the courage of all the rape victims who chose to speak up and fight against their victimisation, a courage which even the Chief Minister of Bihar Jitan Ram Majhi who was persecuted recently could not muster for fear of upsetting the apple cart of votes in the election. He pointed out that the so-called ‘social justice’ parties such as the JD(U) commit injustice, tolerate injustice, and protect feudal-criminals for the sake of votes. He said that the Kurmuri incident had also revealed the true face of all parties in Bihar – while Nitish had been claiming credit for ensuring education and employment for girls in the state, the truth is that young girls have to go rag picking for a livelihood, suffering the hard knocks of life. Carnages were perpetrated in the Lalu regime and the High Court acquitted all the culprits during the Nitish regime, and the Amir Das commission was disbanded thus strengthening feudal forces. Also, the feudal forces had received a major boost with the BJP victory and formation of the Modi government at the Centre and thus they are now attacking mahadalits, poor, women, and minorities without fear. He ended by underlining the need to give a fitting reply to the BJP and the feudal-criminal forces under its patronage.

JNUSU General Secretary Chintu’s Visit to Ara

In the aftermath of the Kurmuri gang rapes in Bhojpur, JNUSU general secretary Chintu visited Bhojpur to express solidarity with the ongoing movement in Bihar against feudal and patriarchal violence. On 14 October 2014, Com. Chintu visited three dalit hostels in the Veer Kunwar Sigh university in Ara, meeting the students and sharing their experiences of feudal and caste discrimination and violence, and their struggles for quality education, infrastructure and rights. On 14 October, Com. Chintu joined an AISA team to visit the Dumariya village, where the victims of the recent gang rape live. On 16th October, a seminar on ‘communal feudal violence and the role of the youth’ was organized at the Veer Kunwar Singh University, where Com. Chintu was the main speaker. She also participated in the Nyay march against the escalating feudal violence in Bihar that was organized on 17 October 2014.

Workers’ protests in Puducherry

On 15th October 2014, the Puducherry State Council of AICCTU held a demonstration in front of the Labour Commissioner’s office, demanding that the All India Namathu Rajyam Congress (AINRC) led government in Puducherry take stern action against employers who fail to implement Labour Court/Industrial Tribunal awards. Braving heavy showers, several workers participated in the protest, including many women workers.

Earlier, an extensive ‘Poster Campaign’ had been conducted throughout the industrial areas of Puducherry, highlighting the demands of the workers. The demonstration at the labour commissioner’s office was jointly led by Com. Janarthanan (Secretary, Jananayaga Cycle Parts Thozhilalargal Sangam) and Com. Subramani (Secretary Puducherry Democratic Brick Makers Union). The protest demanded that the AINR Congress government arrest, initiate criminal action against and confiscate the assets of all defaulting employers.

Com. S. Balasubramanian (State President AICCTU), Com. S. Mothilal (State Secretary, AICCTU), Com. P. Murugan (Working Committee Member, AICWF) and Com. A. Sakthivelu (Joint Organiser AIALA) addressed the protest. Com. S. Balasubramanian, while pointing out that the AINR Congress government was shielding the employers and not delivering justice to the workers, also demanded that the Modi government immediately regularize all contract workers of the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (which is a PSU) as per the directives of the Supreme Court of India. At the end of the demonstration, a detailed memorandum was submitted to the Labour Commissioner, Puducherry.

Water Supply and Sewerage Workers of Bangalore on the Warpath

On 15th October, contract workers of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) led by AICCTU held a demonstration in front of the Karnataka Labour Commissioner’s office at Bangalore demanding same pay and service conditions for workers engaged in same and similar kind of works. This parity in wages is mandatory under the existing clauses of the Contract Labour Abolition and Regulation Act (CLARA), 1970. The spirited and impressive demonstration, attended by more than 500 demonstrators, was led by Comrade Balan, Karnataka State President and all India Vice President of AICCTU. Comrades Shankar, all India Vice President and Clifton, State Organising Secretary also addressed demonstrators, among others. Sanitation workers of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) also joined the demonstration expressing solidarity. Mr. Jinkalappa, Additional Labour Commissioner came to the demonstration spot, received the case petition and assured immediate action. More than 500 individual cases were also filed on the same day. Many more applications kept pouring in.

Class for workers’ leaders in Bangalore

AICCTU organised a class for workers’ leaders on 19 October 2014 at Bangalore. Contract workers’ leaders from among sanitation workers of Bangalore Municipal Corporation (BBMP), from Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), public sector units like Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), National Aeronautics Ltd (NAL), Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML) (Bangalore and KGF), Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), from corporate companies such as MICO BOSCH, Kennametal WIDIA, Lafarge, RMC Readymix India, from NIMHANS hospital, from Karnataka State Wide Area Network (KSWAN) under the Karnataka e-governance department and construction and quarry workers from Kolar district participated in the class. Com. Gopal spoke on "Learning Marxism" and Com. Balan, State President of AICCTU, spoke on "The Need for Revolutionary Politics to Workers". Com. Clifton D’ Rozario, State Organising Secretary delivered his speech on the importance of a revolutionary theory, practice, sacrifice and organisation. Com. Shankar presided over the sessions. The meeting also reorganised the district committee of AICCTU in Bangalore, and made it more representative and broadbased in character. The meeting also resolved to make the All India Contract Workers Conference, scheduled to be held at Bangalore on 21-22 Dec. 2014, a grand success.

Convention against ‘Love Jihad’ lies held in Delhi

In the midst of the BJP-RSS-ABVP’s communal and patriarchal campaigns opposing live-in relationships and the so-called ‘love jihad’, AISA held a ‘Love Azaad’ convention on 17 October 2014 at the Gandhi Peace Foundation (GPF) in Delhi, exposing the lies of the love jihad campaign. The convention, which was attended by several students from Delhi University (DU), Jamia Millia Islamia as well as JNU, was addressed by AIPWA secretary Kavita Krishnan. Comrade Kavita pointed out that through the love jihad campaign, all Hindu-Muslim and Hindu-Christian relationships are being painted as grand communal conspiracies to ‘trap’ women. Filmmaker Nakul Sawhney who has travelled extensively in Uttar Pradesh to document the RSS_BJP’s ‘love jihad’ campaign, talked about the manner in which this campaign is being orchestrated in UP. He also showed several film clips documenting how ‘women’s security’ was being used to curtail women’s freedom, and to carefully create an anti-minority sentiment in UP. Several common students also spoke at length at the convention about the experiences of inter-Religious/inter caste/inter community/relationships in their own families, villages and cities.

AISA has started a campaign in all three universities in Delhi – DU, JNU and Jamia – against the myth of ‘Love Jihad’ that was being propogated by the ABVP and other right wing organizations. In the

course of this campaign, AISA activists distributed pamphlets and campaigned in at least 40 colleges in DU. During the campaign AISA activists exposed the ABVP’s campaign against live-in relationships,

which is an absolutely uncalled for intrusion in the personal lives and relationships of adults.

Obituaries

Comrade Ishwarchand

Com. Ishwarchand (Ratan ji ) was born in Mavana village of Dist. Meerut in Uttar Pradesh. He was active in SFI in his college days. He joined the CPI(M) in the 1960s. He was part of the inner-party struggle against revisionism in the CPI(M), and joined the Naxalbari movementand later the CPI(ML). He remained a Central Committee member and Secretary of the UP State Committee for a long time. When the party was underground, he worked hard and developed the Party organization in different parts of Uttar Pradesh, staying in the houses of landless and developed many cadres.

He organized industrial workers as a trade union leader in Kanpur. In his last days he was staying with his sister in Saharanpur and breathed his last on 2nd September 2014. Long Live Comrade Ratanji!

Freedom Fighter Abbas Ali

Freedom fighter and veteran socialist Abbas Ali passed away on 11 October 2014 in Aligarh. From his early days he was inspired by the revolutionary ideas of Bhagat Singh and joined Naujawan Bharat Sabha, an organization founded by Bhagat Singh and his colleagues. He later became a member of the All India Students Federation. Abbas Ali was a captain in the Indian National Army led by Subhas Chandra Bose. Later he joined the Socialist movement and was a close associate of Ram Manohar Lohia. Long Live Abbas Ali!

ML Update | No. 42 | 2014

October 16, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 | No. 42 | 14 – 20 OCT 2014

‘Love Jehad’ Myth –

Communal-Patriarchal Hate Story

The centrepiece of the BJP’s and Sangh Parivar’s vicious ‘love-jehad’ campaign has just been exposed as a lie. The young woman in Meerut, who was supposedly a victim of ‘love jehad’, has approached the police with the truth. And the truth is that she was in fact a victim of the patriarchal pressures of family and society and the conspiracy of the communal political forces.

As a Hindu woman who fell in love with, married, and was pregnant by a Muslim man, she faced the ire of her family and community. And this all too familiar situation was exploited by the politics of communal hatred. A love story was twisted into a hate-story to feed the myth of ‘love jehad’. Love, elopement, and marriage were distorted to claim rape and forced conversion. And as a result, 10 innocent persons suffered arrest and jail, and the young woman herself has faced immense coercion and intimidation.

We have always maintained that the ‘love jehad’ campaign by the BJP victimises women as much as it does minorities – and the Meerut case itself is a classic example of this. In patriarchal societies, consensual love between men and women of different castes, communities or classes is often branded as rape by the woman’s parents. A recent study of rape trials in Delhi showed that a whopping 40 per cent of rape complaints in Delhi are actually filed by parents of girls or women who have eloped with a lover. In all these cases, the actual violence faced by the woman had been at the hands of her own family and community, in the name of ‘honour’. And of course, the ‘honour’ killings of lovers who break caste and community barriers continue to abound in India.

The BJP’s and Sangh Parivar’s ‘love jehad’ campaign, in order to fan up suspicion and hatred against the minority community, gives political fire-power to such ‘honour’ crimes, coercion and curbs on the freedom of women. Several prominent BJP leaders openly talked of ‘love jehad’; BJP leaders have issued calls against entry of Muslim men into ‘garba’ dance halls; the ABVP, the RSS student outfit, has launched a national campaign against ‘love jehad’, and the RSS’ official organs have carried inflammatory cover stories promoting the ‘love jehad’ myth.

Every person and every woman must have a right to choose who they love, marry or have relationships with. This right is protected by India’s Constitution. How can these rights and freedoms of people, and of women be protected if India’s ruling party openly endorses and conducts campaigns against these rights? In India today, a woman in love with a man from a different caste or community cannot count on the Government and state machinery to protect her rights. A Muslim or Christian man in love with a Hindu woman, or a Dalit man in love with any woman, cannot count on the Government and state machinery to ensure his right and that of his lover. Instead, the police and political parties often share the prejudices of casteist and communal patriarchy. And now, to make matters much worse, India’s ruling party is seeking to expand its political influence by promoting the myth of ‘love jehad’, thereby promoting communal hatred and also attacking women’s freedoms.

In BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh recently, police, under pressure from Sangh Parivar mobs, tried to separate a married couple because the husband is Christian and the wife Hindu. The communal politics of the BJP is making it all the more difficult for women and inter-caste, inter-community couples to defend their rights. Given this context, it is crucial that amendments be made in the existing Special Marriages’ Act, under which inter-religion marriages are currently allowed. As per provisions of the existing legislation, a one-month period is provided during which parents and family members of the consenting couple are informed and can register their opposition to the proposed marriage. It is essential that this one-month window, which surely opens the doors for pressure and coercion to play, should be done away with. Democratic forces all over the country need to give a fitting rebuff to the BJP’s and Sangh Parivar’s communal-patriarchal campaign, and boldly assert and celebrate the rights of all persons to love and marry according to choice.

Protests against gang rapes and feudal violence in Kurmuri, Bhojpur

On 8th October 2014, 4 minor girls and 2 women, all ragpickers from the Mahadalit community of Dumaria village, visited a scrap dealer in Kurmuri village of Bhojpur. The scrap dealer, Neelnidhi Singh, a known former Ranveer Sena area commander, held them captive at gunpoint and along with two associates, raped the women. It was only after a protracted and militant protest that the local police and administration was forced to file an FIR against the accused and take action. A CPI(ML) fact-finding team consisting of AIPWA secretary Meena Tiwari, Bihar RYA President Raju Yadav, former Ara MP Rameshwar Prasad, AIPWA state President Saroj Chaubey and AIPWA leaders Indu Singh and Shobha Mandal visited the Dumaria village as well as Ara town on 11 October and met the victims and their family members. According to this fact-finding team, the main accused, Neelnidhi Singh is not just a former Ranveer Sena area commander but is also known to enjoy the support of Ara MP RK Singh (from the BJP) and Tarari MLA Sunil Pandey from the JD(U). As a result, the police officials in Tarari as well as the Ara district administration dilly-dallied in taking any action against him, until CPI(ML) leaders and activists intervened and public pressure was mounted. Though the incident took place on 8 October, an official complaint was lodged only after 24 hours, and the medical tests of the victims were done only on 10 October 2014. The local administration and police also tried to tamper with the evidence and the witnesses, and therefore, CPI(ML) has been demanding the suspension of the Ara SP and DM, and the removal of the Tarari police station in-charge. The 3 accused have now been arrested.

This incident points to the sense of impunity and boldness that feudal forces and Ranveer Sena elements have been displaying in the wake of a BJP victory at the centre and the patronage/appeasement by JD(U)-BJP and now JD(U) Govt. in Bihar. The Nitish Government’s scrapping of the Amir Das Commission that was about to expose the political (mostly BJP and JD-U) links of the Ranveer Sena, and the serial acquittals of massacre-accused Ranveer Sena men have gone far to emboldening such elements. The recent eviction of mahadalits in Gaya and the attack on Dalits on Independence Day at Baddi last year have all been warning signals. And Kurmuri shows starkly how Ranveer Sena men who went scot-free, continue to think they can get away with rape and atrocities against Dalits. If action had been taken against Neelnidhi Singh in previous, pending cases, then he would not have been free to indulge in this latest heinous crime. The need of the hour therefore is to force the reluctant governments at the Centre and in Bihar to restore the Amir Das Commission and to ensure an early tabling of its report.

CPI(ML) has launched a spirited statewide movement in Bihar, demanding justice for the rape survivors of the Kurmuri violence, immediate removal of the in-charge of the Tarari police station, immediate suspension of the local DM and SP, and immediate reinstatement of the Amir Das commission. CPI(ML) called for a Bhojpur bandh and Bihar-wide protests on 13th October 2014 against the gang-rape. On 13 October, around 200 AISA-RYA activists marched in protest on the streets of Ara. The market in Ara town as well as the university premises remained closed. AISA-RYA activists led by Bihar RYA President Raju Yadav, Bihar RYA joint secretary Manoj Manzil and AISA Bihar state secretary Ajit Kushwaha also organized a ‘Rail Chakka Jaam’ at the Ara railways station, which lasted for some hours and disrupted the Patna-Mughal Sarai railway line. Simultaneously, CPI(ML) activists led by CC member Saroj Chaubey, Dilraj Preetam, Kayamuddin and others staged a road block on NH-30 near the Ara bus stop for hours together. Traffic was also blocked at Fatehpur, Jethwar and Kumhari in Tarari. Massive protest marches were held by CPI(ML) activists at Charpokhri, Piro, Sandesh, Sahar and other parts of Ara. In Jagdishpur, CPI(ML) activists were arrested for protesting.

Protests against the Kurmuri gang rapes and against the growing feudal violence in the state were organized by CPI(ML) in different parts of Bihar. In Patna city, a protest march beginning from the Patna radio station was led by comrade Santosh Sahar, Bihar state committee members Kamlesh Sharma and Navin Kumar, comrades Ashok Kumar, Pannalal, Naseem and Murtaza Ali, as well as AISA leaders Mukhtar and Sudhir. In Patna rural too, protests were organised in Masaudhi, Naubatpur, Dulhijan Bazaar, Paliganj, Vikram, Bihta, Dhanrua, Phulwari Shareef, Maner and Phatuha. In Jehanabad, more than 500 activists registered a militant protest at the DM office against the Kurmuri gang rapes and the rape and murder of a girl in Ratni, Jehanabad. The protestors gheraoed the Jehanabad DM office for hours. In Arwal, 500 CPI(ML) activists marched on the streets in protest, and organized a protest meeting within the Arwal block premises. Protests were held in Siwan town, Darauli, Guthni, Aandar and Nautan in Siwan, as well as in Nasriganj, Karakat, Vikramganj and Tilauthu in Rohtas, in Dumrau, Kesath, Sonbarsa and Navanagar areas of Buxar district, and in Darbhanga, Purnea, Betia, Muzzafarpur and Bhagalpur. A ‘Nyay march’ (march for justice) will be organized by CPI(ML) on 17 October against feudal and patriarchal violence, demanding reinstatement of the Amir Das commission and the release of all TADA detainees.

In solidarity with the ongoing struggle for justice in Bhojpur, the CPI(ML) and AIPWA organized protests in different parts of the country on 13th October 2014. In Delhi, a protest demonstration was held at Bihar Bhawan. The protest at Bihar Bhawan was addressed by CPI(ML) Politburo member Kavita Krishnan, Delhi State Secretary Sanjay Sharma, AICCTU leader comrade Mathura Paswan, AISA Delhi President Sunny Kumar, Jan Sanskriti Manch’s Ramnaresh Ram and JNUSU General Secretary Chintu. In Tamil Nadu, a demonstration against Bhojpur gang rapes was held in Coimbatore on 14th October at the gate of the Pricol factory. Hundreds of Pricol workers led by their union’s general secretary Com. M. Saminathan raised slogans demanding justice against feudal and patriarchal violence by the Ranveer Sena, and demanding the immediate reinstatement of the Amir Das commission and tabling of its report. On the previous day too, on 13th October 2014, the AICCTU had held a protest at the Pricol factory gate demanding end to violence on women, freedom without fear for women, implementation of the Verma Committee recommendations, prevention of honour killings in Tamil Nadu and action against Haryana BJP CM candidate’s remarks on dress code for women.

In Uttar Pradesh, the AIPWA organized protests in Devaria, Balia, Gorakhpur, Kanpur, Lakhimpur Kheeri and Sitapur districts. In Devaria and Sitapur, AIPWA protested at the district headquarters, led by AIPWA state secretary Geeta Pandey and district secretary Sarojini respectively. AIPWA leaders submitted appeals to the President, demanding justice for the gang rape victims in Bhojpur and immediate reinstatement of the Amir Das commission, to the district in-charges at various district headquarters in Uttar Pradesh.

Tikari March against the feudal violence in Pura

As part of the ongoing movement in Pura, Gaya, against the feudal violence, murder of Arjun Manjhi and continuing intimidation of dalit villagers, CPI(ML) held a march in Tikari on 10 October 2014, in which thousands of people from Gaya, Jehanabad, Arwal and Aurangabad participated. Former Ara MP Rameshwar Prasad, former MLA Rajaram Singh, AIPWA secretary Meena Tiwari, AIPWA state President Saroj Chaubey, Arwal district secretary comrade Mahanand, Gaya district secretary comrade Niranjan Kumar, comrade Ramadhar Singh and AIALA leader comrade Gopal Ravidas addressed the protest march.

Campaign in UP against communal hate-mongering

Over the past few months, the communal situation in Uttar Pradesh has gone from bad to worse with the RSS_BJP-VHP doing everything possible to spread communal hate and violence across the state. In the backdrop of this volatile communal atmosphere, the festivals of Dussehra and Bakrid fell close to each other this year (on 3 and 6 October respectively). Prior to these festivals, there was an incident in Sansarpur village of Lakhimpur Kheeri district where communal passions were deliberately stoked. On 29 September, shops owned by poor people belonging to the minority community were looted and their standing paddy crops destroyed in this village, which falls under the Gola tehsil. All this acts, which were justified in the name of ‘cow protection’, were perpetrated under full protection provided by the state administration and local police. The work of inflaming passions was done by Sangh-BJP members and by the BSP candidate in the last Lok Sabha election. On 30 September the CPI(ML) held a protest dharna in front of Lakhimpur Kheeri headquarters demanding justice for the victims, compensation for their losses, and strong action against those guilty of inciting communal passions and also against the police in Mailani thana who protected the guilty. In view of the communal incidents in Kheeri and other places in the State, and the grave apprehensions regarding communal harmony and safety of minorities in the festive season, the CPI(ML) State unit released a statement in Lucknow on 1 October demanding that the government put in place a specific strategy to maintain communal peace and harmony.

However, given the inept law and order administration of the Akhilesh government, communal forces attempted to incite riots in Kushinagar, Bhadohi, Mirzapur, Faizabad, Gonda, Allahabad and other places, using the occasion of the traditional immersion of Ganesh idols as a cover. Even as the administration and police of the SP government failed to control the riot-mongering, it was only the reasoning, wisdom, and restraint of the common people that averted any serious communal incident. On the eve of the Bakrid festival, on 5 October 2014, CPI(ML) once again released a statement praising the people for discomfiting the evil intentions of communal forces and condemning the attitude of the administration, and asking the government to make strong and alert arrangements for safety, keeping the Bakrid festival in view.

Tamil Nadu AICCTU’s 8th State conference held

Tamil Nadu AICCTU’s 8th state conference was held on 4-5 Oct 2014 in the garment manufacturing city of Tiruppur. The venue of the conference was named after Comrade Gangaram Kol, martyr of the AICCTU’s tea garden workers’ movement of Assam. The inaugural session started with flag hoisting by senior woman comrade Kuppa Bai, following which leaders and delegates paid tribute to Comrade Gangaram Kol. The first session started with the convention titled ‘Defeat rightward politics and let us march on with leftward path’. Leaders from AITUC, CITU and AIUTUC participated. Comrade A S Kumar, deputy Gen. Secretary gave the introductory speech. This was followed by the presidential address by Comrade N K Natarajan who emphasized that in the current situation when pro-corporate, communal and anti-people elements have usurped power with people’s mandate, it is the responsibility of the Left parties to fight back. Comrade Anavaradhan, state president of AIUTUC, vehemently attacked the politics of the ruling BJP/NDA government. Comrade Arumugam, state Vice President of CITU talked of the need for ideological training of workers, along with economic struggles. State General Secretary of AITUC pointed out in his address that earlier various issues connected to the residential area of workers used to be part and parcel of trade union work. Recalling that people used to approach the Union office even for drinking water problems, he stressed the need for trade unions to go back to that style of functioning which is extremely relevant even today.

Launching a scathing attack on the Modi government, Comrade Balan, state President of Karnataka AICCTU also pointed out that at a time when even the High court and Supreme Court were delivering several retrograde judgments against the workers’ movement, the need of the hour was to strengthen the struggle to defend the rights of unorganized workers against all kinds of assaults. Stressing on the need for Left unity, Comrade S. Kumarasamy delivered the concluding speech of the inaugural session, stating that AICCTU was ready to join hands with left and democratic forces to strengthen democratic struggles in the present situation.

The delegate session was conducted by a 7-member presidium comprising comrades Palanivel, Jawahar, Raman, Suseela, Kuppa Bai, A Govindaraj and Damodharan. Comrades Ramesh, Desikan and Sekar were part of the Technical team. It was inaugurated by National secretary and central observer of AICCTU Comrade Rajiv Dimri. In his speech Comrade Dimri talked about the adverse implications of Modi’s ‘Make in India’ slogan for the workers of the country and appealed to the delegates to galvanize the whole organization for the forthcoming Jail Bharo agitation planned on 28th October 2014, and also for the National conference to be held in the middle of 2015.

The conference was also addressed by state secretary of PUCL comrade Balamurugan, state secretary of CPI(ML) comrade Balasundaram, comrade Thenmozhi of AIPWA, All India Vice President of AICCTU comrade Balasubramanian, comrade Janakiraman of AIALA, as well as and comrade Sathyakrishnan of AISA and comrade Bharathi of RYA. A total of 340 delegates and observers took part in the conference. After all the deliberations, the outgoing General secretary Comrade Sankarapandian presented the draft report and resolutions which were unanimously adopted. The conference also elected a new General council, an executive committee and office bearers which in turn elected Comrade N K Natarajan as President and Comrade Sankarapandian as General Secretary.

Agitation against fraudulent SHGs in Bihar

About 15 self-help groups (SHGs) have been operating for the past ten years in Pindri panchayat of Bahadurpur block in Darbhanga district. They are registered through NGOs and received funding from the government at the time of the registration. The women in these groups are from the Party base, as this is an area where the Party works intensively. For 6 years these groups had been very active, with active participation by the members. The group held weekly meetings, and members used to avail of loans from the SHGs. The women found these loans simpler to avail of, and moreover more affordable when compared to loans from local moneylenders. Participation of women in this process was on the increase, and they deposited their share in the group account even if they had to borrow money for doing so. In recent years, the government has made a change in the structure and monitoring arrangements of these self-help groups. A state level organization ‘Jivika’ has been formed, which works as a governmental NGO and through which the self-help groups are sought to be organized and run in a new form. And now, each group has received a bank notice informing them that they should deposit the loan amount, otherwise there would be a legal case registered against them.

Worried by this notice, the women in the groups brought their problem to the Party. They were eager to start an agitation against the SHG coordinators and the bank. A special meeting of the self-help group women was called at Manth Chhaprar. AIPWA state secretary Shashi Yadav, Party block secretary Abhishek Kumar, panchayat chief Jangi Yadav, and other comrades took part in the meeting. 120 women from about 15 groups took part in the meeting. The women have altogether deposited about Rs 88000 in the bank through their monthly savings, and now a debt of Rs 2. 50 lakhs was being shown against them. They had also received notices for repayment of loans. The women said that the group coordinator of the SHGs and the bank manager have connived together to take out loans in the name of the women’s group, and have shared the spoils between them.

After enquiring into the matter, the meeting decided on a plan of protracted agitation and also stressed the importance of legal action. The day after the meeting, the bank held a camp in that area, in which the women participated and gheraoed the bank manager. The bank manager assured the women that he would take up the matter with the higher authorities and would not file a certificate case as of now. After that, the women demonstrated in front of the Collectorate on 4 August 2014. About 250 women participated in the demonstration, demanding scrapping of the fraudulent loans and arrest of the scamster coordinators and bank manager. A memorandum was submitted to the Collector giving a 15-day ultimatum, at the end of which, if expected action is not taken, an indefinite agitation would be launched in front of the Collectorate. A vigilant and organized endeavour is required in this matter as there is a widespread attempt across the state to bring more and more women under the organization ‘Jivika’. In this situation, the CPI(ML) and associated organizations especially AIPWA and KHEMAS will take the initiatives to agitate across Bihar against this fraud in the days to come.

Obituary

Com. Subrata Chakraborty, CPI(ML )District Secretary of Jalpaiguri, West Bengal passed away on 27 September 2014 at the Jalpaiguri district Hospital after sustaining a head injury on 26 September morning. He was only 64 years old and left his wife and only daughter behind.

Com. Subrata Chakraborty joined CPI(ML) in the tumultuous days of 1968 after the peasant upsurge of 1967, remaining underground. In 1971 he got a job with Military Engineering service (MES), but left it after a few months. After 1974, during the party reorganizing days he became a member of Jalpaiguri-Coochbehar regional Committee and worked as an important organizer in Kamakshaguri areas in North Bengal. Later he served the party as the secretary of Jalpaiguri Town Committee and Jalpaiguri Sadar Block Committee respectively. He was elected the District Secretary of Jalpaiguri in 2004 and became a member of West Bengal state Committee in 2007 and continued in both the party posts till death.

His mortal remains was laid in state at the district party office in Jalpaiguri town, where party state committee members, district committee members of jalpaiguri and Darjeeling and district leaders of CPI(M), RSP, SUCI, Samajbadi Janaparishad and CITU paid homage to his revolutionary past. His last journey was attended by a considerable number of party workers and citizens from other walks of life. Long live the revolutionary legacy of our beloved leader Com. Subrata Chakraborty.

ML UPDATE | 41 | 2014

October 9, 2014

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 No. 41 7 – 13 OCT 2014

The Agenda Behind Modi’s

‘Make in India’ and

‘Clean India’ Slogans

Central to Modi’s mesmerising election rhetoric of ‘achchhe din’ were two key promises: checking price-rise and eliminating corruption. Post elections, these promises have conspicuously gone missing from Modi’s speeches, the two slogans that now dominate and virtually define Modispeak are “make in India” and “clean India”. The two slogans formed the main theme of Modi’s 15 August Lal Quila address and also of his first US mission as PM and now thanks to India’s ‘Modi’fied media the slogans are everywhere.

What do these slogans tell us about Modi’s unfolding agenda? It is quite clear that Modi finds it inconvenient to talk about prices now. It is also understandable that having won an election on the so-called ‘development’ plank, he cannot afford, or does not even need, to focus on the vicious Sanghi agenda of ‘love jihad’ and ‘cow protection’. There are plenty of other leaders in BJP or organisations in the Sangh brigade to do that. So while the foot soldiers of the Sangh brigade and the likes of Yogi Adityanath and Sakshi Maharaj are busy spreading the communal and jingoistic venom with impunity, Modi waxes eloquent about FDI and cleanliness.

Modi and his men would like us to believe that the ‘make in India’ mission is modelled on China’s experience of using FDI to emerge as a spectacular manufacturing hub. Modi is however keenly aware that given India’s bitter historical memories of colonial drain and plunder, and the more recent experiences of MNC-led devastation and arm-twisting (Union Carbide, Enron, Vodaphone, to name only a few), the common people are not too enamoured of the idea of FDI. He is therefore trying to give the whole thing a false ‘nationalistic’ spin by explaining FDI as “First Develop India”. There could not possibly be a more false and fraudulent claim. Development of a country of India’s dimensions has to be powered from within and indiscriminate foreign investment can only leave a trail of damage and dependence, not development and public welfare.

Before we start invoking the case of China, we must remember a few facts. By the time China started attracting FDI in manufacturing, it had already laid a solid infrastructure of both social capital and physical infrastructure through decades of post-revolution land reforms and socio-economic reconstruction. It never relied on FDI to come to China and develop the Chinese economy. Much of the FDI in China is made by the non-resident Chinese. And when China sensed trouble in the world market in the wake of the recent global economic crisis, it immediately redirected its attention to expanding the domestic market by effecting significant wage increases. Also China has a much more effective regulatory framework to deal with FDI. Yet as we all know, increasing FDI in China has also added to the country’s share of problems whether in terms of damage to environment and public health or social inequality and regional disparity.

India does not match China on any of these counts. The three D’s Modi is dangling before foreign investors (democracy, demography and demand) cannot hide the 4th unstated D which stands for ‘desperation’ and this desperation can only further reduce India’s strength and bargaining power while handling FDI. To attract FDI, Modi government has already succumbed to the pressure of the American pharmaceutical lobby by relaxing price-controls on life-saving drugs and agreeing to American monitoring of India’s patent laws. And when Modi offers ‘Democracy’ as an incentive for FDI, it becomes clear that what he has in mind is just the majority he has won in this election and not the democratic right of the Indian peasant, worker and consumer to defend their rights and resources in the face of corporate aggression. By advocating liberalised labour laws, diluted environmental norms and an aggressive land acquisition approach, Modi has actually made it clear that he is all for regimentation of democracy in India to facilitate indiscriminate deregulated FDI.

Modi’s ‘clean India’ mission is another exercise in obfuscation and trivialisation of a major public concern. While everybody must be encouraged to keep the environs clean and hygienic, clearly the drive for cleanliness in this era of toxic capitalism can neither begin nor end with a few leaders and celebrities wielding the broom for the benefit of the camera. At a time when the whole world is grappling with climate change and environmental safety and protection, the biggest question is how India deals with industrial pollution and corporate-driven degradation of the environment. Improved public hygiene also requires a massive overhaul of our sanitation network and mechanism and the key issues that we face concern as much the state of sanitation workers – the indignity, low wages and abysmal conditions they have to experience even in this 21st century – as the state of the sanitation and waste management infrastructure. For Modi, the ‘clean India mission’ is not just another mega propaganda spectacle, it is also a desperate attempt to try and appropriate the Gandhian legacy and also legitimise the RSS and its agenda. Modi would like to single out the issue of cleanliness from the Gandhi legacy of anti-colonial mass awakening, economic self-reliance and communal harmony and project himself now as an inheritor of Gandhi just as he has been attempting so far to appropriate the legacy of Sardar Patel. And while Modi hogged the limelight with the cleanliness agenda on Gandhi’s birthday, his government quietly engineered a coup on the following day by forcing the Doordarshan to televise the Vijaya Dashami speech of the RSS chief even as Modi took the radio route to address the people on the same day.

No previous NDA government ever dared to let the public broadcaster be openly misused as a propaganda organ of the RSS and no Indian PM has ever addressed the nation on a Hindu festival day. Prime Ministers and Presidents have been addressing the nation year after year on the national occasions of Independence Day and Republic Day. But using the Vijaya Dashmai occasion – which is not just a Hindu religious day, but the foundation day of the RSS – to address the people through AIR and DD, the public broadcaster, is a brazen misuse of power in the service of the RSS and its agenda and vision to make India into a Hindu Rashtra.

When the Modi regime becomes a platform to promote indiscriminate FDI and systematic RSS penetration, the clean India campaign will have to be directed as much against the dirt on the road as against the threats to democracy and secularism.

Campaigns for sanitation workers’ rights on 2 October

Even as the Modi government launched a much publicised ‘Swacchata Abhiyaan’ (cleanliness drive) on 2 October, with the entire media broadcasting stories and visuals of the Prime Minister Modi, Ministers, bureaucrats and celebrities sweeping roads, AICCTU ran campaigns in Delhi stating clearly that no real ‘Swacchata Abhiyaan’ was possible without ensuring sanitation workers’ rights. At the Satyavadi Raja Harishchandra hospital in Narela, AICCTU has been organising a protracted struggle to ensure basic minimum workers’ rights for the safai karamcharis employed in the hospital. On 2 October, a hunger strike and protest was organised at the hospital against the forced retrenchment of 22 safai karamcharis who had been working on contract in the hospital and against the systemic violation of sanitation workers’ rights. The workers pointed out that even in institutions run by the government, such as government hospitals, exploitation of sanitation workers is rampant. In the Harishchandra hospital, minimum wages are not paid, workers are forced to work for 12 hours every day without being paid any overtime that too without any safety equipment such as gloves. They cannot avail of weekly holidays, and are denied the legally mandated PF and ESI benefits. Moreover, after opening bank accounts for the sanitation workers, the contractor in charge of the sanitation work in the hospital has illegally confiscated the passbooks and cheque books of the workers and is forcibly getting the workers to sign on blank cheques. The hunger strike on 2 October by the sanitation workers on in Narela raised all these issues, even as the workers organised a cleanliness drive on the roads near the Harishchandra hospital.

In JNU, a ‘Pledge for Rights’ (Adhikaar Shapat) programme was organized on 2 October, highlighting the Modi government’s criminal silence on sanitation workers’ rights. Even as the JNU administration organized a cleanliness drive as per the diktats of the Modi government, with brand new brooms being provided to the JNU administration officials, around hundred sanitation workers along with several students and teachers participated in the parallel protest with black bands tied around their arms. They read a pledge which demanded an end to contractual labour and an immediate abolition of the horrific practice of manual scavenging not just in the law but also in actual practice. The pledge also demanded implementation of workers’ rights such as wages, bonus and PF which have been systematically denied to sanitation workers across the country.

Initiatives in Bawana

Against communalisation and riot-mongering

In the first week of October, as the festival of Id approached, in the Narela and Bawana areas of Delhi, a campaign against cow slaughter by a group calling itself the ‘Hindu Krantikari Sena’ was used to threaten and intimidate Muslims. In the backdrop of this ongoing campaign of communal hate and riot-mongering in Narela and Bawana, a team comprising CPI(ML) CC member and Delhi State Secretary Sanjay Sharma, CC Member Ravi Rai, comrades Surendra Panchal and Amarnath Tiwary, JNUSU Vice President Anant, JNUSU-SSS councillor Rama Naga, AISA activists Om Prasad, Radhika Krishnan and Rahul, as well as comrades Mathura Paswan, Saurabh Naruka and Munna Yadav from AICCTU visited Bawana JJ Colony area and met several families in Bawana and also with local activists and leaders working against the orchestrated communal hate mongering. The following facts were gathered by the team which visited Bawana.

Over the years, there have often been concerted attempts by politically motivated forces to deliberately vilify the atmosphere in Narela and Bawana through communal hate mongering. In 2012 for instance, completely unsubstantiated claims were made that Muslims were illegally ‘slaughtering cows’ during Id, creating a huge amount of communal tension in the area. This year too, under the banner of the ‘Hindu Krantikari Sena’, several inflammatory posters were put up in the area claiming that the ‘India-Pakistan war’ had reached Bawana, and asserting that the Hindu religion was under ‘threat’ from daily cow slaughter. On 2 October 2014, these communal forces alleged, with no evidence whatsoever, that a truckload of cows had been brought into the JJ colony for slaughter. There are also reports that a compliant regarding cows being brought into JJ colony had been made by calling the Police helpline number ‘100’. To worsen maters, the Police and local administration refused to reveal the source of the call and of this false ‘information’ about rampant cow slaughter by Muslims, despite repeated demands by the residents of JJ colony. Subsequent to this rumour, around 200 men – accompanied and escorted by some members of theDelhi Police – entered the colony and conducted a ‘search’ of any building they deemed ‘suspicious’. This also included one of the local mosques. No cow was found during this search. The search however obviously resulted in huge tensions and a palpable atmosphere of fear amongst Muslims in Bawana and Narela. During the ‘search’, there were also incidents of violence, intimidation and stone pelting. In all, the whole point of the entire exercise of ‘searching’ the colony was clearly to spread communal hatred and division and to disturb the peace and amity in the entire region.

After these incidents of 2 October, the residents of JJ colony demanded proper surveillance and security by the government and the local administration. They demanded that the police closely monitor the situation, and prevent any attempt to plant ‘evidence’ of cows in the locality to implicate the Muslims and further exacerbate the situation. These demands assumed all the more importance given that on late night of 3 October, there were allegedly attempts by some Hindu men to release cows in the area as ‘evidence’. Despite repeated demands, the local police did not take adequate steps to control this volatile situation. They did not reveal the call details, or take any action against the person who falsely complained that a truck load of cows had been brought into the area. On 5 October, the local administration allowed the Hindu Krantikari Sena to conduct a huge meeting and ‘Oath Taking’ against cow slaughter on the eve of Id, where inflammatory speeches were made.

As a result of the intervention of democratic forces who have expressed their horror at the unfolding communal tensions being orchestrated in Narela and Bawana, some deployment of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) has finally made in the area on 5 October – as per the demand of the residents of the JJ colony. CPI(ML) and other democratic forces who visited Bawana assured the residents of their complete support in the face of this highly condemnable communal hate mongering. AICCTU leaders in the Narela industrial area established close contact with the residents of JJ colony so that immediate and coordinated resistance can be organized in case of any orchestrated communal flare-up. CPI(ML) demanded from the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, the union Home Ministry as well as the Delhi Police take full responsibility of the safety and security of the residents of Bawana JJ colony by providing adequate 24×7 security and surveillance as per the demands of the local people. CPI(ML) also demanded that on the day of Id (6 October), responsible authorities should be deputed to remain in the area all the time, in order to ensure that the communal tensions do not escalate and that no untoward incident occurs, and that the Delhi Police should immediately file charges and take action against the person who falsely complained to the Police that cow slaughter was being planned in JJ colony, thus deliberately instigating communal tensions in the entire region of Narela and Bawana.

On 6 October, as news came in that the RAF deployment had been removed from Bawana, CPI(ML), AISA and AICCTU leaders once again went to Bawana to ensure that that the Delhi Police takes adequate steps so that the situation does not escalate into riots and violence. As a result of the timely intervention of democratic forces, large scale violence was prevented despite the well-orchestrated communal tensions.

Sustained campaign against feudal violence in Ballia, UP

On the intervening night of 19-20 August 2014, a cloth trader Chandrashekhar Verma was brutally killed by dominant forces in Pihraharpur village falling under Nagra thana in Ballia. After the killing, the thousands of people who gathered refused to hand over the dead body to the police until they were given an assurance that immediate action would be taken against the guilty. However, despite the assurance, the police only registered an FIR against ‘unknown’ persons. Though the BJP MP Ravindra Kushwaha as well as the sitting MLA from the Samajwadi Party and BSP leaders met the police after the murder, none of them demanded action against the culprits.

On 2 September 2014, a meeting was organized in the victim’s village at the initiative of CPI-ML, which was attended by more than 500 people. Through the meeting, the administration was given a time limit of 13 days to act against the culprits, failing which CP-ML announced that it would launch an agitation. In spite of the victim’s wife Tara Devi giving the name of one person, the police did not think it fit to interrogate that person as he has close ties with leaders in the ruling SP government. When no action was taken, CPI-ML under the leadership of State committee member and Akhil Bharatiya Khet Mazdoor Sabha national secretary Com. Shriram Chowdhury, along with the deceased’s wife Tara Devi, started an indefinite dharna in Belthara tehsil on September 15, in which over 600 people participated. The dharna continued without break and the number of people participating increased. On 19 September a 5-member delegation of the CPI-ML under the leadership of Party district secretary submitted a memorandum at the SP’s office demanding that action be taken against the killers of Chandrashekhar Verma, and cognizance be taken of the ongoing agitation in Belthara tehsil. Seeing the wide reach of the agitation, BSP leader Swamy Prasad Maurya was forced to take cognisance of the protest and subsequently tried to meet the victim’s relatives. On the 6th day of the indefinite protest, 2000 people participated in the dharna, including a large number of women. Under pressure from the agitation, COSOG (crime branch) in charge Anil Singh came to the spot and assured the agitators that within 15 days action would be taken and the culprits would be sent to jail. After this assurance the agitation was put on hold. Though the BSP has been trying to get some political mileage from this incident, it has become clear that there is no substantial difference between the BSP and SP when it comes to protecting killers. Meanwhile, as the accused is from the Muslim community, the BJP has been trying to communalise the matter but has failed in doing so. In the days to come, CPI-ML will be carrying forward this movement demanding justice for Chandrashekhar Verma.

CPI(ML) Uttarakhand State Office

‘Deepak Bose Bhawan’ inaugurated

A new CPI(ML) office was inaugurated by party General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya in Uttarakhand. The office has been named after Deepak Bose, veteran leader of farmers’ struggles in the Tarai and Bindukhatta area. After the inauguration, a public meeting was held which was presided over by CC member Raja Bahuguna and conducted by Nainital district secretary Kailash Pandey. Addressing the public meeting, Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya talked of the people’s betrayal by the Modi government. For a government that was elected on an agenda of ‘acche din’ and ‘development’, and fighting corruption and price rise, it had betrayed all the hopes and aspirations of the common people by know-towing to the corporate agenda on several crucial matters, even as it sought to stoke communal tensions and divisions across the country. The floods last year in Uttarakhand as well as the recent floods in Kashmir and the north-east are in fact the results of the disastrous economic policies being followed by the UPA as well as the current NDA government, pointed out comrade General Secretary. Moreover the Modi government has put in place an undeclared emergency, by brutally clamping down on all dissenting voices.

He also pointed out that the new office in Uttarakhand had been constructed on land acquired during CPI(ML)’s land struggles in the region – a struggle which led to the formation of CPI(ML) in Uttarakhand and which is an ongoing struggle for the party. Today, farmers and peasants across the country are fighting to defend their land against forcible land acquisition and corporate land grab, and this struggle has to be led by revolutionary forces such as the CPI(ML). The meeting was also addressed by Uttarakhand state secretary Rajendra Pratholi, comrades Purushottam Sharma, Bahadur Singh Jangi, Nishaan Singh, Girija Pathak and KK Bora. Comrades from across Uttarakhand attended the inauguration and public meeting.

Party Workers’ Convention in Ramgarh

A one-day Party workers’ convention was organized by the CPI(ML) at Badkagaon, in Ramgarh on 14 September 2014, which was attended by about 400 activists. Com. Heera Gope, Bhuneshwar Bediya, Secretary Devanand Gope, Sarju Munda, Naresh Badaik, Qayamuddin Ansari, Pairu Pratap Ram, Jagarnath Oraon, Javed Islam, Devkinandan Bediya, Anant Prasad Gupta, Manoj Bhakt and others were present on the dais. Party General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya was the main speaker. After tributes to Com. Jayant Ganguly, Naresh Badaik presented the approach paper. The convention was conducted by Com. Qayamuddin Ansari.

Comrades from various blocks and panchayats discussed the state of the Party in Jharkhand and branch committee activities in their areas, as well as how to increase Party membership, disseminate ideology, and have better booth management, and resolved to take forward the work of the Party in a better planned manner for better results in the Assembly elections. Hazaribagh-Ramgarh in-charge Com. Anant Gupta said that the sitting MLA (former agriculture Minister) has formed a criminal organization called ‘Tiger’, but never bothered about land, seeds, fertilizers or irrigation for farmers, food for the poor, or pensions for the senior citizens. Com. Devkinandan Bediya said that the Modi government is crippling agriculture as well as labour, the two sectors upon which Badkagaon is dependent, by weakening and flouting the labour law and by depriving farmers of their land. Com. Javed Islam cautioned against the communal polarisation of the BJP. PB member Com. Manoj Bhakt stressed on the need to strengthen booth management.

Party General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that the coming Assembly elections have to be fought simultaneously on many fronts. Congress, BJP, and JMM use money power, muscle power, corporate power, and electronic media. We must combat these with the power of the people since people are our strength. Past elections have shown that the Party’s vote share is greatest where our booth membership is high, and vice versa. Clearly, we have to strengthen our Party organization before December if we wish to do well in the elections. Three and a half months into the Modi government, it has shown that it will surely betray all the aspirations of the common people of the country. To expose the true face of this govt, we must go to every village with our socio-cultural agenda. The people want change, and the CPI-ML can give them this change if we work with greater energy, activity, and courage.

Finally, the convention resolved to strengthen Party organization, stress on local struggles and people’s mobilisation, work for booth level correction of voters’ lists, strong and sustained campaigning, fund collection from the people, dissemination of Party literature, panchayat level ‘jansunwai’, and booth level Party membership.

Obituary

Veteran comrade Ishwar Chand Tyagi passed away on 2 September 2014 at Nagal in Saharanpur district in Uttar Pradesh. Comrade Koppanghi Venkatanarayana passed away in the early hours of 18 September 2014. He was 83, and was an ex State Committee Member (SCM) of Avanigadda in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh. Red salute to these comrades.

ML Update | No. 40 | 2014

October 1, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 || No. 40 || 30 SEP – 6 OCT 2014

Dalit Atrocities Expose the Hollowness of the ‘Social Justice’ Claims of Successive Governments in Bihar

The Chief Minister of Bihar, Jeetan Ram Majhi, recently expressed his shock that a temple he had visited in Madhubani had been washed after the visit, presumably to ‘purify’ it after the polluting presence of the CM who is from the most oppressed Musahar caste. If indeed the temple was washed with such a purpose, it is a highly demeaning atrocity against Dalits, and a case must be filed against the temple authorities under the Prevention of Atrocities Act. Some of the CM’s own fellow Ministers have suggested that the CM was misinformed, and perhaps this is why no case has yet been filed against the temple authorities.

Whether the Chief Minister himself was in fact a victim of such an atrocity in this particular case or not, the denial of entry into temples and other humiliating atrocities and organized violence against Dalits continues to be an ugly reality in Bihar. And this raises the unavoidable question – isn’t the persistence and virulence of such atrocities against the most oppressed castes and labouring people, a telling comment on the character of the 25 years of rule by Governments headed by RJD and JD(U)?

Even as the Bihar CM waxed eloquent in the London School of Economics about the ‘Bihar Model of Development’ promoted by the JD(U) Government, hundreds of mahadalits of the Pura village in the CM’s own home district Gaya, were forced to flee after the murder of mahadalit Arjun Majhi, to intimidate his brother Vakil Majhi and prevent the latter from filing nominations in the elections for the local Primary Agriculture Cooperative Society [PACS]. The police are yet to arrest most of the named accused in Arjun Majhi’s murder, and have also made no move to arrest those who are openly threatening to massacre the mahadalits. What does it say about the JD(U) Government with a mahadalit Chief Minister, when a dalit man’s kin can be killed to punish him for wanting to file nominations for an election, and the dalits in the CM’s own home district continue to face the very real fear of a massacre?

The Bihar Chief Minister, following in the footsteps of his predecessors, has yet to visit Pura. He has called upon the villagers to avenge Arjun Majhi’s murder by voting to elect Majhi’s brother in the PACS poll – oblivious to the fact that Majhi’s brother has not been able to file nominations in time due to the intimidation, and the evicted mahadalit villagers live in terror of a massacre if they dare to vote! Why has the Chief Minister taken no steps to ensure the arrest of the perpetrators of feudal violence and intimidation, and the safe return of all the evicted mahadalits? Why have the PACS elections not been postponed to ensure that they take place only when the mahadalits can participate without fear? Why no action against the police and district administration who are failing to protect the mahadalits from violence and intimidation?

The conduct of the Bihar Government over the Pura episode today underlines how Bihar Governments, police and administration, from the Laloo era to the present JD(U) rule, have colluded with the perpetrators of organized violence against the Dalits and oppressed castes. The Laloo-Rabri regimes, and the regimes headed by Nitish Kumar and now Jeetan Ram Majhi, have paid lip service to ‘mahadalit uplift’, while in reality they have made a series of unholy compromises with the feudal forces on a material as well as a political plane.

In the 1990s, the police and administration under the Laloo and Rabri Governments, failed to prevent the Bathani Tola, Laxmanpur Bathe and other massacres, and then proceeded to scuttle evidence in order to protect the Ranveer Sena perpetrators. Laloo Yadav openly declared his willingness to collude with the Ranveer Sena in order to counter the assertion of the poor and oppressed who rallied around the CPI(ML).

When the JD(U) allied with the BJP came to power, Nitish Kumar’s first act was to disband the Amir Das Commission that was on the point of submitting the findings of its probe into the political mentors of the Ranveer Sena. The motivation was obvious – those political mentors included a large number of top JD(U) and BJP leaders, as well as some prominent RJD and Congress leaders. Nitish Kumar came to power on the promise of land reforms, including homestead land for the landless oppressed castes, and safeguarding the rights of sharecroppers. But, in another blatant act of appeasement of the feudal forces, the Nitish Government refused to implement the recommendations of the Land Reforms Commission it had itself appointed!

The serial acquittals of the Ranveer Sena members convicted for the Bathani Tola, Bathe and other massacres, also exposed how the Laloo-Rabri and Nitish regimes alike had acted to protect the perpetrators and perpetuate the injustice against the dalits and oppressed castes. The Nitish Government further exposed its true character when it allowed the Ranveer Sena supporters to run amok and unleash violence on Dalits and on public property after the killing of the Ranveer Sena chief Brahmeshwar Singh. On Independence Day last year, Dalits in Baddi village in Rohtas were attacked by feudal forces. The Nitish Government refused to order a CBI enquiry into the murders of mukhiya Chhotu Kushwaha and CPI(ML) leader Bhaiyyaram Yadav by feudal forces.

Prior to the 1990s, the feudal forces openly enjoyed political hegemony in Bihar. For the past 25 years, the RJD and JD(U) regimes have promised ‘social justice’ and ‘uplift’ of the oppressed castes and a change in the feudal order. The fact is that, behind the mask of ‘social justice’, these Governments have openly made common cause and compromises with the feudal forces. The landless, oppressed poor of Bihar however, continue to wage a courageous battle for dignity and justice. The martyrdom of Arjun Majhi will provide a renewed impetus for the downtrodden of Bihar to write their own script of social emancipation.

Protests in Bihar Against Murder of Arjun Manjhi and Eviction of Mahadalits

On the eve of the elections to the Primary Agriculture Cooperative Society [PACS] in Bihar, Arjun Manjhi, the brother of Vakil Manjhi who wanted to contest for the post of President of the PACS was murdered in Tekari block by dominant feudal forces. Moreover, the land-owners-criminal gang nexus which orchestrated this murder has also been intimidating and threatening members of the musahar caste in the region for this ‘crime’ of Vakil Manjhi aspiring to contest elections. Following this latest assault on the democratic aspirations of the poor in Bihar, CPI(ML) has spearheaded a state-wide movement against this barbarism, intimidation and feudal violence.

Immediately after the murder, a CPI-ML team visited the Pura village and the Tekari block, where Arjun Manjhi was murdered. The team noted that after the murder and subsequent intimidation, several mahadalit families of the Pura village had fled from the village fearing their lives. The team visited these families who are currently sheltering along with their children in Tekari. Gaya district secretary and state committee member Com. Niranjan Kumar, Tikari block secretary Pulendra Kumar, Akhilesh Paswan, Sadavriksh Manjhi, Ramji Ram, and Rohan Yadav met the victims’ families.

The enquiry team has stated that this attack on the mahadalit musahar caste by feudal forces in Pura village is a desperate attempt to restrain them from participating in the electoral process. Vakil Manjhi of the musahar caste was standing as a Presidential candidate in the PACS elections. The powerful people of the village could not tolerate the fact that a person of the musahar caste was standing for PACS elections. These feudal forces threatened Vakil Manjhi not to stand for the elections but Vakil refused to budge. Subsequently, on the night of 19 September, they attacked the musahar toli. They could not find Vakil Manjhi but they abducted his brother Arjun Manjhi (s/o late Raghunath Manjhi). At 7 am Arjun’s dead body was found. 9 persons have been named as accused in this incident. These people started pressurising the mahadalits to take back the case, but when they refused, the mahadalits were threatened with mass carnage, due to which the entire village has come and camped in the Tekari block. The enquiry team has stated that all the perpetrators are still absconding, and has demanded their immediate arrest.

Meanwhile the CPI-ML gheraoed the Tikari SDO and demanded immediate rehabilitation of the displaced people of the village, a compensation of 10 lakhs plus government employment for the victim’s family, as well as postponement of the PACS elections till the mahadalits are able to feel free of intimidation and participate fully with fear in the entire election process. CPI(ML) organized a state-wide protest throughout Bihar on these issues on 28 September. A ‘Tikari bandh’ was also observed on this date. CPI-ML leaders met and talked with the victim’s family members.

Protest demonstrations were organized in Gaya city and its different blocks. In Masauri (Patna rural) thousands of poor burnt the chief minister’s effigy in protest against this atrocity on mahadalits. Protest demonstrations were also held at Paliganj, Bihata, Maner, Fatuha, and other places. Protest marches were organized at Arwal, Jehanabad, Samastipur, Nawada, Bhojpur, Siwan, and many other places.

2-day Bihar State-level Party workshop in Muzaffarpur

To take forward the ‘Gaon ke Sach, Logon ka Haq’ survey

The Bihar State level Party workshop was held at Ram Manohar Lohiya College in Muzaffarpur on 20-21 September. In this important 2-day workshop, the Bihar State committee of the Party decided to launch a people’s rights movement under the central slogans of “Badlo gaon, badlo Bihar, haasil karo apne adhikar” and “Loot Jhoot ki chhoot nahi, haq chahiye, bhik nahi” (Change the villages, change Bihar — Achieve your rights”, and “No room for lies and loot—We demand rights, not alms” based on the issues that came to the fore through the 2-month long “Gaon ka sach, logon ka haq” (Truth about the villages, people’s rights) survey conducted by the Party. Party General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya, Politbureau member Com. Swadesh Bhattacharya, Bihar State Secretary Kunal, PB member and UP State secretary Com. Ramji Rai, central and state committee members and about 200 Party activists from Bihar attended the workshop and had in-depth discussions on the experiences during the survey, the people’s issues the survey brought to the fore, and the future strategy for agitation.

The proceedings were conducted by a 5-member Presidium consisting of PB member Com. Dhirendra Jha, AIPWA General Secretary Com. Meena Tiwari, Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha General Secretary Com. Rajaram Singh, CCW member Com. KD Yadav, and State committee member Com. Niranjan Kumar. In the first session tributes were paid to late and martyred comrades, after which the 28 July Party invocation and the central committee review of the election results were read out. Introducing the main topic for the session, Bihar state secretary Kunal reported that though the survey had aimed to reach out to 5 lakh families across Bihar, till now only 2 lakh families had been surveyed. He pointed out that the survey revealed the real face of governmental schemes in Bihar. Concrete facts, figures and statistics collected through the survey show that whether in the matter of education, health or sharecroppers, the government’s boast of ‘development’ is completely shallow. In the first session, general secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya also detailed the political need of the survey and the intension to establish a strong dialogue and connection of the Party with the people of Bihar through the survey.

Reports from the districts were presented in the second session. Bhojpur district secretary Com. Jawahar Singh as well as RYA State President Raju Yadav and Manoj Manzil presented the results of the survey from Bhojpur. They informed the convention about the peoples’ concerns emerging – such as lack of land and homes, access to electricity and toilets and specific concerns of the youth regarding educational facilities in Bhojpur. They also stated that the Party had started working on the demands and issues emerging from the survey, particularly in booths where the Party had performed poorly in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Gheraos and youth sabhas were conducted by the Party, where issues of employment, expectations from the govt, development of Bihar and expectations from the CPI-ML were brought up. In the context of Siwan Com. Indrajit Chourasiya brought up the issue of missing names in the voter lists and migration. Following up on these demands, jansunwai programmes were held at 94 places. RYA national president Amarjeet Kushwaha and Sohila Gupta also narrated their experiences. Presenting the Patna rural survey, Com. Amar said that the survey clearly shows a structural change in the villages as workers in rural areas do not want to work in MNREGA as they get very low wages. Where on the one hand agricultural labour is turning into construction labour, many are also turning to sharecropping. Rambali Yadav presented the report of Maner (urban). He said that shortage of housing land was a big problem in urban areas also, but there is no law for the poor. Gopal Ravidas also shared his experiences of the survey during the workshop.

The Jehanabad survey report pointed out that whereas traditional employment was on the wane, new means of employment are also not being generated. Here too, junsunwais had been conducted in several centres. It was reported that at Arwal, after the survey, jansunwai and people’s agitation on various issues had already stared there. Nalanda district secretary Mitranand said that the survey programme has broken the disunity among the people, who are now enthusiastically taking part in this programme. Junsunwais had been organized, and at Kariyana in Silaw block Yadav farmers participated in good numbers under the Party banner protesting against corruption in electricity connections. On the same day that the janpanchayat was held at Berthu in Karai block, the BDO had organized a vikas shivir (development camp). Women in thousands got up from the jansunwai and went and surrounded the vikas shivir. They told the BDO that the government should stop propagating lies and he should come to the janpanchayat and answer the people’s questions. Finally the BDO had to come to the janpanchayat to answer the people’s questions. The Aurangabad survey showed that the domination of feudal forces over Bihar’s development schemes is still very powerful. Reports also came in from Rohtas, Darbhanga and west Champaran. Giving the closing speech for the second session PB member Com. Swadesh Bhattacharya said that clearly the old methods will not work for the new kinds of peoples’ issues which are coming up. He added that our inspections have placed new kinds of responsibilities in front of us and we need to work for this systematically and continuously.

The third session was devoted to discussion on the main issues that emerged from the survey. Speaking about the possibilities of agitation on the question of sharecroppers, Com. Sudama Prasad said that a part of agricultural labour is getting converted into sharecroppers, but as there is nothing in writing the fear always plagues the sharecroppers that they can be evicted at any time by the landlord. The time has come to remove this fear from their minds and to strengthen their struggle and their organization. Com. Arun Singh pointed out the need for the kisan sabha agitations to pay special attention to this group. State secretary Kunal spoke about the sharecroppers’ agitations in several parts of Bhojpur and Patna rural. He said that in Bahrawa panchayat of Punpun our mukhiya distributed grants of diesel among sharecropper farmers, after which the government was forced to make changes in its earlier rule, according to which the government was giving the grant to the landlords instead of the sharecroppers. In Bhojpur, land owners in Mansar were forced to bow down on the issue of sharecropping. Raising issues like usury, migration, moneylenders’ debts etc, Com. Virendra Gupta put forward suggestions regarding migration allowance, connecting MNREGA with farming and animal husbandry, making laws for non-resident workers, etc. Com. Ranvijay, Abhyuday, Naveen Kumar, Markandey Pathak, and Com. Vishveshwar Yadav placed their thoughts on construction workers’ problems, building AISA, building youth sabhas, teachers’ agitation, and pax elections respectively.

Speaking about women’s questions, AIPWA general secretary Meena Tiwari raised the issue of health centres. She said that no health centre in Bihar has availability of lady doctors or proper medicines, due to which the death rate of women during childbirth is very high. There is also a great shortage of workers at sub-centres. On this issue AIPWA state committee organized protests in front of district headquarters. They raised the issue of proper honorarium and dignity of midday meal workers, rights of ASHA workers, freedom, equality, and right to education for girls, opening graduate colleges for women at the block level, immediate closure of liquor shops, and other issues. Saroj Choube, Renu Yadav, Madhuri Gupta, and other women leaders also expressed their views on this topic.

The fourth session was devoted to discussions on increasing Party membership up to 1 lakh, organizing booth level branches, doubling the number of branches, increasing the membersip of Lokyudh, Adhi Zameen, Shramik Solidarity, and Janmat. The valedictory address of the workshop was given by the General Secretary, after which the workshop concluded with the singing of Internationale.

Centenary of Komagata Maru observed

The Komagata Maru centenary falls on 29 September. This year, CPI(ML) held a commemorative programme for the martyrs of Komagata Maru in the Budge Budge Public Library on 24 September, preceded by a march to the Komagata Maru martyrs’ memorial near the abandoned old Budge Budge railway station. The current Budge Budge station was renamed Komagata Maru Budge Budge last year. There is however little attempt on the part of the government to popularise the history of Komagata Maru. CPI(ML) had formed a Ghadar-Komagata Maru centenary celebration committee last year in West Bengal with the late Nabarun Bhattacharya as its convenor. The Budge Budge meeting on 24 Sep demanded the inclusion of Komagata Maru in the history syllabus, foundation of a history museum in memory of Komagata Maru martyrs, and introduction of Azaadi Express linking Komagata Maru and Jalianwallahbagh (Budge Budge to Amritsar).

Mangala Apparels Workers’ Conference in Delhi

The General Kamgaar Union affiliated to AICCTU organized a convention of the workers employed with the Mangala Apparels India Private Ltd. on 21 September in Azadpur. The convention was inaugurated by AICCTU’s Delhi state secretary Santosh Rai. Addressing the convention, he said that the contractual labour regime should come to an end, and all workers’ should be paid a minimum of Rs 15,000 per month. He also stressed the need for a militant, strong and collective workers’ movement against the new anti-labour regressive legislations being mooted by the Modi regime.

CPI(ML) CC member Comrade Ravi Rai warned against the Modi regime’s machinations to break the unity of worker’s across the country through strategic campaigns of communal violence and hate mongering. Addressing the convention, AISA national President talked about the need for the workers’ movement to bring the concerns of women workers’ to the forefront, and to forge strong united battles involving workers of all factories in the SMA industrial estate where the Mangala Apparels company is located. The convention was also addressed by Ajay Kumar Singh, labour leader and worker in the Mangala factory.

Around 350 workers from the Mangala factory participated in the convention. It was decided that among the demands for implementing labour rights, the demands for bonus and tea break would be given priority in the workers’ struggles. A 29-member committee was elected to lead the struggles. Comrade Santosh Jha was elected as President, comrade Ajay Kumar Singh was elected as secretary and Comrade Shambhu was elected treasurer. The convention, which was conducted by comrade Mathura Paswan, was also addressed by CPI(ML) Delhi state committee’s north west district secretary comrade Surendra Panchal, JNUSU President Ashutosh, AICCTU Wazirpur unit’s President comrade Munna Yadav, and comrade Saurabh Naruka. The concluding speech was given by CPI(ML) Delhi state secretary comrade Sanjay Sharma.

JNUSU and JNU Workers protest for workers’ rights

The struggle of the contract workers of JNU reached a new milestone when JNUSU and the All India General Kaamgaar Union (affiliated to AICCTU) protested in front of JNU Administration Block and later at the DCP office, Sarita Vihar. Along with continued loot of workers’ PF money, the JNU administration had also been backing moral policing, character assassination, intimidation and retrenchment of a woman worker of JNU by a contractor. The administration was subsequently forced to reinstate the woman worker whose services had been retrenched on spurious grounds.

In addition, a woman contract worker of JNU and her four minor daughters have been facing serial sexual violence by their own relatives. The woman worker has been intimidated and further harassed by the SHO of Sangam Vihar when she went to file complaint. More than 500 contract workers under the banner of AICCTU held a protest demo against this at the DCP office at Sarita Vihar which was joined by JNUSU. Due to the spirited protest, the DCP has committed to ensure that the bail granted to two of the accused who have been threatening the complainant through various channels will be opposed by the police and police security will be provided to the woman worker and her daughters. Moreover, a chargesheet will be filed in one of the cases as soon as possible and proper support will be extended to the rape survivors, including intimation of court procedures.

Anti-Modi protests at the Madison Square Garden

In the midst of the round-the-clock adulatory coverage of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first visit to the United States, the print and electronic media in India have conveniently omitted to even mention that Modi was also greeted by a huge contingent of protestors in the Madison Square garden. Even as the media kept reminding us of how Modi had impressed NRIs in the US, several brave protestors held up banners shouting ‘Convict Modi, Arrest Modi’ and demanding justice for the 2002 genocide in Gujarat. They also demanded justice for the victims of the 1984 Sikh riots. The fact that thousands of people gathered to ‘speak truth to power’ and demand genuine democracy and justice during Modi’s much-hyped visit to the US, is extremely significant and welcome.

ML Update | 39 | 2014

September 24, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 | No. 39 | 23 – 29 SEP 2014

By-Poll Reality Check
For Modi Euphoria

Three rounds of by-elections have been held since the stunning May 2014 verdict, and the outcome of each round has been full of political surprise. In July, the Congress swept the Uttarakhand by-polls, winning all the three seats on offer including two seats held previously by the BJP. In August, the BJP tasted defeat in six of Bihar’s ten seats that faced by-polls and lost some significant seats in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. And now in September, the BJP has lost big time in UP and Rajasthan, holding on to only three out of eleven seats in UP and one out of four seats in Rajasthan. And, horror of horror, the party has also had to concede three of the nine seats that went for by-polls in Gujarat. The only consolation for the BJP has come from West Bengal where it managed to reopen its account in the state Assembly after a lapse of fifteen years.

BJP propagandists are trying their best to devalue and depoliticise the by-poll results. We are told that Assembly by-polls are no referendum on the performance of the central government, that by-polls always tend to favour parties ruling in concerned states, that by-polls are decided by local factors, that the real test will be the next round of Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana followed by Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir, and so on and so forth. There is also the general cautionary remark that it is too early to judge a new government and hence not much should be read into the by-poll reverses suffered by the BJP.

Admittedly, there are some contextual differences in by-polls and general elections to a state Assembly or to Parliament. But the fact is when by-elections take place on such a significant scale as in Bihar, UP and Gujarat, it is only fair to try and read the by-poll pointers politically, and when the results are reversed and the BJP vote share is found to have dropped by an average of ten percentage points not only in Bihar and UP but also in Rajasthan and Gujarat within weeks of the May 2014 verdict, only an ostrich will refuse to see the fact that the wave has certainly begun to recede. If by-polls as a rule go in favour of the incumbent state government, the BJP must answer why it lost as many as three out of four seats in Rajasthan where its government has not yet completed its first year in office.

Particularly significant are the UP by-poll results. The BJP and its ally Apna Dal held all the eleven seats in the state Assembly and their votes had only risen dramatically in the 2014 LS election when the BJP swept the state to win nine out of every ten seats in the state. But now the BJP has managed to retain only three seats – the predominantly urban seats of Noida and Delhi and the highly polarised seat of Saharanpur. The BSP customarily not contesting the by-polls has certainly helped the SP to an extent, but that certainly does not explain why the BJP’s vote share dropped so drastically. And most importantly, the defeats have come in the face of the BJP’s virulently communal high-pitch election campaign planned by Amit Shah and spearheaded by the likes of Yogi Adityanath.

We can therefore reasonably infer that while the mesmerising appeal of the much talked about Modi magic has begun to fade, the unfolding communal agenda of the Sangh brigade is also alienating the common people. Viewed in conjunction with the student unions results in Delhi where AISA successfully warded off the ABVP challenge in JNU and emerged as a powerful contender to the ABVP in Delhi University, the by-poll results will surely encourage the whole range of forces and movements that are fighting to save India from the corporate-communal offensive of the Modi regime.

Communal and Anti-Dalit Atrocity by the RSS-BJP in Jharkhand

On 8 September around 11 am Munna Das was travelling by motorcycle through Gumhariyatand, Tisri in the Jamua district of Jharkhand. A mob of people on motorcycles came from behind, surrounded him, kicked his motorcycle, and, pointing towards the sacks loaded on the motor cycle, asked, “What is in these?” The motor cycle and sacks fell on the ground, and Munna Das himself fell from the force of the blow.

Munna Das replied that the sacks contained hides of buffaloes, bulls, and goats. Some in the mob shouted Gau Mata ki Jai (Long live Cow-Mother) and started hitting him with fisticuffs and kicks. They hit him so badly that his nose began to bleed. Munna Das tried to tell them that he was a Dalit who traded in the skins of dead cattle, and this was his hereditary trade. One of his assailants said, strip him naked and see if he is telling the truth (i.e to check if he is circumcised and therefore a Muslim). Munna Das was forced to strip naked to ‘prove’ he was not a Muslim. A little further ahead, they beat him again, and again stripped him, and threatened him with dire consequences if he went to the police to report the attack.

This incident is a classic case of an atrocity against a Dalit man – stripping naked as an act of humiliation is among the most common atrocities inflicted on Dalits. But in this case there is also a communal twist. The idea that the RSS-BJP cadres can brazenly claim the ‘right’ to strip a man to ‘check’ if he is Muslim, without facing any action from the police, is a comment on the state of India’s democracy.

When CPI(ML) came to know of this incident, Party leaders went to the Tisri thana to register an FIR, but the thanedar refused to register an FIR. On the contrary, he started threatening Munna Das, and showed him a representation from the RSS organization, Bajrang Dal demanding his arrest. The constable clearly sided with the RSS, accusing Munna of indulging in illegal work.

If the goons from the BJP were really concerned about cows and bulls, they could have agitated for an additional allowance for farmers for cattle rearing. Goondaism in the name of gau-raksha (cattle protection) is merely a ploy to tyrannise and attack dalits. Even today in most places, traditional methods are used to get rid of dead cattle, or they are left to rot. Munna Das and thousands like him have to do this work in the most inhuman conditions, and it is the governments that are supported by these same feudal and communal goons, which are responsible for this. The people baying for ‘gau raksha’ have no aim except to spread communal tensions. They, and their Parties, have no concern for the welfare of dalits, farmers, or cattle.

This is not an isolated incident in the district or the State. Earlier, in Gawan block of Jamua, people from the BJP have beaten up people in the name of ‘gau raksha’. In Ramgarh and Nirsa they are stopping vehicles transporting cattle and trying to create trouble and spread communal tension. The people they are attacking come from extremely poor backgrounds, and in every community it is the dalits who are engaged in this occupation. Along with inflaming communal passions, the BJP is using this matter for social polarisation against the poor. Farmers who want to sell cattle which are not of use are specially harassed by this ploy of the BJP. Just before the Lok Sabha elections the BJP candidate Ravindra Rai along with the entire Sangh Parivar tried to gain political mileage by creating communal tensions in Birni block on the issue of the Ramnavami flag route.

The second pillar supporting communal-social polarisation is anti-adivasi polarisation. In entire Jharkhand the BJP is making capital out of strong anti-adivasi polarisation so that it wins all the seats reserved for adivasis. With great cunning they attack the social unity of the adivasis by giving issues a ‘Christian adivasi versus Sarna adivasi’ colouring. Before the Lok Sabha elections during Christmas, they succeeded in fanning up communal hatred in Ranchi over the the issue of a statue of Mary dressed in ‘Sarna adivasi’ attire. Similarly on the occasion of Eid in July the Sangh Parivar sowed discord between communities by giving a communal colour to a land dispute. They tried to distract attention from the growing dissatisfaction of women and youth against the Modi government by the vicious propaganda of ‘love jehad’ over the case of cheating and domestic violence faced by sportswoman Tara Shahdeo.

All the ruling class Parties surrender to the BJP on these casteist-communal issues. The JVM, JMM, and the Congress are maintaining a deafening silence on the brutal attack by RSS-BJP forces on Munna Das. The entire government machinery is refusing to ensure dignity and justice for Munna Das and for the minority community, by refusing to act against the perpetrators. CPI(ML) exposed the communal ploys of the BJP and organized a dharna in Giridih as well as protests in several blocks of the district. This initiative taken by the CPI(ML) has put the BJP on the defensive in the district.

Protest Demonstration By AICCTU in Coal Belt

Organized and unorganized coal workers and construction workers held a protest demonstration Koylanchal (coal belt) of Dhanbad district on 9 Sep 2014 against the pro-corporate and anti-working class policies of the Modi government. The demonstration took off from Randhir Verma Chowk in Dhanbad and ended in a public meeting in front of the district Labour Commissioner’s office. The meeting was addressed by AICCTU general secretary Shubhendu Sen, Upendra Singh, Krishna Singh, Nagendra Kumar, Manoranjan Mullick, Jagdish Sharma, Om Prakash Singh, Kartik Ghadi, Suval Das, Madheshwar Prasad, Saron Devi, Nakul Singh, Arvind Rai, and Radhamohan Singh. A memorandum was submitted to the President of India through the Labour Commissioner demanding repeal of amendments in labour laws, scrapping of FDI in railway, defence, and insurance sectors, and including construction workers’ unions in the State Welfare Board in Ranchi. A charter of demands was also submitted to the district Labour Commissioner demanding registration, identity cards, and other facilities for unorganized workers, implementing the minimum wages for unorganized coal workers as determined by the high power CIL committee, implementing second level Jharkhand State minimum wages for unorganized labour, as well as demands relating to education and health.

A victory march for AISA’s victory in JNUSU elections was held in Ramgarh by RYA-AISA on 16 Sep 2014. The rally started at the CPI-ML office, marched through the city, and culminated in a meeting at Subhash Chowk. The meeting was addressed by RYA State secretary Amal Ghosh. Slogans were raised and speeches made which highlighted AISA’s victory as the victory of students and youth over privatization and saffronization of education on the one hand, and people’s victory over the Modi government’s pro-corporate economic policies and shameless inflammation of communal passions.

Construction workers protest in Puducherry

Jananayaga Kattumana Thozhilalargal Sangam (Construction Workers’ Federation) held a massive demonstration on 17th September 2014 in front of the Labour Commissioner’s Office at Puducherry demanding a monthly pension of Rs 3000 to all construction workers who reached 50 years of age.

On 11th September 2014 the Chief Minister while presenting the half yearly budget announced Rs.1000 as monthly pension to workers enrolled in welfare board who reached 60 years of age. That announcement provoked strong resentment among the construction workers. Construction workers union affiliated to (AICWF) swiftly went on a big protest. They demanded Rs.3000 instead of Rs.1000. The demonstration was led by P Murugan, WC member of AICWF, S Balasubramanian, All India President, Motilal, AICCTU State secretary, CPIML District Secretary Palani, and AICWF Vice Presidents Akbar, Singaraveu and AICCTU Villupuram Secretary Ganesan addressed the general public. The other important demands were

1.Rs 10 lakh compensation to wards of construction workers who met with fatal accidents

2. Rs 30000/-as maternity benefit to women workers

Rs.50000/-as vehicle purchase grant

4. Rs. 5 lakh as housing subsidy

Joint Dharna in Assam against Atrocities on Women

On 14th August 2014 several women’s groups of Assam, including the Assam Mahila Parishad , All Assam Pragatisil Nari Santha, Nirjaton Birodhi Akya Manch, Assam Mahila Sangha & Nikhil Bharat Ganatantrik Mahila Samiti and some distinguished journalists and writers, artists etc jointly staged a protest dharna against repression on women, in Lakhidhar Borah Khetra, Guwahati. This programme was held immediately after submission of facts of increased rape, violence, dowry death, witch-hunting, trafficking and kidnapping of women. Protesters held a brief meeting in the dharna place also. All leaders and activists opined that the Tarun Gogoi Government of Assam has miserably failed to provide security to the women as well as the people of the state and to maintain law and order in the state.

These women’s organizations decided to meet the Governor of Assam and submit a memorandum on these issues. Subsequently the signatories of the memorandum submitted the same to the Governor of Assam in person on 9th Sept, 2014.

Four women organizations viz. AIPWA, AIDWA, YWCA and NFIW (Assam) on 28th August staged a dharna at Dighalipukhuri in protest against the barbaric killing of a school girl Priya Basumatary, by the NDFB(S) in Chirang district of BTAD. Protesting women organizations demanded immediate arrest and exemplary punishment to the killers and security of the people. They sent a memorandum to the Governor of Assam through the DC, Kamrup(M).

On 30th August, AIPWA Dibrugarh district committee along with Sonowal Kachari Nari Santha and Nari Mukti Sangram Samiti jointly organized a convention in Lakshmi Nath Bezbaruah Bhawan, Dibrugarh town on women issues. Different student and youth organizations including AJYCP, Bangali Yuva Parishad, AATSA, Mushlim Student organization, KMSS, Chatra Mukti Sangram Samiti, Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti, Press Club took part in the convention. The Convention vehemently condemned repression on women in Chabua, Banipur and the murder of Priya Basumatary and warned the Govt. to take stringent measure to stop violence.

Massive Rally in Kolkata Against Brutal Attack on Jadavpur Students Protesting Molestation

On 28th August, a woman student of JU was harassed and molested by a group of hostel boarders. On the concluding night of the college fest, she and her boyfriend were subjected to what was a shameful case of moral policing, followed by a scuffle, her phone being snatched, her friend taken away and beaten. She was dragged to a room in the men’s hostel where she alleged that the drunk students touched her inappropriately, pushed her around and twisted her fingers. On complaining to the VC on 29th, she was told to come back later. She filed an FIR with the Jadavpur PS under sections 354 (criminal assault on a woman to outrage her modesty) and 379 (theft) of the IPC. She identified some of the accused, but no arrests have been made so far! She also filed a complaint with the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of JU, under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Act. For days the VC kept dilly-dallying. He said he would require at least 15 days to set up an investigation committee and advised her not to come to college for as long!

On September 3, her fellow students held a general body meeting, and drew up a charter of demands for an immediate, impartial investigation committee in accordance with the Vishakha guidelines. More inaction followed and the students marched to the VC’s office and the police station two days later. Meanwhile two members of the ICC turned up at the victim’s house and in a classic case of victim-blaming, interrogated her on her dress and state of sobriety when she was attacked! Infuriated students marched to the VC’s office again. On September 8, a 11-member delegation from AIPWA along with protesting students met with the pro-VC and the OC of Jadavpur PS with a memorandum listing demands, but neither were able to give answers or assurances.

From September 10, the students sat on an indefinite sit-in protest in front of the VC’s office with their demand of fair and thorough investigation into the incidents of 28th. Several comrades from AISA and other students’ organizations joined with general students to form one united voice under a common banner. The peaceful sit-in continued uninterruptedly for 150-odd hours, replete with slogans, music concerts, posters, film-screenings and constant attempts at dialogue. The nonchalant VC entered and left the university every day but did not address the sit-in or yield to the students’ demands. ‘It is beneath my dignity to talk to agitating students’, he said.

On the night of 16th, state terror descended on the students’ protest. After the Executive Council meeting ended, the students demanded that the VC give a public statement on the university’s handling of the case. They put up a peaceful body barricade saying the VC would have to step on their bodies if he were to leave without an answer. A massive police contingent was called in, accompanied by police personnel in civil dress, the Rapid Action Force, bouncers and miscreants associated with the ruling Trinamool Congress. At around 2:30 am in the night, phone calls and SMSes started coming in about a brutal attack on the students. The police and bouncers lashed out at the protesters to create a safe passage out for the VC. They beat up the students severely. Forty students had to be taken to the hospital. One student, Shibam of the engineering faculty, had to be hooked up to a ventilator. Some, like comrade Prosenjit of AISA sustained critical injuries with days of hospitalization. Tens, (including AISA activists Maitreyo, Ipsita, Abhishek) had broken/damaged knees, arms, fingers, legs, ribs. Several (including comrade Saikat) got bruises on the back, shoulder and body.

Lights in the building were turned off from inside (to prevent the press from recording) as fifteen women students (including AISA activists Arumita, Ipsita, Sudhanya) were manhandled, groped, molested, dragged, kicked on their stomach, stomped by boots, punched, walked over by male police even as the female police personnel stood watching. Phones, laptops, glasses were broken and stolen. Rape threats and abuses were hurled at women in the dark. 36 students (including AISA state secretary Ranajoy, Abhishek and one female student – AISA activist Sudhanya) were arrested. Sudhanya was dragged by her hair while her dress was lifted and she was thrown into the police van by four male police/bouncers in civil dress while being abused and threatened. No woman constable was present during her arrest. A media cameraperson was beaten up for recording the atrocities and his camera broken.

The shocking police brutality blasted all floodgates of patience. As the horrific visuals flashed on television all through the morning of 17th, rage grew on the streets and there was condemnation from all quarters. Except two. The VC’s office and the education ministry! The VC and the Commissioner of Police added fuel to fire with their remorseless lies of ‘peaceful police and violent armed students’. Their lies were rejected by the public and within a few hours, a huge turnout of 5,000 at a protest rally called by students took over the stretch from Jadavpur to Golpark for several hours. The front banner read ‘We demand the VC’s resignation’ till which an indefinite academic boycott was called. In addition to the original demand for gender justice, demand for punishment of the police and goons responsible for the atrocities on students including a fresh round of gender violence on women protesters was made. The upsurge had begun.

The next day saw another spontaneous protest rally from Jadavpur to Anwar Shah Road crossing and back. This time numbers doubled to 10,000. Students poured in solidarity from colleges and schools across the city to form one river of youth flooding the streets. Student protest rallies in solidarity sparked off locally in all corners of Bengal. Girl students in a district high school decided to boycott classes in solidarity, defying TMC terror threats.

Finally on 20th September, the numbers swelled a further five-fold in what was the grandest united show of strength by the youth. Students marched in pouring rain from Nandan to Rajbhavan as an estimated fifty colleges across Kolkata and neighbouring districts took part. A memorandum of demands was submitted to the Governor, who is also the Chancellor of the University. The main demand has been that of removal of the Vice Chancellor and action against perpetrators of molestation.

The rally was replete with slogans reflecting basic demands of the movement, but there was a unifying chant, rather a call to action, that instantly bonded with and caught the fancy of the first timers that hit the street – Hok, Hok, Hok Kolorob (‘let there be clamour’).

the beloved Left cries of ‘Inquilaab Zindabaad’ (Long Live Revolution), and ‘Paaye paaye comrade, gorey tolo barricade’ (March together comrade, to overturn the barricade) were among the handful of favourite slogans, along with the spirited ‘Lathir mukhe ganer sur/dekhiye dilo Jadavpur’ (Sing in the face of baton blows/this is what Jadavpur shows). The rally was anti-authoritarian, anti-state terror and for gender justice and campus democracy, and it stood united by consciously putting aside organizational banners. This effectively attracted students in such huge numbers. The collective conscious of student identity as an undivided whole stood out.

An emphatic assertion of student solidarity cutting across organizations came as a direct response to the administration’s attempts at dividing up the students into separate campuses. The tag of ‘bohiraagoto’ (outsider) carries a sense of deja vu and brings back memories of 2006-07 in West Bengal politics when the same phrase was used to discredit peasant movements against corporate land grab. This time, when the Jadavpur University (JU) students were subjected to police brutality under instructions from the Vice-Chancellor – an appointee of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) – many students from other colleges instantly responded to SOS calls and flocked to the JU campus at midnight to stand with their friends. Many of them braved batons and boots together with JU students. The VC and the police tried to tag them as ‘outsiders creating trouble’ and used it as a lame afterthought-justification of police violence.

Protests have been held in solidarity with the Kolkata students all over the world. In Delhi, the JNUSU participated in the protest held at the Bang Bhawan.

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 | 38 | 2014

September 18, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 No. 38 16 – 22 SEP 2014

Kashmir Floods Call for Humanity and a Rejection of Jingoism

Jammu and Kashmir as well as the areas of Kashmir across the LoC have been with the worst floods in living memory. The floods, caused by sudden and extreme rainfall, have claimed some 80,000 across the LoC and 2000 lives in J&K. The region is facing a massive humanitarian crisis, with people stranded without food, potable water and shelter, and thousands having lost their homes, property and means of livelihood.

Not long ago, Uttarakhand also suffered a terrible calamity. It seems that Governments refuse to learn the bitter lessons taught by each such calamity. In J&K, as in Uttarakhand, it is apparent that reckless urbanization fueled by a tourism economy, with scant regard for the fragile ecosystem, have contributed in great measure to the scale and magnitude of the disaster. Moreover, in spite of a string of similar disasters, Governments have refused to put in place early warning and evacuation systems that can accurately forewarn populations of an impending calamity and move people to protected areas.

The Supreme Court, overruling the Centre’s plea against the Court’s intervention, ordered the Centre to accelerate rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations for the flood victims, setting up a Unified Agency if needed. This has underlined the fact that the ongoing relief and rescue operations are woefully inadequate. Though the Army and Air Force are conducting rescue and relief operations in tough conditions, the fact is that huge numbers of people continue to be stranded with no sign of help in sight. In such circumstances, the efforts of common citizens to organize evacuation, and take food and water to stranded people, are heartening.

Delays and inadequacy in relief, failure to reach the worst affected, breakdown of basic services including medical services and food and water as well as communications, have resulted in a desperate situation. Angry outbursts by affected people in such circumstances are commonly seen in all disaster-affected regions including Uttarakhand, North Bihar and Assam. But in Kashmir, it is disturbing to see callous right-wing politicians and the media portray the devastated victims of the deluge as heartless and anti-national ‘stone-pelters’ who are attacking the heroic Armed Forces rescuing them.

Democratic forces must not only strive to reach out to the people of Kashmir with much-needed relief material and help; they must also shame and condemn the politically motivated attempts by the BJP and sections of the media to use the tragic floods as an occasion to give a clean chit and a character certificate to the Army. The Army, with its training and resources, no doubt plays a commendable role in disaster management all over the country. But in Kashmir, this humanitarian role is being invoked to justify the inhumane AFSPA and other atrocities that the people of Kashmir have suffered and continue to suffer. This amounts to using the floods to rub salt into the open wounds of Kashmiris – reminding them, that even in the midst of a terrible tragedy, they will be seen, not as victims with a right to rage and sorrow, but as fodder for a jingoistic campaign of triumphalism and humiliation.

The calamity of the Kashmir floods must indeed take centre-stage now. And every effort should be made so that the floods wash out the jingoism and muscle-flexing between countries and governments, to make way for shared efforts at rescue, rehabilitation, as well as conservation and ecological healing to preserve the unique ecosystem that knows no national boundaries.

But the floods – the natural calamity – cannot be allowed to wash away the memory of the calamity manufactured by the Indian State, to which Kashmir has been subjected. The empathy for the victims of the floods, should create room, beyond jingoistic propaganda, for empathy for the mother of the ‘disappeared’ youth killed in police or Army custody, who lie in mass graves in the Valley, the young boys shot dead during funeral processions, the raped women who await justice in vain.

The Kashmir floods are a terrible tragedy. And the drought of truth, justice and freedom that the Kashmiri people have suffered is no less a tragedy – requiring urgent relief work. We cannot look to an efficient Army or to Governments in the hope that that relief will come from them. That task – of acknowledging the truth of the crimes of endless custodial killings and rapes; struggling for justice for all those crimes; and demanding an end to the daily humiliating siege in which Kashmiris lead their lives – is up to all thinking citizens with a care and concern for democracy and humanity.

Appeal

Contribute Generously to Support Flood-Affected People of Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir is suffering devastation by the worst floods in sixty years. The death toll is mounting, even as thousands have lost their homes, fields and means of survival. The people of J&K need our solidarity and support.

As in the Uttarakhand calamity, the extent of devastation causes by the floods in Jammu and Kashmir is much worse due to indiscriminate environmental devastation and callous failure to institute any warning mechanisms to protect people from natural calamities.

CPI(ML) is launching a nationwide campaign for flood relief for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. All state units of the party, as well as mass organizations are requested to collect funds and contribute to the relief campaign. We appeal to all concerned people to make your contributions by cheque/draft in favour of “CPIML”. Please indicate that the donation is for “Jammu and Kashmir Flood Relief”. Please send your donations to: U-90, Shakarpur Delhi 110 092, India

AISA Sweeps JNUSU Elections Once Again,

Doubles Votes To Emerge As Significant Third Force in DUSU Elections

The All India Students’ Association (AISA) has swept the JNUSU elections once again this year, winning all the four office bearer posts. Ashutosh from the AISA won the post of President by polling 1386 votes and defeating the candidate from the Left and Progressive Front (LPF) by 377 votes. On the post of Vice President, AISA’s Anant Prakash Narayan polled 1366 votes and defeated the ABVP candidate by 610 votes. Chintu Kumari from AISA was elected General Secretary after she polled 1605 votes and defeated the ABVP candidate by 814 votes. AISA’s Shafqat Hussain Butt is the newly elected Joint Secretary, who won after polling 1209 votes and defeating the LPF candidate by 240 votes.

“At a time when BJP, RSS and the ABVP are trying to convince us that the ‘acche din’ have arrived, AISA’s huge and clear mandate in the JNUSU elections is proof that the students of JNU have decisively rejected their communal fascist and pro-corporate agenda”, said Ashutosh, the newly elected JNUSU President. “This is a mandate for a JNUSU that defends the idea of a truly secular, democratic society. It is moreover a mandate for a JNUSU that fights for students’ academic and infrastructural needs, for a JNUSU that resists corporate takeover of higher education, that fights for workers’ rights on the campus and that joins all progressive voices of dissent against corporate land grab, violence against women, communal hate mongering, AFSPA and state repression”, he added.

In the recently held DUSU elections too, AISA’s vote share has doubled. In a campus like DU where student politics was dominated by the NSUI and the ABVP, AISA has emerged as a strong contender, posing the strongest opposition to ABVP’s communal agenda and NSUI-ABVP’s pro-corporate politics. AISA increased its votes on all post in a big way, getting the support of a maximum of 12932 (on the post of Secretary) and lagging behind NSUI by just 2100-2600 votes on the post of Vice President, Secretary and Joint Secretary. It is the first time a Left student organization – or any student organization that does not enjoy the political backing, money- and muscle- of any of Delhi’s ruling parties – has achieved so much support and votes in the DUSU polls. The DUSU polls are all the more challenging because around 45 DUSU colleges are spread all over the city of Delhi, and the ABVP and NSUI openly violate the code of conduct and indulge in corrupt practices.

AISA won the support of DU students with its consistent campaign against the FYUP, and its struggles on the issues of transportation and affordable accommodation for the students, as well as its leading role in Delhi’s struggles against rape and corruption.

AISA’s assertion among the students of Delhi’s central universities is an important asset and source of support for democratic movements all over the country.

National Convention of Workers

A National Convention of Workers was held on 15TH September 2014 at New Delhi, under the banner of joint platform of all the Central Trade Unions of the country. The Convention was held in protest against the policies of Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization and the all-out attack on trade union/working class rights by the Modi government and the Rajasthan government. The Convention rallied around the ten-point charter of demands of entire trade union movement calling for concrete action against price-rise and unemployment, ensuring minimum wages for all of not less than Rs. 15000 per month, halting mass scale unlawful contractualization, for strict implementation of labour laws, universal social security benefits and pension for all including the unorganized sector workers etc. and compulsory registration of Trade Unions within 45 days and ratification of ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

The joint platform of all Central Trade Unions includes AICCTU, BMS, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, UTUC and LPF. The convention was participated in by independent national federations/organizations from all the sectors and service establishments including Bank, Insurance, Defence, Railways, Central/State Govt. Employees etc.

The Convention was addressed on behalf of AICCTU by the General Secretary, Swapan Mukherjee. National Secretary, Santosh Roy was member of Presidium on behalf of AICCTU. The convention was addressed by, among others, Gurudas Das Gupta GS of AITUC, Tapan Sen GS of CITU, Harbhajan Singh Siddhu GS of HMS, Vrijesh Uppadhyay GS of BMS and G. Sanjeeva Reddy President of INTUC.

The declaration adopted by the Convention called upon the working masses to hold State level joint conventions during September-October; wherever possible initiative may be taken to hold district-level and industry-level joint conventions; and National Protest Day on 5 December 2014 through massive joint demonstration in all state capitals and at Delhi Joint demonstration of workers from the neighbouring states.

The National Convention called upon the trade unions and working people irrespective of affiliations to unite and make the above programmes a massive success paving way for countrywide united struggle to resist the onslaught on the life and livelihood of working people throughout the country.

- NATIONAL CONVENTION OF WORKERS

15TH Sept. 2014, NEW DELHI

DECLARATION

This National Convention of Workers being held under the banner of joint platform of all the Central Trade Unions of the country along with independent national federations/organizations from all the sectors and service establishments expresses deep concern at the unilateral move to amend the labour laws by a number of state governments and by the Central Govt. Most of the amendments sought to be done will have serious negative impact on the working conditions including trade union rights of the workers and the employees. It is unfortunate that in spite of the assurance given by the Labour Minister that Central Trade Unions will be consulted, these amendments in labour laws are being pushed through without any consultations with them.

The amendments passed by Rajasthan Assembly on 31st July, 2014 in Industrial Disputes Act, Factories Act, Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act and Apprenticeship Act will make hire and fire much easier for the employers and will result in rampant casualisation of employment. Liberalising the provisions of Factories Act will imperil the safety at work place in small and medium scale enterprises and will push majority of factories out of its coverage. Similarly raising the threshold employment ceiling of 20 to 50 workers for registration of contractors will enable the principal employer and contractor to become unaccountable for service conditions of the workers in a large number of enterprises. It is unfortunate that the Govt. being model employer deploys the largest number of contract workers and thereby depriving them of the security of job, wage and social security benefits.

The Amendment Bills already introduced in Parliament by the Central Govt on Factories Act, Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers for certain Establishments) Act and Apprentices Act are also designed to bring about such changes which will adversely affect the service conditions of the workers throwing overwhelming majority of them out of the coverage of all basic labour laws. The Factories Act Amendment Bill introduced in Lok Sabha on 7th August 2014 further liberalises the coverage of factories under the Act as amendment proposed in definition of factories (Section 2m) authorizes States to fix number of workers for coverage under the Act. This will legitimize amendment already passed by Rajasthan Assembly on 31st July, 2014. The Central Govt. is also considering amendments in Minimum Wages Act and Industrial Disputes Act. The amendment to Apprenticeship Act will pave the way for replacement of the contract/casual/ temporary workers and even regular workers by comparatively low paid apprentices. Moreover, these amendments will straightway empower and encourage the state governments to bring about pro-employer changes in labour laws as per the Rajasthan model. The process of amendments in labour laws is also aimed to do away with tripartite consultation mechanism.

In essence, all moves of amendments in the labour laws, both by the central government and by the Govt in Rajasthan are aimed at empowering the employers to retrench/lay off workers or declare closure/shut down at will and also resort to mass scale contractorisation. These are also designed to push out more than seventy per cent of the industrial and service establishments in the country and their workers out of the purview of almost all labour laws, thereby allowing the employers a free hand to further squeeze and exploit the workers.

The Convention also expressed dismay over the Govt’s total inaction in implementing the consensus recommendations of 43rd, 44th and 45th Indian Labour Conferences on formulation of minimum wages, same wage and benefits as regular workers for the contract workers and granting status of workers with attendant benefits to those employed in various central govt schemes. It is also noted with utter dismay that the present government is also continuing to ignore the ten point demands of entire trade union movement pertaining to concrete action to be taken for containing price-rise and aggravating unemployment situation, for strict implementation of labour laws, halting mass scale unlawful contractorisation, ensuring minimum wages for all of not less than Rs 15000 per month and universal social security benefits and pension for all including the unorganized sector workers etc. the demands also include compulsory registration of Trade Unions within 45 days and ratification of ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

The National Convention also denounced the retrograde move of the Govt in hiking/allowing FDI in Defence sector, Insurance, Railways and other sectors and also its aggressive move for disinvestment in PSUs including financial sector which will be detrimental to the interests of the national economy, national security as well as mass of the common people.

The Convention demands upon the Rajasthan Govt. to reverse the enacted amendments to the labour laws and urge upon the Central Govt. to desist from its unilateral move to amend labour laws and consult and honour the views of Central Trade Unions on the issue. The Convention also demands immediate steps to implement the consensus recommendations of successive Indian Labour Conferences and also positive response to long pending ten-point demands of the entire trade union movement of the country. The Convention urges the Central Govt to desist from mindless drive to liberalise FDI in defence, insurance, Railways etc and instead reverse the direction of the ongoing economic policy regime which has landed the entire national economy in distress and decline affecting the working people most.

The Convention calls upon all the trade unions, federations across the sector to widen and consolidate the unity at the grass-root level and prepare for countrywide united movement to halt and resist the brazen anti-worker and anti-people policies of the Govt and in preparation to the same undertakes unanimously the following programmes:

1. State level joint conventions during September-October; wherever possible initiative may be taken to hold district-level and industry-level joint conventions

2. National Protest Day 5.12.2014 through massive joint demonstration in all state capitals. At Delhi Joint demonstration of workers from the neighbouring states will be held.

The National Convention calls upon the trade unions and working people irrespective of affiliations to unite and make the above programme a massive success paving way for countrywide united struggle to resist the onslaught on the life and livelihood of working people throughout the country.

- BMS, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, UTUC, LPF and All India Federations of Banks, Insurance, Defence, Railways, Central/State Govt. Employees and other Service Establishments

AISA Initiatives in Allahabad University

The AISA organized a campus meeting at the students’ union building in Allahabad University on 10 September to discuss issues of communal corporate fascism, rise in violence against women, and loot and anarchy in the campus. Speakers included K. K. Pandey of Jan Sanskriti Manch, AISA State President Sudhanshu Bajpai, and Research scholar from the Political Science department Ankit Pathak. The AISA unit of Allahabad University elected its office bearers in the second session of the campus meeting.

The AISA submitted a memorandum to the Allahabad University Vice Chancellor seeking action against ragging on the campus, following a 3-day signature campaign against the incidents of ragging that took place on September 3rd. The AISA demanded that the university administration should constitute an enquiry committee without delay so that such incidents can be prevented in future.

The AISA also conducted widespread relief-collection on the campus and in the city, for the people affected by the Kashmir floods.

ASHA Workers’ Rally in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand ASHA health workers’ union, affiliated to AICCTU, took out a state level Jawab do, Hisab do (Settle Accounts, Provide Answers) rally. The rally displaying a sea of red flags and banners, was led by Union President Com. Kamla Kunjwal and General Secretary Com. Kailash Pandey. The rally reverberated with slogans of “Sthayi naukri aur vetanman lekar rahenge”, “Vaada khilafi nahi chalegi”, “Shram kanoonon ka ullanghan band karo” and other slogans. As the rally was about to take off from Kalumal Dharmashala at 11 am, the C.O. City and City kotwal stopped the rally with the police force and said that it will not be allowed to proceed as prior permission had not been taken. AICCTU leaders and ASHA activists protested and vowed to take out the rally come what may. After SDM Sadar Mohan Singh Barniya and SP City Ajay Singh gave the assurance of talks between ASHA representatives and top officials, they agreed to hold the protest at the Secretariat. The main speaker at the meeting, AICCTU national vice president Raja Bahuguna said that after the formation of Uttarakhand State, the condition of workers, particularly working women, has become very bad. He said that the Congress and BJP both are equally guilty of neglecting the working class and Uttarakhand State has become a synonym for neglect and oppression of workers with mafia forces ruling the roost. ASHA workers, working in the most difficult conditions, are the backbone of the health sector but their just demands are totally neglected. After the historic national strike of January 20-21, the government of India was forced to give ASHA workers the status of working class. Therefore the government must ensure their permanent appointment and wage scales. Com. Bahuguna said that ever since Modi came to power, prices have skyrocketed and oppression of workers has increased manyfold. The working class must unite and fight to give a fitting reply to communal corporate fascist forces.

Union State President Kamla Kunjwal said that every government which ruled the new Uttarakhand state has broken its promises to ASHA. The Khanduri govt had promised an incentive of Rs 5000 to ASHA workers and subsequent govts had twice announced bonuses but all proved to be empty promises. She said that the announcement to give arrears on Sept 13 is a victory for us.

Union general secretary Com. Kailash Pandey said that if Sikkim, W Bengal and Jharkhand can give minimum wages to ASHA workers then why not Uttarakhand, which was formed on the strength of women workers’ sacrifices. He demanded insurance of 20 lakhs for the ASHA workers, free treatment in govt hospitals, issue of health cards, ASHA rest houses to be built in every hospital, and said the Union would strongly oppose the PPP model of hospitals.

Hundreds of ASHA workers from Nainital district, Udham Singh Nagar, Champawat, Bageshwar, Almora, Pithoragarh, and Garhwal participated in the rally. A delegation of Uttarakhand ASHA health workers’ union met the upper health secretary B.R. Arya who informed them that the govt has issued directives for Rs 5000 per year to ASHA workers. He promised to put the demands of ASHA for arrears from 2011 before the CM and assured them that this demand would also be met. He also agreed to the previously agreed Diwali bonus to be deposited in the ASHA workers’ accounts. He also promised positive action soon on the demand for minimum wages. He assured the representatives that after 28 Sep the health secretary, health director, and NRHM director would meet AICCTU and ASHA leaders and discuss all their demands.

The meeting unanimously passed the resolution that until the demands were met, ASHA workers would work wearing black bands, and if the demands were not met within 15 days, the effigy of the Chief Minister would be burnt.

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. 37 | 2014

September 10, 2014

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 | No. 37 | 9-15 SEP 2014

Modi Hijacks Teachers’ Day

Former President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan wanted his birthday celebrated as Teachers’ Day in India – a day set aside for teachers, rather than about his own birthday.

Till 2014, when Narendra Modi, in the very opposite of Radhakrishnan’s spirit, turned a day dedicated to teachers, into a day about himself.

Schools were ordered by the HRD to make arrangements for students all over the country to view Modi addressing an assembly of schoolchildren in the capital, and answering ‘questions’ that students had been coached to ask. Schools had to change timings in the last minute, to suit Modi’s schedule. So teachers spent the day making hectic arrangements for Modi’s speech rather than enjoying some well-earned rest, relaxation and respect.

All over the country, thousands of ill-paid, overworked, contractualized ‘para-teachers’ work in humiliating and exploitative conditions without basic job-security, salary and training. Modi said not a word on Teachers’ Day about improving their conditions and regularizing them, in keeping with their long-standing demands.

The HRD Ministry had said listening to the speech would not be mandatory. But what was the truth? Several schools, including schools in Delhi, warned that students would face tests on Modi’s speech, and warned students of ‘strict action’ for failing to attend the speech. The Delhi Directorate of Education issued a directive warning Delhi schools that “Any laxity in the arrangements shall be viewed seriously.”

Teachers’ Day, then, became an exercise in regimentation. Schools and students were roped by force into Modi’s image-building exercise, and Modi imposed his views on them.

The speech and ‘interaction’ was also a political exercise. Kids asked Modi ‘questions’ that were obviously tutored, to allow him to give a calculated political response, and repeat some of his pet phrases from his speeches.

In a so-called ‘live interaction’, a girl student from Bastar asked the PM about education in Bastar, Dantewada, giving Modi a chance to praise BJP CM Raman Singh and commend the girl on asking “a question on education that too from a land where there has been lot of blood due to Maoists.” Modi did not speak of the blood of little school-going girls and boys, shed by CRPF in the same areas in firings on harvest festival gatherings of adivasis. In the 2012 Sarkeguda massacre, 15-year-old Kaka Rahul and Madkam Ramvilas, students at a government school in Basaguda who were home on vacation, were shot dead and branded as ‘Maoists.’ 12-year-old Kaka Saraswati also was killed. Modi also didn’t speak of the rapes of little adivasi schoolgirls in Government-run schools in the same region – that the Chhattisgarh Home Minister blamed on ‘bad stars’!

Modi hijacked the day that Dr. Radhakrishnan dedicated to teachers with a mandatory viewing of his speech. Meanwhile Dinanath Batra’s textbooks, with a preface by Modi, that are mandatory reading in Gujarat schools, hijack Dr Radhakrishnan himself, turning his name into a vehicle for racist ideas. Those textbooks tell a racist tale of how the country’s second president Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan had told the British that white people were like undercooked rotis and Black people were like burnt rotis, while Indians were “rotis cooked right by God.”

With Modi using Teachers’ Day as an image building exercise and Batra’s absurd and reactionary textbooks being legitimized by Modi, the ‘thought control’ in India’s schools is entering into a new and intensified phase. However, the struggle against saffronization and privatization of education, and for regularization of contractualized teachers, will also be intensified.

Delhi Police Files Charge-sheet Against AIPWA, AISA, RYA Activists for Anti-Rape Protests Post Dec 16

The Delhi Police has informed activists of AISA, RYA and AIPWA, including AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan, AISA activists Anmol Rattan of DU and Om Prasad of JNU, and RYA activist Aslam Khan that a charge-sheet has been filed against them for their participation in a protest on December 19th 2012 against the December 16th rape, at Sheila Dixit’s house.

This protest action had been one of the key protests that galvanized more protests all over Delhi and the country. At this protest, the Delhi Police had used water cannons for the first time against the anti-rape protesters. Also, a speech made by AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan at that protest, went viral with thousands of people across the country feeling that it reflected their own sentiments. 57,615 people till date viewed the YouTube video of the speech, that asserted women’s right to be “adventurous”, rejected curbs on women’s freedom in the name of “protection”, and demanded that Governments protect women’s right to “fearless freedom.” The speech had been spontaneously translated into many Indian languages as well as English, and shared. In many ways, that protest, and the speech made at that protest, came to symbolize, for people in India and all over the world, the spirit of the anti-rape protests in Delhi.

Police brutality, high-handedness and harassment against protesters were notorious at the time – even the Justice Verma Committee commented on it.

It is highly unlikely that leading December 2012 anti-rape protesters would have been charge-sheeted by the Delhi Police more than a year later, without a political green-signal from above. The Delhi Police falls under the Union Home Ministry. Why are the charge-sheets being filed against key AISA organisers in DU and JNU, days before DUSU and JNUSU polls where AISA is a major contender?

The BJP, at that time, had attacked the Congress Govt and the Delhi Police for its brutality to anti-rape protesters. Why, now, is the Delhi Police under the BJP Govt filing charge-sheets against the same protesters now?

Clearly, the Modi regime, like the Manmohan regime before it, holds protesters, especially those who speak of women’s freedom, to be criminals.

Just as the anti-rape protesters anticipated way back in December 2012, ‘protection’ for women from ‘love jehad’ and ‘rape’ has quickly come to mean moral policing and restrictions on freedom. Even as this charge-sheet is filed against people agitating for women’s freedom, Sangeet Som, the BJP MLA who incited mobs in Muzaffarnagar, has again called for a ‘mahapanchayat’ – this time against ‘love jehad’. Leaders of such mahapanchayats are the same khaps that kill daughters and their lovers – in the name of ‘honour.’ Now, in the name of the ‘love jehad’ bogey, they will legitimize harassment of inter-community couples, and justify family/community/khap surveillance on adult women. Recently, the Gujarat police issued posters asking parents to maintain surveillance on their daughters’ mobile phones. For such reactionary and patriarchal politics, the very idea of ‘women’s freedom’ and the freedom of young women and men to love each other without fear is dangerous.

The AISA, AIPWA and RYA demand that the case against all protesters in the anti-rape agitation of 2012-13, including its own activists, be withdrawn immediately.

The charge-sheeted activists declared, “We and thousands of others will continue to protest and demand the right of women, as well as of every one, including men and women from Dalit, Muslim and other marginalized identities, to be free and adventurous, as we did on December 19th. If this Government and the Delhi Police holds that this a crime deserving our arrest, so be it.”

Contract Workers’ Protesting Illegal Retrenchment

22 contract sanitation workers of Raja Harishchandra Hospital, run by Delhi Govt. retrenched illegally by the contractor. They were working there for 5-7 years or more. They and their families are protesting since 8 Aug 2014, sitting in front of the Hospital on an indefinite protest.

They, organised under the banner All India General Kamgar Union, affiliated to AICCTU, had protested on same reasons last year too, but after few weeks of struggle they were all reinstated by the contractor. That was time when elections were near. This year the contractor is adament on not taking them back, he also sometimes reminds workers their last year’s ‘mistake’ of fighting for their job security. Now we have a ‘stable’ BJP govt. in centre to boost contractor’s confidence to the extent that he is even ignoring advice, though a feeble one, of the hospital administrator for taking them back.

The Delhi State Commission for Sanitation (Safai) Workers had given a letter to the workers’ Union that no sanitation workers will be retrenched from any hospital in Delhi even if there is a change in contractor. But this direction of a statutory body like the Commission is proving futile in face of the prevailing nexus of the contract workers mafia with hospital administration and Delhi Govt.’s Health Deptt. ! They are adament on teaching lessons to the workers who dare to raise their voice for rights and secure livelihood.

Local AICCTU organiser and CPIML leader Surender Panchal has met the LG of Delhi along with state leadership of AICCTU to submit a memorandum on behalf of the these workers. Though received positive assurances, though not in writing, they later proved to be false promises.

This is not the story of a single govt. hospital in National Capital. Workers in many hospitals had to protest repeated attacks on their livelihood, thanks to draconian and anti-worker CLARA and governmental policy of implementing so called ‘reforms’. Recently contract sanitation workers in Ambedkar Hospital held out a protest after sudden retrenchments, though it proved to be one of the unsuccessful attempts at saving their livelihoods. Workers in central govt. hospitals like Sufdarjang Hospital too feel very insecure and terrified in front of contractors highhandedness and repressive tactics. The labour laws are never implemented in favour of the workers by the government and administration. In LRS TB Hospital near Mehrauli almost all contract workers who were employed there for years were retrenched by the hospital administration and contract as soon as they heard of rumours that the contract workers are unionising themselves. Many of those were working in that hospital for decades, first as casual workers and then they were forcibly moved to the hands of the some contractor. Workers and their families are continuing their protests in Narela.

Demonstration in Odisha

On 28th August 150 CPI (ML) activist protested in front of Saharapara block of Keonjhar district led by state committee member Mahendra Parida along with local committee secretary Sucharu Nayak. A 10 point charter of demands was submitted to the local BDO and Tahsildar, demanding a stop to corruption in MNREGA , forest land rights and permanent land patta to all tribals and dalits living in forest areas, demanding conducting of pallisabhas, an end to police atrocities and witch hunt of adivasis branded “Maoists”, also proper education and health care for children. The activists warn that if the demands were not met within three months, the BDO office would be closed by protesters. The Tahsildar assured the activists that the demands would be met.

Sanitation Workers’ Strike in Bangaluru

Sanitation workers of BBMP organised under the banner of Guttige Powarakarmikara Sangha (BBMP Contract Workers Union affiliated to AICCTU) went on strike on 27-29 Aug. 2014 demanding VDA Rs. 2204 and Government declared minimum wages and other benefits, including timely disbursal of wages.

In a subsequent meeting with Labour Minister and Labour Commissioner, the Labour Minister assured he will immediately talk to the BBMP Commissioner to release the pending wages to all contract workers and will arrange a meeting with Labour Secretary, BBMP Commissioner and other concerned officials with AICCTU leaders for releasing VDA as demanded by the union.

The striking workers held out a march to the residence of Labour Minister on 27th.

Hundreds of Sanitation workers of Sunkadkatte and Anjananagara wards of Bangalore city led by AICCTU took part in this strike action.

AICCTU leaders Com. Clifton, Maitreyi, Nirmala, Shankar and AICCTU Vice President and Karnataka State President, Comrade Balan addressed the workers.

Against Victimisation of Trade Union Office Bearers

AICCTU led Hospital Assistants of central government run hospital, NIMHANS, were on a dharna in front of the office of the Director demanding withdrawal of illegal transfers of 21 contract workers and cancellation of the contract of Swachata Corporation. The administration and the contractor have violated Sec. 33 (a) of ID Act, 1947 that prohibits any change or alteration of service conditions prejudicial to the interests of workers during the pendency of an industrial dispute before the conciliation officer or any other competent legal authority. The transfer of 21 workers, including the union General Secretary Basavaraj, Organising Secretary Guru Datt, Vice President Pillamma, Joint Secretary Pramila and ECM Narayan were resorted to by the NIMHANS in spite of clear advise by the conciliation officer on the contrary. The government run hospital authorities refused to follow the advise of another competent dept authorised by the same central govt.

NIMHANS hospital does not have a proper qualified HR officials in spite of employing more than 4000 employees of various categories. The responsible officials do not even know the legal position that ultimately, Principal Employer, in this case, NIMHANS is responsible for the wrongs of the contractor.

It was unfortunate that the Director and other responsible officials of one of the reputed hospitals in the country were completely careless about the welfare of its own employees. They even refused to meet union leaders who rushed to resolve the issues amicably.

Finally, forced by the workers struggle and instructions from the conciliation officer, the administration and the contractor temporarily withdrew the transfers on the same day. Still, transferred workers were not allowed to work for a day in their previous place of work. Second day, all but one was allowed to work in the previous department. It needed written letter from the labour department to reinstate all workers in their previous place. The central government owned hospital which is supposed to be a model employer is violating laws and resorting to unfair labour practices prohibited by the ID Act. The government run institution, NIMHANS, in addition to illegal, victimised transfers of contract workers for being active in the trade union, does not have a transfer policy even. Workers were transferred because they questioned the illegal nature of contractor who has not renewed the license and who has employed hundreds of workers more than the sanctioned strength. AICCTU leaders Comrades Balan, Shankar and Appanna led the demonstrators.

Tribute to Shubhradeep Chakravarty

A voice of dissent falls silent

- By Anand Patwardhan

"En Dino Muzaffarnagar by Shubradeep Chakravorty and Meera Chaudhary is going to be recorded in history as the first documentary film banned under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Gagging order came on 30th June. Today we applied in Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) for redressal of our grievances. We will not go down without a fight."

These are the last words posted on Facebook by Shubhradeep Chakravorty, one of India’s bravest documentary filmmakers. Shubhradeep passed away from a brain hemorrhage on August 25, while battling a numbing censorship bureaucracy and the pain of cynical rejection.

I first met Shubhradeep in 2002 after he had made his debut film, Godhra Tak. He had been a journalist but the horror of Gujarat turned him into a filmmaker. He focused on the train-burning incident that killed 59 Hindu passengers. The Gujarat government had allowed a public display of the charred bodies and when pogroms against Muslims began, allegedly looked the other way. Word spread that Muslims had poured petrol into the train. Godhra Tak looked at forensic evidence that questioned this theory as well as the systematic demonization of Muslims. With BJP led governments in Gujarat and the Centre proclaiming that "Islamic terror"was breeding in Gujarat, several strange incidents followed.

That year "Muslims terrorists" attacked the Akshardham Temple with firearms, killing 33. Two attackers were killed. 6 more were arrested, of which 3 were sentenced to death. In May 2014 the Supreme Court acquitted all six and pulled up the Gujarat police for shoddy investigations.

A series of encounter killings followed in Gujarat. Shubhradeep’s next film Encountered on a Saffron Agenda looked at four separate "encounters", the most infamous being those of Ishrat Jahan and others in 2004, and Sohrabuddin and others in 2005. In every case the authorities claimed that the dead Muslim "terrorists" were on a mission to kill Narendra Modi. Shubhradeep’s brilliant investigation exposed in meticulous detail how each encounter was probably a cold-blooded murder. The courts finally took cognizance and several encounter perpetrators were jailed for varying periods of time including top police officers like D G Vanzara, and Modi’s right-hand man, Amit Shah. Some of them are free today, but few doubt that fake encounters took place.

Following screenings in Jaipur and Bhopal, Shubhradeep was physically attacked, narrowly escaping serious injury. But his courage and determination never waned. In 2012 he made two important films, Out of Court Settlement about the ordeal of human rights defenders like the martyred lawyer Shahid Azmi and After the Storm about youths who had been acquitted of terror charges but still faced trauma and stigma.

In April 2014 we invited Shubhradeep to Vikalp@Prithvi in Mumbai to screen his work-in-progress, En Dino Muzaffarnagar. Newly married, he was accompanied by his partner and co-director, Meera Chaudhary. They were like teenagers in love and it was infectious. In the Q and A after the film Shubhradeep attributed all the moments when the camera was in the right place at the right time, to Meera. "Whenever she is there something happens. She is my lucky charm," he beamed.

The film itself was a departure from his earlier work. Always compelling in content, his films tended to be utilitarian in form. Now camera and sound were excellent and the film was complex, showing not just the perpetrators of atrocities but also ordinary individuals from warring communities who had resisted the communal urge. Jat and Muslim farmers had historically worked together in unions and the region enjoyed communal harmony even in times of national strife.Shubhradeep’s partner Meera is a Jat from Muzzaffarnagar, which gave her access and insight. Above all, the film dissected the story of how a riot can be created from scratch and how peaceful neighbours can become mortal enemies once a Machiavellian force begins its handiwork.

As we watched the film at the end of April with elections underway, the writing was already on the wall. The very word ‘secularism’ was under attack, both in the electronic and print media.

Whoever rules India, censorship is always hard. At times it gets harder. In 2002, under the NDA, our anti-nuclear War and Peace was denied a CBFC certificate. Of the 21 cuts demanded, the first was: "Delete the visuals of Gandhiji being shot by Nathuram Godse". History books at the time were being rewritten to say merely that a madman killed Gandhi. The Censor Guideline 2(xii) used to justify the cut was "visuals or words contemptuous of racial, religious or other groups are not presented". A year later the high court ordered our film passed without cuts.

The CBFC has used the same clause to ban En Dino Muzzaffarnagar. The Appellate Tribunal confirmed the rejection. Their order states: "It (the film) is highly critical of one political party (BJP) and its top leadership by name and tends to give an impression of the said party’s involvement in communal disturbances."

They may as well issue an outright ban on investigative journalism.

These are dark days Shubhradeep, but times will change. Some day this nation will remember its real heroes — those who fought not for their own narrow caste or creed but for the truth and humanity that will never die.

ML Update | No. 36 | 2014

September 4, 2014

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 | No. 36 | 2-8 SEP 2014

100 Days of Betrayal and Warning

100 days – mostly hard and bitter, not of the dreamy and sweet kind promised before the elections – have elapsed since Narendra Modi was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India’s first BJP-majority government. The new government may not yet have unveiled any clearly formulated policy agenda, but we already have enough pronouncements and indications to assess which way the government is headed. And when Narendra Modi and the BJP are at the helm of governance, it does not make sense to focus our attention only on the government. The actions of the party and its numerous Sanghi siblings and coalition cousins clearly have no less impact on the overall milieu.

Talking of policy initiatives, the new government is pursuing the familiar UPA agenda with greater intensity. Almost the entire economy has now been thrown open to foreign capital, with Narendra Modi dramatically inviting foreign capital to “come, make in India” on the anniversary of India’s independence from colonial rule. From railway to finance and even defence, every sector will now see greater penetration of foreign capital. And in a bid to make a final rupture with the Nehruvian legacy of economic governance, the new government has decided to do away with the Planning Commission. With systematic disinvestment, private corporations will now have a free run on India’s rich resources, cheap labour and growing market.

While giving a freer hand to big capital, the government seems committed to subverting and weakening the framework of rights for the working people. Major amendments are being mooted in labour laws, food security and employment guarantee legislations are being rendered toothless, and safeguards against indiscriminate land acquisition are being planned to be systematically subverted. Instead of ensuring universal rights to food, shelter, sanitation, health, education and employment, the government is promising development through MP/MLA funds and so-called corporate benevolence. The Jan Dhan scheme is high on symbolism and low on substance: it promises financial inclusion through bank accounts, debit cards and pretentious insurance covers without any indication of augmentation of the abysmally low income levels for the toiling masses.

Modi has also been trying to project a range of foreign policy initiatives beginning with the surprising invitation to leaders of South Asian countries during his swearing-in ceremony. The promise of opening a new chapter in relations with neighbouring countries has however already given way to the reality of cancellation of talks with Pakistan. His government’s silence on Israel’s war on Gaza and the refusal to adopt even a parliamentary resolution condemning Israeli aggression have signalled a new low in India’s international profile, reducing India virtually to an appendage of the US-Israel war machine. While Modi was most unimpressive at the BRICS summit in Brazil, in Japan he went so far as to invite Japanese investment representatives to become a part of India’s ‘decision-making process.’ With his oblique comments against China, he has left no one in any doubt about his government’s keenness to drag India into an anti-China axis with US and Japan.

While Modi thus looks determined to shed the last vestiges of the Nehruvian legacy in economic and foreign policy domains, in the arena of governance he is in a hurry to inculcate the Indira style of centralisation of power and authoritarian rule. The PMO has emerged as the super cabinet monitoring every minister. Contrary to the poll rhetoric of ‘cooperative federalism’, Governors appointed during the UPA period have been forced to step down and are being replaced brazenly with political appointees to tighten the Centre’s stranglehold around the states. From appointment of judges to dealing with various institutions – executive interference and partisan control have become the order of the day. The Modi cult has also brought about a metamorphosis in the BJP, reducing the party which once used to ridicule the Congress for its culture of sycophancy to a veritable fiefdom of Modi and his Man Friday who manages the party presidency.

The biggest worry for the common Indian is however not that Modi has forgotten his poll promise of ‘achchhe din’, it is the impunity and brazenness with which the entire Sangh brigade is enforcing its agenda of communal polarisation. Communal targeting of the Muslim youth is spreading dangerously across the country. The brutal murder of software professional Mohsin Sadique Shaikh in Pune shortly after the May 16 Verdict and Modi’s refusal to condemn the killing were dangerous early warnings that have now assumed alarming proportions with the BJP crying ‘love jihad’ at every instance of a Muslim man marrying a Hindu woman and Yogi Adityanath spewing communal venom as the incharge of the BJP campaign for the forthcoming UP by-polls. Meanwhile RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has begun his sinister campaign to redefine India and Indians – the word Hindu is coterminous for him with Indian! From physical violence to ideological assaults, the power-drunk BJP and Sangh brigade have started going berserk.

The signs of sanity have come from the people in the by-polls in July and August. The people have made it abundantly clear that the verdict for Modi in May was no licence for the BJP to ride roughshod on the people’s livelihood and civil liberties. Modi has gone on record complaining that he has not been given the kind of honeymoon period that new rulers are traditionally supposed to enjoy. A demagogue who betrays the people does not deserve any benefit of doubt. The developmental aspirations and democratic determination of the Indian people must prevail over every authoritarian whim and communal conspiracy.

Modi Speaks Communal Language in Foreign Lands
While Rajnath Promotes State Terror At Home

Rajnath Singh, Home Minister in the Modi Government, in his speech to the Rajasthan Police Academy at Jaipur, reminded cops that while he had been the CM of Uttar Pradesh, he had assured cops that they could ‘tackle and eliminate Maoists’, without any worries about questions asked, since he as CM would shield UP police officers from having to face the NHRC! He assured that now, as Home Minister, he would do the same. He described the questions asked by Human Rights Commissions as ‘harassment’ of the police.

If the Home Minister of the country describes ‘human rights’ and civil liberties as a minor inconvenience and obstacle, he is openly calling upon cops to commit murder and massacre. Civil liberties and rights are mandated by the Constitution of India. The Home Minister is showing his open contempt for India’s Constitution, and ironically he does so in the name of ‘protecting the nation’!

Police and security forces treat ‘Maoist’ as code for ‘adivasi’ or dalit. Rajnath recounts his days as UP CM as a model, let us recall what that model meant. When Rajnath Singh was UP Chief Minister, on 9th March 2001, UP cops shot dead 16 people, mostly agricultural labourers and 2 schoolboys, all Dalits or adivasis, in Madihan, Bhawanipur, eastern UP. One of the 2 schoolboys was in Class VIII and the other in Class IX. The massacre was claimed to be an ‘encounter’ with Maoists. The truth was that the villagers of Madihan were sleeping after a feast celebrating the gauna ritual of the son of one of the villagers.

In Chhattisgarh, similarly, security forces routinely massacre adivasi villagers gathered for the Bija Pandum harvest festival. The Kottaguda-Rajpenta-Sarkeguda massacre of 2012 in Bastar was one such massacre, in which the CRPF shot dead 17 people, including 7 children, including a 10 year old boy and a 12 year old girl.

Assured that CMs and Home Ministers will shield them from being accountable to Human Rights Commissions, cops rape and kill in custody: all they have to do is declare that the victims are ‘Maoists’ or ‘Naxalites’! The current Bastar IG, SR Kalluri, is accused of having raped Ledha Bai in custody, while another top cop Ankit Garg raped Soni Sori in custody.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Tokyo today, spoke as though he were a PM of his dream Hindu Rashtra, not of a secular democratic India. He commented that "secular friends" would kick up a fuss and TV debates over his gifting a copy of the Bhagvad Gita to Japanese Emperor Akihito. By making the comment, he himself marked the Gita as the property of Hindus alone, rather than part of India’s own diverse cultural legacy. His own choice of the Gita as a gift and his comments on top of it, are a calculated insult to India’s secularism and diversity.

How can the PM of India mock at and refer to secular people as ‘they’? As PM, he himself is duty bound to uphold and protect the constitution of India, a sovereign socialist secular and democratic republic – and yet he openly mocks at secularism, and his Home Minister openly mocks at Constitutionally mandated democratic rights!

Worse, speaking in a public gathering in Tokyo on climate change, he used a communal ‘cow-slaughter’ analogy to caution against exploiting nature. He said, "At best you have the right to milk nature. You can milk a cow, but cannot kill the cow.” For Modi, climate change also is a topic that can be communalized – even as his Government rushes through environmental ‘clearances’ of forest land and fertile land, all to benefit corporate and real estate sharks, grabbing this land from adivasis and peasants. ‘Building infrastructure to combat Maoism’ is the latest excuse to justify the grab of forest land.

When Modi says ‘no red tape only red carpet, it isn’t only for Japanese investment. He is telling corporations and MNCs that environmental clearances and so on are mere ‘red tape’ and he will sweep all this aside to spread the red carpet for corporations! Similarly of course, his Home Minister says that human rights of adivasis and Dalits are mere ‘red tape’ that he will ‘take care of’, so that cops can shed blood with impunity, so that a red carpet can be spread in forest areas for the corporations!

Modi also told college girls in Tokyo that “only in India God is conceptualized as a woman” and that “in the Hindu pantheon, Saraswati is education minister, Lakshmi finance minister and Annapurna the Food minister.” The irony of course is that in India, women are saying loud and clear that they do not want to be treated as Goddesses, chained to a pedestal, they are demanding equal rights and liberties as human beings.

AICCTU Dharna to Protest 100 days of Betrayal of Modi Government And Increased Attacks on Workers’ Rights

Factory workers, street vendors, DTC workers, construction workers, domestic workers, health and sanitation workers were among those who, under the banner of the AICCTU, held a powerful Dharna at Jantar Mantar on 3 September 2014 to protest a 100 days of the Modi Government’s betrayal of its promises to the people.

Protesters raised slogans demanding to know why the promise of ‘acche din’ has turned into the reality of ‘bure din’, and why Modi Sarkar was behaving like UPA-III.

At the dharna, AICCTU National Secretary Rajiv Dimri said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to bring "good days" for the working people in his election campaign. Angered by the anti-people policies of the Congress-led UPA government that led to price rise, unemployment and corruption, the people gave a huge mandate to Mr Modi. After assuming power, however, the same Modi government is pursuing the same economic policies as the UPA Government. Now in power, Modi is asking people to bear hardships for the nation – while continuing to dole out generous sops to corporations. Price hike goes unabated, hoarding has remained beyond control, the hike in railway ticket and freight prices are quite unprecedented and it is likely to maintain an upward trend like petrol prices in the future.”

All India Agricultural Labour Association (AIALA) National General Secretary Dhirendra Jha addressed hundreds of workers gathered where he said, “First three months and the budget indicate without doubt that the Modi-led government is implementing the policies of the earlier government even more ruthlessly than before. If good days have come, it is for Ambanis, Adanis, Tatas and Mittals – not the common people of this country.” To sell off the public sector, the government has a disinvestment target of 43 thousand crores. It has increased the limit of FDI to 49 percent in the defence sector and 100 percent in the railways. In the planned US trip this September, Modi has two gifts to give – one is insurance sector and the other is defence. On the one hand, the corporate sector has got a relief of 5.32 lakh crore and on the other, much investment of public money has been made in rail, road and ports which through the PPP model would benefit corporate players. The road to acquire forests, land and minerals by corporates is also being made easy by the government. In the social sector, budgetary allocation on health, education, NREGA, social security has not received any favour whatsoever. While the government is claiming to make efforts to generate employment, it’s real effort is to try and turn NREGA, that guarantees employment to a certain degree, to a mere scheme now.

AICCTU Delhi State Secretary Santosh Rai said, “Modi, the self-proclaimed ‘mazdoor number one’, has gone for an all out attack on rights of working class. In these first three months of ‘good governance’ offered, there is a plethora of proposals to amend labour laws in favour of corporate capital. These amendments would push much of the existing work force out of the purview of labour laws like Factory Act, ID Act, CLARA, Trade Union Act. The right to unionise and attain recognition of their union is going to be taken away. Women workers would be susceptible to more exploitation at the work place, including sexual harassment due to amendments in Factory Act.”

V.K.S Gautam, President of Delhi State Unit of AICCTU said that Delhi is now governed by the LG on behalf of the BJP government and here too the same anti-people policies are making headway. Owing to the policy of privatisation of transport, electricity, water and education, the plunder by corporates and contractors is at the highest level and so is rampant corruption. The entire unorganised sector has come under the grip of contractualization. The Labour Dept. has become incompetent, corrupt and totally ineffective now. Access to BPL card and election I- card has become more difficult. He added that the recent Jan-Dhan Yojna of Modi is a gimmick which can’t fool working class. He said that if PM Modi thinks by giving a bank account with an accidental death cover of Rs 1 lakh workers won’t assert for their rights to get Minimum Wages, PF/ESI than he is living in a fool’s paradise.

AICCTU appeals to the working people of Delhi to strengthen and continue the struggle against the Modi government, exposing its true colours testifying its betrayal of the people. AICCTU also appeals that the working class should be cautious and stand strongly against the ploy of ‘Modi Sarkaar’ to divide their unity by divisive politics based on promoting hatred among people on religious line.

CPIML Politburo member Prabhat Kumar and Delhi State Secretary Sanjay Sharma also addressed the protesters. Others who addressed included AICCTU leaders Saurabh Naruka, Ardhendu Roy, Munna Yadav, Ajay Kumar, Surender Panchal, Virender Kumar, Satvir Shramik, Jagnarayan, Omprakash, Shankaran, Balmiki Jha, Rajesh Kumar, Shakuntala, Jan Sangharsh Morcha Narela’s President Ramkumar Bauddh, Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) vice-president Aslam Khan, Mahesh Upadhyay and many other others.

The meeting was conducted by AICCTU Delhi Vice President Mathura Paswan.

Rally held to demand 6th phase of Bhilai Steel Plant House Lease Scheme

The House Lease Sangharsh Samiti took out a rally on 17 August demanding the implementation of the 6th phase of the Bhilai Steel Plant house lease scheme. The rally started at the main gate of the steel plant and, after passing through the different sectors, culminated in front of the residence of the CEO. More than 500 people along with cars, motor cycles, and autos participated in the rally. Rajendra Parganiha and Shyamlal Sahu from the Centre of Steel Workers played a leading role in organizing this rally. Workers of the Bhilai Steel Plant as well as former workers who are around 1500 in number are struggling for the implementation of the 6th housing scheme.

During the recession between 2001 and 2003 the Steel Authority of India had introduced the house lease scheme in all their units in order to compensate their losses. Under this scheme around 4500 workers in Bhilai obtained a 30 year lease on company quarters. In 2007-2008 various workers’ organizations as well as the Officers’ Association launched a struggle for the 6th phase of this house lease scheme, following which the Steel minister in the UPA government Ram Vilas Paswan announced at a meeting in Bhilai that the 6th phase would be implemented. However, it has not been implemented till date.

Under pressure from the rally on 17 August, the General Manager (Personnel) of the BSP came to the CEO’s residence where he heard the demands of the people and assured them that he would arrange a meeting with the Executive Director (P & A). An 11 member delegation of the House Lease Sangharsh Samiti met the ED on 19 August, who said that this matter was not within his jurisdiction but that he would forward a copy of their demands to the SAIL Board. It is noteworthy that the CITU, the officially recognized union by the BSP, was against the movement for this demand, and the attitude of the other unions was also wishy-washy. Around 1500 former workers are living in BSP quarters under the license system and they are the backbone of this movement. The representatives of the Sangharsh Samiti also met the local MP and people’s representatives in this regard. The MLA from Bhilai Nagar and Minister in the State government Prem Prakash Pandey has rejected the demand for the implementation of the 6th house lease scheme and has termed the movement for its demand as playing around with the people’s emotions.

Joint Anti-Imperialist Rally in Kolkata by Left Parties

On September 1st, a joint anti-imperialist rally by 15 Left parties including the CPI(ML) Liberation was held in Kolkata against US-Israel aggression on Gaza. Starting from Ramlila Maidan in central Kolkata, the rally marched to Deshbandhu Park urging people to come together against the attack on Gaza, against US interference in India and to seek answers from the NDA government on why it was cozying up to Israel and caving in to US pressure to embrace FDI across crucial sectors. The rally called for reverting back pro-US, pro-Israel foreign policies of the government of India. The rally was held on the day that marks the beginning of the Second World War with fascist Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939.

The CPI, CPIM, CPIML Liberation, RSP, Forward Bloc and SUCI as well as other parties and groups, participated in the protest demonstration. Thousands of people joined the demonstration and raised slogans “Us imperialism Hands off Syria”, “End Us aggression in Middle East and Israel’s aggression on Palestine”.

Starting from Ramleela Park in central Kolkata, the rallyists marched up to Deshbandhu Park. The rally was addressed by CPIML Politbureau member Com. Kartick Pal, Suryakanta Mishra of CPI(M), Manju Majumdar of CPI, Manoj Bhattacharya of RSP, Hafiz Alam Sairani of FB, Soumen Bose of SUCI (C), and Santosh Rana of PCC-CPIML.

Struggle Against Sexual Violence in Vishwa Bharati

The students of Vishwa Bharati University in West Bengal are engaged in a struggle against cases of sexual harassment and violence in the University, and the apathy and collusion of the University authorities as well as the police.

A woman student of the University, from Sikkim, has complained that she was abducted, disrobed, and molested by three senior students on repeated occasions, who then blackmailed her and extorted money from her, threatening that they would circulate photographs of her if she complained. The exploitation and even severe violence continued for two months.

When the woman student eventually complained, the University authorities tried to hush up the matter and restrict the complainant and her father from approaching the police. But they persisted, and students of the University also protested vigorously, and eventually an FIR was filed against the accused, who were also suspended from Vishwa Bharati.

On 30th August, the AISA Unit of Vishwa Bharati, along with the USDF, led a mass deputation of common students of the University to the main office of the University and met with the Registrar, demanding expulsion and arrest of the accused, setting up of an elected GSCASH body, and measures to ensure that the woman student could continue her studies safely.

The University, instead of responding by acting to prevent and punish sexual harassment, has imposed restrictions on women students’ movements and timings on the campus! Students are further protesting against this moral policing.

Again, on 2nd September, the AISA as well as USDF and North East students’ groups, together held a massive demonstration at the VC’s office demanding justice.

It is indeed ironical that the University is trying to control the comings and goings of women students in the name of their safety, given that their own VC and even senior administrators face sexual harassment charges! In 2004, when the current Vishwa Bharati VC was a Director at the SN Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, a colleague had accused him of sexual harassment, a charge that had been confirmed in March 2005 by a committee set up by the Science and Technology Ministry.

In spite of this, it is a shame that the same person was appointed VC of Vishwa Bharati, and the last UPA Government had even tried to award him a Padma Shree (this was perhaps withdrawn following letters of protest by many women’s groups).

Last year also, a student from the North East had accused a teacher of sexual harassment, and the latter had only been transferred. A Dean had also been charged with sexual harassment, and had received a most nominal punishment. Two woman students have apparently left the campus and discontinued their studies as a result of sexual harassment.

The Vishwa Bharati functions in an extremely undemocratic manner, with little democracy allowed to students and teachers. The Central Governments of various dispensations are squarely responsible for this state of affairs.

But many other educational institutions in West Bengal too have an undemocratic and sexist milieu, again, nurtured by the current TMC dispensation now and earlier by the CPIM dispensation too.

In another horrific incident of sexual violence, a woman student of Jadavpur University has complained that a gang of 10 male students dragged her into a men’s hotel and molested her. In this case, too, the University has tried to delay action, and hush up the incident.

The culture of sexism, bred by political dispensations in Kolkata as well as the Centre, is fertile ground for sexual harassment. The struggle for democratization and gender justice in Vishwa Bharati continues.

Tribute to Balraj Puri

-N.D. Pancholi

In the sad demise of Shri Balraj Puri at Jammu India has lost a great champion of human rights and a political analyst of high repute. He was 86. He was participant in momentous political events such like ‘Quit India Movement’ of 1942’ and ‘Quit Kashmir Movement’ of 1946’ in association with Sheikh Abdullah and Pt. Prem Nath Bazaz against Dogra Ruler Maharaja Hari Singh. He did his utmost to prevent outbreak of communal violence or check its spread in Jammu in 1947 and on many occasions thereafter- even at the risk of his life. Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, sought his opinion on Kashmir affairs on crucial occasions. Puri always tried to bridge the gap between Nehru and the Sheikh Abdullah. He rendered great help in the conclusion of Indira-Gandhi-Sheikh Abdullah Accord in 1974.

Puri’s activities encompassed various fields– from active social and political to academic and journalistic work of high standard. His friends and associate are writing about his many-faceted work elsewhere. However, I would confine here myself to some aspects of his human right work in which I had the privilege to associate with him on few occasions.

Jayprakash Narayan had inaugurated the Citizens For Democracy in April 1974 at Delhi and he became its founding member. I came in touch with him at that time. He was also founding member of the PUCL in 1976. He was member of the National Council of both the organizations for several years and was very active.

Militancy had started in Kashmir at the end of 1989 and by the start of January 1990 Jammu & Kashmir was under Governor’s rule under Jagmohan. Militancy was at its height leading to killings of large number of people– both Muslims and non-Muslims whom the militants suspected as government agents and it led to exodus of Kashmiri Pandits on large scale. On the other hand the entire Kashmir valley was placed under army rule and the Kashmir police was sent to the barracks by Jagmohan as he suspected almost all the Kashmiris. Clashes between militants and security forces were the daily occurrences and indiscriminate firings by the security forces in retaliation was resulting into large number of casualties of the innocent people. Curfew used to be imposed between 21 to 22 hours daily which was causing great deal of misery and hardship to the people and this situation continued for several months. Patriotic Indian journalists were crying for blood and asking Governor to block the electricity, water supply and the other essential necessities from reaching the people with a view to discipline them. There were frantic messages to the PUCL and CFD from the people in the valley requesting for sending a team to investigate into human rights violation by the security forces.

It was with the initiative and assistance of Balraj Puri that a team of PUCL & CFD was formed for the purpose which visited the valley in the last week of March 1990. The team members were Justice V.M. Tarkunde (Retd.), Justice Rajinder Sachar (Retd.), Balraj Puri, Inder Mohan, Ranjan Dewedi, T.S. Ahuja and myself. On the first day when we were at Hazaratbal in Srinagar in connection with an incident, suddenly 4/5 militants with AK-47 rifles appeared and began to enquire about us and our purpose. Our local guide conversed with them in Kashmiri. However he told the militants that we were Christians and not Hindus as he felt afraid that militants might do some harm if they come to know that team members were Hindus. We did not know Kashmiri but Balraj Puri knew and as soon as he heard the team members being described as Christians he became angry and reprimanded our guide. He told the militants that we were not Christians but Hindus and that we were not representing the Govt. or any party but were representing Indian Human Rights Organizations and had come to the valley for the cause of ‘Insani Haquq’. Militants appeared to be confused and after some deliberations among themselves disappeared from the scene.

The report which was brought out by the team exposed the darker side of the rule of Jagmohan at that time and was widely discussed and debated nationally and internationally. Subsequently several human rights teams used to visit the Kashmir valley and in most of them Balraj puri either used to be part of the team or adviser. He not only took up the issues of human rights violations in Kashmir but also of Punjab, North-East and other parts of India.

He had deep commitment for human rights issues and his whole life was a supreme dedication to the cause of secularism. He has always been a great inspiration to me and many others in the human rights movement.

ML Update | No. 35 | 2014

August 27, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 | No. 35 | 26 AUG – 1 SEP 2014

By-poll Pointers: Early Warning for the Modi Government

The by-poll results from Bihar, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab, and earlier from Uttarakhand, have come as a veritable blow to the BJP’s political ambitions revolving around the Modi government at the Centre. By-polls are of course by-polls and these have all been assembly by-polls at that. Moreover, except Madhya Pradesh and Punjab, the three other states where by-polls have taken place so far are all ruled by non-BJP governments. Political commentators would therefore naturally plead for caution and refuse to jump to any conclusion as to what the by-polls foretell about the forthcoming round of Assembly elections. But viewed together, the by-polls have definitely sent out an unmistakable early warning to the Modi government.

In Uttarakhand, where the BJP had swept the polls in May, all the three by-poll results have gone in favour of the Congress. In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress has wrested one of the three seats that went for by-polls from the BJP. In Punjab, the Congress has retained the Patiala assembly seat despite losing out to AAP in the Lok Sabha elections. In Karnataka, the Congress has claimed the Bellary rural seat by a massive margin while the BJP has managed to retain the seat held earlier by party strongman and former CM Yeddyurappa only by a slender margin of 4,000 votes (the BJP’s lead during the Lok Sabha election from this segment was an astounding 70,000). The most stunning and representative results have come from Bihar where the BJP has managed to win just 4 out of 10 seats – a loss of two seats from its 2010 tally and a much bigger drop of five seats compared to the 2014 LS leads.

The Bihar results are being generally attributed to the coming together of the JDU and the RJD-Congress combine. While the coalition arithmetic has certainly played a big role in the BJP’s defeat, we must note that the BJP’s vote share has gone down by as much as 8% (45.3% in the LS polls to 37.3% in August). Not all these votes have gone to the RJD-JDU-Congress alliance whose vote share has increased by 4.6%. The united Left bloc of CPI(ML), CPI and CPI(M) has also succeeded in improving its vote share, polling close to 50,000 votes from the 9 seats contested, none of which is known to be a significant Left stronghold in recent times.

Another round of by-polls is to be held next month in UP and Gujarat before we go for the next big series of Assembly elections in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi. Assembly elections in Bihar are also only little more than a year away. Viewed in this context, the by-poll results clearly mark an early warning against the BJP government at the Centre and the BJP’s attempt to enforce its corporate-communal agenda and its unilateral political domination over large parts of the country. There were many takers for Modi’s election rhetoric of ‘better days’ and ‘inclusive governance’, but today more and more people are expressing their resentment over the post-poll reality of rising prices and escalating communal violence.

It will be most unrealistic to expect the BJP to heed the democratic voice of the people. The BJP only knows how to pay lip-service to democracy in the interest of its ultimate agenda of communal division and corporate tyranny. Communal polarisation played a big part in the BJP’s stunning poll victories in UP and the party is working overtime to spread the communal venom in the hope of replicating its UP success across the country. While Modi is busy laying foundation stones and inaugurating projects in poll-bound states, thugs of the Sangh brigade are busy invoking every possible bogey to create chaos and spread communal mischief. It should be noted that even as by-poll results were being announced in Bihar, BJP activists were on a rampage in Ranchi in the name of decrying what they call ‘love jihad’.

While serving an early warning to the BJP, the by-poll results have also sent out a message of encouragement for all those who are fighting against the BJP’s authoritarian mode of governance and corporate-communal agenda. The Congress or the RJD-JDU-Congress combine may have been the primary electoral beneficiaries of the developing popular mood in the given situation, but the Left must champion the underlying aspirations of the people and emerge as a stronger political force in opposition to both NDA and UPA.

Gana Mancha Enquires Into Rape-Murder of CPI(M) Supporter

A seven-member delegation team from Ganamancha, comprising of representatives from all the constituents of Ganamancha – Amalendu Chowdhury, Chandrasmita Chowdhury and Archana Ghatak of CPI(ML) Liberation, Prasenjit Bose, Subhanil Chowdhury of Left Collective, Ajoy Bakshi of MKP, Bodhisatwa Ray of Radical Socialist and others – visited Sunai village in Contai on 21 August for a fact-finding on the barbaric gang-rape, torture and lynching of a woman who was a CPI(M) supporter and the wife of a CPI(M) activist. The team was joined in Contai by the CPI(ML) Liberation’s Purba Medinipur leaders Ashish Maity and Sukchand Mandal. The TMC goons who brazenly perpetrated this heinous crime are henchmen of Dipendu Adhikari, the brother of TMC leader and Tamluk MP Suvendu Adhikari.

When the team announced its decision to visit the village, the police at first tried to dissuade them from going there, citing security reasons (that the police will not be able to provide security to anyone who visits the village)! Despite such attempts the team reached the victim’s village around noon. An atmosphere of complete terror and silence loomed large and people were terrorized of political backlash to even talk about the matter. The two women members of the delegation, Chandrasmita Chowdhury and Archana Ghatak, spoke at length with the victim’s family and her mother-in-law. The delegation also spoke to the victim’s husband in Tamluk town, later during the day.

The victim’s family members spoke about the long torture they faced from the TMC henchmen. The husband of the victim, who was a local committee member of the CPI(M), had been forced to flee the village along with their young son ever since the TMC came to power in 2011. The victim had been staying with her in-laws since then. The victim worked as an Integrated Child Development Scheme worker. The woman was under continuous threat for her family’s political affiliation. On 15th, her brother-in-law was kidnapped by the TMC goons and the family was asked to pay ransom for his release. The TMC men came to their home and beat up all members of the family including her, the sister-in-law and even the old mother-in-law and asked them to pay a huge sum of money (12 lakhs) as “fine” imposed by the TMC men. This so-called “fine” was nothing but a pretext for what was to follow. The men threatened to expect them again. When the victim refused to pay and fled to a nearby village in fear she was forcefully dragged, gang-raped, brutally tortured, and lynched to death. Her body was found hanging from the ceiling in her house. Liquor bottles, an iron rod (with blood stains), chilli powder and pointed objects like safety-pins (purportedly used for torture) were found lying at the place of crime. The TMC men tried to masquerade the lynching as ‘suicide’ and the police made the brother-in-law write a coerced statement (supervised by the Tamluk IC himself) to hush-up the brutal rape-murder. Before the truth came to everybody’s attention, the victim’s husband gave the full statement and a hush-up was no longer possible.

During the 2 days (15th to 17th) of kidnap, threat and torture several phone calls were made to the police. But nobody came to rescue till the woman was dead. After the matter came to media spotlight, the police under pressure have arrested three small fries, but the masterminds named by the victim’s husband are at large and continue to roam free. This horrifying incident as well as the continuous assault on democracy in West Bengal’s villages continues brazenly even as TMC leaders like the infamous MP Tapas Pal and his likes continue to instigate their local henchmen to rape, murder, arson in order to silence all political opposition. This trend has been continuing in Purba Medinipur for long, and all the left activists of the CPI(M), CPI(ML) Liberation and others have been on the receiving end of such attacks.

A more detailed fact-finding report will be released soon. In the days to come, Ganamancha, CPI(ML) and other democratic forces, AIPWA and other women’s organizations will jointly take the struggle forward till justice is achieved for the victim. The struggle for democracy and against TMC terror cannot and will not rest in West Bengal.

Tea garden workers rally for rights

Thousands of workers from tea gardens affiliated to 22 labour unions of north Bengal organised a rally at Siliguri in Darjeeling on Wednesday demanding a minimum wage structure for workers of tea gardens.

The workers who had assembled from nearly 300 tea gardens in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri , Alipurduar and even from smaller tea gardens of Uttar Dinajpur district walked a three-km stretch in Siliguri town. The representatives of the 22 labour unions submitted a memorandum to the Joint Labour Commissioner, North Bengal Zone. The protests took place in the wake of starvation deaths of workers of locked-out and abandoned tea gardens.

The protest was addressed by Abhijit Mazumdar on behalf of AICCTU, among others.

Below is an excerpt from the memorandum to be submitted to the Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Reclaiming the rights of the tea workers in West Bengal

India remains the second largest tea producing country in the global arena. Notwithstanding this deep market penetration of the captains of the industry, the huge working population (more than 4 lacs permanent labourers) engaged in the tea sector in West Bengal are rendered impoverished and malnourished, living on a lower than subsistence wage structure and are being deprived of the statutory entitlements due on them as per The Tea Plantation Labour Act, 1951. Presently 6 tea gardens in the Dooars region are lying closed, the resident workers are dying in hordes (the death toll reached beyond 100 in the last 6 months or so) in absence of basic living amenities like food, medical facilities, potable drinking water, access to alternative employment opportunities and minimal wages, suffering from prolonged malnourishment and starvation. The erstwhile managements of all 6 closed tea gardens and scores of purportedly declared sick gardens, as speculators, amassed huge surplus during market booms without spending a farthing either for labour welfare or the rejuvenation of their plantations, and refusing to shoulder the associated social cost or liabilities. They left their gardens leaving the entire working population to their fate, defaulting even on the amount of money to the tune of crores payable to the workers as PF and gratuity.

The very recent report based on a thorough survey of all 276 organised tea gardens, conducted by West Bengal State Labour Department is full of incriminating evidences against the managements of several closed, sick and even open gardens.

The gravity of the prevailing situation warrants a strong and effective intervention on the part of the Central Government machinery to chart out a viable course for immediate opening and revival of the closed tea gardens in West Bengal.

The Tea Plantation Labour Act, 1951 enshrining the basic rights of the working population is rampantly flouted and in the name of revamping the act the planters are pleading to revisit it towards scaling down further such statutory rights vis-à-vis need-based wages (ascertaining the base on 3 consuming units), subsidized rations, proper housing facilities, supply of fuels, medical and educational facilities for the workers and their wards etc.

TPLA ought to be reinforced with vigour and any violation of any sort must be met with penal actions.

The Tea Board of India, formed under the provisions of Tea Act 1953, must ensure its avowed assistance to the tea sector in terms of replantation, rejuvenation of poor yielding and old aged tea-bushes, modernization of operations, spreading popularity of tea domestically and globally, creation of irrigation facility, drainage and transportation facility, assistance of product diversification, improving labour productivity, skill improvement, upgradation, value addition etc. It must look through and monitor that no measure of such assistance be falsified by the planters and engaged in maximizing profit and siphoning off the surplus by adopting unfair means.

Palestinian statement on murder of Mike Brown and solidarity with Ferguson

(Even as it comes to light that the weapons deployed by the US cops against black anti-racist protesters in the streets of Ferguson, Palestinians have come out with a statement of solidarity with the people of Ferguson. The statement, posted on Electronic Intifada, was endorsed by a large number of Palestinian Citizens and activist groups.)

We the undersigned Palestinian individuals and groups express our solidarity with the family of Michael Brown, a young unarmed black man gunned down by police on August 9th in Ferguson, Missouri. We wish to express our support and solidarity with the people of Ferguson who have taken their struggle to the street, facing a militarized police occupation.

From all factions and sectors of our dislocated society, we send you our commitment to stand with you in your hour of pain and time of struggle against the oppression that continues to target our black brothers and sisters in nearly every aspect of their lives.

We understand your moral outrage. We empathize with your hurt and anger. We understand the impulse to rebel against the infrastructure of a racist capitalist system that systematically pushes you to the margins of humanity.

And we stand with you.

We recognize the disregard and disrespect for black bodies and black life endemic to the supremacist system that rules the land with wanton brutality. Your struggles through the ages have been an inspiration to us as we fight our own battles for basic human dignities. We continue to find inspiration and strength from your struggles through the ages and your revolutionary leaders, like Malcolm X, Huey Newton, Kwame Ture, Angela Davis, Fred Hampton, Bobby Seale and others.

We honor the life of Michael Brown, cut short less than a week before he was due to begin university. And we honor the far too many more killed in similar circumstances, motivated by racism and contempt for black life: Ezell Ford, John Crawford, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tarika Wilson, Malcolm Ferguson, Renisha McBride, Amadou Diallo, Yvette Smith, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Kathryn Johnston, Rekia Boyd and too many others to count.

With a Black Power fist in the air, we salute the people of Ferguson and join in your demands for justice.

Birth Centenary of Late CPI GS Chandra Rajeswara Rao

On 11th August, leaders of left parties addressed a mass gathering in Hyderabad to mark the birth anniversary of the Communist leader, late Comrade Chandra Rajeswara Rao (popularly called CR), who had been General Secretary of the Communist Party of India for 28 years.

In the gathering of thousands, there were some 1500 volunteers in red shirts. On the dais were CPI General Secretary Sudhakar Reddy, CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat, senior RSP leader Abani Ray, as well as CPI Secretaries from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, and organisers of the Centenary Celebration Committee.

Speaking on the occasion, Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya recalled Comrade CR’s participation in the Indian People’s Front Vijayawada Conference in February 1992, and his emphasis on militant peasant struggle and movement-oriented Left unity. All the Left leaders hailed Comrade CR’s legacy from the Telangana days and in anti-communal mobilisation and stressed the need for broad unity of Left and democratic forces and joint struggles against the Modi regime and the heightened corporate-communal offensive.

On 10th August, an international seminar on ‘Social Movement and the role of the Left’ was held as part of Centenary celebrations. Representatives from Cuba and Vietnam, and leaders of Communist Party Bangladesh, and Workers Party of Bangladesh addressed it. It was inaugurated by veteran CPI leader AB Bardhan, and Prabhat Patnaik delivered the keynote address. CPI(ML) Liberation CCM Comrade N Murthy also addressed the seminar.

OBITUARY

UR Ananthamurthy

We are saddened to hear of the demise of towering Kannada litterateur UR Ananthamurthy. Born in an orthodox Brahmin household, his first novel Samskara was a powerful critique of the hypocrisies of Brahminism. He was one of the pioneers of the Navya movement in Kannada literature. His literary oeuvre includes five novels, one play, eight short-story collections, three collections of poetry and eight more of essays.

In his writing, and as a public intellectual, he was a scathing critic of communal and casteist bigotry, earning him physical assaults as well as threats and abuse. In spite of this, he remained one of the country’s most steadfast voices in defence of secular, democratic values. His public stand against the rise of Narendra Modi who personified the fascist danger for him, made him the target of threats to his safety in the past few days. But he continued to defy the threats, declaring that bullies should not be allowed to turn citizens into cowards.

CPI(ML) salutes the memory of UR Ananthamurthy!

Comrade Bishuda

Comrade Bishuda (Biswaranjan Das) of Potiram, South Dinajpur district, veteran of the historic Tebhaga peasants struggle, and former member of Party’s West Bengal State Committee died breathed his last in Balurghat hospital. He was 94. He was a key leader of Tebhaga movement in Khanpur region of Dinajpur. He joined CPI(ML) Liberation in 1994. Despite his advanced age and physical ailments, his mental involvement and ideological commitment remained unshaken till the end.

Red Salute to Comrade Bishuda!

ML Update | No. 34 | 2014

August 20, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 | No. 34 | 19 – 25 AUG 2014

Modi’s Independence Day Speech

Decoding the Reality Behind the Hype and Rhetoric

It is time to parse Modi’s Independence Day speech carefully, behind the hype and rhetoric, for signals of what India can actually expect in terms of policies from his Government.

On a range of troubling questions ranging from rape to sex-selective abortion to farmers’ suicides to communal violence, the Prime Minister’s words, artfully chosen to create an impression of ‘inclusive governance’, contrasted starkly with the actual actions of his Government, BJP leaders, and the Sangh Parivar.

His speech waxed eloquent on parental responsibility in checking rapes. It did not for one moment answer why a rape-accused man had been given a place in his own Cabinet. More significantly, as a measure to curb rapes, he called upon parents to “impose as many restrictions on the sons as have been imposed on our daughters.” Women protesting rape have, time and again, sought that no restrictions be imposed on them in the name of protecting them from rape. Moreover, the fact is that ‘restrictions on sons’ are already imposed – by branding their love of a woman from another caste or community as ‘rape.’ The khap panchayats that kill inter-caste couples and the moral-policing outfits that force couples to tie ‘rakhi’ to each other do, after, all ‘impose patriarchal restrictions’ on both women and men. On the very eve of Independence Day, RSS leader S Gurumurthy declared that Indian women are ‘shy not shameless’, and the very day after Independence Day, a Goa BJP Minister called for a ban on women wearing bikinis on Goa’s beaches. Modi’s words did not convey any hint of censure to his camp followers who seek to curb the freedoms of women; he instead legitimized those restrictions by ‘balancing’ it with talk of ‘restrictions on boys.’

Likewise, Modi’s ‘appeal’ to doctors not to perform sex-selective abortions is lame, coming from the PM. Modi was silent on what his Government plans to do to ensure that the law is upheld and doctors performing such illegal abortions are punished.

Modi rhetorically asked “who has benefited from communalism” and called for a “10-year moratorium on communal violence”. But he chose to be silent about the systematic communalization project being undertaken by the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. In UP, it is very apparent “who has benefited from communalism” – none but Modi himself and the BJP. When Modi himself communalized the question of the meat industry by calling it a “pink revolution” involving the slaughter of cattle, was it not communalization? When Amit Shah and the BJP in UP communalize rape, branding the entire Muslim community as rapists and terming even consensual elopements as ‘rape’, is it not communalization? Is the BJP not creating communal flare-ups over every possible event from kids’ quarrels to disputes over loudspeakers?

Days before Independence Day, the RSS chief had issued a challenge to the very idea of India, by declaring that all residents of Hindustan were Hindus. The textbooks that are now compulsory reading for school kids in Modi’s home state, and that the Sangh Parivar promotes for inclusion in national syllabi, have an obscurantist and absurd content, very different from Modi’s claim of progress and forward-looking development. Modi’s studied silence on the RSS’ declarations that India is a Hindu Rashtra, and on Batra’s textbooks, give the lie to his claims of “inclusive governance.”

Modi similarly condemned regionalist violence; even as he Shiv Sena, founded on regional chauvinistic violence, shares power with him at the Centre. Modi also condemned casteist violence, even as the Sangh’s close links with the Ranveer Sena’s Dalit massacres in Bihar are no secret, and the BJP’s Tamil Nadu ally PMK is systematically unleashing violence on Dalits.

The ‘mask formula’ of the Vajpayee days is being recreated, with the PM’s ‘inclusive talk’ serving to mask the free run that the RSS agenda actually gets in the same PM’s regime. In the Vajpayee phase, the NDA CMP imposed at least a nominal check on the Sangh agenda, by formally excluding the pet issues of the RSS. This time around, there is no such formal CMP, and the RSS openly holds parleys with the Government. Even as the RSS and BJP are clearly pushing for a greater legitimisation of the Sangh discourse and practice in all areas from education to women’s rights to communal violence to foreign policy, Modi seeks to camouflage all this as an agenda of “inclusive governance.”

Modi spoke of the pain of farmers’ suicide, only to suggest that bank accounts and insurance of Rs 1 lakh can help families out in a crisis. He failed to confront the fact that the farmers’ suicides are caused by the Government’s policy of leaving farmers and agriculture at the mercy of corporations and calamities. It has been observed that UPA Government’s cosmetic measures of loan waivers failed to curb farmers’ suicides, because it was a case of ‘mopping the floor while leaving the tap overflowing’. Modi’s ‘Pradhanmantri Jan-dhan’ scheme will be no different, unless the Government reverses the policies that trap farmers’ in a debt cycle.

Modi’s talk of ‘Model Villages’ to promote rural development are eyewash, given that he was silent on the Government-promoted corporate offensive on land and livelihood in rural India. Referring to Maoism, he asked people to shoulder the plough instead of the gun in order to put an end to bloodshed. This disingenuous speech masks the reality. After all, guns are being used by police and paramilitary to kill peasants and adivasis defending their land, and this bloodshed is justified by branding those killed as ‘Maoists.’ Not only that, the bogey of ‘Maoism’ is used less against against those armed with guns, and more to silence voices and even songs of dissent. Just a day before Independence Day, the ABVP, student wing of Modi’s party, threatened violence at St Xaviers’ College Mumbai in order to prevent Dalit singer and activist Sheetal Sathe from speaking at a student festival.

Modi issued a rousing invitation to the world’s corporations to ‘Come Make in India’, and he asked India’s youth to feel pride that the world would see the ‘Made in India’ label. It is well known that only countries offering cheap, pliant, exploitable labour – Bangladesh, Taiwan, Mexico, Honduras, China and so on – are favoured destinations for global manufacturing corporations. The countries whose names figure in ‘Made in’ labels are all known for their super-exploited workforce in sweatshops, and for repressive governments that crack down on workers’ right to unionize and protest. Modi’s government is already set to roll back or dilute various labour laws to facilitate and intensify the exploitation of cheap labour, and this agenda is what underpins the rhetorical call to ‘Make in India’.

It is true that the Planning Commission stands heavily discredited, since people associate it with the absurd poverty benchmarks declared by Montek Ahluwalia. But abolishing the Planning Commission entirely represents the final abdication of the last relic of welfare-oriented mixed economy and a complete switchover to the tyranny of corporate-dominated market economy.

In Modi’s speech, there was a marked silence on the promise of ‘acche din’, which each of his electoral speeches had harped upon. Far from the promised relief, change, and new vision and policies, what Modi’s Government, and his I-Day speech are doing is simply to repackage old, unfulfilled schemes as a brand new vision of development.

The people of India will not be fobbed off with rhetoric any more. They will be looking at the Government’s policies and actions on the ground. And attempts to re-package and re-brand price rise, land grab and exploitation of cheap labour by Indian corporations and MNCs as ‘development’; as well as the politics of communalism and patriarchy being pursued with the blessings of the Central Government, will not impress them.

ABVP Prevents Sheetal Sathe From Speaking

Sheetal Sathe, Dalit singer and activist of the Kabir Kala Manch, had been invited to speak at the Malhar Festival in St. Xaviers’ College Mumbai on the eve of Independence Day. The ABVP issued a threat of violent disruption, after which filmmaker Anand Patwardhan gave a talk in her place. Below is an excerpt from the text of Anand’s speech on the occasion.

14th August. Another Sad Day for Democracy

I speak before you today in place of the designated speaker, Sheetal Sathe. It is not that Sheetal Sathe could not come on stage today because she or her baby fell ill. It is not that she had nothing to say. It is not that she was afraid to say what she had to say. And it is not that she did not come because she doubted the sincerity of those who had invited her.

It is precisely because she treasures the love and respect shown to her by the students who had invited her to speak and sing at this year’s Malhar festival that Sheetal Sathe has chosen not to allow the organizers of this festival and all the people gathered here to be exposed to the ugly threats of disruption that have been issued against them in case she spoke and sang here today.

Let it be known far and wide who exactly has issued these threats. These threats have not been issued by a court of law or by the police, or by any instrument of the State or national government. Sheetal Sathe is out on bail precisely because an Indian high court ruled that her liberty did not have to be curtailed while she was undergoing trial to establish her innocence. The court has not taken away her freedom of speech or her right to sing. The court has not sought to officially stifle her voice or the voice of the millions of oppressed and stigmatized people that she sings about.

An extra-constitutional body that threatens the very fabric of our secular democracy has issued this threat. There are many such extra-constitutional bodies that are growing in power today. Such bodies have many names and many duties. Some decide what books the people of India should read. Some decide what films we should see. Some decide what speeches and songs we should hear. There are many self-appointed censors, but make no mistake, they belong to one single family with one single ideology and one set of beliefs. These beliefs have been inculcated from a very young and impressionable age. I will not list all these beliefs except to point out that apart from asserting that the aeroplane and rocket science was invented thousands of years ago in the Vedic era of Brahminism which they call the golden era, it includes an abiding faith in the Manusmriti, an ancient Brahminic law code that deprived Dalits and women of their most basic human rights and permitted untold atrocities upon all those who challenged it.

Today this ideology comes before us in a new disguise of nationalism. It is draped in the flag of India – the very tricolour that it loudly denounced at the time of Independence when its followers insisted on hoisting an orange flag of Hindutva instead. They also refused to sing “Jana Gana Mana” demanding that “Vande Mataram” should be the national anthem. Needless to point out that “Vande Mataram” was penned by Bankim Chandra in his 19th century novel Anandmath, a book that vilified India’s Muslims.

Apart from nationalism there is another even more seductive disguise that has recently fired the lust of India’s elite and middle classes. It is the disguise of “development”. This development lust has trumped even the tricolour for it says “So what if the world’s oil and water is rapidly depleting? So what if there is pollution, global warming and the threat of tsunami and nuclear disaster? Why should we protect India’s air, water, forests, land and ore from the multinationals who wish to grab it?”

They are ready to sell our sovereignty for the short-term gain of a few, as long as they are allowed to make a hologram of the national flag. They then proceed to promote our most primitive, racist and exploitative cultural and economic traditions while making suitable noises about modernity and development.

How do you and I resist? Make no mistake. This is an ideology that brooks no dissent. Today is yet another sad day for India’s democracy. It is a day when an extra Constitutional power backed by a ruling political party has issued a threat against a college run for over a century by Christians. Yes, that is the bottom-line. That is what makes St. Xaviers College and in particular, its principled principal, a specially vulnerable target.

Sheetal Sathe and the KKMDC do not wish to jeopardize this festival. But we wish to put on record that we will never be silenced. And we want the public to know who exactly has issued this particular threat. The threat has been issued by the Akhil Bharati Vidyarthi Parishad (APVP) the youth wing of a political party that came to power by telling the people of India that it no longer stands for the divisive, communal and casteist politics that it had been associated with in the past.

You have to understand the real reason why groups like the ABVP hate groups like the KKM. It has nothing to do with nationalism or Naxalism. It is because their visions of India are diametrically opposed. The Kabir Kala Manch believes in a pluralistic India where caste, religion and race is replaced by the recognition that we are all human beings first who deserve justice, peace and true democracy. The ideologues of Hindutva, no matter how big a national flag they wrap around themselves, have always had a completely different agenda.

Anand Patwardhan, 14 August 2014, St Xaviers’ College Mumbai

Kisan Mahasabha Observes Nationwide Protest Day on August 9

The Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha observed August 9 as Protest Day all over the country and organized dharnas, marches, and meetings to highlight farmers’ demands, especially against dilution of the Land Acquisition Act and approval for field trials for GM crops. Subsequently, the approval for GM field trials has been put on hold, but the Government’s intentions to promote corporate interests over farmers’ interests is clear.

RAJASTHAN:

Many effective programmes were organized by the Kisan Mahasabha in Udaipur, Pratapgarh, Jhunjhunu, Jaipur and Ajmer districts of Rajasthan on August 9 to observe Kranti Diwas, attended by the Party’s people’s organizations and members in large numbers.

JHARKHAND:

A huge dharna and meeting of 2500 farmers was led by Puran Mahto and Sitaram Singh at Giridih district HQ. Addressing the farmers Kisan Mahasabha national secretary Com. Rajaram Singh said that the Modi govt move to further benefit the corporate houses through amendment of the Land Acquisition Bill would leave the farmers bereft of all rights and they would lose even what little they had gained through the Land Acquisition Bill of 2013. The proposed amendments would also increase food insecurity throughout the country. The Modi govt is trying to remove provisions in the existing Bill such as mandatory consent of 70% farmers, estimation of social effect, etc. The existing Bill has a compensation rate of only 4 times instead of 6 times the market rate; but the Modi govt, in addition to removing even this, also wants to do away with giving compensation for workers and artisans dependent on the land and with the provision that acquired land if not in use, can be used by farmers. The attempt is also to remove obstacles to acquisition of multi-crop land. Farmers have long demanded that there should be a land conservation Bill instead of a land acquisition Bill. The Modi govt has given the green signal for dangerous field trials of GM seeds without proper research and investigation, which will have far reaching disastrous consequences. The govt allowed field trials of GM rice, wheat, vegetables, brinjal, pulses and oil crops under pressure of MNCs. The Kisan Mahasabha called for an acceleration of protest against the anti-people and anti-nation policies of the govt at a meeting at Ramgarh district, Chandan Kiyari block HQ in Bokaro district, and Garhwa district.

UTTARAKHAND:

A march was taken out on August 9 at Lalkuan in Nainital district, addressed by Kisan Mahasabha leaders after which an effigy of Modi was burnt. Dharnas and meetings were held at Pithoragarh, Munasyari, Shrinagar, and Garhwal, and memorandums submitted to the President. The dharna protests were attended by farmers in large numbers.

HARYANA:

Kisan Mahasabha organized a dharna at Karnal district HQ in which other people also joined the farmers and heard the speeches. The speakers pointed out that due to the proximity of Delhi, land in Haryana is being acquired at an alarming rate by corporate houses. They demanded that there should not be an amendment to the land acquisition Bill; rather, it should be replaced by a land conservation Bill.

ANDHRA PRADESH:

Protest Day was observed on August 9 in 3 districts in AP. Acquisition of cultivable land has become a major issue in the State. Dharnas, protests, and meetings well attended by farmers were organized at Kakinada, Karnool, and Krishna district.

ODISHA:

20 districts of the State are badly flood-affected, Puri being one of the worst affected. Kisan Mahasabha workers are collecting and sending relief materials to the affected areas. Protests are being organized at different blocks in Puri district to demand proper relief and rehabilitation works. In spite of the floods, over 300 farmers from Puri came to attend the August 9 Protest Day programme in the capital Bhubhaneshwar. After a protest and meeting in front of the CM’s house, a memo was submitted to the CM demanding immediate stopping of amendments to the land acquisition Bill, and proper flood relief works.

WEST BENGAL:

August 9 was observed as Nationwide Protest Day and the week up to August 14 as Statewide Protest Week. Block level protests were held from Aug 9 to 13 and on Aug 14 protests were held in front of the District Magistrates at Burdwan, Nadiya, Darjeeling, North and South 24 parganas. Several street meetings were held where the speakers unmasked the anti-farmer face of the Modi govt.

MAHARASHTRA:

A huge rally of farmers and workers was taken out at Pune, where apart from the above demands, it was also demanded that the closed sugar mills be reopened, new wage fixation for workers and unemployment allowance of Rs. 3000 be fixed.

PUNJAB:

A 14 point memo was submitted to the PM through the SDMs from 14 places in Punjab. The demands included declaring Punjab as drought affected, large scale irrigation facilities, and steps to stop farmer suicides. Dharnas and protests were held at Mansa, Sangrur, Gurdaspur, Barnala, Pathankot, Firozpur, Muksar, and Faridkot.

UTTAR PRADESH:

To mark Aug 9 as Protest day, dharnas, protests, marches and meetings were held at Ghazipur, Gorakhpur, Pilibhit, Phulpur, Bareilly, Mathura, Lakhimpur Khiri, Balliya, Chandauli, Azamgarh, and Kushinagar. Speakers who addressed the meetings, attended by large numbers of farmers as well as other people, pointed out the pro-corporate and anti-farmer character of the Modi govt. Memorandums were submitted to the Prime Minister through the local authorities.

BIHAR:

Kisan Mahasabha organized a huge dharna at Kargil Chowk near Gandhi Maidan in Patna on Aug 9. The dharna saw a good participation by lower middle farmers as well as sharecroppers and also other people. A memo was submitted to the PM through the DM demanding that Bihar should be declared drought affected and proper relief, irrigation, and ration arrangements should be made and proper irrigation should be arranged through ahar-pipes from Punpun, Dardha, and Morhar rivers. Dharnas were held and memos submitted from Biddupur block in Vaishali, Mahua, Lalganj, and Bhojpur district HQ in Ara, which were well attended by farmers. Pamphlets were distributed for wider circulation. Protests were held at Buxar district HQ to demand supply of water to the lower areas of the Son canal, and expedition of the Kadwan reservoir project. Dharnas and meetings were also organized at Rohtas district HQ in Sasaram, Aurangabad, and Jehanabad district HQs. Farmers protested at Arwal district HQ and an effigy of PM Narendra Modi was burnt at Arwal crossroads. Protest marches and dharnas were held at Nalanda district HQ in Biharshariff, Begusarai district HQ, Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur district, Purnea, Siwan, Gopalganj, Muzaffarpur, and Patna City. Speakers at the meetings exposed the anti-farmer policies of the Modi govt and said that the struggle woud be accelerated by observing the week from 29 Aug to 4 Sep as a statewide Protest week when protests would be held at various block HQs and demands would be raised for declaring Bihar a drought affected State and making proper arrangements for irrigation, ration and electricity. “Kisan Jagaran Saptah” would be observed from 6 to 12 Oct during whih padyatras would be undertaken from village to village and extensive contact would be made with farmers.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 708 other followers