ML Update | No. 30 | 19- 25 July 2016

July 20, 2016

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.19 | No. 30 | 19- 25 July 2016

No More Una Or Dadri Style Atrocities

Ban Casteist And Communal ‘Cow Protection’ Mobs

For the past several years, ‘cow-protection’ vigilantism has been the pretext for casteist and communal violence. Akhlaque was killed in Dadri by such a mob; two Muslim cattle herders were lynched and hung from trees in Jharkhand by such mobs. Such mobs, acting closely with RSS outfits, have routinely stripped, paraded and thrashed their victims in the presence of police, and uploaded videos of the violence online. But they have done so once too often in Una in Gujarat’s Somnath District.

The job of skinning and tanning cow leather and disposing of cow carcasses is assigned by the oppressive caste system to Dalits, who face untouchability for doing this work that is considered ‘dirty.’ On July 11th, a Shiv Sena ‘cow protection’ mob caught hold of four Dalit men who had been called by a farmer to dispose of a dead cow. Accusing the Dalits of being ‘cow leather smugglers,’ the cow-vigilantes brutally stripped and thrashed them for four hours, and released a video of the atrocity as a ‘warning’ to ‘cow smugglers.’ The Gujarat police, far from intervening to prevent the violence and arrest the perpetrators, detained the victims and questioned them. This is reminiscent of the shocking manner in which a UP Court has ordered that a FIR of ‘cow slaughter’ be registered against the family of the Dadri lynch-mob victim Akhlaque.

The Dalits of Gujarat have erupted in protest against the atrocity. They have adopted an innovative means of protest: they are dumping cow carcasses at Government offices, saying that Dalits refuse to dispose of cow carcasses any more. They have declared that those of the RSS, Shiv Sena and other ‘cow protection’ outfits who claim the cow to be their mother, can in future take on the responsibility of conducting the ‘last rites’ of their ‘mother’. This form of protest has most effectively exposed the sheer hypocrisy of the casteist and communal ‘cow protection’ groups that refer to cows as their ‘mother’, but consider the ‘mother’s’ carcass to be too ‘polluting’ to be handled by anyone except Dalits.

Some 16 Dalits of Gujarat have attempted suicide in the wake of the atrocity, reflecting the sense of outrage and humiliation felt by Dalits in the State. The Gujarat Government, in an attempt to contain the protest, has suspended some of the concerned police personnel. But suspension is far from adequate: all the perpetrators, identified on the basis of the videos, must be arrested and the responsible police personnel arrested and prosecuted for their complicity in an atrocity against Dalits.

A study titled “Understanding Untouchability: A Comprehensive Study of Practices and Conditions in 1,589 villages”, conducted in Gujarat by the Navsarjan Trust between 2007-2010, had found evidence of widespread untouchability, tacitly approved and encouraged by the Government, in 98% of the villages. And Gujarat is unlikely to be an exception – untouchability and anti-Dalit atrocities are common all over rural and urban India.

What needs to be emphasized is the fact that casteist anti-Dalit discrimination and violence is joined at the hip to communal discrimination and violence. Strategies used to stoke hatred and violence against Muslims today, have long been used against Dalits. Both Dalits and Muslims are the targets of organized violence in the name of ‘cow protection’; Dalits, like Muslims, do not share the taboo on consumption of beef imposed by caste Hindus. Dalit communities face violence when Dalit men marry ‘caste Hindu’ women; Muslim communities face violence when Muslim men marry Hindu women. In other words, ‘cow protection’, as well as inter-caste and inter-faith marriage are common pretexts for casteist and communal politics as well as mob violence. Modi himself, during the Parliamentary and Assembly election campaign speeches in Bihar, repeatedly used the ‘cow protection’ motif in a vain attempt to stoke communal hatred and consolidate caste and religious vote-banks in Bihar.

Today, the BJP and Sangh Parivar are caught in a wedge. They are the champions of the ‘cow protection’ politics and the casteist and communal violence that go with it. At the same time, they seek to woo Dalits to identify with communal, anti-Muslim politics. Their ‘ghar wapsi’ (homecoming) campaign is essentially a campaign to ask Dalits to embrace their subordinate position in the Hindu casteist status quo, without complaint. They also seek to appropriate Ambedkar, minus his radical anti-caste and anti-communal democratic politics. But time and again, actions and words of the BJP, Sangh and Hindutva leaders and groups reveal them to the Dalits to be ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing.’

When Modi was Gujarat Chief Minister, he referred in a book titled ‘Karmayog’ to manual scavenging as a ‘spiritual activity’ done voluntarily by Dalits to serve society. After facing huge protests, he has since changed his tune. But his original remarks throw light on the Sangh’s own ideology that disguises and glorifies anti-Dalit atrocities as part of a desirable social order.

Even as the Dalits of Gujarat – Narendra Modi’s supposedly ‘model’ home state – are up in arms against a shamelessly casteist administration and Government, Mumbai has witnessed a massive rally of Dalit and Left groups against the BJP Government’s shocking demolition of Ambedkar’s historic office at Dadar.

The Dalits’ protests in Gujarat must resonate across the country. Democratic groups all over India must unite to demand a ban on cow protection vigilantist outfits that indulge in, promote or glorify mob violence in the name of ‘cow protection.’

Bihar Bandh

Against Political Patronage of Toppers’ Scam

The Bihar bandh called by the CPI(ML) Bihar State committee for 12 July on the following issues—high level judicial enquiry into the political patronage of the toppers’ scam; inclusion of educationists in the committee; implementation of common school system; revoking of SC-ST scholarship cuts; revoking of stay on provisions for reservation in government job promotions; revoking of non-aided education policy; confiscation of the scamsters’ properties; and review of matric and inter exam results—was very effective across the State. Train services, roads, schools, colleges, banks, shops, block offices etc. remained closed for several hours at various places. Congratulating the people of Bihar on the success of the bandh, the Bihar state unit of CPI (ML) shared that the widespread participation of people from all walks of life is an indication that education is a priority on the people’s agenda and they will not tolerate a corrupt and anti-people education policy. The bandh got full support from students, intellectuals, dalits, non-aided teachers and others.

In Patna a march in support of the bandh led by State Secretary Com. Kunal was taken out from Gandhi Maidan to Dak Bangla chowk where hundreds including senior leaders of the Party were arrested. Speakers at the meeting castigated Nitish for destroying the education system in the State and ruining the future of Bihar’s young, making a mockery of his promise to bring social justice. Merely a criminal enquiry into the toppers’ scam will not do; the political patronage must also be probed, as there are clear links between Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad, Giriraj Singh (BJP) and main scam accused education mafia leader Bacchca Singh. They added that the two-faced and non-aided policy has replaced affordable government education with profiteering private schools and has ruined Bihar’s education.

The leaders also pointed that cuts in SC-ST scholarships and stay on reservations SC- ST reservations in government job promotions are ironically contrary to the promise of “social justice”. The purpose is clearly to stop the weaker sections from advancing in society. Holding all 3 parties—JDU, RJD, and BJP—responsible, the speakers demanded a judicial enquiry into the political patronage of the scam and also rejected the current education policy which deepened social inequalities.

School children participated in large numbers in the rallies at Jehanabad and Arwal. The students said that the government schools are in dire condition with extreme shortage of teachers, resulting in those who could afford it to go for private schools. The poor are left in the pathetic government schools.

The working of banks and blocks in Buxar and Kesath were affected by the bandh and non-aided teachers came out in large numbers at Motihari. CPI (ML), RYA, AISA activists and bandh supporters stopped trains across the State for varying lengths of time which included Sampark Kranti, Sealdah Sapt Kranti, Vaishali, Jamalpur-Gaya Passenger, Patna-Sasaram Fast Passenger, 565 Uo Local, Ranchi-Patna Janshatabdi, Patna-Ara Passenger, Shramjeevi, Bhagalpur-Dana Express, and Janshatabdi Express in Masaurhi.

Roads and National Highways were also blocked at various parts of the State: GT Road, NH 57, NH 30, NH 98, NH 83, NH 28, Muzaffarpur-Shivhar Road, Dumraon-Vikramgarh Road, Buxar-Dinara Road, JP Chowk and Gopalganj crossing in Siwan. The bandh was also effective and widely participated in Motihari, Eastern Champaran, Saran, Buxar, Sasaram, Vikramganj, Kaimur, Darbhanga, Bhagalpur, Madhepura, Supoul, and Saharsa. In Ara different groups marched at block HQs across the district. Koilvar bridge and Ara bus stand were blocked for hours by the bandh supporters led by MLA Com. Sudama Prasad and other leaders. About 60 supporters were arrested in Jagdishpur.

Road and rail traffic were obstructed and effective marches were also taken out in Navada, Aurangabad, Nalanda, Jamui, Shekhpura, Katihar and Arariya.

Protests in Solidarity With Kashmir

Citizens and several progressive, democratic and left individuals and organisations have held protests in different parts of the country against the brutal assault by police, paramilitaries and armed forces in the Kashmir valley that have left over 40 dead, and several blinded and severely injured. These sections have come together in large numbers to condemn the violence unleashed by the state.

Delhi: On 13 July, several hundred including right civil rights activists, students, youth, artists, women’s organizations, left organisations and individuals, and several others gathered at Jantar Mantar for a silent protest march and protest meeting. Wearing black bands and holding banners and placards that carried names of those who had been killed during the protests, the protestors demanded an immediate end to these brutalities. Addressing the protest meeting, activist Shabnam Hashmi emphasized on the urgent need to end the ‘climate of impunity’ in Kashmir that allowed the state to become a murderer. She also pointed out the contrast in the way in which the violent, armed mobs were dealt in Harayana and Gujarat and the way the unarmed protestors were dealt with in Kashmir. Com. Kavita Krishnan, PB member of CPI (ML) spoke about the need to immediately repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the urgent necessity to initiate dialogue without preconditions with all sections of society in Jammu and Kashmir. She also stressed the need for all Indian citizens to come out and say that the Indian state cannot continue to butcher the people of Kashmir in their name. AISA leader and JNUSU VP, Com. Shehla Rashid also spoke about how the continued violence unleashed by the state and the humiliation meted out to the Kashmiris had led to young generations of Kashmiris feeling alienated. She stressed on the urgent need to demilitarize Kashmir.

Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu: On 17 July, CPI(ML) and AICCTU jointly organized a demonstration in Tirunelveli, demanding justice for Kashmiri people. Demonstrators held placards that read- “No to Bullets and Pellets and YES to political resolution of Kashmir issue”; ”No peace without Justice”, and “AFSPA should go”. Com. Kumarasamy, while addressing the protestors said that even as the Modi government says that Kashmir is a part of India, the people of Kashmir cannot be seen as enemies. The grievances of the Kashmiris demanded a political solution and not the army.

Patna: In Patna too, a protest of citizens led by CPI (ML) demanded an end to state violence in Kashmir. The protestors strongly condemned the barbaric killings of innocent citizens in Kashmir. The police responded to the protestors with the use of force

Kolkata: Hundreds of protestors participated in a rally in Kolkata on 15 July to protest the ongoing killings in Kashmir by the Indian State. In Kolkata too the protestors carried placards with the names of civilians recently killed in Kashmir inscribed on it. Protestors raised slogans demanding withdrawal of AFSPA, PSA and the presence of the armed forces in Kashmir. Protestors expressed solidarity with the people of Kashmir and demanded that the Kashmiri demand for self-determination be addressed politically, not by repression.

Towards September 2nd All India Strike

The Tamil Nadu state council of AICCTU met at Tirunelveli on 17 July to chart out a plan for successful ‘All India Strike’ on September 2. A four-member Presidium consisting of Comrades N. K. Natarajan, A. S. Kumar, Bhuvana and Sankarapandian conducted the proceedings. Leaders representing various sectors such as Civil supplies corporation, electricity board, Co-optex, construction, power loom, defence, conservancy workers and also workers from organized and unorganized private sector industries put forth their demands and shared details pertaining to preparations for the strike. The council also decided to approach Industry-wise independent unions to call them for their participation. A massive signature campaign on the demands and fund mobilization campaign were also planned. It was also decided to organize two workshops at Chennai and Coimbatore to equip workers comprehensively during August. Com A.S. Kumar took the mantle as state President which was ratified by the council. Com. Kumarasamy, All India President of AICCTU addressed the council covering all aspects of International and National situation and the role of the working class in the present juncture. The Council meet ended with a firm resolve to make the September 2 strike successful.

AIARLA Protest for Tribal Land Rights in Vishakhapatnam

Chatarjipuram is a small habitation in M.K. Patanam revenue village of Rolugunta Mandal in Vishakhapatnam district. ‘Gadaba’ are Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) living there who cultivate nearly 25 acres’ dry land since a long time. The tribal cultivators name was recorded in the old village revenue records.

After Mr. Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP government came to power in the state of Andhra Pradesh, he started digitalization of village revenue records and opened the flood gate to the land mafia. Using the digitization drive to their advantage and with active cooperation from present Revenue Divisional officer and the Tehsildar, the land mafia were able to remove the names of the tribals and incorporated the names of the non-tribal non-cultivators as cultivators in computerized land records.

‘Losingi’ is another PVTG village on situated on a hilltop in Rolungunta Mandal, where ‘Kondh’ tribe resides. However, some non-tribal belonging to ‘Sarabavaram’ a village in the plains, bribed the revenue officers and were able to get the pattas (titles) of the government land on which crops are being grown by the Kondh tribe farmers, assigned to their names. The non-tribal using these titles are getting huge loans from national banks along with funds for ‘land development program’ under MGNREGS. The tribal people of Losingi submitted complaints for cancellation of these pattas to the Tehsildar, RDO and the Collector, but no action was taken. Several tribal villages like ‘Pedapeta’, ‘Konthalam’ and others village are facing similar land problems. On 11 July, AIARLA organized the tribal communities and conducted a rally in the Divisional headquarter of Narsipatanam from RTC complex to the RDO office. AIARLA demanded an in-depth enquiry by Project Officer of Integrated Tribal Development Agency of Paderu and it also demanded action against the Tehsildar of Rolugunta who changed the revenue records to favor the non-tribal non-cultivators. Nearly a hundred tribals and Dalits participated in the rally. Com Janardhan and Com. Chanti lead the rally which was addressed by Com. Bugatha Bangaru Rao, Central Committee Member of CPI (ML).

Demonstration against Nuclear Plant by AIPF and PMANE at Tirunelveli

Even as the unit 1 of the Koodankulam Nuclear plant is in doldrums, the Indian government has declared the successful establishment of unit 2. AIPF and Peoples’ Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMNAE) organized a Demonstration on 16 July at Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, demanding complete closure of all nuclear plants. Demonstrators demanded a white paper on Nuclear deals. They also demanded that the government say ‘No’ to further Nuclear parks. Government’s claim of production of electricity from unit 1 itself was ridiculed by the demonstrators. Com. Ramesh, National Council member of AIPF presided over the demonstration. The demonstration was addressed by Com. Kumarasamy, state secretary of CPI(ML) and Com. S.P. Udayakumar, Convenor of PMANE and also the National campaign committee member of AIPF. The protest demonstration was also attended by Com. Kalai Kannan of Aadhi Tamilar Katchi, Mr.Abdul Jabbar of Tamil Nadu Peoples’ Democratic party, Com. Sankara Pandian, state General secretary of AICCTU, Com. Desikan, state campaign committee member of AIPF, Com. Ganesan of AICCTU and Com. Sundarrajan of RYA.

AIPWA March in Ramgarh on Hul Diwas

The Ramgarh district unit of AIPWA rook out a rally on 30 June (Hul Diwas) against the atrocities by the Raghuvar Das government on women, especially dalit and adivasi women. Women participating in the rally raised their voice against the government on the following issues: rape and murder of Chandmuni Soren and Priya Murmu of Ramgarh district; failure to arrest killers of B.Ed student Sonali Murmu; police atrocities on a young girl at Manika thana; and the police lathi charge on women protesters against land-grabbing by NTPC at Badkagaon in Hazaribagh district. They said that the government had failed to protect the safety and dignity of women in the State. Hundreds of women marched 3 km on foot from the Party office raising slogans for women’s safety, dignity, work, and pay. The march was followed by the district conference at Tulsi Devi Dharmashala which began by paying tributes to Sidu, Kanhu, Chand, Bhairav, Phulo, Jhano, Rijhni Devi, Balkahiya Devi and other martyrs.

In his inaugural address, Ramgarh district secretary Com. Bhuneshwar Bediya said that women must unite and come forward to fight for their rights against molestation, rape, murder, and police atrocity, and they must decisively establish their identity. Presiding over the conference, Com. Nita Bediya said that the governments at the centre and the State have given the call for “Beti Bachao-Beti-Padhao”, but the greatest oppression of women is taking place here. Many “Betis” are forced to migrate from Jharkhand in search of livelihood. They are being physically and economically exploited by brokers, but the government shows no interest in stopping this. Com. Karuna Kumari, leader from Badkagaon block said that women are fighting against land grab by NTPC despite being lathi-charged by the police. She stressed that women must unite and fight to protect their dignity, water, forest, and land. Many other women also expressed their views. At the conclusion, a 25 member AIPWA district committee was constituted with comrades Sarita Devi and Nita Bediya being elected President and Secretary respectively.

ASHA Health Workers Protest

Uttarakhand ASHA Health Workers’ Union, affiliated to AICCTU, has strongly condemned the government’s act of distributing “ASHA Nirodh” at several places during the Diarrhoea and Family Planning Fortnight, and has termed it extremely insulting to ASHA workers and to all women. On 15 July, the ASHA workers’ union burnt the effigy of the Health Minister at many places across the State including in Pithoragarh district headquarters.

Com. Vimal Philip of the CPI (ML) said that on the one hand the government is not willing to give the ASHA workers even a monthly honorarium in spite of extracting all manner of work from them and continues to exploit them thoroughly, against which the workers are protesting by boycotting the Diarrhoea and Family Planning Fortnight. The government by naming the condoms “ASHA Nirodh” will be exposing the ASHA workers to sexist remarks and taunts.

Union District President Com. Indra Deupa said that punitive action should be taken against the Minister, officials, manufacturing company, and programme director involved in this insulting project. If action is not taken, other women’s organizations and unions will also be mobilized on this issue of respect and dignity for women. She said that the if the government does not apologize without delay and revoke the condoms, the union will confront the government on this issue and the ruling party MLAs will be gheraoed at all places.

Forcible Land Grab and Police Atrocities in Jharkhand

An inquiry team comprising human rights activist Fr Stan Swamy, anti-displacement activist Arvind Avinash, Prashant Rahi, and Anil Anshuman from the AIPF visited different villages in the main region of the Pakri-Barwadih Coal Project in Barkagaon block in Hazaribagh district on 18 June to inquire into the atrocities unleashed by the police and administration on villagers who were protesting against the forcible land grab by NTPC under their Karnapura (Pakri-Barwadih) project. They met villagers who were victims of the police oppression and spoke in detail to them. They also spoke to activists from people’s organizations fighting against the land grab and displacement of the villagers, on whom false cases have been slapped. The findings of the team have been presented in brief below:

Villagers from Sonbarsa, Sinduari, Churchu, and Dadikala said that the villagers of this area had been continuously protesting against the illegal means adopted by NTPC management for the coal project. Despite this, when the coal mining contract was given to private companies and work was first started at Chirudih Talia Tand, the neighbouring farmers (raiyyats) started an indefinite peaceful dharna from 31 March at the mining venue. On 16 May when the companies started using bulldozers, the farmers intensified their stir. On 17 May, when hundreds of farmers were participating in the dharna. Barkagaon thana in-charge Ramdayal Munda came with some policemen and asked the farmers why they had lathis if their protest was peaceful. Hearing this, the farmers put aside their lathis. Then suddenly without warning hundreds of policemen attacked them with lathis, injuring many.

After the above attack, according to 300 to 400 eyewitnesses, armed policemen attacked many nearby villages also, beating up the old, young, women, children, and anyone they could get hold of. Houses were broken into and in the absence of male members, women were obscenely abused and beaten. Household goods were destroyed. Several people were left with cracked heads and broken limbs. Even pregnant women were not spared. Wherever the inquiry team went, they could see visible proof of the police brutality.

Mukesh, an inter student from Sonbarsa village, said even the British would not have inflicted brutalities as inflicted by these policemen. 60-year-old Bhuvaneshwar Sao shared that he was beaten up so brutally that he had to get admitted in Ranchi for 5 days. Sudama Kumar, a class five student was beaten so badly that he got fever and still walks with a limp. Several children shared the brutalities they were subjected to. Similar reports came from Dadikala and Sinduari. Villagers across villages shared that for several days after the attack they were fearful and could not sleep for the police had threatened further violence unless they cleared out. The villagers told the team that the government says that this land is fallow and wants to take it away on that excuse; but in reality it is very fertile and yields good vegetable and paddy crops.

The administration has slapped false cases on activists who raise their voices for the farmers’ rights and land including Com. Mithilesh Dangi, Rajeev Ranjan, Mohd Ansari and others, who are still in the Hazaribagh Central Jail. Their hearing is being done not through physical presence but through video conferencing. Cases have been registered against 31 named persons and hundreds of unnamed persons under sections such as stone-pelting, snatching rifles from policemen, and obstructing government work. 3 members of the family of Baija Rana, struggling for their 40-acre multi-crop land are in jail. Clearly, the situation in Jharkhand is even worse than during the Emergency in 1975 as this time fascist rule is being imposed for the benefit of corporate companies. The reality is that the BJP government wishes to make Jharkhand a heaven for corporate companies and a graveyard for democracy.

ML Update | No. 29 | 12- 18 July 2016

July 15, 2016

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 19 | No. 29 | 12- 18 July 2016

Stop Repression on
Kashmir’s People

Kashmir has been plunged into yet another cycle of massive civilian protests met with brutal state repression that claimed 32 lives till now and severely injured many more. The crisis has been precipitated this time by the killing of a young militant, Burhan Wani. Wani had been a popular figure in Kashmir, adept in addressing youth on social media. Vast numbers of Kashmiri people gathered to mourn at his funeral. Mourners and protesters alike are being subjected to repression by paramilitary forces on Kashmir’s streets, in a repeat of the events of 2010, when 112 civilian protesters were killed in a period of four months.

There are many unanswered questions about Burhan Wani’s killing. The Supreme Court’s recent order, reiterating that every encounter must be subjected to criminal investigation and prosecution, whether the person killed is a militant or a civilian, ought to be respected and followed here. But Burhan Wani’s killing also raises other questions about the Indian State’s policy vis a vis Kashmir. In 2010, on the heels of the spate of killings of civilian protesters, Wani and his brother and friends were subjected to a casual, brutal beating by security forces. Such humiliations are part of the daily experience of most Kashmiris, as a result of the military and paramilitary deployment in civilian areas. Months after the beating, the 16 year-old Wani left home to join a separatist outfit and emerge as a well-known face of the Kashmiri insurgency. In Kashmir, youth who do not take up arms and engage only in street protests, are routinely killed or maimed by security forces. By choking off all spaces for peaceful resistance and delegitimising even seminars and slogans that reflect Kashmiri sentiments, by routinely cracking down on internet services, and subjecting youth to brutal, arbitrary beating even when they are not protesting, the Indian establishment itself is creating the soil in which militancy takes root. Moreover, Wani was not charged with participating in any specific instance of terrorism, and is on record assuring that Amarnath pilgrims would not be attacked and appealing to Kashmiri Pandits to return to the Valley. There could have been many ways of engaging youth like him – and separatist organisations like his – in talks about Kashmir’s political future rather than killing them.

What the Central Government and the BJP-PDP Government in J&K are unable to reckon with is the scale of the spontaneous civilian mourning and protests that have broken out following Wani’s killing. Attempts to blame the protests on instigation by Pakistan, and justify the killing of Wani as well as the repression on civilians as a war on terror, only point to the colossal political failure of the Governments to engage respectfully with the voices and aspirations of Kashmiri people. Kashmir is primarily a political issue calling for a political solution that is in keeping with the wishes of the Kashmiri people, their self-respect and dignity.

The Sangh Parivar and BJP have for long vitiated the discourse on Kashmir by demanding abrogation of Article 370. But even the Congress and the UPA, that stood by Article 370, had much the same militarised policy towards Kashmir. Both Congress and BJP-led governments at the Centre have insisted on tame state governments in J&K, have branded every instance of Kashmiri mass resistance and protests as ‘instigated by Pakistan’, and unleashed brutal repression on such protests. The NCP leader Omar Abdullah has been blaming Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for her failure to stop the killings of civilians – forgetting perhaps that he himself presided over a spate of such killings in 2010 when he was Chief Minister. The fact that the NCP and PDP utterly fail to command any credibility, trust and respect among Kashmir’s people is brought home by the fact that the Chief Minister, Ministers and elected MLAs are yet to feel confident enough even to meet the injured in hospital and the families of the victims!

The coverage of the crisis in Kashmir by influential sections of the Indian media is a recipe for further alienation of the Kashmiri people. Any calls for restraint, for sympathy with Kashmir’s grief and rage, for Supreme Court-mandated enquiries into encounter killings, are equated with ‘support for terrorism’ or ‘support for Pakistan.’ The question of the killings of civilian protesters and use of pellet guns to blind scores of protesters is either rendered virtually invisible. The political issues are obscured and Kashmir is seen entirely through the prism of ‘Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.’

Indian leaders talk now and then of ‘winning the hearts and minds of the Kashmiri people’. PV Narasimha Rao had promised that ‘the sky is the limit’ in talks with separatist groups on Kashmir. Vajpayee had, in response to a question about whether talks with separatist groups would take place ‘within the scope of the Indian Constitution’, had countered that they would take place ‘within the scope of humanity.’ But such promises seem to have remained in the domain of phrase-mongering. The average Kashmiri finds that far from the ‘sky’ being the limit, political self-expression of Kashmiris on the question of self-determination is pushed underground. Rather than talks ‘within the scope of humanity’, the template for dealing with Kashmiri resentments, mournings and protests remains within the grim and inhuman scope of pellets and bullets. It is of course, asserted that ‘Kashmir is an integral part of India’, but the Kashmiri people are subjected to brutalisation and humiliation on a scale and intensity that few other parts of India have experienced. Above all, the Indian establishment as well as most political parties and the media, fail to display even the most basic respect for Kashmiri sentiments and aspirations.

It is urgent for the democratic-minded Indian citizens to open their hearts and minds to the voices of Kashmiri people, and to tell Indian Governments at the Centre and State that the brutal military handling of Kashmiri resistance must stop. To create a conducive climate where a genuine dialogue on solutions for Kashmir can be discussed where Kashmiri people can freely express themselves and be heard with respect, it is a must for the AFSPA to be withdrawn, and or all encounters and alleged rapes by security forces to be subjected to credible and timely investigations. The right of Kashmiris to a political solution in keeping with their wishes and sense of autonomy and dignity, must be articulated strongly not just in Kashmir but in every corner of India.

Indefinite Dharna in Zamania, Ghazipur

An indefinite dharna is in progress since 10 May at Zamania tehsil in Ghazipur district of Uttar Pradesh on the issues pertaining to: removal of rich ineligible people and inclusion of poor working people in the food security list; distribution of wheat at Rs 2 per kg and rice at Rs 3 per kg; regularization of kabja by dalits and vanvasis on village, government and banjar lands and their registration in tehsil records; housing pattas to all landless poor; assured work under MNREGA or allowance in lieu of it; availability of medicines in government hospitals; and resolution of land disputes. The SDM initially refused permission for dharna on the account of elections in Jangipur assemble and some villages in Zamania tehsil. However, with protestors refusing to end dharna, the administration was forced to enter into negotiations, a week after the dharna was started. Representatives of the CPI(ML) and AIARLA were also included in the meeting, where they were assured that their demands would be fulfilled in one week’s time. Under the ‘Uttho Mere Desh’ campaign too village sabhas were held in various villages in the Zamania Assembly constituency on these issues.

However, despite assurances, the actions of the officials have been on the contrary. As eligible people from different villages whose names were not earlier included in the food security list started filling in and submitting their forms and more and more people started participating in the dharna, the concerned SDM arranged for his transfer and left the place on a day the protestors had called for a lockout in the tehsil office. Meanwhile in Tiyari village, people from the Kushwaha community had been given pattas for some housing land on which dominant caste people had taken illegal kabja. The patta holders started their construction work on the land but the police repeatedly obstructed the process. In another instance, the tehsil police and administration, acting on behalf of a feudally powerful person, tried to destroy a vanvasi basti and establish kabja dakhal on that land. They were forced to turn back in the face of the agitation, however this did not stop the administration from attempting to implement their nefarious plans again. The block and municipal officials refused to verify and forward the food security list amendment forms which had been filled in from 28 villages. The continued anti-poor actions of the administration have led to the movement getting intensified. On 21 June the poor villagers marched in large numbers with lathis, sickles and other tools from the thana chowk to Pandey chowk and staged a chakka jam in front of the tehsil HQ. The BDO and SDM were forced to accept the memorandum. On 22 June a meeting of all the panchayat officials and the BDO took place during which the SDM pulled up the officials for negligence in work and directed them to meet all the demands within one week. However, given the past actions of the administration, the protestors have continued the two month long dharna to keep up the pressure.

Against Police Atrocities in Ranchi

On 8 July, Rupesh Sanwaasi, a minor hailing from Bundu, a town in Ranchi district, died in police custody after being subjected to third degree torture by the police. On 10 July, a protest march was called by Ranchi district unit of CPI (ML) to protest against this custodial death and also the increasing police rule of Raghuvar government. The march started from Mahendra Singh Bhawan and culminated in Albert Ekka Chowk with the burning of Chief Minister’s effigy. The party demanded that the Bundu DSP who had got his bodyguard to take Rupesh into custody be arrested along with others who were present with him during the torturing and they be booked for murder. Despite the recent order issued by the state High Court, the minor was killed in custody. CM Raghuvar must apologize and ensure compensation and job for the family of Rupesh. Given the increasing spate of custodial torture of minors in the state, the government must fix the responsibility of the concerned police officers and take action against them. The protest march was led by Ranchi district secretary, Com. Bhuvaneswar Kewat and state committee member, Com. Janardan Harijan. The leaders declared that if the government does not heed to the demands immediately, a justice march would be taken out in Rahe and Bundu on 21 July and the issue will also be raised strongly in the state assembly.

Fact Finding Report on the Devastation Caused by Cloudburst in Chamoli District of Uttarakhand

Huge damage has been caused by the cloudburst in the ghat region on 1 July and the rising river waters. 5 people were killed, 2 are missing, and a dozen shops and buildings were either badly damaged or washed away in the river. The ghat is 43 km from the headquarters of Chamoli district. While the single narrow road from Nandprayag to the ghat was never in good condition, it has now become particularly filled with holes and stones following the disaster.

The access road to Jakhni, a village of 150 families on the other side has been totally destroyed. The Nandakini is still flooded. Debris-filled shops and buildings half-hanging in the river and half washed away tell the tale of the destruction. The rivers in spate and the homes with their backyards practically opening on to the river clearly indicate that rising water, rain or cloudbursts can again pose a grave danger. Though the CM Harish Rawat, Congress MLA and leader of opposition have visited the ghat, there is no visible improvement in the conditions. The wilting vegetables in the ghat bazaar are indicative of the enormous shortage of food, vegetables, and essential goods in the coming days if the road is not opened soon. Medical services have been badly affected by the lack of road access. There is a primary health centre in the ghat with an allopathic doctor, an ayurvedic doctor and a pharmacist but this is not adequate as several patients need to be referred to Dehradun for treatment.

The administrative machinery is moves at an extremely slow pace which even a disaster of such impact has failed to change. On 4 July, Garhwal Commissioner issued a statement that it would take 20 days to complete the road. A couple of days later Chamoli stated that it would take 7 days. The PWD does not appear bothered as the political leaders travel by helicopter and not road.

After the 2013 disaster, embankments had to be built as the ghat had been eroded by the flooding rivers. The irrigation department started building embankments, but on the side where there was no habitation. When the people agitated, they were assured that embankments on the inhabited side would be built within 15 days. Even after 6 months the embankmets were not built. Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha leader and ghat resident Mohan Singh has filed a petition in the Chamoli police station demanding a case to be registered under section 188 against the supervising engineer and junior engineer of the irrigation department. Com. Bhoopal Singh Rawat informed that the Chamoli DM had twice directed the supervising engineer of the irrigation department to construct the embankment but still it was not done. The Uttarakhand government as always appears unfazed by disasters and unwilling to adopt any measures to prevent them in future.

Hul Diwas Observed in Jharkhand

The tradition of celebrating Hul Diwas on 30 June began in 1855. It was on this date 161 years ago that the Hul revolution led by Sido, Kanho and Chand Bhairvav began in Bhognadih village of Dumka. The movement which was initially against exploitative money lenders later turned into a revolution against the British rule following brutal police oppression. However, even 161 years later, the descendants of the Hul revolutionaries have not been able to obtain their complete rights.

This year on Hul Diwas, Ulgulan march was taken out in Dumka city under the leadership of CPI (ML) MLA Com. Rajkumar Yadav, Comrades Rameshwar Soren, Subhash Mandal, Babulal Rai and others to protest against the attempts of the state government to rob the rural and urban poor of Jharkhand of their lands under the pretext of ‘wrong settlement’ and raise the demands for – (i) ensuring the legality of the land held by rural and urban poor (ii) demarcation and distribution of Gair Majarua land and land exceeding ceiling among the landless poor and for the purpose of providing necessary services like education and health; (iii) revoking the recently announced domicile policy; (iv) making no changes in SPT CNT Act and implementing it strictly; (v) ensuring food security . A memorandum on the aforementioned demands was also handed over to the district officials.

In Nagarutari in Garhwa district, a march of nearly one thousand people was taken out from Bhavnathpur Mod that culminated into a huge public meeting in Gosainbagh Maidan. The leaders addressing the meeting said that in several places ration had not been given since two to three months and several deprived families were yet to get ration cards. Far from addressing these concerns, the state government was instead conspiring to snatch whatever little land they had under the pretext of ‘double settlement’. The government had failed to provide any relief to the people of this region that has been under severe drought conditions since past few years. On the occasion of Hul Diwas, a pledge was taken to renew a massive people’s movements on the aforementioned issues. Marches and protest events were also organized in Jamtara city, Deori block in Giridih district, Dhanbad, Lohardaga and Hazaribagh .

In Julu Park in Hazaribagh, a one day youth convention was organized by AISA-RYA on ‘Hul Diwas- Yesterday and Today’. The convention was addressed by DU AISA leader, Com. Niraj Kumar, ex CPI (ML) MLA Com. Vinod Singh, state AISA convenor com. Akhilesh Raj and State RYA secretary Com. Amal Ghosh. The leaders emphasized the need for understanding the relevance of Hul Diwas in today’s context. The student movements were spreading across the country and it is now the time for students and youth of Jharkhand to carry forward the legacy of Hul Diwas and strengthen the ongoing movement.

Statewide Protests in Bihar Under the ‘Save Education- Provide Employment’ Campaign

A three day protest programme from 26 to 28 June, was organized in Bihar under the joint banner of CPI (ML), AISA and RYA as a part of the ‘Save Education- Provide Employment’ campaign. On 27 June, a protest march was called in Patna. The march started from Patna University and culminated in a public meeting Bhagat Singh Chowk located in Gandhi maidan. The march was led by RYA state secretary Com. Naveen Kumar. In Darbhanga, a student-youth convention on ‘Change Education, Provide Employment’ was organized in which the CPI (ML) PB member Com. Dhirendra Jha was the chief speaker. Com. Dhirendra Jha said that the Topper Scam that took place in the state was Bihar’s version of Vyapam. He demanded that Nitish Kumar apologise to the people for destroying education in the state. A convention was also organized in Nawada, in which Com. Manmohan Kumar participated as the chief speaker. Several youth along with 6 teachers participated in the convention.

On 26 June, the Emergency Day, marches were taken out in Jehanabad city and Modanganj. On 27-28 June, Nukkad Sabhas were held in 20 places in the Jehanabad district in which nearly 2,500 people participated. In the meetings held in Bandhuganj Bazaar and Nawaabganj Bazaar, some parents openly expressed their anger against the government. In the meeting held in Hulaasganj bazaar, whatever is happening in the area of education came out clearly through this scam. A campaign vehicle was also taken which was led by state CPI (ML) committee member Com. Rambali Yadav. In Bhojpur, AISA activists took out a march from CPI (ML) office to Golamber station. A protest march was also taken out in Gaya.

Jugaad Drivers Demonstration in Bhagalpur

The jugaad (locally manufactured transport vehicles) driver’s union (AICCTU) organized a demonstration under its banner on 15 June, the day the CM was to come to Bhagalpur demanding- removal of ban on Jugaad vehicles, legal approval for the jugaad vehicles and bringing the jugaad drivers under the purview of Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act. On the day of the demonstration, the Jugaad vehicle drivers started gathering at the Bhagalpur station since morning. The procession left the station premises at around 11 am, carrying red flags, banners, placards stating their demands and raising slogans the government and the state administration. As the Procession was about to reach Ghuran -Peer, the police stopped them from proceeding further. There were sharp confrontations between the protestors and the administration. Eventually, the administration had to bow down in front of the unrelenting spirit of the protestors and allow them to reach the Commissioner’s office. AICCTU State Secretary Com. Mukesh Mukt, who was leading the demonstration, also addressed the protestors. He said that under the misinformation being spread by the advocates of the capital, the attack on the livelihood of the poor only exposes the class character of the ruling establishment. We are not ready to die hungry. We will fight at every stage to defend our lives and livelihoods. He warned the administration that if they tried to take any administrative decision to stop the Jugaad vehicles, Bhagalpur would be brought to a standstill. Under no circumstances will the ban on Jugaad vehicles be allowed. Expressing solidarity with the drivers, district CPI (ML) and AIARLA leaders also participated in the demonstration.

6th National Congress of Confederation of Nepalese Professionals

The 6th National Congress of Confederation of Nepalese Professionals (CONEP) was held from 17-19 June 2016 in Nepal Academy Hall, Kamaladi, Kathmandu. The congress began on 17 June with a colourful procession which was led CONEP leaders along with invited international guests. On behalf of AICCTU, the procession was led by AICCTU National Vice President, com. S. K. Sharma. Inaugurating the 6th National Congress, the Prime Minister of Nepal K.P. Sharma Oli called the workers to play a significant role in the economic development of the country. In Nepal, the reactionary forces were trying to join the capitalist and the feudal remnants to push the country back. There was a need for the working class to consistently struggle against this and to defeat these forces along with the imperialist capital and meet the challenges of economic development. Though the Constitution has been passed, the real challenge is to ensure its implementation.

Nine trade unions from seven countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Malaysia and Egypt participated in the Congress. The World Federation of Trade Unions was represented by Com. Dev Ranjan Chakravarti. 800 representatives from 26 unions across 75 districts participated in the Congress which was chaired by Com. Vishwanath Pakurel. CONEP is primarily a federation of unions of workers working in the intellectual domain- such as teahcers’ unions, public service workers union, auditors union etc. CONEP had played an important role in the struggle against monarchy and thereafter in the struggle for establishing democracy and Constitution. During the Congress most of the speakers including the General Secretary criticized the role played by the Modi government during the passing of the Constitution and the subsequent economic blockade.

AICCTU National VP, Com. S. K. Sharma on behalf of AICCTU conveyed the best wishes for the Congress and also congratulated the people of Nepal for passing a secular, democratic Constitution and rejecting the attempts of the Modi government to try make Nepal a Hindu nation. He added that nearly 80% population of the world has been adversely affected by attack unleashed by neo liberal policies. In India too the Modi government has intensified the attack on workers, students, youth and democracy. 15 crore workers of the country were gearing for a massive strike on 2 September against the pro-corporate, communal, fascist and anti-workers’ policies of the government. He concluded by saying that the working class of India has always shared friendly relations with people of Nepal, especially the workers. We are together with you in your struggles. We will unitedly fight against neo liberalism and imperialism. We will fight and we will win. Long live unity of the workers of India and Nepal, workers of the world unite.

ML Update | No. 28 | 2016

July 8, 2016

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.19 | No. 28 | 5 – 11 JULY 2016

Bangladesh Terror Attack:

Bangladesh Government Must Take Responsibility For Its Refusal to Tackle Religious Extremism

The heinous massacre of diners at a Dhaka cafe by terrorists in the name of Islam has shocked people across the world. The terrorists stormed the café shouting Islamic slogans, and took the diners hostage. They brutally tortured and killed those who failed to or refused to recite verses from the Quran. 20 patrons of the cafe were killed in the bloodbath, and two policemen were also killed. Of the six attackers, five were killed and a sixth has reportedly been arrested.

Rival terrorist outfits have claimed responsibility for the attack – Ansar-al-Islam, affiliated to the Al-Qaeda , and the ISIS. From photographers of the attackers posted by the ISIS online, it appears that most of them are well-educated youth from Bangladesh’s affluent and influential families.

The Dhaka café massacre is no isolated instance of terrorism. Bangladesh’s Government has had ample warning signs of the dangerously escalating radicalisation and violence by terrorist groups. For the past several years, Bangladesh has witnessed a spate of brutal killings of secularists, rationalists, bloggers, writers, gay rights activists, Hindu priests and individuals from the minority Hindu and Christian communities. Bangladesh’s Awami League Government had no effective or purposeful response to these attacks. Instead, responsible leaders of the Government indulged in victim-blaming.

Just a month ago, the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, speaking on the occasion of the Bengali New Year, preached ‘tolerance’ as essential for development. But in the same breath she said, “But if anyone writes filthy words against our religion, why should we tolerate that? Why should the government take responsibility if such writings lead to any untoward incidents?” Similarly, after Bangladeshi atheist blogger Nazimuddin Samad was hacked to death, Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal had said that Samad’s writings “needed to be scrutinized to see whether he wrote anything objectionable about religion.” Such remarks, like those of communal politicians in India who want to investigate if the lynch-mob victim Akhlaque ate beef, amount to victim blaming and a rationalisation of bigotry and religious fundamentalist violence.

The roots of Islamic extremism in Bangladesh lie in the Jamaat-e-Islami, the fountainhead of horrendous war crimes during the Bangladesh war of independence. In the period when military dictatorships ruled Bangladesh, the Jamaat-e-Islami was rehabilitated and political Islam instated as a part of mainstream Bangladesh politics. The Jamaat-e-Islami is now an ally of Bangladesh’s main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), both of whom make no secret of their espousal of a political Islamism. The Awami League, in spite of its secular posturing, has allowed the Islamic outfits a free rein, trivialising each communal murder as an isolated aberration.

The refusal of Bangladesh’s mainstream political parties to nip political Islam and a growing communal discourse in the bud has much to answer for in the unchecked proliferation of terrorist attacks. The only ray of hope lies in the fact that a considerable section of Bangladeshi society continues to be committed to fighting attempts to turn the country into an Islamic state. The Shahbag movement of 2013, a huge popular uprising demanding punishment for Islamist perpetrators of war crimes, also raised its voice strongly against religion-based politics. In spite of the barbaric killings, young activists continue to courageously raise their voices in support of a robust secularism. During the latest terror attack, a 20-year old Bangladeshi man Faraaz Hossain was offered a chance to save his life and leave, after he recited the Quran verses. But he chose, instead, to stay back with his two young woman friends, one of them an Indian teenager Tarishi Jain, and was killed with them. Another Bangladeshi woman Ishrat Akhond, refused to recite the verses and was hacked to death.

The events in Bangladesh must also push us to reflect on the growing politicisation of religion and resultant communal and terrorist violence in the whole of the subcontinent. In India, outfits espousing political Hindutva have killed writers for their secular writings; and murdered Muslims on charges that they ‘eat beef.’ They have issued threats against all those who refuse to chant slogans in favour of ‘Bharat Mata’ – India visualised as a Hindu goddess. In Pakistan and Bangladesh, murders and massacres in the name of Islam refuse to abate. In Sri Lanka, the genocide Tamil had a definite core of communal politics, with anti-Tamil bigotry merging with a political discourse of Buddhist majoritarianism. In Myanmar also, military dictators and mainstream ‘democratic’ politicians alike have appeased Buddhist bigotry and organised violence against the minority Rohingya Muslims.

The Bangladesh Government must be held accountable for the spate of terrorist attacks including the latest attack in the Dhaka café. The Awami League and the Government cannot look the other way and condone killings. We stand with the people of Bangladesh who are fighting the forces of political Islam and demanding an end to terrorism. Secular forces across the subcontinent must speak up and unite against the dangerous forces that are politicising religion and promoting intolerance and violence in the name of religion.

Pay Hikes Announced by Government are Paltry

The pay hikes for Central Government employees announced by the Modi Government in keeping with the 7th Pay Commission recommendations are paltry and shamefully inadequate. The real increase over the previously set minimum pay is only 14.29%, which is lowest in the last fifty years. The minimum wage calculated by the 7th Pay Commission at Rs 18000 is grossly distorted and inadequate. The Central Trade Unions are demanding a minimum wage of Rs 26000.

The pay hike announced by the Modi Government also adds insult to injury by failing to take into the account the steep increase of prices of essential food items, such as dal and other items of daily consumption.

The CPI(ML) extends support and solidarity to the employees organisations and central Trade Unions that are agitating to demand a revised announcement in keeping with their demands.

Protests against Corruption

A protest meeting was held in front of the Zonal office, Patratu on 14 June 2016 under the leadership of the Jharkhand Gramin Mazdoor Sabha (Patratu block) on the issue of corruption in disbursement of ration-kerosene. A 22-point charter of demands was submitted to the Jharkhand government. Ration-kerosene has not been disbursed by the dealer for the last 3 to 8 months in the villages of Baridih and Kadru in the remote hilly adivasi areas of Baridih panchayat. The Gramin Mazdoor Sabha had submitted a petition protesting against this, signed by 150 consumers from Baridih and 100 from Kadru village, to the Zonal officer and the Deputy Commissioner. Thereafter, 65 consumers of Baridih village were given rations. However, the rest have still not been given ration and no action has been taken against the dealer. This had created much dissatisfaction among the villagers, hundreds of whom joined the protest.

In another protest, a rally was taken out through the Patratu bazaar to demand “dakhal” (possession) on lands given to adivasis through Bhoodaan in the Hudumgarh village of Jawahar Nagar panchayat and against illegal capture of these lands by dominant forces. The protest was also against the sale of rural raiyati lands to corporate companies by the land mafia in Kurse village (Kurse panchayat), further demanding that the legitimate peasants should be given possession of these lands. The protestors warned that if the issues of the poor were not adequately addressed and if the corruption in the issuance of caste and domicile certificates, dakhal-kharij of lands and distribution of ration-kerosene was not ended, the Gramin Sabha would launch a big and sustained agitation against this.

Women Workers’ National Workshop

AICCTU held its national women workers’ workshop in Tata Nagar on 25–26 June 2016. The workshop was held in Munniji Sabhagar, Mahendra Singh Nagar. The theme of the workshop was: "Organising Working Women: Challenges and Tasks".

The open session held on 25 June was presided over by AICCTU vice president Com. Shashi Yadav. AICCTU national secretary Com. Suvendu Sen welcomed the participants and AIPWA national secretary Com. Kavita Krishnan inaugurated the workshop. AICCTU General Secretary Com. Rajiv Dimri gave the concluding speech in the open session. The solidarity message sent by Com. Kalpana Wilson of the South Asia Solidarity Group was read out in the workshop. AIPWA National Secretary Com. Chaitali Sen also sent her solidarity wishes for the workshop. 66 comrades from 12 states participated in the workshop. There were ASHA, Anganwadi, mid-day meal, domestic, garment, construction and beedi workers among the participants. Nursing students from Bihar too attended the workshop.

Comrades Bhuvana, Shashi Yadav, Saroj Chaubey, Meena Pal and Premlata Pandey, AICCTU National Council members, presented papers on various challenges facing women workers and discussing in detail the need to organize women workers. There was a lively discussion on these papers and the participants shared their experiences in organizing various sections of women workers.

As a part of the efforts to make the 2 September general strike a success, the workshop decided to organize a campaign in the month of July on the following demands of women workers in the country, apart from state/sector specific demands:

• Stop budgetary cuts for welfare programs such as the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and mid-day meal. Stop privatisation of the ICDS and NRHM (under which anganwadi and ASHA workers are employed), as well as the mid-day meal schemes and stop handing these schemes to NGOs.

• ASHA, anganwadi, mid-day meal workers, etc. should be granted the status of government employees. and monthly wages of Rs. 20,000 should be fixed for them.

• Ensure equal wages for equal work.

• Ensure maternity and child care benefits for women workers.

• Strict implementation of Prevention of Sexual Harassment in Workplaces Act.

• Meaningful social security measures for women workers.

• Enumeration of women workers in various sectors in the country.

• Formation of a national-level committee which will investigate into women workers’ demands and come forward with recommendations which are to be implemented in a time-bound manner.

The workshop formed a 16- member cell with comrades Bhuvana and Shashi Yadav as joint convenors. This cell of AICCTU will take up further work on this front.

Advocates’ Struggle in Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu advocates are on the warpath against the draconian undemocratic amendments to the rule 34(1) of the Advocates’ Act 1961, which empowers High court and District judges the powers to debar advocates from practicing in any court without even an enquiry. Already about 50 advocates have been suspended by the Bar Council of India on various charges for fighting against corruption in the Judiciary and for demanding that Tamil be made the official language of the Madras High Court. Contempt proceedings were also initiated against some of the advocates leading the struggle. These draconian amendments to the Advocates’ Act have come as the latest in the series of attempts to curb the democratic voices of dissent.

In spite of the repeated attacks on advocates (Ex-President of the Madurai bench of the High Court Advocates Association was even jailed in a contempt case), the Democratic Advocates Association (DAA) took the initiative and organized a one-day fasting programme in Chennai. CPI(ML) central committee member Com. Balasundaram addressed the advocates on this occassion. DAA also organized a Convention at the Bar Council, which Senior counsels of Madras High court Ms. R. Vaigai, Mr. Vijayakumar and Com. Kumarasamy (also Politburo member of CPI(ML)) addressed along with retired High Court Judge Justice Hari Paranthaman.

CPI(ML) and DAA have been campaigning against the draconian amendments to the Advocates’ Act, demanding its total withdrawal, participating in several state-level meetings of Bar associations on this issue. Protests have also been independently organized defying orders and rules. CPI(ML) and DAA published a pamphlet which was well received by advocates. CPI(ML) took the initiative at the earliest to organize demonstrations in support of the cause of the advocates throughout the state. Programmes at the Madras High court involving various streams of progressive and democratic forces have been organised, which was instrumental in galvanising successful protest actions. A day-long fast at Chennai was also organised in which state leaders of CPI, CPI(M) and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi took part.

Com. Bharathi, state organizer of DAA, was part of the team that met with the Chief Justice of Tamil Nadu on this issue. The matter could not be resolved at this meeting, and so protests continued. A day-long fasting programme was organized at various district headquarters on 24 June 2016. A ‘Rail Roko’ was organized on 28 June 2016, in which thousands of advocates courted arrest. Advocates and CPI(ML) state committee members Bharathi, Ramesh and Desikan courted arrest at Chennai, Tirunelveli and Trichy respectively. Copies of the amendments were burnt on 1 July 2016. A state-level conference of advocates was held at Tiruppur on 3 July 2016, in which eminent retired Judges of the Supreme Court and the Madras High Court participated. A continuous sit–in inside the court complexes was also organized, starting from 4 July 2016 onwards.

Meanwhile advocates are on total boycott of the courts throughout Tamil Nadu. Seeing the mood of the advocates, a 5-member High Court Judges’ committee has now been formed to prescribe further amendments in the Advocates Act. But Tamil Nadu advocates are determined to get all the undemocratic provisions completely withdrawn.

Protest against Eviction of Street Vendors in Puducherry

As soon as the new Lt. Governor Kiran Bedi assumed office in the Raj Nivas of Puducherry, she issued orders for eviction of street vendors in the Puducherry and Karaikal towns, in the name of ‘beautification’. This invoked much resentment amongst street vendors and other small businesses in the area.

In solidarity with agitating street vendors, the Puducherry unit of AICCTU took out a demonstration on 23 June 2016. The demonstration asserted that street vendors are not encroachers, rather big shops and malls owned by the rich are the real encroachers. The demonstration demanded that the central NDA government repeal the draconian Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act 2014. The demonstration was held in the main road of Puducherry town and led by the State AICCTU secretary S. Purushothaman. AICCTU Karnataka state general secretary Clifton D’ Rozario, AICCTU National vice president S. Balasubramanian, Jananayaga Kattumana Thozhilalar Sangam (AICEF) Puducherry state secretary Murugan, CPI(ML) Puducherry rural secretary A. Sakthivelu spoke at the demonstration. The other main demands raised in the protest were:

i) Sanction Rs.10,000/- to all rain and flood affected street vendors affected in the last year’s heavy rains and with 50% subsidy without interest. Loans of all street vendors should be waived.

ii) Upgrade Unorganized Workers’ Welfare Society into a Welfare Board.

Iii) Implement Right to Education Act in the current academic year so as to benefit all street vendors and workers in industries which have been shut down.

iv) Implement Rs. 7500/- as pension to unorganized workers.

v) Allocation of 1% welfare fund to street vendors in the Municipalities budget.

vi) Free supply of power upto 100 units to all street vendors

vii) Drop the proposal of ‘No vendors Zone’ in the main thorough fares.

viii) Provide free godowns, toilets, drinking water and rest rooms to all street vendors.

ix) Strictly implement ban of plastic bags, and plant tree saplings in all streets.

x) Take stringent actions against those officials (municipal, Police) who misbehave with street vendors.

xi) Provide basic amenities to Sunday Market vendors.

AICCTU convention in Rudrapur

AICCTU organized a convention at Rudrapur (Uttarakhand) on 26 June against the State government’s repressive anti-worker stance and the undeclared labour policy of the Uttarakhand government (no labour laws, no unions, no democratic rights, no adherence to the minimum wages law, and no right to strike), and to demand restoration of democracy in SIDCUL and the arrest of the attackers of labour leader KK Bora.

The convention was attended by AICCTU National Vice President Com. Raja Bahuguna, CPI (ML) State Secretary Com. Rajendra Pratholi, CITU State President Com. Satyaprakash, Uttarakhand Transport Party President PC Tiwari, North-Eastern Railway Workers’ Union President Kulwant Singh, Munish Kumar, Qaisar Rana from RDF, Akhil Bharatiya Kisan National Executive member Afroz Alam, CPI(ML) Uttarakhand State President Purushottam Sharma, Kumaoni writer Ratan Singh Chirmoliya, progressive intellectual Ajit Sahni, writer and cartoonist Suresh Lal, senior farmer leader Bahadur Singh Jangi, Mukul from Mazdoor Sahyog Kendra, AICCTU State secretary KK Bora, Lattha Mazdoor Union President Mubarak Shah, Lalit Matiyali, Kamal Joshi, Gopal Gadiya, Kishan Baghri, and workers and activists from the unions in Mantri Metals, RML, MK, Delphi-TVS, MINDA, Auto Line, Mahindra CIE, Century Pulp and Paper Mills and other unions. The convention was presided over by AICCTU State President Com. Nishan Singh and conducted by District secretary Dinesh Tiwari.

AISA Leader Assaulted by ABVP Goons in Delhi University

On 1 July 2016, AISA Delhi University unit leader Abhinav Kumar was brutally beaten up in the premises of his college, Deshbandhu college, by ABVP goons including Himanshu Bidhuri (son of BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri), Rajat Choudhary and three more ABVP cadres. In the previous DUSU elections, Comrade Abhinav was AISA’s DUSU Joint Secretary candidate. He had secured more than 10,000 votes, thus providing a massive challenge to the ABVP’s politics of money and muscle power, and to their fascist agenda and propaganda. On 1 July, Comrade Abhinav was helping new students with admission formalities. Without any provocation, Abhinav was surrounded by these goons from ABVP, who asked him to stop admission assistance in his own college. When he refused, they demanded that he shout ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. When Abhinav ignored them and continued with assisting students with admission-related queries and formalities, the ABVP goons slapped him so many times that now his hearing in his left ear is severely impaired.

Following this assault, AISA as well as other student organisations in DU have been demanding action against those who perpetrated this assault. More than three hundred students participated in a massive protest held outside the Delhi Police Headquarters. AISA, CYSS, DSU as well as Disha participated in this protest. After the protest a delegation consisting of JNUSU Vice President Shehla, AISA national president Sucheta, AISA leaders Sudhanshu and Abhinav met the DCP of South East District Mr. Randhawa. He refused to act on the demand for the immediate registration of an FIR to investigate the violence, claiming that “further investigation by doctors” is necessary. He also promised that a doctor would contact Abhinav regarding the same. However, some days have passed now since this promise, and no FIR has been filed despite repeated demands from AISA. Clearly, the Delhi Police is trying its level best to protect the perpetrators of the violence, especially given their political connections with well-known BJP leaders. Bureaucratic hassles are being created, and even though copies of the MLC clearly mention injuries to Abhinav, the Delhi Police appears to be succumbing to political pressure.

Forced by a spirited protest against its hooliganism, the ABVP has launched a vicious tirade of threats, intimidation and lies against AISA leaders. Himanshu Bidhuri’s father Ramesh Bidhuri has jumped to his son’s defence and claims that Himanshu is being politically targeted because he is a BJP MP’s son. ABVP’s DU leadership too is defending Himanshu and is threatening to file defamation cases against AISA leaders including JNUSU Vice President Shehla. The ABVP-RSS-BJP’s entire PR machinery is being used to claim that Ramesh Bidhuri’s son is innocent. Last year, when AISA activists were campaigning against the imposition of the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) in DU, they had been attacked by ABVP activists. Progressive and democratic minded forces in DU have been opposing this culture, and hence have been at the receiving end of ABVP violence.

ML Update | No. 27 | 2016

July 8, 2016

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 19, No. 27, 28 JUNE ­– 04 JULY 2016

Implications of the Brexit Referendum in the UK

​A​
fter a viciously xenophobic and violent campaign that even saw the unprecedented killing of a popular Labour MP, Jo Cox, the Brexit (Britain plus exit) camp has secured a surprise victory in the UK referendum on leaving the European Union. 52 per cent (of the 72 per cent who voted in the referendum) have chosen to end the UK’s 43-year-old association with the European Union (erstwhile European Economic Community). In the wake of this Brexit verdict, Prime Minister David Cameron, who campaigned to remain in the EU, has announced his decision to resign, the British Pound has plummeted quite sharply and the share market has experienced a rude downward pull.

The result has exposed a sharply divided Britain, geographically as well as generationally. Scotland, Northern Ireland and London had voted overwhelmingly in favour of remain. Scotland, which had narrowly agreed to remain with the UK in another recent referendum, obviously feels quite unhappy with the verdict, and another referendum leading to an independent Scotland as a member of EU is now a distinct possibility. The question of independence of Northern Ireland and unification with the Irish Republic (an EU member) is also likely to assume renewed political relevance. In generational terms, the young clearly preferred to remain in the EU with 72 percent voters in the 18-24 age group voting ‘Remain’ as opposed to the 60 percent ‘Leave’ vote among pensioners. There is also a divide between cosmopolitan multi-cultural cities of Britain opting for European affiliation and the less ethnically diverse smaller towns, many of which are in regions of industrial decline, where the Leave’ message found fertile ground.

Politically, the result was achieved then through the right’s opportunistic mobilization of widespread anger and frustration over austerity, and its appeal to deep-seated racism and jingoistic nationalism. The rabidly rightwing, racist and xenophobic UK Independence Party (UKIP) led by the rabble-rouser Nigel Farage, alongside the Conservative pro-Leave faction led by former London Mayor Boris Johnson, had built up the Brexit campaign with its virulent anti-immigrant anti-refugee rhetoric, effectively turning the vote into a referendum on immigration. It made more explicit what the mainstream parties had been doing for years – blaming migrants and refugees for the effects of austerity policies, unemployment, low pay, and the housing crisis with a toxic campaign which spread the falsehood that EU membership forces Britain to take in large numbers of refugees and migrants (in fact numbers of non-European refugees and migrants entering the UK – the real focus of UKIP’s hate campaign – have remained far lower than for other EU countries).

It is perhaps no coincidence that on the morning of the day that a supporter of the far-right Britain First group murdered the MP Jo Cox, who was an advocate for refugee rights, Nigel Farage had unveiled his new poster campaign which showed a long line of Syrian refugees with the slogan ‘Breaking Point’. Tapping into the popular anger over years of austerity which have eroded the welfare state, most notably the National Health Service (NHS), another of the Leave campaign’s most successful slogans was the lie that freedom from the EU would enable Britain to increase National Health Service (NHS) funding by £350m, a claim which was immediately retracted by Farage, Johnson et al on the day after the referendum, when its purpose had been served. By and large, Labour supporters voted for ‘Remain’. A section of voters who voted Leave are however already publicly regretting their decision, and millions of voters have raised the demand for a second referendum since the result was so close.

David Cameron called the referendum in a self-serving and, as it turned out, spectacularly ill-judged attempt to pacify the Eurosceptic sections of his own Conservative Party and prevent them from defecting to UKIP. These pro-Brexit Tories, like Boris Johnson and the much derided former Education Secretary Michael Gove, having used the referendum to further their own political careers, have little plan for what to do next, and there is already speculation that invoking Article 50 which triggers exit from the EU within a two-year time frame, may be indefinitely delayed.

Arguably however there are powerful reasons for a section of the ruling class embracing Brexit. One is the growing economic crisis and insecurity and the consequent quest for reclaiming economic sovereignty from the EU stranglehold. Unlike Greece and Spain which with strong left forces, aspired for freedom from the European debt burden and to pursue economic policies to suit their own interests and priorities, Britain however hopes to regain its lost economic might along the very trajectory of neo-liberalism which has already weakened the economy and eroded its once comprehensive welfare framework. Already, Boris Johnson has suggested that EU trade agreements like the free market fundamentalist Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), one of the main reasons why certain sections of the British Left supported Brexit, will be retained even after leaving the EU.

The other factor is the Euroscepticism inherent in Britain’s foreign policy and self-perception. When the end of World War II heralded the downfall of the British colonial empire, British foreign policy had to reinvent itself in the post-colonial world. But instead of forging ties with the rest of Europe, Britain preferred to rely primarily on her special relationship with the US and unequal and paternalistic ties with former British colonies as institutionalized in the Commonwealth. It was only in 1973 that Britain finally entered the European community. Even after joining the European Union, Britain retained its own pound sterling as the preferred British currency and did not fall for the charm of the Euro.

Within Britain, Brexit has emboldened the rabid rightwing spectrum ranging from various racist, chauvinistic fringe outfits to an ascendant UKIP and the aggressively neo-liberal Conservatives. Within the Labour Party too, the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, the best thing to have happened within the Labour camp, marking a clear rupture with and reversal of the pro-market war-mongering Blairite New Labour trend, is now faced with renewed rightwing challenges, as Blairite MPs use the result as a pretext for an attempt to oust Corbyn, despite his unprecedented mandate from members and supporters, ahead of the release of the Chilcot Report which is likely to indict Tony Blair for his role in the Iraq War.

While immigrants from various EU countries, especially from the erstwhile East European bloc, face an uncertain future, British Asian and Black communities are having to deal with heightened racism and Islamophobia, with a huge rise in racist attacks even in the few days since the referendum. And across the Atlantic, it is the vicious anti-immigrant anti-Islam politics of Donald Trump which feels pumped up by the Brexit victory. Whether in the US or the UK, it is clear that only building a strong grassroots movement which offers a real alternative to austerity and neoliberalism, with anti-racism and solidarity with migrants and refugees at its heart, can counter these rising forces.

Joint Left Initiatives

Left parties CPI, CPI-M, CPI (ML), and SUCI (C) organized a joint “Save Democracy” convention in Gwalior on 15 June against the footsteps of fascism. The convention was held in the backdrop of Section 144 and Section 133 being clamped all over Madhya Pradesh for the past several months, to muzzle people’s protests against the Government’s callousness to price rise and drought, against the “Vyapam” scam and large scale privatization of transport and power. Subsequently on 20 June, the Left parties organized a joint rally in Bhopal.

These six Left parties held a ‘Save Democracy’ Convention in Lucknow at the Ganga Prasad Memorial Hall on 20 June. Presenting the motion for discussion, CPI State Secretary, Com. Girish Sharma said that the objective behind attacking the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution, especially the right to freedom of speech and expression, is to crush the voices of dissent. Supporting the motion, CPI-M State Secretarial Board Member Com. SP Kashyap called to resist the anti-people economic policies as well as the communal forces. Addressing the convention, CPI (ML) State Secretary and PB member Com. Ramji Rai said that a state moving towards fascism exhibits two symptoms: first, an “enemy within” is discovered; and second, the ruling powers and corporate capital become bosom friends. He warned against the BJP’s attempt at communal polarisation in Kairana towards UP elections.

AIPWA Vice President Tahira Hasan, Comrades Vijaypal Singh of the Forward Bloc, Bechan Ali of the SUCI (C), Arvind Raj Swarup of the CPI, Dinanath Singh of the CPI-M and others also expressed their views. The convention resolved to hold regional level conventions in Varanasi, Mathura, Faizabad, Muradabad and Muzaffarnagar.

CPI(ML) (Liberation), CPI, CPI(M) and SUCI (C), jointly organized a jatha on people’s issues against the Congress government in the state. A month long campaign culminated in a massive rally in Bangalore on 6 June. The idea was to propagate a Left alterative in Karnataka which was otherwise dominated by BJP, Congress and JD(S).

Strict implementation of MNREGA, sincere and immediate action to stall increasing suicides by farmers, increase in minimum wages for workers, land titles to the tillers of ‘bagairhukum’ (unregulated government lands), strengthening Lokayukta instead of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), were the major issues of the campaign.

The culmination rally at Bangalore was addressed by Comrades Swapan Mukherjee, PBM of CPI(ML) (Liberation), Sitaram Yechury, General Secretary of CPI(M), Sudhakar Reddy, General Secretary of CPI and Krishna Chakrabarthy of SUCI (C). Com. Swapan Mukherjee saluted the courage and militancy of young women garment workers of Bangalore who were successful in forcing the Modi government to withdraw the controversial notification on PF withdrawal only after retirement. He called upon people to build struggles against the appeasement to communal forces by the so-called ‘secular’ Congress government in Karnataka.

Prior to the rally in Bangalore, conventions and rallies were jointly organized in several places in the state including Davanagere, Mysore, and Koppal, by district committees of Left parties. Similar programmes were also held at other district headquarters in the state

Save Democracy Rally in Sitapur

Addressing a huge ‘Save Democracy’ rally on 17 June at Hargaon in Sitapur district, UP, CPI (ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya hailed people’s resistance to the Modi Government’s offensive on all sections of society. Comrade Dipankar asked how Modi can claim faith in Ambedkar when the Sangh is inspired and run by Manuwadi ideology, whereas Babasaheb was for the annihilation of caste? Ambedkar said, “Educate, organize, agitate”. The Sangh and BJP are not allowing the people to be educated and if people get organized, but today, education, struggle and agitation are being termed anti-national and students and youth are being thrown in jail. Now the students, youth, and intellectuals of this country must come to a resolution and give a fitting reply to BJP’s attempts to spread communal hatred, strengthen casteism, and crush struggles; this can be opposed only by walking the path of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar.

The meeting was conducted by RYA State President Com. Rakesh Singh. Through his address on the occasion of the Party’s 2-day meeting in Hargaon, Com. Dipankar launched the CPI (ML)’s campaign for the 2017 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.

CPI (ML) Protests against 100% FDI in 15 key sectors

From the claims of being ‘opposed to FDI till last breath’ while UPA was in power, the Modi government made a complete U-turn as it announced Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) reforms by relaxing norms across 15 sectors including defence, banking, pharmaceuticals, construction, broadcasting and civil aviation. Condemning this unabashed sell out of the country’s interests, CPI (ML) organised protests at many places.

In Delhi, AISA, AICCTU, RYA and CPI (ML) protested at Jantar Mantar on 22 June. The protestors held placards that read- “India is not for sale” and “Take back FDI (Final Death to India)”. In Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, hundreds of people joined the anti-FDI protest in Tenali. On 25 June, protests were held in Siliguri. In Bindukhatta, a protest was held at Car Road Chowk on 24 June. The protestors also burnt the effigy of the Modi government.

Contract and Honorarium Workers’ State Convention in Patna

A State level convention was organized on 20 June 2016 in Patna by the Bihar Rajya Anubandh-Maandeya-Niyojit Sewakarmi Sanyukt Morcha (joint platform of incentive-honorarium-based workers in Bihar) in which school mid-day meal cooks participated in large numbers. The Convention was addressed by AICCTU State General Secretary, Com. RN Thakur. Sanyukt Morcha General Secretary, Com. Shivshankar Prasad read out a manifesto of struggle. AICCTU National Secretary Com. Anil Verma called to make the 2 September All India Strike a success. Bihar State Vidyalaya Rasoiya Sangh President Com. Saroj Chaube condemned the proposed privatization of the midday meal scheme, the attack on educational institutions, and the corruption in the Bihar education system. The convention passed a resolution demanding a rollback of the decision to hand over the midday meal scheme to NGOs and absorbing the workers of Mahila Samakhya societies (which have been closed down) into other departments, and appealing for the total success of the 2 September countrywide strike.

CPI (ML)’s Initiatives in Drought-Affected
Bundelkhand

7 districts- Jalaun, Jhansi, Lalitpur, Banda, Mahoba and Hamirpur of Jhansi and Chitrakootdham divisions in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh are severely drought-affected and farmers’ suicides are on the increase with the grave agrarian crisis.

A team of representatives from left parties including CPI (ML) visited the affected areas in the region on 9-10 May to take stock of the situation. A report was prepared and appointment was sought from the Chief Minister of UP, Akhilesh Yadav so that the report could be shared with him, but a meeting with CM was denied. CPI (ML) thereafter decided to go ahead and take the following initiatives:

A 2-day hunger strike led by CPI (ML) Bundelkhand in-charge, Com. Ramesh Sengar was organized at the Chitrakootdham Block HQ (Banda) on 8 and 9 June against the continuing farmers’ suicides and the government’s apathy and non-accountability in the matter. Several other Party leaders and activists also sat on hunger strike during the protest. It was resolved that on 12 July large numbers of farmers would submit a loan-waiver application to the Prime Minister through the Collector.

The Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha held a fortnight-long campaign among farmers of Jalaun district in Jhansi Mandal to focus on the following issues: loan waiver; crop loss compensation; crop insurance payment; registration of sharecroppers; incentive amounts for sowing the coming kharif and rabi crops; stopping illegal mining; need to spend 50% of revenue from minerals on Bundelkhand; construction of a dam on River Panchnada; Antyodaya and BPL cards and free food grains to be provided to all poor; and provision for MNREGA work as per needs and immediate payment of wages. A farmers’ ‘Hunkar conference’ was held on 4 June in Muswariya village in Mahewa block. It was declared at the conference that farmers in thousands would submit a loan waiver petition to the Prime Minister through the District Collector.

A determined struggle by midday meal workers in Jharkhand

Jharkhand Pradesh Vidyalaya Rasoiya Sanyojika Sangh have been holding an indefinite dharna protest since 8 June 2016 in front of the Raj Bhavan with a 36 point charter of demands. Some of the main demands are: revoking of the Jharkhand government’s decision to hand over midday meal arrangements to private companies; monthly salary for all midday meal workers at the rate of Rs 235 per day; and immediate payment of one year’s arrears due to them. The current honorarium Rs 1500 but they are being paid only Rs 1000. The protestors are demanding that these arrears be paid without delay after proper enquiry and that the honorarium amount be increased in view of spiraling prices. Midday meal workers should also get free medical treatment and maternity leave.

The dharna was started on 8 June by over 1000 midday meal workers from 7 blocks in Hazaribagh district, 4 blocks in Ramgarh district, and 5 blocks in Ranchi district, after which large groups continued to join the dharnas daily from several blocks in various districts. Till 16 June, around 20,000 workers had joined the dharna from 13 districts.

In 2014 and 2015 CPI (ML) MLA Rajkumar Yadav addressed their protests twice and raised the issue of their demands in the Assembly with some positive results; they got reassurances every time, and in 2015 there was an announcement of increase in honorarium, though it has not yet been implemented.

On 17 June talks were held between the Director (midday meal scheme) and a 5-member delegation representing the union. Though the talks remained unproductive, the delegation was told that there are no plans to privatize the midday meal arrangements. They said that apart from plans to hand over the arrangements to private companies in a few selected schools in Ranchi and Bokaro, the present system would continue in all other districts and rural zones. However, the talks failed to yield any results on the union’s demands. Thereafter it was decided to stage road jams in about 10 places in Ranchi city on 22 June to build pressure on the administration and the government. By the night of 21 June, thousands of workers had reached Ranchi. CPI (ML) Ranchi unit made joint preparations with the agitators for the road jam. At about 11 pm on 21 June, a proposal for talks with the State Education Secretary at 9 am on 22 June was sent through the SDO. Administration sensed that the scene was set for a spirited and challenging agitation, and hence, positive talks could be held. The gist of the assurances given by the Education Secretary are as follows: as of now, the Cabinet decision to privatize the midday meals would not be implemented, and status quo would be maintained in the jobs of Rasoiyas, Sanyojikas and Adhyakshs; Rs 1500 honorarium for Rasoiyas would be implemented without delay; all possible efforts would be made to meet the other demands and the question of increasing wages and making them equal to those in Karnataka would be considered.

Anti-Emergency Day
Observed in Gwalior

To mark the 41st anniversary of imposition of emergency by the Congress government headed by Indira Gandhi in 1975, a one day anti-emergency dharna was organized in Gwalior on 26 June. The dharna called through the initiative taken by CPI (ML) saw the participation of several leaders from various left parties. The leaders also pointed out the attacks on democracy which were being unleashed regularly by the BJP led government at the centre and the state. The attacks on people’s freedom, right to dissent and their struggles today are also indicative of an undeclared emergency. Among others, CPI (ML) leaders Com. Vinod Rawat and Com. Gurudutt Sharma also addressed the joint left dharna.

CPI (ML)’s initiatives demanding compensation after five people get crushed under dump truck in Bagodar

Seven persons, of whom five were from the same family, were crushed to death by a dump truck on the night of 19 June at Chiknibad in Birni block of the Bagodar Assembly constituency. On hearing the news, former MLA from CPI (ML), Com. Vinod Kumar Singh (who is currently out of Jharkhand) spoke to officials including the Deputy Commissioner of Giridih and the Chief Minister demanding that this incident should not be classed as an ordinary accident but should be recognized as a disaster and the families of the victims compensated accordingly. Subsequently, the advisor to the Chief Minister called the former MLA and told him that the government would give Rs 1 lakh as compensation to the dependents of each victim. After the incident, CPI (ML) leader and other local leaders remained at the spot and were joined in a road jam the next morning by Rajdhanwar CPI (ML) Com. MLA Rajkumar Yadav and other party leaders. They put pressure on the administration and made them agree to an additional Rs 20,000 as compensation above the 1 lakh announced and also allotment of houses under the Indira Awas Yojana for the victims’ families. It is unfortunate that even after such a big accident, the Bagodar MLA Nagendra Mahto did not visit the spot. The CPI (ML) will also agitate to secure compensation for the victims’ families from the owner of the dump truck and demand that the administration takes adequate steps to ensure safety in this rural area.

Obituary

Com. Jamuna Prasad Aatreya

Com. Jamuna Prasad Aatreya from Chhapra (Bihar) passed away on 4 June 2016 at the age of 95. He was a Class IV government employee and a dedicated activist and leader of workers’ struggles. He was first with the CPI-M. He joined the CPI (ML) in 1988 and remained lifelong a dedicated and spirited Party activist. After retirement from government service he worked as the CPI (ML) Chhapra district Party in-charge from 1995 to 2000. Activists from the CPI (ML) and the Karmchari Mahasangh attended his last rites in large numbers. Red Salute to Com. Jamuna Prasad!

Red Salute to Comrade Madhavi Sarkar

Communist leader Comrade Madhavi Sarkar passed away on 14th June after a tough illness.

Madhavi was born on 10 October 1957. Her father Comrade Harendra Bose was a freedom fighter and one of the founders of the Communist Party in Purnea. Brought up from childhood in a family of Communists, her dedication to the red flag was boundless. She also played an important role in bringing Comrade Ajit Sarkar (who had been in the Youth Congress) into the communist movement. Comrade Ajit Sarkar, a CPIM MLA, was martyred on 14 June 1998 by the local landlord-criminal-political nexus led by Pappu Yadav.

Com. Madhavi was a teacher. The CPI-M fielded her as their candidate when by-elections were held in Purnea after the martyrdom of Comrade Ajit Sarkar; she won the by-election and became the MLA from Purnea Sadar. She lost the general election.

Her seriousness in pursuing the cause of justice for Comrade Ajit Sarkar drew her towards the CPI (ML). She joined the Party in 2004, was fielded as a CPI (ML) candidate from the Purnea Lok Sabha seat. She fought the 2005 Assembly elections and the 2009 Lok Sabha elections as a CPI (ML) candidate.

In the 2010 Assembly election Com. Madhavi’s son Amit Sarkar stood from Purnea as the CPI-M candidate, and the CPI(ML) gave him unconditional support.

She breathed her last on the 18th anniversary of Com. Ajit Sarkar’s death, 14 June 2016. She is survived by her two daughters and her son.

Com. Madhavi was a spirited and fearless Communist leader dedicated to the poor. Red salute to Comrade Madhavi!

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

ML Update | No. 26 | 2016

July 8, 2016

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.19 | No. 26 | 21-27 June 2016

Gulberg Society Massacre Verdict:Blaming Victims of Communal Violence

The recent verdict of a special SIT Court in the Gulberg society massacre case of Gujarat 2002 is a massive travesty of justice. It has not only acquitted several key masterminds of the massacre, it has shamefully blamed the massacre on provocation by the victims while absolving the perpetrators of conspiratorial intention.

The Gulberg society massacre was one of the worst massacres that took place during the Gujarat 2002 pogrom. Gulberg society was set on fire in broad daylight, killing 69 people. Ehsan Jafri, a former MP, was singled out, stripped, and paraded with his limbs chopped off before being burnt alive. Hundreds of Jafri’s neighbours took shelter with him, and for hours from 9.30 am to 1 pm, Jafri made desperate calls to the police, to political leaders, to the Chief Minister of Gujarat and the Home Minister of the country. These calls went unheeded and the senior police officers who visited Gulberg Society, did nothing to disperse the murderous mob that was baying for blood.

The verdict ignores eye witness testimonies regarding the armed mob that had gathered outside the society for several hours. It ignores the undisputed fact that senior police officers visited the site, saw the mob, and yet failed to call for reinforcements to disperse the mob. Instead the verdict condemns the eyewitnesses for ‘selective amnesia’ regarding ‘private firing’ by Ehsan Jafri. It claims that the mob only intended to burn vehicles and had no intention to kill people, and was provoked into murderous rage only by Jafri’s alleged act of firing on the mob. This is a verdict with shocking implications.

On the same day as the Gulberg massacre, not far from Gulberg Society, a communal mob massacred Muslims in Naroda Patiya. Muslims were massacred at several places all over Gujarat. Clearly, the communal mobs intended to kill Muslims, even in places where neither Jafri nor anyone else fired on them. How can the mob violence at Gulberg Society be called spontaneous, when the mob had gathered for several hours before the alleged firing by Jafri? The police had ample time to disperse the mob – why did it not do so? These are questions the verdict chose to ignore.

The verdict amounts to blatant victim-blaming. It denies the victims of mob violence, any right to self-defence. It puts the onus for safety on the conduct of the victims rather than on the perpetrators and on the police and Government that have a duty to prevent such violence. Just as Asaram Bapu had once suggested that the December 16th 2012 rape victim could have averted rape by calling the rapists ‘brother’ instead of fighting back, the verdict suggests that the Gulberg victims – rather than the police – could have averted the mob violence!

In passing such a verdict, the Special Court has echoed Modi, who in 2002 had blamed the Gulberg massacre on firing by Jafri, and had infamously invoked Newton’s Law and a ‘chain’ of ‘action-reaction.’

In the Bathani Tola verdict also, the Patna High Court dismissed eye witness evidence, acquitted all those accused of butchering Dalits, and implied that the massacre was preceded by firing by the Dalit villagers.

In the Dadri lynching also, the same pattern of victim blaming is emerging. The attempt to prove that Akhlaq, the victim, was ‘guilty’ of eating beef is loosely linked to the efforts to deny the communal conspiracy behind the lynching and justify the lynching as ‘spontaneous’ anger against beef consumption.

Meanwhile, the masterminds of the Gujarat pogrom who now rule India, continue with their politics of mobilising votes by stoking communal hate and violence. With an eye on the upcoming UP elections, the BJP (including the local BJP MP Hukam Singh, the Home Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP President Amit Shah) tried to raise the bogey of a Hindu exodus from Kairana and Kandhla in Western UP, due to Muslim intimidation. It is encouraging that the people of Kairana and Kandhla themselves called the bluff of the BJP, and exposed the ‘exodus’ to be a lie.

Indians are being asked to accept that political masterminds of mass massacres will enjoy impunity while at best, a few pawns may be punished. If the BJP and RSS leaders and police officers accused in the Gujarat massacre are yet to be brought to justice, the same is true of Congress leaders accused of massacring Sikhs in 1984. The recent Congress decision (withdrawn later following protests) to make 1984 massacre-accused Kamal Nath the party’s in-charge for Punjab rubbed fresh salt into the wounds of the Sikhs.

The quest of Zakia Jafri and other survivors of the Gulberg massacre for justice faces huge odds. The Supreme Court’s own SIT ended up being complicit in a cover-up. Modi and Shah, in power at the Centre now, are unleashing a campaign of harassment and intimidation against Teesta Setalvad and other activists who are supporting the survivors’ fight for justice. If higher courts fail to correct the massive travesty of justice in the Gulberg case, it will be a matter of shame for the Indian judiciary.

The Gulberg verdict is one that, by blaming victims for ‘provoking’ perpetrators of communal violence, is an affront to the very spirit of the Constitution and of democracy. 25 June 2016 marks the anniversary of the infamous Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi’s Government. The anniversary of the Emergency cannot be an occasion simply to condemn the tyranny of a Congress Government or a particular Prime Minister. Instead, it must be an occasion to resist the rampant, continuing violations of Constitutional liberties and betrayals of the Constitutional freedoms and dignity of Dalits, adivasis, minorities and women.

Punish the Rumours Mongers of BJP in Kairana

CPI(ML) Uttar Pradesh unit has demanded stringent punitive action on BJP leaders involved in deliberate rumour mongering and false claims of exodus of Hindu community from Kairana in Shamli district. The party has also asked from the UP government to give an official explanation regarding the whole incident instead of playing a friendly match of communal polarisation with BJP.

CPI(ML) UP state secretary comrade Ramji Rai has said in a statement that the BJP is trying to manufacture a communal polarisation in the state, a repeat of Mujaffarnagar, in view of forthcoming Assembly election in the state. An intense venomous propaganda is on with concocted rumours in the name of Kairana, Dadri and JNU. The statements issued by the top brass of BJP during its national executive meeting held recently in Allahabad left no doubt about its intentions of spreading venom to reap an electoral harvest in the state. Similar intentions were also revealed in the Awadh regional meeting of RSS officials which was held in Ayodhya, where the issue of Babri Masjid was raised again to give UP politics a communal tenor.

Comrade Ramji Rai said that the BJP has faced a setback in Rajya Sabha elections in UP and there is growing disenchantment against the Modi government, so now it is desperately trying to play a communal card before the elections. Spreading rumours of exodus from Kairana and submitting a false list of families is only a small piece of a much bigger script in the RSS-BJP game plan.

The UP government’s silence and inaction instead of punishing the perpetrators after the Kairana lie has been exposed, can only make sense as an indication of a pre-fixed friendly match between BJP and SP. He appealed to the people of the state to remain alert against such forces.

‘Ahankar Todo’ Rally in Punjab

CPI(ML) Liberation organized an Ahankar Todo rally in Budhladha in Mansa district on 10 June 2016 to protest against the brutal attack on revolutionary labour leader Com. Bhagwant Singh Samao by the local landlord-sarpanch and the mobilization of the panchayat in the attacker’s favour by the Budhladha MLA’s son. Thousands of people including farmers, workers, women, and people’s organizations participated in the rally and expressed outrage against the goondaism and cheating that are rampant in the State under the Badal government. People chanting slogans against the government came on trucks, tractors and other vehicles from various parts of the region to Dana Mandi where the rally took place. BKU (Dakoda) leaders and activists also participated in large numbers.

The rally was addressed by CPI (ML) State Secretary Com. Gurmeet Singh Bakhat, Com. Bhagwant Singh Samao, other senior leaders of the Party, as well as leaders from CPM-Punjab, Punjab Kisan Union, Mazdoor Mukti Morcha Punjab, CPI, CPI (M), CPI (ML) New Democracy, BKU (Dakoda), Physically Handicapped Union, Inqalabi Kendra Punjab, Akali Dal (Mann), Nihang Sikh (Tarna Dal), Punjab Palledar Union, Pragatisheel Mahila Sabha, BKU (Krantikari), Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, AISA, RYA, and Democratic Karmachari Federation.

Addressing the rally, Com.Gurmeet Singh said that the CPI (ML) has a 50year long history of fighting for the interests of workers, farmers, dalits and the oppressed. Com. Mangat Ram Pasla said that the people of this country would give a fitting reply to communal-fascist forces and root them out of power. Com. Bhagwant Singh said that the Budhladha Akali MLA is oppressing and exploiting dalits and workers and is pandering to the interests of the rural rich from dominant castes. He said there are reports that MNREGA workers are being pressurized into attending the Akali rally but warned that if this happens the administration would have to face a strict enquiry.

After the rally a people’s march was taken out in Budhladha bazaar shouting slogans against the goondaism of the Badal supporters. The rally passed a resolution demanding immediate transfer of the Budhladha thana chief who was hand-in-glove with the attackers of Com. Bhagwant Singh, and that a case to be registered against the attackers under section 302.

AIPF Team Visits Drought-Affected Bargarh in Odisha

Even after one year that saw several farmer suicides, the BJP government at the centre and the BJD government in the State are busy shedding crocodile tears instead of taking appropriate concrete measures to end the farmers’ distress.

An 8-member team from AIPF, Odisha visited 5 blocks in Bargarh district on 11 and 12 June—Sohella, Barapali , Bhatli, and Attabira—with regard to the farmer suicides in these places, and met the families of the farmers who had committed suicide. In the recent year, many farmer suicides have come to light especially in Bargarh district. Some time ago the State BJD government had organized a kisan sabha in this region with great pomp and show at the cost of crores of rupees. Rahul Gandhi also held a padayatra in this district on these issues. A few days later PM Narendra Modi also addressed a meeting in this region and made many promises to the people. However, none of them took even one step forward to improve the farmers’ situation; nothing was done even on the administrative level.

Clearly, such sabhas and meetings are held only to gather votes and for self-publicity. The State government has consistently refused to recognize the farmers’ suicides as suicides. The AIPF team found that crop loss due to scanty rainfall, inadequate sale of produce, and back-breaking loans were some of the reasons that drive farmers, especially marginal farmers and sharecroppers, to suicide.

The State government collected crores of rupees from the farmers through OLIC (Odisha Lift Irrigation Corporation) for the purpose of irrigating non-irrigated lands, but with zero results to show for it. This matter can be seen as similar to chit fund scams. The farmers are unable to sell their paddy crop in the market as the farmer identity cards (Kisan Parichay Patra) have not been issued; the middlemen take advantage of this and purchase the paddy at low prices, thus adding to the long list of farmers’ woes and oppression.

People in this area are not even getting the benefit of senior citizen pensions which elderly men and women should get in what is supposed to be a welfare state. Prices of fertilizers, pesticides, and seeds have increased tenfold whereas the cost of paddy has not increased. Cost waivers to farmers in these drought-affected regions are as good as non-existent. Addressing the BJP’s kisan sabha in Bargarh, PM Modi made no concrete announcement for farmers or agriculture. Naveen Patnaik’s announcement of Rs 100 bonus per quintal of paddy has proved to be an empty promise. The MNREGA scheme is non-functional and the government and administration have no proper plans to re-start it. During the talks with the farmers, they said clearly that “talk of Jai Jawan Jai Kisan is mere rhetoric; neither the Central government nor the State government has any respect for or empathy with farmers”.

AIPF demands that – (i) the government recognize farmers’ suicides as suicides without delay, give the dependents adequate compensation, and waive their loans which they have taken from banks and co-operatives; irrigation facilities should be provided without delay; (ii) all farmers should be issued KisanParichay Patra, (iii) proper facilities should be given for them to sell their paddy in the markets, and middlemen should be removed; (iv) 200 days’ work should be ensured under the ‘Mahatma Gandhi Jatiya Gramin Yojana’; and (v) these families should be guaranteed benefits of all social welfare schemes.

The AIPF team included AICCTU State Secretary, Com. Mahendra Parida, ‘Campaign for Survival and Dignity’ State Convener Narendra Mohanty, researcher Dr Sricharan Behra, social activist Biranchi Bariha, AICCTU Bargarh district Convener, Com. Ashwini Pradhan, and Manoranjan Nayak. The team met the District Collector and apprised him of the seriousness of the situation. The Collector assured them that necessary steps would be taken. This was followed by a Press conference in Bargarh.

AIPF Fact-Finding Team To Bastar

An 8-member fact-finding team of All India People’s Forum visited four districts of Chhattisgarh (Bastar, Dantewada, Sukma and Bijapur) between 8-11 June 2016. The fact-finding team spoke to several victims of systematic communal violence against Christians. At several villages, resolutions adopted under the Chhattisgarh Gram Panchayat Act have been wrongly invoked in violation of the spirit of the law to restrict non-Hindus from residing or building places of worship, even though the High Court has quashed such gram sabha resolutions in two instances. Christians are being prevented from using burial grounds in several villages. Meanwhile, while the gram panchayat laws enacted to protect the rights of adivasis are being misused to harass Christians, the same laws are openly violated by the security forces that are grabbing forest land for mining companies in Raoghat, Kanker district. Villagers fighting for implementation of forest rights laws there are being threatened with imprisonment as ‘Maoists’.

The team also uncovered several instances of fake encounters; rapes; fake cases and arbitrary arrests; and fake surrenders. At Palamadgu village in Sukma district, the team found that the police claim of having killed two women Maoists in an encounter was false – the victims were two village girls aged 13 and 12. At Kadenar in Bijapur district, the team found that a couple whom the police and CRPF claimed to have killed during an ‘encounter’ with a large number of armed Maoists, was actually picked up from their home and killed in cold blood while in custody. This couple had left the Maoists after a year-long association with them, more than five years ago.

The team intervened to help get an FIR registered in a case where a Chhattisgarh Armed Forces jawan had raped a 12-year-old adivasi girl.

The team found villagers to be terrorized by the CRPF camps and state police force.

The AIPF team comprised former Madhya Pradesh MLA Dr Sunilam of Samajwadi Samagam, former Jharkhand MLA and CPIML Central Committee member Vinod Singh, Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of All India Progressive Women’s Association, Brijendra Tiwari of AICCTU, Amlan Bhatacharya, State Secretary of PUCL West Bengal, Advocate Aradhana Bhargava of Chhindwara, Advocate Ajoy Dutta of Kolkata and Amlendu Choudhury. Researcher Bela Bhatia and activist Soni Sori also accompanied the team.

Janpanchayat on Drought and Water Scarcity In Daltonganj

A Janpanchayat on drought and water problems was held in Daltonganj on 9 June 2016. The panchayat was jointly organized by seven organizations including Jharkhand Jan Sangharsh Morcha, IFTA, NREGA Watch, Gram Swaraj Mazdoor Sangh, Dihadi Mazdoor Union, CPI (ML), and AIPF. These organizations had prepared for the panchayat by holding gram sabhas in 40 villages over a period of 2 months. The main issue for the Janpanchayat was finding a permanent solution to the drought problem and water problem. About 2,500 people from across the district participated in the Janpanchayat. Apart from the representatives of the organizations, many other people also expressed their views at the Janpanchayat.

In the course of discussions, the view emerged that a series of sustained campaigns should be undertaken in the villages in preparation for a big political agitation on these issues in Palamu block so that the political claims can be put forward for the solution to these issues and the pro-corporate communal administration-politicians can be challenged. It also emerged during the discussions that thousands of ponds which earlier used to be the means for water storage are defunct today and the need of the hour is to renovate them. Many irrigation projects and canals are also in urgent need of renovation and some are incomplete and in immediate need of completion. In this way attempts can be made to solve the water problem permanently and also tackle the drought situation. The political campaign ahead of the agitation must focus on these concrete issues.

Indefinite Hunger Strike in Hazaribagh Central Jail

On 1 June 2016, Com. BN Singh, incarcerated for a long time in the JP Narayan Hazaribagh Central jail, had written a letter to the State Home Secretary through the Jail Superintendent regarding jail reforms and curb on loot apprising him of the indefinite strike to be held in the jail from 9 June and setting out his demands in detail.

In all districts in Jharkhand, including Hazaribagh, cuts are being made in meat and curds served to the prisoners in the name of festivals. So far about 10 weeks’ worth of meat has been cut in the name of Holi, Sankranti, Ramnavami etc. and scams to the tune of 6.5 lakhs have been perpetrated. For more than 4 years now, prisoners’ representative election has not been conducted, but jail authorities are appointing their paid workers as representatives and perpetrating this loot without obstacles.

On 25 April an 8-point charter of demands was submitted to the Secretary to the Chief Minister of Jharkhand and to former IG, Jails, Sunil Kumar Barnwal and a symbolic hunger strike was also held from 30 April to 1 May in support of those demands.

When these demands were ignored, CPI (ML) declared an indefinite hunger strike from 9 June for punishing the officials responsible for thus flouting the basic rights of prisoners and a 11-point charter of demands.

The demands also include the following: prisoners who have served more than half their term should be kept in open jails; prisoners who have completed their term should be released without delay; STD booth and TV set should be provided; the practice of weekly Jail Superintendent-prisoner durbar should be started to facilitate people’s dialogue; prisoners from farmers’ struggles should be given the status of political prisoners.

The hunger strike began on 9 June and on the third day of the strike, i.e., 11 June, the Jail warden gave assurances of acting on the above demands, and the hunger strike was ended. Red salute to our comrades in the jail for their struggle!

AIPWA Protests Rising Violence Against Women

Activists of All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) met the Giridih SP on 15 June 2016 and demanded that the rising incidences of violence against women and girl students should be curbed and the perpetrators should be arrested. Citing the various incidences of violence against women in the district, they submitted a memorandum to the SP. The delegation which met the SP included district AIPWA leader Com. Kaushalya Das, district council members comrades Jayanti Choudhury, Poonam Mahto, Sarita Mahto, Meena Das, Munni Devi and others. After a point-to-point discussion with the delegation the SP assured them that appropriate action would be taken.

Tripura State CPI(ML) Conference

The CPI (ML) held its State Conference in Tripura on 11-12 June 2016 in KCI school, Udaipur which was renamed Rohith Vemula Nagar for the occasion. The Conference was inaugurated by CPI (ML) PB member, Com. Swadesh Bhattacharya. PB member and West Bengal State committee Secretary Com. Partho Ghosh was the central observer. Outgoing Secretary Com. Partho Karmakar presented the report on which a lively discussion took place. After the report was passed, a 17-member State committee was elected and Com. Partho Karmakar was re-elected as the State Secretary.

AISA Burns Effigy of UP-SSC Chairman to Protest Against Paper Leak

On 5 June, a question paper was leaked during the BDO examination conducted by the UP-SSC. Aspirants staged a protest against this under the AISA banner on 12 June 2016 at GPO Park, Lucknow. The effigy of UP-SSC Chairman Raj Kishore Yadav was burnt and the protestors demanded from the Chief Minister that the earlier exam should be cancelled and fresh examinations held.

AISA State Joint Secretary, Com. Nitish Kannaujiya said that the SP government came to power riding on the promise of employment for youth, but no appointment process has been completed during this regime; they are all pending in the courts

Also in this series of protests, AISA led a protest march on 15 June in Lucknow and submitted a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister in which, apart from the above demands, they also demanded strict action against the officials and leaders who are involved in leaking the paper. Speakers said that the government and administration were fully aware that the paper had been leaked, but the fact that they still did not cancel the exam and instead hastily brought out an “answer key” within 3 days proves that people close to the Samajwadi Party are involved in this matter.

Gujarat Adivasis Struggle against Land Grab

Adivasi peasants in Valsad district of Gujarat held a massive protest on 16 June against forcible land grab by the land mafia as well as Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation. Adivasis in the district are living on their lands since generations but the governments had never bothered to provide them with the proper land titles and records. Now this fact is being utilised by the mafia to oust them from their ancestral lands which is now being considered valuable in view of development of industrial and adjoining coastal belt.

The lands of nearly half a dozen tribals were forcibly captured on May 27 last by mafia goons patronised by local MLA and and ex-MLA belonging to Congress and BJP respectively. The grabbers beat them up brutally in order to spread terror and lodged false criminal cases. The CPI(ML) leaders’ effective intervention stopped the police to take action against innocent tribals, though actual criminals still remain free. Such incidents are common in this district.

The tribals in this region had been involved in traditional farming since generations and lack of land titles is now being exploited for grabbing their lands by the nexus of mafia-local leaders and GIDC officials. They are being displaced by the land grabbers now, earlier they faced similar fate in 80s when Madhuban dam in Kaprada block was built. They are still struggling for their demand of rehabilitation of thousands of displaced people.

While adivasis constitute a sizable majority in many parts of the district, the administration always try to ignore their genuine demands and concerns to the extent that they are usually denied permission to hold peaceful gatherings and protests.

A port is being constructed at Nargol of Umargam taluk which also involves construction of a six-lane link road and huge ware house spaces. The state government acquisitioned lands through GIDC for the purpose, while a strong mafia also got active in snatching away lands in nexus with local politicians and officials. A very large number of trees and forest are also being flattened for the port construction.

The CPI(ML) is resisting this land grab for last couple of years. It is also raising the sensitive issue of land and water poisoning in Vapi and Umargam taluks by the nearby chemical industries’ hub. The state pollution control board has been made aware a number of times but it keeps on allowing the polluting industries to go on. As a result the land productivity is decreasing very fast and there is no potable healthy water left for drinking.

Many adivasis are left with the only option of working in nearby industries where labour law violations is the norm. They have also been deprived of MNREGA benefits as the job cards have never been given to them. PDS and other welfare schemes are mired in corruption like anywhere else. These issues were also raised with the District Magistrate by the CPI(ML) delegation which was led by party’s Politburo member Prabhat Kumar, Gujarat Incharge Ranjan Ganguly, District Secretary Laxmanbhai Vadia, Amit Patanwaria, Kamlesh and Jayantiben.

Obituary

Com. Lalku Karmali

Com. Lalku Karmali passed away on 17 March 2016 at the age of 46. He was a resident of Kanjagi Harijan Tola. He played a major role in the mobilization of loading-unloading workers’ movement and actively participated in the fight for crematorium, temple, and cashew orchard lands in Kanjagi. He joined the Party as an active worker in 2009. He came from an extremely poor workers’ family. Comrades Bhuneshwar Bediya, Jainandan Gope, Kuldeep Bediya and others were present at his last rites and tributes were paid to him at the Party office. Red Salute to Com. Lalku Karmali!

Com. Virendra Kumar

Com. Virendra Kumar, an active young cultural worker with the drama and music unit ‘Jagaran’ (Hazaribagh) of the Jharkhand Jan Sanskriti Manch died on 14 May 2016 in a tragic road accident while travelling to Nawada (Bihar) .He joined ‘Jagaran’ in 1995 and became a Party member in 1997. He played a lead role in dozens of street plays. With his easy smile and cheerful attitude, he was beloved of all. Com. Virendra took part in JASAM national conventions and also represented Jharkhandi culture in the cultural festival at Karbi Anglong. He was an active participant in several campaigns run by the Party.

The Party and JASAM organized a condolence meeting at Haisalong on 18 May which was attended by hundreds of people. Party State committee member Com. Baijnath Mistry, district convener Com. Pachhu Rana, JASAM National councilor Com. Kaleshwar Gope, Jaiveer Hansda and many other comrades remembered him fondly and paid tributes to him at the condolence meeting. Red salute to Com. Virendra Kumar!

Com. Bhuar Paswan

Com. Bhuar Paswan, also known as Subas Paswan, a resident of Dhana Tola in Dhana Panchayat, Dulhin Bazaar block, Patna district, passed away suddenly on 23 May 2016 at PMCH due to heart failure. He was 47. After his Matriculation, impressed by the Party’s struggles, he started participating actively in Party activities and became a member in 1988. Till the very end he remained Secretary of the local Party branch and participated in every Party activity. He had unbroken faith in the Party and stood with it as a dedicated activist even after an MLA left the Party and the block went through a phase of upheaval. Born to a poor family, no blandishments could ever lure Com. Bhuar. He was very popular and beloved of the people at the local level.

The Party district committee expressed deep sorrow at the passing of Com. Bhuar and conveys heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family. Red salute to Com. Bhuar Paswan!

Com. Saraswati

Com. Saraswati, who had served as AIPWA Kanpur district President, passed away in early June this year. The Kanpur district committee held a condolence meeting in her memory on 6 June 2016. Com. Saraswati joined the Party in 1996 and took part in CPI(ML) political activity till life’s last struggle. She had also worked as district Secretary in the Kanpur district committee. She was always ready to work for the development of the Party and gave her utmost to strengthen the Party. Presently all members of her family are active Party workers. Red salute to Com. Saraswati!

ML Update | No. 25 | 2016

July 8, 2016

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 19, No. 25, 14 ­– 20 JUNE 2016

Nitish versus Nitish and Toppersgate: Time for Students to Rise and Reassert in Bihar

​T​
he suicide attempt by Nitish Kumar, a young bright student of the reputed Patna College of Arts and Crafts, has rekindled memories of the Rohith Vemula episode. There is much that is similar between what happened in Hyderabad and what is happening in Patna. Like Rohith, Nitish too is a dalit student victimized by the college and university administration and like Rohith, Nitish too is a committed fighter for justice for all his fellow students. Students of the Arts College have not only been suspended but also arrested under false charges, and Nitish is fighting against this ongoing repression on the students. The ironical difference is that in Hyderabad, Rohith and his fellow students were being persecuted by a nexus that began with local ABVP activists and the University administration on the ground and went right up to key BJP ministers at the Centre, and in Patna, the nexus revolves around the Nitish Kumar government which claims to champion social justice and good governance and received a massive mandate precisely against the BJP and on the very plank of social justice, secularism and democracy.

Nitish and his friends in the Patna College of Arts and Crafts have been fighting against the college Principal Chandrabhooshan Shrivastava who has earned tremendous notoriety among students during his ‘stopgap’ tenure since October 2012 for his rank casteist and sexist conduct and thuggish way of running a college which promises ‘a participative and creative environment’. A petition signed by more than 130 students demanding removal of and action against the Principal lies before the VC as well as the Chief Minister and Chairpersons of the Women’s Commission, SC/ST Commission, and Human Rights Commission. Since late April, students have also been agitating for the revocation of wrongful suspension of students who have been victimized for raising their voice against the sordid state of affairs in the college. Students allege that despite all their complaints, the Principal continues to stay in office because of his close proximity to the Principal Secretary of the Chief Minister.

The appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the chairman of FTII, Pune and Pahlaj Nihalani as the head of the Central Board of Film Certification in India came as rude shocks to the creative community across the country. The protests against these appointments have been triggered not just by the democratic concern to save institutions from the design of saffron subversion but more by the shock caused by the arrogant disdain for these institutions writ large in these appointments. If loyalty or proximity to the ruling dispensation becomes the biggest criterion of choice in key posts in institutions meant to promote creativity then it sounds the death knell for creative freedom and excellence. The Patna Arts College case is no less shocking. A Principal governing a creative institution in an atmosphere of fear and dictatorship with shocking overtones of casteism and sexism is an affront to the creative community and an assault on the present and future of the students, and when such a person continues to enjoy political patronage and backing of the higher authorities despite repeated complaints by students it is a clear case of arrogance and abuse of power that must be opposed by everyone who cherishes democracy.

The Arts College episode is no isolated case, it only symbolizes the deeper and growing rot in Bihar’s education system. The sensational ‘Toppers scam’ is another shocking case in point. Modi’s alleged degree in ‘entire political science’ may have caused ripples of laughter, but when the topper in the Arts stream in this year’s plus-two board examinations said she learned ‘cooking skills’ in political science, it raised millions of eyebrows in Bihar. The chief of the Bihar School Examination Board, Mr. Lalkeshwar Prasad Singh, reportedly a Nitish Kumar acolyte, (whose wife, a former JDU MLA from Hilsa in Nalanda district, has now also been exposed to have made dubious degree claims in her election affidavit), has resigned and gone underground to evade investigation. Bachcha Rai, the reported kingpin of the toppersgate scam, who runs the Bishun Rai College in Vaishali named after his father and produces dubious Toppers, has finally been arrested and his close ties with leaders of JDU, RJD as well as BJP are now hogging the headlines in Bihar. If properly investigated, the Toppers Scam may well turn out to be Bihar’s equivalent to the Vyapam scam in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh. Soon after becoming the Chief Minister of Bihar in 2005, Nitish Kumar had set up the Muchkund Dube commission with the stated aim of overhauling the education system in the state, but now the emerging facts tell us that while the common school system recommended by the committee was consigned to oblivion, a systematic subversion of education went on with high level political blessings and administrative backing. A high level judicial enquiry must be set up immediately to get to the bottom of this rot and punish all the guilty.

Bihar has historically been a cradle of powerful student movements. Leaders like Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad owe their political rise to the famous 1974 students’ movement. Radical student activists from the 1970s and subsequent generations are an important pillar of the revolutionary communist movement in the state. Beginning with Chandrashekhar to the current generation of Kanhaiya Kumar, Ashutosh and Chintu, student activists from Bihar have played a leading role in shaping the progressive student discourse in JNU and other campuses in the country. Today, when student activists in Patna University are being dubbed terrorists and subjected to all sorts of victimization and persecution, it is time for the progressive student movement to reassert in Bihar, stand by Nitish and other fighting students of Patna Arts College and Patna University and rise with all might against the ongoing mockery and betrayal with the youth in Bihar on the twin fronts of education and employment.

Anganwadi Workers Protest in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand Anganwadi Workers Union affiliated to AICCTU held a state-wide protest on 10 June during which effigies of Women and Child Minister Maneka Gandhi were burnt in Champawat, Barakot, Pati, Tanakpur, Pithoragarh, Didihaat, Gangolihaat, Almora, Bhikyasain and other places. Speakers addressing the protestors at these places criticised the governments for grossly neglecting the rights of women workers. Apart from the work fixed for them, Anganwadi workers are made to perform several duties such as survey and census work, but in spite of doing so many extra tasks and even after so many years of working, they are deprived of even the minimum wages fixed by the government and the regularization of their job is still a far cry. The tasks of the Anganwadi workers are constantly being increased; skilled work is extracted from them but in return they do not even receive the minimum wages due to unskilled workers.

The Anganwadi workers said that drastic cuts have been made by the Modi government in the Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS). The Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi also has shamelessly and explicitly denied any increase in the honorarium for Anganwadi workers.

Through the protests on 10 June the Union raised the following demands:

1. Rs 15,000 monthly salary for Anganwadi workers should be ensured.

2. The proposal for domicile for Anganwadi workers should be speedily passed by the State cabinet and sent to the Central government.

3. Newspapers recently carried news of the government announcing summer and winter vacations, but GO (government orders) in this matter have not yet arrived, which should be issued without delay.

4. It should be ensured that all children below 6 years of age should be sent to Anganwadi centres and Anganwadi certificates should be made mandatory for admission to Class 1 in government as well as private schools.

5. Mini Anganwadi workers are being forced to run the centres without assistants. Posts of assistant workers should be created in all Mini Anganwadi centres in the State. Mini Anganwadi centres should be given the status of full Anganwadi centres and the Mini Anganwadi workers should get honorarium equal to that of the Anganwadi workers, in keeping with the ‘equal pay for equal work’ principle.

6. The criminals who attacked AICCTU State General Secretary and labour leader KK Bora in Rudrapur on 20 May should be arrested without delay.

Protest Dharna In Nainital Against Failure To Arrest Com. K. K. Bora’s Attackers

A one-day dharna was held at the Kumaon Commissioner’s office in response to AICCTU’s call to protest against the fact that even though 20 days have passed since the attack on AICCTU State General Secretary KK Bora, the attackers have not yet been arrested. Various unions, organizations, and parties participated in the dharna and unanimously demanded from the Chief Minister that the named accused and other attackers should be arrested without delay.

Addressing the dharna, AICCTU national Vice President Raja Bahuguna said that the union leader was brutally and openly attacked in broad daylight and the attackers attempted to abduct him but even after 20 days the attackers are roaming free. He added that under the Harish Rawat government it is not the rule of law but ‘jungle raj’. He further said that the fact that one day before the attack the police tried to forcibly arrest him shows that the police-administration of Rudrapur is in connivance with the MINDA management for oppression of workers. He said that the struggle of AICCTU and workers in SIDCUL is against that government policy which does not give minimum wages, does not allow formation of unions, and does not give any rights to workers. Workers are fighting against this policy of the government and the capitalists and the fight shall continue.

CPI(ML) State Secretary Rajendra Pratholi said that by attacking the workers’ leader the capitalists have tried to break the spirit of the workers but the workers have shown through their unity that their spirit and will-power are high and far from broken. He pointed out that the calculated negligence of Harish Rawat in this matter shows that he is no less than Modi in the matter of workers’ oppression. Eminent theatre personality Zahoor Alam said that the manner in which workers’ democratic rights are being murdered in the State is a matter of great concern and all democratic forces must oppose this.

President of the Uttarakhand Bank Employees’ Union Praveen Shah said that the Bank Union condemns the attack on the labour leader, expresses solidarity with the workers, and demands that the attackers should be immediately arrested and enforcement of labour laws should be ensured in SIDCUL.

Comrade KK Bora addressed the protester and said that oppression by the rulers cannot break us and the workers’ struggle will continue till the last breath.

Former MLA Narayan Singh Jantwal strongly condemned the attack on the democratic rights of workers and demanded the immediate arrest of the attackers. He said that al democratic forces must come together to fight against such attacks.

Uttarakhand Parivartan Party President PC Tiwari said that the attacks which are taking place from Nainisar to SIDCUL are well-planned and calculated; they must be opposed strongly. Several other representatives from various organisations and individuals from progressive sections also shared their solidarity.

Protests in Jharkhand Against the Increasing Attacks on Working Class

A protest march and meeting were held on 23 May 2016 at Randhir Verma chowk in Dhanbad by the CPI(ML) and AICCTU district committees to protest against the attack on Uttarakhand State General Secretary KK Bora and the painful death of an electricity worker in Govindpur, Dhanbad district, due to administrative negligence. The protest was joined by people associated with the Dalit Vikas Manch and Haadi Jati Vikas Manch with slogans of “Jai Bheem”.

On 17 May, Santosh Mahto, a daily wage worker was sent to work on a transformer after an electricity wire broke due to the falling of a tree during a storm in Kurchi village of Govindpur block. While he was working on the line, someone turned on the power and Santosh suffered a painful death, after which people spontaneously gheraoed the electricity office. The management tried to put pressure on acceptance of Rs 2.5 lakhs as compensation. Meanwhile CPI(ML) leader Com. Kartik Kumar arrived on the spot and pointed out that as this was a case of accidental death during duty, it is mandatory to pay Rs 5 lakh as compensation, employment for one family member, and a case under 302 against the guilty officer. The talks failed, with the police resorting to lathi charge and taking away the body of the victim. The next day a case of damaging state property, stoning a police jeep, and blocking the road was registered against CPI(ML) leaders and other people.

The protest march and meeting echoed with protests against these attacks on the working class—the attack on workers’ leader KK Bora and the ‘managerial’ murder of worker Santosh Mahto. A memorandum was submitted to the DC demanding immediate arrest of KK Bora’s attackers, strict action against the police personnel who tried to forcibly arrest him, and fulfillment of workers’ demand. The demands also included action under 302 against the officers responsible for Santosh Mahto’s death, 5 lakhs compensation and employment for one family member, and immediate revoking of all false cases against ML leaders and other people. The DC of Dhanbad gave an assurance that the false cases would be revoked.

On 30 May a dharna was held at the Govindpur block HQ with the above demands and also protesting the scams and irregularities in ration cards. A protest meeting was held in Ranchi demanding action in the corruption in compensation for the displaced people affected by the construction of the Ranchi-Tata national highway into a 4 lane road, corruption in MNREGA, and arrest and punishment of the guilty in the KK Bora attack.

Protests were also held in Argadda, Ramgarh, and Bokaro for rights of steel workers and punishment for the attackers of KK Bora.

Protest Against Loot in Food Security Ration in Giridih

Loot and black marketing has been rampant in food security rations since the beginning of 2016. Rations for the last 3 months have been “lapsed”. Many people have not been issued ration cards and even those issued have several mistakes and anomalies. A majority of those who used to earlier have red cards have no ration cards today. Many of the really poor are not listed in the BPL list.

Between the 3rd week of May and 31 May, block level mass mobilizations were done in most blocks in Giridih and Koderma on the above food security related issues. Three months’ ration in the entire district of Giridih has disappeared under the euphemism of ‘ration lapse’, and this was the main issue in the agitation. At a time when drought relief is supposed to be arranged, rations are instead being looted, causing great public anger. The air reverberated with the slogan, ‘Teen mahina ration gol, Bhajapa ki khul gayi pol’ (For three months ration is missing, BJP stands exposed) and other similar slogans as nearly 1500 people gheraoed the block HQ in Bagodar. Speakers at the gherao strongly condemned the corruption in food grain distribution and warned of a big agitation unless ration and kerosene were made available speedily.

On the same day massive protests that witnessed large scale participation by people were also held in Birni. On 27 May protests were held in Sariya, Khori Mahua (Rajdhanwar), Jamua, Devri, Bengabad, and Giridih Sadar. On 30 May protests were held in Markachho (Koderma district).

‘Jugad’ Drivers Protest in Bhagalpur

Hundreds of jugad drivers under the banner of the Jugad Gadi Chalak Sangh (affiliated to AICCTU) staged a dharna protest in front of the district officer on 1 June 2016 to protest against the ban imposed on the plying of jugad (locally manufactured) vehicles. The dharna was presided over by AICCTU State President, Com. Mukesh Mukt.

Speakers addressing the dharna said that rural and urban poor and workers have made arrangements for their livelihood using local know-how techniques without any help from the government or the administration. It is condemnable that the Nitish government and its administrative machinery which have failed to curb large-scale migration from the State due to lack of employment are attacking resources of self-employment.

The speakers pointed out that these jugad vehicles play an important role in taking agricultural produce from the villages to the markets and bringing essential goods for the farmers and villagers from the cities to the villages. In Bhagalpur district alone jugad vehicles provide livelihood for about 50,000 people among the families of 10,000 jugad drivers. Banning this not only deprives thousands of workers and their families of livelihood, it also exposes the hollow claims of “development with justice” made by the Nitish government.

The dharna protest was addressed by AICCTU National Vice President Com. SK Sharma, Jugad Gadi Chalak Sangh State convener Subhash Kumar, and several Jugad chalak workers. About 700 jugad workers were present in the dharna. A 5-member delegation led by Com. Mukesh Mukt submitted a memorandum to the district officer with the following demands: plying of jugad vehicles should continue as before; jugad vehicles should be regularized and all jugad drivers should be given licensed permits. The dharna culminated with the declaration by the jugad workers that on no account will the plying of jugad vehicles be stopped, and the workers would fight for guarantee of livelihood and safety till the last breath.

Earlier, in protest against the ban on jugad vehicles in Bhagalpur, AICCTU had started mobilizing jugad workers. Plans for the movement were discussed and finalized at a meeting on 22 May 2016 attended by about 200 jugad workers. A meeting was held on 29 May at the local Jaiprakash garden attended by 500 jugad workers. Leaders from AICCTU, Asangathit Kamgar Sangh, and Jugad Gadi Chalak Sangh, along with AICCTU State General Secretary Com. RN Thakur addressed the meeting.

Protests in North Bengal Against Fascist Attacks and Trinamool’s Terror

CPI(ML) took out a peace march on 17 May 2016 at Raiganj in North Dinajpur to protest against the fascist attacks on Jadavpur University by the Sangh parivar, and to demand an end to the post-election terror unleashed by Trinamool goons. The rally went through the town from the local Siliguri crossing to the municipal bus stand. The appeal to all the participants of the rally to maintain peace and harmony received a good response. The march was led by district Secretary Com. Brajen Sarcar and other leaders.

Earlier, on 16 May a protest rally was organized at Siliguri, starting from Kanchanjanga stadium and culminating in a meeting at Hashimichak. The meeting was addressed by State committee member Com. Basudev Bose. The rally was attended by CC member and Darjeeling district Secretary Com. Abhijit Mazumdar, State committee members Comrades Pavitra Singh and Gauri De and other district leaders.

As part of the state-wide protests against the above two issues, a meeting was also held at the Chowringhee crossing in Mynagarh (Jalpaiguri) on 17 May. The demand was made at the meeting that BJP State President Dileep Ghosh be arrested and action taken against him for his derogatory remarks against women. The meeting also called for people from all sections to stand up against the terror being unleashed by the ruling Trinamool Congress in the State. The murder of a student at Diamond Harbour was strongly condemned at the meeting which was addressed by Comrades Basudev Bose, Shyamal Bhowmik and Mukul Chakravorty.

Obituary

Red Salute to Com. Sohrai Oraon

Com. Sohrai Oraon came from an extremely poor family in Sirkander village (Patratu block). After combating ill-health for 4 – 5 years, he passed away at the age of 45 on 21 March 2016. He had been taking part in Party work from early school days. He was part of the Liberation Front which later merged into the CPI (ML). Com. Sohrai always very ably discharged the responsibilities given to him by the Party and worked for the Party in Patratu and Mandu blocks. The Party is even today extending itself on the basis of the foundation laid by him for the party organization. He worked with great dedication for organizing the rural poor under the Party ideology and familiarizing them with Communist ideology. His family also took part in Party activities. He leaves behind his wife and two children. Hundreds of Party workers and were present for funeral. He was buried in his ancestral village and tributes were also paid to him at the Ramgarh Party office. Red salute to Com. Sohrai Oraon!

ML Update | No. 24 | 2016

June 7, 2016

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 19 | No. 24 | 7-13 June 2016

Gulberg Society Massacre: Justice Compromised

The Gulberg Society verdict of an Ahmedabad special court, that has convicted 24 and acquitted 36, and dismissed the conspiracy charges “for lack of evidence”, cannot satisfy the quest for justice. The Gulberg Society massacre was one of the worst incidents in a pogrom that was unleashed following the Godhra carnage on February 27 2002. The verdict has convicted some leading Vishwa Hindu Parishad figures but has acquitted an accused BJP Councillor as well as police inspector KK Erda.

On February 28, 2002, 69 people including former MP Ahsaan Jafri were killed at Gulberg Society by a mob, and many went missing who were later presumed dead. Survivors accused the police and administration of collusion in the massacre. The SIT appointed by the Supreme Court in 2008 to probe the riot cases, failed to ask crucial questions that would have nailed the deliberate dereliction of duty by the police, administration and Government headed by Narendra Modi.

There are many reasons why the dismissal of conspiracy charges must be challenged in higher courts. First, the landmark verdict in the case of the Naroda Patiya massacre that took place just 4 kilometres away from Gulberg Society, established that the key convicts Babu Bajrangi and Minister Maya Kodnani were kingpins of a conspiracy. Call records show that Bajrangi and the VHP leader Atul Vaidya convicted in the Gulberg case were in close touch with each other; they also show that several key persons from the Chief Minister’s office were in the same area as the Gulberg Society on February 27, a day before the massacre. Call records also belie the claim of Ahmedabad’s Police Commissioner and other key police officers that they were unaware of the massacre that took place at Gulberg Society.

These call records establish that top police officers had visited the Gulberg Society, were aware that a huge restive mob preparing for violence, and yet, left the place without calling additional troops to control the mob. Witnesses have testified to the fact that Ahsaan Jafri made hundreds of calls for help, to the police as well as to top politicians including India’s then Home Minister LK Advani and the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi – but received no help. The Government and police studiously looked the other way and allowed the mob to rape women, lynch Ahsaan Jafri to death and kill 69 people.

The most damning piece of the evidence of the state’s collusion in the 2002 pogrom is the conduct of the then CM Modi who is now the Prime Minister. On February 28 2002, Modi made a televised address via Doordarshan in the evening, after the horrific massacres at Naroda Patiya and Gulberg Society had ended – but mentioned only the Godhra carnage, remaining silent on these massacres. He claimed to the SIT that he was informed of these massacres only late that night. If senior police officers failed to keep themselves and the CM informed of massacres lasting several hours in broad daylight in the capital city, why were these officers not punished? Why were they, instead, promoted?

The very next day, 1 March 2002, Modi spoke to a television channel and rationalized the Gulberg massacre and in fact, all the riots, as a ‘chain of action and reaction.’ Modi claimed that Jafri’s action of firing at the mob provoked the ‘reaction’ of the massacre. The question is, had the police and Government responded to Jafri’s frantic calls, would he have been left to defend the Gulberg Society from a murderous mob, with nothing but his own gun? The police chargesheet in the Gulberg case had also initially made the same claim that the violence happened because Jafri fired on the mob. Rahul Sharma, the police officer who pointed out that this chargesheet was not consistent with the FIR, was transferred and has faced harassment and victimisaton ever since.

Even today, the Central Government headed by Modi continues to use its power to harass and victimize crusaders for justice like Teesta Setalvad (whose efforts are in large measure responsible for the Naroda Patiya verdict and the partial justice in the Gulberg case) and Indira Jaising who have taken on Modi and his lieutenant Amit Shah.

The recently published book Gujarat Files by journalist Rana Ayyub, detailing conversations with top police officers recorded by her during sting operations, also confirms the complicity of the state in the 2002 pogrom. These conversations record Ashok Narayan, Home Secretary at the time of the pogrom, stating that Modi would issue verbal orders to his favoured and trusted police officers to support the VHP in the rioting, and that Modi did so for ‘Hindu votes.’ They also record PC Pande, the Ahmedabad Commissioner of Police at the time of the pogrom, justifying the communal violence as Hindu revenge for previous riots in history where he claimed the Muslims had had the upper hand.

Be it the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom patronized by the Congress or the 2002 pogrom by the Gujarat Government headed by Modi, enquiry commissions and courts have failed the victims and survivors. The political kingpins have escaped unscathed; crucial evidence has been ignored; and at best, some pawns have been punished.

The kingpins of the 2002 pogrom are in power at the Centre today and are trying to scuttle justice. But the courageous survivors including Zakia Jafri, and other fighters for justice will not give up. Their struggle is a rallying point for all democratic forces in India.

Attack on Mazdoor Mukti Morcha Leader Bhagwant Samaon in Punjab

On the morning of 2 June, the Sarpanch of Bodawal village in Mansa, Punjab, belonging to the ruling Akali Dal accompanied by his goons brutally attacked the Punjab State President of Mazdoor Mukti Morcha (MMM) and Dalit leader, Bhagwant Samaon while he was holding a meeting of agricultural dalit workers in the village. It was while he was holding the meeting that Bodawal sarpanch Surat Singh arrived with his son and other goons and attacked Com. Bhagwant with hovels, resulting in severe head injuries. A female MNREGA worker and MMM activist was also injured in the attack when she tried to resist the attackers in order to protect comrade Bhagawnt.

Com. Bhagwant had been mobilising and organising the labourers in the Bodawal Village against the failure of the Akali Dal government to meet any of the long standing demands of the agrarian workers which included- giving possession of five-marla plots, debt waiver and also to compensate them for the loss of labour due to whitefly attacks.

The recent spate of incidents in Punjab have already shown how the police is a mute spectator in Punjab, completely failing to protect the citizens. While the police have failed to arrest the sarpanch, it is sparing no efforts to try and show that it was Com. Bhagwant who tried to instigate the workers against the government. It is extremely shameful that the local sarpanch and police are acting as musclemen of the ruling Akali Dal. While the state government has no response to the distraught condition of the labourers, it has now become intolerant to the extent that any effort to organise a protest against its anti-poor policies is met by a brutal oppression. Criminalisation and oppression of voices of struggle and dissent have become rampant under the state and Central governments. To protest against the attack on com. Bhagwant and demand the arrest of the attackers a joint protest ‘Lalkaar Rally’ has been called by the MMM and Punjab Kisan Union.

CPI(ML) Statement on Racist Violence

The CC noted with concern the recent incident of racist violence in Delhi in which a student from Congo was beaten to death. This is the latest in a series of such incidents in recent years – including the stripping of a Tanzanian woman in Bangalore by a mob; the murderous assault in Jalandhar on a student from Burundi that led to his coma and eventual death; the racist campaign by a Minister in Goa against Nigerian nationals; the racist raid on African women by a Delhi Government Minister in Khirki extension in Delhi; and the mob attack on three African men at Rajiv Chowk metro station in Delhi. It is condemnable that external affairs Ministers Sushma Swaraj and VK Singh have responded to the concerns expressed by representatives of High Commissions of African countries by denying the existence of racism in India and blaming the media. Central and State Governments must take up urgent measures to recognise and resist the widespread anti-Black racism in India.

Protest Against Failure to Arrest the Attackers of Com. KK Bora

A workers’ protest meeting was held in Ambedkar Park, Rudrapur, Uttarakhand on 6 May 2016, sixteen days after Vice President of AICCTU unit of Uttarakhand, Com. K. K. Bora was brutally attacked. The protestors expressed anger over the fact that even sixteen days after the attack, the attackers had not been arrested.

The meeting was addressed by National Vice President of AICCTU, Raja Bahuguna, CPI(ML) Uttarakhand State Secretary Rajendra Pratholi, Uttarakhand Parivartan Party General Secretary Prabhat Dhyani, Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sabha leader Com. Avtar Singh and several other leaders including Com. K. K. Bora. Representatives from several organisations and progressive individuals joined the protest against the failure of authorities to arrest the attackers. The protest meeting was chaired by state AICCTU President Nishan Singh and it was convened by District AICCTU leader Dinesh Tiwari. A resolution was unanimously passed during the protest meeting that if the attackers were not immediately arrested, a gherao of Kumaon’s Commissioner would be done.

All India Kisan Mahasabha’s Dharna in Haldwani

Hundreds of farmers staged a Mahadharna under the banner of the All India Kisan Mahasabha in Haldwani and sent a memorandum to the Chief Minister with the demands of the farmers of Bhabhar region and residents of forest villages (Khatta). This farmers dharna was a culmination of a Kisan Sangharsh Yatras taken out from 16 May to 24 May in all the khattas of Terai and villages of Bhabar. Group talks and discussions were held with farmers and other villagers at various places, and efforts were made to understand their problems.

The AIKM demanded construction of banks on both sides of the Gola river and construction of a by-pass road and flyover on Lalkuan railway crossing along with the demands of loan waiver, crop loss compensation, sugar cane arrears payment to farmers, and arrest of the criminals who perpetrated the condemnable attack on AICCTU leader KK Bora.

The Mahadharna held on the anniversary of the completion of 50 years after the Naxalbari farmers’ agitation. AIKM State President Purushottam Sharma said that both the Modi government at the Centre and the Congress’ Harish Rawat government in the State are neglecting the rights of farmers and farmers are being forced to migrate from Uttarakhand on a large scale. Farmers face ruin today due to drought and debt but the State and Central governments, instead of arranging relief for them, are busy providing relief to capitalists and rich businessmen to the tune of lakhs of crores of rupees.

Com. Sharma alleged that Uttarakhand govt. has made Bindukhatta into a municipality for the benefit of the land mafia and has indulged in political vendetta by slapping dozens of false cases under grave charges on farmers and their leaders engaged in democratic protest. This government has stopped the van gurjars who live inside forest village settlements, from sowing their crops with a view to create communal divide among the khatta residents. The issue of rehabilitation of van gurjars and other khatta residents has also been kept hanging in balance. He said that the Harish Rawat government as well as previous governments held back on the construction of the Jamrani dam under pressure from the mining mafia. The people in the entire State of Uttarakhand are demanding just this one dam, but construction of the Jamrani dam which would provide irrigation and drinking water to Haldwani and Bhabar is not in this government’s priority.

CPI(ML) CC member and AICCTU leader Raja Bahuguna said that the recent episode of horse-trading for MLAs in crores of rupees by the BJP and the Congress is a matter of shame for Uttarakhand. On the one hand the Harish Rawat government asks for the people’s support but on the other hand it is bent on oppression of workers and farmers. The attack on AICCTU leader KK Bora by criminals with government protection, and the attack by goondas on the democratically protesting farmers of Bindukhatta are two living examples of this.

Kisan Mahasabha district President Com. Bahadur Singh Jangi demanded the immediate removal of stone crushers from the residential areas of Bhabar, pointing out that under pressure from the crusher lobby the State government has not done so even after directives from the High Court.

Addressing the Mahadharna, CPI(ML) district Secretary Kailash Pandey said that the Rawat government, by making changes in land use of hill lands after purchase and by not doing legally mandated raids on factories by Labour Inspectors, has made its anti-worker character clear. The Mahadharna was also addressed by kisan leaders and many guest speakers from other organisations who expressed their solidarity with the struggle. The proceedings were conducted by Kisan Mahasabha State executive member Vimla Rauthan and district Secretary Rajendra Shah.

After the meeting, a 21-point charter of demands was submitted to the Chief Minister through the City Magistrate regarding issues related to the farmers of the Khattas and Bhabar. These demands included: revoking of Bindukhatta as a municipality, right to sow crops for forest gurjars and rehabilitation of all khattas, construction of Jamrani dam, removal of stone crushers from residential areas, banks on both sides of the Gola river, by-pass road, making Lalkuan a municipality, Lalkuan railway crossing flyover, drought relief and loan waiver for farmers, ownership rights for poor farmers in Bindukhatta and Bagjhala, payment of grants for toilets under the Swachch Bharat Mission for all khattas and non-revenue villages and areas.

State Conference of AIPWA in Uttar Pradesh

The 7th AIPWA UP State Conference was held in Lucknow at the Ganga Prasad Memorial Hall (Ameenabad). The Conference began by paying tributes to the martyrs of women’s struggles. Com. Geeta Das, Naxalbari struggle leader and President of AIPWA at the time of its inception in 1994, and national committee member Com. Ahmadi Begum were especially remembered for their lifelong dedication to AIPWA.

Inaugurating the Conference, AIPWA National General Secretary Meena Tiwari said that women in different States are uniting and spontaneously fighting for their rights. AIPWA has played an important role in carrying forward these struggles. Exposing the Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar who pats himself on the back for total prohibition in the State, she pointed out that in the early phase Nitish had doubled the liquor contracts, whereas AIPWA had been struggling for prohibition in Bihar for the last 10 years and the entire credit should go to the working women of the State. These women have long been demanding health centres for women in every area with appointed gynecologists, but the government has ignored this demand.

Addressing the Conference, AIPWA National Secretary Kavita Krishnan said that the policies of the Modi government at the Centre and the Akhilesh government in UP are both anti-women. This is well exemplified by the role played by the SP and the BJP in the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013. She pointed out BJP President’s statement both during the riots and during his campaign for Modi that ‘riots are done to protect the honour of mothers and daughters’. She said that the Modi government talks of ‘Beti Padhao Beti Bachao’ but it is under their rule that the greatest violence is being perpetrated on women of all ages, from tiny children to elderly women; women are not getting due wages for their labour; the right to food Bill is not being implemented wherein every pregnant woman should get Rs 6000 per month. These governments attribute a shallow logic to ASHA-Anganwadi and midday meal workers not being paid adequate wages, the logic offered being that as these women work free of cost in their homes, they can also do ‘service’ for a small honorarium. Com. Kavita said that the more the government tries to imprison women in the name of culture, tradition, and safety, the more women are raising their voices and coming out on the streets with slogans demanding ‘freedom’.

CPI(ML) Politburo member and the Chief editor of Samkaleen Janmat, Com. Ramji Rai said that brave women like Jhalkaribai, Laxmibai, and Begum Hazratmahal came out fighting against British imperialism; similarly, today’s women must come out fighting against patriarchy, caste and gender discrimination.

The proceedings of the inaugural session were conducted by Tahira Hassan. The cultural team of ‘Chorus’ led by Samta Rai presented people’s songs.

In the delegates’ session, activities of AIPWA over the past 3 years and the current organizational and political situation were discussed. Different aspects of strengthening the women’s movement in the State were also discussed. More than a dozen delegates put forward their thoughts in the session and a 9-point resolution was passed. A 33-member Council and 19-member State executive were elected who then elected Com. Kusum Verma as State Secretary and Com. Krishna Adhikari as State President.

Protest March Against Murder of Journalist

The CPI(ML) organized protest marches in Siwan, Begusarai and Katihar against the murder of journalist Rajdev Ranjan of the newspaper ‘Hindustan’ in Siwan. Former CPI(ML) MLA and popular leader Com. Amarnath Yadav and Siwan district Secretary Com. Naeemuddin Ansari met the bereaved family of Rajdev Ranjan and extended condolences on behalf of the party. The leaders condemned the extremely shameful of the journalist and extended heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family members and staff of ‘Hindustan’. They stated that once again the confidence of criminals in Bihar is sky high; it is a matter of great shame that journalists are now being targeted and killed. Some days ago CPI(ML) leader Com. Chaurasiya was murdered in Siwan and his killers are still at large. They also pointed out that the law and order system in Bihar is going from bad to worse. Instead of handing out platitudes in this matter, the government should take stern measures to control crime.

Protest Against Branding of Students as Terrorists

AISA activists held a one-day dharna in Patna in protest against persecution of student leaders and common students in Patna University on the lines of the witch-hunt in JNU. Addressing the dharna at the University gate, AISA national executive member, Akash Kashyap said that while the students of the Arts and Crafts College have been victimized by the College administration, AISA State Joint Secretary Tariq Anwar and 3 other student leaders have been charged with involvement in terrorist activities by Patna University. Clearly, Patna University and the Bihar government are treading on the same path as the Modi government at the centre. Addressing the dharna, RYA leader Com. Ramji Yadav said that Patna University accusing students of terrorist activity was totally ridiculous, as the truth is that the students and student leaders have been agitating for the past so many days for their legitimate rights. This action against them is totally undemocratic. RYA leader Com. Manish Kumar Singh added that both the Central government as well as the Bihar State government are both anti-student; while one is persecuting the students on false charges of sedition, the other is persecuting them on false charges of terrorism. He further said that if the Patna University does not revoke its tyrannical action, a strong agitation would be launched in the coming days. It was also announced at the meeting that the second phase of the ‘Uttho Mere Desh’ campaign would be carried out by AISA and RYA from 10 May to 9 August 2016 in order to expose the fascist campaign of the BJP to the common students.

11TH Gorakhpur Film Festival in Memory of Rohith Vemula

A 2 day film festival organized by Gorakhpur Film Society and Jan Sanskriti Manch started in Gorakhpur on 14 May. This film festival has been held for the past 11 years without corporate funding and has established a progressive tradition and lent a new inspiration to film screening across the country.

Inaugurating the festival, poet-thinker Prof. Laltu said that it is a matter of great strength that all thinking people are fighting in unison in these dark times. President of the organizing committee and senior writer Madan Mohan said that we must fight together to save democracy and freedom of expression. A souvenir of the film festival was released on the occasion. The session was conducted by festival convener, Chandrabhushan Ankur. Senior journalist, Ashok Chowdhary read out a resolution condemning the murders of journalists Rajdev Ranjan and Akhilesh Pratap Singh.

The next part of the festival saw presentations of musical videos: Sambhaji Bhagat’s ‘Yeh Hitler ke Sathi’ in solidarity with FTII students, ‘Chal Chaliye’ by Majma group remembering Kabir and other poets in this era of intolerance, and Hirawal’s song in remembrance of Rohith Vemula.

The next presentation was the screening of Chaitanya Tamhane’s ‘Court’ which powerfully takes apart the justice system of our country and shows that the poor have no place in this system. It was followed by screening of ‘I am Nageshwara Rao Star’ made by students of HCU which deals with the discrimination against Dalit students in institutes of higher education. This film has greater significance as it was at HCU that dalit student Rohith was institutionally murdered. The next film was Rahul Roy’s ‘Factory’ which focused on the Maruti workers’ fight for justice against the oppression unleashed by company management as well as government. After the screening, the director Rahul Roy had a long discussion with the.

The second Prof. Ramakrishna Mani Tripathi memorial lecture was delivered by eminent poet and revolutionary thinker Prof. Laltu. Delivering his lecture on ‘Nationalism’, Prof. Laltoo said that though nearly one fourth people of this country are illiterate, more than half the people spend their lives in abject poverty, the systems for education and health care are in shambles, and despite all this nearly one fourth of the country’s wealth is spent on maintaining the oppressive structures and the oppressor class. All this happens in the name of nationalism. However, today, Dalit-Left-Minority-Women are coming together and their unity is evident in the struggle against oppression and loot of the resources. The Sangh Parivar, on its side is doing its utmost to break this unity as exemplified in JNU. Today we must choose from two options: ether to go with this aggressive oppressive nationalism or to forge a multi-cultural, multi-lingual nationalism where not geographical boundaries but the all-round development of people would define love for one’s country. He said that ‘We fight and protest against hatred for the love of humanity’.

The second day of the festival saw films discussing the struggles of Niyamgiri, Odisha and Kashmir. The film ‘Referendum’ directed by Tarun Mishra is a tale of the struggles of tribals in Niyamgiri. Dongriya who fought the battle to defend their forests and were successful in sending back a ruthless company like the Vedanta. The film ‘Khoon Diy Baarav’ (Blood leaves its Trail) directed by Iffat Fatima sheds light on the situation in Kashmir. Sharing the woes of those missing since last ten years in Kashmir, this film provides a voice to the deep seated sadness and anger among the Kashmiri people. A children’s film ‘Kanche aur Postcard’ showed the indifference of our society to children’s issues. In this era of prohibitions on our freedom of eating and drinking, ‘Caste on the Menu Card’, a meaningful film made by Ananya Gaur and others, received much appreciation from the audience. Pushpa Rawat’s ‘Mod’ presented a realistic image of lower middle class youth. The audience interacted with both Tarun Mishra and Pushpa Rawat after the screening of their movies.

The final programme on the second day was presented by Dr Aziz Ahmed who opened the door to the world of Sahir Ludhiyanvi through anecdotes, songs, and pictures. Youth singer Aamir also kept the audience enthralled with his songs during the breaks. In the end, the convener of the Gorakhpur film society, Manoj Kumar, expressed gratitude towards all. He shared that Cinema of Resistance film festival has now also started in Maharajaganj and Devariya. This year, the festival will also be organized in Mau and Kushinagar. Besides this, the Gorakhpur film society will now strive to organize regular screenings in different parts of the city.

Obituary:

Tribute to Muhammad Ali

The boxing legend, symbol of Black pride and inspirational anti-racist, anti-imperialist and anti-war icon Muhammad Ali passed away on 4 June 2016 at the age of 74.

Born Cassius Clay, he took the name Muhammad Ali when he converted to Islam.

He will be remembered as one of the ‘greatest’ in the world of boxing. But above all, he will be loved and remembered all over the world for his bold stand, at the height of his sporting success, against racism, imperialism and war. He was stripped of his title and sentenced to jail for refusing to fight in Vietnam as an American soldier. He expressed solidarity with the Palestinian cause, and his opposition to Zionism and US imperialism. He was known as much for his punches in the boxing ring as for his anti-racist punches which he delivered to the racist and imperialist establishment in the USA. Asked by the media why he refused to fight in Vietnam, he retorted, ‘I ain’t got no quarrel with them VietCong – no VietCong ever called me nigger.’

In tribute to The Champ, we reproduce an excerpt from his statement explaining his refusal to fight in Vietnam – a statement which will always inspire as an expression of anti-racist internationalism and of anti-imperialist solidarity:

“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?

No, I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would put my prestige in jeopardy and could cause me to lose millions of dollars which should accrue to me as the champion.

But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is right here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality…”

ML Update | No. 23 | 2016

June 7, 2016

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 19, No. 23, 31 MAY ­– 06 JUNE 2016

Two Years of Modi Government:

Mirage of ‘Development’, ‘Change’ in the Direction of Communal Fascism

N

arendra Modi was propelled to power after an elaborate media-crafted image-building exercise that claimed a larger-than-life image for Modi and his magic wand of ‘development’. After two years in power, the Modi Government is having to resort to the same tactics of corporate-funded eyewash and propaganda in order to cover up the reality of its dismal failure to deliver on its tall promises, and the menacing moves in the direction of a Hindu Rashtra.

In his 2014 election campaign Modi had promised an end to inflation. The reality is that inflation continues to soar and prices of essentials like pulses (dal) went up by more than 30 per cent. Modi promised two crore jobs every year. In fact, India has seen the lowest job growth since 2009, and there has been a decline of 20,000 jobs across 8 labour intensive sectors. Central Government spending on MNREGA has also fallen, and even MNREGA payments were made only after Supreme Court intervention. With the Government slashing University Grants Commission funds by 55%, the UGC has announced a new policy that amounts to massive cuts in university teaching jobs and increased burdens on existing teaching staff. This will not only affect the job prospects of young scholars, it will adversely affect the quality of higher education in the country.

Farmers suicides continue unabated. While the Modi Government does nothing to alleviate the agrarian crisis, farmers’ distress and severe drought conditions, his Ministers and BJP leaders vie with each other to make statements that insult and humiliate farmers. Forest Rights laws have been systematically undermined to facilitate corporate grab of tribals’ land.

The BJP President admitted that Modi’s promise of bringing back black money to the country was a ‘jumla’ (empty phrase-mongering). In truth, the Modi Government can be described as ‘government of jumlas.’ The ‘Jan Dhan Yojana,’ launched with much fanfare, is a non-starter, with 27% zero balance accounts and 33% duplicate accounts. ‘Make in India’ has failed to attract much investment; but it has been a ploy to dismantle and weaken labour and environment laws and depress wages in the name of ‘ease of doing business.’

All the Modi Government is able to plead in its defence is that it is as yet untainted by big-ticket corruption. But its Ministers are implicated in helping the scamster Lalit Modi as well as the bank defaulter Vijay Mallya flee the country. Its Government has deferred bank loan repayments for one of the worst defaulters, Gautam Adani, known to be close to the Prime Minister.

The Gujarat Model itself – Modi’s biggest election plank in 2014 – has unravelled and proved to be a story of jobless growth and dangerous work conditions. The Gujarat Government was recently reprimanded by the Supreme Court and directed to pay compensation to families of tribal migrant workers who died due to silicosis. Authorities recently admitted that the Gujarat Government under Modi “did nothing” for construction workers’ welfare, compensating only 7 out of 731 workplace deaths.

The Modi Government slogan ‘Desh Badal Raha Hai’ (The Country Is Changing) is rather like the Vajpayee Government’s ‘India Shining’ slogan that was seen by voters in 2004 as a mockery of the abject conditions of their life. But in certain sinister ways, India is indeed changing. Under Modi, the country has changed to the extent that people are being killed on allegations of having ‘eaten beef’ or ‘killed cows’; University-going women are being called ‘shameless’ by ruling party leaders, and being beaten and molested by ABVP men from Jadavpur to Banaras; autonomy and democracy in Universities and higher education institutions across the country are under an assault by the Central Government; inter-faith marriages are described as ‘love jehad’ and attacked by Hndutva groups; the Government has distinguished itself by offering justifications for communal and caste atrocities ranging from the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula to the Dadri lynching to Dalit children being burnt alive. Hindutva groups accused of terrorism are being acquitted; these groups have indulged in murders of rationalists; and are openly holding armed ‘training camps’ that systematically prepare for communal violence. Syllabi in schools are being changed in tune with Hindutva ideology – that seeks to impart both irrationality and bigotry to young children.

Under Modi, India is indeed being taken down the road of corporate-communal fascism. In his speech at his two-year extravaganza, Modi described this dangerous direction of ‘change’ as ‘Vikas-vaad’ (developmentalism) and dubbed resistance to it as ‘Virodh-vaad’ (opposition-ism or nay-saying). By branding the resistance to his pro-corporate and pro-communal policies as ‘Virodh-vaad’, Modi has let slip how threatened he feels by people’s movements. His attempt to pass a law to facilitate corporate land grab was defeated by peasants’ resistance; his policy of fund cuts and meddling in Universities has been met with determined and inspiring struggles by students and teachers; workers protests all over the country (most recently by garment workers in Bengaluru) are fighting back against anti-worker moves by the Government. The Modi Government’s self-congratulatory propaganda cannot silence the determined dissent and resistance by the people of the country.

Crackdown on BHU Students’ Struggle For 24/7 Access to Library

The universities are supposed to be places of higher learning, but in Banaras Hindu University (BHU), students are having to take on an extremely insensitive and brutal administration to fight for the very right to study and access library facilities. Students in BHU have been fighting for the right to study 24/7 in the BHU Library. By curtailing the hours for which the library is accessible to the students, the university has engaged in a direct assault on their right to study. The students even launched a long hunger strike to ensure that their demand is met. The university authorities – as has become the norm in the Modi regime – have chosen to respond by brute oppression. The protesting students have been ruthlessly assaulted and several of them rusticated. ABVP goons too were witnessed brutally beating up protesting students including female students. Though the hunger strike was subsequently lifted due to tremendous pressure exerted by the university administration by way of getting striking students arrested and the failing health of students, the movement continues.

Expressing solidarity with the struggling students of BHU, AISA national president, Com. Sucheta De, AISA leader Com. Shweta Raj, and AISA leader and ex JNUSU Vice President, Com. Anant Prakash also visited the BHU campus to provide support to the movement. Comrade Sarita, a senior leader of AISA from Banaras, also visited BHU. The AISA leaders participated in a protest where the circular notifying the rustication was burnt. They also appealed to the students, youth and progressive individuals throughout the country to rally behind students of BHU and send postcards to the VC of BHU in support of the students’ demands. AISA activists in Patna also staged a ‘rail roko’ protest to express solidarity with students of BHU, demanding revocation of rustication and fulfilment of their demands pertaining to library access. The leaders addressing the protestors said that while the Prime Minister talked of ‘Mann ki Baat’ (speaking his mind), he had shown complete disdain when it came to the ‘Mann ki Baat’ of students and youth who are being beaten up, rusticated or jailed for demanding their right to education and employment.

The coming together of students across universities should send clear message to the university authorities that instead of using university premises to organise propaganda sessions by members and sympathisers of the Sangh Brigade, they better respond to the real issues confronting the students.

Firing on Protesting Students of Patna University

The students of Art and Crafts College of Patna University have been protesting against misuse of college infrastructure and the autocratic ways of the college principal. These protesting and hunger striking students including several AISA activists were fired upon by the Patna University Administration recently.

Since some time the electricity from the college premises was being diverted, disturbing the academic life of the students. When the students confronted the contractor, he mercilessly beat up the students and when the students approached the principal to complain about the incident, the principal rusticated 8 students on no grounds at all. Since then the students of the college have been in a long drawn struggle demanding revocation of rustication of students, suspension of the autocratic college principal and improvement of campus infrastructure. The students also went on a hunger strike. On the 12th day of the hunger strike, far from engaging with the genuine demands of the students, the college and university administration responded by having the security guards open fire at the striking and protesting students.

Even as the CM Nitish Kumar has on a few occasions criticised the Modi government for its attack on students, when it comes to colleges and universities in Bihar, he has refused to comment and take action on the Patna University authorities who are assaulting students on his watch.

On 25 May, the AISA called for a massive demonstration in which the effigy of CM Nitish Kumar and the PU VC were burnt. On 27 May, AISA activists in Begusarai organised a huge protest and jammed the NH-31 protesting the firing on protesting and hunger striking students by PU administration. They demanded resignation of the dictatorial VC of the Patna University and also the Principal of the Art college, along with action on the guard who opened fire. Addressing the protestors, AISA leader Com. Naveen Kumar said that by ordering fire on students who were only exercising their right to protest to register their demands, the PU VC has once again demonstrated his dictatorial ways. On 28 May protests were also called by AISA in Bhojpur in solidarity with students of Arts and Crafts college and students of BHU and showing to the governments yet again that the student movements against anti-student policies and the solidarities between them will only strengthen in days to come.

Naxalbari Day Observed

The District Committee of Kolkata CPIML observed Naxalbari Day and the 49th Anniversary of Naxalbari on 25th May. The event was held at College Street, adjacent to Presidency College which became the symbol and centre of revolutionary students’ movement during the stormy decades of 70s. In spite of bad weather, veteran communist revolutionaries and party comrades along with students participated in the programme. Comrade Partha Ghosh, Secretary of West Bengal State Committee, and Jayatu Deshmukh, member of State Standing committee addressed the gathering, talking of the crucial role of the Naxalbari peasant uprising as a watershed in the Indian Left movement. The Naxalbari uprising took forward the heroic traditions of the revolutionary peasant movements of pre-independence India, and was also a decisive shift from the revisionist and opportunist currents in the Indian Left movement, giving birth to the CPI(ML).

Comrade Nimai Ghosh, a very close associate of Com. Saroj Dutta and first publisher of Liberation was also present and addressed the meeting. Comrade Krishna Banerjee, a veteran comrade who faced brutal police torture during that period, and Madhumoy Pal, a renowned intellectual also addressed the meeting. Comrade Nitish Roy sang revolutionary songs and Comrade Dibakar Bhattacharya presided over the meeting.

Naxalbari Day was also observed at Jagampeta town of East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. Hundreds of people gathered at Travellers Building on the hot summer day, and marched towards Srinivas Hall where the meeting was held. Comrade Yenugupati Arjunarao, District President of AIARLA, presided over the public meeting. Comrade N Murthy, State Secretary of CPI(ML) gave the key note address, discussing the importance of the Naxalabari peasant uprising in Indian history. Comrade Bangar Raju, Central Committee member also spoken about the land struggles in and around the district of East Godavari. Comrade Harinad, District Party Secretary and Comrade R. Simhachalam, President of Andhra Pradesh Girijana Sangam participated in the rally and public meeting.

Protest Against Murder of Dalit Woman in Andhra Pradesh

A Dalit woman Kokundu Simhachalam, of Pedda Sankaralapudi village of Prathipadu Mandal of East Godavari district in AP was killed by upper caste people. When Dalits demanded arrest of the accused, the police detained some Dalit villagers at the police station. The CPI(ML) Liberation Prathipadu area committee leaders went to the village and secured the release of the Dalit villagers. Along with villagers and local Dalit organisations, the CPI(ML) organised a protest demonstration at the police station on 28th May. Protesters started a sit-in dharna in front of the Prathipadu police station demanding arrest of the killers of the Dalit woman. Comrades Manukonda Lachababu, Yenugupati Arjunavarao, Dapa Lakshmi of CPI(ML) Liberation, Kaparapu Rajeswararao from Srujana, and Aam Admi Party local leader Adhikari participated in the dharna.

Protests Continue Against Attack on Uttarakhand Labour Leader

AICCTU had announced an indefinite relay dharna by workers from 26 May at Haldwani if the attackers of labour leader and AICCTU State General Secretary KK Bora were not arrested by 25 May. As announced, the dharna began on 26 May at Budh Park, Haldwani.

Addressing the dharna AICCTU National Vice President Raja Bahuguna said that the statement made at a Press conference in Nainital by DGP Uttarakhand that he was not aware of the assault on KK Bora is absolutely false. The truth is that the whole episode was brought to his notice on the very day of the incident. On the other hand, DM Rudrapur has sent a notice to labour leaders yesterday charging them with breach of peace!

Former National Vice President of the State Bank Staff Association NC Khulbe also addressed the dharna. Uttarakhand ASHA Health Workers Union State President Kamla Kunjwal said that ASHA workers would work wearing black bands until the arrest of KK Bora’s attackers. Bank union leader KN Sharma said that attacking leaders who raise their voice for workers’ rights is an attack on democracy. Kisan Mahasabha district President Bahadur Singh Jangi said that farmers would also stand in solidarity with the workers and put pressure on the administration for arrest of the culprits.

On 28 May, an effigy of the Chief Minister was burnt in protest, on the third day of the dharna. Addressing the dharna AICCTU leader Kailash Pandey pointed out that the Chief Minister and Labour Minister are shielding the attackers; otherwise, how could it be possible for the chief accused to be seen roaming freely in the Collectorate complex? RML Union President Mahesh Tiwari said that SIDCUL has become most notorious in matters of flouting labour laws.

The dharna was also addressed by ASHA Union Okhalkanda block President Shanti Sharma, Mohanlal Arya, Pankaj Inqalabi, Jagdish Mishra of MINDA Union, Navin Chandra Khulbe of the Bank Union, Amar Singh Bohra, Vipin Bora, Champa Maheshwari of the MK Auto union, Navin Kandpal, Shankar Lal, Kailash Chandra, Rakesh Chandra, Narayan Singh Matiyali of the BSNL union, Lalit Matiyali, Kamal Joshi, Maya Tiwari of the CPI (ML) and others.

It was unanimously resolved at the dharna that the dharna in Haldwani which was going on from 29 May would join the dharna at the Rudrapur DM office.

Protests against the attack on KK Bora were also held at the gate of both plants of the Pricol factory in Coimbatore on 27 May, and poster and leaflet campaigns also took place in other districts of Tamil Nadu.

Statement by AISA Against UGC Gazette Notification May 2016

(Excerpt from a statement by AISA)

The recent UGC gazette notification – UGC Regulations (3rd Amendment), 2016 – is actually a blueprint for massive JOB CUTS and outright DOWNGRADING of public-funded Higher Education and University system. This amendment in the UGC regulations of 2010, has serious and negative implications for both teaching community (both Permanent and Ad-Hoc) and students. The amendment, notified on 10 May 2016, has:

(a) drastically increased the teaching hours for Assistant Professors from 16 Hours to 24 Hours Per Week and from 14 hours to 22 hours per week for Associate Professors,

(b) devalued the tutorial classes for Humanities and Social Sciences, which until now, was an important feature of class room learning and a great boon to students from deprived backgrounds,

(c) For Science courses, from now on a 2 hour of practical class will count as just 1 hour of lecture classes.

Job Cut for Ad Hoc Teachers and Young Scholars: For the permanent faculty this will clearly mean a 50% increase in work load; and automatically for the current Ad-Hoc faculty, it will simply mean a severe decline in job prospects. More than 70% ad hoc faculties can lose their jobs in the next session. Currently there are almost 4000 vacant posts in Delhi University alone, filled mainly by research scholars. The anti-student, anti-teacher and overall anti-education stance of this present government is clearly reflected in this move, as instead of filling the already vacant positions in DU, they are cutting down the number of teaching posts.

Down Grading of Teaching Quality : The severe increase in working hours for teaching community will also have drastic consequences for student community. Firstly, it will lead to worsening of the teacher-student ratio as the number of teachers will come down. Secondly, because of increment in workload, the QUALITY OF TEACHING WILL BE AFFECTED NEGATIVELY, as teachers will be forced to teach more courses in a limited time period. Lastly these changes will have extremely negative impact on students, especially for those coming from deprived socio-economic background (who might need special attention) as the prospect of engagement between teacher and student will decline because of increased workload.

Elimination of Reservation Backlog: This decision is also reflective of the anti-reservation mindset of the BJP government, as most of the current vacancies belong to the reserved category not filled for years. Immediate filling of the backlog has been a long standing demand of AISA and many other organisations. But, instead of filling the backlog, the UGC and MHRD are conspiring to abolish the teaching posts all-together!

The UGC Notification is a direct consequence of the massive 55% fund-cuts for the UGC in the Union Budget of 2016-17 (from Rs 9315.45 cr. in 2015-16 to Rs. 4286.94 cr. in 2016-17). The UGC gazette is merely the ‘software’ required to implement the agenda of killing public funding in higher education and pushing for privatization.

The UGC Gazette Notification (May 2016) is also in the line MHRD’s undeclared war on Universities which include:

•Drastic fund cut of UGC and Universities

•Intervention in courses and syllabus to saffronize and undermine the autonomy of Universities

•Direct targeting and police action on opposing teachers and students like FTII, HCU, JNU, BHU etc.

Just last year, the UGC under the diktats of MHRD tried to cut down the Non-Net fellowship for research scholars. This was met with severe student-teacher resistance. Once again, let us be prepared to resist this anti-education move by the Modi Government in every manner until the Government withdraws the UGC notification in toto and fills the huge backlog and increases the budget for education.

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

ML Update | No. 22 | 2016

June 7, 2016

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 19 | No. 22 | 24 – 30 MAY 2016

The May 2016 Verdict and Lessons for the Left

After suffering a series of electoral debacles all through 2015, the BJP has again made big gains in the recent round of Assembly elections. The party has come to power for the first time in Assam, thereby greatly bolstering its political presence and prospects in the North-East, apart from opening its account in the Assemblies of West Bengal and Kerala, backed by impressive double digit vote share in both the states. Two years into power, when the Modi government finds itself being rapidly discredited on every major front, the Assam victory will provide a much needed shot in the BJP’s arm.

The Congress has suffered a comprehensive defeat in both Assam and Kerala. While Kerala has evolved a well established pattern of alternating governments, and the LDF victory conforms to that established pattern, it is the loss in Assam, where the party has been in power for the last fifteen years, which must hurt the Congress really badly. Till recently, the BJP was not in a position to contemplate an immediate ascent to power in Assam even though with its Hindutva politics the BJP always had the potential to manipulate the sensitive ‘foreign national’ issue to its advantage. It was the split in the Congress in Assam with Tarun Gogoi’s once close lieutenant Himanta Biswa Sarma joining the BJP with several MLAs, and the AGP-BJP alliance, which brightened the prospects of the BJP in Assam.

The BJP grabbed this opportunity with both hands, reaching out to the Bodos and a couple of smaller tribes, while the Congress went to this crucial electoral battle isolated and discredited. The end result has been this sweeping victory of the BJP-led alliance which has now placed the BJP in an advantageous position to strengthen its presence in the entire North-Eastern region. The co-option of Assamese regionalism within the RSS-BJP framework of Hindutva is fraught with disturbing political implications. The RSS will now have a free hand to use the delicate and diverse ethno-religious composition of Assam and the North-East for its dangerous divisive agenda.

With the Congress dislodged from power in two more states – it now rules only in Karnataka in the south and in the Himalayan states of Himachal, Uttarakhand in the North and Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram in the North-East – the BJP has surely strengthened its position as the currently dominant all-India party of the Indian ruling classes. The Assam and Kerala blows have deepened the crisis of leadership and direction within the Congress and as it prepares for the next crucial round of elections in Punjab, UP and Uttarakhand, it will have a difficult time keeping its own house in order and contending with the growing pressure of regional parties in the anti-BJP camp.

The Congress and BJP apart, regional parties and the CPI(M)-led Left Front had a lot of stake in these elections. In Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK won a decisive victory despite growing disillusionment with her authoritarian and arrogant style of governance, the deepening agrarian and industrial crisis in the state and the huge administrative failure in managing the recent floods in Chennai and coastal Tamil Nadu. The DMK-Congress alliance improved its performance but was nowhere near dislodging the AIADMK from power.

In Tamil Nadu, the CPI(M) and CPI had begun with the idea of a programme-based alternative, floating a People’s Welfare Front with parties like VCK and Vaiko’s MDMK which had been with the BJP till recently. But as elections drew nearer, they entered into electoral collaboration with even more discredited forces like the DMDK led by actor Vijaykanth and the breakaway Congress group led by GK Vasan. In the process, the Left and even the PWF were relegated to the background and the whole thing became a vehicle for the projection of Vijaykanth as a Chief Minister aspirant. The move flopped spectacularly with Vijaykanth himself finishing a distant third and his party’s vote share declining to less than 3 per cent.

For the CPI(M), the big battles were in Kerala and West Bengal. In Kerala the party managed to galvanise its otherwise faction-ridden organisation in a powerful oppositional role vis-a-vis the scam-tainted Congress government and scripted a decisive victory riding on a powerful campaign led by the charismatic nonagenarian ‘rebel’ CPI(M) leader VS Achuthanandan. What queered the pitch further for the Congress was the phenomenal rise in the BJP bloc’s vote share to an unprecedented 15 per cent (together with its ally, the Bharat Dharma Jan Sena (BDJS) which polled 3.9% votes) much of which came eventually at the cost of the Congress despite Yechury’s allegations of a tacit RSS-Congress understanding.

The RSS has long been quite active and organised in Kerala. In Kannur district in north Kerala, RSS and CPI(M) clashes and even gruesome killings have been recurring quite frequently in recent years. But this is the first time the BJP managed to translate its growing presence into an actual victory. But rather than this one seat, one should look at the growing BJP vote share, its influence among the hugely neglected tribal population in the state (Modi’s Somalia analogy which many in Kerala considered an ‘insult’ was actually made in the context of the deprivation of tribal areas in the state) and the rise of BJP allies like the BDJS. Traditionally bipolar Kerala politics now surely has a significant third force in the form of the BJP.

More than Kerala, it was West Bengal which marked the biggest battlefield for the CPI(M) and it has been trounced completely in the battle of Bengal. The result clearly shows that the CPI(M) has made little recovery in rural Bengal, once the strongest bastion of the Left Front and the desperate bid to regain power by cobbling an opportunist alliance with the Congress has proved to be a humiliating disaster. The CPI(M) and the Left Front have been reduced to its lowest ever tally of 32 seats, nearly half of its 2011 tally while the Congress, bolstered by votes transferred by the CPI(M), has emerged as the second biggest party with 44 seats! If the 2011 defeat marked a grievous injury to the CPI(M) after its 34 years of uninterrupted stint in power, the debacle this time has added lethal insult to that injury.

Unable to justify the alliance in terms of the political line adopted by the party at its Visakhapatnam Congress in April 2015, CPI(M) leaders described the Bengal alliance as mere seat adjustment as desired by the people! Nothing could be farther from the political truth known to everyone in West Bengal. The distinction between an alliance and adjustment is not a matter of mere formal nomenclature nor is it determined by the fact whether CPI(M) PB or CC members from outside the state shared platform with Congress leaders or not. The combination was projected as a ‘people’s alliance’, the campaign was conducted jointly all over the state and Surjyakanta Mishra, CPI(M) State Secretary and PBM was projected as the would-be chief minister of the alliance government. Surely, this political readiness to share power – and that too dictated not by any so-called post-poll ‘compulsion’ but deliberate pre-poll design – matters much more than the diplomatic script of stage-sharing during the election campaign.

It was well known that the Congress vote is concentrated in a few districts and spread very thin in the rest of the state. While the CPI(M) transferred its vote to the Congress – in fact, the Congress campaign in many constituencies ran on the strength and steam provided by the organised Left cadre – traditional Congress voters in most constituencies with Left candidates went over to the TMC or even preferred to vote NOTA, not to mention the ‘friendly contests’ where the Congress put up its own candidates against the Left. Going by electoral arithmetic, the Congress-Left alliance was expected to sweep in North Bengal, but the results show that of the 76 seats in the North Bengal districts of Alipurduar, Coohbehar, Darjeeling, North and South Dinajpur, Malda and the adjoining central Bengal district of Murshidabad, the TMC has bagged 32 seats, just marginally behind the 38 seats won by the alliance. But within the alliance, it is the Congress which has got the lion’s share of 28 seats with the Left getting only 10 seats. Indeed, going by the Assembly segment-based figures of the 2014 elections, the Congress had led in 29 seats, but with CPI(M) support its tally has now gone up to 44 whereas the LF tally continues to stagnate at 32, almost the same level as in 2014.

In the wake of the 2011 defeat, the CPI(M) had talked about undertaking some rectification campaign in West Bengal, but we never saw any serious self-criticism on the party’s major blunders that alienated it from large sections of the rural poor and the peasantry as well as the progressive intelligentsia. During the election campaign the CPI(M) harped on the bankrupt theme of Singur-style industrialisation, undertaking a padyatra from Singur to Salboni, two cruel symbols of land acquisition that yielded no industriy or employment while robbing thousands of people of their land and livelihood and in Singur itself, the CPI(M) candidate launched his campaign riding a yellow Nano car, the model that even the Tatas are now discarding as a flawed idea!

Indeed, the only ‘rectification’ witnessed in practice was this alliance with the Congress, hailed as a ‘brilliant, courageous and pragmatic reinvention’ of the Left by the influential Ananda Bazar Group which advocated and engineered the alliance and virtually served as the organ of the alliance all through the protracted election campaign. It remains to be seen how the CPI(M) now evaluates its Bengal disaster which has been rendered incredibly profound by the party’s stubborn refusal to learn from its mistakes and the opportunist centrist formulations that invited and presided over this disaster.

Far from broadening and reinvigorating the model of Left unity on the lines of the united Left bloc in Bihar, the CPI(M) virtually abandoned its own old model of Left unity in West Bengal and courted the Congress as a reliable ‘democratic’ ally. Instead of building on the encouraging experience of Bihar, the CPI(M) went in for the grand alliance that it perhaps ‘missed’ in Bihar, seeking to use West Bengal as a laboratory to replicate the grand alliance experiment. But while the Bihar grand alliance succeeded as an anti-BJP coalition, the West Bengal grand alliance was pitted primarily against the TMC. The unmistakably clear outcome of the disastrous experiment is here for all to see – the TMC has gained as have the Congress and the BJP, and the Left has emerged as the net loser having funded the entire experiment at its own political cost.

As an energised BJP celebrates its Assam victory as its best gift on the second anniversary of the Modi government and the TMC resumes its second term of authoritarian populism in West Bengal, the Left must draw its lessons and strengthen its united and independent political role as the most consistent and credible platform of people’s struggles to resist the policies of corporate plunder and the politics of communal fascism.

RYA’s Uttar Pradesh State Conference

The 5th Uttar Pradesh State Conference of Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) was held in Lucknow on 19th March. The Conference started off with a Student-Youth March from Charbagh Station to the venue of the Conference, Ganga Prasad Memorial Hall. The March saw enthusiastic participation of around 500 youth from 20 districts in the state. The city echoed with the slogan of azaadi which has become the clarion call of the student youth movement across the country echoed throughout the city. The slogans demanded azaadi from unemployment, from the RSS, from Modi, from communal-fascism and freedom from all forms of oppression. The participants with the red flag in their hands were equally scathing on the misrule of the Samajwadi Party Govt. in the state, asking tough questions to the ‘youth’ Chief Minister of UP, Akhilesh Yadav who came to power by promising to put an end to unemployment and providing unemployment allowance to the unemployed youth of the state. The anger against the betrayal of the SP govt. was clearly visible in the march.

Ganga Prasad Memorial Hall, the venue of the Conference was filled to the last seat. The session started by the release of the AISA-RYA booklet ‘Utho Mere Desh’. The main speakers of the Open Session of the Conference were by JNUSU VP Com. Shehla Rashid, Prof. Rajesh Mishra from Lucknow University and CPI ML PB Member and UP State Secretary Com. Ramji Rai. All the speakers were unanimous in their opinion that the impressive participation of the youth in the conference was a sign of the times that the youth of the state have decided that in the absence of any real opposition in the state it was the student and youth who have to become the real opposition.

Com. Shehla said both the BJP and the SP have started their campaign for the UP elections due in 2017. While the BJP continues its communal campaign of orchestrating riots, the latest being Azamgarh the SP is happy to sit back enjoy the political dividends of the riots. Prof. Rajesh Mishra appealed to the participants of the Conference to take the fire of the student youth movement in the country to each and every district of Uttar Pradesh. Com. Ramji Rai in his speech emphasized the need to expose the betrayal and complete absence of the RSS in the freedom struggle at a time when the students and youth have adopted azaadi as their slogan. He also said that the need of the hour was to take the ideas of Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh among the youth and build a country of their dreams a country free from all forms of oppression. Com. Tahira Hassan from AIPWA, Com. Ishwari Prasad from AIKS, Com. Rajesh Sahani from AIARLA, Com. Antas from AISA also congratulated the participants and RYA for ensuring a successful conference. Com. Altaf Hussain the State Secretary of AIYF also addressed the conference and expressed solidarity and congratulations. Com. Rakesh Singh State Convenor conducted the session.

After a discussion on the draft document Com. Ramayan Ram, Central Observer for the Conference and RYA Bihar State Secretary Com. Naveen and RYA National Genera Secretary Com. Om Prasad addressed the participants. The Conference elected a 33 member Council and 19 Member Executive. Com. Atiq Ahmad was elected as State President and Com. Rakesh Singh as State Secretary.

The conference ended by passing a resolution demanding the immediate release of RYA National President Com. Amarjeet Kushwaha and CPI ML from Darauli, Bihar Com. Satyadeo Ram who have been imprisoned on false charges during the course of leading struggles of the rural poor in Siwan.

Attack on Labour Leader in Uttarakhand

The Uttarakhand police tried to abduct AICCTU’s Uttarakhand General Secretary KK Bora from the Labour Office premises on 19 May, but were prevented from doing so by workers’ resistance. The next day, there was a murderous attack on KK Bora by management-sponsored goons.

Harish Rawat, the CM of Uttarakhand, is celebrating the ‘victory of democracy’ in the State, after the Courts defeated an attempted coup by the BJP. But when it comes to industrial democracy, is Congress-ruled Uttarakhand any different from BJP-ruled states? Where is democracy if a labour leader can be nearly killed on a public street in broad daylight – and the police try to arrest, not the would-be murderers or their sponsors, but the labour leader himself?

MINDA is a factory producing switch gear, in the Pantnagar SIDCUL industrial area in Rudrapur. Workers formed a Union here, and three workers were thrown out of their jobs for their role in the Union. To protest this illegal act, workers of MINDA held a candle-light march in Haldwani that ended at Ambedkar Chowk. Haldwani is at a considerable distance from the SIDCUL. But when workers came to the factory the next morning ,they found a notice by the MINDA management at the gate, naming 18 workers as being debarred from entering the factory premises for participating in the candle-light march!

We must remember that according to the Labour Code of Industrial Relations Bill 2015 that the Modi Government is trying to enact, ‘outsiders’ cannot be members of Unions. This will mean that in a place like SIDCUL, not only will labour leaders like KK Bora be debarred from leading Unions, workers who unionise will be turned into ‘outsiders’ by being dismissed!

Workers challenged this action in the Labour Office, and on 19 May, a tripartite discussion was fixed between the MINDA workers and management at the Labour Office. KK Bora was present from AICCTU. But the MINDA management did not turn up. Instead, the Rudrapur police turned up and tried to forcibly arrest/abduct K K Bora. When asked to show a warrant or summons, the police, lacking these legal documents, instead resorted to using brute force. In the face of strong opposition from the MINDA workers, the police were unable to arrest (kidnap?) Comrade K K Bora and had to return empty-handed.

This attempt to arrest a labour leader during tripartite talks reveals the connivance between the MINDA management and the Uttarakhand Government and police. KK Bora is a well-respected labour leader and is well-known for his struggles for workers’ rights. Such behavior by the police against him raises several questions. The State Government and Labour Minister have constantly sided with industrialists and factory owners, and SIDCUL has turned into a veritable graveyard for labour laws. Young men and women are being made to work for amounts far below the minimum wages, unionising is punished with dismissal, and attempts are being made to muzzle voices which speak out against this.

The very next day, KK Bora was attacked by MINDA factory goons. He was traveling in a tempo; the goons approached in a white Scorpio car which was without any number plate, stopped the tempo, made the passengers alight, and beat up Comrade KK Bora. Some of the passengers spoke up for him, and they were beaten up too – a minor girl has also been injured in the process. The attack was definitely murderous – the assailants hit him with big sticks. Comrade KK Bora very courageously protected his head and took most of the attack on his arms and body, and this is why he could save his own life. A crowd that collected at the spot also caused the assailants to flee eventually.

On 23 March, protests were held all over Uttarakhand against this murderous attack on KK Bora.

At Haldwani where AICCTU along with various unions and organizations held a dharna at Ambedkar Park demanding the immediate arrest of the assailants, action against the police personnel who tried to forcibly arrest KK Bora at the ALC office on 19 May, fulfilment of workers’ demands in MINDA as well as all other companies, and proper implementation of labour laws in SIDCUL. The dharna was addressed by AICCTU National Vice President Raja Bahuguna who said that if the workers’ demands are not met by 26 May, an indefinite dharna will be held at Budh Park from 26 May onwards. Bank union leader KN Sharma, Janwadi Lokmanch leader RC Tripathi, CPI(ML) State Secretary Rajendra Pratholi, RML Union President Mahesh Tiwari also addressed the dharna.

Contract Workers’ Union State Vice President Urbadatt Mishra, Deputy Secretary Lalitesh Prasad, MINDA Mazdoor Union VP Rajendra Nagarkoti, General Secretary Sundar Singh, Century Pulp and Paper Mills Union leader Kishan Baghri, HC advocate Durga Singh Mehta, All India Kisan Mahasabha State President Purushottam Sharma, District President Bahadur Singh Jangi, AICCTU leader Kailash Pandey, Naven Kandpal, Shankar Lal, Ashish, Raman, Jagat Singh, Vimla Rauthan, Meena Mehta, Pushkar Dubadiya, Amar Singh Bora and others were present on the occasion. The proceedings were conducted by Lalit Matiyali.

At Dharchula, the AICCTU-affiliated NHPC Contract Workers’ Union staged protests at Nigalpani, Tapovan, Elagaad and Chhirkila and burnt effigies of the State government and MINDA Industries (Battery) management.

AICCTU leaders Kishan Singh, NHPC Contract Workers’ Union President Uday Singh Dhami, Secretary Vinod Kumar, and Vice President Anup Kumar, Harish Dhami, and other leaders, along with hundreds of contract workers participated in the protests.

At Pithoragarh, a memorandum was sent to the Uttarakhand Chief Minister and the DG Police demanding action against the assailants and conniving police officers was submitted by the CPI(ML). Protests were also held at Ramnagar, Nainital, and SIDCUL Rudrapur.

One day earlier in Srinagar, Garhwal, Left parties, AISA, and workers’ organizations burnt the effigies of the MINDA management as well as the State government and the Rudrapur police. A meeting was held at the Gola Park after the effigy burning during which the speakers demanded immediate arrest of the culprits.

Protests were also held in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh and Dhanbad, Jharkhand. A protest demonstration was held at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, and a memorandum was submitted to the Resident Commissioner demanding the immediate arrest of the culprits.

The Congress Govt and police of Uttarakhand need to answer – why aren’t violent, murderous goons of industry managements being arrested, why is the police trying to arrest labour leaders instead – that too during tripartite talks?

ML Update | No. 21| 2016

June 7, 2016

​MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 19 | No. 21| 17 – 23 May 2016

Acche Din for Sanghi Terror-Accused?

Ever since the Modi Government came to power, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is working systematically to protect terror-accused who are ideologically affiliated to the Sangh Parivar. Last year, Rohini Salian, Public Prosecutor in the Malegaon 2006 and 2008 blasts cases, went on record to say that she was being pressured to go ‘soft’ on the accused. Now, the NIA has moved to drop charges against a key accused in the Malegaon 2008 blasts case, Pragya Singh Thakur (Sadhvi Pragya). Pragya Singh, a former ABVP leader, is known to be a close associate of the RSS and BJP. While continuing to prosecute Lieutenant Colonel Purohit, the NIA has withdrawn MCOCA charges and is invoking only UAPA.

The withdrawal of MCOCA charges makes custodial confessions inadmissible in Court, and therefore many confessional statements obtained in the Malegaon 2008 blasts case have now become useless. By allowing custodial confessions, the draconian MCOCA actually legitimises and encourages custodial torture. In fact, it would be welcome if the NIA were to review every terror case, withdraw MCOCA entirely, and only pursue those terror cases which do not rely on custodial confessions.

In the 2006 Malegaon blasts case, eight Muslim men, held on the basis of custodial confessions obtained under torture, were recently acquitted by a sessions court. These men had remained in jail even after investigations by both ATS and NIA had decisively pointed in the direction of a Hindutva hand behind the blasts. The NIA had admitted that no evidence linked these men to the blasts and recommended their discharge – but the same NIA did a U-turn at the very last minute and recommended against their discharge. This underlines the partisan character of the NIA that is unwilling to release Muslim men whom it knows to be innocent even as it going out of its way to free terror-accused from the Hindutva political camp.

There is convincing evidence beyond custodial confessions against Sadhvi Pragya and other accused persons from the Hindutva camp. It was the then ATS chief Hemant Karkare (killed during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks) who, in 2008 had identified the Hindutva terror network and begun connecting the dots between the Modasa blasts, the Malegaon 2006 and 2008 blasts and several other blasts. Karkare saw through the efforts of the Hindutva terrorists to divert blame onto groups like SIMI, and began uncovering the Sanghi terror network. His work was cut short by his death during the 26/11 attacks – a death about which there are still many unanswered questions.

In 2010, Swami Aseemanand of the RSS, arrested in the Samjhauta blasts case, made voluntary judicial confession before magistrates, exposing the role of Hindutva and Sanghi terrorists in the Mecca Masjid, Malegaon 2006 and 2008, Ajmer Sharif and Samjhauta Express blasts. These confessions were not extracted in police custody, and therefore would have been very powerful evidence in Court. Aseemanand subsequently retracted his confessions – but in interviews to the media, has repeatedly asserted the role of Hindutva terror outfits in those blasts. He has even declared that RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat gave his blessings to these terror plans, but asked Aseemanand and others not to “link it to the Sangh.” Mohan Bhagwat himself admitted while addressing a meeting of the RSS at Surat (Gujarat) on January 10, 2011 that "of the majority of the people whom the government has accused (in various blast cases), a few had left voluntarily and a few were told by the Sangh that this extremism will not work so you go away.” Why did the ATS and NIA fail to investigate the role of Bhagwat and the RSS in the blasts?

Pragya Singh’s bike had been used to bomb Malegaon in 2008. The NIA is now arguing that Pragya Singh had not been using the bike, and it was Ramesh Kalsangra who had used the bike to bomb Malegaon. But the ATS chargesheet in the Malegaon 2008 case had shown transcripts of an intercepted phone call in which Sadhvi Pragya asked Ramesh Kalsangra “Why did so few people die? Why didn’t you park [the bike] in a crowded area?” Surely such a phone conversation is credible evidence? Why, then, is the NIA exonerating Pragya Singh? The case of Pragya Singh can be contrasted with that of Rubina Memon in the 1993 bomb blasts case. The car used to transport bombs was registered in Rubina’s name, and she is now serving out a life sentence based on this tenuous connection with the blasts, even though she argue that she was unaware of the use to which her car was put. But in the case of Pragya Singh, the investigative agency itself is withdrawing charges even though her own words in an intercepted call indicate her full knowledge and involvement in the blasts.

The NIA is also now claiming that the RDX used in the bombs were not sourced by Lieutenant Colonel Purohit. But the NIA still admits that the RDX is military grade explosive. Why is the NIA not asking how it was procured if Purohit did not procure it? The chargesheet in this case also claims that Purohit held a terror training camp under the guise of an ‘Art of Living’ event. Why has the NIA failed to investigate how the Art of Living organisation could be used as a cover for terrorist training?

In the past year, Rohini Salian was removed by the NIA as Prosecutor in the 2006 Malegaon blasts; a number of witnesses turned hostile in the Ajmer blasts case, one of whom was made a Minister in the Jharkhand Government; the NIA closed the Modasa bomb case (which was similar in many respects to the Malegaon bomb case); the NIA overturned its decision to discharge the innocent Muslims in the Malegaon 2006 case; and now the NIA has withdrawn charges against Pragya Singh and weakened the case against Lt. Col Purohit in the Malegaon 2008 case. All these are ominous signs of political interference to protect terror-accused who are close to the Modi Government and the Sangh Parivar.

In the Malegaon terror cases, there is in fact considerable evidence apart from custodial confessions. The NIA cannot be allowed to get away with selective exoneration of terror-accused who enjoy political patronage. The country deserves a thorough, impartial investigation and prosecution to unearth and destroy the entire Sanghi terror network.

Jharkhand Bandh Against Anti-Adivasi Amendments to Domicile Policy

The CPI(ML) had called for a Jharkhand bandh on 14 May to protest against the domicile policy declared by the BJP government, communal frenzy, and amendments to the CNT and SPT Acts that protect the rights of tribals to land. The JMM had already called for a bandh on 14 May.

The BJP State government in Jharkhand used every possible repressive tactic in vain to stop people from participating in bandh, and large scale arrests were made on the bandh day as well as on the eve of the bandh. But nothing could stop the people from expressing their anger against the policies of the Raghubar Das govt. and the bandh was a huge success.

On 14 May in Giridih district more than 10,000 people came out on the streets in support of the bandh, held road blocks and marched in bazaars, chattis and villages in Bagodar, Birni, Rajdhanwar, Sariya, Khorimahua, Gawa, Teesri, Jamua, Deori, Gand, Bengawad, Dumri, Giridih Sadar, and other blocks. According to newspaper reports, 2,000 people courted arrest. The people’s support for the bandh was so overwhelming that there was a dearth of police buses for the arrests. The sea of people surged voluntarily and needed no prompting. The bandh was led by district Secretary Manoj Bhakt, Rajkumar Yadav, Vinod Singh, and several other activists. The entire district was shut down.

Similarly, in Koderma district people marched in support of the bandh in Jhanda Chowk Jhumri Tilaiya and Domchanch. In Ramgarh district two groups of bandh supporters led by Bhuvaneshar Bediya and Hira Gope, marched through the entire town from 6 AM to 10 AM after which they were arrested. Loading of coal at CCL in Ramgarh district came to a complete standstill. At many places coal production was stopped for hours. At Hesalang a road block was held thrice at the same place after clashes with the police. In Hazaribagh district thousands of people came out in support of the bandh at 9 blocks—Chalkusa, Dadhi, Barkattha, Badkagaon, Bishnugarh, Ichak, Barhi, Hazaribagh and Sadar. The bandh was total in the district, in spite of the fact that in the night of 13 May itself, 5 leading activists were arrested and 200 more activists were arrested in the morning of 14 May when they came out on the streets to campaign for the bandh.

In Ranchi city hundreds of people led by State Secretary Janardan Prasad and Ranchi district Secretary Bhuneshwar Kewat were arrested by the police on the main avenue of the town. In Bundu the NH 33 was blocked by people and about 80 people courted arrest. In Tamad, a huge group of people led by Sukhdev Munda came out on to the streets and were arrested. In Rahe, about 60 people led by Santosh Munda and Dileep came out in support of the bandh and were arrested.

In Dhanbad district, 80 CPI(ML) activists blocked Nirsa Chowk where JMM and other parties also arrived later, and all were arrested. At Randhir Verma Chowk in Dhanbad city 150 CPI(ML) activists were arrested while campaigning for the bandh. Similarly, in Sindri and Baghmar activists were arrested.

In the Bermo coal belt of Bokaro district, ML activists campaigned vigorously for the bandh. Eight activists were arrested in Gomiya. In Gumla district 169 activists jammed the main road going to Palkot. The police kept obstructing peaceful bandh supporters the whole day, attacking them four times, and eventually arrested all the activists. Eight activists were arrested in Lohardagga.

In Kundheet block of Jamatada district, 100 activists were arrested when they came out in support of the bandh. People came out in support of the bandh in Nala block. Activists led by Geeta Mandal and Sahdev Yadav marched through the town in support of the bandh, blocked traffic at Tower Chowk, they too were arrested later. In Garhwa, hundreds of people were arrested near the block headquarters. In Utari, a big group of Left activists led by the CPI, including CPIML activists was arrested while campaigning for the bandh. Dozens of activists were arrested in Jamshedpur and Shikari Pada in Dumka district.

Activists from the CPI, CPIM, and JMM were also on the streets making the bandh a success. This was an unprecedented bandh in which lakhs of people participated, making evident the growing outrage against the pro-corporate, communal and fascist policies of the government. In the days to come the people of Jharkhand will come out in a decisive battle and all-pervasive opposition against the BJP government, in defence of their jan-jangal-jameen (water, forests, and land) and their mineral resources.

ASHA Union’s Statewide Protests in Uttarakhand

ASHA workers held protests in many tehsil and block headquarters of Haldwani, Nainital, Pithoragarh and other districts across Uttarakhand on 12 May demanding fulfillment of their long-pending demands.

Uttarakhand ASHA Health Workers’ Union affiliated to AICCTU staged a strong demonstration, holding a rally in Haldwani from the women’s hospital to the SDM court. Addressing the rally, ASHA Association State Secretary, Com. Kailash Pandey said that ASHA workers were appointed to reduce the mortality rate in infants and mothers. However, they are being made to do other tasks also, and they have already raised objections to this. He said that tasks related to the pulse polio campaign, family welfare, malaria survey, ORS distribution, watching over violence against women, Chief Minister health insurance programme, disaster management training and other jobs have been imposed on them. Despite this, till date they have not been made workers of the health department and they are not being paid a monthly salary. Till now ASHA workers were being paid a pittance of Rs 5000 per month, and even that has been stopped now.

ASHA Health Workers’ Union also held a protest in Nainital to demand government employee status for ASHA workers, along with raising other demands. The state president of the union, Com. Kamla Kunjwal led the ASHA workers in a rally which culminated in a meeting near the Gandhi statue at Tallital. Com.Kamla Kunjwal said that the health department is constantly over-burdening the ASHA workers with work, whereas questions of honorarium and other benefits are always evaded. She strongly demanded payment of Rs. 5000 as incentive amount, and ending the role of NGOs in training.

In Bageshwar, ASHA workers demonstrated in front of the tehsil headquarters and submitted a memorandum to the Governor through the administration. The memorandum demanded payment of annual incentive, guarantee of minimum wages, ending of NGOs’ role in the health department, and other demands.

In Pithoragarh, ASHA Health Workers’ Union held a protest in front of the district headquarters. Rallies were taken out from various blocks in the district and a memorandum with their demands was submitted to the district administration. At the Pithoragarh district headquarters ASHA workers from Bin and Munakot blocks led by block President Com. Urmila Saun took out a rally from the Ramlila maidan which culminated in a meeting at the Collectorate. Addressing the workers, Com. Govind Kafaliya of AICCTU demanded that all training should be given directly by the health department and the role of NGOs should be ended. He also demanded that the Diwali bonus which had been announced by the State government twice on separate occasions should be paid into the ASHA workers’ accounts.

In Didihat, ASHA workers took out a rally and submitted a memorandum, led by union district Secretary Com. Indra Deupa and block President Com. Pinky Kalauni. Speaking on the occasion, Indra Deupa said that in several States like West Bengal, Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh, the State governments have started paying ASHA workers minimum wages as per the State norms; she demanded a guarantee from the Uttarakhand government that they too would pay minimum wages as per State norms.

In Dharchula, ASHA workers led by State President Com. Nanda Gand held a protest and submitted a memorandum of demands. In Gangolihat and Berinag, protest rallies were organized under the leadership of comrades Uma Mehra, Uma Bafla and Daya Karki, and memorandums were submitted.

The statewide protest saw enthusiastic participation from ASHA workers forcing the media too to take notice of their long standing demands.

AISA Forces Tripura University Administration to Revoke Anti-Student Moves

After IIT-Madras, UoH, JNU, this time it was the turn of Tripura University to target to students from deprived and disadvantageous contexts and push them towards exclusion from higher education. A shocking decision was recently taken by the administration of Tripura University, a Central University, whereby, it was notified in the prospectus that every Indian candidate would have to deposit 780 rupees for entrance examination. The notification did not exclude students from ST, SC and PWD categories who until now were granted entrance fee concessions. The university decided to do away with measures that would encourage students from these contexts to apply in the university.

Strongly condemning this move, the Tripura unit of AISA mobilized students and on 12 May, organized a massive rally. Several students joined the rally and protested against this anti-constitutional move. A memorandum was submitted to the Joint Register, Nodal Officer for SC/ST/OBC/PWD & Minorities of Tripura University and as a result of the pressure exerted by the protests, they were forced to agree with the demand to revoke the move.

Tribals in East Godavari Defeat Land Grab Move

Tribals in East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh registered a crucial victory against land grab. They were supported in the struggle by CPI(ML) as they waged a determined battle against land grabbers. In the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, a cooperative society was registered at Kakinada town (also the district headquarters) to establish a slaughter house at D Paidipala village of Rowthulapudi Mandal, a village inhabited by tribal people. Though records showed it to be registered as a cooperative, it was an open secret in the district that a central minister was behind this venture.

Some time back, the people of D Paidipala village were shocked when they heard that some official had visited the village and that they were going to give clearance for a slaughter house. The land proposed for slaughter house is very near the village, which through inhabited by tribals, has not been notified as a schedule tribal village under the Constitution (Schedule 5).

The Jaldam Panchayat under which this village comes, conducted an emergency meeting and passed a resolution opposing the slaughter house so close to the village. The District Collector sent a notice to the Gram panchayat questioning the resolution. The villagers found that the co-operative had already been granted all the necessary permissions like land conversion (from agriculture to non-agriculture use), industrial permission, and environmental clearance to establish the slaughter house – without consulting the village panchayat.

Using the Right to Information act, CPI (ML) sought documents including basic revenue records of the particular land for which the permission had been granted for industry – land conversion files from the Revenue Divisional office at Peddapuram, environmental clearance and other related documents from the AP Pollution Control Board, and the land registration certificates from the sub-registrar’s office. Within one month, the party was able to get all the necessary documents pertaining to the slaughter house. Careful study of these documents revealed several truths about how the local officers flouted established procedures and laws to give clearances to the slaughter house company.

The land records of the village showed that this land was government land and not private land. It was also revealed that the land had long ago been assigned by the government to the local tribal poor as D-form-pattas (homestead land). As per the state’s Act 9/77, lands thus assigned should not be transferred to third parties. At the same time the owners of the company continued to claim that they had purchased these lands which only signified a violation of act 9/77.

The local revenue officer tampered with the village records when they sent true copies to the RDO, Peddapuram for land conversion from agriculture to non-agriculture use and also in case of permissions from other departments. Fraudulently, the status of government land assigned to tribal poor for houses was changed into private land to get permission for industry. Comrade Bugatha Bangaru Raju, Central Committee Member of the party met the Tehsildar and submitted a petition for action against the land grab. He also met RDO, Peddapuram and submitted a petition for action against the officers who tampered with the records and requested to cancel the land conversion certificate issued to the company.

The party mobilized the people of the Jaldam Panchayat and several mass protests and rallies were held. The tribals participated in these rallies in huge numbers and with tremendous determination. On 13 April, a fact finding team visited the site and spoke with adivasis of Jaldam and D Paidipala. As a result of the pressure built by the struggle, the local Tehsildar was forced to agree in writing and confirm that the land records had been tampered with by their staff and the land in question was government land and not private land. He sent a report to the RDO for action and copies of the same were given to the party leaders. This was a significant victory for the villagers.

Court Stays JNU Punishments, Students End Hunger Strike

The students lifted their heroic hunger strike after the Court stayed all punishments and directed the JNU VC to respond to the appeals.

The JNU VC had, quite literally, been running away from facing the demands by JNU students and teachers that he review and revoke the punishments recommended by the ‘High Level Enquiry Committee (HLEC)’. In spite of 52 Academic Council members passing a resolution to this effect, the JNU VC fled the Academic Council meeting rather than implement the resolution. Thus, he became the first Vice Chancellor of a Central University to jog away from an Academic Council meeting. In spite of a 16-day hunger strike by students peacefully appealing that he revoke the HLEC punishments, he refused to respond.

What the High Court order of 13 May 2016 does is to firmly tell the JNU VC to face the students’ appeals rather than run away.

The JNU VC had been trying to hide behind the fig-leaf of the HLEC process and punishments being ‘subjudice’, claiming that the University cannot revoke the punishments since the matter is in Court. This is what the ‘Urgent Appeal’ by the JNU Administration on Day 12 of the hunger strike claimed. The High Court order clearly indicates that the JNU VC’s claim was a lie. The High Court orders the VC to hear and respond to the appeals made by students – and stays all punishments until the appeals are heard. Not only that, the Court order states that in case the VC rejects the students’ appeals, he cannot implement the punishments for two weeks after the rejection; students can approach the Court for relief in those two weeks.

After the Court order, the hunger strike was ended on its 16th day. Comrade Chintu Kumari and Anant Kumar of AISA had remained on fast for 16 whole days, while the JNUSU General Secretary Rama Naga had withdrawn from the hunger strike on the 15th day after his medical condition severely deteriorated. Teachers and students celebrated the end of the hunger strike and the stay on the punishments, and the hunger strikers accepted juice from the parents and sisters of Chintu Kumari and Umar Khalid. The parents and sisters also addressed the gathering, with Comrade Chintu’s father Comrade Ramlakhan Ram speaking about the struggle for rights and dignity of oppressed people in Bhojpur, where Chintu was born.

ML Update
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