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.

ML Update | No. 33 | 2014

August 13, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 | No. 33 | 12 – 18 AUG 2014

BJP Agenda Unfolds:

Communal Politics and Corporate-Dictated Economic Policy

The BJP’s National Council meeting was held last week, sending clear signals about the agenda and ambitions of the BJP and the Modi Government.

The new BJP President Amit Shah outlined the plan to repeat the BJP’s spectacular UP success story, ensure BJP victories all over the country, and achieve dominance and hegemony for the BJP’s ideology. Enumerating the reasons for the BJP’s UP success, Shah cited the BJP’s “right approach in social engineering.” Meanwhile, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, breaking a two month long silence with his speech at the BJP National Council meet, referred to concerns about communal polarization in UP, as “vote bank politics.” The obvious question here, of course, is this: in what way is what Amit Shah hails as “social engineering,” different from what Modi calls “vote bank politics’?

The exact nature of the BJP’s “social engineering” can be gauged by the investigative reports by an English daily about communal conflicts in UP. The paper found that there have been more than 600 plus instances of communal tension in UP since the Lok Sabha polls, mostly around the 12 constituencies where by-elections are shortly due. The paper documented how loudspeakers, kids’ bicycles, dhaba bills and runaway lovers have all become pretexts for flaring up of communal polarisation and potential riots. The paper reported that a vast number of these ‘engineered’ conflicts have been between Dalits and Muslims. The BJP’s ‘social engineering’ has involved the deliberate efforts to sow the seeds of hatred among Dalits against Muslims, in order to reap a harvest of votes later.

One of the key tools of this saffron “social engineering” has been to communalize consensual relationships and rape cases alike, to promote the bogey of “love jehad” by Muslim men against Hindu women. Towards this, the RSS launched a vicious campaign to use the Rakshabandhan festival as an occasion to tie Rakhis to lakhs of Hindu men, asking them to pledge to protect their sisters from Muslim men and “love jehad,” and the VHP runs a ‘helpline’ urging Hindus to approach them “if your daughter is being harassed by Muslim boys.” The Supreme Court has had to warn against attempts to communalize rape allegations in Western UP that threaten to destroy the secular fabric of the country.

What is the ideology that Amit Shah for which seeks to achieve unchallenged dominance? The RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has underlined the true nature of that ideology in a recent statement, that the inhabitants of Hindustan are all Hindus. This refrain of the RSS is based on the false suggestion that ‘Hindustan’ is the land of the followers of the ‘Hindu’ faith. The fact is that the word ‘Hindustan’ (and likewise the word ‘Hindu’ and ‘Indian’ both) derive from the Persian word for the land and the people around the Sindhu river. These words themselves are testimony to India’s composite culture, that the RSS’ myth-making cannot erase. Much like the RSS chief, the Goa Deputy Chief Minister also recently declared that “India is a Hindu country. It is Hindustan. All Indians in Hindustan are Hindus,” and a Goa minister Dipak Dhavalikar declared, “We should support Modi as he will develop India into a Hindu nation.” These statements make it very clear that the “social engineering” of the RSS and BJP involves creating a Hindu “vote bank”, in fact a “Hindu nation”, one in which people of other faiths will be subordinated and subjected to humiliation and violence. This agenda was outlined long back by the RSS founders, but Indian people have rejected it till now. Under the Modi Government, the RSS and BJP dream of actually achieving that agenda. After Gujarat, UP is the next saffron laboratory, and the BJP hopes to repeat UP on a larger scale all over the country.

The problem is that the Modi Government was not elected primarily for its communal plank. It rode the dissatisfactions and anger of the people against the Congress regime. And now, the Modi Government is widely perceived as continuing the Congress-UPA’s policies of corporate appeasement and ant-people policies. In fact, Amit Shah’s speech indicates that even the few rights and entitlements that the people’s movements wrested from the UPA Government, such as right to employment (MNREGA) or the Land Acquisition legislation, will now be rolled back. Rubbishing what he called ‘entitlement based policies’, Shah declared that for the BJP, ‘empowerment’ came first and ‘entitlement’ would flow naturally from ‘empowerment’ and ‘good governance.’ He specifically said that the Modi Government consider “neither framing of an act nor an agitation by the people” as required to ensure people’s rights, which should flow “automatically” from the “right conditions.” This corporate- and imperialism-inspired economic and political philosophy was expressed even more blatantly by BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy in a talk recently, where he referred to the poor as “parasites on the state.”

The BJP’s pro-corporate policies call the bluff of its own election-time pro-poor posturing, and the sinister communal agenda of the RSS and BJP threaten the basic fabric of democracy in India.

Gana Mancha Convention in Kolkata

Five left political organisations, namely CPI-ML(Liberation), Left Collective, Samajik Nyay Vichar Mancha, Mazdoor Kranti Parishad and Radical Socialist, came together in West Bengal to form a united platform for ‘working people’s movement for democracy and secularism’ (abbreviated as ‘Gana Mancha’ in Bengali, which loosely translates into People’s Platform) through a joint convention held in Kolkata on August 7, 2014. The convention adopted a resolution which will serve as guideline for coordinated action by the five organisations in the upcoming days. The convention was held at Phani Bhushan Mancha, near Bagbazar, in the state capital. The convention called for building mass political struggles against corporate-fascist offensives of the NDA government at the centre and against anti-people policies and undemocratic measures of the TMC government in West Bengal. 



Partha Ghosh, State Secretary of CPI-ML, in his speech rejected the notion peddled by a section of the media, that this platform is being built by some ‘disgruntled/dissident CPI-M workers’. He said, this is a platform for struggle, for taking effective action against the anti-people policies of the government. “One after another factories are getting closed, and the owners keep getting away with looting PF and gratuity dues of the workers. Yet the government keeps mum. This platform must take up issues like this”, said Comrade Ghosh. He spoke on starvation deaths in the tea-gardens, on how peasants in Singur and Nandigram are yet to get justice, and how the rights of dalits, adivasis and muslims are being trampled upon in the state. Speaking on the threat of corporate communal fascism, he said we must take up the challenge to build the broadest co-ordinated movement to defend both democracy and secularism. “Some in the left camp are still pained about Singur, and sympathize with Tata. They must apologize to the people” he said. Comrade Rezzak Mollah said that we are planting a sapling today which will grow into a big tree in the future. He called out to the youth of the state to build a powerful movement against the oppressive anti-youth policies of the centre and state. Comrade Prasenjit Bose of the Left Collective said the so-called ‘Gujrat model’ of development followed by the erstwhile ruling left in Bengal produced an environment where a dictatorial party like the TMC could usurp power. Building people’s movement in the streets is the need of the hour.

Amitabha Chakravarty of the MKP, and Kunal Chattopadhyay of the Radical Socialist also spoke on the occasion. Comrade Mangat Ram Pasla, General Secretary of CPM Punjab who came to extend solidarity to the convention spoke of building a principled left unity in this critical time in our country. Representatives from other left organisations also extended solidarity to the initiative. Apart from Com. Pasla, Com K K Rema, wife and comrade of slain RMP leader T P Chandrasekharan along with left activists from Tamil Nadu, Maharastra and Kerala were present as guests in the convention.

Struggle Against Repression on Adivasis in Gujarat

In Gujarat’s Valsad district, in the Umergaon, Kapdada, Dharmpur, Vapi and Pardi talukas, adivasis with CPI(ML)’s support have been conducting a struggle against loot of their land. The struggle has been resisting grab of adivasi land by land mafia, handover of adivasi land to industrialists by the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation GIDC on various pretexts, and demanding implementation of the Forest Rights Act. In exchange for the land grabbed, the adivasis receive a pittance as compensation. The BJP Government and local Congress leadership work in tandem to facilitate the land grab.

The terror unleashed against adivasis is enormous here, and CPI(ML) leaders too have faced murderous attacks. CPIP(ML) leader Laxmanbhai Patanwaria was attacked and injured in 2007; Kapila Ben, the CPI(ML) candidate in the Zila Panchayat polls, was attacked in 2010. A delegation led by Laxcmanbhai Patanwaria to the police thana to raise the issue, was also attacked outside the thana – no FIR was lodged by cops. The attacks took place on orders of the local BJP MLA Raman Patkar.

Agaon on 2 July 2014, goons attacked Laxmanbhai Patanwaria at a bus stop, and soon after, goons surrounded and attacked his house. Because of the tremendous resistance from villagers, the goons had to beat a retreat.

The adivasis have been living on the land for generations, but few have any documents to prove land tenure. Land mafia and GIDC take advantage of this to grab the land. The surrounding area is a chemical industry hub and one of the most polluted areas in the country, and the land is very valuable for corporations.

On 5 August, the party organized a protest march to the Collectorate demanding:

1. Survey the forest land under the FRA and distribute the land to adivasis without delay, giving them documents for their land.

2. Investigate attacks on CPI(ML) leaders and punish the perpetrators and conspirators.

3. Stop the pollution spread by chemical corporations in collution with GIDC, punish companies for poisoning fields and drinking water, making them pay for clean-up and compensation. Close down polluting industries and set up an effective pollution control board.

4. Put a stop to police terror against adivasis

5. Investigate corruption in MNREGA implementation in the whole district and punish the guilty

The demonstration was led by CPI(ML) PB member Prabhat Kumar, the party’s Gujarat in-charge Ranjan Ganguly, State leading team member Laxmanbhai Patanwaria, RYA in-charge Amit Patanwaria, youth leader Kamlesh as well as Kamla Ben and Damayanti Ben.

Rallies in Rajasthan to Mark Quit India Day

On 9th August 2014, events were organized at Udaipur, Pratapgarh, Jhunjhunu, Jaipur and Ajmer to mark Quit India Day.

In Pratapgarh, 300 party cadres led by CCM Mahendra Chaudhury held a rally in the city. The rally culminated in a public meeting addressed by Mahendra chaudhury, district secretary Shambhu Rawal, Zafar Husain and others, who condemned the Modi Government for selling out people’s interests in favour of corporations. After the meeting, a delegation submitted a 21-point set of demands including MNREGA work and proper pay and various civic amenities; roll back of approval for GM crops and proposed amendments to the Land Acquisition Act.

In Udaipur, the Construction Labour Union district secretary Gautam Lal Morila and AIKM leader Chandradeo Ola addressed a mass meeting at the district administration office. A demand charter was submitted addressed to CM and President of India.

Similar protest events were held at Jhunjhunu, Jaipur and Ajmer district HQs.

Peasants Asks GM Crops to Quit India

On 9th August, Quit India Day, All India Kisan Mahasabha held nation-wide protests against the Government’s move to approve GM seeds and to roll back crucial and hard-won protections in the Land Acquisition Act.

A detailed report of the protests will be carried in the next issue.

At Karnal in Haryana, the AIKM Vice President Comrade Prem Singh Gehlawat addressed the protest gathering of peasants, along with Comrades Mahindra Chopra, Rajendra Phoosgarh, Krishn Saini Asandh, Ishwar Pal, Ramu Uplana, Satyawan Valmiki, Karmvir Mistri, Natthi Kashyap Ladobagdi, Som Prakash, Ram Kumar Pal and Lalit Saini.

Women’s Tribunal In Lucknow Puts State and Central Government in the Dock

The AIPWA held a Women’s Tribunal in Lucknow, attended by around 700 women from various districts across the state. The tribunal put the State and Central Governments in the dock over the unabated violence against women in the State.

Survivors of violence, and relatives of victims testified at the Tribunal. One woman from Lakhimpur Kheri spoke of the sexual harassment she faced at the hands of cops, followed by cops jailing her husband on false pretexts.

Another woman spoke of how her 11 year old daughter was raped and hung from a tree in 2011, a case in which the perpetrators are yet to be punished.

A woman from Pilibhit spoke of her daughter being killed for dowry, and the accused openly sharing sweets with cops, ensuring that no FIR was even registered in the case.

Several women from Pilibhit spoke of the harassment of peasant women in the name of the Tiger Reserve. “When we collect firewood and other small forest produce,” said Halka Devi, “the forest officers and cops sexually molest us and beat us up. If we complain they say, don’t come into the forest if you don’t like it. How can we survive without firewood?”

AIPWA activist Saroj from Ghazipur spoke of a series of attacks on women that showed the deep nexus of cops with criminal elements. Jeera Devi was beaten by criminal Sanjay Singh, who was not arrested. Kamrunnissa and her son were beaten up by cops and warned not to complain against criminal elements.

AIPWA activist Anita from Mirzapur and Sarojini from Sitapur testified to more incidents, speaking of the experience of supporting survivors of violence. One woman from Sitapur spoke of how her 14 year old daughter was raped. She identified the rapists but the cops delayed filing a case for 2 days. On the third day they demanded Rs 8000 as a bribe. Rs 4000 was paid, and the FIR lodged, but the family was coerced into saying that no rape had occurred, and the FIR did not mention rape! AIPWA activists and CPI(ML) took up this case and are in the process of fighting for justice, with the 14 year old survivor very bravely standing firm.

Arti Rai, AIPWA VP, also spoke of the situation in the state, where both SP and BJP, State and Central Governments seem more interested in moral policing than in defending women’s rights.

Speakers discussed the experiences of the Badayun and Mohanlalganj rape and murder cases, pointing out that neither UP cops nor CBI seemed interested in justice for the victims. Instead these cases were being sensationalized and distorted. And in Meerut and Muzaffarnagar, rape complaints were being communalized by the RSS and BJP to serve the BJP’s political agenda.

The main speaker was Kavita Krishnan, secretary AIPWA, who pointed out that neither state nor central governments were spending on more shelters for women and more courts to ensure speedy trials. Neither was taking action against errant cops or ensuring accountable policing. Rather, the UP Government was busy making atrocious sexist comments to make rapes appear ‘normal’. While the Modi Government, to cover up its lack of action on urgent measures, was instead amending the dowry and domestic violence Acts to make it more difficult for women to get justice and protection under these Acts. She slammed the Government’s move to amend the Juvenile Justice Act, saying that sending juvenile offenders to jail would only turn them into hardened criminals, and would make women no safer. Further, she pointed out that a large number of ‘rape’ cases involving juveniles are actually elopement cases, which have been criminalized by the raising of age of consent. Now, if the JJ Act is amended, such innocent young boys who have been affectionate with a girl of same age, might not only be booked for rape but even jailed! Kavita warned of the attempts by RSS and other groups to take away women’s freedom to marry by choice, by raising the bogey of love jehad. Such a charged communal atmosphere, she said, will make it difficult for women to choose their own partners from another religion; but also make it difficult for them to complain against rape for fear of communalization.

AIPWA State President Tahira Hasan and Secretary Geeta Pande as well as AIPWA National Executive member Vidya Rajwar, and CPI(ML) CC Member Krishna Adhikari addressed the gathering.

The event was also addressed by distinguished women’s rights activists Prof Rooprekha varma, Nivedita from NFIW, Sudha from Humsafar, Anupama from Save Womnen, Naz from Bahin and Gita Singh from Domestic Workers’ organization.

Red Salute to Comrade Tripti Trivedi

Comrade Tripti Trivedi, health workers’ national leader and senior CPI(ML) leader, passed away on 25 July 2014 after a battle with cancer. He was born in Murshidabad district and at a young age was drawn to rationalist ideas and progressive thought. In the late 1960s he joined the Naxalbari movement when he was studying to be a doctor in the RG Kar Medical College.

Later he worked as a part time party organizer in Jalpaiguri town of North Bengal. He took admission in Jalpaiguri Pharmacology college from where he graduated.

In 1974-76 he began working in the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS), where after some years he felt ht need to form a workers’ union. This was easier said than done, but Comrade Tripti worked very hard to form Unions of CGHS all over the country. Through the union – the All India CGHS Employees Union – he helped organize workers to raise various questions of health workers. The Union affiliated itself with the AICCTU. Comrade Tripti helped establish a women’s unit of the Union that worked with AIPWA and AICCTU. Eventually Comrade Triti helped establish the Health Workers’ Federation nationally. Tripti da retired in 2006 and worked as the party’s district secretary in Murshidabad.

Comrade Tripti Da’s energy and commitment is an inspiration to us all. Long Live Comrade Tripti Da!

ML Update | No. 32 | 2014

August 6, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 | No. 32 | 5 – 11 AUG 2014

Red Salute, Nabarun Da!

​Nabarun Bhattacharya is no more. The revolutionary poet, short story writer and novelist, passed away on 31st July evening in a Calcutta Hospital after his prolonged battle with cancer.

In the world we live in, his iconic poem, ‘This Valley of Death Is Not My Country’ could be the anguished cry and resolve of any citizen of the world; of the people of America or Israel; Iraq or Syria; Sri Lanka or India… The spirit of that poem lives in the struggles of people: struggles that, in renouncing the ‘Nation’ that the ruling class equates with violence, cruelty, and devastation, actually expresses a profound love for one’s land, one’s people and humanity at large.

Born in 1948 in Baharampur of Murshidabad district, Nabarun was the child of renowned actor-playwright Bijon Bhattacharya and Magsaysay award-winning writer Mahasweta Devi.

Nabarun won the Sahitya Akademi award in 1997 for his novel Herbert, a landmark in modern Bengali literature which synthesizes the lives of contemporary urban marginalized and stylised poetic sensibility into political statements.

Bhattacharya relentlessly wrote about marginalised sections living on the city streets, in slums and dark alleys, using political satire, dark humour, and magic realism to telling effect to highlight oppression and exploitation of our times. He persistently challenged the dominant ideas associated with Bengali literature through his subversive writing style.

Bhattacharya was also a very close witness of the radical left movement of seventies’ Bengal, which is evident in his works. But it is not the romantic nostalgia for a radical past, but the turbulent seventies coming back to haunt the apparent peace of the present, which is a very familiar motif in his writings.

A fearless voice against state power, Nabarun always remained, in his own words, “an outsider to the circus of literature”. He returned the Bankim Award in 2007 against West Bengal Government’s Nandigram carnage. He was also a staunch critic of the Trinamool Congress government that is stifling democratic protests and civil rights.

Nabarunda’s writings will always kindle fire, he will live on in our hearts and our struggles.

In memory of Nabarun Da – and Saroj Dutta’s whose martyrdom anniversary was observed on 5th August, below is an excerpt from a translation of ‘Ei Mrityu Upatyaka Amar Desh Na’

This Valley of Death is Not My Country

I spit on the father who fears to point at his child’s corpse

I spit on the brother and his shameless sanity despite everything

I spit on the teacher, the intellectual, the poet and the clerk

who do not seek to avenge this bloodbath out in the open

Seventeen corpses

lie stretched across the pathway of reckoning

I am losing my senses bit by bit

Seventeen open pairs of eyes look at me in sleep

I scream out

I will turn insane

I will kill myself

I will do whatever I want to do

I will eat the sun, the moon and the stars

I will smash all bridges between the viewer and the viewed

This is the exact time for poetry

Through stenciled manifestos on naked walls

A collage crafted of own blood, tears and bones –

now is the time for poetry

in the torn face of severest pain

right now is the time to hurl poetry

face to face with real terror –

keeping eyes fixed at the blinding headlight of the vans

at the three naught three and whatever else the killers have

It is time to face them with poetry

Through stone-cold lock-up chambers

Shattering the yellow lamps of crime investigation cells

In courthouses run by murderers

In seats of learning that teach lies and spew venoms of hatred

In the state machine churning abuse and terror

In the heartless chest of gunmen who serve that machine –

Let the anger of poetry echo out in fury

Let the poets of the world prepare themselves, like Lorca,

for their strangled corpses to disappear

let them be ready to be stitched up by machine-gun bullets

the hours beckon

the city of poetry must be surrounded by villages of poetry.

this valley of death is not my country

this executioner’s theater is not my country

this vast charnel-ground is not my country

this blood-drenched slaughterhouse is not my country

I will snatch my country back

I will pull the fog-kissed white kans flowers, the crimson dusks and the endless rivers

back into my chest

With all my body I shall surround the fireflies, forests burning in ancient hills,

countless crops of hearts, flowers, humans and horses from fairytales

I shall name each star after each martyr

I shall call out to the howling breezes, lights and shadows playing across the fish-eyed lakes of dawn

And Love – banished to places lightyears away ever since I was born:

I shall call it too, to join the carnival of the day of Revolution.

I reject

Days and nights of interrogation with a thousand watts of electricity blazing straight into eyeballs

I reject

Electric needles inside fingernails

I reject

Having to lie naked on chunks of ice

I reject

Being hanged upside down till blood gushes out of nostrils

I reject

Spiked boots pressed on lips, burning iron rods on every inch of skin

I reject

The sudden blast of alcohol on whiplashed back

I reject

Stark electric jolts on the nerves, pieces of rocks shoved inside vaginas, scrotums mangled to pulp

I reject

Being beaten and thrashed to death

I reject

Revolver-muzzles stuck against craniums

Poetry is eternal, irrepressible

Poetry is armed, poetry is free, poetry is fearless

Behold the warriors –

Mayakovsky, Hikmet, Neruda, Aragon, Eluard –

Look at them looking at you from the clouds.

Call out loud.

A Selection of Nabarun’s Poems

(translated from Bangla by Avijit Basak)

A bunch of bulletproof poems

A bunch of bulletproof poems

Stand in front of the Firing Squad

With their shirt buttons open, fearless

They stand.

The bleeding lips of a bird

Hang biting the hand of a big metal clock

Harpoon struck whales

Stare at the scene with eyes overturned

Stars watch the blood bathed sea

In their lights from far off days

Stupefaction dissolves

On the leaden pipe the Great Flag

Freezes in fear.

The head of the city spins

Cool air from the slaughterhouse

Runs after the school children

Those lost in love become

Between one kiss and another

Stunned photographs

Stones sweat

The heart of the terror-bomb weakens

Lawyers with black robes walk

Pocketwatch of moon in their dirty pockets

The news just came in

That long before men

Birds and butterflies conquered moon

We just learned

That each pole is affected with destructive melting

Seventy one Noble laureate scientists have confirmed

Men don’t watch t.v. after death

When newspapers throughout the world

Publish of us having no future

When all political leaders say

Our last efforts have failed

Inevitable missiles fly

Void swells within fixed deposits

Between fingers burns

The last cigarette of the world

Then, yes, right then

A bunch of bulletproof poems

Stand in front of the Firing Squad

With their shirt buttons open, fearless

They stand.

Life As We Live”

The Philosopher said, Son

Life is indeed like watching

‘Sholay’ on big screen

A couple of daredevils run

With mouthorgan

Effortlessly, to catch the goon Gabbar

My child, go to sleep in night therefore,

Without fear, and with your eyes see

The garden is graced with gals and madrigals

But thinking of the world whole,

Which was supposed to be changing

A bunch of amateurs,

Fashionably revolutionary leaders

Metamorphosed into professional ministers

By night, and nobody cared

Villagers, oppressed, do not fear, well

Courage is like a soft towel

We can hear that comforting oracle from the stable

And that healthy poison, watertight and pure

Reaches every household for sure.

Apart from these mechanisms

We have kick-thief lawyers

Palm scratching police

And inhuman doctors

Due to whose indifferent cheers

The vat-ground is busy with supplies.

But what would we do with all these boss

WE THE PEOPLE, or ant-ish public

We are just toothless idiots

Slave-waiter class

Busy with frequent sex-tax drives

Feeding on flies

And casting votes with sickly wives

It is far better

To threat cut or chase in car

And very often than not

By different penal parliamentary acts get caught.

Buttons

I don’t party with the homeless

I have a room

I own one.

When lost, torn apart

The homeless me

Find my mouth

Agape in void.

The Living and the Dead

The Coward and the Daring

I know of their different heartbeats.

In the Name of Humanity, Stop the Israeli Slaughter in Gaza: More than 1,800 Killed and almost 10,000 Injured

Press Release Gaza Ministry of Health, Palestine

The Ministry of Health Gaza condemns in the strongest possible terms the Israeli breaking of the humanitarian ceasefire in a murderous attack on the Al-Bakri family home in Al-Shaati refugee camp in west Gaza City, killing an eight-year-old child and injuring 30 other people, mostly women and children.

This attack on a home in one of the most densely populated residential areas on earth only minutes after the commencement of a humanitarian ceasefire can only be seen as a calculated and deliberate attack on civilians.

This attack can only be seen as calculated and cynical disregard for the ceasefire agreement – the same cynical disregard Israelis have evidenced towards each and every agreement they have ever signed, whether ceasefire, international convention, treaty or peace agreement.

This attack in breach of all legal and humanitarian law can only be seen as yet another example of the complete contempt and disdain in which the Israeli authorities hold all standards of civilised behaviour, organisations and instruments of international law, and humanity itself.

This attack comes amid the ongoing massacre in Rafah in which at least 170 have already lost their lives, as the death toll continues to rise.

Since July 7 more than 1,800 Gazans have been killed and almost 10,000 injured, the vast majority of them women, children and the elderly.

Its own actions in the past four weeks have stripped the thin mask of civility from the Israeli face, and revealed its abject savagery to the world.

In the name of humanity, the Ministry of Health Gaza demands that the international community act immediately to end the slaughter of innocents in Gaza, and hold the Israeli war criminals to account.

Witnessing the systematic destruction of Gaza

August 4, 2014

(Interview with Joe Catron is a journalist and activist in Gaza, where he works with Palestinian groups and international solidarity networks. He co-edited The Prisoners’ Diaries: Palestinian Voices from the Israeli Gulag, an anthology of accounts from detainees freed in 2011, and blogs at joecatron.wordpress.com. Catron spoke with Tithi Bhattacharya, a Purdue University professor and member of the International Socialist Review editorial board.)

WHAT CAN you tell the world about the morale of people in Gaza now living almost a month under Israeli bombs?

MORALE REMAINS strong, even among those facing the toughest circumstances. Whenever I walk into al-Shifa hospital, I pass through an encampment of displaced people, mostly from Shejaiya to the east, erected on the grounds. I’m always struck by the visible strength and determination of its residents, as well as the paramedics, nurses, doctors, journalists and coffee vendors within the hospital itself.

Nearly all in Gaza are tired of endless bombardment and hope for a cease-fire, of course. But there’s a broad consensus that any cease-fire worthy of the name must include an end to Israel’s siege, allowing Palestinians to travel, trade, fish, farm and conduct their political affairs without restrictions, by definition. In fact, while I’m not a pollster, I don’t personally know of anyone here willing to settle for less.

SINCE THE mainstream media is still deceptive about the impact of Israel’s assault, can you talk about the actual extent of the devastation? What do neighborhoods in Gaza now look like?

IT VARIES by area. Some, like my neighborhood by the Gaza seaport on the west coast of Gaza City, have sustained shellings and air strikes, but remain intact with localized damage. Days of saturation bombing have reduced others–like Shejaiya, Khuza’a and Beit Hanoun–to rubble.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Israel has ethnically cleansed large regions of the eastern and northern Gaza Strip adjacent to its separation barrier. After ordering residents to leave their homes, it systematically destroyed them, while shooting anything that moved.

The process has seemed very reminiscent of the Nakba of 1948. Looking at the results, I think it’s clearly part of Israel’s plan to prevent these areas from becoming fully habitable again for years. And with Israeli forces having ordered evacuations from 44 percent of the Gaza Strip, it’s hard to predict how much of it will be recognizable when they finish.

This was a flaw in my analysis when we stayed at Al-Wafa hospital. I thought the Israelis saw the building as a strategic asset because of its size and location, something they would want to seize quickly during any invasion of the city from the east. I didn’t realize they actually planned to purge the whole area of Palestinian life.

DURING OPERATION Cast Lead and other Israeli operations, people in Gaza have continued to build a sort of grassroots infrastructure. For instance, we know of underground schools that people ran to continue educating children and youth. Are there similar efforts going on today?

IT’S SUMMER, so the kids might not like the underground school idea! But it’s been amazing to watch an entire grassroots infrastructure come together, with very little centralized coordination, to support Palestinians displaced from their neighborhoods. In addition to hundreds camped out at Shifa, thousands more have found shelter in schools, mosques, churches and anywhere else there’s room.

As of July 30, the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that 240,000 had been displaced to these shelters, while 200,000 more were staying with host families. Everyone’s resources are stretched thin, but neighbors are doing what they can to help the displaced with food, clothing, etc., when not opening their own doors to house them.

HOW WOULD you assess the military resistance mounted by Hamas? We have read encouraging reports of even elite Israeli forces such as the Golani Briagde facing a military challenge. Is this is the reason why Netanyahu wants to continue the bombing?

GROUND OPERATIONS by Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades and other resistance groups have done a great deal to inspire people and keep spirits high. News of these daring raids, which have killed dozens of Israeli soldiers, have shown that while Israel’s troops may be able to push buttons on billion-dollar machines, they aren’t so good when it comes to actual fighting.

It’s notable that while Israel has massacred more than 1,000 Palestinian civilians, Hamas fighters have repeatedly bypassed civilian settlements across the Green Line to reach military posts. Israel can yell all it likes about its civilians being targeted, but the numbers tell a very different story.

Israel may have anticipated a barrage of rockets. But rather than prolonging its offensive, I suspect the fierce resistance its army has met on the ground is one of the main factors, along with rising global outrage, pushing its leaders to seek a truce. Of course, they hope for a lopsided one–in practice, a unilateral cease-fire by Palestinians–allowing Israel to preserve the siege.

HOW DO people in Gaza feel about the silence of the leaders of the Arab states and the collusion of states like Egypt with Israel and the U.S.?

LIKE MANY political questions, the answer depends very much on whom you ask. I think it’s fair to say that there’s been broad disappointment with, if not outright hostility toward, the tepid responses of Arab governments. At the same time, many have been gratified by new support from unexpected quarters, like Latin America.

SINCE THE massive demonstrations broke out in the West Bank, there has been some talk in the news media about a third Intifada. Do you think there is such a possibility?

I THINK it’s a possibility, but not the only one. In some ways, yearning for a third Intifada foists an unfair burden onto the minority of the Palestinian people who live under direct occupation, facing challenges to mounting a successful resistance that don’t exist elsewhere.

For four decades before the first Intifada, although Palestinians obviously resisted within occupied territory, the core of the struggle lay elsewhere–in the refugee camps of the diaspora. With the decline of the Tunis-Oslo paradigm, which roughly characterized the first two Intifadas, as well as the rapid growth of global networks like the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, the next phase of the Palestinian struggle may combine both these models and more.

I can’t say that the spark won’t be struck in Bil’in. But it could also come from Beirut, or Brooklyn.

THOUGH WORLD leaders and Western governments have turned their back on Gaza and actively aided Israel, there has been an outburst of global protests in solidarity with Palestine. How do people in Gaza see these protests?

THESE EVENTS have encouraged a number of them during difficult times. On Twitter, I’ve seen nearly as many pictures of solidarity protests in North America and Western Europe tweeted by friends in Gaza as by friends from these regions. While the role of solidarity activism in shifting worldwide public opinion and government policies is crucial, its impact on morale here shouldn’t be underestimated.

ML Update | No. 31 | 2014

July 30, 2014


MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 | No. 31 | 29 JUL – 4 AUG 2014

​​
Saffron Downgrading of Education Rears Its Head Again

The Modi Government has been in power for a very short time – and already, we can see the disturbing signs of saffron forces downgrading the quality of schooling, higher education and research.

The appointment of Y Sudarshan Rao as Chief of the Indian Council of Historical Research is the first signal that the Government is allowing saffron ideology rather than academic worth be the criterion for heading academic institutions.

Rao lacks publications in peer reviewed journals, and his academic work is confined to blog posts. Without such academic publications, Rao’s writings are no better than ideologically-coloured opinions. And those opinions in themselves are cause for concern. Rao in his articles has declared that in ancient times the caste system worked well, and that this system in the historical past should not be viewed through the lens of modern democratic values.

This justification of a Brahminical hierarchy that epitomises discrimination is nothing new for Sangh ideology. Sangh founder Golwalkar rationalised caste hierarchy by comparing it to different limbs of the body: “If a developed society realizes that the existing differences are due to the scientific social structure and that they indicate the different limbs of body social, the diversity would not be construed as a blemish.” (Organiser, 1 December 1952, p. 7) Deendayal Upadhyaya, another prominent RSS figure, similarly argued, “In our concept of four castes (varnas), they are thought of as different limbs of virat purush (the primeval man)…These limbs are not only complimentary to one another but even further there is individuality, unity. There is a complete identity of interests, identity, belonging…If this idea is not kept alive, the caste instead of being complimentary can produce conflict. But then that is a distortion.” (D. Upadhyaya, Integral Humanism, New Delhi, Bharatiya Jansangh, 1965, p. 43) Now, this open rationalisation of the unconstitutional and discriminatory caste system will head of India’s premier historical research body.

Even more disturbing is the fact that Rao’s writings extol the ideas of those who have openly called for India to relinquish its secular Constitution and become a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation).

It has come to light that the Gujarat Government has printed textbooks authored by Dinanath Batra on a mass scale, with a foreword by former Gujarat CM Narendra Modi (who is PM today), and has made them mandatory supplementary reading in Gujarat schools.

The content of these textbooks would be laughably absurd – except that when they carry the endorsement of the PM and a State Government uses taxpayers’ money to promote them, it is no longer funny. It becomes a cruel joke with the minds of young impressionable students.

It is embarrassing that the man who is India’s Prime Minister today, officially endorses textbooks that teach students to reject the map of India and instead learn to draw the map of the Sangh fiction of ‘Akhand Bharat’ that includes India’s neighbouring countries and regions.

Batra’s books claim to promote ‘Indian culture’ instead of ‘Western culture’, but only promotes caste Hindu rituals of North India. Why are the cultural practices of dalits, minorities, or of various Indian regions, not considered Indian culture by him?

Worse still, his textbooks include stories that would be considered offensively racist and communal by any professional educationist. These stories refer to a Black person as a ‘negro’ and compare him to a ‘buffalo’; to Indians’ colour being that of ‘a roti cooked right’ as opposed to being ‘burnt’ like that of Blacks; comparing ‘foreigners’ to the shoes on the feet of an Indian; and suggesting that a Muslim freedom fighter’s objection to Vande Mataram made him anti national. Batra is also on record objecting to the use of ordinary spoken Hindustani words which he claims are words of ‘foreign’ origin.

Apart from these, the books are full of historical absurdities that claim ancient Indians invented cars, stem cell therapy, and so on.

Batra has boasted that the HRD Minister has promised to introduce his proposed changes in syllabi on a national scale. Parallel to the Modi Government’s move to set up a commission to reform education, Batra has set up a Non-Governmental Education Commission (NGEC) that is pushing the Government to ‘Indianise’ education.

The Prime Minister needs to break his silence and explain why his name is used to endorse and promote Batra’s absurd books. And the HRD Minister needs to tell the country what her Ministry’s stand is on the Gujarat Government’s promotion of obscurantist, unscientific, communal and racist material among young children.

The Gujarat Model was promoted by Mr Modi at corporate expense, as the epitome of ‘development’ and ‘progress.’ Today, Gujarat’s model of school education stands exposed as the worst joke with the country’s students. We have seen Shiv Sena MPs shamefully force feed a Muslim man to make him break his fast, with no action taken against them. The Modi Government cannot be allowed to force feed the myths and falsehoods of the RSS shakhas, to the country’s children in the name of education.

CC Call for 28 July 2014:

Expand and Strengthen the Party for Effective Resistance against the Modi Regime’s Corporate-Communal Offensive

July 28, 2014 marks the 42nd anniversary of the martyrdom of our founder leader Comrade Charu Mazumdar. It also marks the 40th anniversary of the reorganisation of the Party in the wake of the setback suffered in the early 1970s. As we face India’s first BJP-majority government at the centre, which in its first two months in power have already given us unmistakable glimpses of its thoroughly corporate-friendly agenda and authoritarian and communal character, we are reminded of the last words of Comrade Charu Mazumdar and the lessons we learnt in our battle with Indira autocracy in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Riding on the appeal of bank nationalisation and the call of ‘garibi hatao’, Indira Gandhi had secured a clear mandate in 1971 defeating the Congress old guards. She then went on to consolidate her power with the victory over Pakistan in the Bangladesh war which had left the RSS awe-struck and led Vajpayee to compare Indira Gandhi with the demon-slaying image of goddess Durga. History tells us how quickly this ‘garibi hatao’ mandate and the nationalist appeal had translated into a brutal paramilitary crackdown on the CPI(ML) and gone on to envelope India’s parliamentary democracy in the darkness of Emergency.

Comrade Charu Mazumdar had clearly sensed this danger when days before his martyrdom he called for broad-based unity against the onslaught on the people, asserting that the interests of the people were the interests of the party. The reorganisation of the Party Central Committee on 28 July 1974 and the subsequent revival of the party upheld the spirit of CM’s powerful last words through waves of peasant awakening, all-out mass initiatives and bold assertion of the agenda of radical social transformation and consistent democracy. A rejuvenated CPI(ML) successfully resisted the autocratic onslaught of the ruling classes, building brick by brick a committed communist party organisation dedicated to the interests and struggles of the people.

The situation today is both markedly similar and dissimilar to the situation four decades ago. Indira Gandhi was full of Left pretensions and socialistic rhetoric. Narendra Modi flaunts his rightwing politics and intimate corporate ties with great pride. The Congress under Indira Gandhi’s stewardship was busy writing the obituary of the CPI(ML). Modi’s mission of a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ seeks to establish and consolidate rightwing hegemony under the exclusive leadership of the BJP, he would love to see India purged of the entire array of Left forces, marginalising in the process even various non-Left liberal streams of social and cultural discourse.

Just as Indira Gandhi, backed by her own coterie of close confidantes, wanted to rule with an iron hand, Modi too would like to rule as a supreme leader enjoying the unabashed adulation of his bhakts and allegiance of his colleagues. And to be sure, the nationalist demagogy is central to the rhetoric employed by the two leaders – while Indira’s accent was on ‘national unity and integrity’ and officially proclaimed ‘secularism’, Modi’s nationalism is openly majoritarian and the emphasis is on a hard state that curbs liberties in the name of ‘national security’ and corporate-led developmentalism that would bulldoze every voice of dissent and sanctify every destruction of natural resource and people’s livelihood in the name of economic growth.

Our job today is to rise against this mounting rightwing onslaught and corporate-communal offensive. We have to bounce back against the triumphalist rightwing clamour of marginalisation of the Left. And as we take up this challenge, we must go deep among the people and organise and mobilise them on their everyday issues. We must pit the aspirations of the people, which the BJP had invoked in the election campaign to come to power, against the BJP’s rapidly unfolding corporate-communal agenda and the harsh reality of rising prices and growing mockery of people’s welfare. When the rhetoric of ‘achchhe din’ (good days) turns into the reality of ‘bitter pill’, fight back the people will and the CPI(ML) must discharge its role in the frontlines of people’s struggle.

As the Modi government unleashes its authoritarian mode of governance and seeks to impose its corporate-communal agenda, we can hear the voices of disenchantment and dissent all around us. From the man on the street complaining about the soaring prices to the Chief Justice of India slamming the government for its interference in the appointment of judges – protests can be heard everywhere. This is the time to reach out to various fighting forces and build the broadest possible unity in struggle.

Today the opposition in Parliament has evidently become quite weak and most sections of the opposition have no credibility when it comes to the question of defending the rights and livelihood of the people, the pluralist fabric of the country and the autonomy of various institutions. Regardless of the role of the Opposition inside Parliament and the response of various institutions to the challenges posed by the Modi government, the voices of protest and resistance must be raised boldly on the streets. Extensive interaction with various progressive democratic forces and effective solidarity and cooperation with wide-ranging struggles of the people are the needs of the hour.

And sure enough, we need a stronger party organisation than ever before. When the Central Committee was reorganised in July 1974, we had to begin the task of Party reorganisation from above, starting almost from scratch. Today, after nine Congresses we are on a much stronger footing with a Party membership of more than one lakh and presence of Party organisation in more than 20 states and 100 districts. But the recent elections have once again made it clear that we need a much more effective Party organisation at the grassroots. We have a nearly 3-million-strong organised mass membership, but our votes barely crossed one million which clearly shows our weakness in terms of political and electoral mobilisation of our members and supporters.

All said and done, polling booths are the key site of electoral struggles. The money-, muscle- and media-power and social engineering equations of dominant ruling class parties play themselves out through booth level mobilisation of the electorate. Given that the electoral domain is no level-playing field and the power balance in electoral struggles is heavily tilted against the poor and working people, it becomes all the more imperative that communists are able to put up effective ground-level resistance against the politics of the ruling classes through intensive counter-mobilisation at the grassroots.

The grassroots organisation that won big victories in the struggle against feudal domination and state terror in the formative years of our Party is also our main weapon in the battle in the electoral arena. It must be understood that unlike the Congress and various identity-based parties, the BJP is a cadre-based party which pays serious attention to its organisation and propaganda and indoctrination campaign at the grassroots. Communist resistance to the BJP must therefore be waged most decisively in the sphere of organisational and ideological-political mobilisation at the grassroots. On the 40th anniversary of Party reorganisation, let us resolve to raise our grassroots organisation to a higher level in terms of mass strength as well as political mobilisation and organisational functioning. The battle against the corporate-communal fascist threat must be won decisively by powerful communist organisation of the working people working in tandem with broader democratic forces on every front of people’s struggle.

42nd Martyrdom Anniversary of Comrade Charu Mazumdar

The 42nd anniversary of Comrade Charu Mazumdar’s martyrdom was observed all over the country by party members.

In Delhi, a Cadre Convention was held at Charu Bhavan, which began by paying floral tributes to Comrade Charu Mazumdar’s statue.

Subsequently, Comrade Sanjay Sharma (Delhi State Secretary) and Kavita Krishnan (PB member) elaborated on the CC’s Call, outlining the orientation of building a mass movement and democratic unity against the anti people policies of the Modi Government and strengthening and expanding the party. The Convention was attended by PB member Prabhat Kumar, CCMs Rajiv Dimri and Ravi Rai, and was addressed by a range of CPI(ML) activists working in Delhi.

In Haryana, the occasion was marked by a protest dharna at Sonepat against Dalit atrocities. Many activists from various Haryana districts participated in the dharna, against the attack on a Dalit Sarpanch of the Janti Khurd village. The protesters demanded to know from the local administration why there was a delay in acting against the perpetrators. The dharna was led by Prem Singh Gehlawat, party in charge for Haryana.

The Bangalore unit of the party and AICCTU organised a Public Hall Meeting on 28 July 2014 in memory of Comrade Charu Mazumdar. The speakers spoke on the "Corporate, Communal Fascism and the Role of the Left".

Dr. Venkataramaiah Lakshminarayana, Professor Lakshminarayana, AICCTU State Organising Secretary Clifton addressed the gathering while Com. Shankar, Central Committee Member of CPIML Liberation presided over the meeting


and Com. Bharadwaj, Karnataka state secretary of the​
.​party introduced the agenda.

Worker activists from various public and private sector companies (national and multinational) and government departments participated in the programme with enthusiasm. Similar Programmes were held at Harapanahalli and Gangavati as well.

Left Parties Will Unite for Bihar Assembly By-Elections

At a joint press conference on 29th July in Patna, the CPI(ML), CPI and CPI(M) announced their intention to contest the Bihar Assembly by-polls in a united way. The Left parties said that this unity was forged in the backdrop of the urgent need to counter communal and corporate fascism, and to assert a people’s alternative against the offensive of price rise, unemployment and assaults on democracy.

CPI will contest 2 seats (Jale and Banka), CPI(M) 3 (Chhapra, Mohiuddinnagar, Parbatta), and CPI(ML) 5 seats (Narkatiyaganj, Rajnagar (SC), Bhagalpur, Hajipur, Mohania (SC)) in the by polls.

The Press Conference was addressed by CPI(ML) State Secretary Comrade Kunal, CPI State Secretary Comrade Rajendra Prasad Singh and CPI(M) State Secretary Comrade Vijaykant Thakur.

Outlining the dangers of the Modi Government’s policies and the BJP’s communal offensive in Bihar, Comrade Kunal said that the front of Congress, RJD and JDU was an opportunist one. The Congress was highly discredited in Bihar and the rest of the country; and the JDU is responsible in large measure for allowing BJP to gain a foothold in Bihar and pursue its communal agenda. And the RJD’s rule in Bihar is also one in which communal and casteist forces had a free run and indulged in massacres of rural poor. Moreover the BJP and the Congress, JDU, RJD are all united by the commitment to pro-corporate, anti poor policy that are devastating Bihar and the country. Such an opportunist front cannot counter the saffron offensive and defend people’s interests, rights and secular values. The unity of Left forces was the need of the hour, and the decision to contest by-polls together is a welcome one.

CPI(ML)’s Homage to Comrade D Prempati

CPI(ML) deeply condoles the passing of Comrade D Prempati, a relentless campaigner for democracy, secularism, social justice and human dignity who stood consistently by a whole array of revolutionary struggles of the Indian people. He was a Marxist who was closely acquainted with the writings and thoughts of Ambedkar, Periyar and Phule and drew on his insightful studies and observations to vigorously challenge Brahminical propaganda and resist feudal-communal onslaughts.

We in CPI(ML) cherish fond memories of Comrade Prempati’s consistent contribution to the party’s multifarious activities and initiatives in the 1980s, especially in the launching of Indian People’s Front and a Marxist theoretical periodical called Marxism Today, of which he was the editor. He was one of the Convenors of the Nagbhushan Patnaik Release Committee in the early 1980s, and he enjoyed a close and warm relationship with Comrade Nagbhushan after the latter’s release from jail.

Comrades visiting his house at any hour of the day in connection with any work always received the warm hospitality of Comrade Prempati and his family. For generations of his students in Delhi College of Art he was an affectionate teacher of English literature, and for activist circles in Delhi and elsewhere he was a comrade they could look to for guidance and cooperation.

Whether it was the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination when Delhi witnessed a horrific pogrom against the Sikh community, the days of casteist frenzy against the adoption of the Mandal Commission report, the barbaric demolition of Babri Masjid and the riots that preceded and followed in its wake or the state-sponsored genocide in Gujarat in 2002, Comrade Prempati could be seen and heard in every protest meeting as a courageous and tireless campaigner for sanity, social justice and human rights.

We have lost Comrade Prempati at a crucial juncture in India’s political and social life. As we rally today in defence of our hard-won democratic rights, social dignity and pluralistic legacy, he will be sorely missed, but his writings and memories will continue to inspire activists in a whole range of circles to better understand the country and fight harder for our cherished goals of social transformation and human dignity. On behalf of the CPI(ML) Central Committee, I pay my heart-felt homage to Comrade Prempati. His legacy of study, analysis and activism will live on and inspire us in all our struggles for a better tomorrow.

Dipankar Bhattacharya

General Secretary, CPI(ML)

Tribute To Writer Madhukar Singh

Eminent Hindi litterateur Madhukar Singh, who led ‘Samantar Kahani Andolan’ in story writing along with noted writer Kamleshwar and others in the 1970s, died at his residence at native village Dharahara, on the outskirts of Ara in Bhojpur district, on 15th July. He was 87.

CPI(ML) and progressive cultural organisations were part of his final journey, and paid tribute to this pride of Bhojpur and Bihar.

The final journey of writer Madhukar Singh started from Dharhara on 16th July morning. Earlier, CPI-ML Patna State secretary Com. Kunal, Politbureau member Com. Amar, State standing committee member Santosh Sahar, writers Ashok Kumar and Shivnarayan met and consoled the bereaved family.

Poet Shriram Tiwari, story writer Anant Kumar Singh, CPI-ML leader Sudama Prasad and many others were present. On behalf of the Dharhara branch of CPI-ML, the Party flag was placed over the body of the departed writer, after which the final journey started. At Dharhara the body was brought to the CPI-ML district office where Party workers, litterateurs, and cultural activists including Com. Kunal, Com. Nand Kishore Prasad, Com. Amar, and Com. Santosh Sahar paid tribute to him.

Addressing the condolence meeting, CPI-ML State secretary Com. Kunal said that Madhukarji wrote lifelong about people’s struggles. He was against the system of people’s oppression, and his dream was to establish the rule of the poor and the working class.

Com. Santosh Sahar said that Madhukarji was the pride of Bihar. Along with the Soviet Land Nehru award he was also the recipient of Bihar’s highest award. But the irony is that no representative from the government or the administration has come to pay tribute to this pride of Bihar.

Last year the Jan Sanskriti Manch and the people of Bhojpur not only honoured Madhukarji but also organized an important programme to highlight his literary contribution. The people of Bhojpur proved that a people’s writer is not beholden to any government for help.

Com. Sudama Prasad said that Madhukar Singh wrote stories about the poor and dalits fighting against imperialistic oppression. Poet Jitendra Kumar pointed out that when the poor and the working class started their political struggle in the 70’s, Madhukarji helped to develop their cultural tools. Raju Yadav said that Madhukarji would remain immortal in the people’s struggles. Janmat editor Sudhir Suman recollected that Madhukarji was a teacher at the Jain School along with the founder of the Bhojpur movement Jagdish Master. From those early days he had a deep association with Jagdish Master, his comrades and his Party the CPI-ML. In the 90s he became a member of the Party and retained his membership throughout his life.

The funeral procession which began from the Party office proceeded through the main roads and reached Sinha ghat where Madhukarji was given a final farewell and his younger son Jyoti Kalash lit the funeral pyre at 3 in the afternoon. His second son Ajitabh, grandsons, relatives, and many people from his village were also present.

The All Bihar Progressive Advocates’ Association President Amit Kumar Bunty also paid tribute to Madhukar Singh.

ML Update 30 | 2014

July 23, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 | No. 30 | 22 – 28 JUL 2014

BRICS Summit

Potential and Inherent Limitations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dharna at Lucknow Against Rape and Murder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The March 14th Attack

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

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

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

Fresh Intimidation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Observations

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

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

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

Demands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Protests Against Attack on Gaza

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

ML Update | No. 29 | 2014

July 17, 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 | No. 29 |15 – 21 JUL 2014

Indian Government Must Break Its Silence

And Demand End to Israel’s Racist Genocide in Gaza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Delhi Police Assaults Peaceful Protesters at Israel Embassy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CPI(ML) Statement on Union Budget

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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