ML Update | No. 27 | 2015

July 1, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 27, 30 JUNE ­– 06 JULY 2015

Tainted BJP Ministers Will Have to Go

​C​
orruption is once again turning out to be a great leveller in the Indian Political League of ruling class parties. Only a year ago Narendra Modi had stormed his way to power riding on the wave of anger against corruption. Repatriation of black money and transparent governance had figured high on his list of promises. The promise of repatriation of black money has already been buried by Amit Shah with his candid confession that the whole thing was meant to be just poll rhetoric to garner votes. Yet on the first anniversary of the Modi government’s ascent to power, Modi and several other senior BJP ministers and leaders claimed credit for delivering scam-free governance. Now the claim is being washed away by a virtual flood of corruption cases surfacing almost on a daily basis.

The shadow cast by the damning disclosures on Lalitgate is getting darker with every passing day. What initially appeared to be a case of impropriety and conflict of interest on the part of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has now been exposed to be an intricate and intimate multidimensional nexus involving Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje and her son Dushyant Singh who is also a BJP MP. The clout enjoyed by Lalit Modi grew through the earlier term of Raje as Rajasthan CM with state property being clandestinely converted into lucrative private property and Lalit Modi expanding and consolidating his business interest with the launch of the money-spinning annual inter-city cricket carnival called IPL.

The Congress is now revelling in the revelations of the Raje-Modi nexus. But it is common knowledge that the rise of Lalit Modi as the IPL czar owed no less to the blessings of powerful Congress/UPA leaders. And as far as the issue of private appropriation of the controversial Dholpur palace is concerned, the Congress cannot absolve itself of its past complicity and silence. The Ashok Gehlot government had done nothing to undo this illegal appropriation, rather it validated the wrongful appropriation with payment of hefty compensation to Dushyant Singh for land utilised for road construction. The power wielded by the likes of Vasundhara Raje, Dushyant Singh and Lalit Modi is no aberration in today’s India; it is typical of the crony capitalism that has evolved on the feudal soil of apparently abolished landlordism and princely status.

Rajasthan is not the only BJP-ruled state where corruption has become the talking point. In fact, corruption is fast becoming the common characteristic of every BJP-ruled state. Take the case of Madhya Pradesh where the BJP has been uninterruptedly in power for more than a decade. The government here is overshadowed by the Vyapam (the board that conducts all tests in the state for admission and recruitment in various services) scam with senior RSS functionaries alleged to have been manipulating the recruitment process in connivance with ministers and bureaucrats. This systematic manipulation has not only promoted financial corruption but also ensured that the professional network is filled overwhelmingly by loyal pro-RSS people. The MP government has been brazenly suppressing the scam since it got exposed a few years ago, and more than thirty people from among the accused and witnesses have already died under suspicious circumstances.

Two ministers of the Maharashtra cabinet – women and child welfare minister Pankaja Munde and education minister Vinod Tawde – also stand accused of major irregularities, ordering purchases at excessive prices without issuing public tender. Dubious deals with business houses – the so called sweet deals between business and politics – remain an open secret in states like Gujarat and mineral-rich Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Then there are the Smriti Iranis who are stubbornly continuing in office despite having been exposed to be guilty of submitting anomalous affidavits in elections.

Modi and the BJP used to blame Manmohan Singh for his silence even as the UPA government got embroiled in scam after scam. Modi had sarcastically renamed Manmohan Singh as Maunmohan Singh for his notorious silence. But ever since he became Prime Minister, Modi too has been practising selective silence. His silence on the issue of communal hate speeches delivered by his colleagues has been as ominous as his own hate speeches in the wake of the Gujarat genocide in 2002. And now even on the issue of corruption charges concerning his own government and party, he has become conspicuously silent. In his latest Mann Ki Baat (straight from the heart) radio speech, he talked about yoga and encouraged his listeners to send him selfies taken with their daughters, but remained absolutely tight-lipped about the scams involving his own party and government.

Ironically, while Modi practises silence on charges of communal hate and corruption, the things he talks about – yoga and ‘selfie with daughters’ for example – are also being used by BJP/RSS leaders, activists and many of those who proudly proclaim themselves as Modi Bhakts to target conscientious citizens and entire communities and ideological currents. Vice President Hamid Ansari was targeted on the issue of yoga by BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav, while CPI(ML) leader Kavita Krishnan was singled out for a campaign of vile abuses on social media for raising the well documented issue of the Gujarat government under Modi snooping on a young woman architect.

The Modi government and the BJP must not be allowed to get away – neither with their selective silences nor with their vicious hate campaigns – and must be held accountable for every scam, every act of communal hate and violence and every assault on the livelihood and liberties of the people. Rajnath Singh has brazenly said that NDA ministers will not resign. This arrogance of power must be defeated and the democratic opinion of the country must press ahead with the demand for resignation of tainted BJP ministers.

AIPF, CPI(ML) organize Anti-Emergency Programmes on 26 June

On 26 June 1975, the Indira Gandhi led Congress government had imposed Emergency in India. On 26 June 2015, to mark the 40th anniversary of this day, AIPF and CPI(ML) held anti emergency programmes in different parts of the country.

In Delhi, an evening of protest was organised at Jantar Mantar to voice protest against the ‘Emergency then and now’. The programme was conducted by Com. Kavita Krishnan. Activist and lawyer, N. D. Pancholi, talked about the Rss & BJP leaders’ apologies offered to the government during the emergency and their cowering before Indira Gandhi, quoting none other than current BJP member, Subramanian Swamy. He quoted excerpts from a write up by Subramanian Swamy, published in The Hindu in 2000 that showed how the then RSS chief, Balasaheb Deoras, wrote several apology letters to Indira Gandhi from inside the Yerawada jail in Pune and also on how Shri. Atal Behari Vajpayee had written apology letters to Indira Gandhi where after he remained on parole. The evening also saw protest songs sung by Sangwari and a beautiful rendition of ‘Bol ke lab azzad hai’ by Roma Malik. She also spoke about the struggles being fought by the adivasis to keep their land from being forcefully grabbed. Shabnam Hashmi sang a song composed to mock Indira Gandhi during the emergency. Prof. Atul Sood of JNU spoke about the undeclared emergency that the country was facing today. Poems were read out by Viren Dangwal and Vishnu Nagar. A ragini on Modi was performed by Satbir Shramik. Select film clippings were also presented by Sanjay Joshi, national convenor of Cinema of Resistance during the programme.

In Patna, an AIPF organized an evening of protest on ‘Emergency then and now’ in Gandhi Maidan in Patna. CPI(ML) General Secretary, Com. Dipankar addressed the gathering and cautioned them regarding the signs of emergency that could be seen and heard in today’s context. Programmes were also organized in Bhagalpur and several other places in Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh where anti-emergency rallies were held protesting against increasing assaults on people’s democratic rights and livelihood in current times by the incumbent government.

Bihar ASHA Worker’s Strike Ends After Receiving Assurances on Major Demands

The ASHA workers union in Bihar (Gope group) had started a state wide strike on 21 June 2015. Though the ASHA workers form the backbone of the various health care programmes in India, there has been no attempt by the governments to address their essential concerns. Denied monthly honorarium, regularisation, basic facilities such as toilets and changing rooms in work places and subjected to continuous harassment by hospital doctors and staff, more than 15000 ASHA workers joined the strike bringing the rural health care services to a standstill.

During the period of strike, several demonstrations, marches and other programmes were undertaken. However instead of responding to the demands of the striking workers, the state government initially chose to respond by way of threats and oppression. There were concerted efforts to break their spirit by way of spreading several rumours and misinformation. However, undeterred by these threats and newer assaults, the ASHA workers continued to fight for their rights including- fixing a minimum of Rs. 15,000 as monthly honorarium, regularisation and dignified working conditions. AIARLA also extended support to the strike and announced effigy burning of the CM in front of various block headquarters between 23-25 June. A letter of demands was submitted to Health Department officials by Com. Shashi Yadav, CPI(ML) central committee member and the state president of ASHA workers union.

Finally the concerned authorities were forced to respond and talks were held between the Principal Secretary of the Health Department and a delegation comprising of Com. Shashi Yadav, leader of Gope group federation, Com. Rambali Prasad and AICCTU leader Ranvijay Kumar. The Principal Secretary assured of concrete steps towards fixing of a monthly honorarium and regularisation of ASHA workers. The delegation was also assured the cases filed against the ASHA workers and the disciplinary actions on the striking workers will also be taken back.

AIPF’s Statement of 30 June on the Arrest of Activists by UP Govt

The AIPF condemns the arrest today of AIPF Campaign Committee Member Roma Malik and AIYUWP leader Sokalo Gond in Sonbhadra. The arrest took place this morning, the same day that a rally of the All India People’s Forum (AIPF) was planned in Sonbhadra. The rally was held to culminate the country-wide 100-day Land Rights Labour Rights campaign by the AIPF and raise the question of undeclared Emergency and the climate of fear and repression in India and in Uttar Pradesh. The police also detained others including a District Committee member of the CPI(ML) Bijan and NTUI leader Avijit, but released them in the evening.

In spite of the efforts of the administration and police to disrupt and terrorise the participants in the rally, the rally took place. Thousands gathered and assembled on the street itself and held the ‘sabha’ without a mike, with defiance and determination. The sabha was addressed by Sandeep Pandey of Socialist Party India, Ashok Choudhury, All India General Secretary of the AIUFWP, CPI(ML) Central Committee member and AIPF Campaign Committee member Mohd. Salim, AIUFWP leaders Mata Dayal and Sanjay Kumar from Bundelkhand, All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM) leaders Jeera Bharti, Om Prakash Singh and Bhakt Prakash Srivastava, and activists Shankar Kol, Vijay Kol and Shahjehan. The meeting was conducted by CPI(ML) Central Committee member Sudhakar Yadav.

The arrests of Roma Malik and Sokalo Gond is the latest in a series of repressive actions by the Sonbhadra district administration to crack down on activists resisting the grab of forest land and for rights and dignity of the adivasis and the rural poor. The enthusiastic participation in the rally sent a message that the people’s struggles would not yield to terror tactics by the Government.

The AIPF demands the release of Roma Malik and Sokalo Gond, and an end to the harassment of activists in the region.

CPI(ML) Activists Lathicharged and Arrested for Attempting to Stop Demolition Drive Targeting Poor in Chandigarh

Dhanas is a small colony situated in the Union territory of Chandigarh and it also houses several workers living and working in the city. Since last few years there have been concerted efforts to demolish the houses of the poor in Dhanas. CPI(ML) has been waging a determined struggle to safeguard the interests of the poor residing in Dhanas and has successfully managed to stall several such attempts to displace the people living there. A few days back, while no legal notice was served to the people, it came to the notice of CPI(ML) and Inaquilabi Naujwaan Sabha (INS) activists through various newspapers and administrative personnel that a demolition drive was being planned on 30 June. It may be noted that this is a month of incessant rains. Also, the colony also houses several Muslim families who are observing Ramzaan fasts this month. The very plan to carry out demolition at such a time reeks of heightened insensitivity. In light of the impending threat on the shelter of several hundreds, CPI(ML) and INS activists decided to take immediate steps to ensure that people were not forced out of their homes. They decided to call for a dharna outside the DC’s office. However, not only did the DC refuse to meet the protestors, a lathi charge was ordered on the people and used tear gas to try and to disburse them. However, hundreds of people continued to protest and in the process were also injured. CPI(ML) and INS leaders Com. Kanwaljeet, Com. Eisha, Com. Navkiran, Com. Jyoti and Com. Hasmeet were arrested and continue to be in custody. Angered by the response of the authorities, hundreds of people blocked the sector 16 road. About 100 people were arrested while blocking the road. A protest day has been called in Punjab on 30 June to carry on the struggle and protest against the atrocities carried out on the protestors and the arrests made.

AIPWA-CPI(ML) Organize a Memorial Lecture on the 8th Death Anniversary of Comrade Jeeta Kaur in Mansa

A memorial lecture was organized by AIPWA-CPI(ML) on 8 June 2015, in Mansa (Punjab) to mark the 8th death anniversary of the national leader of AIPWA and CPI(ML), Com. Jeeta Kaur. The topic of the lecture was – ‘Policies of the Modi government and the situation of women’. Several hundred women attended this memorial, organized by the Mansa district unit of AIPWA in Bachat Bhawan. The lecture was chaired by noted playwright and daughter of thinker Gurusharan Singh, Dr. Areet. Others in the chairing committee included Prof. Kanwaljeet Kaur Dhillon, Harbans Kaur Acharwaal, tej Kaur Bhupaal, Beant Kaur Taamkot. Referring to the Badal Govt and family that has been running the State Govt, she said that not only had they sidelined the humanitarian ideals propounded by the various Sikh gurus, they had also pushed the women of the state towards seeking refuge in paraphernalia and superstitions.

The chief speaker on the occasion, Prof. Kanwaljeet Singh Dhillon, who has been active in movements for women rights since very long, said that acting on the directives of the RSS, the Modi government was trying very hard to propagate a culture that is against the women, dalits and the religious minorities. She said that because of the pro-corporate policies of the government, in Punjab as also in the rest of the country, the incidents of honour killing, female foeticide, violence against women, and sexual assaults against women had been increasing. She emphasised on the need for women to be educated by saying that literacy was the first step towards awakening and uniting. The other leaders who also spoke on the occasion invoked the women to join the struggle since the women will themselves have to enter the struggle for social, economic and political equality.

Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Mahasabha District Conference in Nainital

The third district conference of the Nainital district unit of Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Mahasabha was held on 21 June at Bindukhatta, Nainital. The chief guest of the conference was the national secretary of the Kisan Mahasabha, Com. Puroshotam Sharma. Inaugurating the conference, Com. Puroshotam said that today through the land acquisition ordinance, the Modi government wanted to snatch lakhs of acres of land from the farmers across the country and hand it over to the big corporate houses. He pointed out that even in Uttarakhand, in the name of urban development, and for establishing 100 new towns, a conspiracy is underway to evict farmers from their lands. By making the laws for purchase of land in hilly regions and for change in land use, the Harish Rawat government had opened the gates for land grab in the state. The farmers of the region will give a befitting response to such moves.

Several political resolutions were passed at the conference. The key resolutions included- (i) demand for a CBI inquiry into the corruption in management of relief funds that were received post the 2013 calamity; (ii) rehabilitation of all the people affected by the 2013 calamity; (iii) revoke the decision to turn Bindukhatta into a municipality and give ownership rights of the land to the farmers; among others. It was also resolved that on the day of the inauguration municipality office in Bindukhatta, a protest will be staged in which thousands of farmers will march to the municipality office.

The Conference also elected a 31 member district council and a 9 member district executive. Comrade Bahadur Singh was elected as the district President and Com. Rajendra Shah was elected as the district secretary. Comrades Kamalpati Joshi, Captain Shankar Singh Chufaal, Ghulam Nabi, Hayaat Ram and Pushkar Ram were elected as district Vice Presidents, while Com. Vimla Ronthan was elected as the Joint Secretary.

Protest in Phulwaari Sharif Block to Demand Basic Facilities for the Mahadalits Rresiding in the Block

Under the leadership of CPI(ML), a forceful protest demonstration was staged on 18 May by Mahadalits residing in the north of Beur Jail and towards the south of Maila Tanki to demand basic facilities. The demands raised by the included- 5-5 dismil land for each mahadalit family, and provisions of toilets, bathhouses, electricity, safe drinking water and primary education centre (Anganwaadi) in Musahri. The protest demonstration was led by CPI(ML) CC member, Com. Shashi Yadav, CPI(ML) leaders Com. Ramnaresh Yadav, Com. Murtaja Ali and others. Participating in the protest demonstration, hundreds of women, men and children marched from Beur to Phulwaari block. Thereafter a six member delegation comprising of Com. Shashi Yadav, Com. Ramnaresh Ram, Com. Murtaja Ali, Com. Krishna Kumar Sinha, Com. Gorki Devi and Com. Subhash Manjhi held talks with the Block Development Officer (BDO), Circle Officer (CO) and the Child Development Project Officer (CDPO). The zonal authorities assured the delegation that a quick and a significant action would be taken on the issue of providing land to the mahadalit families. They further ensured that letters would be written to the authorities of the concerned authorities on the other demands raised. The CDPO assured that an anganwadi for primary education will soon be established.

CPI(ML) Candidate Wins the Council Election from Ramgarh Camp

Ramgarh is a district town in Jharkhand with a population of about 45 thousand that has been divided into 8 wards. Dozens of tribal and dalit villages have been included in the Ramagrah Camp council. However, nearly 67 years after the independence, the people residing here remain deprived of basic facilities such as education, health, roads, accommodation, and pension schemes for old, widows and the physically challenged. Several areas in the villages have been declared as ‘restricted areas’ as a result of which the villagers cannot build pakka houses. People residing in the Ramgarh camp are required to travel to Patratu block to get caste and domicile certificates and also for the payment of land revenue. However, when it comes to the development of the people, authorities of both the zones shirk of their responsibility claiming that it is the responsibility of the other. When any funds for development are received, the administration head who is a Brigadier, distributes it among army personnel. CPI(ML) has been waging a long struggle over the issues of the villagers and the willfulness of the army. In the elections for ward numbers 1 and 7 of the Ramgarh Camp Council on 17 May, Com. Manita Devi and Com. Prabhu Karmaali fought elections as CPI(ML) candidates. In ward number 7, Com. Prabhu Karmaali received 1043 votes, defeating his nearest rival by 193 votes. An active member of the CPI(ML) since 1982, Com. Karmaali has been active in several struggles fought over people’s issues. Despite the attempts by competitors to spread misinformation about the party, the party is committed to bring together the poor workers, farmers, dalits and adivasis and carry forward struggles on their issues.

Obituary
Praful Bidwai

CPI(ML) expresses shock and grief over the sudden demise of renowned journalist, noted columnist, anti-nuclear activist and Left political commentator Praful Bidwai. Known to speak truth to the powers that be, he always wrote and spoke what he truly believed in, without fearing the consequences. His particular efforts towards ensuring a world that was free of war and nuclear weapons and energy were reflected in his tireless activism in the anti-nuclear movements, as well as in his writings. He wrote extensively on this subject and also founded founded the Coalition of Nuclear Disarmament and Peace in 2000. A powerful voice for the left in India, he was also consistent in his efforts to fight promotion of prejudice, superstitions and non-scientific thinking in education. Co awarded International Peace Bureau’s Sean MacBride Peace Prize along with Prof. Achin Vinayak, he was committed to a vision of secular, democratic and an egalitarian India. CPI(ML) joins Praful Bidwai’s many friends and comrades in mourning his loss. The demise of Praful Bidwai is a huge loss for the democratic movement in India as people’s movement has lost a consistent champion and friend.

Red Salute to Com. Praful Bidwai

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

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ML Update | No.26,| 2015

June 27, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 26, 23 ­– 29 JUNE 2015

Resist BJP’s Agenda of Yoking Yoga to Communal Politics

The long-standing global appeal of yoga as an easy and affordable choice for staying fit and healthy has now been recognised by the UN with the declaration of June 21 as the International Yoga Day. The interest and participation witnessed on the occasion of the first IYD in India and beyond reflected this popularity.

But for the Modi government and RSS-BJP leadership, yoga has turned into yet another weapon of political propaganda, cultural homogenization and communal targeting, apart from promoting the interests of a select few who have made fortunes by commercializing yoga. It is therefore imperative to make a clear distinction between yoga as an Indian heritage as well as a modern-day fitness choice and the Sangh-BJP politics of yoga.

As part of Indian heritage and tradition, it is important to recognise the plural origin and development of yoga with multiple schools and exponents contributing to its popularisation. Most yoga positions and postures are inspired by natural phenomena and the animal world and have no overt religious connotation or symbolism. Yet by trying to make it compulsory in schools and blaming Muslims for non-adherence (BJP leader Ram Madhav, for example, questioned the absence of Vice President Hamid Ansari in IYD celebrations in Delhi before withdrawing his communally motivated tweet), the BJP is bent on using yoga as an item of cultural regimentation and communal polarisation.

In his IYD message, Modi cautioned against commodification of yoga. Yet, the BJP scheme of yoga promotion revolves primarily around Baba Ramdev who has built up a massive business empire by selling yoga and a growing array of products with dubious claims of curing diseases and reinforcing sexist attitudes and superstitious beliefs. Of the 600-odd camps where IYD was observed under official patronage, a good many were outsourced to centres run by Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravishankar. Instead of promoting yoga as a free personal choice and private experience, the Modi government has turned yoga into a state-sponsored televised public spectacle.

Let us now consider the issue in the context of public health. Contrast the Modi government’s all-out promotion of yoga to the growing neglect of public health infrastructure and services, and it becomes clear that for the BJP the yoga campaign is not really part of any public health agenda. For all its health benefits yoga is no panacea for India’s acute public health crisis. And a government which is busy slashing its health budget and social welfare spending, and is systematically abdicating the state’s responsibility of providing universal healthcare, cannot absolve itself of its guilt by just patronizing yoga promotion events and subsidising dubious yoga commerce. Indeed, Bhopal gas disaster survivors used the IYD occasion to tell the world how the government has shut down yoga centres meant for them. Like the much-touted ‘swachhata abhiyan’, the yoga campaign too promises to be another grand televised exercise in tokenism.

The IYD celebrations came close on the heels of the surfacing of the first major scam of the Modi government. The government which came to power promising repatriation of black money and corruption-free governance now stands deeply implicated in patronizing the kingpin of IPL scam defying the law of the land. The mass resentment generated by the land grab ordinance, escalating prices, and cases of complicity in corruption is not going to be swept aside by the IYD hype.

We are approaching the 40th anniversary of the infamous Emergency. The agenda of cultural regimentation in the wake of IYD is one of symptoms of Modi’s authoritarian, ‘Supreme Leader’ style of governance that presents the undeclared but very real threat of Emergency in India today. We must resolve to resist this undeclared Emergency and defend our diversity and freedom with all our might.

Government Concedes Demands after an Effective Strike by Bihar State Karyapalak Sahayak Sangh

The recently formed Bihar State Karyapalak Sahayak Sangh (Bihar State Peons and Assistants Union) staged an effective state wide strike from 8 June to 11 June with a 7 point demand charter including regularization of service, increase in honorarium (from 9,000 to 20,000), and maintaining seniority of those who are removed after a project is finished so that they may be re-employed. The BSKSS, associated with the Mahasangh (Gope group) and AICCTU, had on 26 May submitted their demands to the Chief Secretary, General Administration, who had called them for talks on 5 June and also asked upper Project Director, Bihar Administrative Reforms Mission Society to be present. However, on 27 May the upper Project Director issued directives for honorarium raise which was very discriminatory (from 9,000 to 10,500 for karyapalak sahayaks, from 30,000 to 40,000 for IT managers, from 10,000 to 17,000 for IT assistants). The talk to be held on 5 June was also mysteriously cancelled. The Sangh submitted a letter of protest on 29 May.

Outraged, the BSKSS gave notice of the strike on 5 June and a 4 day strike was successfully carried out. On the first day itself, the administration started putting pressure for ending the strike. On the second day Chief Secretary Amir Subhani issued a directive notice ordering appointment of new karyapalak sahayaks and sacking of the striking sahayaks. On 10 June, copies of this directive were burnt in protest in 35 district HQs of Bihar. On the same day a fresh notice was issued repeating the 9 June directive with an added note, “As the number of applications received for Bihar Lok Seva Adhikar in 32 dstricts is zero, the process of removing the striking sahayaks from service should be started immediately”.

However, the administration had to finally bow down in the face of the effectiveness of the strike and on 11 June Amir Subhani called a delegation (which included Rambali Yadav, Ranvijay Kumar, Ashish Kumar, and Mohd. Belal) for talks, during which Shri Subhani gave positive assurance on all the 7 demands of the striking sahayaks. He promised to raise the issue of regularization strongly in the committee constituted to look into the regularization of sahayaks. Agreeing that the honorarium rise was unfair to sahayaks, he promised to rectify and increase it within a month. He also promised that the validity of the seniority panel would be increased from 1 year to 3 or 5 years. In case of theft or damage to the computer system (which belongs personally to the sahayak), the honorarium would be maintained, and pending honorariums in various departments would also be paid without delay. After the talks, the strike was conditionally called off with the caveat that if the promised assurances were not fulfilled within the stipulated time limit, a stronger strike would be organized. A letter to this effect was submitted to the department on 12 June.

Sahayaks from 33 out of 38 districts participated in the strike, and were joined later by 2 more districts. Work came to a standstill in about 500 out of 523 blocks. Dharnas were held simultaneously during the strike by sahayaks in various districts. In Patna the dharna was held in front of the Collectorate.

Eight Day Hunger Strike in Ara by CPI(ML) Leaders

Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha State Secretary, Com. Sudama Prasad and RYA President Com. Raju Yadav sat on an 8 day hunger strike in front of the Ara Collectorate from 6 June to 13 June to demand – (i) payment to farmers for paddy purchase, (ii) crop damage compensation to farmers and sharecroppers, (iii) arrangement for water in canals, (iv) quick completion of the Dedhua project, (v) to end cuts in ration, kerosene, MNREGA, and Indira Awas, (vi) to give 5 decimal residential land to all poor, (vii) revoke the Land Grab ordinance, (viii) take back all false cases on CPI(ML) leaders, and (ix) to regularize contractual and honorarium workers and teachers. The district authorities paid no heed to and did not even bother to meet the protesters, who then did a chakka jam on 10 June and called for a bandh on 12 June.

On 13 June the leaders broke their fast and accepted juice from CPI(ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya and State Secretary Com. Kunal. Addressing the meeting on the occasion, Com. Dipankar said that the 8 day hunger strike held up the mirror to the anti-people and anti-farmer policies of the central as well as Bihar governments. He pointed out that farmers, workers, shikshakarmis, anganwadi workers, and others are being cheated of their rights. Instead of rule of the people, these governments have brought in Company Raj. Farmers’ suicides have spilled over from Maharashtra and Punjab into the entire country. The livelihoods of workers, youth, and small shopkeepers are in jeopardy. The jan-dhan accounts are only another means to cheat the people. Com. Dipankar said that Nitish’s opposition to the Land ordinance is not credible because he himself is guilty of grabbing land through BIADA, and liquor factories that are being run on bhoodaan land in Patna. He said that Bhojpur, true to its revolutionary traditions would fight to overturn these governments and their anti-people and anti-poor policies.

The meeting was also addressed by AIARLA National President Com. Rameshwar Prasad, Kisan Mahasabha National General Secretary Com. Rajaram Singh, Com. Sudama Prasad, Com. Raju Yadav, AISA State Secretary Com. Ajit Kushwaha, Kisan Mahasabha Bhojpur district Secretary Com. Chandradeep Singh, and Com. Sudhir Suman. A 12 point political resolution was read out and a mass protest against the Land ordinance was announced for 26 June. A resolution was also passed against the insensitive behavior of the Bhojpur DM which did not befit a public servant.

News was received that after this agitation, the Bihar State Co-operative Bank sent Rs 370 crores to the central co-operative banks of all districts for payment of paddy purchase to the farmers. Com. Sudama Prasad and Com. Chandradeep Singh said that this was a victory for the protesters. They asserted that the financially burdened farmers of Bhojpur would not commit suicide but would fight to keep their land, their agriculture, and their dignity.

AIPF fact finding team visits Palamu to Investigate Cases of State-police Repression and Social Oppression

The team comprising of ex-MLA from CPI(ML), Vinod Singh, Ananta Prasada Gupta, Dayamani Barla, Jugal Pal and Anil Anshuman, investigated the incidents of – murder of civil rights activist Prahlad Sao by the coal mafia in Chandwa of Latehar district, killing of 12 people by the police in a fake encounter in Bakoriya (Satbarwa) of Manika, molestation of a minor girl by a CRPF jawan in Betla, and burning of dalit-adivasi homes in Anharidhodha (Chainpur) of Palamu district.

(i) Murder of Civil Rights Activist Prahlad Sao

On 15 May, Prahlad Sao, well known activist and Jan Kalyan Samiti President was murdered. Till date the killers have not been caught. The AIPF team reached Tori on 17 June, and came to know many facts about the deadly business of mining and mafia in the region. For the last 7 or 8 months hundreds of trucks have been bringing illegally mined coal to platform 3 of Tori railway station from where it was sent by train route to Reliance, Amrapali, Dhanuka, BK, Hindalco and other companies. Local people informed the team that this illegal business received the protection and patronage of police and administration. Prahlad Sao’s family told the AIPF team that they used to get phone calls from IAS and IPS officers in Ranchi telling them to make their father stop the agitation. Some days ago, coal trader Dhanuka had come and said they could take as much money as they liked, but should stop obstructing the coal loading. The AIPF team has demanded CBI enquiry into the whole matter and stressed that the more important issue is not who fired the revolver but who is behind the firing.

(ii) Bakoriya (Satbarwa) Encounter Case

Twelve people were killed by the police in the name of Maoist encounter on the night of 8 June. Local people and media personnel told the AIPF team that this was a strange encounter where only people from one side were killed. The police did not suffer even a scratch. The dead received bullets on their chests. The police have said that four of the dead were Maoists, but are silent on the rest. The dead include four minor boys. The team visited the home of the victims and talked to their families and local villagers. While all of them gave statements in a mechanical way as if they were under pressure to speak as instructed, the general talk in the area was that the killings had been carried out by a criminal outfit JJMP which enjoys police patronage, and the police was taking vicarious “credit” for this fake encounter.

(iii) Betla Molestation Case

10 May, when a minor girl from Akhra village came to a primary school hand pump in Betla to draw water, one jawan from the Betla national park CRPF camp caught her and took her into a school room. He was accompanied by another jawan. A woman who was passing by raised an alarm to collect the villagers. The angry villagers went into the camp and demanded that both culprits be produced. But the camp officials denied the whole matter and said it was a false accusation. CPI(ML) leaders Birju Ram and Kanhai Singh reached the spot and, along with the angry people, demanded the immediate arrest of the molesters, and blocked the Barwadih main road. When the enquiry team reached the spot, the victim, her family, and hundreds of villagers gave full details of the incident. Eye witness Jeera Devi and many other women described the misbehaviour of the CRPF jawans.

(iv) Andharidhodha Case

On 18 June the AIPF team reached Andharidhodha village in Chainpur block of Palamu district where strongmen with political patronage had recently burnt down dalit-adivasi homes. CPI(ML) and Jharkhand Vanadhikar Manch, Chainpur, called a public meeting in village Navadih. A dalit-adivasi victim of the brutal arson incident described to the team how, at the instance of the Forest Department, armed strongmen (from the dominant Yadav community) from nearby village Jhalar came and abused them, beat them up, broke and destroyed all the things in their houses, and then doused the homes with kerosene and set fire to them, ordering the dalit-adivasis to leave the place.

Following the enquiries, a press conference was held in Daltonganj where AIPF leaders condemned the incidents at Chandwa, Bakoriya, Betla, and Andharidhodha and raised demands pertaining to investigation of these incidents, arrest of the culprits and punishment for the guilty. The team informed that a mahapanchayat would be held on 9 August in front of the Governor of Jharkhand at Ranchi to press the above demands.

School Building Construction Starts after Agitation

The school grounds in Agiaon (Bhojpur) had been under the control of dominant forces for many years, whereas 400 students had to study in merely 2 rooms of the school. This affected the working of the school badly and teaching came to a near standstill. The government was seen to be playing with and destroying the future of the children.

The people of the village had raised the issue with the block and district authorities. On 27 September 2014 they held a dharna at the block HQs. Beginning from 16 January this year, the school was kept under lock-out for 3 months. Despite everything, the dominant forces retained capture of the grounds, and construction of the school building could not be started.

Finally the people of the village, under the leadership of CPI(ML) and RYA, carried on a sustained struggle, cut down the trees and broke down the wall put up by these forces, and freed the school grounds. After this, the police administration, at the behest of the current MLA, former MLA, and his powerful brother, slapped false cases on 15 young men of the village. Instead of acting against the land grabbing dominant forces, the police continuously harassed RYA leader Manoj Manzil and other youth. When the 50-strong police came to arrest them, they had to face the wrath of the villagers and had to go back empty-handed. Protesting against this police action, hundreds of villagers including school children, students, youth and women took part in a gherao. Senior district officials assured them that the false cases would be taken back and construction of the school building would be started soon, after which the gherao was withdrawn. Addressing the gherao, Party leaders said that Nitish Kumar is destroying the future of the children, workers, and farmers of the village, but the CPI(ML) would not tolerate this and would launch widespread agitations for ensuring proper education for rural children.

Thus the government and the administration had to bow down in the face of strong agitation and the construction of the school building has finally started. The success of this agitation has enthused the people of the entire area and their faith in the CPI(ML)’s commitment to fight for people’s rights has increased.

Historic Bandh in Kaler Block (Arwal) for Electricity as Thousands Take to the Streets

Of the 5 blocks in Arwal district, Kaler is the only one which does not have electricity even in its Headquarters. In spite of several agitations, the people have so far received nothing but assurances from the administration. Several initiatives have been taken by the Bijli Lao Sangharsh Samiti which includes many Party leaders. Responding to the concerns of the villagers who have been raising the question of electricity, the CPI(ML) Arwal district committee held a meeting on 20 May 2015 and announced a bandh in Kaler block on 26 May. After a sustained campaign, the people gave a positive response to the bandh call. On 26 May people came out on the streets from 7 am. Most shopkeepers closed shop and gathered on NH 98, blocking the road. Soon people took to the streets in Validad, Parasi, Belasar and Amir Bigaha also. The bandh took on historic proportions, paralyzing the entire district. The bandh continued till late evening and meetings were organized at various places. Leaders addressing the meetings pointed out the step-motherly treatment meted out to Kaler by the Nitish government. The block headquarter was shut down and the BDO was obliged to come out on to the streets.

Finally, the electricity department officials and SDO assured the people that work on electrification would start within one week, after which the bandh was called off. The bandh had a visible effect, as a truckload of poles was unloaded very soon in Kaler, and a junior engineer conducted a survey in Validad for electrification. It is noteworthy that agitations by the CPI(ML) have been instrumental in bringing transformers and electricity to dozens of villages in Arwal. The people have been enthused by the initiatives taken by the Party for electrification.

Effective Agitation for Electricity in Giridih

As part of a series of agitations launched by the CPI(ML) against irregular electricity supply in Rajdhanwar block of Giridih district, a decisive “Ghera Dalo Dera Dalo” agitation was held on 21-22 May, led by Party MLA Rajkumar Yadav.

Hundreds of people under the leadership of Com. Rajkumar Yadav and Com. Rameshwar Choudhury marched from the block headquarters to the electricity office in Barjo and started the Ghera Dalo Dera Dalo. A huge gathering of people from Rajdhanwar, Gaava and Teesri blocks joined the agitation under the leadership of Kishori Agarwal, Nagehwar Yadav and Jainarayan Yadav. Posters at the venue declared that if the demands were not met by 22 May, the CPI(ML) MLA would sit on an indefinite hunger strike from 23 May.

Work at the electricity was brought to a standstill from 21 May, with the people at large participating actively in the bandh. The demands included changing of transformers in Rajdhanwar, and connecting the Rajdhanwar Vidhansabha line to the Giridih 33 KV line instead of to the Kodarma line which was full of faults and could not give a regular supply. Getting no positive response from the administration, the CPI(ML) MLA started his indefinite hunger strike on 23 May as announced. This news spread like wildfire and people from far and near started gathering at the venue, and even collected Rs 10,000 for the program. The response of the people shook the administration and they had perforce to take note of the agitation. On 24 May, about 4,000-5,000 people were gathered at the site of the strike. The administration hurriedly started talks at the hunger strike site itself, in which the electricity department General Manager, supervising engineer of DVC, Kherimahua civil SDO, Rajdhanwar BDO-CO, and Jharkhand State Electricity Board supervising engineer also participated. At the conclusion of the talks the administration bowed down and agreed to all the main demands of the people.

An Eight Day Strike Called by ASHA Workers Union in Bihar From 21-28 June

The ASHA workers union in Bihar (Gope group) has called for a strike from 21 to 28 June with support from CPI(ML) and AIPWA. The working conditions for ASHA workers in Bihar are in a terrible state. The workers do not receive monthly wages, are not provided with even basic toilet facilities in health centres where they work and there is not even changing room for their needs. Several doctors and other health centre staff mistreat them on a regular basis. They are paid a paltry sum of Rs. 75 per day for providing polio and other vaccinations. One month prior to the strike, the ASHA workers had submitted their demands to the government and to their department but there was no response. Instead of responding to the demands of ASHA workers, the government has instead chosen to resort to threatening and oppression. However, the ASHA workers remain undeterred in their spirit to carry on their struggle for their rights.

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

MLU_18-26.doc

ML Update | No. 25 | 16-22 JUN 2015

June 19, 2015

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 18 | No. 25 | 16-22 JUN 2015

Crony Capitalist Nexus Between Lalit Modi and Modi Government, BJP

The UPA Government lost credibility and earned people’s anger for the series of scams stemming from its crony capitalist nexus with corporations. Within a year of the Modi Government, it has become apparent that the Modi Government and BJP are deeply mired in the same crony capitalist nexus. The mutually beneficial relationship between Gautam Adani and Narendra Modi has always indicated this. And now further evidence is available in the form of revelations that BJP leaders and Modi Government Ministers have worked to help IPL scamster Lalit Modi evade the law in India.

It was the Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje in her earlier term, who had helped Lalit Modi get a foothold in the BCCI via the Rajasthan Cricket Association. She had done so by passing an ordinance that tweaked the rules to deny voting rights to powerful rival members, and by supporting Modi’s candidature in spite of his criminal conviction in a US court for drug possession, kidnapping and assault. The RCA coup paved the way for Lalit Modi’s journey to become BCCI Vice President and then IPL Chief.

After being implicated in multiple charges of corruption in the IPL scam, Lalit Modi fled to the UK. In 2011, the Enforcement Directorate got his passport revoked and issued a blue-corner notice against him, requiring foreign law enforcement agencies to detain and deport him back to India to face questioning and trial. In 2014, the Delhi High Court restored Modi’s passport citing that the ED had presented inadequate materials to justify revocation of the passport. Significantly, the ED under the Modi Government’s Finance Ministry, and the MEA, did not challenge the Delhi HC order.

It now emerges that Sushma Swaraj, when she held the Constitutional post of leader of the Opposition in Parliament, sought his help to secure admission for her nephew in a UK University. Her husband and daughter are Lalit Modi’s lawyers. As Minister for External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj intervened to help Modi secure travel documents to allow him to leave the UK for Portugal. Swaraj now claims this was a ‘humanitarian’ gesture that allowed Modi to be with his wife for cancer treatment in a Portugal hospital. If that was the case, why did she not stipulate a specific period for which travel permission be granted? Why did she make no effort to get Modi to return to India to face justice? Lalit Modi is now holidaying in Montenegro, brazenly mocking the Indian investigative and legal process. Sushma Swaraj’s ‘humanitarian’ relationship with scamster Lalit Modi is similar to her ‘blessings’ to the scam-tainted Bellary brothers in the past.

It also emerges that Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, when she was leader of the Opposition in the Rajasthan Assembly in 2011, gave testimony backing Lalit Modi’s bid to get a permit to stay in the UK. She did so “on the strict condition that my assistance will not become known to the Indian authority.” The testimony explicitly relies on Raje’s weight as a leader of Opposition, a leader of the BJP and a member of a prominent political family with links in both Congress and BJP. This means that Raje used her clout in a Constitutional post to assist a fugitive from Indian law – carefully seeking to hide this assistance from Indian authorities. Raje’s Rajasthan Government also signed an MoU with the Portugal hospital where Lalit Modi’s wife was treated, a couple of months after her surgery.

The manner in which BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje and the Modi Government helped a scam-tainted person evade Indian law and live freely in foreign countries, mocks the BJP’s, RSS’ and Narendra Modi’s claims of probity and patriotism.

Corruption does not simply involve an exchange of bribes or money. The deep, mutually beneficial links between political leaders, parties and Governments, and corporations are the very essence of cronyism and corruption. The lack of enthusiasm of the Enforcement Directorate under the Modi Government for pursuing cases of corruption against Adani, Ambani or Lalit Modi; the decision to bail out Mukesh Ambani’s loss-making Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure Limited by rescheduling its repayment of loans to public sector banks from 2019-20 to 2030-31; and the ED’s recent decision to drop a Rs 1000 crore case of money laundering against Baba Ramdev, are instances of the Government’s special favours to corporations that have close relationships with the Government and with BJP leaders.

Narendra Modi has recently claimed that the country was ‘scam India’ until he took over the reigns as Prime Minister. Why is Narendra Modi silent now on the manner in which the MEA and Finance Ministry as well as a prominent leader of his party have all helped the scam-accused Lalit Modi evade the Indian legal system?

Dangerous Jingoism in the Wake of the Myanmar Operation

The jingoistic rhetoric and posturing by the Modi Government as well as sections of the media in the wake of the Indian Army’s recent Myanmar operation is extremely irresponsible and harmful to India’s interests as well as to peace in the Soth Asian neighbourhood.

The ambush that claimed the lives of 18 Indian soldiers in Manipur is condemnable. It also underlines the failure of the Government at making headway with a political resolution to conflicts in the North East. The mysterious Myanmar operation clouded in jingoistic frenzy is no answer to the many conflicts in the region, and can in fact worsen the situation considerably.

The aggressive boasts made in the wake of the operation have damaged India’s relationship with Myanmar and the much-vaunted ‘Look East’ policy. Myanmar has denied that it was a cross-border attack at all. Insurgent groups have denied heavy losses on their side. It is unclear if what, if anything, has been gained by the action. But doubtless, the Government’s chest-thumping over the action has damaged peace in the region.

The manner in which spokespersons of the ruling party and sections of the media have used the action to bandy about threats of a ‘hot pursuit’ policy in the territory of Pakistan and China, is of extreme concern.

Defence Minister Manohar Parriker for instance has said that respect for the Army is waning because India has not fought a war in decades, and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has similarly observed that India has not fought a ‘serious’ war in decades, since Kargil was a mere one-sided skirmish. These remarks expose the fact that BJP leaders want to impose wars and Army ‘actions’ on India and its neighbours, for political gains, with no concern for the grievous human costs. India and Pakistan are both armed with nuclear weapons – such irresponsible war-mongering threatens the people of both countries with mutual destruction.

It must be remembered that the key to resolving conflicts in the North East and Kashmir lie in dialogue towards a political resolution. Towards this end, the first and most urgent requirement is to heed the calls of the citizens of these regions for scrapping of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) and ensuring accountability and justice for all crimes against citizens by armed forces.

Akhilesh Yadav Government Must Answer for Murderous Attacks on UP Journalists

A Shahjahanpur-based journalist Jagendra Singh who had exposed a scam involving Uttar Pradesh’s Minister for Backward Classes Welfare Ram Murti Verma, was set on fire and burnt alive by policemen during a ‘raid’ on his house. He has succumbed to his injuries, after implicating the Samajwadi Party Government Minister in his dying declaration.

In Pilibhit, another journalist who had exposed dubious land deals was tied to a motorcycle and dragged.

These horrific incidents point to the free rein enjoyed by criminals under patronage of the Akhilesh Yadav Government and ruling Samajwadi Party.

The CPI(ML) condemns these incidents and demands independent judicial probes to establish the nexus between police, corrupt and criminal forces, and Minister and SP leaders behind these attacks, and to punish the guilty.

CPI (ML)’s ongoing struggle in Bhojpur for farmers

Since 6 June, CPI (ML) leaders Comrade Sudama Prasad and Comrade Raju Yadav had been on an indefinite hunger strike demanding immediate payment to farmers from whom paddy had been procured but the payment had been delayed by nearly two months and also payment of compensation to farmers and sharecroppers whose crops had suffered due to hailstorms and untimely rains a few weeks ago. Days after the indefinite hunger strike had started, the government officials had failed to even meet the hunger strikers. In solidarity with the ongoing hunger strike and CPI (ML) called for a Bhojpur Bandh and Chakka Jaam on 12 June 2015. Several Nukkad Sabhas were held in days leading to the Bandh to mobilize the masses and increase the pressure on the officials to respond to the demands of the farmers. On 12 June, thousands of people responded to the CPI (ML)’s call and for hours buses and rails were stopped during Chakka Jaam. Protest marches were also organized in Ara, in which people from Ara and other areas of Bhojpur too participated in large numbers.

Protest demonstration in Delhi over appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as FTII Chairperson

The recent appointments of Gajendra Chauhan as the Chairman, Anagha Ghaisas and Shailesh Gupta as Governing Council members of FTII have been made not on the basis of creative contributions in the field but solely on the basis of their loyalty to the RSS-BJP brigade. The students of FTII have been engaged in a determined protest against the appointment of Gajendra Singh as Chairman of FTII. AISA and JNUSU earlier in the week released statements congratulating the students for their spirited protests and expressed solidarity with the students. JNUSU president and AISA leader Com. Ashutosh Kumar has also left for Pune to join the agitating students in an expression of solidarity.

On 16 June 2015, Students, Flimmakers, Alumuni of FTII, Students of FTII and student organisation participated in a protest at the I&B Ministry at Shastri Bhavan. The protest was in solidarity with the on going students strike at FTII and the Saffron appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the Chairman of the Governing Council of FTII. Nakul Sawney, Filmmaker, Sanjeev Sood Sec of the Northern Region of the Alumni Association of FTII, Kishlay ex- Gen Sec of FTIISA, President of NSDSU Naresh, JNUSU VP Anant, Student Organisations like PACHHAS and Naujawan Bharat Sabha participated in the protest.

A delegation met the PS of Arun Jaitley and submitted a memorandum to him which stated that the current Chairman Appointee doesn’t hold the necessary credentials needed to hold a post of such immense responsibilities an. There are wide ranging speculations of the appointments in FTII (the Chairman and other newly appointed governing council members) being political and to make the situation worse, Mr Gajendra Chauhan is a known face of the ruling party. His association with BJP and his selection bypassing well known stalwarts, has created an atmosphere of mistrust and anger among the student-teacher-film maker fraternity.

Speaking at the protest Sucheta De, National President of AISA said, ‘We are time and again seeing that appointments to the heads of institution are being made as a reward for being loyal to the ruling party rather than actually fulfilling the criterion required for the said post. This is the case for institutions like ICHR, ICCR, Censor Board etc. The students of FTII have shown that this won’t be allowed and we have to stand shoulder to shoulder with them. Nakul Shawney filmmaker said, ‘The FTII has produced filmmakers who have shunned corporate funding and made films by collecting money from the public, it is this idea that the Government wants to kill but we shall not allow it to happen. Kishlay, Ex Gen Secretary of the FTIISA and Sanjeev Sood, Secretary of the Alumni Association of FTII, Northern Region, representatives from PACHHAs and Naujawan Bharat Sabha also spoke at the protest.

AIPF Dharna in to demand basic rights for Bhagalpur 1989 riots victims

The Bhagalpur unit of AIPF called for a dharna on 10 June 2015 to carry forward the struggle of Bhagalpur riots victims for their rights. Nearly 26 years after the Bhagalpur riots, the riots victims and those displaced are yet to be given complete compensation. The dharna was organized to raise the demands which included (i) complete compensation for the displaced, injured and those who lost their family members, (ii) housing provision under the Indira Awaas, (iii) inclusion of names in the BPL list, and other basic rights. The dharna was organized in front of the Amarpur block head-office in Banka district.

Left Parties Joint Activists’ Conference in Madhya Pradesh

CPI-ML, CPI, CPI (M), and SUCI (C) organized a State level joint activists’ conference on 24 May at Neelam Park in Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh) to oppose the Land Acquisition ordinance, to demand compensation to farmers for crop damage due to unseasonal rains, and to discuss other burning issues. About 1500 activists from different districts of the State participated in the conference. CPI-ML activists from 3 districts in Chambal participated in good numbers.

The conference was organized at the initiative of Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha national Vice President, Madhya Pradesh co-ordinator and CPI (ML) State in-charge Com. Devendra Kumar Chouhan. He emphasized the need for mobilizing Left activists against the anti-people policies of the Central and State BJP governments. CPI (ML) leader Com. Mohd. Khan Bharaiya, CPI (M) leader and former MP Com. Subhashini Ali, CPI (M) State leader Com. Badal Saroj, CPI National Secretary Com. Amarjeet Kaur, Com. Shailendra Kumar Shaili and other Left leaders also addressed the conference. It was decided that dharnas and protests will be organized in various districts and blocks in the month of June against the Land Ordinance and other burning issues of the people. The leaders pointed out that the Central and State governments have failed on all fronts, therefore a pervasive and united Left movement must be carried out against the anti-people policies.

Left Farmers’ Organizations Hold Joint Protest in Bihar

Protest marches, dharnas, and meetings were held on 25 May in front of DM’s offices in different district of Bihar in response to the call from Kisan Sabha (Kedar Bhavan), Kisan Sabha (Jamal Road), Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha, Akhil Baratiya Kisan Gramin va Khet Mazdoor Sabha, All India Risak Khet Mazdoor Sangathan, Bihar Prantiya Khetihar Mazdoor Union, All India Kisan Federation, Bihar Rajya Khet Mazdoor Union, Akhil Bharatiya Agragami Kisan Sabha, Pragatisheel Kisan Sangh, Akhil Bharatiya Janvadi Kisan Sabha, Pragatisheel Khet Mazdoor Union, All India Khet Mazdoor Kisan Sabha, and other Left farmers’ organizations. The demands of the protesting farmers included- (i) revoking of the Land Grab ordinance, (ii) speedy payment for all farmers including sharecroppers after paddy purchase, (iii) curbing corruption, (iv) speedy compensation for all farmers including sharecroppers for crop loss due to unseasonal rains and ending scams related to compensation, (v) Rs 10 lakh compensation to farmers who committed suicide due to anti-farmer policies of the Centre as well as State, (vi) waiving of bank/moneylenders’ loans, (vii) making farming a productive occupation, (viii) guarantee of wheat crop sale by opening purchase centres, (ix) modernizing all canals including Son canal, (x) 20 hours electricity for villages, among several other demands.

In Patna the protest march started from Gandhi Maidan. The protest march was followed by a meeting addressed by National President of Akhil Bharatiya Gramin va Khet Mazdoor Sabha Rameshwar Prasad, Patna district Kisan Mahasabha Secretary Umesh Singh, Kisan Sabha State joint Secretary Rajendra Patel, and other leaders. Com. Rameshwar Prasad pointed out that the large scale migration from rural areas was due to the wrong policies of the government. He said that rural workers are facing starvation due to the Modi government’s cuts in MNREGA. In the absence of the Collector, a memorandum was submitted to the Deputy Collector.

The protest in front of the Buxar Collectorate was led by Kisan Sabha State Vice President Alakh Narayan Chaudhury, while State Secretary Sudama Prasad led the protest in Ara. The protests in Rohtas district HQ at Sasaram were led by Kisan Mahasabha National Secretary Arun Singh, district Secretary Jawahar Singh, and other leaders from Left farmers’ and workers’ organizations.

The protests at Aurangabad, Kaimur, Jehanabad, and Jamui were led by peasant leaders Babban Singh, Ramadhar Singh, Manoj Pandey, and Shambhusharan Singh. Farmers associated with organizations of CPI, SUCI (Communist) and CPI (ML) participated in the dharna at Arwal, led by Ram Kumar Sinha and Rajeshwari Yadav. About 500 people participated in the protests at Nalanda, l​​
ed by Munni Lal Yadav, Pal Bihari Lal, and other leaders. About 3000 people protested at Purnea led by Avinash Paswan and others. At Beguserai, a joint convention was organized in the town hall, led by Ramapati Yadav and Parwez Alam. Protests in Darbhanga were led by Sivan Yadav, Praveen Yadav and others. About 600 people participated in the protest march in Muzaffarpur with significant participation by SUCI (C), led by Jitendra Yadav, Parshram Pathak, Bindeshwari Sah and others.

About 600 farmers participated in the protests at Western Champaran, led by Virendra Gupta, Suni Rao and others. A big protest march was taken out in Hajipur, led by Visheshwar Prasad Yadav, while Jainath Yadav led the joint protests in Siwan. A huge dharna of 1500 people was held in Samastipur. The protest in Gopalganj was led by Kisan Mahasabha leader Lal Bahadur Singh and others.

This is the first time that small and big Left farmers and khet mazdoor organizations have come together on such a large scale to raise burning issues of farmers, sending a positive message to left forces and raising possibilities of future joint programmes by khet mazdoor organizations.

Jharkhand State Non-Gazetted Workers’ Mahasangh Holds 5th State Conference

The 5th State conference of the Jharkhand State non-gazetted workers’ mahasangh was held on 23-24 May 2015 at Com. Sadhusharan Ram Manch of the Van Sabhagaar (Subodh Narayan Choube Sabhagaar) in Doranda (Ranchi). After flag hoisting by State President Sushila Tigga and tributes to martyrs, proceedings began under Chairpersons Comrades BD Das, Sushila Tigga and Singheshwar Ji and a 3 member steering committee of Comrades Ajit Prasad, Chandrashekhar Singh and Gopal Sharan ingh.

Leader of Bihar workers’ movement Com. Rambali Yadav and Jharkhand AICCTU General Secretary Com. Shubhendu Sen were present as special guests. Com. Somar Oraon welcomed the gathering by remembering former AICCTU national President and father of Bihar workers’ movement Com. Yogeshwar Gope. Inaugurating the conference, AICCTU national Vice President Com. Swapan Mukherjee said that Yogeshwar Gope, Subodh Narayan Choube and Sadhusharan Ram are shining examples of development of class consciousness in the workers’ movement. These leaders developed the revolutionary tradition in workers’ struggles. In addition to unifying the workers’ movement, they also joined it to the revolutionary trade union tradition of AICCTU and strengthened the communist party foundation in the workers’ movement. True tribute to these departed leaders can be paid only when the above three points are fully incorporated into the workers’ movement.

Com. Swapan Mukherjee further said that “Make in India” means corporate raj, and maximum profit and cheap labour for the corporate houses. All legal and constitutional principles with regard to workers’ rights are going to be scrapped through the amendments to the labour laws. Wage differences are at their peak in the organized sector. Now even pension funds and EPF are being put into the share market. Workers on contract, honorarium, and incentive payment are also government employees but they are not permanent. This is the reason the mahasangh needs to organize contractual, honorarium, and incentive workers and fight for their minimum wages and regularization of appointment. The mahasangh can become a mass base organization for struggle, and can play a big role in changing society and regime by uniting with the country’s workers’ movement.

The conference was also addressed by West Bengal leader Com. Anjani Bishwas, Bengal secretariat leader Com. Shriman Guhaji, Bihar Non-gazetted Workers’ Mahasangh (Gope group) General Secretary Com. Premchand Sinha, Jharkhand AICCTU State Secretary Com. Bhuwaneshwar Kewat, and Com. Sukhdev Prasad. The reports by Mahasangh General Secretary Com. Subal Thakur and State Secretary Com. Sushila Tigga were presented and were unanimously passed after detailed discussion. Next, a 27 member State committee was elected. Com. Sushila Tigga, Com. Subal Kishor Thakur, and Com. Brajesh Kumar Singh were elected President, General Secretary and Treasurer respectively. Com. Singheshwar Singh and Com. Tarini Prasad Kamat were elected honorary President and chief patron respectively.

It was resolved at the conference that 10 chosen districts would be developed as strongholds of workers’ movements and activists would have to take serious initiatives for this. The first priority of the mahasangh would be to mobilize the huge base of incentive, honorarium, and contractual workers.

AIPF and CPI (ML)’s Dharna for making Usri river pollution free

Usri river is the main river of Giridih. The increasing pollution in the river has been a major concern among the residents. Demanding steps to make the river pollution and dirt free, a dharna was organized in Giridih under the leadership of AIPF National Council member, Rajesh Sinha and CPI (ML) leader Deepak Lal on 13 June 2015. The one day dharna was organized to put pressure on the apathetical municipality officials towards the deteriorating state of the river.

Obituary
Com. Ashok Pandey

Com. Ashok Pandey, from Bigah village in Nalanda district passed away on 14 May 2015 following a snake bite while he was sleeping. He was 52. Com. Ashok had come in contact with the party in 1989. He led several revolutionary paeasant struggles of the rural poor. He was a member of AIARLA district committee of Nalanda district and a member of the party’s leading team of Kateersarai.

Red Salute to Comrade Ashok Pandey.

Com. Mohammed Nizam

Com. Nizam passed away on 1 June 2015 following a heart failure. He was 42. Com. Nizam hailed from Chapri village of Mandu block in Ramgarh district of Jharkhand. He became associated with RYA in 1998 and received the party membership in 2000. Associating with the local party committee of Kanjgi, he initiated the struggle in Chapri against the coal mining and displacement by CCL. A condolence meeting was organized in Chapri village to pay tribute to Com. Nizam.

Red Salute to Comrade Nizam.

ML Update | No. 24 | 2015

June 10, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18 | No. 24 | 9-15 JUN 2015

Modi’s Misogyny is Not A Slip of the Tongue

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has faced international outrage and criticism when he remarked about Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, that “Despite being a woman, she has declared zero tolerance for terrorism.” This remark is rightly being criticized for its blatant sexism. The remark is especially patronizing and demeaning, coming from a Prime Minister of one country about his counterpart in a neighbouring country. What is important to understand is that this was no casual slip of the tongue – it goes to the heart of the political philosophy of Modi and his party.

The remark implies that it is unusual or surprising for a woman to be a strong leader of her country. The BJP is trying to defend the indefensible by suggesting that Modi only praised Hasina for overcoming the hurdles that patriarchy poses for women. To this, they also insinuate that the remark is justified because Bangladesh, by virtue of being a Muslim-majority country, is particularly oppressive to women. So they are compounding gender stereotypes with communal stereotypes.

The fact is that women in Bangladesh are not worse off compared to India. In the UN Gender Inequality Index, Bangladesh is ranked 12 places ahead of India, performing better on sex ratio, female infant mortality, female literacy, female labour force participation, and lowered fertility rates. In Bangladesh, as in India, work conditions in globalised factories are especially exploitative for women labourers. And in both countries, communal politics targets the freedoms of women, minorities and dissenting voices.

Modi’s remark was not a critique of patriarchy. He did not say ‘despite facing gender discrimination.’ Nor did he say that women political leaders proved patriarchal stereotypes to be wrong. Instead, he invoked the patriarchal stereotype that strength and courage do not normally go with ‘being a woman.’

Another patriarchal aspect of Modi’s remark has received little attention. Modi’s idea of a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to terrorism is a patriarchal one. He means that concerns for human rights and civil liberties in the ‘war against terror’ must be mocked as effeminate, and torture and summary execution of terror suspects are the required macho, muscular attitude to tackling terrorism.

An instance of this approach came not long after Modi’s ‘despite being a woman’ gaffe. The Modi Government has just denied permission to prosecute the Intelligence Bureau officers implicated in the fake encounter of Ishrat Jehan. Ishrat Jehan was a teenage girl killed by the Gujarat police when Modi was the Gujarat Chief Minister. She was branded in death as a terrorist killed in an ‘encounter’, and her killing was one of the instances invoked by Modi to showcase his own ‘zero tolerance’ approach to terror. Another of many such instances was the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh (also branded posthumously as a ‘terrorist’). In an election meeting in 2007, Modi justified this custodial killing openly, asking the crowd ‘What should be done with the likes of Sohrabuddin’, and eliciting the response, ‘Kill him’. The fact is that in order to claim Sohrabuddin was a terrorist, two witnesses to his killing – his wife Kauser Bi and another eyewitness Tulsiram Prajapati – were also killed in police custody. Modi’s ‘zero tolerance for terror’ has actually meant tolerance and state patronage for politically motivated custodial killings of innocent civilians, including women like Ishrat Jehan and Kauser Bi.

Those who respond to Modi’s remark by reminding him of ‘tough,’ draconian and jingoistic leaders like Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher are also playing into the same patriarchal notion of political leadership. In 2005, VHP leader Giriraj Kishor, for instance, had praised Indira Gandhi by saying, “She divided Pakistan into two. She was the only man in her cabinet. She acted like a He-Man.” Both Modi’s praise for Hasine and Giriraj Kishor’s praise for Indira Gandhi display the same sexism, that believes political leaders must be ‘He-Men’, and that a woman is a good leader only if she is ‘manly’.

This is hardly the first time Modi has made a sexist remark. In his election campaign, he repeatedly referred to his own ‘He-Man’ like qualities, claiming that he had a ’56-inch chest’. This metaphor, too, equates leadership with ‘toughness’, and courage with manliness.

His taunts to political opponents also have displayed crude sexism (such as when he referred to Rahul Gandhi as the ‘hybrid calf of a Jersey Cow’ and to Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor as ’50 crore girlfriend’). As Prime Minister also, he has displayed casual sexism when, in a speech promoting branding and packaging for small industries, he said, “If a farmer sells mango, he gets a little money. If he makes pickles, he makes more money. And if that pickle is packed in a nice bottle, he gets much more. If he puts the bottle in the hands of a girl for advertisement, he will get still more money.”

Even worse, Modi used the state’s police and intelligence machinery as Gujarat Chief Minister, to conduct illegal surveillance on a young woman. His party has not denied the illegality of the surveillance; they have only defended the stalking on the grounds that the it was done to ‘protect’ the young woman – a claim that is not borne out by the transcripts of phone calls between the police and the then Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah.

Modi’s sexism is of course no exception; Indian politics across parties is rife with examples of blatant misogyny. But it cannot be ignored that Modi’s own misogyny reflects the ideology of the RSS, to which he owes his political and ideological grooming. The RSS is a militarized, majoritarian political outfit which has no women members. While the RSS name means ‘National Volunteer Corps,’ its ‘women’s wing’ is called ‘Women Servants of the Nation.’ The contrast between the male ‘Swayamsevak’ (volunteer), and the female ‘Sevika’ (servant) is telling.

The RSS today, emboldened by Modi in power, has intensified its campaign to impose dress and moral codes on women in the name of ‘Indian culture’, especially its offensive against love marriages and inter-caste, inter-community marriages. The Prime Minister maintains a silence this aggressive campaign against women’s autonomy.

Modi’s misogynist remark about the Bangladeshi Prime Minister is not a stray one that can be taken lightly. It is a symptom of the sexism that is dictating policies towards women in the Modi Government. What offers hope is that such sexism and misogyny are being met with vigorous resistance by women and common people in India.

Booklet on “Debates on Religious Conversions“ Released

Chennai city committee of CPI (ML) organised a programme to release a booklet on “Debates on religious conversions”, published by Theepori – organ of CPI(ML) in Tamil on 23 May 2015 in Chennai .The meeting was presided by Com. Sekar, secretary, Chennai district committee. Speakers on the occasion included among others- CPI (ML) Politburo Members, Com. S. Kumarasamy and Com. G. Ramakrishnan, state secretary of CPI (M), Com. Veerapandian, state Deputy secretary of CPI, Com A. Marx, Campaign committee member of AIPF, Com Janakiraman, Thiruvellore district secretary of CPI(ML). Workers of industries such as MRF, Asian paints, Diamond engineering and others also took part. The booklet release was attended by nearly 200 people, mostly youth.

The booklet release programme was also held at Coimbatore, presided by Com. Balasubramanian, district secretary of the party. Com. Balasundaram, state secretary CPI(ML), Com .Ramamurthy, district secretary CPI (M) Com. K. N. Selvaraj, district secretary CPI, Novelist Murugavel and city secretary of Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam, Com. Sajith were the main speakers at the meeting. Com. Damodharan, state committee member CPI (ML) greeted the audience. The Book release was attended by workers of Pricol, Shanthi Gears and other industries.

Tirunelveli District committee of CPI (ML) also organised a programme to the booklet at Hotel Sakunthala. The meeting was presided over by Com. G. Ramesh, Member editorial board, Theepori. District secretary of CPI, Com. Kasi Viswanathan, District secretary of CPI (M) Com. K. G. Baskaran, Com. Narum Poonathan of Progressive Writers and Artists Association, state committee members of CPI (ML) Com. K. G. Desikan and Com. Sankarapandian and the district secretary of CPI (ML) spoke on the occasion. All left party leaders who participated in the meeting welcomed the initiative and expressed that the unity of left and democratic forces to combat communal fascist forces is the need of the hour. Cadres of CPI (ML) and democratic sections of the city attended the meeting.

CPI(ML) and All India Kisan Mahasabha’s Hunger Strike in Bhojpur

CPI (ML) and All India Kisan Mahasabha have been leading an indefinite hunger strike in Bhojpur district since 6 June. Com. Sudama Prasad and Com. Raju Yadav have been sitting on the indefinite strike. The hunger strike has been organised to raise the basic issues of the farmers in the region. Some of the key issues being raised have been mentioned below.

A few days back the state government procured food grains from some farmers but even two months since the purchase, the payments have not been made. According to the state’s own policy, the payment must be made within 24 hours of the purchase. This delay in payment is therefore in violation of state’s own policy.

Again, a few days earlier, following massive hail storms and untimely rainfall which had caused severe damage to various crops, both the central and the state governments had announced that compensations would be paid to the affected farmers. However, none of these pronouncements have yet been implemented on ground. Nowhere have the farmers been paid the promised compensation.

The government has further made no efforts to procure grains and other rabi crops from the farmers as a result of which they are forced to sell the same to middlemen at very low prices. The weather department has already cautioned regarding the delay in monsoons and the possibility of the rainfall being less than normal. Despite this, the state government has so far made no effort to ensure water provisions to the farmers. Though Prime Minsiter Modi had made abundant promises during the election campaign regarding providing irrigation facilities to the farmers, but today, far from having lived up to his promise, his ministers have been found to make irresponsible and unfortunate statements even on a matter as serious as farmers’ suicides. The state government too has been silent on all these issues. Worse, it has started a targeting of CPI (ML) leaders just prior to the elections by framing them on false charges, to try and silence any opposition to their misdeeds.

The particular demands that are being raised by the protestors are:

1. Pay compensation to all farmers and share croppers who have been affected by the hailstorms and untimely rains.

2. Provide water till the lower most base of main canal and other canals and start all the closed state run tubewells.

3. Revoke the pro-corporate and anti-farmers land acquisition ordinance.

4. Take back all the false cases that have imposed on ML leaders.

5. Stop all the cuts in ration and kerosene provisions and Indira Awaas scheme. Provide 5 dismil land to all the poor.

6. All the contractual para teachers, ASHA workers, mid day meal workers, aanganwadi workers and all such others who are paid honorarium should be regularised and their wages should be decided.

The governments have left no stone unturned to assault the livelihood of farmers. All governments since independence have had the same attitude towards agriculture leading to the crisis situation today. However, as the indefinite hunger strike to raise these issues enters the fifth day, no administrative official had bothered to meet the agitators and inquire what their concerns were. This reflects the attitude of the government towards the farmers. On the fourth day of the strike, i.e. on 9 June, several nukkad sabhaas were organized in Bhojpur district to mobilize masses to unite in order to strengthen the ongoing struggle. A call for ‘Chakaa Jaam’ has been given all over Bhojpur on 10 June, in light of continued apathy of the state government towards farmers’ issues and the refusal to pay heed to the ongoing movement.

CPI (ML) statement on the revocation of de-recognition of Amebdkar-Periyar Study Circle, IIT Madras & refusal of MHRD to act on the complaint received against Pondicherry University officials

CPI (ML) welcomes the re-recognition of Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle by IIT Madras administration and congratulates the students of APSC who refused to bow down in front of the autocratic dictates of the institute. The re-recognition is a victory of students of APSC, IIT Madras and all the progressive organizations and individuals who took to the streets to ensure that such steps that were aimed at curbing dissent and freedom of expression and also towards imposing upper caste hegemony, were resolutely fought defeated.

However, it is unfortunate that despite being forced to take back its oppressive dictates, both the IITM administration and the MHRD have not yet offered an apology for acting on the basis of anonymous complaints while giving no chance to the concerned group to present its case. Both IITM and MHRD owed an apology to the students of APSC.

It is extremely shameful that MHRD that immediately shot off a letter to IIT, Madras on receiving an anonymous complaint about the activities of APSC, for over a year has been sitting over a complaint of a student of Pondicherry University who was illegally detained and tortured and forced to strip by the institutional authorities over false charges. The student in his complaint had named the Director of Academic Staff College, a faculty of department of International Business, two security officials and the Vice Chancellor of the University. While there is ample evidence backing the student’s complaint and exposing the ruthlessness of the concerned authorities, the MHRD has not thought it worthy to act on this complaint and question any of the university officials who were involved in the harassment of the student. Such double standards in acting on complaints reveals the agenda of the ruling government which is to curb all critique of the government while having no problems with actual hatred being spread against students coming from socio-economically disadvantaged homes by university authorities.

CPI (ML) condemns this shocking abuse of authority by Pondicherry University administration and demands that MHRD act on the complaint immediately. Besides suitable action against the culprits, the institute must tender him an apology and compensate him for the trauma he has been forced to undergo.

Gherao IIT-Madras against Ban on APSC

Cadres of AISA, RYA, AICCTU and CPI (ML) jointly Gheroed the Indian Institute of Technology – Madras campus at Chennai on 3 June, 2015 against the ban on the activities of Ambedkar- Periyar study circle inside the campus based on the anonymous complaint. More than 100 activists , both men and women assembled and raised slogans against the Modi government’s intolerance to alternate ideas. They also criticized the Jayalalitha government for its silence over the issue. The programme was led by Com. Bharathi, National secretary of RYA. Other leaders who participated included Com. Seetha , state secretary of AISA, Comrades Rajaguru and Dhanavel , state President and Secretary respectively of RYA, Com Munusamy and Mohan, state leaders of AICCTU. Com. Kumarasamy, PB member of CPI (ML) participating in the gherao also addressed the protestors launching a scathing attack on the pro-Corporate and communal Modi government and the state’s Jayalalitha government for their silence over the matter. There was a scuffle between police and activists during Gherao in which all the cadres were arrested by the police. However, the participants remain undeterred in their protest against the anti-democratic step and the silence of those in power.

Meet on Freedom of Expression in Solidarity with Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle, IITM

AISA, Madurai organized a meet on Freedom of expression to express solidarity with the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle, IITM and to their repression. Comrade Mathivanan, District Secretary, CPI (ML) gave an insightful prelude for the discussion with his introduction on Ambedakar, Periyar and Bhagat Singh and the extremely crucial role they played in Indian politics. He stressed on the need for upholding the politics they stood for and to forge ahead with their legacy in the contemporary context. Comrade and academician Rabeek Raja participated in the event and facilitated the discussion among the students. The urge to counter the saffron emergency and curb down the moves of infiltrating Indian education system to ensure the existence of Brahminism was reflected sharply among the comrades and participants.

In the course of the discussions and debates, comrades came out with two resolutions. The first resolution was to initiate Ambedkar-Periyar-Bhagat Singh Study Circle based in Madurai city. The second resolution was to strengthen the AIPF more actively. The forum expressed its conscious interest in making the motto of APBSC effective in practice and not to limit the same to forums of discussion. Comrades Hari and Tamil will act as the organizers of APBSC, Madurai. Comrade Arun coordinated the event and Comrade Pandiyarajan concluded the session with AISA’s perspective on the Freedom of expression and solidarity with the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle, IITM.

AISA’s ‘Reject CBCS and Save Universities’ Campaign Gains Momentum

Momentum is being built up all over the country against imposition of the disastrous Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) programme. As a part of this campaign AISA activists have been initiating interventions in several universities.

Last week an eight member delegation of AISA met Prof. Pradeep Bhargava, member of academic council member, Govind Ballabh Pant Social Science Institute, Jhusi, Allahabad and also a part of the 5 member Parliamentary committee for implementing CBCS. They updated him on the disastrous effects of the CBCS. A member of the representative team and a Political Science research scholar Ankit Pathak said that in case of Allahabad University, the university was already facing a shortage of nearly 523 teachers as a result of which it was becoming difficult to manage the regular semesters and fulfil the basic requirements of the students. A programme like syllabus, on the other hand requires a large strength of teachers and provisions of basic infrastructural necessities. A member of the national council of AISA, Saurabh Yadav, said that CBCS was a step towards destroying the higher education system. He also added the other upcoming acts like Central University Act (CUA) and Rashtroya uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) (National Higher Education Mission) were also assaults on the autonomy of the higher education institutes. Another member of the AISA national council, Shakti Rajvar pointed out that this entire set of changes were being forced on by WTO-GATS on countries like India under the pressure of the World Corporate Powers. A heated debate took place between the AISA delegation and Prof. Bhargava. The AISA delegation insisted that CBCS be immediately revoked and students and teachers be informed about these upcoming proposals and the opinions of students and teachers of various departments of the university be sought. The members added that in light of the massive movement across the country against the proposed onslaughts on higher education, the specific concerns of students of AU be also taken up and addressed. Later the delegation invited the students to participate in the ‘Reject CBCS, Save Universities Campaign.

Meanwhile the ‘Reject CBCS’ campaigns are being organized in campuses across the country and AISA activists have been regularly meeting students, distributing leaflets and organising them against the ongoing onslaughts on education.

Elections in Turkey: Mandate against authoritarian, majoritarian dictatorship

In the recently held elections in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lost majority in the Turkish parliament for the first time in 13 years since 2002. In an election which saw a massive 86% turnout, Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) won 258 seats in the 550-seat parliament. Though the AKP is the single largest party in the Parliament, it lacks the numbers to form the next government on its own. The AKP moreover suffered a 10% decline in its vote share.

This mandate assumes significance for several reasons; the people of Turkey have voted for more inclusion and against the AKP’s policies of divide-and-rule. The left-leaning People’s Democratic Party (HDP) has won 79 seats, and around 12% of the vote. This mandate ensures a significant presence in the Turkish parliament for left forces and to the Kurdish minority of Turkey.

AKP, which has been seen as espousing a dangerous divide-and-rule policy in order to rally its religious-conservative base, was challenged by the HDP’s campaign. The AKP and Erdogan had plans to rewrite the Turkish constitution to establish Erdogan as the executive-President. HDP, on the other hand, ran on a platform defending the rights of ethnic minorities, women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The HDP moreover formed an electoral coalition with the Kurdish minority in Turkey’s south-east and progressive forces in Istanbul and elsewhere. The election results will therefore give the Kurds – who, with 20% of Turkey’s population, are the country’s biggest minority – true representation in parliament. In 1980, the military-dictated constitution of Turkey had decreed a 10% threshold of vote share in the elections before a party could enter the Parliament. This clause has over the years often restricted the representation of minorities in the Parliament. The HDP has surpassed the 10% threshold and entered the parliament.

Significantly, 40 percent of the HDP’s newly elected MPs are women, while women hold only 17 per cent of the total seats in the country’s Parliament. Along with Kurdish rights and the rights of women and the LGBT community, the HDP also raised the issues of minimum wages and anti-corruption.

This mandate is also being seen as a culmination of the Gezi Park protests which rocked Turkey in 2013. During the protests, which spread to large parts of the country, several issues were raised, including defending Turkey’s secularism and defending freedom of expression.

ML Update No. 23 | 2015

June 6, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18 | No. 23 | 2 – 8 JUN 2015

Why Does the Modi Government Feel Threatened by Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle?

In the latest instance of saffron crackdown on dissent and freedom of expression, the IIT Madras de-recognised the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, after the Modi Government’s MHRD forwarded an anonymous complaint about the group to the IITM Director and sought comments.

The MHRD letter had alleged “Distribution of controversial posters and pamphlets in the campus of IIT-Madras and creating hatred atmosphere among the students by one of the student group named Ambedkar Periyar.” The anonymous letter to the HRD Minister Smriti Irani had said accused the group of “trying to de-align ST, SC students and trying to make them protest against the MHRD and the Central Government” and “trying to create hatred against the Honourable Prime Minister and Hindus.” The anonymous complaint referred to a talk organised by the Ambedkar Periyar group. This talk was one in which a professor, speaking on the “Contemporary Relevance of Ambedkar,” had criticised the Modi Government for the Bill facilitating land grab, and for encouraging programmes like ‘ghar wapsi’ and ban on beef. The anonymous complaint also attached a copy of a leaflet by the ‘Revolutionary Student Youth Front’ which referred to RTI findings that revealed that IIT Madras was violating the reservation policy both in faculty recruitments and in student admissions.

The IIT Madras management, acting on the letter from the MHRD, de-recognised the APSC, and advised the APSC that the name ‘Ambedkar Periyar’ itself was controversial and provocative and should be changed.

The MHRD (and the anonymous complaint it chose to take notice of) clearly equates criticism of the Government and defence of the policy of reservations as ‘hate-speech’. Why should students or SC/ST people be expected to be ‘aligned to’ (i.e loyal to) the Central Government? Why should criticism of ‘gharwapsi’ and beef ban be equated with ‘hate speech against Hindus’? Why should dissent against the Prime Minister and Government policies lead to de-recognition?

The anonymous letter also referred to posters and pamphlets by the APSC against the MHRD Circular “for separate dining for vegetarians and use of Hindi in IITs.” The reference to the MHRD circular on separate dining is significant, since it reminds us of the pattern followed by the Sangh Parivar, Modi Government and managements of higher education institutions to crush and punish dissent. The modus operandi is that Sangh elements write ‘anonymous complaints’ to the MHRD, which in turn forwards the anonymous complaint to the managements of educational institutions, seeking ‘comments’. The same modus operandi, used to crackdown on the APSC, was also used to push for separate canteens for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. In that instance also, the MHRD circular had forwarded five letters by a group demanding separate dining arrangements, and had sought ‘opinions’ from the IITs.

In both the above instances, what is on display is not just the Modi Government’s intolerance for diversity and dissent. There is also a distinct agenda of imposing upper caste hegemony. Ambedkar and Periyar are both towering figures of modern India, known for their scathing critique of caste-ridden and patriarchal Hindu society. In addition to these two figures, the APSC letterhead also uses the symbol of Bhagat Singh – a freedom fighter and martyr with Marxist ideology and politics. The Modi Government’s discomfort with and hostility for the values that Ambedkar, Periyar, and Bhagat Singh stood for could not be more obvious. The attempt to ban a group named after the author of India’s Constitution Ambedkar, exposes the contempt the BJP and Sangh Parivar have for the Indian Constitution and the rights and liberties of oppressed groups and minorities. The attempt to impose vegetarianism or bans on beef is another instance of imposing the culture and diet of the upper caste communities on the Dalits and other communities that have no objection to non-vegetarian food or beef.

The imposition of upper caste Hindu culture (in the shape of beef ban and other dietary rules for instance) on the rest of the people is not just an act of violence on the identity and culture of the latter. It has real consequences for the health of India’s poor children, when the Chief Minister of BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh withholds eggs from the anganwadi meals. Eggs are the best source of protein and contain all essential nutrients except Vitamin C. For children who prefer not to eat eggs, bananas are served in anganwadis. Being vegetarian can be a personal choice – how can it be imposed on others?

Unfortunately, the agenda of the Sangh Parivar and BJP is also aided by the fact that non-BJP Governments too have used draconian measures to clamp down on dissenting students and citizens, and have pandered to upper caste hegemony. Many North Indian state governments, for instance, have, under pressure from powerful upper caste lobbies, refused to provide eggs in mid-day meals in anganwadis and schools. Most Governments disallow, discourage, and punish progressive student activism (while themselves sponsoring violence by ruling party student outfits on campuses).

It is encouraging that progressive forces from across the country have risen up to demand that roll-back of the de-recognition of the APSC. It is also significant that apart from the BJP, the AIADMK that rules Tamil Nadu has also chosen to remain silent on the de-recognition of APSC, and has instead allowed the TN police to detain those protesting the crackdown. Once again, the AIADMK and Ms Jayalalitha have displayed their tacit affinity with the Sangh Parivar and BJP and anti-Dalit forces.

CPI (ML) All India National Workshop held in Lucknow

The CPI(ML) held a two-day All India National Workshop for activists at the Gandhi Auditorium in Kaisarbagh, Lucknow on 30-31May 2015.

700 grassroots organizers from 23 States and Union Territories, working in nearly 200 districts and in various sectors, including railways, health, universities, and various mass organizations, participated in the workshop.

Detailed discussions were held on the need and ways to increase membership and expand and strengthen the network of party organization, so as to intensify the ongoing campaigns against the pro-corporate and communal agenda of the Modi Government as well as the anti-people policies of various State Governments.

Addressing the workshop in its concluding session, the party General Secretary Comrade Dipankar said in just one year, the real life experiences of people have exposed the Modi propaganda hype. People’s anger against the government is growing and the time is ripe for large scale mass movements. In these circumstances each activist of the Party must play a conscious role in the planned and systematic growth of the Party. He emphasized the need for a series of movements and protests, booth level strengthening of the organization, and increasing the number of women, workers, youth, and farmers in the Party. The Party took up a target of expanding its membership up to 2 lakhs before its next Party Congress.

AIPF Convention in Delhi

All India People’s Forum (AIPF) held a convention in Delhi on Wednesday, 27 May, to assess the changes caused and challenges posed by the Modi government in the last one year on livelihood, Rights and democratic fabric of the country.

The speakers at the convention highlighted the policy shifts that have been instituted in the last one year of NDA government at the Centre. It is clear that the government has worked overtime to hand over the country’s land, water and forests to corporate houses. The concerns of the common people have been sacrificed as they have been made to bear the brunt of these pro-corporate policies.

The government has been sponsoring corporate loot through Land Ordinance and has even proposed changes to Forest Rights Act, which was won after prolonged struggle. Farmer suicides have once again peaked as Acts, plans and policies have been floated to loot land, labour and livelihood of the people. Those who do not have land are being stolen of their labour through supposed ‘reform’ measures accompanying the “Make in India” slogan that Modi harps upon on his foreign visits. Even the small freedom available to the country’s children is being looted by putting their labour for sale following the cabinet approval to change child labour laws.

While corporates are being wooed with offer of the country’s resources and its future, the poor have faced serious threats to their existence. There have been massive budget cuts in allocations to health, education, food security, women’s empowerment and other public services. Instead it has invited the private companies to make profit out of people’s needs for health and education.

To cover up the surrender of people’s interests to corporate bodies, the government has periodically unleashed the Sangh outfits to drum up communal tension. It has also been saffronising the public institutions of the country including education. The Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) has become the latest ploy to undermine higher education in the country so as to keep it ready for corporate take over.

Analysing these patterns of Modi government’s functioning and destruction of public institutions and people’ rights, the speakers at the AIPF convention noted the challenges posed in countering it. Senior counsel ND Pancholi noted how Right to work was being robbed and the absence of democratic measures available to the people to challenge these as the government undertook labour reforms. Journalist-activist Gautam Navlakha, pointed out that while 1 crore 20 lakh young people were added to the workforce each year, the government had only generated 20 lakh jobs. NTUI leader and AIPF member Gautam Modi, pointed out that the Labour Amendment Act , 2014, which offered self certification and compliance by companies was undermining labour rights by equating a profit making company with a citizen of the country to negate the labour rights during industrial disputes. Journalist-activist and AIPF member Kiran Shaheen who also conducted the meeting, said that Modi government’s attempt to sell away the country’s resources was by dumping Indian markets with foreign products despite grand talk of ‘Make in India’.

CPI-ML General Secretary pointed out that restructuring of laws and policies were taking place not only on land and employment but also finance and education to complete the corporate circuit of exploiting the country’s resources. Educational restructuring he said was as much part of the ‘Make in India’ campaign as Indian youth were being offered to foreign investors as pliable cheap skilled labour rather than future makers of the country. Economist and Professor Atul Sood said that the government’s ‘Make in India’ was posing a new definition of nationalism where creating an environment for business was made out to be national duty. State were pushed into a competition for garnering foreign investment and labour rights were being systematically violated in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan where these models have already taking off. While capitalist crisis was being softened by the government, its infilitartion was being opened up in peri-urban areas. ‘Smart cities’ were only to soften the blow on the middle classes, who would inevitably fall prey to the capital’s crisis.

Highlighting the patriarchal nature of the communal hate-mongering, AIPWA leader Kavita Krishnan, pointed out that violations were being justified in the name of family. Women were being forced back on families in the name of honour while Sangh goons invoked ‘ghar wapasi’ campaign to undermine minority rights. The family arguments of Sangh parivar, she said was bound to fail as evident during anti ‘love jihad’ drives of the Hindutava goons when girls refused to be brain-washed into surrendering their free-will.

Vijay Pratap observed that there was a greater need for mobilisation of united resistance against the policies. Journalist-activist Gautam Navlakha, stressed that solidarities be made with other movements. He pointed out that there was no dearth of alternatives in popular action, movements, and models from within the Left, democratic, progressive experiments in the country and that dialogue be initiated between various streams to expand these ideas. Gautam Modi said that debating and uniting would continue under AIPF. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that various groups in AIPF were working to build the resistance campaign of 30 June on issues of land, labour and livelihood against the emerging Company Raj.

The meeting was attended in large numbers by students, workers and activists from across Delhi. Theatre group Sangwari’s members sang songs against the loot of labour.

Protest at MHRD against the ban on Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle

On 1 June 2015, the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) called for a united protest demonstration outside the MHRD. Several other progressive organisations and groups joined the demonstration including AISA, DSF, Disha, Nishant Natya Manch, PUCL, Anhad, All India People’s Forum (AIPF) and other groups. The Delhi Police tried to detain JNU students and divert the protest to Jantar Mantar, however, the students eventually prevailed, and insisted on holding the demonstration at MHRD itself, surrounded by heavy police and CRPF presence. The demo was addressed by ND Pancholi, Shamsul Islam, Shabnam Hashmi, Malathi Maithri, Navaid Hamid, Kavita Krishnan, JNUSU Vice President Anant and others.

The protestors through their speeches, slogans and placards conveyed to the Union Minister, MHRD that they expected institutes like IITs to be run according to the values of Einstein and not Hitler, according to the vision of Ambedkar and Periyar and not Golwalkar. They resolved to continue the struggle till the ban was revoked.

JNUSU Statement on De-recognition of Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle

We condemn the de-recognition of Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle by IIT Madras, at the instigation of the MHRD, for the ‘crime’ of criticizing the Modi Government and raising relevant concerns about the failure to implement the policy of reservations in the IIT Madras.

This de-recognition of the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle amounts to a majoritarian, casteist crackdown on voices of dissent among students.

Those defending the de-recognition on the grounds that the IITs as institutions of excellence need to crack down on ‘politics’, need to answer why there was no crackdown when students of the same IITs launched political agitations against the policy of reservations? Why are they so allergic to the values of Ambedkar, Periyar, and Bhagat Singh? These are the values embraced by the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle, and it is these values which continue to hold out a hope for a truly free and egalitarian India?

Innovation and fresh scientific research will be stifled to death if denied the oxygen of free speech, expression and action. Human minds that are restricted from free expression of social and political dissent, can never feel free to come up with fresh and new scientific research or fresh academic thinking of any kind. The best poets, scientists and thinkers have never been products of ‘darbari’ culture.

Speaking about Nazi Germany, Albert Einstein said, "…The liberty of the individual brought us every advance of knowledge and invention….If we want to resist the powers which threaten to suppress intellectual and individual freedom, we must keep clearly before us what is at stake…Without such freedom there would have been no Shakespeare, no Goethe, no Newton, no Faraday, no Pasteur, and no Lister. It is only people who are free, who create the inventions and intellectual works which to us moderns make life worthwhile." We hope the MHRD and those who run the IITM and other institutions of higher education, will remember these words of one of the world’s greatest scientists, before they try to tell us that scientific or academic ‘excellence’ demands a ban on free speech.

The current Central Government, in cracking down on freedom of expression in colleges, universities and other institutions of higher education, is imposing an undeclared emergency. And this emergency is the biggest threat not only to free speech and expression, but to the excellence of our institutions of higher education.

It is clear to the world that the de-recognition of the student group is a direct result of MHRD intervention. The MHRD cannot now try to distance itself from the de-recognition. We demand that the MHRD ensure that de-recognition of Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle be rolled back with immediate effect.

We stand committed to resisting every assault on free speech and expression anywhere in the country, and to defending the rights of students and people to free speech and association.

AISA protests against the CBCS and the violence unleashed by the ABVP

After having been forced to take back the anti-student FYUP programme last year, following a massive movement by students and teachers, the Delhi University is once geared to introduce another ill-conceived programme on students- ‘Choice Based Credit System (CBCS). The programme, as in case of the FYUP, only aims to add to the existing burden of the students and the teachers without adding any substantial quality to the education offered. Further, the university at the current juncture even lacks the basic infrastructure in terms of a well developed syllabus, prepared after due consultation with subject experts, the needed classroom spaces or the teacher strength to run such a programme. Protesting against this new onslaught on students’ right to quality higher education, the Delhi AISA unit started its campaign against the CBCS programme on the very first day of the orientation session in Delhi University. The activists had prepared pamphlets with detailed explanation on the problems with the CBCS and these pamphlets were also distributed among students and parents.

In keeping with the campaign, on 28 May 2015, AISA organised a protest against CBCS outside the Arts faculty in University of Delhi. Just when AISA activists were distributing the pamphlets, ABVP activists, including one of their current representatives in Delhi University Students Union (DUSU), along with their DU unit leaders, tried to stop AISA activists from distributing pamphlets and interacting with the new students. When AISA activists asserted their right to protest, a brutal lathi charge followed whereby ABVP hoodlums beat up AISA activists with thick lathis, hurling misogynist abuses at them while the Delhi Police continued to watch in silence. An FIR was lodged against the ABVP hoodlums who were captured beating AISA activists in several videos and photographs. An official complaint was also registered in the Proctor’s office, however no action has been taken on them so far.

AISA activists, undeterred by such onslaughts have been carrying forward their anti-CBCS campaign in the interest of the student community receiving solidarity from the Delhi University Teachers’ Union and also other left progressive groups on the campus. The activists in a united protest held a day after this incident reaffirmed their pledge to carry on their struggle for students’ rights and against renewed attempts to make Guinea Pigs out of Delhi University students by frequent experiments.

Workers’ and students’ protest in JNU

In JNU, workers and students have been waging a collective struggle over the years to ensure workers’ fundamental and legally mandated rights. Various contractors operating in JNU have a horrific track record of violating workers’ rights – and the JNU administration refuses to accept responsibility in its role as the principle employer. There are around 1300 contractual workers employed in JNU, excluding construction workers. Time and again, JNUSU as well as workers have had to struggle against retrenchment, and to ensure implementation of labour laws.

In May 2015, M/s G.A. Digital Web Word Pvt Ltd., which employed 443 contract workers in JNU, finished its contract in the University. This contract, which was being repeatedly extended since 2012, expired on 30 April 2015. These contract workers employed by G.A. Digital Web Word Pvt. included gardeners in JNU’s Horticulture department, sewer men in the Civil and IHA departments, computer operators and office attendants. There are several instances of PF dues, bonus and over time payments to workers still pending with the contractor. Sybex Computer Systems Pvt Ltd took over this contract and decided that it would recruit fresh workers. They asked existing workers to attend written tests and interviews. This clearly was a means to ensure that workers who had been employed for several years in JNU would lose their jobs. In this context, the workers and JNUSU called a massive protest in JNU on 22 May 2015.

Hundreds of workers and students participated in the protest. The protest was addressed by workers’ leaders, JNUSU representatives including JNUSU President Ashutosh and School of Languages convenor Vijay, AICCTU leaders, and representatives of various student organisations in JNU. As the JNU administration intensifies its offensive against contract workers, the real stakeholders of the university protested and pledged to oppose any layoffs. The ongoing ‘reforms’ of the Modi government, will only embolden anti-labour practices everywhere, pointed out the speakers at the protest.

As a result of the protest and the constant vigilant intervention of students and workers in JNU, the layoffs were averted. The JNU administration, the new contractor and AICCTU representatives signed an in-principle agreement in conciliation proceedings currently underway at the Deputy Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) office at Parliament Street that the workers employed through the old contractor would be retained by new contractor. In the days to come, the struggle to protect employment, oppose retrenchment and ensure workers’ rights will continue in JNU.

AICCTU demonstration in Odiansalai against the policies of the NDA government

AICCTU activists staged a demonstration at Odiansalai on 26 May 2015, to protest against the policies of the Modi led NDA government at the centre. The agitated protestors expressed that the central government was adopting a pro-corporate approach which was severely hurting the lives and livelihoods of the working class. In specific they pointed out the anti-poor nature of the government’s decisions to enhance the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), make amendments in the Labour Act and introduction of the Land Acquisition Bill. They demanded immediate withdrawal of the Land Acquisition Bill. The agitators also raised slogans against the Puducherry Government for frequently hiking the electricity tariff, additionally demanding that the Government reopen the AFT mills.

Obituary

Comrade Hirendra Nath Chatterjee or “Mesomashai”

Comrade Hirendra Nath Chatterjee passed away on 23rd May, 2015 at Ranchi. He was 96 years old. He is survived by three sons and one daughter.

Comrade Hirendra Nath or ‘Meshomoshai’ as he was known among friends and comrades, played a very important role in the re-organisation of the CPI(ML) in the 1970s. Durgapur was a major centre of this re-organisation between 1972-77, after much of the first generation leadership and cadres of the party had been martyred or incarcerated in jail.

Comrade Hirendra Nath was a civil engineer who used to work in various construction companies including British Enterprises. He shifted to Durgapur Steel Township to run a small business. When his second son Comrade Prasun became a whole time party worker on the rural front, he too decided to be more active in the party. His home was one of the most reliable shelters for the party, where leaders including Comrade VM, DP Buxi, Kartick Pal and many others used to take shelter. He and his wife Comrade Bela Chatterjee incurred considerable risk to themselves and their family in thus providing shelter to revolutionaries of an underground party. Their entire family would stand vigil on rooftop and balcony when comrades were sheltering in their home.

After 1977, Meshomoshai became active in the Indo-China Friendship Society, the Kotnis Committee and other such mass activities. Eventually he and Comrade Bela shifted to Ranchi.

He and Comrade Bela will always be remembered for their commitment to the party and their willingness to put their home at the disposal of the party, even at great personal risk.

Red salute to Comrade Hirendra Nath Chatterjee!

ML Update | No. 22 | 2015

May 28, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18 | No. 22 | 26 MAY – 1 JUN 2015

One Year of Modi Rule:

The Acche Din Hype Unravels

The self-congratulatory cacophony generated by the Modi government and the BJP to celebrate the first anniversary of Modi’s 2014 ascent to power makes us wonder if the BJP believes that time stood still for the last one year. Even as the heat wave claims hundreds of lives across the country, large sections of the people reel under the burden of deepening distress and soaring prices, and the opinion polls reflect growing disappointment of the people who had voted Modi to power a year ago, the BJP propagandists have launched a massive campaign patting their own backs. The government has issued a 180 page booklet listing the government’s ‘achievements’, and in the coming days and weeks the country will be bombarded with 200 rallies and 5000 public meetings. It almost sounds like a rerun of the India Shining propaganda blitz which had boomeranged spectacularly in the 2004 elections.

Modi set the tone of this arrogant and absurd hyperbole when addressing the Indian community during his recent trip to China and South Korea, he said till his government came to power NRIs were ashamed to admit that they were Indian. Indians, according to Modi, used to curse themselves for the sins they must have committed in their previous lives to have merited the shame and punishment of being born in India. Back in India, Modi continued in the same tone. Addressing a rally in Mathura on 25 May, Modi said what his government had already performed was a veritable miracle. Announcing the arrival of ‘acche din’, he said only looters, thieves and power brokers were complaining of ‘bure din’ or bad days!

Now in real life, ‘acche din’ has actually become a joke, a metaphor for the misery that most people find themselves subjected to on a daily basis, whether on account of economic distress, callous governance or dysfunctional basic services. The non-implementation of the tall electoral promises made by Modi and his men has become the talking point among the common people across the country. Even in Modi’s own constituency of Varanasi, surveys have revealed widespread disappointment. Apart from some cleaning up operation in two out of Varanasi’s eighty-odd ghats, the residents of this VIP constituency have not experienced any improvement in the first year of the Modi government. A few weeks ago, the agriculture minister of Haryana’s BJP government, who was earlier president of the farmer organisation of the Sangh Parivar, had dubbed farmers committing suicides as cowards. Now Modi calls people complaining of bad days corrupt!

While the people are waiting for the Modi government to fulfil the basic promises Modi and the BJP had made during the 2014 election campaign, the Sangh parivar is busy advancing what it considers its ‘core’ agenda. ‘Ghar wapsi’, ‘love jihad’, sermons to Hindu women to produce ten children, ban on beef and so on and so forth – BJP ministers and MPs have been working overtime to enforce this agenda. During the election campaign Giriraj Singh had voters who did not want Modi to become PM to go to Pakistan. He has found his place in the Modi cabinet. And now Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, another Modi minister asks those who want to eat beef to go to Pakistan! For other items of the ‘core agenda’ like Ram Mandir and removal of Article 370, Amit Shah has asked the people to give 370 seats to the BJP so the BJP could amend the Constitution as it wished.

For all the propaganda blitzkrieg of Modi and his men, the actual experience of the first year of the Modi government will go a long way in exposing three mega myths that have played such a central role in making the BJP the number one party in India. Beyond the core support base of the Sangh Parivar, the myth of the Gujarat model and the so-called Modi magic now evokes growing scepticism. The thesis of the mythical metamorphosis of the BJP into a ‘normal’ rightwing party which will contain, if not shed, the communal agenda is also being questioned by many liberal sections of the middle classes who had thrown their weight behind the BJP in the 2014 elections. And last but not the least, the BJP’s ‘nationalist’ farmer-friendly trader-friendly image has been severely dented with the unmasking of the corporate-encircled FDI-begging real face of Narendra Modi.

For a party like the BJP which has always sought to camouflage its communal agenda as ‘cultural nationalism’, it is indeed revealing that Modi’s first year in office has been overshadowed by the foreign factor – making foreign trips and soliciting foreign investment. As many as eighteen foreign trips claiming two of the twelve months that Modi has been in power have been the highlight of Modi’s first year. And on the economic front, Modi has turned out to be a devout worshipper of FDI. Those who argue that ‘Make in India’ is about creation of jobs and increasing the share of manufacturing in India’s GDP do not tells us why FDI has to be at the centre of this strategy. If job creation and manufacturing growth were the real objective, why is the government systematically dismantling the public sector and privileging FDI and private corporate participation to the neglect of the labour intensive small and medium enterprises that can be the real platform for creation of jobs?

It is significant that while the BJP leaders were busy congratulating themselves on the first birthday of the Modi government, peasants, workers and students were out on the streets against the government’s policies. The people’s experience of the first year of the Modi government will be the biggest ammunition as we take on the corporate-communal offensive of the BJP in the coming days.

A report on CPI (ML)’s Solidarity Visit to Quake-Hit Nepal

Comrade Prabhat Kumar and Com. Dhirendra Jha, on behalf of the CPI(ML) Politburo, made a solidarity visit to Nepal, that is struggling to recover from the quake of Himalayan proportions. During the visit, they attended a volunteer training convention that had been organized by the CPN (UML) and presented a cheque for 1 million INR towards the natural disaster relief fund to CPN (UML) Chairman KP Sharma Oli and Party General Secretary Ishwarchandra Pokhrel.

The disastrous earthquake on 25 April caused indescribable havoc in Nepal. 75 districts including Kathmandu have suffered terrible loss and damage. 8519 lives have been lost and even today 500 people are missing. 638 people were killed in the second quake on 12 May. Most of the dead are women and children. More than 2 lakh buildings have been damaged. Historical heritage sites are in ruins. Cracks are visible in the Army HQ, Rashtrapati Bhawan, PM’s house, Parliament, and most government buildings.

The UML Party office has suffered huge damage and has been declared abandoned. The office now functions in a small building, although even this has cracks. Essential work is also going on in tents put up on the campus.

Heavy damage has been suffered by Nepal’s oldest school Durbar school (established in 1854) and Trichand College. Around 7000 school buildings are unfit for use. This devastating earthquake occurred on a Saturday which happened to be a holiday in Nepal and the schools and colleges were closed; otherwise, the loss of lives would have been even greater. The regular aftershocks occurring in Nepal are terrifying for the people.

Kathmandu appears to be a city of tents. The road sides and maidans are lined by long rows of blue tents. Water supply has been regulated to an extent and electricity has been restored.

Heavy destruction has occurred in Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bharatpur, Gorkha, Chadig, Rasua, Nuakot, Sindhupal, Dolkha, Kabhi, Ramechhap, and other districts. Important tourist destinations such as Langtang and Bhaili have been totally damaged. More than half the people in these areas have been killed. Heartrending scenes of destruction due to landslides can also be seen at Sindhupal near the Tibet border.

The CPN(UML) has formed a coordination committee for relief and rehabilitation, under the leadership of the General Secretary, which includes Party leaders as well as leaders of mass organizations. This committee started immediate relief operations, playing a significant role in rescuing trapped families, taking the injured to hospital, arranging food, water, and medicines for affected families, and making funeral arrangements for the dead. The Party has taken initiatives to form different groups to attend to arrangements for food, sanitation, medical aid, rescue, damage assessment, and other such tasks. Area wise survey teams have been formed for damage assessment. This survey report will be submitted to the district administration as well as to the national disaster committee formed by the government.

The rainy season is imminent. A large portion of the population continues to remain bereft of shelter, and most buildings are damaged. In this situation, providing permanent or temporary accommodation for such a vast number is a big challenge. The CPN(UML) plans to press 10,000 volunteers into service in 50 constituencies of 14 districts with the express task of providing shelter. Work in this direction has already started. Money and resources are being collected.

CPN(UML) has already collected more than Nepali Rs 1 crore. In our presence, the Nepali Trade and Industrialists Association donated a cheque for Nepali Rs 10 lakh. Various organizations and people from unaffected areas are contributing generously.

Talking informally, several Nepali intellectuals, journalists, and social activists said that the immediate cooperation and help from India was very heartening. However, they said their self-respect was hurt by the attitude of some of the Indian media and the publicity war in connection with aid to Nepal.

On the road from India to Nepal via Janakpur, and back from Kathmandu to India though the difficult hilly roads via Veerganj, it felt as if not only the earth has been shaken, but the people themselves have been left shaken. The beautiful valleys of Kathmandu are in mourning. Nepal faces the dual challenges of making its Constitution, as well as the difficult task of rebuilding the country.

Bandh called by CPI(ML) in Naubatpur and Bihta over farmers’ suicide

A series of farmers’ suicides has begun in Patna district in Bihar. Most recently two farmers, Gajendra Singh and Ramesh Singh, who were reported to be heavily in debt, were forced to commit suicide in Maner and Naubatpur respectively. During the course of the movement launched under the banner of ‘Peasants affected by the Mega Technological Park’, to demand compensation for the survivors of the farmers who had committed suicide, the peasant leader Kaushal Baba also passed away. Agitated and enraged by the death of Kaushal Baba, increasing spate of farmers’ suicide in Patna district and the continued apathy of the central and the state governments, a massive bandh was called by the CPI (ML) in Naubatpur and Bihta. Protest demonstrations were also held in Paliganj. The main demands raised included waiving off the debts of the farmers and compensation for the family of the farmers who have died. CPI (ML) leaders while addressing the protestors highlighted the increasing agricultural crisis in the country and the increasing incidents of farmers’ suicides. They pointed out how the policies of the current Modi government such as ‘Make in India’ and ‘Land Acquisition’ had added to the woes of the farmers. They questioned if the Modi government that had recently announced a channel for the farmers or the Nitish government in the state will only confine themselves to rhetoric on the issue of farmers’ suicide while continuing to remain apathetic to their state, or will they dare to show some concrete action on ground.

New front to oppose pro-corporate policies- Angry Farmers, workers, and small retailers launch joint struggle

Reeling under the anti-people policies of the central government, farmers, workers, and small retailers in Punjab came together on a united platform to raise their voice. The “Kaarobaar Bachao, Rozgaar Bachao (Save business, save employment) conference was organized on 12 April, 2015 at Manasa in Punjab by the Mazdoor-Kisan-Dukandar-Karmchari Sangharsh Committee. The conference was addressed by Punjab Kisan Union State President Raldu Singh, Kirana Association (Manasa) President Suresh Nandgarhiya, Aadhati Association Secretary Ramesh Tony, CPI-ML (Liberation) Punjab State Secretary Rajvinder Singh Rana, and Mazdoor Mukti Morcha State President Bhagwant Singh.

Speaking on the occasion, Com. Rajvinder Singh Rana said that the people must once again unite to rid the country of the second Company Raj that the governments are trying to inflict upon them, and this effort is an initiative in that direction. The special guest at the conference, Dr. Baldev Singh, an economics professor in Punjabi University Regional Centre Talwandi Sabo, explained in detail how the green signal for FDI in retail is accelerating the process of destroying small shopkeepers and traders.

PKU State President Raldu Singh welcomed the coming together of workers, farmers, small shopkeepers, traders, and karmacharis to protect their rights against the government’s destructive policies. He stated that through this united struggle they would stop the homes, shops, and livelihoods of recession-affected shopkeepers and traders from being seized or auctioned,

Kirana Assocation President Suresh Nandgarhiya said that the homes and shops of several shopkeepers (who are unable to repay loans) in danger of imminent auction can be saved through the leadership of this joint committee. Retailers’ leader Ramesh Toni said that the governments of the country are responsible for looting and ruining the retailers. Prof. Bikarjeet Singh Sadhuwala of the Educational Reforms Committee pointed out the loot being perpetrated by private school owners and called upon the people to participate in the ongoing struggle against this loot. The conference was also addressed by Bhagwant Singh Samaon, Sikandar Singh Gharangana, Darshan Singh Khiyala, Vijay Nandgarhiya, Vir Singh Bhasse, Advocate Balkaran Singh Balli, Vasudev Garg, Sukhdarshan Singh Natt, and Sukhbir Khara.

AISA observes National Protest Day against CBCS, RUSA and Central University Act in campuses across the country!

Holds Protest Demonstration in front of MHRD Against Imposition of CBCS in DU!

The All India Students’ Association (AISA) observed a ‘National Protest Day’ in campuses across the country against the imposition of CBCS, RUSA and Central University Act and against bringing education under WTO-GATS.

As part of the National Protest Day against these policy offensives on higher education by the central government, AISA held a protest demonstration in front of the MHRD in New Delhi and submitted a memorandum.

The protest was held at MHRD, because there is a clear attempt to impose such policy change as the CBCS by the MHRD and several notices are being sent to universities across the country. The protest was also held at a time when the DU administration is once again showing hurriedness in introducing a fundamental change in the course structure without taking the opinion of academicians, teachers and students. The admission process has started in DU; and yet till now, no one, neither the new students and their parents nor the teachers are clear about what would be the curriculum for the upcoming session. Moreover, there is no clarity about the syllabus that will be taught in the upcoming session. Addressing the protest Om Prasad, Delhi State Secretary, AISA said, “Senior DU officials are telling the media that they are waiting for UGC letter to implement CBCS from the next semester. We would like to ask them, will a directive from the UGC or the MHRD solve the problem of complete unpreparedness of the DU administration to introduce such a policy change? Where is the syllabus that will be taught? Where is the infrastructure needed to ensure ‘mobility’ of students under CBCS? Where are the classrooms and the teachers required, if real ‘choice’ is to be offered?” A memorandum raising these concerns was also submitted to the MHRD and the delegation met the Jt. Secretary Mr. Mohanty and shared the concerns.

Niraj Kumar, VP, Delhi AISA, said at the protest, “Enough ill-conceived experiments have already been done with DU students through FYUP. When more than 50 staff associations, the DUTA and several students groups have rejected the implementation of CBCS, why is the DU administration and MHRD so desperate to go ahead with CBCS? CBCS is nothing but FYUP brought in through the backdoor, as the course structure aimed at dilution of academic content is the same in CBCS as was in FYUP.” A memorandum was also submitted to the MHRD.

In parts of the country too AISA activists held protest demonstrations and in some places effigy of Modi in whose prime ministership these onslaughts have been unleashed with renewed vigor, was also burnt.

5th district conference of Nainital unit of CPI (ML) held on 24 May 2015

The 5th district conference of Nainital unit CPI (ML) concluded on 24 May in Ambedkar Hall in Laalkuan. The session began by observing a minute’s silence to remember the comrades who had been martyred in the time period between the last conference and the ongoing conference. Addressing the inaugural session of the district conference, the state secretary of CPI (ML) – Uttarakhand , Com. Rajendra Pratholi said that on the completion of the first year of the Modi government, even as the government was aggressively engaging in proclaiming false achievements all over the media, the truth was that the first year of the Modi government was spent in implementing anti-peasants and anti-workers’ policies and serving the corporate masters. He added that the peasants and workers had been regularly organising and agitating against the anti-people policies of the Modi government and that a movement founded on a broad unity among peasants and workers alone can provide a new direction to this nation. Only this unity can destroy the corporate-fascist agenda of the Modi government and its’ efforts to re-establish company raj in this country. Speaking about the Harish Rawat government at the state, he said that the state government too following the steps of the central government was busy in looting the land of the people and Bindukhatta was a clear example of this. Despite the fact that the residents have time and again thronged the streets to reject the declaration proclaiming Bindukhatta to be a municipality, the state government under the influence of the land mafia has become deaf to the demands of the people.

The conference resolved to double the membership by the next conference. A 7 member district committee was also founded with Com. Kailash Pandey as the secretary.

District conference of AICCTU affiliated ASHA health workers’ union held in Nainital

The Nainital district conference of the AICCTU affiliated ASHA health workers’ union concluded in the Press Club in Nainital on 21 May 2015.

Addressing the conference, the national Vice President of AICCTU, Com. Raja Bahuguna said that the central government wanted to pulls its hand off the responsibility of the ASHA workers who formed the axis of a fundamental sector such as the health sector. By putting the entire responsibility for ASHA workers on the state, the centre government was creating crisis for the ASHA workers. He added that the governments in this country had only one slogan for the women workers- “Jam kar lenge pura kaam, nahin milega pura daam” (Will fiercely take full work, and not give full wages). The leaders speaking at the conference pointed out that the Uttarakhand government was a pro-mafia government that sacrificed the interests of the workers at the behest of the mafia and hence a united women workers’ movement should be built and intensified in Uttarakhand so that that government can be forced to work on our agenda. The state President of Uttarakhand ASHA Health Workers’ Union, Kamla Kunjwal said that it was only by building a unity among the union members and developing a feeling of a collective leadership that we could fight the- anti women policies of the state and the central governments. She added that it was on the basis of unity and struggles of the union that the state government had been forced to provide an annual incentive amount and in future also, on the basis of this we could win the fight for the monthly wages. A new district team of ASHA workers’ union and office bearers were also elected during the conference.

ML Update | No. 21 | 2015

May 22, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 21, 19 ­– 25 MAY 2015

Distress and Despair Everywhere–

Tall-talk Government Completes One Year!

​I​
t is now one full year since Narendra Modi became India’s Prime Minister. The government continues to indulge in tall talks, but the rhetoric is sounding increasingly hollow. Modi and his men stand exposed on almost every promise they had made to the people.

This was supposed to be a year of respite from rising prices. When diesel and petrol prices dropped initially, though in much less proportion than the global decline in petro prices, BJP leaders went to town claiming it as a gift from the Modi government. Modi himself described it as a sign of good luck he is bringing for the people. But as Narendra Modi completes his first year in office, repeated hikes in diesel and petrol prices have again become the order of the day. Fares and freight rates have gone up; even platform tickets have not been spared, the rate has doubled from Rs 5 to Rs 10!

Agrarian distress is spreading like an epidemic. Farmers’ suicides are being reported from all corners of the country, not only from the old suicide belts of southern and western states, but increasingly now from states in northern and eastern zones, and even right in the middle of a rally near the Indian Parliament. Untimely rains have damaged crops heavily across the country and while farmers await compensation to cover their huge losses, central and state governments are only trying to outdo each other in making complacent claims.

Far from taking urgent measures to mitigate the acute agrarian distress, the Modi government has made it clear that it would like to use this crisis as an opportunity to push more and more farmers out of agriculture and grab their land for greedy corporate without even bothering to ask landowners for their consent. Despite countrywide uproar, the government has re-promulgated the notorious land-grab ordinance for a second time. Along with land and other natural resources, the government is also trying to lure corporate investors with the offer of cheap skilled labour.

The BJP may like us to believe that the ascent of Modi to the PM’s post has raised India’s international profile and his foreign trips symbolise India’s growing stature and role in international affairs, but in reality most of his foreign visits have been aimed at attracting foreign investment. In the process he is also trying to help his Indian corporate cohorts like Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani secure business contracts abroad. The controversial coal mining deal for Adani in Australia, backed by a proposed $1 bn loan from SBI, raised eyebrows in both India and Australia. It is another matter that the deal has run into trouble in the face of powerful protests in both countries,

Indeed, consent-free cheap land, and union-free rights-free cheap labour, are Modi’s biggest incentives to attract foreign investment. The so-called move to rationalise labour laws and abolish inspector raj, initiated by the Rajasthan government and now taken up with great gusto by the Union government itself, is a brazen attempt at further tilting India’s labour laws and factory and business rules in favour of big capital and against the working class. A similar move is on to legitimise child labour in so-called ‘family enterprises’, a euphemism for the supply chain of sweat shops for big companies. The cabinet has already approved an amendment to this effect in the existing child labour abolition act.

While the government has thus been busy unveiling and executing its economic vision of FDI-dependent corporate-driven restructuring of the Indian economy, the RSS and its affiliates have been systematically vitiating the atmosphere with their majoritarian agenda of communal nationalism and shrill opposition to the democratic aspirations and assertion of the people in every sphere. From the spoken and printed word to the visual and social media, hate speech has become the signature of the Sangh brigade. While the government occasionally tries to distance itself under public pressure, the practitioners of hate speech and other hate crimes carry on with impunity.

The only reassuring component of the new regime’s year one balance-sheet comes not from the government but from the people many of whom had voted emphatically a year ago to install the Modi Sarkar in office. The people are making it clear that they cannot be taken for granted. Farmers are up in arms against the anti-farmer land-grab ordinance and the all-pervasive corporate-friendly anti-farmer bias of the government. Workers have also expressed their readiness to resist the government’s anti-worker anti-people moves. After powerful strikes of coal miners, telecommunication and financial sector workers and employees, trade unions across the country have now come together to launch a concerted campaign for the basic rights and demands of Indian workers.

The growing disillusionment with the Modi government has also begun to make its presence felt in election results. After facing a resounding rebuff from the Delhi electorate in the Assembly elections, the BJP has also been snubbed in the West Bengal municipal elections. As the Modi government begins its second year, let us get ready for a more decisive and determined popular resistance.

Is the Right to Protest Reserved for Kejriwal Alone, Not for Aam Workers?

DTC Workers’ Protests and Ensuing Crackdown

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elhi witnesses a series of protests by DTC workers on a variety of issues in the year 2015. The most recent one was a spontaneous flash strike following the brutal murder of a DTC driver of the Rohini Depot.

The DTC is undoubtedly the lifeline of Delhi’s transport network. Contractual employees within DTC face inhuman working conditions and are subjected to tremendous work pressure to meet targets given by the management. As many as twelve thousand of DTC drivers are employed on contract. This means that they are not paid equal wages at par with permanent staff, for the same work and the wages are not regularized. They arrive at the depot every morning – but may be turned away and denied work by the depot manager in case the buses have broken down. So, while they are officially ‘employed’, they are not even sure of getting work throughout the month! They have no right to a paid or even unpaid weekly off.

Right from mid 2014 onwards, both the permanent staff and contractual workers of DTC protested for their rights. The contractual workers especially, supported the AAP and Kejriwal, based on the AAP’s promises to regularize contractual employees.

When the AAP Government failed to keep those promises, the DTC contract workers organized a March to the Delhi Secretariat from the DTC headquarters on 13 April 2015 under the banner of DTC Sangharsh Morcha, comprising of all the different unions working within DTC. The mood of the workers sitting on the dharna outside the Secretariat was so militant that they wanted the programme extended to an indefinite one till their demands were met. Unions affiliated to INTUC and BMS faced open challenge, as they tried discouraging the workers and pressurizing them to call off the ongoing programme. The Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai met the delegation but this had no positive outcome. Comrade Shankaran represented the DTC Workers’ Unity Centre in this delegation.

While addressing the CII, Delhi, the CM Arvind Kejriwal had declared that it is not his government’s duty to run buses, and the corporates will now be encouraged to run DTC. This open declaration of privatization had certainly disturbed the young DTC employees and disheartened the permanent staff.

Young workers comprising the contractual workforce of DTC took the opportunity of the National Transport Strike on 30th April, 2015, against the proposed Road Safety & Transport Bill 2014 by the Modi Government, to again raise their legitimate demands. After several years, DTC Unions had served a strike notice to their management as well as the Delhi Government, certainly under the pressure of those young workers persuaded by AICCTU affiliates.

These young contractual workers had shouldered the entire campaign all over DTC depots and most of the ‘official’ unions were seen absconding to avoid the campaign. On 29 April, the Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai had invited all the Unions including the DTC Pensioners’ Union (no pension had been paid for the past 3 months to DTC Pension holders) for a dialogue. Once again the AAP Government had no concrete plan for the public transport system of Delhi and DTC workers. Gopal Rai merely assured the workers’ representative for a budget provision for equal pay, release of 2 months pension and clearly refused to meet any other demands.

INTUC affiliates immediately withdrew the strike notice and had informed the administration of their withdrawal. BMS affiliates had not withdrawn their strike notice but had sent sms messages asking the workers to join their duties. DTC workers had resolved to go with the strike and organised a sit-in in front of the Millennium Depot. The AICCTU affiliated Unity Centre worked hard for the success of the strike. The strike could only be implemented partially, but it certainly demolished a long-standing inertia and inspired enthusiasm in spite of the backstabbing by some of the DTC unions.

The sit-in in front of the Millennium Depot was well attended, focused and full of hope for the young workers and they resolved to continue with their fight. A leader from the BMS-affiliated union came to address the gathering, and began a communal tirade, mentioning the Batla House killings and branding minorities as terrorists. A young DTC worker and AICCTU activist, Rajesh, spontaneously got up to take the mike away from him and tell him firmly to stop trying to vitiate the atmosphere of the sit-in. The BMS leader, faced with this rebuff, stopped speaking and beat a hasty retreat from the sit-in site.

Ten days after this sit-in, on May 10th, a Rohini Depot driver Ashok Kumar was brutally murdered in a road rage incident at Mundka while on duty. Workers once again went for a flash strike. Mourning his death, they demanded Rs 1 crore as compensation for the deceased worker, a job for his university-going son, education for his school-going daughter, medical care for his critically ill wife, and security for the DTC running staff. The workers reminded the Government that it had offered Rs 1 crore as compensation to the family of a policeman killed on duty, even though the policeman was not a Delhi Government employee; and also Rs 20 lakhs to the family of the farmer who committed suicide at Jantar Mantar at an AAP rally. Compensation should not be decided by political compulsions and media optics. The workers said that the Government is obligated to compensate the family of a worker murdered while on duty.

This was neither the first nor the only incident of attack on the DTC running staff. The DTC management as well as the Delhi Transport Minister have been informed of several such attacks. The narrow Delhi roads, without any proper planning for public transport, create a situation where drivers are vulnerable to attacks by angry members of the public. With its fleet size of around 4700 buses, DTC caters to 45 lakh commuters everyday in comparison to 21 lakh Metro commuters daily. Every driver under the standard procedure operates a bus for 110 km in 8 hours, a practice which was set in place almost two decades earlier. So it is easy to understand tremendous pressure on these workers.

The Government has been repeatedly informed of their grievances but has done nothing ameliorative so far to redress issues. In response to the flash strike, the Kejriwal Government invoked ESMA on the 11th night itself without even trying to negotiate with its own striking transport employees. The draconian ESMA was invoked as a first resort! On 12th May, the Delhi Government partially agreed to some of the demands including 10 lakh compensation and release of complete salary for the remaining service tenure of the deceased worker, a Government job for his son, free medical care for his ailing wife and free education for his daughter, and deployment of home guards as marshals in DTC buses. But simultaneously, under the directions of Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai, the DTC management initiated action against the DTC employees. Till now, more than 100 workers, most of them, contractual employees, and many of them supporters of DTC Workers’ Unity Centre (AICCTU) were given show-cause notices for not attending duties and participating in the protest, and were asked to reply within 24 hours or face termination.

This action of the Delhi government has further agitated the DTC employees. It seems that for Kejriwal, the worker does not enjoy the status of an ‘aam aadmi’. Kejriwal has defended his own right to agitate and hold sit-ins on the street – but denies the common workers of Delhi the same right! In the media, the AAP Government has been rightly criticized for threatening journalists with defamation cases for running stories critical of the Government. But while the right to freedom of expression of journalists is talked about, the media remains silent on the way in which the AAP Government has cracked down on the workers’ right to freedom of expression. Do workers, then, have no right to show humanitarian solidarity with a slain colleague, to seek adequate compensation and social and economic security for the family of a driver killed on duty? The DTC workers are determined not to bend to the pressures created by the administration and the management but keep fighting for their rights within the ever shrinking democratic space.

Khet Mazdoor Sabha Protest in Supaul

The CPI(ML) and the Supaul unit of the Khet Mazdoor Sabha took out an impressive protest march on 20 April 2015 on people’s issues like vaas-bhumi (housing land) for urban and rural poor, drinking water, electricity, roads and other problems. After traversing through the main streets of the town, the march culminated in a dharna at the block-zonal office. A public meeting was held at the dharna venue chaired by AICCTU district President Com. Jitendra Choudhury and a charter of demands was submitted to the BDO and Joint CO, Supaul.

The dharna was also addressed by Comrades Jainarayan Yadav and Arvind Kumar Sharma. The speakers pointed out that the Modi Govt. at the centre as well as the Nitish Govt. in the State are both pandering to the corporate houses and ignoring people’s issues like housing, land reforms, education, health, water, corruption, electricity, employment, roads, rising prices, etc. The speakers stressed that the need of the hour was to raise our voices against Company Raj.

Jharkhand Mazdoor Sabha Demonstration in Saraikela-Kharsawa

About 600 villagers under the banner of the JMS (Jharkhand Gramin Mazdoor Sabha) and holding traditional implements and arms protested in a forceful demonstration in front of the Kharsawa Deputy Commissioner against the construction which has been started at Lakhandih in Kharsawa block. The searing afternoon heat was rent with the sound of hundreds of villagers chanting slogans of “End the conspiracy of dispossessing adivasis”. At the Deputy Commissioner’s office they raised their voice, warning the authorities that if land was forcibly acquired, it would result in mass agitation and the responsibility for the same would lie with the administration. It is noteworthy that the construction of the reservoir had been stopped under pressure from protests, and further protests would continue for scrapping the project altogether. 205 acres of 5 villages including forest land, raiyaat land and agricultural land will be lost if this project is allowed. A new agitation for scrapping the project was started with a protest march from Kharsawa Bazartand chowk culminating in a dharna and submission of demands at the Deputy Commissioner’s office.

Addressing the protest meeting, AIPF council member Xavier Kujur said that the Modi Govt.’s Land Ordinance is a law to destroy adivasis and farmers. The State Govt. is using this Ordinance for the proposed Saraikela-Kharsawa reservoir. JMS leader Gautam Singh Munda said that the Govt. is working for the permanent displacement of adivasis from Jharkhand through forcible land acquisition. Therefore it is necessary to strengthen the agitation for stopping the reservoir construction.

Gramin Chowkidar Union District Conference in Deoriya

The first district conference of the Gramin Chowkidar Union was held in Deoriya district of Uttar Pradesh on 10 May 2015. About 100 delegates participated in the conference which was inaugurated by AICCTU national Vice President Com. Premlata Pandey. Speaking on the occasion she said that the Samjawadi Party Govt. has started several populist schemes in the State, but the chowkidars (working in the police stations since British times) who have been termed “graamin police” in the Police Act, have not yet been given the status of government employees. They get a pittance of Rs 1500 as honorarium. They are subjected to inhuman treatment in the thanas, and are made to do jobs ranging from giving massages to the station chief to cooking and washing vessels. Com. Premlata further said that the job of the chowkidars is to go to the thanas twice a month and give news about happenings in the village. However, though their service is usually taken by police authorities for apprehending accused persons, this work is not recorded in their records. They have not even been insured for accidents. If they are killed during action in the police patrol, they will get nothing. The slogan raised at the conference was “1500 mein dum nahin, 15000 se kam nahin” (1500 is a mere pittance, less than 15000 is not acceptable). It was resolved that protests would be accelerated to demand State Govt. employee status for the chowkidars. At the conclusion of the conference, a 25 member district committee was elected with Jitendra as President and Raja Prasad as Mantri. The conference was also addressed by current district President Ramanand Paswan, AICCTU district convener Ramkishor Verma, and CPI(ML) town convener Dr. Shailesh Pandey. The proceedings were conducted by Kaviji Chowkidar.

AIARLA 5th TN State Conference Held in Chidambaram

The fifth state conference of AIARLA was held on 15th May in Chidambaram (Cuddalore district). The Conference was preceded with an impressive and enthusiastic procession in which several rural young women and men participated and were joined in solidarity by students and youth. Through their placards and loud sloganeering, the participants stoutly denounced Land grab Bill of the Modi Govt. and demanded its immediate repeal. At a time when the ruling AIADMK is celebrating the Bengaluru High Court Judgment acquitting its leader Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate assets case, the participants questioned their jubilation and raised slogans against corruption and questioned AIADMK’s support to the Land Grab Bill brought by the Modi Govt.

The masses congregated into the hall named after Com. Ammaiyappan, Cuddalore district secretary and state secretary of AIARLA, who recently passed away. Com. TKS Janardhanan, the outgoing president presided over the conference. After 2 minutes of silence observed in the memories of Comrade Ammaiyappan, tribal workers who had been killed in fake encounter recently in Andhra, and those who lost their lives in Nepal and India in the recent earthquake, the Central Observer Com. Bangar Rao, delivered his inaugural address. He called upon the state conference to develop Panchayats as platform of struggles.

Com. Rani, one of the Tribal activists narrated the unending woes and sufferings of the jailed workers and their kith and kin. Com. Simpson, member of the National Executive of AIKM and national council of AIPF appealed all to strengthen land struggles. In his message to the conference CPI(ML) State Secretary Balasundaram said that it is an irony that conference was dedicated to the memory of Com. Ammaiyappan who had initiated the preparations for this conference in January despite his ailing health condition. Several leaders stressed that preparations for June 30 struggle should also be a task of building AIARLA units at panchayat level.

The conference adopted several political, movemental, and organizational resolutions. 183 member state council, 27 member state executive and 11 office bearers been elected by the house. Com TKS Janarthanan and S. Janakiraman were elected as State President and General Secretary respectively.

Protest against Attack an CPI(ML) Leader

On 29 April 2015, criminal elements made a murderous attack on Com. Umashankar, CPI(ML) leader from Sariya block in Giridih district. However, under pressure from the local MLA, the Sariya police have not yet apprehended the culprits, who enjoy the protection of the MLA. In protest against this inaction, the CPI(ML) took out a protest march on 8 May 2015, from Jhanda Chowk. The protesters went around the entire market and then held a meeting at Jhanda Chowk. Speakers addressing the meeting said that if the police does not take appropriate action, CPI(ML) will further sharpen the agitation.

Protest March against Vandalization of Ambedkar Statue

AIPF took out a protest march in Bhagalpur town to protest against the vandalization of the Ambedkar statue by smearing it with “jootha” (leftovers) on 30 April. The protestors shouted slogans against attempts at saffronization of Ambedkar’s ideas by the RSS-BJP and demanded immediate action against the perpetrators of the defacement.

It needs to be remembered that one day earlier when the RYA had burnt the effigy of Mohan Bhagwat in protest against the RSS chief’s statement that Ambedkar was a Hindutva supporter, the saffron goons of the RSS had torn down all the posters from that place after the RYA activists left.

Release Chhatradhar Mahato and Repeal UAPA

On 12 May 2015, Chhatradhar Mahato, a tribal leader of the Lalgarh movement along with five others was sentenced to life imprisonment by a West Midnapore court under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). A few members of the AIPF were present in the court when he was convicted. Immediately following the sentence, a joint rally was called by APDR and Nagarik Samanyay in which CPI(ML), AIPF and AISA also participated. Over 500 people gathered in the rally and several representatives including Sumit Choudhury of AIPF, Dipankar Bhattacharya of CPI(ML), Sujata Vadro of APDR and several others condemned the verdict.

A protest rally was also called by CPI(ML) in Siliguri on 15 May 2015 demanding repeal of UAPA and unconditional release of Chhatradhar Mahato and others. The rally was led by CPI(ML) Central Committee member and the district secretary of Darjeeling, Com. Abhijit Mazumdar. Several people participated in the rally carrying red flags and placards carrying slogans against draconian laws like UAPA and demanding release of Chhatradhar Mahato. A rally at Jadavpur was also called by common students on 19 May 2015 in which AISA also participated. A fund drive has also been started for carrying forward the campaign as well as the legal battle.

Obituaries

Prof. Amalendu Guha: CPI(ML) expresses condolence on the demise of Prof. Amalendu Guha, a noted scholar and an eminent historian who worked in the department of History, Dibrugarh University, Assam. Among his several contributions to research on history and in particular history of Assam includes his path breaking work on the rice economy of Assam and his highly acclaimed book ‘Planter’s raj to Swaraj’. Prof. Guha will always be remembered for the crucial role played by him in the advancement of Marxism and historical studies in Assam.

Com. Ramyaad Sharma: CPI(ML) expressed deep shock and pain on the sad demise of Com. Ramyaad Sharma who suffered heart attack on the morning of 10 May 2015. Com. Ramyaad Sharma was associated with Azamgarh unit of CPI(ML) and was also the member of the state committee of the Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Mahasabha, UP. A comrade who was never known to say ‘no’ for any organizational work deputed to him, Com. Ramyaad Sharma was an embodiment of communist understanding of organizational commitment and discipline. He was extremely active, despite being 80 years of age. The pain of his loss especially among the CPI(ML) comrades of Azamgarh cannot be overstated. He will always remain a source of inspiration for us. Red Salute!!

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

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ML Update | No.20 | 2015

May 13, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 20, 12 ­– 18 MAY 2015

The Janata Merger: Desperate Leaders, Disinterested Supporters

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he proposed merger of six parties of the Janata parivar seems to have run into rough weather. While Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav would like us to believe that the merger has already taken place, senior SP leaders have ruled out any merger before the Assembly elections in Bihar later this year, asking the JDU and RJD to work out an electoral alliance instead. Meanwhile, Jitan Ram Manjhi has declared the formation of his own new party and Lalu Prasad has expelled RJD MP Pappu Yadav from the party for questioning his decision to hand over the reins of the party to one of his sons.

The merger of the six siblings of the erstwhile Janata parivar is a peculiar marriage of convenience where the benefits, if any, would accrue to Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad with the other siblings having to guard their shares of the family fortune on their own. But for Nitish Kumar’s JDU and Lalu Prasad’s RJD, the areas of influence of the other parties are clearly demarcated and rather mutually exclusive. Samajwadi Party calls the shots in UP while Deve Gowda and Chautala run their own fiefdoms in Haryana and Karnataka. Apart from an enhanced profile in Parliament, the merger will yield no real benefit to any of these parties.

While Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad are naturally most desirous of an immediate merger, the complications and challenges will also have to be faced primarily by them. The reality is both parties are faced with internal divisions. Jitan Ram Manjhi has already moved away from Nitish Kumar and it is well known that others who have stayed on with Nitish Kumar in the Assembly are not all happy with his leadership. Lalu Prasad is presiding over a declining and cracking support base – in the 2014 LS elections, his family members lost from Chhapra and Pataliputra, while Pappu Yadav who won from Madhepura defeating Sharad Yadav has had to face expulsion for challenging Lalu Prasad’s family rule within the party.

For the last twenty-five years, Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar have been at the helm of power in Bihar. Lalu had begun with a huge fund of social support and goodwill; but when his party’s tenure finally came to an end in February 2005, his government had come to be identified not only with widespread corruption, crime, utter malgovernance and absolute economic stagnation but also with systematic exclusion and marginalisation of dalits and extreme backward sections. The promised reign of social justice had turned into a reign of serial massacres and grave social injustice. Nitish Kumar had replaced Lalu Prasad promising development with justice, but after ten years in power he has little to show except his opportunist track record of feudal subservience, arrogance of power, bureaucratic governance and betrayed promises.

The two previous occasions when the Janata experiment succeeded at the centre, it was marked by hope. 1977 had come with the promise of restoration of democracy after long nineteen months of Emergency. VP Singh had come with the promise of ending corruption and ensuring universal right to work. Even when he left without keeping these basic promises, he had earned considerable goodwill having partially implemented the recommendations of the Mandal Commission and refused to bow to the communal offensive of the BJP. But whether in Bihar and UP, or Karnataka and Haryana, the Janata regimes have been marked by corruption and compromises with feudal-communal forces.

The Samajwadi Party, the leading component of the Janata Parivar and whose leader Mulayam Singh Yadav is the declared president of the planned merger, is currently in power in UP and its tenure has been marked by dozens of communal riots, corruption, crime and corporate land-grabbing amidst deepening agrarian crisis. The UP government is even ready to allow acquisition of as much as 20% of cultivable land in every district. It is this baggage of betrayal and absence of any policy alternative which explains why the merger plan of the Janata parivar has failed to evoke much political interest or enthusiasm even among the supporters or voters of these parties. The revolt of Jitan Ram Manjhi does not of course provide any answer, for Manjhi continues to seek his political fortune through continued hobnobbing with the BJP and its feudal-communal politics.

Ahead of the forthcoming Assembly elections, the political situation in Bihar thus continues to be marked by fluidity and churning. As indicated most recently by the municipal elections in West Bengal, the Modi wave has begun to subside and the BJP is facing widespread disillusionment of the masses. The merger of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad with the sole purpose of holding on to power has failed to generate any wider appeal. The people are of course not waiting for the elections and are out on the streets with their burning demands. The Left and other fighting forces must come forward at this juncture to provide an alternative political agenda and direction to the common people of Bihar.

AICCTU’s 9th National Conference Held in Patna

All India Central Council of Trade Unions’ (AICCTU’s) 9th National Conference was held in Patna on 4-6 May 2015. The conference began with a “workers’ and farmers’ rights” march from Gandhi Maidan culminating in a massive public meeting in which thousands of workers and farmers participated. The march was led by Comrades Swapan Mukherjee, Kumaraswamy, Nikolas from Greece, Bahadur Khatri and Kamlesh Jha from Nepal, and Tapan Datta from Bangladesh.

Addressing the meeting, CPI(ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya pointed out the atrocities on workers and farmers in the Modi regime and said that this 9th National Conference of AICCTU was an important milestone in the fight for the rights of workers and farmers. He saluted the brave struggles of workers in the Maruti agitation, of contractual workers, of workers in Greece and Bangladesh, and all workers fighting for justice. Comrades Swapan Mukherjee, Rameshwar Prasad, Dhirendra Jha, Rajaram Singh, Shashi Yadav and others also addressed the meeting and pointed out that Bihar’s Nitish government is equally guilty of suppressing workers’ and farmers’ rights as the Central Govt.

After the meeting, the inaugural session was held at Ravindra Bhavan. In his report, AICCTU national General Secretary Com. Swapan Mukherjee detailed the challenges before the working class and the dangers of the Modi Govt’s pro-corporate policies. He called for greater unity of the working class to fight these challenges. He condemned the proposed amendments in the existing labour laws which would further kill workers’ rights. He spoke of the historic all India labour strike of 20-21 Feb 2013 and other workers’ agitations, including the 26 February 2015 “jail bharo” agitation and presented the “charter of struggles”.

The second day of the conference started with the guest session addressed by Comrades Kumaraswamy (AICCTU’s National President), Nikolas (WAFTU representative), Kamlesh Jha (Nepal Trade Union Mahasangh’s EC member), Lal Bahadur Pakhrin (KONEP (Nepal) leader), Tapan Datta (Bangladesh Trade Union Centre), AK Padmanabhan (CITU President), DL Sachdeva (AITUC National Secretary), Shivgopal Mishra (AIRF General Secretary), and also by representatives from UTUC, AIUTUC, TUCC, and HMS.

The delegate session started in the second half of 5 May and continued on 6 May. 54 delegates including representatives of construction workers, contractual workers, ASHA and midday meal workers, as well as delegates from organized sectors like rail, steel, bank, coal, tea estates, jute, transport, and government services, expressed their views on the General Secretary’s report. They spoke of the challenges faced by workers in their fields and were unanimous in stressing the need for unity of all workers for a successful fight for justice. Com. Swapan Mukherjee said all constructive suggestions would be included in the report, after which the report was passed unanimously.

Finally, a 195 member national council was formed, and from among them a 66 member national executive and 39 office bearers were elected. Com. Kumaraswamy was elected national President and Com. Rajiv Dimri was elected national General Secretary. 21 Vice Presidents and 16 Secretaries were also elected.

The conference resolved to fight for regularization of ASHA and transport workers, stopping of attacks on migrant workers and their voting rights, protesting against the plan to dissolve Coal India, as well as other issues of workers’ rights. The resolutions that were passed included- announcement of a nationwide hartal on May 26 during the joint trade union meeting; active participation in the 100-day AIPF workers’ and farmers’ rights campaign; opposing the amendments in the child labour laws; supporting the teachers’ hartal in Bihar, and actively supporting the central government workers’ hartal on 23 November. The conference was energized and enthused by songs and programmes by units of Jan Sanskriti Manch and Hirawal. Around 600 delegates participated in the conference.

Kisan Mahasabha Hunger Strike in Lucknow

The Uttar Pradesh State unit of the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha sat on a hunger strike at the Lakshman Mela Maidan in Lucknow on 4-5 May with a 13 point charter of demands including passing a law for protection of sharecroppers’ rights and including them in compensation for loss of crops through unseasonal rains and hailstorms. Farmers from various districts sat on the hunger strike after a march from Charbagh station, under the leadership of comrades Ishwari Prasad Kushwaha and Jaiprakash Narayan.

Addressing the dharna, Com. Kushwaha said that in a State where farmers were desperate and committing suicide, the plight of sharecroppers was the worst. He pointed out that sharecroppers had to bear the brunt of a double disaster; they had paid 10-20,000 per acre, and now their crops were also destroyed. He exhorted the sharecroppers not to commit suicide but to fight for their rights of compensation and relief. He said that the rich were taking the benefit of the compensation money as the land is in their names. He demanded compensation for the sharecroppers and also waiver of loans for poor farmers and sharecroppers.

CPI(ML) CC member Krishna Adhikari said that while farmers were committing suicide in distress, the Akhilesh government was snatching land from them in the name of the Project Tiger. She demanded immediate scrapping of Project Tiger. The meeting was also addressed by Comrades Ramdarash, Allauddin Shastri, Kamlesh Rai, Rajesh Verma, Rama Gairola, Rajiv Kushwaha, Ram Singh, and Ramesh Singh Sengar.

A 13 point memorandum was submitted to the Chief Minister which included the following chief demands: immediate steps to correct the heavy irregularities in the survey and loot of compensation money; 25 lakh compensation for families of suicide and shock deaths; free diesel, seeds and fertilizers to the affected farmers; minimum monthly pension of 5,000 to farmers above 60 years; MNREGA to be associated with agricultural work; immediate payment of arrears to sugar cane farmers; immediate stopping of oppression of farmers affected by the Kanhar project in Sonbhadra district; and re-issue of the notification on the project.

Farmers’ Dharna in Vaishali

33 mahadalit families have been for years settled on Bihar government land in Chainpur Baghel village of Sahdeyi Bujurg block. The government had arranged for 1.5 decimal housing land for each of them, in which houses had been built under the Indira Awas Yojana. Now the number of families has increased to 150 who manage by living in thatched houses made of dried grass. These 150 families are mainly sharecroppers who also do construction work in their spare time. As they refused to work in a neighbouring landlord’s land, a case of encroachment of Bihar government land was put against them in the High Court and a fake impostor was produced in court who gave it in writing that they had encroached upon government land meant for roads. The HC had issued directions in 2011 for removal of the encroachments. These poor mahadalits had no knowledge of any of these events. They came to know about it when on 1st March the authorities came with JCBs to raze down their settlement. People protested in hundreds and the administration had to turn back.

Under the banner of the Kisan Mahasabha it was decided to hold protests and agitations and file a petition in the HC for review of the verdict. Poor from the neighbouring villages also extended support and solidarity to these families. A case for review of the decision was registered in the HC on 11 March and on 12 March hundreds of farmers staged a dharna in front of the DM demanding– suspension of the old verdict until fresh directions from the HC; 5 decimal housing land for each family; and fixation of sharecropping rates by the government.

Presently the district administration has stayed the proceedings to implement the HC decision of removing the settlement. The dharna was led and addressed by Kisan Mahasabha leaders comrades Vishveshwar Prasad Yadav, Arvind Kumar Choudhury, Pramod Kumar, Harinarayan Singh, and CPI(ML) District Secretary Com. Yogendra Rai.

CPI(ML) Leader Brutally Attacked in Bihar

Com. Upadhyay Yadav, a young CPI(ML) leader and a member of Jahanabad Zila Parishad, Bihar, was shot by miscreants on the morning of 2nd May and was admitted to hospital battling for life. Com. Upadhyay Yadav had been in the forefront of a movement in Ratni block on the issue of paddy purchase. During the movement, the block headquarters had been blocked completely for three days and due to the pressure generated by the movement the administration had to relent. The daylight attack on leaders raising the issues of the marginalized and oppressed once again expose the shallow claims of ‘good governance’ (sushaasan) in Bihar. Protesting against the attack on Com. Yadav and demanding immediate arrest of his attackers, a Jahanabad-Arwal bandh was called on 3 May 2015. The call for bandh found massive support from the people and the roads remained swarmed with the protestors. CPI(ML) has called for another protest in front of the DM’s office on 15 May demanding the arrest of the attackers.

CPI(ML) Leader Arrested for Leading Popular Agitation for Electricity

Com. Vinay Santhalia, CPI(ML) leader from Rajdhanwar (Giridih, Jharkhand) who has been leading a popular agitation in Giridih for electricity, was arrested on 10 May on false charges filed against him for leading this agitation. Several CPI(ML) leaders and locals have been framed in false cases. In fact it was the police which had injured several agitators by firing bullets at them. Under the pressure from CPI(ML) leadership, the administration had apologized and promised to withdraw false charges, however, this arrest exposes the administration’s plan to repress the struggle. The agitation and resistance will continue till the demands of the people are met and false framing withdrawn.

AISA’s 8th National Conference held in Delhi

AISA’s 8th national conference was held in New Delhi on 10-11 May, in the north campus of the Delhi University. The inaugural session of the 2-day national conference was addressed by CPI(ML) general secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, human rights activist Prashant Bhushan, DUTA President Nandita Narain, AIPWA secretary Comrade Kavita Krishnan and leaders of SFI, AISF, DSF and AIDSO. Around 300 delegates from Delhi, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Karbi Anglong, Madhya Pradesh, Maharshtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu attended the conference.

Welcoming the delegates and guests at the inaugural session, AISA’s national president Sucheta De pointed that the conference was being held in the backdrop of several dangerous policy changes being mooted by the Modi government. She stressed that the student community and the student movement has the historic responsibility to oppose the systematic saffronisation of education, the choice-based credit system, the common Central University Act and RUSA.

DUTA President Nandita Narain said that the proposed CBCS was just FYUP in another form, and should be opposed by another movement on the scale of the anti-FYUP movement. She underlined the fact that the blueprint of privatisation of education was put in place by the previous UPA government, and is now being aggressively pursued by the Modi government. Pointing out that various Indian governments are following WTO diktats to declare education as a ‘tradeable commodity’, she added that the script of selling out education is being written globally. Human rights advocate Prashant Bhushan also addressed the conference and said that sycophants and ideologues of the RSS are being placed at the head of all the institutions of our country. All dissent is being curbed and activists are being hounded. Prof Saibaba who is 80% disabled is denied bail, while Salman Khan who has been clearly convicted is granted bail immediately, he added.

CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, addressing the conference, noted that the conference was being held on the anniversary of the historic 1857 war of independence against the colonial British rule. He said that the significance and relevance of 1857 is all the more relevant now, when the ruling government is hell-bent on instituting a new form of ‘Company Raj’ and carrying forward the British legacy of divide and rule. Kavita Krishnan welcomed the conference on behalf of AIPWA as well as the All India Peoples’ Forum (AIPF), and said that students have a historic role to play in challenging the ideological assaults of the ruling powers. "Today, the likes of Dinanath Batra try to tell us that it is ‘anti-national’ to blow candles and cut a cake on one’s birthday, while it is perfectly patriotic to deny Indian students the right to a decent, quality and affordable education! They try to tell us that it is ‘women’s empowerment’ to prevent women from marrying men of their choice – the entire patriarchal and communal Love Jihad campaign is being run in the name of protecting women’s rights. In such a situation, it is students and youth who can play a very crucial role in redefining the meaning of ‘nationalism’, and women’s rights", she said.

Addressing the conference, Vishwajeet, national secretary of AISF, said that the need of the hour was to unitedly oppose the blatant commercialisation of education as well as the replacement of history and science with myth. Ashok, national secretary of AIDSO, also spoke in detail of the nature of assaults on the education sector. Sunand, Delhi secretary of SFI and Ishan from the DSF also addressed the conference, and stressed on the need for collective, united resistance of left and progressive student organisations to the ongoing policy assaults. Several speakers pointed out that the so-called ‘reforms’ were actually ‘deforming’ the education sector as well as workers, peasants and the poor.

During the 2-day conference, student leaders and activists deliberated in detail on the need to oppose CBCS, RUSA, the common Central University Act and the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations. Detailed documents on the intent and content of all these policies were presented at the conference. The conference discussed AISA’s initiatives and plans for the future in various states. It also planned nation-wide protests and agitations against these policy assaults – demanding their roll back and also demanding thoroughgoing efforts to ensure social inclusion in education. Implementation of the Thorat Committee report, the Sachar committee recommendations, setting up cells to address sexual harassment in all campuses, enhancement of funds for financial assistance, and for SC/ST hostels and scholarships were also discussed. It was also resolved to oppose the Modi government’s plans to officially accept the addition of education under WTO/GATS.

A 57-member National Executive and a 115-member Council was elected. Comrades Farhan Ahmed, Ranjeet Kramsa, Rinki and Ranajoy were elected as Vice Presidents. Comrades Sunil Maurya, Ajit Kushwaha, Saikat Maity and Abhilasha were elected as joint secretaries. Comrade Sucheta De was elected as AISA’s National President, while Comrade Sandeep Saurav was elected as national General Secretary.

AIPF’s Convention against Communal Riots Held in Bhagalpur

The All India People’s Forum (AIPF) held a day-long convention against communal riots, violence and hate-mongering on 10 May at the Gandhi Peace Foundation in Bhagalpur. It has been twenty five years since the horrific communal riots in Bhagalpur, and AIPF’s convention, titled ‘How to understand and fight communalism: Questions arising 25 years after the Bhagalpur riots’, was organised to reflect on the current challenges of aggressive communal fascism in India. Several riot survivors, intellectuals and human rights activists participated in this convention.

At the convention, several riot survivors talked about the horrors they had faced, and the nature of their ongoing battle for justice. Many of them pointed out that for two decades, so-called forces of ‘social justice’ have been ruling in Bihar, and yet they have received absolutely no justice. A film on the Bhagalpur riots was also screened at the convention. This film showcased the sham behind the so-called ‘relief and rehabilitation’ of the riot victims. The riot survivors pointed out that after the riots, hundreds were displaced from their homes. Even now, twenty five years after the riots, feudal forces in the area are still in control of the victims’ homes and hundreds continue to remain displaced. The atmosphere of fear and intimidation still continues, even as riot victims as well as activists continue to take forward the battle against communal hate-mongering, riots and violence.

Activists who have been campaigning against communal fascism, such as Mani Khan, Prof. Manoj, Prof. Farooq Ali, Anisur Rehman Qasmi, Mohd. Shahbaz, Mallika Begum, as well as CPI(ML) Politburo member Comrade Dhirendra Jha, former MLA Satyadev Ram and Dr. Sharad Jaiswal from Kanpur also addressed the convention. The convention was conducted by AIPF’s national council member Dr. Mukesh Kumar, and RYA leader comrade Om Sudha gave the valedictory speech. The convention resolved to strengthen the struggle for adequate compensation, rehabilitation, pension, basic rights such as education, healthcare and housing and justice for the victims of the Bhagalpur riots.

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

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ML Update | No. 19 | 2015

May 7, 2015

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 18 | No. 19 | 05 – 11 MAY 2015

Nepal’s Pain Becomes Fodder for Indian Media’s Jingoism

Nepal is slowly limping to recovery from the earthquake that has claimed over 10,000 lives and destroyed vast areas of that country. In the immediate aftermath of the quake, India’s prompt rescue and relief efforts were warmly appreciated by Nepal’s people. But the appreciation has turned into hurt and anger, as India’s relief efforts were turned into an insensitive, self-congratulatory spectacle on Indian media and social media.

Nepal’s people took to social to express their anger, with over 100,000 tweets using the #GoHomeIndianMedia hashtag. While it was the Indian media that was the direct target of Nepalese resentment, the Indian Government too could not remain insulated from the anger.

One trigger for the anger was the crass, sensational, and insensitive nature of the coverage. Nepal’s people expressed outrage at Indian journalists asking survivors ‘how they felt’ at the loss of loved ones. Another issue was the fact that some Indian army rescue helicopters were arriving in remote areas, with precious space occupied by Indian media persons rather than relief materials. Also, the Indian media was barely mentioning the rescue efforts of Nepal’s own personnel and common people.

But above all, what was apparent that much of the Indian media was turning their coverage of the disaster and the relief efforts into a giant, over-the-top PR exercise for the Indian Government and Indian Prime Minister. From #ThankYouPM hashtags for Modi on social media, to some channels using Modi’s image with self-aggrandising captions in the foreground while relegating images of devastated Nepal to the background, there were many such instances that turned a story about Nepal’s pain, into one about India’s PM. Modi himself added to this impression with his tweet praising the Indian media.

On social media and media, the Indian relief effort had also become a pretext to grind various political axes. Right-wingers on social media were openly crowing praise for Modi and the RSS, implying that previous Governments and other political forces had never launched relief on a comparable scale. They were also openly indulging in competitive comparisons of the Modi Government’s efforts with those of Pakistan, China and other countries.

This is not the first time that disaster relief coverage was used by the Indian media and political parties as a pretext for jingoism and political propaganda. Following the Uttarakhand floods, the BJP and sections of the media had peddled exaggerated claims about the rescue and relief efforts by Modi, then the Gujarat Chief Minister. With Lok Sabha elections then in the offing, the Uttarakhand disaster was used to try and cast Modi in the role of a super-hero.

Following the Kashmir floods, sections of the media had tried to use the Army’s rescue and relief efforts as an occasion to justify the Army presence in Kashmir and the AFSPA. When Kashmiris expressed anger against this propaganda (much as Nepalese people are now doing), they were branded as ungrateful and anti-national.

Nepal’s people have warned the Indian Prime Minister as well as Indian media not to forget or undermine Nepal’s sovereignty and self-respect. In fact, the competition among Indian media and political groups to claim credit for aid to Nepal, has made India lose respect internationally. Like Modi’s attempt to use the Obama visit to boost his domestic political image, the attempt to turn Indian aid to Nepal into a political scoring point for the Modi Government has backfired. Thanks to jingoistic propagandists on media and social media, India’s gestures of extending relief to Nepal have come across as over-bearing, self-aggrandising and self-serving rather than gracious and humble.

As Nepal rebuilds itself with remarkable courage in the face of unimaginable devastation, its people continue to hope for solidarity and support from the Indian people. We must do all we can to help the people of Nepal, and resist every attempt by the Indian media or political forces to exploit Nepal’s pain as fodder for Indian politics and propaganda.

Moga Molestation and Murder

Bring the Badals Within the Orbit of the Law!

A 13-year-old Dalit girl was molested and flung to her death from a bus in Punjab, along with her mother who survived with grievous injuries. The molestation, which took place in broad daylight, has rekindled memories of the December 16th 2012 gangrape and murder on a bus in Delhi.

The Congress Government of Delhi headed by Sheila Dixit had rightly been held responsible for the failure to provide safe public transport for women. The Akali-BJP Government of Punjab bears an even more direct responsibility for the Moga crime, since the molestation and murder were committed by the staff of the Orbit fleet of buses, owned by the Badals who head the Punjab Government and the ruling Akali Dal party.

The Orbit buses enjoy a monopoly on many routes in Punjab. The bus service is part of Orbit Aviation Pvt Ltd, which in turn is part of the vast business empire of Punjab’s ruling family. The staff of the buses are well known to be goons, intoxicated with the impunity that comes from Badal patronage. In particular, Punjab’s poor and dalits bear the brunt of the arbitrary violence by the Orbit staff.

The bus in question had tinted glasses and curtains, in defiance of the law. The staff molested the girl and her mother, and when they protested, flung them from the speeding bus. Even before this incident, CCTV footage shows the bus swerving dangerously from one lane to another, in total disregard for road rules.

Answering a question in Parliament, the Akali Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal initially pleaded ignorance of who owned the Orbit transport company. This soon proved to be a lie, since her own affidavit to the election commission in the last elections, revealed her stake in the company which is co-owned by her husband, Punjab’s Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal.

The Punjab police has till date refused to even question the Badals over the Moga incident, let alone book them in the FIR. This is in stark contrast to the precedents in the Uber or Fabindia cases, where owners were questioned for acts of sexual violence that were committed by their employees in services provided by their company.

The Central Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Home Secretary RK Singh of the BJP had been quick to seek bans and even criminal prosecution of Uber following the rape in one of its cabs. They are significantly silent on the atrocity committed in the bus owned by leaders of the BJP’s powerful political ally and partner, the Akali Dal!

The Punjab Government that failed to provide safe public transport for women, was prompt to provide protection to the Orbit buses! Following massive protests in Punjab, however, the Badals have had to withdraw the Orbit buses from the roads. Sukhbir Badal has said that the service will be resumed after Orbit employees complete an ‘orientation course’. This excuse for reinstating the Orbit buses must be resisted. Safe, accountable, public-sector bus services must replace the lawless monopoly of Orbit. The Government cannot be allowed to promote the transport business owned by the Chief Minister’s family, at the cost of the lives and safety of Punjab’s poor citizens.

It is also outrageous that the Badal Government has chosen to pay the father of the victim Rs 20 lakhs as compensation, from the public exchequer rather than make the Badals’ own Orbit company pay.

Adding insult to injury, the Punjab Education Minister Surjit Singh Rakhra trivialized the molestation and murder as an “accident” that was “God’s will” and “nature’s will” that none could prevent. An Akali Dal MLA Joginder Pal Singh also echoed the same outrageous argument that the victim’s death was God-ordained!

The Moga incident also underlines the stark social and economic divide in Punjab: where the crony corporations and the nexus of big business and politics is protected and promoted, but the lives and dignity of the poor and dalits are considered cheap.

Justice for the Moga victim must mean an end to the cruel rule of crony businesses over the lives of Punjab’s poor. Sukhbir Badal, the owner of the Orbit company, must be booked for his role in permitting, promoting, and protecting the criminal conduct of his employees. The Government whose leaders are callously calling the brutal murder of a little girl to be ‘God’s will,’ needs to be taught a lesson about people’s will!

Visit to Storm-Affected Purnea District

On 21 April, a storm of 180 to 250 km per hour devastated north-eastern Bihar and took the lives of 41 people in Purnea district alone. The death toll was greatest in Dagrua block at 19. 7 were killed in K. Nagar, 9 in Purnea Sadar, 2 in Banmankhi, and 1 each in Dhamdaha, Badhara Kothi, Shrinagar, and Vayasi. A team of CPI (ML) and Kisan Mahasabha leaders visited the affected blocks, consoled the families of the dead, and took stock of the governmental relief works. Comrades Rajaram Singh, Visheshvar Prasad Yadav, Shivsagar Sharma, Md. Islamuddin, Avinash Kumar, Pankaj Kumar Singh and others were part of the team.

The team found that 90% of tin and mud houses, and 98% of crops were destroyed. People were forced to live and sleep in the open and there was little to eat. However, the government has done nothing other than handing a cheque of 4 lakhs each to the kin of the dead. No relief has been distributed and the affected have been left to starve. Thousands of poor gheraoed Dhamdaha, K. Nagar, Purnea Sadar, and other blocks under the banner of CPI (ML) and the Kisan Mahasabha and submitted memorandums to the BDOs demanding -immediate relief camps in the villages with ration and tarpaulin distribution, cash for vessels, continuation of relief till the next crop, declaring the zone as special disaster zone, giving housing land parchas to all the poor, making arrangements for pucca quake/storm resistant housing, provisions for toilets, and drinking water, 50,000 per acre compensation for loss of mango, wheat, maize and other crops, waiving of agricultural loans up to 1 lakh to farmers as well as sharecroppers, capital for next crop to farmers an sharecroppers, and putting an end to the demands of bribes and partiality being done by officials while surveying the loss.

The organization conducted a survey of the loss and will conduct further such surveys. Preparations for a big agitation are afoot. On returning from their visit, the leaders pointed out that the government which is giving huge tax reliefs to the corporate houses is completely ignoring the disaster-affected farmers and poor who are in dire need of relief. They promised that the struggle on this issue would be strengthened and continued.

ASHA Workers Demonstrate in Front of Chief Minister in Bihar

Thousands of ASHA workers from various parts of Bihar marched together under the banner of the Bihar State ASHA Workers’ Association (Gope group) on 21 April in Patna, from Gandhi Maidan through Fraser Road, Dak Bangala Chowk, Patna junction, and GPO to R- block, shouting slogans. Their demands included declaration of ASHA workers as government workers and minimum honorarium of 15,000 among several other demands. The demonstration was led by the ASHA Association State President Shashi Yadav, Bihar State non-gazetted workers Association (Gope group) leader Rambali Prasad, General Secretary Prem Chand, AHA Association honorary President Suresh Prasad, Jehanabad Secretary Suneela Devi, Madhubani district Secretary Poonam Devi, Shyama Devi, Muzaffarpur district Secretary Anita Devi, Munger district President Julie Devi, Secretary Madhu Devi, and Siwan AIPWA leaders, Sohila Gupta and Malati Ram, Navada AIPWA leader Savitri Devi and others.

Addressing the meeting at R-block, leaders of both the organizations said that the situation of women working under contractual, honorarium and incentive systems is extremely pathetic. ASHA workers do not even get an honorarium. They get Rs 600 per delivery, with no accident, health, insurance, or pension benefits. They spend the whole night in hospitals, but do not get any place to sit, and receive derogatory treatment from officials. If they protest, they are threatened with removal from the job. They are made to do several other kinds of jobs, with no payment. They get no leave, not even maternity leave. Their work with child delivery entails late hours and they have often been victims of rape and molestation.

The speakers expressed astonishment that the government announced a women’s policy on the occasion of Bihar Day, but not a word was said about honorarium to these women. They pointed out that the Modi governments at the Centre, as well as the Nitish government in the State, are both neglecting the rights of working women. They vowed that if the Bihar government did not take steps to fulfill the demands of the ASHA workers, a statewide agitation would be launched.

First AIPF Convention in Mumbai

The Mumbai unit of the All India People’s Front held its first convention on 25 April 2015 on the topic “Protection of Livelihoods and Democracy”. The convention, attended by about 250 people, discussed livelihoods, land acquisition, workers’ rights, democracy and the right to religious belief. The convention was chaired by Com. Uday Bhat of the Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) and was conducted by Vijay Kulkarni.

The convention began with a programme by Lokayat activists from Pune. Following this, addressing the meeting, CPI (ML) PB member Com. Swapan Mukherjee pointed out the need for a platform like the AIPF in the current political scenario. Other speakers including Gautam Modi and Milind Ranade of NTUI, Com. Bhimrao Bansod of Lal Nishan Party (Leninist), and Usha Mahajan of the Sarvahara Jan Andolan spoke of issues such as workers’ rights, land rights, beef ban in Maharashtra, spread of communal hatred, and suppression of dissent.

The convention concluded with a proposal in which it was resolved to continue the fight for people’s rights and to raise the voice for right to livelihood and protection of democracy.

CPI (ML) Dharna and Protest Meeting at Ghazipur

The CPI (ML) started an indefinite dharna at Jamaniya tehsil in Ghazipur on 31 March. The main demands of the dharna were as follows: (i) make medicines available at government hospitals, (ii) vacate dominant/powerful forces from land belonging to villages, society and banjaras, (iii) give residential lease to dalits and poor, (iv) include all poor in food security scheme after house to souse survey, (v) give work in MNREGA, otherwise give allowance, benefit of Lohiya awaas scheme to all landless poor.

A lock-out of the tehsil was announced in support of the demands on 4 April. About 700-800 men and women with lathis and arrows gathered at the protest. The administration gave assurance that a list would be prepared for food security, revenue teams would be constituted in every village for housing lease and irregularities in social pensions would be ended. Conceding to the party’s demand, the CO announced that the Goonda Act has been slapped on Sanjay Singh and Badar district has been asked to take action. He said that life saving drugs have arrived at district government hospitals in Jamaniya, Bhadora, Revatipur, and Dildarnagar. The dharna was called off after these announcements.

On 8 April a march was called at Tiyari village against the police-goonda nexus in which 400-500 Party workers along with many villagers participated in spite of the police refusing permission for the march. Speakers at the meeting pointed out that feudal attack on the poor have escalated after the Modi government came to power. If the Jamaniya police had registered a case and sent the feudal goondas to jail, this march would not have taken place. They promised that if justice is not done, the agitation will be taken further. With powerful slogans demanding the rights of the poor, it was announced that after a 100 day campaign, the poor and the working class would be mobilized for a massive protest.

AICCTU Solidarity Rally with Municipal Workers in Delhi

AICCTU and the Delhi State Valmiki Mazdoor Sangh held an Ekta rally on 11 April in support of the ongoing hartal for demands of- (i) payment of past 4 months’ arrears to Delhi municipal workers, (ii) ending of the contractual system, and (iii) all temporary workers to be regularized. The rally started at Vijay Chowk in Narela and culminated in a dharna and a meeting at the Delhi Municipal Corporation regional office at Narela.

Addressing the rally, AICCTU leader Com. Satbir Shramik said that privatization and corruption are the chief reasons for the dire plight of the Delhi municipal corporation workers. The dharna was also addressed by Com. Rohtas Bharti and Shri Pradhan, President of the Delhi Jal Board Sewer Workers’ Union.

Condemning the BJP’s anti-worker policy, Raj Singh Sathi (General Secretary, Delhi state Valmiki Mazdoor Sangh) who has been sitting on a dharna for the past one week, called for the fight against this injustice to continue till the end, and appreciated the solidarity shown by AICCTU with the sanitation workers

May Day Convention of Working Women organised by AIPWA in Hoogly

On the 1st of May, All India Progressive Women’s Association, Hoogly unit, organized a discussion session, cultural programme and documentary screening at All India Postal Employees Union hall in Chuchurah. Women workers from various fields including ASHA workers, midday meal, anganwadi field and domestic workers, joined the programme. The programme started by observing one minute’s silence in memory of those who had lost their lives in the Nepal earthquake. This was followed by a speech by Com. Choitali Sen (Secretary) on the relevance of historic May day. ASHA workers and midday meal workers discussed about their work permanence, salary hike and other problems. In the second half of the programme tribal girls from Polba village, Hoogly presented a dance performance. Towards the concluding part of the programme ‘Nam Poribortito (Identity Undisclosed), a film by Mitali Biswas based on rape and rape culture in India especially in the context of West Bengal was screened. The programme ended with a post film spontaneous discussion on rape culture and participating women pledging to strengthen the struggle to put an end to it

Bindukhatta Movement Continues

As per their earlier declaration, thousands of farmers gheraoed the Lalkuan tehsil of Nainital district in Uttarakhand on 25 April under the banner of the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha, in a continuation of the 3 ½ month old agitation against making Bindukhatta a municipality and the indifferent attitude adopted by the State government.

Bindukhatta is settled entirely on forest land and its 60,000 population is dependent on farming and animal husbandry. In the 70s and 80s landless hill people and scheduled tribes settled on 11 thousand acres of forest land. The government attempted several times to displace the settlement but was foiled by the efforts of the CPI (ML) and the people. Finally Bindukhatta started getting all basic civic amenities. All political parties promised to make Bindukhatta a revenue village in accordance with the people’s wishes but now they are determined to make it a municipality to please the land mafia. Disregarding the people’s objections, an ordinance has been issued making Bindukhatta a municipality. The CPI (ML) and Kisan Mahasabha have been leading a series of agitations against this- a 2000 strong farmers’ march at the tehsil HQ on 25 March, a collective hunger strike on 26 March, a mashal juloos by youth on 29 March, gherao of the tehsil by farmers on 1 April and the latest being a huge protest by hundreds of farmers in front of the Vidhan Sabha at Dehradun challenging the making of Bindukhatta municipality in the High Court. The HC has accepted the appeal and asked the State government to reply within 3 weeks. Leaders speaking at the gherao meeting exposed the government –mafia nexus and the role played by local MLA and Labour Minister Harish Durgpal. They also exposed BJP leader and ex-CM Koshiyari’s lie that his government had sent a proposal for making Bindukhatta a revenue village which was rejected by the UPA government at the centre, pointing out that during Koshiyari’s tenure the Vajpayee government was in power at the centre.

Seeing the support for the Kisan Mahasabha’s movement against making Bindukhatta a municipality, other parties like BJP, Shiv Sena and AAP have also opposed this, but their opposition remains symbolic

District Conference of Midday Meal Workers in Patna

The founding conference of the Patna district unit of the Bihar State School Midday Meal Workers Association concluded on 19 April in Comrade Siyamani Devi auditorium. Nearly 250 midday meal workers’ representatives from 8 blocks and several AIPWA leaders participated in the conference. The conference was inaugurated by state APIWA secretary Com. Shashi Yadav. Com. Saroj Chaubey, state AIPWA President was also present as the chief speaker. Several representatives actively participated in the discussions on the work report. A resolution was also passed in the conference to ensure the success of the strike called from 17 to 22 April and organize a Juloos on 21 April outside the block headquarters. Towards the end of the conference, a 31 member district committee was constituted with AICCTU leader Com. Kamlesh Kumar as honorary President, Com. Damyanti Sinha as president and Com. Sona Devi as the secretary

Militant Gherao of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Administrative Office in Bangalore

A series of gate meetings at various divisions of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., in Bangalore culminated in a militant gherao of the administrative office of the HAL. The workers were agitated seeing the adamant attitude of the HAL management regarding the Charter of Demands of the contract workers. While on one hand the management refused with the contract workers on the Charter of Demands, on the other hand, it continued to try and talk to regular employees association, who had not been authorised by contract workers to speak for them. The workers also staged a ‘Raasta roko’ (block the road) and finally the police had to intervene to avoid law and order problem.

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ML Update | No.18 | 2015

April 30, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 18, 28 APRIL ­– 04 MAY 2015

Questions in the Wake of the Quake

​E​
ighty years after the devastating Bihar-Nepal earthquake of 1934, Nepal and adjoining areas of India and Bangladesh have once again been jolted by a terrible earthquake. The earthquake and its continuing aftershocks have left a massive trail of death and destruction. The death toll in Nepal has since been increasing every hour by hundreds and the eventual toll could be anybody’s guess. The staggering statistics of loss of lives and major injuries only give us a very partial idea of the actual scale of devastation that Nepal has suffered in terms of life and livelihood as well as habitation and heritage. A lot in Nepal will virtually have to be rebuilt from scratch.

A tragedy of such colossal proportions confronts us with massive challenges of rescue, relief and rehabilitation. And reports coming from Nepal indicate that defying enormous obstacles on the ground search and rescue teams from several countries are working round the clock. The kind of humanitarian aid and assistance needed that Nepal needs at this juncture can only be ensured if the international community and especially India and other neighbouring countries respond adequately. The Indian government and the Indian people must play a big role at this juncture not only in terms of immediate rescue and relief efforts but equally in meeting the subsequent challenge of reconstruction and rehabilitation. And then again, no less important than the quantum of aid is the issue of effective manpower and operational logistics to deliver things on the ground.

This brings us to the question of our preparedness to manage disasters, especially ones that have no respect for borders and affect vast swathes of land across countries. Quake and floods in Kashmir and across the Indo-Pak border, cyclones in Bangladesh and eastern India, tsunami in Sri Lanka and south India or earthquakes, landslides and avalanches in the Himalayan region of Nepal, India and China – in recent years we have experienced major disasters in various parts of the South Asian neighbourhood. A shared South Asian disaster management force and mechanism can probably provide the best logistical means to respond to a cross-border disaster of such magnitude as Nepal and India are facing now.

Ironically, a few days before the quake, Kathmandu had hosted an international conference of seismologists and social scientists to discuss the threat of earthquakes in the Himalayan region. Kathmandu valley is widely recognised as one of the most earthquake prone regions in the world. The accumulated tectonic tension in the region is leading to a major build-up towards repeated earthquakes. According to some experts even after the April 25 earthquake, more than 95% of the accumulated tension is still seeking outlets to be released and it could mean a series of potential earthquakes of similar or even greater magnitude. Four major earthquakes have hit the region in the last hundred years and heightened tectonic activity does indeed make the region a seismological hot spot with rather apocalyptical projections for the future.

The challenge is to adapt to the threat. Seismologists keep telling us that we now have reliable quake resistant engineering expertise to withstand earthquakes, and the real killer is not earthquake but buildings built in violation of appropriate construction designs and norms. Weakness and flaws of urban planning, execution and enforcement coupled with paucity or sheer absence of effective disaster management machinery and response make it a lethal combination for common people in quake prone areas. Seismologists point out that while an earthquake of similar magnitude could possibly kill only 10 persons in a million in the US, it has claimed thousands of lives in Nepal and could result in much higher losses in more densely populated areas of India or Pakistan. Clearly, reckless and unplanned construction and disproportionate concentrations of population in unsuitable geological conditions make South Asia all the more vulnerable.

As we extend all our support and cooperation to the quake hit people of Nepal and India in coping with the loss and in the battle for rebuilding their lives, we must insist that governments in South Asia bring their urban development and infrastructure plans strictly in correspondence with the latest quake resistant norms and ideas and create a shared disaster management mechanism for the South Asian region.

Statewide Demonstrations in Bihar for Land, Housing, and Sharecroppers’ Rights

Over 50,000 poor across Bihar held vigorous agitations under the banner of the All India Agricultural and Rural Labourers’ Association (AIARLA) at about 184 zonal offices on 16 April on the issues of agricultural land, sharecroppers’ rights, parchas for residential land under the PP Act, and other demands. Protests were held at Bhojpur, Patna rural, Jehanabad, Siwan, Arwal, Aurangabad, Rohtas, Buxar, Beguserai, Navada, Darbhanga, Nalanda, West Champaran and in several other districts. At some places in Bhojpur, zonal offices were under complete lock-out. The agitations were led by Com. Dhirendra Jha, Com. Rameshwar Prasad, and other senior Party leaders.

CPI(ML) and AIARLA leaders addressing the meetings said that Dalits, Mahadalits, and the poor in Bihar have been agitating for a long time on the issues of housing, and agricultural land, and has been neglected by both the Modi and the Nitish governments. Even though Nitish and Manjhi during their respective stints made several promises, nothing has happened on ground. A baansgeet policy had been promised to ensure benefits even for the urban poor. However, the reality is that far from getting land, even those who for years have been in possession of land that was acquired and legalized, are now being evicted from their land.

The speakers pointed out that though Lalu-Rabri and Nitish pretended to be well-wishers of the poor, they actually stood firmly with the rich landlords and land mafia. They have been silent on issues relating to justice, dignity, and development of the poor, such as reinstatement of the Amir Das Commission and implementation of land reform commission recommendations. The pro-feudal and anti-poor, anti-dalit character of the BJP is also crystal clear, and they are equally culpable in the suppression of the Amir Das Commission and the land reform recommendations. The leaders pointed out that even though on one hand Nitish is hypocritically opposing Modi’s Land Ordinance, he himself has acquired land from farmers without their consent in Bhagalpur, Bhojpur, Patna, Beguserai and other districts. The CPI(ML) and AIARLA asserted that the agitation for the land rights of the poor would continue till justice is done.

Repression of Adivasi Anti-Dam Protests in UP and the Refusal by the State Authorities to Let Fact Finding Teams Investigate

The Uttar Pradesh Government has unleashed severe repression on adivasis and people protesting against the proposed Kanhar Dam in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh. The project lacks the requisite green clearances, yet it is being built by terrorising villagers who have not given their consent for land acquisition. The agitation is being led by the All India Union of Forest Working People, which is also a constituent of the All India People’s Forum.

On 14th April, the police brutally lathi-charged peaceful protesters at a dharna at the dam site. A Fact Finding team comprising of Kavita Krishnan (Campaign Committee, All India People’s Forum), Abhishek Srivastava (Journalist), Purnima Gupta (Women’s Rights Activist) Deboditya Sinha (Researcher and Petitioner in Kanhar National Green Tribunal case), Priya Pillai (Activist, Mahan Sangarsh Samiti and Greenpeace India), and Om Prakash Singh, CPI(ML), visited the region on 19th and 20th April 2015.

The team met 15 of the injured at the Duddhi district hospital, and found that several men and one woman had head injuries; and all the five women and ten men had severe bruises on thighs, buttocks and back. However, the police and district administration behaved in an extremely high-handed and arbitrary manner with the fact-finding team. At 8.30 at night on 19th April, the team was preparing to halt for the night in Baghadu village that is outside the submergence area. Police drew up in five jeeps accompanied by a man in plain clothes who refused to identify himself, and later falsely claimed to be the SDM of Duddhi but refused to give a name. He is suspected to be a local tehsildar. He ordered police to search the belongings of the team, and warned the women members of the team, “You are women, better leave the place or else you will be dishonoured” (a veiled rape threat). When Debaditya, a team member, intervened, the same man ordered the police to ‘arrest him and jail him as a Naxalite.” The police eventually forced the team to leave the village and spend the night in Duddhi, where they made surreptitious calls to the hotel to pressurise the manager to deny the team rooms to spend the night.

On the morning of the 20th April, the team visited the Duddhi hospital and met the injured. The police tried to prevent them from doing so, claiming that Section 144 was in place – but this was a false claim, since the Duddhi market was bustling with people. In the hospital, it became clear that the injured had not been allowed to meet family members, were deprived of essentials like daatun, change of clothes and were being kept in inhumane conditions. When the team was in the hospital, the policemen mobilised a crowd of around 50-60 people from the bazaar, who raised slogans accusing the team of being ‘anti-development NGOs’ and threatening the team with violence. This mob made a mockery of the claims of the police that Section 144 was in place. The team met with the DM and SP in Robertsganj, seeking to know why leading activists of the anti-dam agitation were banned from entering the district and were being arrested

Police Firing at MGNREGA Workers in Tripura, CPI(ML) Unakoti Unit Takes Up the Issue

The police fired indiscriminately on MGNREGA workers at Pechartal Block in Unakoti district of Tripura, leaving 15 workers injured. One woman worker was left seriously injured as she was hit by five bullets and is currently fighting for her life at GB Hospital Agartala.

Thousands of MGNREGA workers, mostly tribal, had been demanding immediate payment of the pending wages of last six months as the tribal festivals ‘Biju’ and the Bengali New Year were just round the corner. Initially the authorities assured them that the payments will be made on13th April. On 13 April, when the workers gathered to receive payments, they were informed that the payments will not be given on that day. The angry workers blocked the National highway and were lathicharged by the police. They moved towards the BDO office but were abused by the local CPM leaders, after which the workers became further angry. They rushed to the BDO and CPM offices and the police started firing indiscriminately towards them, firing at least 100 rounds. About 15 persons sustained injury. All the injured were took shelter in Buddha Mot .

In the evening, the CPI(ML) district secretary met the gravely injured woman in the hospital. On 14th April, a 5 member delegation team headed by CPI(ML) Unakoti district secretary Com Joydip Roy, visited the place of incident and met with the families of the injured. The CPI(ML) Liberation demanded: (1) Judicial enquiry of the incident; (2) Bearing of all the treatment expenses of the injured by the state authorities; (3) Termination of the officer who passed the instructions for firing; and (4) Immediate payment of all pending wages of the MGNREGA workers throughout the State.

Tamil Nadu Democratic Construction Workers’ Union’s Third State Conference held

Tamil Nadu Democratic Construction Workers’ Union’s Third State Conference was held on April 26 in Dindigul. A rally and an open session of the conference were held in which 500 workers, including delegates, particpated. The rally was flagged off by AICCTU State President Com. N.K.Natarajan and led by State Secretary Com. Manivel.

The conference venue of Dindigul has more women AICCTU activists and members than men. Branch wise preparations were planned and Com.Vellaiammal mobilized Rs.10,000 in her branch alone. In every stage of the preparations ranging from fund mobilization, mass mobilization to the conduct of the conference, women comrades of the district played an exemplary role.

Com.S. Kumarasami, National President gave the concluding remarks in the open session. Citing recent killings of TN wood cutters in Andhra forests, farmer’s suicide in AAP rally and death of workers in leakage of factory effluent in TN, he said that workers and farmers of this country have no dignity in life and in death. They are shot dead cruelly and they die swallowing filth. While criticizing Modi’s efforts to sell cheap labour of Indian masses during his foreign tours, he explained the dangers of corporate communal offensive of the Modi government. He called for the workers to rise in struggles against the company raj that is playing havoc on every section of people in the country. AICCTU national secretary Com. Bhuvana, state president Com. N.K. Natarajan, state general secretary Com. Sankarapandian, state vice president Anthonimuthu, state secretaries comrades Eraniappan and Govindaraj also spoke in the opening session. Com. S. Balasubramaniam, AICCTU national vice-president gave concluding remarks in the conference after conducting election for the new body. The conference of delegates from 11 districts, elected a 39 member state council with Com. K. Govindaraj as State President and Com. S. Eraniappan as State General Secretary.

The conference paid condolence to all those who died in the earth quake in the country and Nepal. Rs.3,200 was collected from the delegates who attended the conference for the relief fund.

CPI(ML) Protest against Killing of Tribals in Andhra Pradesh and Demanding Livelihood for Tamil Nadu Tribals

A protest demonstration and dharna was called by CPI(ML) Villuppuram unit in Vellimalai of Kalrayan Hills, Villuppuram District on 23 April to condemn the AP killings and for Demanding Livelihood of TN tribal.

Comrade Gajendran presided over the protest demonstration-dharna. Rani a tribal woman, whose husband is languishing in Tirupati jail for more than 17 months, spoke with anger and explained the plight of the families of the tribal victims who were either dead or languishing in jails.

More than 100 tribal (50 women) attended the protests including the family members of those currently jailed in Andhra Pradesh. CPI(ML) District Secretary Com. Venkatesan exposed the class character of both the AIADMK state government and the Modi led central Government. Comrade Chandra Mohan, CCM- AIPF spoke strongly against the killer regime of Chandrababu Naidu, the AP Police, opportunism of Modi and the criminal negligence of the AIADMK Government. He elaborated on the question of livelihood of tribal and demanded speedy implementation of Forest Right Act Reservation in employment.

Kisan Mahasaba Initiatives in Bareilly

Bareilly district is one of the areas worst affected by the recent hailstorms in Uttar Pradesh. The district saw the worst rains in the State as well as the death of 25 farmers. Several crops have been destroyed. Even as the farmers are dying, the government is yet to undertake a serious survey to determine the extent of destruction to crops. A first token survey said that about 51,000 farmers had been affected. When increasing farmer deaths created an outcry, it was said that 150,000 farmers had been affected, out of which half have suffered more than 50% crop damage, while half have suffered 20% to 49% crop damage. Along with these false figures, complaints of lack of survey are also rampant. Now the government says that in Bareilly alone 3 lakh farmers have been affected. Though these are also not accurate figures, they give an indication of the devastation in Bareilly.

Raising this issue, the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha held a 24 hour fast and protest at the Bahedi block headquarters on April 1. The farmers in Bahedi are struggling with crop loss one hand, and on the other hand, the Bahedi sugar mill has not paid the farmers Rs 150 crores due to them for their sugar cane. Kisan Mahasabha State Joint Secretary Afroz Alam, tehsil President Javed Mohd, and Pramod Maurya sat on the hunger strike. During the protest the farmers demanded immediate crop survey, compensation of Rs 25,000 per acre, and immediate payment of sugar cane arrears. After 24 hours the Deputy Collector assured them of speedy fulfillment of their demands. Memorandums of demand were also submitted to the ADM at tehsil Meerganj on 6 April. On 7 April a dharna and rally were held in Bareilly culminating in a meeting in front of the DM’s office after which a memorandum was submitted to the DM. The Kisan Mahasabha demanded that Bareilly district should be declared disaster-affected, agrarian loans up to 1 lakh should be waived, compensation of 25,000 per acre should be paid (the government has announced a mere pittance of 7,000 per acre), disbursement of compensation should start within one week, purchase of wheat at rates below MSP should be stopped immediately, and sugar cane payment arrears should be made immediately. The speakers at the meeting pointed out that farmers’ deaths on this large scale would have been avoided if the government had taken care, instead of which it is busy in pandering to the comfort of capitalists.

Dharna at Madhubani Collectorate

Hundreds of women and men staged a dharna in front of the Madhubani collectorate on 1 April 2015 under the banner of the Madhubani area committee of the CPI(ML), led by Comrades Dhruv Narayan Karn, Vishwambhar Kamat, and Shankar Paswan. The 17-point memorandum submitted to the DM included the following demands: vaas-housing rights, education, health and employment rights to be included in the Constitution, housing land for all urban and rural landless poor, vaas-geet parchas for the poor settled in land for many years, possession of dakhal kabja land for parcha holders, settlement of poor on 15 bighas of unpopulated public land in Basuwada, freeing government and public land from the clutches of feudal forces and giving the land to the landless poor, revoking of cases on Dhruv Narayan Karn and other innocent people who have been found innocent by the judicial enquiry in the Madhubani incident, cleaning the streamlets in the city and freeing them from encroachment, electrification and taking back of false electricity bills. The huge dharna also demanded sharecropping, food security, ration card rights, and repeal of the Land Ordinance. The dharna awakened public interest in the Party and created a new wave of enthusiasm among Party workers.

RYA Gheraos Jharkhand Assembly

After the BJP led government in Jharkhand came to power, neither a local policy nor a youth policy has been declared till now. It is noteworthy that the youth of the State were politically used on a large scale in the last Assembly elections and yet months after the incumbent government came to office, lakhs of educated unemployed people are still struggling to find jobs.

On 26 March 2015 hundreds of unemployed youth gheraoed the Vidhan Sabha on these issues under the banner of the Revolutionary Youth Association. The protest started from Hatiya station and proceeded to the Vidha Sabha shouting slogans. They were stopped by police barricades at Birsa chowk where the rally culminated in a meeting. Addressing the meeting CPI(ML) MLA Rajkumar Yadav called upon the youth to accelerate the fight on the streets. The meeting was also addressed by RYA State President Rameshwar Chowdhury, Secretary Amol Ghosh, Nadeem Khan, Shiv Kumar, Amardeep Nirala, Ashok Mistry, and Deepak Lal. A memorandum was submitted to the CM’s representative with demands that included announcement of youth policy for youth of Jharkhand, ensuring jobs for the youth and guarantee of unemployment allowance of 3000 till then, immediate filling of vacant government posts, policy to stop migration from Jharkhand, among others.

Obituaries

Comrade Sandip Bagchi

Comrade Sandip Bagchi, leader of the Sramik Sangram committee, passed away on 20th April, 2015 after a prolonged illness.

Com. Sandip was a student of Jadavpur University and he graduated in the year of 1959 from Mechanical Engineering department. He started his life as a political activist with the Revolutionary Socialist Party. In the wake of the Naxalbari ferment he along with some other comrades left the RSP and began organizing independently. They began the publication of a political-theoretical journal, ‘Sandikkhan’, meaning crossroads of the times. They began organizing trade unions under the banner of Sramik Sangram Committee, leading some significant struggles of workers in Hindustan Lever and the Taratala Hyde Road area of Kolkata. We stand by Comrade Sandip Bagchi’s family, friends and comrades in this hour of loss.

Comrade Durga Sanga

Comrade Durga Sanga, an activist of the AIARLA from Karbi Anglong, was tragically killed en route to the AIALA National Conference at Bhubaneshwar. He went missing at Howrah station on 2nd April, and was later hospitalised at Naihati where he breathed his last. He was 48. He was cremated on 12th April, in the presence of his family members including his brother Biracha Sanga as well as CPI(ML) Central Committee member Kalyan Goswami. We join his family in mourning his tragic and untimely demise.

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

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