A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol.19 | No. 30 | 19- 25 July 2016
No More Una Or Dadri Style Atrocities
Ban Casteist And Communal ‘Cow Protection’ Mobs
For the past several years, ‘cow-protection’ vigilantism has been the pretext for casteist and communal violence. Akhlaque was killed in Dadri by such a mob; two Muslim cattle herders were lynched and hung from trees in Jharkhand by such mobs. Such mobs, acting closely with RSS outfits, have routinely stripped, paraded and thrashed their victims in the presence of police, and uploaded videos of the violence online. But they have done so once too often in Una in Gujarat’s Somnath District.
The job of skinning and tanning cow leather and disposing of cow carcasses is assigned by the oppressive caste system to Dalits, who face untouchability for doing this work that is considered ‘dirty.’ On July 11th, a Shiv Sena ‘cow protection’ mob caught hold of four Dalit men who had been called by a farmer to dispose of a dead cow. Accusing the Dalits of being ‘cow leather smugglers,’ the cow-vigilantes brutally stripped and thrashed them for four hours, and released a video of the atrocity as a ‘warning’ to ‘cow smugglers.’ The Gujarat police, far from intervening to prevent the violence and arrest the perpetrators, detained the victims and questioned them. This is reminiscent of the shocking manner in which a UP Court has ordered that a FIR of ‘cow slaughter’ be registered against the family of the Dadri lynch-mob victim Akhlaque.
The Dalits of Gujarat have erupted in protest against the atrocity. They have adopted an innovative means of protest: they are dumping cow carcasses at Government offices, saying that Dalits refuse to dispose of cow carcasses any more. They have declared that those of the RSS, Shiv Sena and other ‘cow protection’ outfits who claim the cow to be their mother, can in future take on the responsibility of conducting the ‘last rites’ of their ‘mother’. This form of protest has most effectively exposed the sheer hypocrisy of the casteist and communal ‘cow protection’ groups that refer to cows as their ‘mother’, but consider the ‘mother’s’ carcass to be too ‘polluting’ to be handled by anyone except Dalits.
Some 16 Dalits of Gujarat have attempted suicide in the wake of the atrocity, reflecting the sense of outrage and humiliation felt by Dalits in the State. The Gujarat Government, in an attempt to contain the protest, has suspended some of the concerned police personnel. But suspension is far from adequate: all the perpetrators, identified on the basis of the videos, must be arrested and the responsible police personnel arrested and prosecuted for their complicity in an atrocity against Dalits.
A study titled “Understanding Untouchability: A Comprehensive Study of Practices and Conditions in 1,589 villages”, conducted in Gujarat by the Navsarjan Trust between 2007-2010, had found evidence of widespread untouchability, tacitly approved and encouraged by the Government, in 98% of the villages. And Gujarat is unlikely to be an exception – untouchability and anti-Dalit atrocities are common all over rural and urban India.
What needs to be emphasized is the fact that casteist anti-Dalit discrimination and violence is joined at the hip to communal discrimination and violence. Strategies used to stoke hatred and violence against Muslims today, have long been used against Dalits. Both Dalits and Muslims are the targets of organized violence in the name of ‘cow protection’; Dalits, like Muslims, do not share the taboo on consumption of beef imposed by caste Hindus. Dalit communities face violence when Dalit men marry ‘caste Hindu’ women; Muslim communities face violence when Muslim men marry Hindu women. In other words, ‘cow protection’, as well as inter-caste and inter-faith marriage are common pretexts for casteist and communal politics as well as mob violence. Modi himself, during the Parliamentary and Assembly election campaign speeches in Bihar, repeatedly used the ‘cow protection’ motif in a vain attempt to stoke communal hatred and consolidate caste and religious vote-banks in Bihar.
Today, the BJP and Sangh Parivar are caught in a wedge. They are the champions of the ‘cow protection’ politics and the casteist and communal violence that go with it. At the same time, they seek to woo Dalits to identify with communal, anti-Muslim politics. Their ‘ghar wapsi’ (homecoming) campaign is essentially a campaign to ask Dalits to embrace their subordinate position in the Hindu casteist status quo, without complaint. They also seek to appropriate Ambedkar, minus his radical anti-caste and anti-communal democratic politics. But time and again, actions and words of the BJP, Sangh and Hindutva leaders and groups reveal them to the Dalits to be ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing.’
When Modi was Gujarat Chief Minister, he referred in a book titled ‘Karmayog’ to manual scavenging as a ‘spiritual activity’ done voluntarily by Dalits to serve society. After facing huge protests, he has since changed his tune. But his original remarks throw light on the Sangh’s own ideology that disguises and glorifies anti-Dalit atrocities as part of a desirable social order.
Even as the Dalits of Gujarat – Narendra Modi’s supposedly ‘model’ home state – are up in arms against a shamelessly casteist administration and Government, Mumbai has witnessed a massive rally of Dalit and Left groups against the BJP Government’s shocking demolition of Ambedkar’s historic office at Dadar.
The Dalits’ protests in Gujarat must resonate across the country. Democratic groups all over India must unite to demand a ban on cow protection vigilantist outfits that indulge in, promote or glorify mob violence in the name of ‘cow protection.’
Against Political Patronage of Toppers’ Scam
The Bihar bandh called by the CPI(ML) Bihar State committee for 12 July on the following issues—high level judicial enquiry into the political patronage of the toppers’ scam; inclusion of educationists in the committee; implementation of common school system; revoking of SC-ST scholarship cuts; revoking of stay on provisions for reservation in government job promotions; revoking of non-aided education policy; confiscation of the scamsters’ properties; and review of matric and inter exam results—was very effective across the State. Train services, roads, schools, colleges, banks, shops, block offices etc. remained closed for several hours at various places. Congratulating the people of Bihar on the success of the bandh, the Bihar state unit of CPI (ML) shared that the widespread participation of people from all walks of life is an indication that education is a priority on the people’s agenda and they will not tolerate a corrupt and anti-people education policy. The bandh got full support from students, intellectuals, dalits, non-aided teachers and others.
In Patna a march in support of the bandh led by State Secretary Com. Kunal was taken out from Gandhi Maidan to Dak Bangla chowk where hundreds including senior leaders of the Party were arrested. Speakers at the meeting castigated Nitish for destroying the education system in the State and ruining the future of Bihar’s young, making a mockery of his promise to bring social justice. Merely a criminal enquiry into the toppers’ scam will not do; the political patronage must also be probed, as there are clear links between Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad, Giriraj Singh (BJP) and main scam accused education mafia leader Bacchca Singh. They added that the two-faced and non-aided policy has replaced affordable government education with profiteering private schools and has ruined Bihar’s education.
The leaders also pointed that cuts in SC-ST scholarships and stay on reservations SC- ST reservations in government job promotions are ironically contrary to the promise of “social justice”. The purpose is clearly to stop the weaker sections from advancing in society. Holding all 3 parties—JDU, RJD, and BJP—responsible, the speakers demanded a judicial enquiry into the political patronage of the scam and also rejected the current education policy which deepened social inequalities.
School children participated in large numbers in the rallies at Jehanabad and Arwal. The students said that the government schools are in dire condition with extreme shortage of teachers, resulting in those who could afford it to go for private schools. The poor are left in the pathetic government schools.
The working of banks and blocks in Buxar and Kesath were affected by the bandh and non-aided teachers came out in large numbers at Motihari. CPI (ML), RYA, AISA activists and bandh supporters stopped trains across the State for varying lengths of time which included Sampark Kranti, Sealdah Sapt Kranti, Vaishali, Jamalpur-Gaya Passenger, Patna-Sasaram Fast Passenger, 565 Uo Local, Ranchi-Patna Janshatabdi, Patna-Ara Passenger, Shramjeevi, Bhagalpur-Dana Express, and Janshatabdi Express in Masaurhi.
Roads and National Highways were also blocked at various parts of the State: GT Road, NH 57, NH 30, NH 98, NH 83, NH 28, Muzaffarpur-Shivhar Road, Dumraon-Vikramgarh Road, Buxar-Dinara Road, JP Chowk and Gopalganj crossing in Siwan. The bandh was also effective and widely participated in Motihari, Eastern Champaran, Saran, Buxar, Sasaram, Vikramganj, Kaimur, Darbhanga, Bhagalpur, Madhepura, Supoul, and Saharsa. In Ara different groups marched at block HQs across the district. Koilvar bridge and Ara bus stand were blocked for hours by the bandh supporters led by MLA Com. Sudama Prasad and other leaders. About 60 supporters were arrested in Jagdishpur.
Road and rail traffic were obstructed and effective marches were also taken out in Navada, Aurangabad, Nalanda, Jamui, Shekhpura, Katihar and Arariya.
Protests in Solidarity With Kashmir
Citizens and several progressive, democratic and left individuals and organisations have held protests in different parts of the country against the brutal assault by police, paramilitaries and armed forces in the Kashmir valley that have left over 40 dead, and several blinded and severely injured. These sections have come together in large numbers to condemn the violence unleashed by the state.
Delhi: On 13 July, several hundred including right civil rights activists, students, youth, artists, women’s organizations, left organisations and individuals, and several others gathered at Jantar Mantar for a silent protest march and protest meeting. Wearing black bands and holding banners and placards that carried names of those who had been killed during the protests, the protestors demanded an immediate end to these brutalities. Addressing the protest meeting, activist Shabnam Hashmi emphasized on the urgent need to end the ‘climate of impunity’ in Kashmir that allowed the state to become a murderer. She also pointed out the contrast in the way in which the violent, armed mobs were dealt in Harayana and Gujarat and the way the unarmed protestors were dealt with in Kashmir. Com. Kavita Krishnan, PB member of CPI (ML) spoke about the need to immediately repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the urgent necessity to initiate dialogue without preconditions with all sections of society in Jammu and Kashmir. She also stressed the need for all Indian citizens to come out and say that the Indian state cannot continue to butcher the people of Kashmir in their name. AISA leader and JNUSU VP, Com. Shehla Rashid also spoke about how the continued violence unleashed by the state and the humiliation meted out to the Kashmiris had led to young generations of Kashmiris feeling alienated. She stressed on the urgent need to demilitarize Kashmir.
Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu: On 17 July, CPI(ML) and AICCTU jointly organized a demonstration in Tirunelveli, demanding justice for Kashmiri people. Demonstrators held placards that read- “No to Bullets and Pellets and YES to political resolution of Kashmir issue”; ”No peace without Justice”, and “AFSPA should go”. Com. Kumarasamy, while addressing the protestors said that even as the Modi government says that Kashmir is a part of India, the people of Kashmir cannot be seen as enemies. The grievances of the Kashmiris demanded a political solution and not the army.
Patna: In Patna too, a protest of citizens led by CPI (ML) demanded an end to state violence in Kashmir. The protestors strongly condemned the barbaric killings of innocent citizens in Kashmir. The police responded to the protestors with the use of force
Kolkata: Hundreds of protestors participated in a rally in Kolkata on 15 July to protest the ongoing killings in Kashmir by the Indian State. In Kolkata too the protestors carried placards with the names of civilians recently killed in Kashmir inscribed on it. Protestors raised slogans demanding withdrawal of AFSPA, PSA and the presence of the armed forces in Kashmir. Protestors expressed solidarity with the people of Kashmir and demanded that the Kashmiri demand for self-determination be addressed politically, not by repression.
Towards September 2nd All India Strike
The Tamil Nadu state council of AICCTU met at Tirunelveli on 17 July to chart out a plan for successful ‘All India Strike’ on September 2. A four-member Presidium consisting of Comrades N. K. Natarajan, A. S. Kumar, Bhuvana and Sankarapandian conducted the proceedings. Leaders representing various sectors such as Civil supplies corporation, electricity board, Co-optex, construction, power loom, defence, conservancy workers and also workers from organized and unorganized private sector industries put forth their demands and shared details pertaining to preparations for the strike. The council also decided to approach Industry-wise independent unions to call them for their participation. A massive signature campaign on the demands and fund mobilization campaign were also planned. It was also decided to organize two workshops at Chennai and Coimbatore to equip workers comprehensively during August. Com A.S. Kumar took the mantle as state President which was ratified by the council. Com. Kumarasamy, All India President of AICCTU addressed the council covering all aspects of International and National situation and the role of the working class in the present juncture. The Council meet ended with a firm resolve to make the September 2 strike successful.
AIARLA Protest for Tribal Land Rights in Vishakhapatnam
Chatarjipuram is a small habitation in M.K. Patanam revenue village of Rolugunta Mandal in Vishakhapatnam district. ‘Gadaba’ are Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) living there who cultivate nearly 25 acres’ dry land since a long time. The tribal cultivators name was recorded in the old village revenue records.
After Mr. Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP government came to power in the state of Andhra Pradesh, he started digitalization of village revenue records and opened the flood gate to the land mafia. Using the digitization drive to their advantage and with active cooperation from present Revenue Divisional officer and the Tehsildar, the land mafia were able to remove the names of the tribals and incorporated the names of the non-tribal non-cultivators as cultivators in computerized land records.
‘Losingi’ is another PVTG village on situated on a hilltop in Rolungunta Mandal, where ‘Kondh’ tribe resides. However, some non-tribal belonging to ‘Sarabavaram’ a village in the plains, bribed the revenue officers and were able to get the pattas (titles) of the government land on which crops are being grown by the Kondh tribe farmers, assigned to their names. The non-tribal using these titles are getting huge loans from national banks along with funds for ‘land development program’ under MGNREGS. The tribal people of Losingi submitted complaints for cancellation of these pattas to the Tehsildar, RDO and the Collector, but no action was taken. Several tribal villages like ‘Pedapeta’, ‘Konthalam’ and others village are facing similar land problems. On 11 July, AIARLA organized the tribal communities and conducted a rally in the Divisional headquarter of Narsipatanam from RTC complex to the RDO office. AIARLA demanded an in-depth enquiry by Project Officer of Integrated Tribal Development Agency of Paderu and it also demanded action against the Tehsildar of Rolugunta who changed the revenue records to favor the non-tribal non-cultivators. Nearly a hundred tribals and Dalits participated in the rally. Com Janardhan and Com. Chanti lead the rally which was addressed by Com. Bugatha Bangaru Rao, Central Committee Member of CPI (ML).
Demonstration against Nuclear Plant by AIPF and PMANE at Tirunelveli
Even as the unit 1 of the Koodankulam Nuclear plant is in doldrums, the Indian government has declared the successful establishment of unit 2. AIPF and Peoples’ Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMNAE) organized a Demonstration on 16 July at Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, demanding complete closure of all nuclear plants. Demonstrators demanded a white paper on Nuclear deals. They also demanded that the government say ‘No’ to further Nuclear parks. Government’s claim of production of electricity from unit 1 itself was ridiculed by the demonstrators. Com. Ramesh, National Council member of AIPF presided over the demonstration. The demonstration was addressed by Com. Kumarasamy, state secretary of CPI(ML) and Com. S.P. Udayakumar, Convenor of PMANE and also the National campaign committee member of AIPF. The protest demonstration was also attended by Com. Kalai Kannan of Aadhi Tamilar Katchi, Mr.Abdul Jabbar of Tamil Nadu Peoples’ Democratic party, Com. Sankara Pandian, state General secretary of AICCTU, Com. Desikan, state campaign committee member of AIPF, Com. Ganesan of AICCTU and Com. Sundarrajan of RYA.
AIPWA March in Ramgarh on Hul Diwas
The Ramgarh district unit of AIPWA rook out a rally on 30 June (Hul Diwas) against the atrocities by the Raghuvar Das government on women, especially dalit and adivasi women. Women participating in the rally raised their voice against the government on the following issues: rape and murder of Chandmuni Soren and Priya Murmu of Ramgarh district; failure to arrest killers of B.Ed student Sonali Murmu; police atrocities on a young girl at Manika thana; and the police lathi charge on women protesters against land-grabbing by NTPC at Badkagaon in Hazaribagh district. They said that the government had failed to protect the safety and dignity of women in the State. Hundreds of women marched 3 km on foot from the Party office raising slogans for women’s safety, dignity, work, and pay. The march was followed by the district conference at Tulsi Devi Dharmashala which began by paying tributes to Sidu, Kanhu, Chand, Bhairav, Phulo, Jhano, Rijhni Devi, Balkahiya Devi and other martyrs.
In his inaugural address, Ramgarh district secretary Com. Bhuneshwar Bediya said that women must unite and come forward to fight for their rights against molestation, rape, murder, and police atrocity, and they must decisively establish their identity. Presiding over the conference, Com. Nita Bediya said that the governments at the centre and the State have given the call for “Beti Bachao-Beti-Padhao”, but the greatest oppression of women is taking place here. Many “Betis” are forced to migrate from Jharkhand in search of livelihood. They are being physically and economically exploited by brokers, but the government shows no interest in stopping this. Com. Karuna Kumari, leader from Badkagaon block said that women are fighting against land grab by NTPC despite being lathi-charged by the police. She stressed that women must unite and fight to protect their dignity, water, forest, and land. Many other women also expressed their views. At the conclusion, a 25 member AIPWA district committee was constituted with comrades Sarita Devi and Nita Bediya being elected President and Secretary respectively.
ASHA Health Workers Protest
Uttarakhand ASHA Health Workers’ Union, affiliated to AICCTU, has strongly condemned the government’s act of distributing “ASHA Nirodh” at several places during the Diarrhoea and Family Planning Fortnight, and has termed it extremely insulting to ASHA workers and to all women. On 15 July, the ASHA workers’ union burnt the effigy of the Health Minister at many places across the State including in Pithoragarh district headquarters.
Com. Vimal Philip of the CPI (ML) said that on the one hand the government is not willing to give the ASHA workers even a monthly honorarium in spite of extracting all manner of work from them and continues to exploit them thoroughly, against which the workers are protesting by boycotting the Diarrhoea and Family Planning Fortnight. The government by naming the condoms “ASHA Nirodh” will be exposing the ASHA workers to sexist remarks and taunts.
Union District President Com. Indra Deupa said that punitive action should be taken against the Minister, officials, manufacturing company, and programme director involved in this insulting project. If action is not taken, other women’s organizations and unions will also be mobilized on this issue of respect and dignity for women. She said that the if the government does not apologize without delay and revoke the condoms, the union will confront the government on this issue and the ruling party MLAs will be gheraoed at all places.
Forcible Land Grab and Police Atrocities in Jharkhand
An inquiry team comprising human rights activist Fr Stan Swamy, anti-displacement activist Arvind Avinash, Prashant Rahi, and Anil Anshuman from the AIPF visited different villages in the main region of the Pakri-Barwadih Coal Project in Barkagaon block in Hazaribagh district on 18 June to inquire into the atrocities unleashed by the police and administration on villagers who were protesting against the forcible land grab by NTPC under their Karnapura (Pakri-Barwadih) project. They met villagers who were victims of the police oppression and spoke in detail to them. They also spoke to activists from people’s organizations fighting against the land grab and displacement of the villagers, on whom false cases have been slapped. The findings of the team have been presented in brief below:
Villagers from Sonbarsa, Sinduari, Churchu, and Dadikala said that the villagers of this area had been continuously protesting against the illegal means adopted by NTPC management for the coal project. Despite this, when the coal mining contract was given to private companies and work was first started at Chirudih Talia Tand, the neighbouring farmers (raiyyats) started an indefinite peaceful dharna from 31 March at the mining venue. On 16 May when the companies started using bulldozers, the farmers intensified their stir. On 17 May, when hundreds of farmers were participating in the dharna. Barkagaon thana in-charge Ramdayal Munda came with some policemen and asked the farmers why they had lathis if their protest was peaceful. Hearing this, the farmers put aside their lathis. Then suddenly without warning hundreds of policemen attacked them with lathis, injuring many.
After the above attack, according to 300 to 400 eyewitnesses, armed policemen attacked many nearby villages also, beating up the old, young, women, children, and anyone they could get hold of. Houses were broken into and in the absence of male members, women were obscenely abused and beaten. Household goods were destroyed. Several people were left with cracked heads and broken limbs. Even pregnant women were not spared. Wherever the inquiry team went, they could see visible proof of the police brutality.
Mukesh, an inter student from Sonbarsa village, said even the British would not have inflicted brutalities as inflicted by these policemen. 60-year-old Bhuvaneshwar Sao shared that he was beaten up so brutally that he had to get admitted in Ranchi for 5 days. Sudama Kumar, a class five student was beaten so badly that he got fever and still walks with a limp. Several children shared the brutalities they were subjected to. Similar reports came from Dadikala and Sinduari. Villagers across villages shared that for several days after the attack they were fearful and could not sleep for the police had threatened further violence unless they cleared out. The villagers told the team that the government says that this land is fallow and wants to take it away on that excuse; but in reality it is very fertile and yields good vegetable and paddy crops.
The administration has slapped false cases on activists who raise their voices for the farmers’ rights and land including Com. Mithilesh Dangi, Rajeev Ranjan, Mohd Ansari and others, who are still in the Hazaribagh Central Jail. Their hearing is being done not through physical presence but through video conferencing. Cases have been registered against 31 named persons and hundreds of unnamed persons under sections such as stone-pelting, snatching rifles from policemen, and obstructing government work. 3 members of the family of Baija Rana, struggling for their 40-acre multi-crop land are in jail. Clearly, the situation in Jharkhand is even worse than during the Emergency in 1975 as this time fascist rule is being imposed for the benefit of corporate companies. The reality is that the BJP government wishes to make Jharkhand a heaven for corporate companies and a graveyard for democracy.