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!

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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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ML Update | No.17 | 2015

April 22, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 17, 21 ­– 27 APRIL 2015

Expose BJP’s Attempts to Appropriate Ambedkar

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he Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his speech at a BJP rally in Bihar on Ambedkar Jayanti, has made a bid to recast Babasaheb Ambedkar to fit the Sangh Parivar’s agenda. The PM said that Ambedkar represented a combination of ‘Samata (equality) and Mamata (motherly love), which brought about Samrasta (social harmony)’; and that Ambedkar worked to ‘integrate, not divide society’. He further said that it pained him to hear Ambedkar called a “Dalit leader”, when in fact he was a “leader of humanity.” He also implied that Ambedkar was a victim of "political untouchability"; and that he, Modi, too had been forced to battle “political untouchability.”

The Prime Minister’s remarks come in the wake of a concerted campaign by the RSS and BJP to appropriate Ambedkar. The Organiser and Panchjanya carried articles about Ambedkar, claiming that Ambedkar was against Muslims, and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad is marking Ambedkar’s 124th birth anniversary year with district-level ‘Samarasata Yagyas’ to encourage “assimilation of dalits with the rest of the society.”

The Sangh Parivar and BJP are, in their attempt to appropriate Ambedkar and woo Dalits, turning Ambedkar’s legacy on its head. Their fulsome praise of Ambedkar, is actually a great insult to his life’s work. Take their claim that Ambedkar worked to ‘integrate society’, that he was a leader of ‘humanity’, not ‘Dalits’; and that he should be remembered by holding Hindu rites to assimilate Dalits into the ‘rest of society’. In fact, these statements hide the fact that Indian and Hindu society was and is deeply divided on caste lines, with the Dalits at the receiving end of severe, systematic discrimination and violence. Dalits are already ‘integrated’ in this society – as the down-trodden, bottom-most rung of this edifice of hierarchy and discrimination. Ambedkar worked all his life for Dalits to make a decisive break with this society, to refuse to be ‘integrated’ with a society that holds them to be untouchable. His greatness and his humanism lies precisely in his status as an emancipator of Dalits, as a leader of Dalit resistance. It does not belittle Ambedkar to call him a leader of Dalits; in fact, it belittles his legacy to erase his role as a leader of Dalit agitations, and instead to re-brand him as an icon of ‘assimilation’ into the very society and politics he rejected!

In the very Nagpur that is the seat of Sangh Parivar power, Ambedkar publicly led Dalits in converting to Buddhism, declaring, “Though, I was born a Hindu, I solemnly assure you that I will not die as a Hindu.” For Ambedkar, conversion was an act of rebellion of Dalits against the Hindu caste stranglehold. In contrast, the Sangh Parivar’s ‘Samrasta Yagna’ is basically another edition of its ‘gharwapsi’ campaign, that seeks to outlaw conversion, and instead pressurizes Dalits to return to the Hindu fold. The Sangh Parivar should at least have the shame not to conduct these ‘yagnas’ of ‘Samrasta’ and ‘gharwapsi’ in Ambedkar’s name!

The RSS and BJP work towards a Hindu Rashtra – a Hindu nation. Ambedkar explicitly rejected the politics of ‘Hindu nation.’ In his essays on ‘Pakistan or Partition of India’, he wrote, “If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will, no doubt be the greatest calamity for this country. It is a menace to liberty, equality and fraternity. It is incompatible with democracy. It must be stopped at any cost.” In 1951, on the eve of independent India’s first-ever general election, the manifesto of Ambedkar’s Scheduled Castes Federation (SCF) ruled out “alliance with any reactionary party such as Hindu Mahasabha and Jan Sangh as communal parties.” (cited in Ambedkar & the BJP, A G Noorani, Frontline, February 21, 2014).

Desperate to sow the seeds of anti-Muslim hatred in Dalits, the RSS is propagating that Ambedkar distrusted Muslims. The fact is that Ambedkar advocated unity between the Muslims and oppressed castes. In the same essay on ‘Pakistan and Partition of India’, he writes, “There are many lower orders in the Hindu society whose economic, political and social needs are the same as those of the majority of the Muslims and they could be far more ready to make a common cause with the Muslim than they would with high caste Hindus who have denied and deprived them of ordinary human rights for centuries….Is it not true that under the Montagu-Chemsford Reforms, in most Indian provinces the Muslims, Non-Brahmins and Depressed classes united together and worked the reforms as members of one team from 1920 to 1937? Herein lies the most fruitful method of communal harmony among Hindus and Muslims and of destroying the danger of Hindu Raj”.

A Minister in the Modi Government has called for a ban on the slaughter of cows and buffaloes; the Prime Minister himself makes speeches insinuating that the slaughter of cows is a dastardly ‘Pink Revolution’; and the BJP Government of Maharashtra has banned beef. Can the RSS and BJP, then, digest Ambedkar’s views on beef-eating? Ambedkar, after all, wrote well-researched articles explaining how beef-eating was common among Vedic Hindus; and analyses how in later times, those castes that ate beef were rendered untouchable. He specifically linked the beef taboo with Brahminism.

There is also a mischievous attempt to divorce Ambedkar, the architect of the Constitution, from Ambedkar, the leader of Dalit resistance and defiance. In keeping with his egalitarian principles and struggles, Ambedkar drafted a Constitution that would safeguard the rights and liberties of women, Dalits, minorities, and all citizens.

Ambedkar had resigned in frustration over the Hindu Code Bill, when Hindutva leaders along with conservative elements within the Congress had vociferously attacked the Bill’s attempts to reform Hindu personal laws and ensure equality for women. BJP’s hero Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, founder of BJP’s predecessor, the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, had said the Bill would “shatter the magnificent structure of Hindu culture.” In his resignation letter, Ambedkar declared, “To leave inequality between class and class, between sex and sex, which is the soul of Hindu Society untouched and to go on passing legislation relating to economic problems is to make a farce of our Constitution and to build a palace on a dung heap. This is the significance I attached to the Hindu Code.”

Today, as the Sangh Parivar, as well as the State machinery all over India tramples over the Constitutional rights and liberties of women, minorities and Dalits, imposing dress and diet codes and attacking conversion, it is Ambedkar’s legacy as an agitator that is relevant to the struggles to defend and expand people’s freedoms.

Last but not least, how can one forget the BJP’s and RSS’ acts of violence against Dalits? Modi himself described manual scavenging as a ‘spiritual activity bestowed by the Gods’, rather than as an atrocity against Dalits. The Ranveer Sena, that shared the RSS ideology and politics in many respects, conducted a series of massacres of Dalits in Bihar in the 1990s. Modi Cabinet Minister Giriraj Singh had described the Ranveer Sena chief Brahmeshwar Singh, as ‘Bihar’s Gandhi.’

The attempts by Modi, the BJP and the Sangh Parivar to appropriate Ambedkar smack of sheer dishonesty and opportunism. Ambedkar stands tallest among the leaders of his generation, as a visionary who refused to compromise with inequality and discrimination, and squarely rejected the politics of Hindutva ideologues and vacillating Congressmen too. Ambedkar’s legacy is an inspiration and a resource for all fighters for an egalitarian India. And that legacy will always remain a thorn in the side of hate-filled politics of Hindutva, that Ambedkar described the greatest danger of all for India.

Red Salute to Comrade Ammaiappan

CPI(ML)’s Tamilnadu State Committee member Comrade Ammaippan passed away after a prolonged illness on 09.04.2015. He was 54 years old.

Comrade Ammaiappan played a key role in rejuvenating the party in Cuddalore district. This erstwhile centre of militant struggles was stagnant in spite of the party’s best efforts. But Comrade Ammaiappan helped develop an entirely new team of young cadres from the Virudhachalam and Kamapuram area, developing work on the RYA front as well as among agricultural labourers, students, workers and women.

Comrade Ammaippan became the District Secretary of the party. He organized a massive rural workers’ rally on December 31, 2008. He was also elected to state committee in the Pudukottai conference of the party.

He led struggles for the implementation of MNREGA in Karkudal Panchayat, which was the first to implement it in this district. He also fought for 100% increase in wages successfully. He also took initiatives in cyclone relief work.

On one occasion Comrade Ammaippan along with Com Ramar went to visit the spot where an inter-caste married couple were burnt alive, and he was surrounded and threatened by casteist elements. Also when the police in a nexus with the AIADMK tried to wipe out the party in Kattumannarkoil area, he valiantly resisted it, braving threats by lumpen elements right inside the police station.

Even after he underwent major surgery in 2012, in spite of his deteriorating health, he participated in the joint left parties demonstration during December 8-14, 2014 and also the Left parties’ protest against Obama’s India visit on December 24, 2014. As long as his health permitted he remained active in the AIALA membership campaign during January 2015.

He acquired great respect not only from party supporters but also from other Left and democratic forces. He was very dedicated to building a united party organization.

The AIALA Conference of Tamil Nadu was to be held in May 15th under his eladership. Now that he is no more, carrying forward his work will be a fitting tribute to him. The CPI(ML) as well as his family members will mourn and miss Comrade Ammaiappan deeply. But his work will give us strength and inspiration.

Countrywide Kisan Mahasabha Padyatra against Land Ordinance

(Under AIPF National Struggles Campaign)

As per the decision of the national executive, the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha held padyatras from 6 April to 12 April in different States against the 2015 Land Ordinance. During this period village meetings were organized at 275 places attended by thousands of farmers who expressed outrage against the Modi government’s tyrannical bid to grab land without farmers’ consent. Many of the farmers said that this was the first time they were getting detailed information about the Land Ordinance.

In Bihar, marches, protests and meetings were held in several villages in Aurangabad, Vaishali, Bhojpur, Kaimur, Muzaffarpur and Beguserai districts. Padyatras and sampark meetings were also organized at 100 villages in 7 blocks of Jehanabad, Arwal, Jamui, Lakhiserai and Rohtas districts. During the meetings, protests and the marches, the farmers and leaders said that the ordinance would further jeopardize food security, and raised the issues of compensation to farmers for crop loss, permanent purchase centres for paddy and wheat, and Rs 2000 MSP for wheat.

In Odisha, a huge protest demonstration was held in Bhubhaneshwar by farmer organizations associated with CPI, CPM, CPI-ML (Liberation), CPI-ML (Red Star), CPI-ML (New Democracy), Chasi Muliya Sangh and others, in which thousands of farmers, dalits, adivasis, and jhuggi dwellers participated. Impressive protests were also held in Puri; a farmers’ convention was organized at Kalahandi. In Madhya Pradesh padyatras were held in Bhind, Chambal, as well as neighbouring Etawah in Uttar Pradesh. Impressive protests were held in Darjeeling, Bardhman, and North 24 Parganas in West Bengal, and Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan.

In Punjab padyatras and gramin sabhas were organized in 117 villages in Mansa, Sangrur, Barnala, Bhatinda, Faridkot and Gurdaspur districts. A farmer’s convention was organized by the party in Anjana tehsil of Amritsar. Padyatras were also organized in East Godavari of Andhra Pradesh and Sonepat in Haryana. In Uttar Pradesh padyatras, marches and meetings were organized in Lucknow, Barelley, Azamgarh, Pilibhit, Jalaun, Ghazipur, Chandroli, Mirzapur, Sitapur, and Lakhimpur districts.

Leaders addressing the meetings and marches across the states, stressed on the pro-corporate, capitalist and anti-farmer character of the ordinance. They called upon the people to fight this open license to land loot and pointed out that AIPF provides a joint platform for a untied struggle against this draconian ordinance. A meeting of the national council of the Kisan Mahasabha will be held on 17-18 May in Bhagalpur, Bihar which will be attended by 100 farmer leaders from various States.

Condemn Police Repression on Adivasis’ Movement against Kanhar Dam in Sonbhadra, UP

CPI(ML) strongly condemns the police firing and lathi charge on the adivasis protesting against the Kanhar Dam in Sonebhadra on the mornings of 14th and 18th April. It is extremely unfortunate that when it comes to forcible land grab and contempt for Forest Rights Acts, the Samajwadi Party (now a part of the Janata Parivar) has shown itself to be no different from the Modi government at the centre. CPI(ML) also strongly condemns the treatment of the political and social activists who had gone as part of fact finding team by the police. The state administration made all attempts to ensure that the activists were not allowed to meet the victims and mobs with police patronage were sent to threaten the activists. CPI(ML) stands in solidarity with the protesting adivasis fighting to safeguard their rights and resources.

Protest Against Army Rape of Three Women in Karbi Anglong

Women’s and students’ groups held a protest at Assam Bhawan on 18 April 2015 against the rape of three women in Karbi Anglong, Assam, by Army personnel on 6 April 2015. The protest was joined by All India Students’ Association (AISA), All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), Student Youth Council (SYC), North East Forum for International Solidarity, Pooberun and Manipur Students’ Association of Delhi (MSAD).

Mongve Rongpi of the Student Youth Council (who had also been to the site and met the victims) said that the Army’s latest claim that the ‘the rapist jawan’ had committed suicide inside the Army camp was ill founded as three women were gang raped by at least eight men. There was no single ‘rapist.’ The protesters demanded investigation and prosecution of the entire regiment and its commanding officer. AIPWA national secretary Com. Kavita Krishnan said that although protests have been ongoing in Karbi Anglong ever since the rapes, none of the jawans have been arrested. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act – AFSPA – is offering the Army a shield of impunity, and a licence to rape and murder. She also added that the Assam government cannot wash its hands off its responsibility and it must immediately seek permission to prosecute the rape-accused Army personnel, and file an FIR.

Several protestors pointed out that the Justice Verma Committee had recommended that the continuance of AFSPA in the law books be reviewed and that the requirement of central government sanction for prosecution of armed forces personnel should be specifically excluded when a sexual offence is alleged. The protestors submitted a memorandum to the Home Ministry demanding that the Home Ministry withdraw AFSPA – which provides a shield of immunity to army personnel, that the Central government must immediately allow the Assam police to file a rape FIR against the accused Army personnel in Karbi Anglong and that the Central government must ensure that the Army is not allowed to influence the justice process and intimidate witnesses.

20th State Conference of Mahasangh

(Gope Group)

The 3 day 20th State conference of the Bihar Non-Gazetted Workers’ Mahasangh took place in Patna on 10-12 April 2015. General Secreatary Com. Rambali Yadav welcomed the gathering and the conference was inaugurated by AICCTU General Secretary Com. Swapan Mukherjee. Addressing the conference Com. Swapan said that the hard-fought rights of workers are now being snatched back as- the number of regular workers is being drastically reduced; contractual-honorarium workers are being given no rights; and the pension and gratuity of regular workers are being drastically cut. In this situation it is incumbent upon the inheritors of Yogeshwar Gope’s legacy to fight for the rights of the workers by launching a massive agitation. He appealed for making the AICCTU national conference on 4 May in Patna a grand success. RN Thakur gave the inaugural address, Rambali Prasad read the annual report and Kanti Kmar Singh presented the fiscal report. Both reports and related suggestions were discussed, after which they were unanimously passed. Resolutions were passed for protests on long-delayed State workers’ issues, “Ekjutta March” on 16 April in solidarity with contractual-honorarium teachers, the AICCTU national conference in Patna on 4-6 May and the “Mazdoor Kisan Adhikar Rally” on 4 May. A 3 member election commission oversaw the election of office bearers for the next session. The conference concluded with the release of the Mahasangh organ “Mehnatkash Awaam”.

AICCTU’s 1st Uttarakhand Conference

AICCTU held its first Uttarakhand State conference on 12 April in Haldwani. Addressing the conference Com. Rajendra Pratholi said that Modi’s “achche din” is a synonym for full freedom for corporate loot. He added that on the one hand corporate houses were being facilitated and on the other, farmers and workers were being driven to desperation. This is the time for the farmer and working class to bring about revolution. Com. Anil Verma stressed on the need for close unity between farmers and workers to fight the anti-poor policies of the Modi government, as “Extract full work and pay cheapest wages” had become the policy of the government and the capitalist class. Com. Raja Bahuguna pointed out that a second Company raj was being ushered in, and a communal atmosphere was being fostered in order to thwart the unity of farmers and workers. The inaugural session of the conference was addressed by Purushottam Sharma, NC Khulbe, Anil Kumar and others. The organizational session began with the reading of documents which discussed the political scenario in the country, challenges before the working class, and the role and responsibility of AICCTU. Following this, a 23 member State council and a 9 member committee was elected. Com. Nishan Singh was elected the State President, Com. KK Bora as the State Secretary, and Com.KP Chandola, Com. Deepa Pandey and Com. Kamla Kunjwal were elected as State Vice Presidents. Com. Raja Bahuguna, Com. Kailash Pandey and Com. Pankaj Tiwari were elected committee members. The council also has 3 women members apart from the 2 Vice Presidents: Com. Shama Parveen, Com. Rita Kashyap, and Com. Indira Deupa. The committee passed a resolution demanding minimum wages of 20,000; end of contractual system; declaration of Asha and Anganbadi and midday meal workers as State government employees; repeal of amendments weakening the labour laws, and other pro-worker demands.

Vidhansabha Gherao by Jharkhand Midday Meal Workers’ Association

Under the banner of the Jharkhand State School Midday Meal Workers Association, midday meal women workers and conveners gheraoed the Jharkhand Assembly with a 30 point demand charter on 27 March 2015. Thousands of women workers across Jharkhand blocked the Assembly gates for hours causing traffic between Birsa Chowk and Dhruva to come to a standstill. They warned the State government that if it continued to exploit the workers, they would launch a massive agitation. Demanding regularization of the midday meal workers, they said that this is a strong link in the chain of the fight against privatization and liberalization. Addressing the meeting the Midday Meal Workers Association President said it is a matter of shame that half the population goes hungry in the regime of the Raghubar government which claims to stand for good governance. It is a matter of injustice and inhumanity that midday meal works get a mere pittance of Rs 833 per month; they require not the status of honorarium workers but the full rights which are due to all workers.

Addressing the meeting AICCTU State General Secretary Com. Shubhendu Sen said that employment and minimum wages are fundamental rights and workers will not let any government to snatch these hard won rights. The chief demands of the midday meal workers association are: minimum wages of Rs 200 for all workers, life insurance benefits, two uniforms per year, 4 bath and washing soaps per month, service regularization, and other rights.

Another Victory for Contract Workers Union in PGIMER, affiliated to AICCTU

After more than a decade old struggle for abolition of contract labour system at the PGI which had been started in 1996 and had been continuing since, the Central Government has finally issued a Gazette Notification to prohibit contract labour at PGIMER, Chandigarh. More than 2000 workers will be directly benefitted by this move. PGI Contract Workers Union that is affiliated to AICCTU had been working relentlessly on the issues of abolition of contract labour and of workers’ wages.

First District Conference of AISA- Madurai

On 18th April AISA Madurai Unit conducted its first District Conference in Madurai. The event took place MUTA Hall rechristened as Comrade Chandrashekar Hall. Comrades Prof. Vijayakumar (Save MKU) Com Balsubramanian (Madurai Kamaraj University Faculty Association- MUFA) and a well known artist Com Ravikumar (MUFA) addressed the conference. The conference was conducted by Com. Sathyakrishnan (State Vice President of AISA), and Com. Michel (State Vice President greeted the efforts of AISA Madurai Unit. The Conference elected a 15 member District Committee with Com Pandiyarajan as the new district president and Com. Arun as the secretary. The Conference decided to launch movement against privatization Corporation School of Madurai and campaign against appointments of worthless ‘Political’ VCs.

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.16 | 2015

April 16, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 16, 14 ­– 20 APRIL 2015

Custodial Killing by Police in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

​L​
ast week, there have been two instances of custodial killings by the police of two different states. Both instances raise serious questions about the weak state of democracy, where fake ‘encounters’ become the norm for the police.

In Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, near Tirupati, the Andhra Pradesh police killed 20 tribal people whom they claimed were ‘smugglers’. The killings happened deep in the Seshachalam forest, with 11 being killed at Pacchinodu Banda and 9 near Etagunta.

In Telangana, five Muslim youth were killed by the police on their way to court for a trial, even as they were handcuffed and in police custody.

In the Chittoor case, the police claimed that all killed were ‘red sandalwood smugglers’ who were found chopping red sandalwood trees, and that the police fired in ‘self-defence’ when they were pelted with stones and sickles. Facts that have emerged, establish this to be a falsehood. An eyewitness has stated that 7 of the 20 killed were picked up from a bus by the police a day before the ‘encounter’. All evidence suggests that the 20 men were picked up at random from other spots, and then killed in cold blood, in the custody of the police.

Moreover, if stones and sickles were pelted in a life-threatening attack on police, how come no policemen were injured? If the firing took place in the dead of darkness, how come all the victims have bullet injuries accurately in the chest, head and face? It is also difficult to believe that the identical incident took place twice, in two different spots, on the same night.

The police is trying to silence questions about the massacre by claiming that those killed were ‘smugglers’. The fact is that the police do not touch the well-connected top smugglers, that include the brothers of the current Chief Minister and a previous CM respectively. Money from red sandalwood smuggling flows smoothly in elections in the region, with the open collusion of police and politicians. It is the poor tribal wood cutters from Tamil Nadu who are periodically arrested and killed by police in the name of a ‘crackdown on smuggling’. In the past year, apart from the recent massacre, 20 tribals were killed by police, and more than 2000, arrested and framed in false cases with no evidence, lie in jails in Chittoor and Cudappa.

The TDP-BJP Government is defending the massacre brazenly. The spree of arrests of tribal people continues unabated, and the Government has also slapped draconian cases against human rights activists who went in a fact-finding team to the massacre site.

The Nalgonda killing by the Telangana police is another instance in which the police’s ‘self-defence’ story appears entirely incredible. The five youth were being taken to Court, where there was a high chance that they would be acquitted of the acts of terrorism of which they were accused. Photographs and videos show that their hands were handcuffed to the seats of the police vehicle, and guns seems to have been planted in their hands. These photographs tell a tale of open, shameless murder by the police.

The question is, why the delay in booking the concerned policemen in cases of murder? The NHRC guidelines clearly spell out that in every case of alleged ‘encounter’, cases of murder must be filed against the policemen, and it is in the Court that the police must establish that they killed in self-defence. Why is this procedure not being followed? Both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana killer policemen must face arrests and prosecution without further delay.

Further, the Andhra Pradesh Government must declare a moratorium on the further arrests of adivasi wood cutters, and must unconditionally release all those who are already in jail. To curb smuggling, the nexus of police, politicians and smuggling mafia must be probed and exposed. The top men in the smuggling mafia need to be arrested without further delay; and a time-bound probe set up to identify and punish the political patrons of these smugglers.

Police reform is indeed needed – but such reform must first and foremost mean an end to the culture of impunity, and stern accountability and action against police men who violate civil liberties and constitutionally guaranteed rights.

AIPF and Several Others Protest Cold Blooded Murders by AP and Telangana Police

New Delhi: A protest demonstration was held Andhra-Telangana Bhawan in New Delhi on 11 April to protest the brutal killings of 20 labourers in Tirupati by Andhra Pradesh police and of 5 Muslim undertrials in Nalgonda by Telangana Police. All India People’s Forum (AIPF), PUCL, Janhastakshep, Co-ordination Committee on Minorities, Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan, AISA, PDSU, JNUSU, Democratic People’s Lawyers’ Association, Majlis-e-Mushawarat and others jointly participated in the demonstration. The protestors strongly condemned the brutal killings terming them cold-blooded murders and demanded that the guilty be punished. They submitted a memorandum to the Governors of both the states in which immediate arrest and prosecution of the policemen involved was demanded. The memorandum also included the demand for compensation and a public apology to the families of the victims by the respective state governments.

Tamil Nadu: On 10th April a demonstration was organized by TN Scheduled Tribe Peravai led by V.Murukesan in Harur, in front of the Taluk Office, condemning the killing of Tribal workers in AP, in which more than 300 people participated.

Comrade A. Chandra Mohan, AIPF (campaign committee member) delivered key note address. Kubendran, state President of the Peravi and other leaders of various organizations addressed the gathering. All speakers condemned Chandra Babu Naidu for his state terrorism and fake encounters. They asked why the PM Modi keeps silence over the grave human right violation. They charged that the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Mr O. Panneerselvam was not aware of the tribal issue of the state. They further demanded that AP STF police personnel, who killed the Tribal at close range and also the top officials of Police including Mr. M Kantha Rao (RSASTF DIG) and Forest Ranger Mr. Sriramulu be arrested and that the Mr. O Panneerselvam should meet Andhra Pradesh CM Mr. Chandrababu Naidu to negotiate release of more than 5000 tribal of TN, languishing in Nellore and Cudappa Jails.

Further, they asked for TN Government’s speedy action to retrieve the alienated Tribal land, Guaranteeing of employment to the ST Youths, utilization of ST sub plan funds, special Socio economic package to backward Dharmapuri, Thriuvannamalai Districts.

Protests in Karbi Anglong Over the Rape of Three Women, Including a Teenager by Army Jawans

On 6 April 2015, a 13 year old teenage girl was picked up and raped by an eight-member patrol team of Army jawans posted at Dokmoka. When the girl’s mother and another female relative rushed to the site in order to rescue her, they too were raped. Many other women apart from these three were molested and injured. AIPWA Vice President Comrade Pratima Engheepi met the survivors when they were brought to Diphu for treatment. On 9 April, AIPWA and its sister organisation Karbi Nimso Chinthur Asong (KNCA) organised a massive protest in Diphu. Thousands of women joined the rally demanding a high-level inquiry into the rape of three women by Army jawans. The women, under the banner of the Karbi Nimso Chinthur Asong (Karbi Progressive Women’s Association), later gheraoed the office of Karbi Anglong deputy commissioner Mukul Gogoi and submitted a memorandum. Addressing the demonstration, KNCA leader Seema Ranghangpi said –"We want a high-level inquiry of the incident and adequate compensation for the victims. The administration should punish the culprits according to the law”.

Shockingly, the police lathicharged the protestors demanding inquiry and justice for the rape survivors and two students were injured in the police firing during the protests. A 24-hour long Karbi Anglong bandh was also called on April 11 by several organisations led by Karbi Nimso Chingthur Asamg (KNCA), to protest against the administration’s failure to arrest the accused even two days after submission of the FIR. KNCA general secretary Kajek Tokbipi stated they would continue the protests and added – "We have asked the administration to arrest the accused at the earliest. Unfortunately, the administration has done nothing so far. Security personnel cannot rape our women in the name of counter-insurgency operations."

The KNCA activists along with other protestors also strongly demanded the scrapping of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

Joint Mass Demonstration held in Bhubaneswar Demanding Scrapping of Land Acquisition Ordinance-2015

Under the united call of ‘Campaign Against Land Acquisition’, Odisha (Jameen Adhigrahan Birodhi Abhijyaan, Odisha), a massive protest demonstration was held in Bhubaneswar against the Land Acquisition Ordinance brought by the BJP led NDA government. This pro corporate ordinance is an assault on the farmers and the poor in the country and is in line with the anti-people policies being introduced by this government. The call was jointly given by peasants unions of CPI, CPI (M), CPI(ML)Liberation, CPI(ML)Red Star, CPI(ML)-New Democracy, Chasi Mulia Sangha and others. Thousands of people from across the state participated in the protest demonstrations. The participants included farmers, agricultural labourers, dalits, adivasis, slum dwellers, and activists from various democratic organizations and anti displacement movements.

Protests in Bengal against Ranaghat rape

Ever since the establishment of the RSS-driven government at the centre, there has been communal hate mongering and an endless series of attacks on the minorities. There have been many rape cases in West Bengal and the Trinamool government has shown a negligent and sexist attitude in all the cases. It is in this context that we must look at and condemn the recent attack on a convent school in Nadiya and the gang rape of the 70 year old nun Mother Superior. Whether the Ranaghat rape is a case of communal violence or some other form of malevolence, the West Bengal government has been shamefully incapable of preventing it or punishing the guilty.

On the night of 14 March some heinous criminals broke into the convent, looted costly items, vandalized Christ’s image, and raped the senior-most nun. It is a moot question why they chose the most senior nun and not any of the others. Clearly the criminals had a grudge, either personal or political, against that church. According to the other sisters, this nun had told the criminals to tell her what they wanted and not to harm any of the others. That she did not plead for mercy and faced the attackers bravely angered them and they not only raped her but also injured her in several places.

Even 3 days after the incident there was no progress in arresting or punishing the criminals. 3 days later when the CM Mamata Banerjee went to visit the site, students and guardians stopped her convoy and refused to let her move further, demanding why no arrests have been made so far. Mamata Banerje threatened the people and after 45 minutes the police lathi-charged and dispersed the crowd. Cases have also been registered against some of the protesters.

VHP General Secretary Surendra Jain attempted to use the Ranaghat rape incident to spread hatred and inflame communal passions. He said, “Attacking nuns is the Christian culture; we do not do such things.” After the attack on a church in Haryana, the CM of that State put the blame for the attack on the ‘conversions’ carried out by the church! Narendra Modi is silent on such statements by his cronies and colleagues.

CPI(ML) and AIPWA held 3 day (17-19 March) protests and rallies in different parts of West Bengal against the extremely insensitive attitude of the administration and the vengeful behavior of the Chief Minister. A rally was taken out in Hind-Cone Nagar of Hooghly. Rallies, street meetings, and road blocks were conducted at Ashok Nagar and Kharda (North 24 Parganas), Bajbaj and Choriyal (South 24 Parganas), Siliguri in Darjeling district, while posters protesting the Ranaghat rape were put up in Kolkata and other places.

On 19 March an impressive joint rally was organized by 15 organizations including AIPWA, Maitri, Nari Nirjatan Pratirodh Manch, Darbar Mahila Samanvay Samiti, Shramjeevi Mahila Sangathan and other women’s groups. The march started at College Square in Kolkata and proceeded to Dharamtalla. Around 2000 women participated, raising their voice against sexual violence and demanding punishment for the guilty in the Ranaghat rape incident. At Dharamtalla a huge human chain was constructed and cultural programmes and street plays were staged.

Report from the Ongoing Movement in Bindukhatta

As per their earlier declaration, thousands of farmers under the banner of the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha gheraoed the LalKuan tehsil in Nainital district of Uttarakhand on 1 April 2015. The farmers, angered by the indifference shown by the State government to the series of farmers’ agitations for the past three and a half months against making Bindukhatta into a municipality, started assembling at the Lalkuan tehsil from early morning with red flags and banners. They gheraoed the tehsil gate and expressed their extreme anger against CM Harish Rawat and Labour Minister Harish Durgpal. When the tehsil road was full to overflowing, the agitators climbed onto the roofs of the nearby residential complexes under construction. The participation of women and youth in the agitation was noteworthy.

In spite of the widespread people’s opposition, the State government passed the Bindukhatta municipality ordinance on 25 Feb 2015 in a hush-hush manner with a small notification to the effect in the newspapers after 15 days. Hundreds of Bindukhatta farmers protested in front of the Vidhan Sabha on 17 March and the CM Harish Rawat assured the farmers that their wish would be taken into consideration. But on 19 March the government appointed SDO Haldwani Bhabar as administrator of Bindukhatta municipality and Lalkuan Tehsildar as executive officer. The Kisan Mahasabha announced a ghera dalo-dera dalo and hunger strike against this decision. 26 people sat on a collective hunger strike, out of which 5 people continued the hunger strike further. A torchlight rally was taken out by 400 youth on 29 March. The tehsil ghearao programme was held on 1 April, and the formation of the municipality was also challenged in the High Court. The HC directed the State government to reply within 3 weeks how the municipality was formed without hearing the people’s objections. The tehsil gherao was led by Purushottam Sharma, Bahadur Singh Jangi, Rajendra Pratholi, Kailash Pandey, Bhuwan Joshi, Vimla Rothan and other kisan leaders.

The High Court has given 3 weeks’ time to the government to reply as to why Bindukhatta was made a municipality without proper hearing of people’s objections, the farmers would put their agitation on hold for 3 weeks. If, after that period, the municipality was not revoked, the agitation would be intensified and thousands of farmers would gherao the Labour Minister’s house.

The speakers exposed the claims of BJP leader Bhagat Singh Koshiyari who blamed the Congress at the centre for sending back the Bindukhatta revenue village proposal, by pointing out that during Koshiyari’s time as CM it was the Vajpayee government which was at the centre. The truth is that no government—neither BJP nor Congress—has sent the required proposal to the centre. The BJP leadership and Leader of Opposition Ajay Bhatt have not opposed the Congres on this issue because they are hand in glove with the land mafia and in favour of the Bindukhatta municipality. Finally party leaders made the people on a 8 day hunger strike (Mangal Singh Koshiyari, Kunwar Singh Chouhan, Sher Singh Koranga) and on a 5 day hunger strike (Vipin Singh Bora) break their fast with fruit juice.

The party and kisan leaders expressed appreciation on behalf of the farmers of Bindukhatta to the public, parties, organizations, and media for their support to this cause. While the farmers are enthused by the HC directive of asking the state government to reply within 3 week, the morale of Harish Durgpal and his cronies has fallen. Congress activists gave vent to their frustration by burning the effigy of Com Purushottam Sharma. Other parties including AAP, Shiv Sena etc. have opposed the municipality, but their opposition is merely symbolic.

Victory of the Left Student Groups in the Recently Concluded GSCASH Elections in JNU

The elections for the post of students’ representatives to the Gender Sensitisation Committee against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) in Jawaharlal Nehru University were held on 10 April 2015. In an election that saw nearly 3,015 students casting their votes, Geeta Kumari, AISA activist, finished first with 1,148 votes. Aishwarya Adhikari of the Democratic Students’ Front finished second with 927 votes. The election saw an active misogynist campaign by two candidates backed by the ABVP who in their pamphlets described rape as the ‘violation of chastity’ of women, argued that ‘sangharsh’ (struggles) in feminism be replaced by ‘samanvay’ (coordination) and appealed to the voters to vote for a ‘Communist mukt GSCASH’. The ABVP candidates finished 4th and 6th respectively in a contest between 7 candidates reflecting a clear rejection of the patriarchal understanding and approach to Sexual Harassment and the resolve among JNU students to keep the GSCASH ‘mukt’ (free) of communal elements! The ‘GSCASH for All’ slogan raised by Com. Geeta that sought to expand the working of GSCASH beyond the binaries of male and female and also reach out to the campus workers, found a widespread support among the students.

Launch of RYA in Karaikal, Puducherry

Formation meeting of Revolutionary youth association was held on 11.04.2014 at French Residency, Kariakal. Com. KM Ramesh convened the meeting. More than 30 youth and students actively participated in the meeting. Com. Paranthaman delivered the welcome address. Meeting started with paying homage to 20 worker who werr brutally killed by the Andra Pradesh Police, Com. Ammaiyppan, SCM Tamilnadu and the known Tamil writer Jayakanthan who passed away recently. Com. Azhagappan conducted the meeting. Com. S. Balasubramanian, Puducherry state Sec. CPI(ML) and Com. Michael, Tamil Nadu state Sec. RYA addressed the meeting.

While speaking Com. S. Balasubramanian said that the NR Congress Govt. led by N. Rangasamy had ignored all its electoral promises and betrayed the youths of Puducherry. He also explained how the government had gone back on its promise of Rs. 2000/- relief to unemployed youths of the state and not providing them any relief. He referred to the relevance and compatibility of martyred leader Bhagat Singh’s fight against colonialism, imperialism, and loot by Indian bourgeois even today. He urged the youth to continue their fight against oppressions in any form and for their rights. He also emphasized that youth are the future of the world and the future is the Peoples’ democratic revolution.

Meeting elected following comrades as functionaries,

President Com. AS Kumar, Vice Presidents – Com. R. Agilan, & KS. Senthil Kumar. Secretary Com. MK Ramesh, Deputy Secretaries Com. S. Parnthaman & S. Selvam, Treasurer Com. G. Kumar and Executive Members com. N. Sivamoorthy and S. Sathish

The following resolutions were passed in the meeting: (1) Government should provide the relief of Rs. 2000/- to all unemployed youths in the state immediately, (2) In Karaikal Town buses should be operated regularly. Overcharging by share auto owners should be stopped immediately, (3) Karaikal Government general hospital should be maintained with sufficient doctors, staffs and necessary medicines, (4) Regulate private institution fee. Appoint sufficient teachers before schools and colleges reopen, (5) Scrap the monthly DPT plan of Rs. 300/-money for free rice, Provide Free Rice regularly, (6) Restart the shelved MNREGES programme immediately.

Construction Workers’ Protest in Devaria

In the Devaria district of Uttar Pradesh, a nexus between corrupt officials of the labour department and the private agents has been leading to massive corruption, loot of the public exchequer and blatant violation of workers’ rights. The construction workers’ union in Devaria has been protesting against this ongoing corruption and the complicity of one of the officials in the labour department who has amassed crores of rupees. Despite repeated protests, the investigation against this official has never been pursued seriously. When the construction workers’ union tried to get registration of the workers done, and when they demanded implementation of the workers’ legally mandated rights, private agents who work with the tacit support of the labour department tried to stop this process of collective bargaining by the workers themselves. The workers’ union therefore decided to organise a panchayat in front of the local district magistrate’s (DM) office to press for their demands such as issual of job cards, registration of all workers and payment of legally mandated wages. Around 2000 workers participated in this panchayat and submitted a memorandum of their demands to the DM. Under pressure from the workers, the local administration accepted the regiatration requests for around 2500 workers. This protest was led by AICCTU leaders comrades Premlata Pandey, Ramkishore, Geeta Pandey and others.

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.15 | 2015

April 9, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 15, 07 ­– 13 APRIL 2015

BJP National Executive: Defensiveness and Desperation Over Land Grab Law

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he BJP’s National Executive meeting in Bengaluru exposed the party’s defensiveness and desperation in the face of the all-round revolt against the Land Acquisition Ordinance and Bill. The Modi Government’s amendments to the Land Acquisition law are all aimed at making it easier for corporations to grab land from farmers without consent. All over the country, there have been growing protests against the Land Grab Ordinance and Modi Government’s other pro-corporate moves that threaten the land and livelihood of farmers and adivasis.

Modi, in his radio programme Mann ki Baat, had already tried to persuade farmers to support the Land Acquisition Bill. But farmers, distressed by crop loss due to unseasonal rain, hail, and drought, have remained unimpressed.

The fact that India’s ruling party, elected to power in a landslide mandate less than a year ago, dedicated almost its entire National Executive meeting to the agenda of persuading people to support the Land Acquisition bill, is significant. The BJP won the election by promising people ‘development’. But farmers imagined that ‘development’ would mean relief for their distress and for the agrarian crisis. They had not bargained for an even speedier and more ruthless push to grab their land to boost corporate greed.

The Prime Minister’s jibe at judicial decisions being influenced by fear of ‘five-star activists,’ also displays the same defensiveness. It seems that Modi is referring to the Supreme Court’s relief to Teesta Setalvad in the anticipatory bail matter; to the Supreme Court’s recent verdict holding Section 66A to be unconstitutional; and to the Delhi High Court verdict overturning the Government’s attempts to prevent anti-land-grab activist Priya Pillai from traveling abroad. By suggesting that the judiciary is unduly ‘influenced by’ activists who approach Courts to defend constitutional rights and liberties, the Prime Minister is displaying his own scant respect for those rights and liberties, especially the rights of minorities, dissenting voices and movements against land grab.

But what is even more interesting in the Prime Minister’s remark is the attempt to discredit activists as being ‘five-star’ (i.e. elite and privileged). In his Mann ki Baat broadcast on the Land Acquisition Bill also, Modi had asked farmers not be swayed by ‘disinformation spread by those who live in air-conditioned rooms’. Such remarks are symptoms of Modi’s own defensiveness over his own image as the recipient of lavish gifts like pinstripe suits from businessmen, and chartered flights by corporations like Adani. Modi’s Government, that has arranged for an SBI loan of $1 Billion to Adani, and is now going all out to facilitate corporate land grab, is being called the ‘Government of the rich’ and the ‘Company Raj’ by people at large. In the wake of such policies, Modi’s attempts to brand activists working among the poor, oppressed and underprivileged as ‘five-star’ can hardly carry much conviction.

Modi has attempted to say that the Land Acquisition Bill will not apply to tribal forest land. But the fact is that the Modi Government is also moving to revise the Indian Forest Act, 1927; Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; Wildlife Protection Act, 1972; National Forest Policy,1988; and, the National Wildlife Policy, 2002 in order to ensure ‘ease of business’ for corporations. It has also passed executive orders to make around 100 changes in regulations to facilitate acquisition of forest land. The various changes being made are all intended to do away with the need for holding public hearings or taking consent from adivasis for acquisition of forest land. In a consultation with the World Bank, the Modi Government has said that it is not ‘comfortable’ with making it mandatory to seek free, informed and prior consent of tribals displaced by World Bank funded projects. The PMO has also chastised the Tribal Affairs Ministry for upholding the Forest Rights Act and other forest protection laws. The PMO has said that the Tribal Affairs Ministry’s denial of clearance to projects that violate these laws, shows a ‘lack of commitment.’ This amply shows that the Prime Minister’s ‘commitment’ is entirely to corporate interests, with none to spare for laws protecting the Constitutional rights of adivasis and peasants.

The Land Acquisition Act 2013 was no gift from the UPA Government. It was won thanks to the blood shed by peasants and adivasis in militant struggles against land grab, from the Narmada Valley to Kalinganagar, Koel Karo, Khammam and Nandigram. Governments of every hue had passed the SEZ Act and used the 1894 Act to grab land by force for corporations. People’s resistance eventually forced the UPA Government to pass the 2013 Act offering some minimum protections against such land grab. The resistance to the Modi Government’s Land Acquisition Ordinance and Bill also, and to its other moves to undermine the need for consent in acquisition of land from adivasis and peasants, also cannot rely on the Opposition parties that have themselves been partners in corporate land grab. People’s movements alone will wage and win the battle this time around, too!

AIALA National Conference held in Bhubaneshwar

AIALA’s 5th national conference was held in Bhubaneshwar on 3-4 April 2015, and ended with a clarion call to intensify movements against corporate-communal offensives and for the assertion of the rights of the rural people. The conference started with an impressive rally; cultural troupes from Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar and their protest songs and dances were a point of attraction in the rally. Participants from different states shared their experiences of the ongoing assault on their land and livelihoods. They condemned the moves of the Modi government to snatch lands from the poor, and to curtail the social security of deprived social groups. They also condemned the inadequate provisions of the current Food Security Act and the cuts in MNREGA.

Addressing the opening session of the conference, CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya said that concerted and intensified efforts were needed to build a strong resistance against the onslaughts of the Modi government. He strongly pointed that all rights of the toiling peasants and the rural poor are being snatched by this government that had come to power raising the slogan of ‘good days’. He called upon all the participants to strengthen the 100 days’ campaign started under the banner of the AIPF on ‘land rights and labour rights’. He also emphasized the need to use the Gram Sabhas and the Panchayats, and the need to convert them into platforms of struggle by not letting them pass into the hands of brokers of the ruling class and feudal landlords. He added that India in present times was witnessing another era of ‘Company Raj’ and the need of the hour was another resolute and intense struggle in order to reclaim democracy.

Addressing the conference, CPI(ML) Politburo member Comrade Ramji Rai said that the ‘loot’ by the corporate driven government of the day was being facilitated by spreading widespread lies in order to justify the loot. He emphasized that rural poor must come together to not just wage an intense battle to defend their lands against forceful land grab, but also to carry forward the agenda of land reforms and redistribution, that has remained incomplete even after several decades of independence. The conference decided to strengthen the aforementioned 100 days land rights and labour rights campaign of AIPF. Towards this end, AIALA will organize block level demonstrations throughout the country on 16 April 2015. It was also mentioned that the campaign was not restricted to the agricultural labourers but rural poor in general who were forced to find other jobs given the agricultural crisis in rural India.

In this phase of corporate takeover, the conference identified the dire need to develop the rural poor as a conscious political class. The conference focused attention on the growing onslaughts on dalits, tribals, minorities and women. The conference recognized that in several of the resistances being waged in the country today, women have been seen as playing a crucial role. Referring to the massive protest by midday meal workers in Patna, where the majority of participants had been women, the conference emphasized the urgent need to develop the women who were at the forefront of several struggles as cadres and leaders.

Considering the changing scenario of rural India, the name of AIALA was changed and it was renamed as the All India Agricultural and Rural Labour Association (AIARLA). Henceforth, AIARLA will be the common platform of all rural poor and workers of all kinds to assert the rights of the entire rural toiling community.

The conference elected 201 national council members and 61 national executive members. Veteran CPI(ML) leader comrade Kshitish Biswal was elected national honorary President and comrades Rameshwar Prasad and Dhirendra Jha were elected as President and Secretary respectively. The conference saw the participation of more than 800 delegates and observers from 18 States. The membership of AIALA was recorded to be 18 lakh at the time of the conference. The conference was attended by several veteran leaders of the communist movement in Odisha and leaders of workers’ and peasants’ movements. They were also felicitated by the reception committee.

The conference collectively resolved to increase the membership of the organization, to develop firm organizational structures at the Panchayat and block levels, to work towards more collective, sustained and intense movements, as was the need of the current times and make the question of land, livelihood and rights the central political questions of the day.

AIPWA and Midday Meal Workers’ Union Hold Massive Protest in Patna

On 31 March 2015, about 10,000 women protested in front of the office of the Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar under the banner of the All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) and the Bihar State School Midday Meal Workers’ Association. Women gathered at the Gandhi Maidan from all parts of Bihar to participate in the protest. A huge rally of midday meal workers from East Champaran, Siwan, Nawada, Jamui, Nalanda, Patna rural, Jehanabad, Arwal, Bhojpur, Gaya, Samastipur, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Chhapra, Vaishali, Madhubani, Patna city and other districts was taken out and groups of midday meal workers joined them all along the way. They submitted a 16-point charter of demands which included declaration of midday meal workers as government employees, Rs 15,000 honorarium, and immediate payment of honorarium arrears.

The workers joined in enthusiastically with the slogans raised by AISA leaders, “Ek hazar mein dam nahin, pandrah hazar se kam nahin”. The rally was led by South Asia Solidarity Forum leader Kalpana Wilson, AIPWA General Secretary Meena Tiwari, AIPWA Bihar State President Saroj Choube, AIPWA State Secretary Shashi Yadav, AIPWA Bihar Joint Secretary Anita Sinha, Prof. Bharti S Kumar, Prof. Meera Thakur, Bihar State Non-Gazetted Employees Association General Secretary Rambali Prasad, economist Meera Dutt, AIPWA Siwan Secretary Sohila Gupta, AIPWA Patna rural President Leela Verma, AIPWA Patna rural Secretary Damyanti Sinha, AIPWA Nawada Secretary Gayatri Devi, Rita Varnwal, Indu Devi, Sona Devi, Renu Devi, Savita Devi, Poonam Devi and others from the Bihar State School Midday Meal Workers’ Association. The rally reached R Block after a 3 km march.

At R Block the DM met a representative body consisting of Meena Tiwari, Saroj Choube, Shashi Yadav, Sohila Gupta, Savitri Devi, Renu Devi and Anshu Kumari who submitted the charter of 16 demands at the CM’s Secretariat. They were given an assurance that a response would be given within 2 days.

The meeting at R Block was presided over by the State Joint Secretary Anita Sinha. Addressing the meeting, the speakers said that the midday meal workers in Bihar are paid only Rs 1,000 per month. Moreover, they are not paid for 2 months in the year. They are subjected to insulting behavior from the school teachers. The speakers further said that the Bihar CM talks of women’s empowerment but the midday meal workers have been made to work for a pittance of Rs 1,000 from the year 2007, whereas according to the Resolution Number 2401 20.7.2007 of the general administration department of the Bihar government, midday meal workers should get a total salary of Rs 15,040. But at present the workers are not getting appointment letters, their signature is not taken, and the payment of the honorarium is not done into their accounts. For the same work, midday meal workers in Tamil Nadu get Rs 5500-7500; in Kerala they get Rs 4500-6000, in Puduchery they get Rs 5000-9000, and in Lakshadweep they get Rs 6000. The meeting concluded with the passing of a 7-point resolution. The need of the hour is to channelize these fast mobilizing midday-meal workers into a movement against their economic, social, and mental, and cheap labour exploitation. To channelize and politicize them is a challenge and we must accept this challenge.

Charter of demands submitted to the Chief Minister: Midday meal workers should (1) be paid 15,000 as per the Resolution Number 2401 20.7.2007 of the general administration department of the Bihar government, (2) be declared government employees, (3) be paid honorarium arrears immediately, (4) get appointment letters and their signature taken daily, (5) get 4 cotton saris per year as uniform, (6) get accident insurance and health insurance, (7) not be made to do jobs which are outside their work area—such as sweeping, washing vessels, cleaning toilets etc, (8) have a common room in the schools where they can rest, (9) be treated with dignity and respect, and should not be made to work under the constant threat of losing their jobs, (10) be given social security pension. (11) Monthly honorarium payment should be paid into a “zero account balance” bank account opened for the midday meal worker. (12) Women midday meal workers should get the benefit of maternity leave and other special leave. (13) Arrangements for kitchen shed should be made in schools which do not have kitchen sheds. (14) Adequate arrangements for vessels and fuel should be made in the schools.

On the CJI’s Insistence on Judges’ Conference on Good Friday

The Chief Justice of India’s insistence on holding a conference of Supreme Court Judges on Good Friday this year raises disturbing questions.

Questioned by Justice Kurian Joseph on the scheduling of an important conference on Good Friday, which happens to be one of the most significant days for believing Christians, the CJI HL Dattu rebuked his concerns, and asked for ‘institutional’ interests to be placed above ‘individual’ interests. Justice Joseph had pointed out that such Conferences are never held on Diwali or Holi or Eid.

Is respect for religious festivals of the minority community only an ‘individual’s’ interest, or is it a right guaranteed by the Constitution of India, of which the judiciary is the custodian?

Last year, the Modi Government sought to replace the Christmas Day with ‘Good Governance Day’. Since then, churches have been attacked and vandalized in several places. Aggressive ghar wapasi (forced re-conversion) programmes are being organized by the Sangh Parivar on the occasions of Christmas and Easter. In such a backdrop, the CJI’s insensitive remark may be construed as encouragement of the deliberate alienation of and attacks on minorities.

On Chittoor and Nalgonda Fake Encounters

The CPI(ML) strongly condemns the massacre of 20 tribal men shot dead by the Andhra Pradesh police in Seshachalam forest in Chittoor district.

The police is claiming that those killed were smugglers and that the firing was done in self-defence. But all evidence as yet points to a cold-blooded custodial massacre. Those killed were not red sandalwood smugglers as claimed by the police. They were members of denotified tribes of Tamil Nadu, who are extremely poor and deprived, and who cut wood for survival. Unemployment and land alienation mean that they have few viable livelihood options but to be employed by smugglers to cut red sandalwood trees. The Tamil Nadu Government that is condemning the massacre, is itself responsible for the situation, because in spite of representations from tribal associations, the Government has failed to rehabilitate the tribal labourers to free them from dependence on the smuggling-driven economy. Politicians including MLAs of the ruling AIADMK are known to be involved in supplying cheap adivasi labour to the smugglers.

The smugglers’ mafia is extremely powerful politically in both Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. While the police does not touch these well-connected dons who run the Red Sanders mafia, hapless poor tribals are arrested and jailed on false pretexts and killed in fake encounters.

This latest massacre is no exception. Last year, too, more than 20 tribals from Tamil Nadu were shot dead in Andhra Pradesh. Inside Tamil Nadu also they are subjected to regular custodial torture and humiliation.

The CPI(ML) also condemns the incident in Nalgonda where Telangana police shot dead 5 suspected SIMI undertrials while transporting them to Court. This too appears to be a case of custodial killing, in which the men were killed while wearing handcuffs.

The CPI(ML) demands that FIRs of murder be lodged against accused police officers in the Chittoor and Nalgonda cases, and a thorough time-bound judicial probe be ordered in each. Compensation must be paid to each of those killed. Steps must be taken immediately to free the 2000 tribals who lie in Chittoor and Cudappa jails and withdraw all cases against them, and to ensure rehabilitation and livelihood for the denotified tribes of Tamil Nadu.

Construction Workers’ Protest in Faizabad

On 25 March 2015, the construction workers’ union in Faizabad held a massive protest at the labour office. Thousands of workers participated in this protest. Addressing the protest, AICCTU state president comrade Hari Singh said that though the Modi government had come to power promising achchhe din (good days) for workers, the government was systematically working in the interests of corporates, multinationals and the rich. AICCTU state secretary comrade Anil Verma said workers across the country were determined to oppose the curtailment of workers’ rights being mooted by the Modi government. Currently, not just the central government but also several state governments are trying to push through the anti-worker policies. State convenor of the Construction Workers’ Federation, Comrade Babulal said that the ruling SP government in Uttar Pradesh was also hell-bent on denying workers their rights and instances of exploitation and abuse of workers in the state are continuously increasing.

CPI(ML) Faizabad district in-charge comrade Ateek Ahmed warned the labour department that unless workers’ rights were ensured, the workers would give a fitting reply to the labour department and the government. The massive presence of workers at the protest was an indication of the workers’ resolve.

The protest was presided over by the President of the Construction Workers’ Union, Comrade Gurudayal. Proceedings were conducted by the secretary of the CWU, Comrade Ram Bharos, and CPI(ML) leader Ateek Ahmed delivered the concluding address. The protest was also addressed by RYA leader Umakant Vishwakarma, Rajesh Verma, Afaque Ullah, Sunita Goud, Sandeep Yadav, Vivek Yadav, Navamilal Yadav, Pavan Mishra, Parashuram Nishad and others.

Copies of Land Acquisition Ordinance Burnt in Protest Across the Country

On 6 April 2015, the All India People’s Forum organised protests all over the country against the re-promulgation of the Land Acquisition Ordinance. Copies of the Ordinance were burnt in villages, towns and cities across India, with protesters demanding scrapping of the Ordinance and the Land Acquisition Bill. Protesters demanded ‘Land Rights, Not Land Grab’.

In Delhi, AIPF joined the Bhoomi Adhikar Sangharsh Andolan at Jantar Mantar, in burning copies of the Ordinance. At block-level AIPF protests organized by the All India Kisan Mahasabha, copies of the Ordinance were burnt at Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Tamil Nadu.

On Garissa University Massacre in Kenya

CPI(ML) condemns the horrific attack by Al-Shabaab on students in the Garissa University college in Kenya, which left at least 148 dead. By most accounts, the attackers specifically targeted Christian students – they separated Muslim students from the Christians and massacred the Christians.

Garissa university is located in Kenya’s north-east, a region that has long suffered from marginalization, poverty and inequity. Religious, ethnic and socio-economic differences of this region from the rest of Kenya will only be exacerbated by such acts of violence. For genuine and long-lasting peace, all efforts should be made to address the pervading social inequities in the region, and to reject all attempts to stoke ethnic and religious tensions in Kenyan society.

On the ongoing crisis in Yemen

A huge US-backed military offensive is currently underway in Yemen, as Saudi Arabia leads an attack in the name of restoring ‘democracy’. The Saudi-led alliance of at least ten countries is currently bombing Yemen and intends to halt the advance of the Iranian-backed Houthi forces and to restore Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Al-Hadi as President. Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi had been installed as President after the dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced out of power in 2012 as part of the Arab Spring revolutions. Hadi however went on to crush the people’s movement, fuelling a Houthi rebellion. Subsequently, he was ousted by the Houthis. The Houthis are now allied with erstwhile dictator Saleh, who still controls much of the Yemeni military despite being in exile.

The ongoing bombings in the civil war in Yemen have already claimed the lives of dozens of civilians and wounded many more, burying entire families. In its endeavour to take sides with the Hadi forces in Yemen’s civil war, Saudi Arabia has found allies and support pouring in from the US, France, Israel, Turkey, Pakistan, Sudan, Jordan, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Morocco and Egypt governments. It is indeed ironical that some of the world’s worst human rights violators are today waging war in Yemen in the name of defending democracy.

This smokescreen of ‘democracy’ however hides the real reason behind the ongoing assault on Yemen and the consequent civilian casualties. It is US and Saudi’s fear of Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East which has sparked off this latest war. Such offensives, even as they cruelly claim civilian lives, only add to the sectarian strife in the Middle East. Progressive forces need to robustly reject all such military offensives launched by imperialist forces with the intention to maintain global hegemony.

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.or

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ML Update | No.14 | 2015

April 1, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 14, 31 MARCH ­– 06 APRIL 2015

Suppression of Dissent: The AAP Mantra of Governance

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ddressing party volunteers and supporters after the spectacular outcome of the Assembly elections in Delhi in February, Arvind Kejriwal had described the Delhi verdict as scary and warned against the danger of falling prey to arrogance. Looking at the developments within the AAP in the aftermath of the Delhi upsurge, one might think Kejriwal and his team are displaying precisely the signs of unremitting arrogance. First Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan were removed from the Political Affairs Committee and now they have also been removed from the National Executive Committee of the party. The two are not alone – included in the list are two other noted socialist activists – Prof. Anand Kumar and Ajit Jha.

Apart from the actual act of dropping these leaders – they were of course in a minority while Kejriwal commands the overwhelming majority on every level of the party – what has been particularly shocking is the manner in which it has been done. The substantive issues raised by Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan were never really addressed. In the National Council meeting, people were asked to sign a resolution dropping the dissenting leaders before the meeting started, the dissenting leaders and their supporters were humiliated and manhandled, allegedly by bouncers. The internal Lokpal of the party, Admiral Ramdas, who had been closely involved with the AAP since its inception, was also asked to stay away from the meeting and subsequently he too came to know from the media about his removal and the appointment of a new Lokpal panel.

While almost the entire legislative wing of the AAP has sided with Arvind Kejriwal, and some MLAs reportedly led the attacks on the dissenters, notable exceptions were Dharamveer Gandhi, AAP MP from Patiala and Pankaj Pushkar, AAP MLA from Timarpur, Delhi, who stood by Yadav and Bhushan and condemned the ‘murder of inner-party democracy’ in AAP in no uncertain terms. For Yadav and Bhushan the issues pertain to the violation of AAP’s own ‘founding principles’ – flawed choice of candidates in Delhi, the violation of ethical norms in matters of fund-raising and election management campaign and lack of transparency and inner-party democracy in decision-making. Some of the complaints were also taken up by the Lokpal and in a couple of cases the party also had to change candidates.

There were also questions concerning the political-tactical course of the party and its expansion – Kejriwal apparently did not agree to the ambitious scale of AAP’s Lok Sabha contests and Bhushan and Yadav did not agree to Kejriwal’s reported attempt, in the wake of the AAP’s failure to win any of the 7 Lok Sabha seats from Delhi, to avoid immediate elections and form a government with Congress support. According to the Kejriwal camp, Yadav and Bhushan wanted the party to lose in Delhi. Kejriwal himself accused the dissenters, Bhushan in particular, of ‘betrayal of trust’ and wanted the party to choose between him and the dissenters, thereby ruling out any process of political engagement or reconciliation. And the purge was finally sealed amidst the kind of rancour and ugliness that has put paid to AAP’s tall claims of ‘alternative politics’.

While Bhushan blames Kejriwal for his ‘dictatorial tendencies’ and the latter accuses the former of ‘breach of trust’, the rift should also be seen in the context of the political evolution and consolidation of AAP as a ruling party in Delhi. Yogendra Yadav who had come to be seen as a key ideologue of AAP, had described AAP as a post-ideological formation beyond the Left-Right ideological-political binary, which he said had become obsolete. Kejriwal too had described the party in more or less similar terms, as a ‘solution provider’ which was free to choose and combine aspects from both the Right and the Left. In spite of this abundant ideological ambiguity and flexibility, Kejriwal must have found the pro-socialist positions of Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan difficult to accommodate and given the huge mandate in Delhi, he must have sensed this moment politically opportune to strike hard at the dissenting duo.

Just as the ouster and marginalisation of Subhas Bose and other leftists and socialists had exposed the myth of the so-called umbrella character of the pre-Independence Congress, the AAP, the fabled political home for social movements, also seems to have chosen to banish dissenting voices and oust leaders with socialistic leanings in a bid to consolidate itself as a mean between the Congress and the BJP. In a telling conjuncture, the ruthless suppression of dissent within AAP coincided with a shameful police assault on workers protesting at the Delhi Secretariat, demanding that the Chief Minister keep his promises to Delhi’s working class.

For socialists, social movement activists and citizens looking for a clean democratic and egalitarian politics, it is clearly a moment of reckoning and stock-taking. Activists like Medha Patkar and a host of others had embraced the AAP in the run-up to the last Lok Sabha elections, and significantly enough, Medha has now expressed her disillusionment and disapproval by resigning from the primary membership of AAP. With AAP evolving as yet another party of governance without the pretension of ‘alternative politics’, the time for dialogue and cooperation between the Left and disillusioned AAP activists has surely arrived.

All India People’s Forum (AIPF) Holds Protest against Hashimpura Acquittal

No One Killed 42 People? 28 Year Wait -And Yet No Justice

Delhi: Protest demonstration was held on 25 March against the acquittal of all the accused police personnel in the Hashimpura custodial massacre case of 1987. This demonstration at Jantar Mantar, was called by the All India People’s Forum (AIPF) and a range of concerned citizens and organisations participated in it.

The acquittal of the perpetrators of the cold-blooded killing of 42 Muslims, after a futile 28 year wait for justice, speaks volumes about the sorry state of India’s criminal justice systems, and the lack of commitment of its political class and police machinery to basic secular, democratic values and norms.

28 years ago, personnel of the 41st battalion of the Provincial Armed Constabulary had entered Mohalla Hashimpura, forcibly evicted close to 50 Muslim male residents at gunpoint, and loaded them onto a truck. Most of these were young Muslim men, and all were working class, doing weaving or loom work to survive. In cold blood, the PAC shot most of the men and dumped them in the Upper Ganga canal in Ghaziabad. The remaining men were then shot and dumped in the Hindon canal in Makanpur. Five of the men, left for dead, survived.

The protestors said that Hashimpura acquittal is yet another miscarriage of justice in a case of targeted communal custodial massacre. The protestors pointed out: that (1) there is no mystery about the perpetrators, (2) why was no Government or investigative agency interested in checking the PAC log book to identify the guilty, (3) the acquittal is the result of systematic delay, destruction and withholding of evidence by the State machinery and Governments headed by a range of parties including so-called ‘secular’ parties. Hashimpura took place under the aegis of Congress Governments at the Centre and Uttar Pradesh, (4) could the PAC have abducted and killed 42 men without a green signal from its political bosses? (5) why did subsequent Governments of UP, headed by the SP or BSP never act against the accused PAC men, instead of promoting them?

AIPF protest declared- (1) We, the common citizens of India, stand with the men and women of Hashimpura, demanding justice as our right, (2) We demand that this shameful injustice towards the victims of communal custodial massacre in Hashimpura must be undone without delay.

Representatives of various organisations who spoke at the protest included Kavita Krishnan of AIPWA, ND Pancholi of PUCL, Navaid Hamid, Roma of NTUI, Leena Dabiru of CERI, Santosh Rai of AICCTU, Chintu Kumari of JNUSU and Swapan Mukherjee of CPI(ML).

Uttar Pradesh: At the call of AIPF, CPI(ML) also held protest demonstrations at various district headquarters in UP. The protests in Ghaziupr, Mau, Lakhimpur Kheri, Jalaun, Moradabad and Sonbhadra were held on 26 March and in Banaras on 27 March. A memorandum was also submitted to the UP chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to order a fresh and a time bound probe in order to ensure justice for the victims.

Land Struggle-Labour Struggle Campaign Launched under AIPF Banner

A 100-day long, land rights-labour rights campaign from 23 March to 30 June was launched under the banner of the All India People’s Front (AIPF) to mark the 84th martyrdom anniversary of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdeo, who fought unto death against imperialism and feudalism. Under this national programme, meetings, rallies and protests were organized across the Country.

In Jharkhand protests were held in Giridih, Ranchi, Koderma, Ramgarh, and Dhanbad. A people’s meeting was held in Giridih, a discussion session in Ranchi, public meetings in Koderma and Dhanbad, and a workers’ and activists’ meet in Ramgarh were held. Speakers who included Com. Vinod Singh, Pooran Mahto, Prof. Balbhadra, Manoj Bhakt, MLA Rajkumar Yadav, Bhuneshwar Kewat, Bhuneshwar Bediya, and other intellectuals, and trade union leaders pointed out that the corporate are carrying on a sustained attack on farmers and workers through the Modi government. On the one hand people’s rights are being looted, and on the other hand people are being divided through communal passions, but the AIPF would intensify contact with the people to make them aware of these evil designs. Recalling late Com. Mahendra Singh, the “Bhagat Singh of Jharkhand”, they emphasized the role of the common people in upholding democracy.

Marches, meetings, and symposia were held in different parts of Uttar Pradesh including capital Lucknow, Ghazipur, Ballia, Chakiya, Mughalserai and Chahniya in Chandauli, Robertsganj and Dala in Sonbhadra, Mirzapur, Bhadoli, Lakheempur Kheeri, Sitapur, Pilibhit, Allahabad, Phoolpur, Banaras, Gorakhpur, Azamgarh, Mhow, Maharajganj, Gonda, Ambedkarnagar, Deoria, Jalaun, Banda, Moradabad and Faizabad. Speakers paid tribute to the martyrs and condemned the corporate-fascist attacks on the poor, farmers and workers, the land grab ordinance and proposed bill, cuts in food security and MNREGA, health, education, and other anti-poor measures. Various organizations under the AIPF including CPI-ML came out on the streets to demand people’s rights. AISA activists held a public meeting to pay tributes to Bhagat Singh and other martyrs.

Rallies and meetings were organized across the State of Bihar including capital Patna, Masaudhi, Bihata, Naubatpur and other places, attended by large numbers of the public including women and youth, and addressed by Shyamnandan Singh, PS Maharaj, KD Yadav, Prof. Bharati S Kumar, Umesh Singh,Naveen, and others. They pointed out that the Modi government has cheated the people, especially the youth, and is giving all benefits to the corporate and snatching the rights of the poor, farmers, and workers. They emphasized the dangers of privatization in health and education, and contractual labour in place of employment with security and dignity.

A public meeting was organized at Bhilai in Chhattisgarh attended by workers in large numbers and addressed by Brijendra Tiwari, Vasuki Prasad ‘Unmat’, Muktanand Sahu, Ashok Miri, JP Nair and other CPI-ML, AICCTU and AIPWA leaders. Issues like the attack on farmers through the land grab bill, pro-corporate anti-worker amendments in labour laws, cuts in MNREGA and food security, privatization of health, education, and insurance sectors were raised.

Public meetings were held at Narela, Wazirpur and Noida in Delhi under the AIPF banner. The campaign in Delhi included Awas Adhikar (right to housing) too since more than half of Capital’s population is homeless. In an urban setup it means that they are deprived to the extent that they don’t even have any proof of bonafide residence along with many other deprivations resulting in limited rights of citizenship for all practicality in the city. A play by ‘Sangwari’ was staged and appreciated. Prabhat Kumar and other speakers spoke against the loot of farmers’ and workers’ rights and added another issue relevant to Delhi, the right to housing.

Militant Demo of Bangalore Sanitation and Water Supply Workers

AICCTU workers of BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) and BWSSB (Bangalore Water Supply & Sewerage Board) who had gathered at the Labour Commissioner’s office on 20 March, demanding initiation of proceedings on the cases under Sec. 25(2)(v)(a) of CLARA for equal wages for equal work, were forced to gatecrash and occupy lawns of the Commissioner’s office as the Commissioner was not available for discussion to issue notices for enquiry.

The peaceful demonstrators who had gone there to find out the dates for enquiry and file hundreds of fresh cases turned militant because of irresponsible attitude of the Commissioner who was not available to answer the demonstrators. Their only question was why the investigation process was not yet initiated even though it has been over a year since the case was filed? Nobody in labor department is willing to take responsibility to implement this particular section of CLARA on equal wages.

Hundreds of workers marched straight inside the lawns of labour department looking for any official to solve their issue. The Lawns of the State Labour Department turned into a venue of protest. Finally, Additional Labour Commissioner assured that notices will be issued within a week. Demonstrators warned that the department will be stormed by thousands of workers if the assurance was not fulfilled.

Protest in Gaya against Anti-Encroachment Drive

Thousands of poor people have settled since decades on east and west banks of Falgu river which runs through Gaya town. This area has government facilities like road, water, community hall and school, and the Gaya municipal corporation collects holding tax from the residents. But for the last 20-25 days the administration has been razing this area with bulldozers. This has angered the people who are protesting in various ways, but the demolition is continuing without arrangements for alternative accommodation or rehabilitation. The DM has published in newspapers that the pollution of Falgu river and need for beautification of Gaya town are the reasons for this demolition. But the district administration is fully responsible for the squalor and pollution, as all the sewer lines of Gaya empty themselves in this river. Some so-called civic and social organizations on the pay-rolls of rich industrialists are spreading stories of the residents’ being responsible for the pollution, at the behest of their paymasters. The district administration is carrying out this demolition citing the honorable High Court.

On 12 March, over 1000 urban poor and small businesses, whose houses are being bulldozed, protested in front of the DM. A memorandum was submitted to the DM through the ADM. Prior to the protest demonstration a rally was taken out from Azad Park led by Party district Secretary Niranjan Kumar, AIPWA district Secretary Rita Varnwal, Manpur block Secretary Sudama Ram, Mohd. Azim, Mohd. Alam, and others.

CPI(ML) General Secretary’s address to the 22nd Party Congress of CPI

Dear comrades,

I feel really happy and honoured to have been invited here to greet the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of India. On behalf of the entire membership of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) I convey our warm wishes to all of you for the success of this Congress and for great victories in your future struggles. I would also specialy congratulate Puducherry comrades for hosting the Congress in this historic centre of working class movement and bringing alive the great legacy of Comrade V Subbiah.

As I stand here to greet you I am also keenly aware of the great losses you have suffered in the run-up to this Congress, most notably the pain of losing Comrade Govind Pansare to the bullets of the coward assassin. We bow our heads in fond remembrance of our great martyrs and departed leaders and resolve to carry forward their unfinished mission.

Let me also take this opportunity to extend our best wishes to other communist and progressive organisations present here and also to express our profound solidarity with the international communist and progressive movement and all the ongoing struggles for freedom, peace, justice and equality in different parts of the world.

Comrades, your Congress is being held against a very challenging political backdrop. The Lok Sabha elections held last summer have changed the electoral-political landscape in a big way. The implications of the BJP winning a majority and forming a government on its own terms have been unfolding quite rapidly over the last ten months. The dream of achchhe din peddled by Modi in speech after speech in his poll campaign have given way to the nightmare of a concerted assault on the country and the people, on our resources and rights, unleashed simultaneously by big corporate interests on the one hand and the rabid communal hate mongers of the Sangh brigade on the other. And there can be no mistaking the fact that it is the Modi government which is facilitating and sponsoring both these dimensions.

The talk of the communal campaign being a mischievous aside by some fringe elements is pure fiction. Just as corporate interests would like to make the most of Modi’s majority with an accelerated and intensified drive for privatization and liberalization, the RSS and the Sangh brigade would also like to make as much hay as possible while the sun shines. Both these aspects are thus built into the present conjuncture and far from the presumed dichotomy of corporate-driven development versus communalism, the Modi government epitomises the aggressive convergence of the two.

There is of course also a silver lining in the present situation. The alertness and determination with which the people have begun to fight back is quite reassuring and inspiring. We saw it against the Sangh brigade’s campaign of communal hate, vandalism and violence; we saw it against the government’s ordinances, especially against the land-grab design; and sure enough, we also saw it in the electoral arena – in the by-elections, in the elections to the Jharkhand Assembly, and most spectacularly, in the Delhi Assembly elections. The awakened democratic opinion has also succeeded in wresting some encouraging judicial victories defying the adamant and arrogant attitude of the government. Yesterday’s Supreme Court verdict striking down Sec 66A of IT Act is a reassuring case in point. The government must nowbe be pushed backto withdraw every other draconian law – from UAPA to AFSPA – and every case of corporate appeasement at the cost of the basic rights and interests of the people.

It is in the midst of this growing popular discontent and determined mass protest and agitation that we communists will have to discharge our responsibilities as the most consistent contingent of people’s resistance to the corporate-communal offensive. Admittedly, the Left presence in the parliamentary arena has suffered some major erosion in recent elections in almost all states. But we must never forget that the primary source and expression of the strength of the Left lies in the depth of people’s struggles and in the unwavering commitment to the cause of revolutionary social transformation and if we nurture and strengthen this primary identity of the Left movement, we will surely succeed in overcoming our present weaknesses.

Even as we confront the corporate-communal offensive spearheaded by the Modi government, we realise that the rise of the BJP reflects a major political churning and a growing vacuum resulting from the people’s anger against most established parties of the ruling classes – the Congress as well as the increasingly discredited regional parties. The most credible and reassuring answer to the rise of the BJP will therefore have to come from a resurgent Left ready to learn from its own mistakes and restore the primacy of people’s movement as the unshakable foundation of Left politics.

We hope the 22nd Congress of the CPI will uphold this direction and strengthen Left unity to realise the dream of the Left ranks and the fighting people of India. All for the unity, assertion and resurgence of the Left movement!

Wish you a very successful 22nd Congress. Inquilab zindabad!

Obituary

Dr. Daya Varma, veteran Communist and professor emeritus of McGill University, Montreal, Canada, passed away at his home in St. John’s on 22 March. He was 86. Born in a UP village in 1929, Daya became a Marxist in his student days and remained steadfast in his ideological commitment while abhorring dogma and critiquing the lapses of applied socialism in Russia and China.

After obtaining MBBS and MD degrees from King George Medical College in Lucknow, he went to Canada for research and received his PhD in Pharmacology from McGill University in 1961.Thereafter he chose teaching as his profession and became the head of the department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics in McGill University. He continued to teach even after his retirement and was honoured as Professor Emeritus in 2009.

Daya Varma’s career in teaching and research remained intimately connected with his communist outlook and activist spirit. He got involved in the working people’s struggle in Canada and founded Indian People’s Association in North America which worked as a bridge with the communist movement in India and South Asia. In the later years of his life he was closely involved with several organisations and initiatives involving the South Asian community in Canada and in the broader international arena.

After the Emergency he was deeply impressed by the rise of the CPI(ML) and its growing wide-ranging democratic initiatives centring around the revolutionary peasant movement in Bihar, and by early 1980s he started looking after the international department of the CPI(ML). Between 1982 to 2002 he attended every Congress of the CPI(ML). As an academic as well as activist, he was closely involved in the campaign for justice for the survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster. He was a relentless and resolute fighter against the Sangh brigade’s politics of communal mobilisation and a staunch advocate of peace and friendship between India and Pakistan and unity among Left forces in India.

Comrade Daya Varma has left behind a powerful legacy of combining the pursuit of scientific education, research and training with committed involvement in the revolutionary movement on the ground and motivating the Indian diaspora in favour of the revolutionary democratic movement in India on one hand and the global resistance against imperialism on the other. CPI(ML) Central Committee salutes the memory and legacy of Comrade Daya Varma and conveys the deepest condolences to his family and friends.

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 | 18 | 2015

March 25, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 13, 24 – 30 MARCH 2015

Hashimpura Acquittal: Shameful Injustice

​​T
h​​
e acquittal of all the accused police personnel in the Hashimpura custodial massacre case of 1987 is a comment on the callous and communal rot that pervades India’s politics and police machinery and the utter failure of its criminal justice systems.

28 years ago, personnel of the 41st battalion of the Provincial Armed Constabulary had entered Mohalla Hashimpura, forcibly evicted close to 50 Muslim male residents at gunpoint, and loaded them onto a truck. Then, in cold blood, they shot most of the men and dumped them in the Upper Ganga canal in Ghaziabad. The remaining men were then shot and dumped in the Hindon canal in Makanpur. Five of the men, left for dead, survived.

This was not a mysterious murder in which the assailants were unknown and unnamed. There was no doubt at all that the 41st Battalion of the PAC had committed the crime. Yet, 28 years after the massacre, a Delhi court has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to convict anyone. How is it possible? Would there not be PAC records showing exactly who was deployed in that battalion? Would interrogation not reveal who gave the orders to shoot and dump the bodies?

It is obvious that the acquittal has been made possible by systematic destruction and withholding of evidence by the State machinery. Asked to investigate their own brethren, the police erased evidence, delayed, and protected ‘their own.’ The CB-CID investigation – one that should have taken days, given the existence of records of the 41st PAC Battalion – took seven years. The report was submitted in 1994, naming 60 PAC men. But, after yet another delay of two years, only 19 of those men were charge-sheeted (three of these have died in the last 28 years). The case was transferred to Delhi in 2002 following an appeal by the survivors and victim-families. The Government of the day then delayed the appointment of Special Public Prosecutors, and eventually appointed an inexperienced SPP. 19 of the PAC men were finally charged with homicide only in 2006.

All this has paved the way for the acquittal in what should have been an open-and-shut case in which the identity of the perpetrators is no secret or mystery.

Hashimpura also raises serious questions about commonly perceived notions of ‘secular’ politics. In 1987, the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress Government was in power at the Centre, and had opened the communal floodgates in UP by unlocking the Babri Masjid. Uttar Pradesh too was ruled by the Congress. Meerut, Maliana, and Hashimpura in UP were witness to communal killings in which the State was not a spectator – instead, the police, PAC and Army were themselves participants in the communal killings. Is it conceivable that the PAC abducted and killed 42 men without a go-ahead from its bosses in the political establishment and police force? What was the chain of command that ordered Hashimpura to take place and assured the perpetrators of impunity?

And the responsibility does not rest only with the Congress. Subsequent Uttar Pradesh Governments of the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, as well as the BJP, all colluded in the burial of justice. The ‘secularism’ of the Congress, SP or BSP (or, in Bihar’s case, the RJD and JDU that also presided over the Ranveer Sena massacres and the denial of justice) is entirely self-serving and hypocritical.

Governments led by Congress, Samajwadi Party or BSP did not even order departmental action against the accused PAC personnel, instead many of them enjoyed promotions. None showed the political will to prosecute the accused with speed and seriousness.

The impunity enjoyed by killers in uniform who perpetrate custodial murders, and perpetrators of communal and caste massacres continues, from Delhi 1984 to Hashimpura, to Bathani-Bathe, to Gujarat 2002 to the spate of custodial killings in Modi-ruled Gujarat including those of Sohrabuddin and Ishrat Jahan.

Can India be considered a working democracy if its police force can abduct and kill 42 men and dump them in a canal, and go scot-free?

Every common citizen of India should stand by the men and women of Hashimpura. The appalling injustice of the acquittal of the Hashimpura killers must be undone without delay.

Countrywide Satyagraha by Central Trade Unions against Attack on Workers’ Rights

All the 11 central trade unions organized a countrywide Satyagraha on 26 February 2015 to protest against the attacks on workers’ rights by the government and corporate houses.

In Tamil Nadu joint protests by all the trade unions were held at the Chennai railway station, Tanjore, Namakkal, Erode, Madurai, Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari, Periyanakanpalayam and Singanallur in Coimbatore. Large numbers of workers from almost all fields of work participated in the protests during which leaders from AICCTU, CITU, AITUC, AIUTUC, INTUC, BMS, LPF, and other central trade unions addressed the meetings.

In Bengaluru a joint council of central trade unions organized a dharna in which a large numbers of workers participated demanding 15000 minimum wages, revoking of anti-worker and pro-corporate amendments in the Labour Law, scrapping the contractual labour system, equal pay for equal work, and curbing skyrocketing prices. AICCTU, CITU, AITUC, AIUTUC, TUCC and other union leaders addressed the meeting. The protesting workers were arrested and released later.

Strong protests were held in Bihar in response to the call by central trade unions and a 10-point charter of demands against the anti-worker and pro-corporate amendments to the Labour law. In Patna hundreds of union activists including AICCTU leaders courted arrest in front of the DM’s office. AICCTU and other union leaders addressing the meeting exposed the ugly truth of “Make in India”, pointing out that it facilitated cheap labour and high profit for corporate houses. They also condemned the policy of ending permanent jobs and replacing them with contractual labour. They opposed increased FDI in defence, coal, banking, insurance and other crucial sectors.

A protest rally of joint trade unions was also taken out in Bhagalpur in which hundreds of workers including women workers participated. The rally started at the Bhagalpur station and ended in a satyagraha at the Collectorate. AICCTU and other leaders addressing the meeting pointed out that the Modi government was moving ahead even more forcefully on the pro-corporate path of the UPA government. They called upon workers to unite and strengthen their struggle against these policies.

AIPWA Gheraos Jharkhand Assembly

Thousands of women organized under the banner of AIPWA in Jharkhand held a gherao of the Jharkhand Assembly on 2 February 2015 with a forceful protest including a “gate jam” at Birsa chowk. Addressing the protest meeting AIPWA national president Meena Tiwari said that PM Modi who talks about “Beti Bachao” has cheated women by drastically cutting funds allocated to reform schemes for women such as mid-day meal, health mission, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and other programmes affecting women. She demanded that the State government compensate for the Centre’s negligence and guarantee women’s empowerment.

She further pointed towards the continued State Government-criminal nexus which was proved by the fact that no actions were being taken against rapists in the State. She said that it was shameful that police officials were shielding the criminals in the Chitarpur incident. Speaking at the meeting, AIPWA leader Geeta Mandal said that the rape and murder of an adivasi woman by policemen in Ranchi was an indication of the growing audacity of criminals in the BJP regime. She warned that if punishment to the rapist policemen is delayed, the women of Jharkhand would not let the government rest in peace. AIPWA state secretary Sarojini Bisht said that the government must give guarantee of permanent employment and honorarium to women workers. She also demanded equal pay for equal work.

Addressing the meeting, CPI(ML) MLA Rajkumar Yadav cautioned the government that if they did not ensure safety and dignity of women in Jharkhand, they would be taken to task inside the Assembly as well. Other speakers included Garhwa district councilor Sushma Mehta, Giridih district councilors Jayanti Choudhary and Poonam Mahto, Bitiya Manjhi and Panko Devi from Dumka, Shobha Devi and Bimla Devi from Bokaro, Lakhimani Munda from Bundu, Savita Singh, Rehana Khatoon, Guni Oraon, Singi Xalxo, Shanti Sen, Aiti Tirkey and others.

The main demands of the women are: (1) Arrest and speedy trial of Chitarpur (Ramgarh) rapists, (2) proper training and guarantee of government employment for the surviving victim of the Chitarpur incident, (3) 5 lakhs compensation for the family of the dead victim and also for the survivor on becoming a major; judicial enquiry into the illegal coal business of accused Dileep Sao and his relations with his political patrons, (4) proclamation of honorarium for women workers as government employees, (5) pension, medical and other leave facilities for women workers, (6) regularization of lady doctors in health centres and appointment of lady doctors in sub-centres, (7) provision for adequate teaching in Kasturba Vidyalaya, (8) adequate health and education for girls living in the Deogarh remand home, (9) scrapping mandatory BPL requirement for pension for elderly and single women, (10) making local station in- charge and district police superintendent accountable for cases of rape, (11) immediate arrest of policeman Dileep Toppo for the rape and murder of minor Phulmanti of Hatma (Ranchi).

Struggle against Land Acquisition in Tripura

On the question of land acquisition due to construction of Railway line from Agartala to Sabroom, there are 65 families of Khilpara GP & Jamjuri GP who were evicted and shifted from their households. They were given inadequate and insufficient money for rebuilding their houses as per Land Acquisition Act – 1894 in the year 2010. The 65 affected families were organized by AIALA & CPI(ML) under Khilpara GP & Jamjuri GP and a struggle was built demanding that IAY houses with toilet, free drinking water and electricity connection facilities be provided to each of the affected families on priority basis. Mass deputation, dharna were organized during the last 6 months in front of the offices of the collector as well as the Minister of Rural Development of Tripura. Dharnas were also organised in front of the Block office and Gram Panchayet Office for taking resolution in favour of the demands of the affected families. Following the relentless pursuit of the matter, the DM and Collector of Gomati District sanctioned 28 IAY houses to the affected families according to the BPL and adhoc BPL category.

On 16.03.2015 once again we raised the demand that the IAY house with toilets be provided to all the 65 families.. The Rural Development Minister of our state in a deputation on 18.03.2015 also expressed agreement with our demand. He assured that in the year 2015-’16 the state government will send a list of affected families as special category to the central government and then the APL families who are affected will also get this facilities. The partial achievement of this struggle was reflected in the response seen during the AIALA membership campaign. AIALA will continue to raise the demand for all the affected families the state. Demand has also been raised for allotment of homestead land to be each of the affected land less family.

Kisan Mahasabha Leads March to Uttarakhand Vidhan Sabha

The fight for revenue village status for Bindukhatta has been going on since the 70s under the banner of the red flag. In the initial stages the demand for making Bindukhatta a revenue village had been raised only by the CPI(ML) for a long time. In light of the sustained campaign for villagehood by the CPI(ML) and the Kisan Sabha and in the context of their renewed protests after a mockery was made of people’s aspirations by giving Bindukhatta a status of municipality, the Congress and the henchmen of the local MLA declared a Jansampark Abhiyan in favour of the municipality status for Bindukhatta. But this campaign fizzled out on the 3rd or 4th day itself because of the people’s opposition to it. Meanwhile, the Congress government underhandedly issued a full ordinance making Bindukhatta a municipality. On 17 March 2015 hundreds of Bindukhatta residents holding aloft red flags and led by the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha mobilised themselves to Dehradun to protest against the hush-hush manner in which the government was trying to make Bindukhatta into a municipality. When this huge rally festooned with red flags and banners marched from Dehradun railway station to the Assembly, the city of Dehradun did not remain unaffected. The degree of outrage at Bindukhatta being made into a municipality can be gauged by the fact that several elderly men and women, with difficulty to walk, travelled all night in general compartments to reach Dehradun and then marched on foot for a distance of over 5 km. A short distance from the Vidhan Sabha, when the police stopped the march by erecting barricades, the protesters started a jansabha (public meeting) on the road.

Addressing the meeting Kisan Mahasabha Uttarakhand State President Com. Purushottam Sharma said that the people of Bindukhatta want ownership rights over their land, which will be possible only if it gets revenue village status. If it is made into a municipality, it will become impossible for Bindukhatta residents to ever get ownership rights to their land. He pointed out that the ruling Congress is hatching a conspiracy to deprive the people of Bindukhatta of their ownership rights, and the BJP with its deafening silence on this matter is supporting the Congress.

Well-known Uttarakhand peasant leader and frontline leader of the Bindukhatta struggle Com.Bahadur Singh Jangi and CPI(ML) State standing committee member and Nainital district Secretary Com. Kailash Pandey also addressed the jansabha.

Later, a delegation from the Kisan Mahasabha met the Chief Minister Harish Rawat and conveyed the people’s anger and opposition to the forcible conversion of Bindukhatta into a municipality. The Chief Minister assured the delegation that if the people are opposed to it, the government would not be stubborn and would consider the matter once again.

23 March: Bhagat Singh Martyrdom Day Observed

More than 1200 young workers took out a rally in Sriperumbudur to reclaim the anti – imperialist, anti-communal legacy of Bhagat Singh, Rajaguru and Sukhdev on their martyrdom day. The rally was held on the concluding day of RYA Tamilnadu State Conference. Com.Ravi Rai, National General Secretary of RYA flagged off the rally.

The rally also marked the launching of 100 Day Campaign for Land and Labour Rights from March 23 to June 30. Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI ML spoke among the young workers. He called for the young workers to rise against the attempts of the obscurantist forces to lay rules for the private lives of people in the country. He stressed the need for greater unity for greater struggles against the attempts of the corporate-communal forces which are trying to appropriate the legacy of Bhagat Singh to sell the country to the corporates. Launching the 100 Days Campaign of AIPF in the rally, he said, there is new hope as left forces, socialist forces, leaders of people’s struggles, democratic and progressive individuals have joined hands to take on the corporate-communal offensive.

AIPF campaign committee members S P Udayakumar, A Marx, Mangayarselvan also spoke in the rally. They all said that this is the opportune moment for a forum like AIPF to fight against the corporate-communal offensive. AIPF national council members and CPIML TN State Secretary Com. Balasundaram also participated.

Comrade S Kumarasami, PBM of the Party, gave the concluding speech. Comrade Rajaguru, newly elected State President, RYA, presided over the meeting. Comrade Bharathi, National Secretary, RYA and Comrade Rajesh, State Secretary, RYA also spoke in the rally.

Agitation in Nirsa after Worker’s Death

On 1 March 2015 (Sunday) JCB operator Manoranjan Pradhan was killed in a fatal accident while working in the Dahibadi-Kalyanchak OCP (open mines)area no. 12 under the Sadbhav company outsourced by the Bharat Coking Coal Ltd. (BCCL). Sunday being the weekly holiday, Pradhan was still asked to work in the OCP mines (over 3 km in diameter) as there were very few workers around him, when his machine started sinking in the mine, he could not save himself despite full efforts. His co-workers took his body to the Sadbhav office in Lakadih where hundreds of workers led by the Coal Mines Workers’ Union (affiliated to AICCTU) stopped all transport work and gheraoed the office. The striking workers demanded that as the accident was a result of greed for more production and neglect of safety, the family of the dead worker should be given full payment until retirement (amounting to 50 lakhs), and benefits of pension and life cover scheme. Rounds of talks went on between the management and CMWU. The workers demanded 10 lakhs immediate payment but the management agreed only to 5 lakhs and 20,000 for the last rites. The next day all work was stopped at the OCP and talks resumed between the management and CMWU at the end of which the following decisions were taken: 1) Immediate payment of 5 lakhs as death compensation, 2) Job for the dependent with immediate effect and 6 months’ leave with full pay to be paid to the parents of the victim at their home, 3) Additional 350,000 to be paid through the Colliery JCC forum to the family, 4) Implementation of the Production with Safety policy, 5) 50,000 from Sadbhav company for the last rites, 6) Family of victim to get benefits of monthly pension and future payments by insurance company.

The agitation was led by Upendra Singh, Krishna Singh, Nagendra Kumar, Manoranjan Mallik, Jamal Miyan of CMWU, JCC member Nagen Mahto, and others.

Victory for Students Movement in Bhojpur

The Chandi students’ hostel in Ara, Bhojpur has 40 rooms housing 200 mahadalit students, one hand pump and one toilet in the name of conveniences, and is so dilapidated that it was declared unfit for living in 1990 by government engineers. Poor and mahadalit students of Shahabad had no option but to live in these dangerous and unhygienic conditions in order to pursue studies.

Till date neither the State governments of RJD, JD(U)-BJP, nor the central UPA or NDA governments have done anything except make false promises of improving the hostel.

The students under the leadership of AISA brought the matter of reconstruction of the hostel to the district administration’s attention through gheraos, dharnas, and meetings at jan darbars, but to no avail. On 17 February 50 students sat on an indefinite hunger strike outside the DM’s office. They were joined by 200 other students. The administration and the self-styled dalit leaders neither bothered to talk to the students nor arrange any medical monitoring of their deteriorating health. Incensed by this insensitivity and indifference the students came out on the streets against the administration on the 5th day of the hunger strike. Hundreds of students made a human chain and blocked the road to the DM’s office. Under pressure by the students’ agitation the DM called the student representatives for talks. The delegation included former MP and CPI(ML) leader Com. Rameshwar Prasad, RYA State President Raju Yadav, and CPI(ML) city Secretary Dilraj Pritam. During the talks the DM formed a committee consisting of the SDO, CO, DWO, and Raju Yadav to identify land for the construction of the hostel. The striking students broke their fast after this assurance by the DM. Addressing the students, Com. Rameshwar Prasad said that students must unite to struggle against the conspiracy of the government to deprive poor and dalit students of education. The partial success of this agitation has inclined the student community toward AISA and also generated support from people of the area for the cause of the students.

Weaver’s Strike in Gaya

The handloom and power loom workers of Manpur, known as the Manchester of Gaya district, went on a total strike on 10-11 January demanding wage rise and other facilities. It is noteworthy that thousands of workers in this area are made to work for 12-13 hours per day. In spite of this the owners keep putting more work pressure on the workers. Where earlier a worker was required to operate 2-3 machines, the number has now gone up to 3-4 machines, and yet the wage rate remains the same. A worker The 10% bonus that workers used to receive earlier in the peak season, has been stopped for the last ten years citing enhanced expenditure and decreasing profits due to less demand for textiles. The truth is that the negligent attitude and policies of governments towards the cottage industry are the chief obstacles to its growth. Corruption is rampant and owners and brokers eat up all the profits which should go to the weavers. There are no provisions for toilets, safe drinking water, health care, child care or any form of social security. Large numbers of workers fall prey to TB, asthma and other diseases and accidents are also very common.

The weavers of Manpur do not have a strong union. A strike was called under pressure from the workers, but no notice about it was sent to either owners or administration. Trade union activists from the CPI did take some initiative but they could not create any pressure. On 14 January a general meeting of all Party members of Manpur was held and it was decided to take initiatives for the workers. On 20 January AICCTU State President Com. Shyamlal Prasad and Bihar State Construction Workers’ Union and Party leaders from Manpur organized a public meeting for the weavers. On 21 January a rally of 500 workers and supporters from the public was taken out through the Patwa toli. Thrown into a panic by the anger expressed by the rally, the owners invited Party leaders for talks the next day. As a result the owners promised to reinstate all workers along with 5% increase in wages for all workers and cooperation with the union in registration of workers. They also signed on a written demand-letter after the talks.

Welcoming this initiative by the Party, the workers proposed the formation of a union under the leadership of CPI(ML), after which the Party has formed the Bunkar Mazdoor Union, Manpur. Membership for this union is in process and workers have been appealed for their cooperation in the AICCTU national conference.

BBMP and BWSSB Workers’ Demo in Bangalore

AICCTU workers of BBMP (Bangalore Municipal Corporation) and BWSSB (Water Supply and Sewerage Board) who had gathered at the Labour Commissioner’s office on 20 Mar. 2015, demanding initiation of proceedings on the cases under Sec. 25(2)(v)(a) of CLARA for equal wages for equal work, were forced to gatecrash and occupy lawns of the Commissioner’s office as the Commissioner was not available for discussion to issue notices for enquiry.

The peaceful demonstrators who came only to know the dates of enquiry and file hundreds of fresh cases turned militant because of irresponsible attitude of the Commissioner who was not available to answer the demonstrators. The only question was why the proceedings were not initiated even after one year of filing cases? Nobody in labor department is willing to take responsibility to implement this particular section of CLARA on equal wages.

Hundreds of workers marched straight inside the lawns of labour department looking for any official to solve their issue. The Lawns of the State Labour Department turned into a venue of protest. Finally, Additional Labour Commissioner assured that notices will be issued within a week.

Demonstrators warned that the department will be stormed by thousands of workers if the assurance was not fulfilled.

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. 12 | 2015

March 18, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18 | No. 12 | 17 – 23 MAR 2015

Long Live the Anti-Colonial, Anti-Communal Legacy of

Bhagat Singh-Sukhdev-Rajguru!


Defend Land and Labour Rights !



Fight for People’s Right to Health, Nutrition and Education!



Join 100 Day Bhoomi-Adhikar Shram Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan,

23 March – 30 June

Answer
Modi’s Corporate-Communal Assault with
A Resolute Campaign for Land and Labour Rights

Defying widespread opposition and peasant demonstrations across the country, the Modi government has gone ahead to table the land acquisition bill in the Lok Sabha. Given the numerical balance in the Lok Sabha, the bill has also been passed. For the sake of pretence, the government did propose a few amendments claiming to accommodate the key concerns of agitated peasants, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The government is still very much adamant on grabbing fertile land without consent, without doing any social and environmental impact assessment, without bothering about the wider loss of livelihood resulting from every such acquisition and refusing to return land once acquired even if it remains idle and never used for the stated purpose of acquisition.

The autocratic and arrogant attitude of the Modi government has only added to the seething anger among peasants, adivasis and every justice-loving citizen of the country and the protests have intensified. Hundreds of activists assembled in Delhi in a conference on 14-15 March and resolved to come together under the banner of All India People’s Forum to resist the corporate-communal offensive being spearheaded by the Modi government. This was followed by a resolute assembly of the people – a People’s Parliament – armed with resolutions adopted at thousands of Gram Sabhas across the country rejecting the Land Grab Bill and the Modi government’s move to curtail and subvert the provisions of Food Security and Employment Guarantee Acts. And the Jan Sansad resolved to conduct a 100-day-long Bhumi Adhikar-Shram Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan (campaign of struggle for land and labour rights) from 23 March (martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru) to 30 June (Hul Diwas – anniversary of the anti-colonial adivasi Hul resistance movement of 1855).

This is perhaps the first time that democratic forces from such diverse progressive traditions and practices – communists, socialists as well as issue-based social movements – have come together to work in a common platform, a platform which brings together not only communist parties and various other Left and socialist groups and a whole spectrum of mass organisations and campaigns but also individual activists and conscientious citizens without any specific organisational affiliation who are engaged in various fields of creative activities and democratic protests. This convergence reflects and reinforces the growing realisation that the current juncture calls for a concerted and determined counter-offensive by all committed democratic forces to reclaim our resources, our rights and our republic from the forces of corporate greed, plunder and subversion.

We are passing through a period of massive socio-economic changes and churning. The policies and laws are being rewritten in this country in the explicit interest of big private corporate players and the common people who constitute the vast majority of real producers, workers and consumers in this country are being systematically marginalised and deprived of their rightful share. To be sure, there is no dearth of protests and struggles amidst growing popular anger, and the need of the hour is to orientate it towards a pro-people progressive shift in the political arena. The ‘Modi wave’ which had catapulted the BJP to power in the last Lok Sabha election is clearly on the wane and the time has come to confront the government and the Sangh brigade with the surging tides of people’s resistance.

The spirit of unity and resolve of concerted and determined struggle that resonated through the AIPF conference and the Jan Sansad must now be carried forward to every nook and corner. The message must reach every defender of democracy, every seeker of change, every fighter for justice.

Land-Food-Livelihood – Resist Corporate Loot!

Call of Every Village, Every Town –
Company Raj Down, Down!

Founding Conference of the All India People’s Forum (AIPF)

Movement Groups Come Together
For People’s Rights,
Against Corporate-Communal Offensive

A range of concerned citizens, mass organizations, social movements, trade unions and political parties have come together to form the All India People’s Forum (AIPF) to take on the offensive of communal and pro-corporate policies.

The Founding Conference of the AIPF began today at Ambedkar Bhawan in Delhi. The Welcome Session of the Conference began with a rousing AIPF theme song by Jan Sanskriti Manch, Jharkhand. This was followed by a tribute the martyrs and departed fighters, (including the Nandigram peasants who were martyred on 14th March 2007), Comrade Govind Pansare, and Comrade Shah Chand. A draft Vision Statement, as well as a draft Action Charter for the AIPF were presented at this session.

Welcoming the participants, Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI(ML), spoke of the all-out offensive – by both the Congress-UPA and the BJP-NDA – on people’s land, livelihood, right to food, as well as on democratic rights, and the campaign to divide people by communal hatred and violence. To take on this offensive, and to assert people’s rights to land, livelihood, education and healthcare, justice, peace, dignity and freedom, he said, it was important for people to unite and fight together. Together, they would carry forward the fight for a free, equal and just society, free of sectarian violence, repression and discrimination. He said, ‘This is an open convention and we will keep organizing such programs in the future along with new forces and build the widest possible unity.”

The welcome session was also addressed by Vijay Pratap on behalf of the Samajwadi Samagam, who stressed the need for socialist and communist streams as well as all democratic movements to come together to infuse new life into progressive politics. Addressing the welcome session, Gautam Mody of the NTUI said that the AIPF platform was significant in that it unites both progressive political parties as well as non-party organisations. Mangat Ram Pasla, Secretary of CPIM Punjab said that mutual respect for differences was important as we unite for a united resistance to neoliberal and communal policies. Addressing the participants, Binayak Sen explained why he felt the need for AIPF. He said that activists submitted a blueprint of a people’s health programme to the Planning Commission, but the whole plan was relegated to the dustbin by the then Planning Commission chairperson Montek Ahluwalia. He said there was an urgent need for a powerful people’s health movement that would urgently address the critical levels of malnutrition and hunger in the country.

On the dais were Swapan Mukherjee, AICCTU, Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA, Dayamani Barla, Manju Mohan (Samajwadi Samagam), RP Pakhrin (CPRM), Prasenjit Bose, Rohit of Left Collective, Uday Bhatt, Lal Nishan Party Leninist, advocate Md Shoaib of Rihai Manch, Lt. General (Retd) USP Sinha, Tahira Hasan, Pratima Engheepi, veteran Kannada writer Vitappa Gorentli, Comrade Simpson from Tamil Nadu’s Odukapattor Viduthalai Munnani, Faisal Anurag from Jharkhand; Dr. Satinath Choudhury and others.

In the afternoon, activists from all over the country discussed plans for campaigns on a range of issues. Journalist Pankaj Srivastava recited his satirical poem on Modi and communal-corporate politics.

A session on ‘Asserting Right to Land, Livelihood and Food Security: Resisting Land Loot, Food Loot’ was conducted by Rajaram Singh, Secretary of the All India Kisan Mahasabha. The session was addressed by Reetika Khera who spoke about the curtailments in the Food Security Act; Jean Dreze who spoke about the series of insidious ways in which the MNREGA was being diluted. Roma Malik of AIUFWP, Prasenjit Bose; Faisal Anurag as well as anti displacement activists from Jharkhand and Odisha discussed strategies of resisting the draconian Modi Government’s Land Acquisition Bill.

A session on Right to Health and Education was conducted by Radhika Menon. Participating in this session, Vikas Gupta of the All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) gave an inspiring presentation on the discriminatory and multi-layered education system in India and the struggle to replace this with a free common education system in which all would have access to good quality education. Health activist Binayak Sen spoke of the chronic hunger and malnutrition that stalks large tracts of rural India. Leena Menghaney from the Campaign for Affordable Cancer Medicines spoke of the Modi Government’s moves to appease US drug corporations, in the process risking the health of millions of patients in India and across the world by delaying access to low-cost generic drugs. Dr Debashis Dutta spoke of the experiences of the People’s Health Forum of West Bengal. Student activists of the AISA Sucheta and Ishan of the DSF also spoke of the struggles against privatization and saffronisation of higher education, and for campus democracy.

In a session on Justice and Dignity of Women, Dalits and Adivasis, noted lawyer and activist Usha Ramanathan said that the Forest Rights Act did not confer rights on forest people, it just affirmed rights that the adivasis already had under the Constitution. In that sense, the Act was an apology from the Indian State to the adivasis. But the Act posed a great challenge to the state and to the corporations who could no longer take forest land for granted. Before the Act, the adivasis lived in fear of the forest authorities; after the Act, it was the State that felt afraid of adivasis’ assertion of their rights. This is why the State has been reluctant to implement the Act in earnest, and there are moves afoot now to dilute or negate this Act.

This session was conducted by Kiran Shaheen, and addressed by Rajni Tilak of the Rashtriya Dalit Mahila Andolan, journalist Neha Dixit, , Kiran Shaheen of Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression, Dr Satinath Choudhury; Alka Kujur from Jharkhand; and Meena Tiwari, General Secretary, AIPWA.

On the second day of the AIPF founding conference, the morning session started with activist and writer Achin Vanaik dismantling the myths about nuclear energy and explaining why all people’s movements must resist the move to force dangerous and expensive nuclear energy onto India when so many countries in the world are giving it up.

The next session highlighted the communal challenge that the country is facing especially at a time when the Government is openly colluding and collaborating with the Sangh Parivar to further the agenda of hate and divide people on communal lines. The session was addressed by activists and film makers who have consistently stood up to and documented communal violence. These included Nakul Sawhney, Dr. Irfan Engineer from Mumbai, A. Marx from Tamil Nadu, Rehana from riot-hit Muzaffarnagar, Kiran Shaheen who was among the earliest to intervene in the communal violence in Delhi’s Trilokpuri; Vidya Dinker who spoke about the moral policing and communal hate campaigns of the Sangh Parivar in Mangalore; KL Ashok of the Karnataka Kaumi Sauhardra Vedike; Sharfuddin Shaikh of the SDPI; and Praveen of Western UP’s Naujawan Bharat Sabha. ID Khajuria, leader of the Internationalist Democratic Party (IDP) from Jammu and Kashmir and Afzal Anis of the United Milli Forum, Jharkhand greeted the Conference.

This was followed by a discussion of the various attacks on democratic rights that are happening in the country either with direct or tacit support of the state. The session was conducted by civil libertarian N.D. Pancholi, and participants included Comrade Simpson, Md Iftiqar Alam of Insaaf Manch (Bihar) and Nadeem Khan of Insaaf Manch (Jharkhand), Md Shoaib of Rihai Manch, (UP), Karnail Singh of the IDP; and Chittaranjan Singh of PUCL. The activists discussed the way in which Muslim youth have been illegally arrested across the country in false cases and have been imprisoned without a shred of evidence, and the use of draconian laws as well as draconian provisions in criminal laws to harass and intimidate innocent people and activists. Comrade Simpson from Tamil Nadu highlighted the way in which author Perumal Murugan has been hounded by the Hindu Right.

The session in the afternoon saw a number of activists from across the country speaking about the loot of natural resources by the corporates and the assault on workers’ rights in the name of Make in India Campaign. The session was conducted by Rajiv Dimri of AICCTU, and addressed by Prof. Atul Sood from JNU, noted journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Uday Bhatt of LNP(L), Vidya Bhushan Rawat, Vitappa Gorentli, anti-POSCO PPSS activist Prakash Jena, trade union leader Upendra Singh, and others who spoke of the bending of existing rules and regulations so that corporates smoothly takeover natural resources and violate the rights of workers.

In the final session of the conference the foundation statement of the AIPF was unanimously adopted by the founding conference and a Panel of Advisors, Campaign Committee and All India Council was formed with activists and organisations from all over the country. Raju Bora of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti of Assam addressed Conference in the last session.

The 44-member Panel of Advisors includes Kuldeep Nayyar, Vijay Pratap, Lt General USP Sinha, Xavier Dias, Anand Teltumbde, Anand Patwardhan, Jean Dreze, Achin Vanaik, Vrinda Grover, John Dayal, Manoranjan Mohanty, Bharti S Kumar, and others.

The 57-member Campaign Committee includes SP Udayakumar, Sunilam, Irfan Engineer, Binayak Sen, Manas Jena, Purushottam Roy Burman, Dayamani Barla, Vinod Singh, Manju Mohan, Roma, Kiran Shaheen, Rohit, Amar Singh Amar, ND Pancholi, Mangat Ram Pasla, Vijay Kulkarni, Gobind Chettri, Sudha Bharadwaj, Kumar Sundaram and others. The 120-member All India Council has activists from all over the country.

Following the Conference, a massive Jan Sansad (People’s Parliament) was held on 16th March at Jantar Mantar under the banner of the All India People’s Forum (AIPF), against the loot of land, livelihood, and food by the Modi Government.

The Jan Sansad was addressed by leaders of peasant and adivasi movements and Left and socialist leaders. The Jan Sansad was conducted by Rajaram Singh, General Secretary, All India Kisan Mahasabha, and Member, Campaign Committee, AIPF, and attended and addressed by a range of activists and leaders of parties and people’s movements.

Veteran columnist and civil libertarian Kuldeep Nayyar told the gathered people, “Your land is your own, no one can take it from you by force, defend your land with all your might.” Many activists of peasants’ movements and struggles against corporate land grab addressed the gathering, including AIPF All India Council member POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti leader Prakash Jena; Raju Bora, leader of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti of Assam and AIPF Advisor; AIPF Campaign Committee members Sunilam, ex-MLA and leader of the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti; and Dayamani Barla of Jharkhand. In an inspiring speech, Dayamani Barla asserted the rights of people to land, forests, water and political power as well. Sunilam said that people’s movements would triumph over the corporate-funded political forces, since the movements refused to be terrorized by bullets and jails.

AIPF Campaign Committee member Roma Malik, GS of the All India Union of Forest Working People, in her rousing address, spoke of women’s enormous role in all the ongoing people’s movements, and stressed the need for united struggles of peasants, adivasis, and workers.

Addressing the Jan Sansad, Kiran Shaheen said that the AIPF marked a new beginning of united struggles that would usher in a new dawn. She stressed the question of right to water as a fundamental right, as essential as the right to food.

Addressing by Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI(ML) Liberation pointed out that the Modi Government had promised ‘acche din’ for the people, but had delivered ‘acche din’ only for the corporations and the rich. Social sector spending had been slashed and the Land Acquisition Bill introduced to facilitate the grab of peasant land. Land, livelihood and food security were under attack. And moves were afoot to drastically curtail Food Security Act and MNREGA. He said that massive people’s movements had taught a lesson to arrogant Governments of the Congress as well as regional parties. He called for a new independence movement to oust the Modi Government’s Company Raj. He said that the AIPF was born out of the urge of people’s movements for greater united resistance to the ongoing corporate and communal offensives.

Rameshwar Prasad, ex-MP and President of the All India Association of Agricultural Labourers (AIALA) spoke of the rights of landless labourers and agricultural workers, whose livelihood is lost when land is grabbed.

AIPF leaders announced their intention to observe 23rd March, the martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru, as Bhoomi Adhikar Diwas (Land Rights Day) followed by a 100-day mass campaign on Land Rights and Labour Rights (Bhoomi Adhikar-Shram Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan). As part of this campaign, the rights of people to health, nutrition, water and education will also be raised along with the right to land, livelihood and workers’ rights.

People’s health activist and civil libertarian Binayak Sen was also present on the dais. Bhimrao Bansode, General Secretary of the Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) called for people’s resistance to the communal and corporate offensive.

The Jan Sansad was also addressed by AIPF Campaign Committee members Mohd Salim, AIPWA General Secretary Meena Tiwari; Rajendra Bauke of Lal Nishan Party (Leninist); PC Tiwari of the Uttarakhand Parivartan Party.

Also present were AIPF Advisor Lt General USP Sinha; Chittaranjan Singh of PUCL; Dhirendra Jha, General Secretary AIALA; ex-Colonel Laxmeshwar Mishra; and AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan.

The speakers at the Jan Sansad pointed out that the Modi Government had promised ‘acche din’ for the people, but had delivered ‘acche din’ only for the corporations and the rich. Social sector spending had been slashed and the Land Acquisition Bill introduced to facilitate the grab of peasant land. Land, livelihood and food security were under attack. And moves were afoot to drastically curtail Food Security Act and MNREGA. Speakers said that massive people’s movements had taught a lesson to arrogant Governments before including the UPA Government, and the Modi Government’s Company Raj too would be taught a lesson by the people.

A delegation of AIPF leaders and prominent citizens from the Jan Sansad submitted the 1000s of gram sabha resolutions to the President of India, seeking his immediate intervention to protect land, livelihood and food security. The resolutions demanded scrapping of the Land Acquisition Bill, as well as scrapping of moves to dilute and curtail the MNREGA and Food Security Act.


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