ML Update | No. 07 | 2016

February 10, 2016

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 19 | No. 07 | 9- 15 FEB 2016

Salary-starved Municipal Employees Expose the Myth of Urban Governance in Delhi

For the last two weeks, municipal employees of Delhi have been on strike demanding the most basic right of a worker – to get his or her due salary on time. This is not the first time that municipal employees have had to go on strike for this demand. In fact, this is the third such strike in the span of just one year. The previous two strikes in June and October had ended with the Delhi government releasing some additional funds. But this time round, salaries have not been paid for three months and the ‘loan’ of Rs 551 crore offered by Arvind Kejriwal in early February after a week’s strike has failed to end the deadlock. The Rs. 300 crore promised by the Lt. Governor from the DDA’s account has also helped little.

While supporting the demands of the MCD workers, Arvind Kejriwal has also described the whole development as a political conspiracy by the BJP to precipitate a crisis in Delhi and destabilise the AAP government. Given the continuing confrontation between the Delhi government and the Centre over issues of powers of the former, especially on the question of control over the Delhi Police, there is obviously an element of political contention between the BJP and AAP. Moreover, the three corporations of Delhi are currently held by the BJP and the MCD elections are due next year. The affairs of the Delhi government or the MCD are therefore bound to have the unmistakable context of political rivalry between the BJP, AAP and the Congress. But when thousands of municipal staff – from sanitation workers to teachers and medical personnel – do not get their salary for months on end in the national capital, it is clearly primarily a crisis of urban governance and its policy framework.

In 2007 the municipal corporation of Delhi was trifurcated with the ostensible aim of greater decentralisation of power and better delivery of services. While this has obviously increased the establishment expenditure, there has been no commensurate increase in revenues landing the corporations into increasingly unmanageable deficits. Meanwhile, the share of taxes due to be devolved to the municipal corporations has been reduced from 5.5% to 4%, leaving the rest to a performance-linked Municipal Reform Fund (MRF). The deficit-ridden North and East Delhi corporations reportedly verge around bankruptcy even as the MRF has swelled to more than Rs 1300 crore. The municipal finances are also adversely affected by non-payment of dues like big institutions like the Delhi Development Authority which owes more than Rs 1300 crore by way of unpaid duties and taxes. Municipal revenues are also crippled by corruption and non-enforcement of rules and norms – the East Delhi Corporation for example earned only Rs 12 crore as advertising revenue even as corporate and political propaganda billboards scream from every rooftop and street corner.

Much of Modi’s propaganda blitzkrieg with slogans like Make In India, Digital India, Swachh Bharat, Smart Cities and so on and so forth promises a rapidly changing urban landscape. Yet when sanitation employees and other municipal workers right in the national capital have to go on strike to secure their salaries we can easily see the mess that rules in the name of urban governance. It can be seen in the everyday denial of basic civic amenities to a great majority of India’s urban population, in the absence of basic rights of the workers who run the basic services and increasingly also in major environmental disasters or health hazards as witnessed recently during the Chennai floods and the Mumbai garbage dump fire. The urban renewal and livelihood missions have not addressed either the infrastructural issues of mass housing and public transport, or guaranteeing basic amenities, not to talk of universal healthcare and education. The smart cities being announced can only make this model of skewed urbanisation even more unequal and unsustainable, centralising a disproportionate amount of resources and facilities for the urban elite and those belonging to the gated communities and effectively subordinating the democratic structure of municipal governance to the processes of privatisation and commercialisation.

AAP is widely appreciated as an innovative urban party with visions of improved urban governance. In its brief tenure so far it has indeed touched some basic urban concerns like electricity and water, school admission and traffic congestion. Yet on a policy level we can hardly see any alternative approach. The ‘odd-even’ model best illustrates this AAP approach of ad-hocism and superficiality where the whole focus is on easing traffic congestion without addressing the basic question of availability of affordable public transport for the bulk of Delhi’s growing population. The promise of regularisation of contract employees in key sectors like municipal and transport services has remained only on paper. While blaming the BJP for financial mismanagement, the AAP does not propose an alternative framework for strengthening the municipal finances of Delhi. If the present policy regime continues, the municipal structure, even if reunified under a single corporation, will get increasingly subverted by the forces of privatisation and the ‘aam aadmi’ in whose name Arvind Kejriwal runs his party and government will get further marginalised. While insisting on a reliable solution to the demands of Delhi’s striking municipal employees, pressure must also be mounted for a reorientation of policies of urban governance in favour of the marginalised ‘aam aadmi’.

Yet Another ‘Institutional Murder’ of Three Girls in Tamil Nadu

Following closely on the heels of the suicide of Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad, a suicide which has correctly been identified as an institutional murder, three young girls in the Villipuram district of Tamil Nadu drowned themselves. 19-year old Sharanya, Priyanga and Monisha were students of the SVS Yoga Medical College, and were driven to desperately take their lives by the exorbitantly high fees charged by the college.

SVS college has a long history of dubious practices. It was set up in 2008 without fulfilling any of the norms and conditions prescribed. The very first step of procuring land allegedly involved a violation of rights: farmers’ lands were encroached upon, and 3 medical colleges were constructed on 12 acres of land. Though the AYUSH Council had granted permission for setting up the college in 2008, the Chennai High Court had subsequently raised objections. Since then, students have been fighting against the management and its multiple irregularities and violations. Instead of addressing and rectifying the gross violations pointed out by the students, the college administration resorted to all-out intimidation of the protesting students. The students however refused to buckle down to this intimidation. They sent petitions and appeals to as many as 14 departments and bodies of the State and Central government. The students also sent urgent messages with their concerns to the Dr. MGR Medical University and to the CM’s Office in Chennai. Yet, none of the 14 bodies responded to their concerns. In October 2015, 6 students even tried to self-immolate themselves in protest in front of the Villupuram Collector’s office. The Collector, instead of looking into the demands of the students and holding the erring management responsible, abused and scolded the students. She allegedly told them to commit suicide in their homes, rather than protest at the Collector’s office!

The entire sequence of events leading to the death of three young students at Villipuram thus clearly shows that it was an institutional murder. All the 3 students came from extremely poor and deprived backgrounds. What is all the more shameful is that despite extracting huge amounts as fees from the students, the SVS college does not provide even the basic facilities required in a Medical college. The owner and chairperson on the SVS college, Vasuki Subramanium, is not a qualified doctor. She, along with her husband (who is a homeopathic doctor), her son and one local henchman effective rule the roost, and run the entire place. There is neither a hospital, nor the required number of doctors, professors and laboratories in the college. The 3 students who committed suicide paid Rs six lakhs each to join the college, apart from the huge fees they had to pay each year. The students who protested and who were unable to pay the money demanded by the college administration were subjected to massive intimidation and repression. Some students were even forced to do construction work in the campus and clean the college toilets.

Both the DMK as well as the AIADMK are implicated in the proliferation of such dubious private education shops masquerading as colleges all over Tamil Nadu. A previous Health Minister from the DMK had given permission to set up the SVS college, and the current Health Minister from the AIADMK had sided with the college administration despite all the complaints and petitions filed by the students. Another minister intervened to help the SVS college ensure that the Medical University acts in their favour. The powers-that-be in Tamil Nadu used every foul means possible to support the SVS administration at each and every step.

CPI(ML) has been at the forefront of the protests against the tragic suicides in Villipuram. Immediately after hearing the horrific news, CPI(ML), AISA and RYA organised protests across Tamil Nadu. On 26 January, AISA and RYA held a protest in Kallakurichi near where the SVS college is situated. Comprehensive and effective protests and campaigns were launched, even on social media. On 4 February, a protest demonstration was held in Chinnasalem town near the SVS college. The protests highlighted that this was an institutional murder, in which several authorities were deeply implicated, including the SVS Chairperson Vasuki, the Villupuram district collector, authorities of the Dr. MGR Medical University and the Tamil Nadu Health Minister. CPI(ML), AISA and RYA demanded that action be taken against all those who have misused their positions of power, leading to three tragic deaths. The situation at the SVS college is no aberration. In several private institutions in Tamil Nadu, similar problems have been highlighted, such as most recently in the Sairam college of Engineering, where students are being subjected to horrific moral policing, harassment and intimidation. CPI(ML), AISA and RYA thus also demanded that such private profiteering educational shops should be closed down, and the government must step in to open state-funded colleges and Universities, since provision of education is the government’s responsibility.

Sharecroppers Demand Week Observed by Kisan Mahasabha

Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha observed ‘Sharecroppers’ Demand Week’ all over Bihar from 18 to 24 January 2016 with a 6 point charter of demands, during which they held block level dharnas in various districts, and held chakka jam, rallies, and other programmes. The demands are as follows: (1) Register the sharecroppers and give them the status of farmers as well as all facilities farmers are entitled to; (2) Give a bonus of Rs 500 per quintal in addition to the fixed purchase price on farmers’ products, and give a guarantee of paddy purchase from small and medium famers as well as sharecroppers; (3) Give crop-loss compensation to all drought-affected farmers, make all irrigation resources in proper condition, electrify farmers’ personal hand pumps and give them free electricity for irrigation purpose; (4) If seeds sold to farmers by the government or other branded companies fail to sprout, give the farmers full compensation, conduct a full enquiry and take action against these seed companies; (5) Give land entitlement rights to Shikmi sharecroppers and farmers who are beneficiaries of bhoodaan; distribute benami and extra lands from gair-majrua bhoodan and ceiling among the poor and landless; (6) Ensure speedy start of Durgawati Reservoir Project and Hamid Nagar Irrigation Project; Take up speedy construction of Indrapuri Reservoir Project.

The decision to observe this Demand Week was taken in the State unit meeting of December 2015. After the Demand Week, a ‘Purchase Paddy Fortnight’ will next be observed from 1 to 15 February and on 10 March a mahadharna by farmers will be organized in front of the Bihar Assembly.

The Sharecroppers’ Demand Week has sent out a strong message of agitation and struggle to sharecroppers and farmers, and has exposed the anti-farmer and anti-sharecropper face of all the ruling class Parties. During the various protests held while observing demand week, a 17 point charter of demands was submitted to the Chief Minister through the BDOs at various block offices, in which important district level demands were included apart from the State level demands. Hundreds of sharecroppers and pattadar farmers participated in these protests.

Protest March against False Cases against Mahadalits

A rally was taken out on 17 January 2016 from the CPI(ML) office in Ballia zone (Beguserai district) which proceeded through Ballia bazaar and culminated in a meeting at station chowk. This rally was in protest against the false cases lodged against the parchadhari mahadalits of Masudanpur. The rally resounded with slogans such as “Take back false cases against mahadalits”; “Arrest the powerful goons under the SC/ST Act”; “End oppression of mahadalits”; “Give administrative protection for tilling on parcha lands”; “Stop goons from going into parcha lands”; and other such slogans.

Addressing the meeting at station chowk, CPI(ML) district Secretary Com. Divakar Kumar said that even though mahadalit women have registered cases against people from powerful dominant sections but no arrests have been made in those cases. On the other hand, mahadalits are being arrested on the basis of false cases registered against them by people from dominant sections and the administration. It is clear that this is a part of the a conspiracy to illegally dispossess them from their parcha lands. The people will not allow this conspiracy to succeed. He demanded that the district administration should without delay take back these false cases against mahadalits, and should arrest the goons who have conspired to dispossess the mahadalits from their parcha lands.

The meeting was presided over by CPI(ML) block Secretary, Com. Noor Alam. Com. Noor Alam said that the grand alliance government which came to power on the strength of the votes of the poor, mahadalits, and minorities, has become a government of dominant sections and criminals. Law and order have collapsed and criminals are flourishing unchecked; the need of the hour is to organize the common people and launch an extensive movement against this.

Contract Sanitation Workers’ Struggle for Regularization in Bangalore

AICCTU led contract sanitation workers of BBMP (Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike) rallied more than a thousand and formed a human barricade demanding regularization of all contract sanitation workers on 2nd Dec. 2015. The struggle was led by Comrades Balan, state president, Clifton D’ Rozario, state General Secretary and Nirmala, the General Secretary of the contract sanitation workers union (Guttige Powrakarmikara Sangha).

The protest was in response to the state government’s move to recruit few thousands of people quite alien to any sanitation work at all. It is a well known fact that it is only Madigas, even among dalits, who are engaged in sanitation work. Still, the government revealed its intention to recruit new people who are totally unrelated to any sanitation activities while more than 18000 existing contract workers under BBMP are left in the lurch. Workers protested vociferously. They demanded regularisation of the existing workforce and then to look for any new recruitment.

The government has not considered the demand for regularization of existing work force in spite of a definite recommendation for its abolition by the sub-committee on contract labour under BBMP constituted under the chairmanship of Com. Balan, all India Vice President of AICCTU. The newly elected Mayor of Bangalore Corporation came to the spot to listen to the grievances of the contract workers and assured that he will bring it to the attention of the state government. The meeting subsequently organized with Mayor and the Commissioner of the Corporation assured to rectify certain immediate issues of minimum wage arrears of few recent years, due to workers and also the issue of holidays, drinking water and rest room facilities, etc. The contract workers struggle for regularization is still on.

Kisan Sabha Dharna in Arwal

A one-day dharna was held at the Arwal block office on 20 January to demand bonus for and paddy purchase from farmers, especially sharecroppers. Addressing the dharna, Kisan Mahasabha State Secretary and Party MLA from Tarari, Com. Sudama Prasad said that the Nitish government has failed on all fronts. This government has betrayed the farmers. Expenses for paddy and other kharif crop production have gone up considerably due to 44% less than average rainfall in the State; production in any district has been limited to between 25% and 50%, yet the State government refuses to pay the Rs 500 per quintal bonus apart from the support price. The Central and State governments which made policies that 33% or more crop loss would entitle compensation is now refusing compensation for 50% to 75% crop loss. Almost all the government hand pumps in the State are closed; the Durgawati reservoir and Hamidnagar irrigation project have not been started; construction has not even begun in the Indrapuri reservoir (Kadvan dam). The government is showing no interest in electrification of farmers’ private hand pumps and providing them free electricity for irrigation. Even the government’s announcement of diesel subsidy remains confined to the newspapers only.

No policy has been made for the development of sharecroppers and pattadars who are farming on the lands from where the distressed farmers have left. It is only after the series of agitations by CPI (ML) and Kisan Mahasabha that the Central and State Farmers’ Commissions have given sharecroppers and pattadars the status of farmer, and yet these sharecroppers who farm more than 70% of agricultural lands are given no facilities by the government. As in the previous years, this year also the Bihar government has placed stringent conditions for purchase of paddy from small and medium farmers and sharecroppers in December-January which is their peak time of need; the farmers will become forced to sell their paddy to traders and middlemen and as before, the conditions for purchase will then be relaxed and the paddy will be purchased from these traders and middlemen.

The commission constituted by the Centre to assess outlay expenses had fixed the average outlay for paddy production as Rs 1,600 per quintal. The government had promised to pay 1 ½ times the outlay expense as support price, but it has fixed the support price as Rs 1,410 per quintal, which is much less even than the outlay expense fixed by the government commission; the government has also decided to cut State investment and grants in agriculture and to open the doors national and foreign capital investment which will only increase agrarian woes. If sharecroppers and farmers are thus neglected, the development of Bihar remains questionable.

People’s Protest in Karnal

The CPI (ML) Karnal district unit organized a protest demo in Karnal on 20 January on various burning people’s issues and resolved to carry on an agitation on these issues.

Speaking on the occasion, CPI(ML) State in-charge and Kisan Mahasabha National Vice president Prem Singh Gehlawat said that the Khattar government is foisting the condition of ‘education’ as panchayat election eligibility criteria. Under this law, 72% SC men and 83% General category women can only cast their vote in the panchayat election; they cannot stand for election, whereas the Constitution guarantees that anyone who has the right to vote has the right to stand for election as well. CPI (ML) strongly opposes this undemocratic decision of the Khattar government.

CPI (ML) Karnal district Secretary Com. Mahindra Chopra said that the Khattar government is using issues of blind superstition like cow, Ganga, and Geeta to divert attention from real issues and implement its pro-corporate agenda. Com. Renu Nayak said that incidents of violence against women are becoming rampant in Haryana but the government remains a mute spectator. Liquor contracts have been opened in Haryana villages and illegal liquor is being sold at every nook and corner. It has become difficult for women to venture out and homes are being destroyed, the brunt of which is being borne by the women. She said that efforts would be made to mobilize the women of Haryana to start a big agitation against the government.

AIARLA district convenor Com. Krishna Saini Karnal said that the government machinery is fully involved in the huge corruption going on in MNREGA. RYA in-charge Com. Lalit Saxena said that lakhs of youth in Haryana are unemployed and there are no employment opportunities for them. AISA leader Com. Dinesh said that education is being privatized and commercialized in the State; huge fee hikes are making it veritably impossible for common people to get an education. A resolution was passed unanimously on the occasion that an all-out agitation on these burning issues would be launched.

Workers’ March in Ranchi

AICCTU Ranchi city committee took out a protest march on 21 January and burnt the effigy of Union MoS for Labour Bandaru Dattatreya to protest against the ‘start-ups’ for the benefit of companies, double life imprisonment for 8 Pricol workers, and driving Hyderabad student Rohith Vemula to suicide. Shouting slogans like “the company raj stands exposed”, “Remove Union Labour Minister and HRD Minister”, “Release the Pricol 8”, and “Take back the Start-up scheme”, the march proceeded to Albert Ekka chowk where it culminated in a meeting.

The speakers at the protest meeting said that the double standards of the Central government policies have been thoroughly exposed. They are meant to benefit companies and corporate houses rather than workers or common people. ‘Start-up’ is an attack on workers’ rights. Political protection to the mafia and the sentence of double life imprisonment for the 8 Pricol workers is an assault on the working class. AICCTU will continue the struggle against the Modi government which is intent on enriching companies and impoverishing workers.

Students Gherao Delhi Police HQ

Hundreds of students protested on 2 February at the Delhi Police headquarters at AISA’s call against Delhi Police and RSS’ crackdown on protesting students while they were marching from Ambedkar Bhawan to RSS Head Office on 30th January. The agitated students blocked the ITO road for some time demanding that the police commissioner B S Bassi should take responsibility of the crackdown on students.

Sucheta De, National President of AISA said that the Delhi police is hell bent to crush the ongoing protests demanding justice to Rohit Vemula is a clear case of political victimization. The police is not only siding with the real culprits of Rohit’s suicide but leaving no stone unturned to crush the students movement.

"While the BJP government and its ministers are engaged in shamelessly maligning Rohith’s background and the protesters and its political machinery like the ABVP and RSS are busy defending culprits of Rohith’s institutional murder like the union ministers, the Delhi police which takes order from the central government is time and again coming down violently on us. This is an issue of social justice and discrimination against marginalised communities be it inside campuses or outside of it. Most shamelessly, the Delhi police rather than taking moral responsibility of the violence on protesters is now working as a propaganda machinery for the RSS. The police commissioner is trying to defend police violence and spreading lies about the police violence on 30th" Said, Sandeep Saurav, National Secretary of AISA.

Dharna in Solidarity with Pricol Eight

Gujarat unit of AICCTU organised a day long dharna in solidarity with Pricol Eight on 9 Feb before Regional Labour Commissioner Office at Ahmedabad. This protest was led by comrades Ranjan Ganguly, Dashrath Sinhali, .Ramdash Katara, Jivaji Damor, Bhavan Singh. A memorandum addressed to PMO was handed over to the DLC which demanded to immediately give Justice to 8 convicted PRICOL workers on false charges.

A convention was also organised by AICCTU in association with RYA on 8 Feb. in Ahmedabad to express solidarity with struggling PRICOL Workers. The programe was presided over by veteran TU leader Com. Laxman Bhai Patanvadia. Along with AICCTU leaders RYA activists Amit and Ashmit spoke in the convention. The speakers hailed the spirit of struggling PRICOL workers and pledged to unitedly work for wider propaganda and to gather all kind of support for them.

ML Update | No. 06 | 2016

February 10, 2016

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 19 | No. 06 | 2 – 8 FEB 2016

Sangh-BJP Attacks and Police Brutality Cannot Stop the Battle for Justice for Rohith

The institutional murder of young dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad has shocked the entire country and students everywhere have erupted in protests. Given the crucial involvement of BJP central ministers Bandaru Dattatreya and Smriti Irani in the entire episode, the resignation of these two ministers has emerged as a key demand of protesting students across the country. Far from listening to the voices of anguish and outrage, the Modi government and the Sangh-BJP establishment have virtually declared a war on the ongoing student agitation. They would like to prove that Rohith was not Dalit, his views and activities were ‘anti-national’ and of course they would like to crush dissent by all means. We have seen dissenting students being victimised in other university campuses after Hyderabad, and now the brutality inflicted on student activists, including girl students, in front of the RSS HQ in Delhi signals a new level of fascist offensive where police constables and goons in civilian clothes were seen beating up students in tandem.

The supreme sacrifice of Rohith against the deep-rooted and institutionalised injustice that dalits and other oppressed communities routinely have to suffer even in today’s twenty-first century India and the intensified assault on the crucial democratic right to dissent in Modi’s saffron regime has touched several chords and opened up new possibilities in the growing struggles against the repressive and regressive Modi raj. Students, who have been actively resisting the saffron assault on education and democracy in the campuses and beyond – whether against the dissolution of the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle in IIT Madras or the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the chairman of FTII in Pune, against the suspension of fellowship or sell-out of higher education under WTO, against saffronisation of education or attacks on rationality and dissent – have naturally responded angrily to the saffron witch-hunt of a bright and sensitive young scholar.

Through his sacrifice Rohith has also given voice to the pain and anger felt so deeply by the Dalits and other oppressed communities and identities in India. The Indian state would like us to believe that caste discrimination and atrocities on dalits belonged to some previous era. Decades of reservation and legislation against atrocities on dalits have changed the situation quite sufficiently. Then there are market fundamentalists who tell us that what the state and society could not do is now being done by the market which is the ultimate annihilator of castes and promoter of social mobility. A party like the BJP which is now in power at the Centre and in several of India’s states is now desperate to appropriate Ambedkar and woo dalits by celebrating Ravidas jayanti even as it brazenly upholds Manuvad as an integral part of its vision of Hindu Rashtra and relentlessly attacks the values and principles of the Constitution drafted under the chairmanship of Dr. Ambedkar.

What makes the predicament more painful is the opportunist silence of many Dalit leaders who routinely invoke the name of Ambedkar but have none of his spirit of questioning and challenging the existing order of injustice and oppression. From Ramvilas Paswan and Ramdas Athawale to Udit Raj and Jitan Ram Manjhi – the list of Dalit leaders who have no difficulty in allying with or even joining the BJP is quite significant. Then there is Mayawati’s BSP which habitually keeps silent over most economic, political and socio-cultural questions of the day. Rohith had rejected this politics of silence and opportunism, instead choosing to speak out on everything that mattered to him. And these are indeed questions that would haunt everybody who would like to see a just, democratic and egalitarian society. It is this spirit of Rohith, the spirit of the young India of Rohith’s friends and fellow fighters which the BJP is mortally afraid of. And hence the desperation in the Sangh-BJP camp to prove that Rohith was not a Dalit, the desperation to beat up and silence whoever is insisting on justice for Rohith.

Rohith and his friends felt for the Muslim youth being persecuted as terrorists. They felt for the riot victims of Muzaffarnagar. RSS ideologues and propagandists accuse him of speaking on everything under the sun except on ‘Dalit issues’! So his crime was that he did not conform to the familiar and convenient pattern of Dalit politics, that he transgressed the secluded slot of ‘Dalit issues’ to build bridges with other oppressed and persecuted communities and identities and stand up for democracy and justice for all. He obviously liked the communist principle ‘to each according to his need’ (‘from each according to his/her ability, to each according to his/her need’ is a well-known basic principle of the communist vision) and even questioned Indian communists as to how far they have been alive to the needs and aspirations of Dalits and oppressed identities. Rohith thus represented a very urgent need and possibility of critical dialogue, cooperation and unity among Dalits and religious minorities, among Ambedkarites and communists. While fighting for bringing the guilty of Rohith’s institutional murder to book, we must also do all we can to nurture and develop the possibility that Rohith represented and free India from the clutches of the Sangh-BJP establishment.

CPI(ML) condemns the Delhi Police and RSS Assaults on Students in Delhi

On 30 January, students from JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia, DU and AUD who were protesting against the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula were brutally assaulted by the Delhi Police. The students, who marched peacefully from the Ambedkar Bhawan to the RSS office in Jhandewalan, were protesting against the role of the ABVP-RSS-BJP in the entire sequence of events leading to Rohith’s tragic death. Not just the Delhi Police, but also some people who were not in uniform attacked the protestors. CPI(ML) strongly condemns this attack.

For quite some time now, each and every protest against the Modi government and the RSS has been dealt with by the Delhi Police with brute force. Detentions, lathi charges, water cannons – all have been deployed to try and arrest the spate of protests by students and youth in Delhi. On 30 January too, what was seen was no less than the blatant use of the Delhi Police and the state machinery to curb all differing and dissenting opinion. It is indeed dangerous that the Delhi Police is effectively being used as an extended arm of the RSS-BJP to crack down on political dissent.

Apart from eyewitness accounts and statement of the students themselves, there are also videos made by students and journalists, clearly showing the horrific role of the Delhi Police. CPI(ML) demands that action be taken immediately against this gross misuse of office and power. The Delhi Police chief and all those responsible for the attacks on the students should be held accountable and punished.

AISA, JNU Students’ Union and other students organisations also held protest demonstration in front of the Delhi Police HQ on February 2 against this attack.

CPI (ML) Team Visits Drought Affected Bundelkhand Farmers

A CPI(ML) team comprising of UP state standing committee member Ramesh Singh and comrades Rajiv Kushwaha, Ram Singh, and Sudhir Kumar visited the direly affected areas of Lalitpur district on 24 January to appraise the situation of the drought-affected Bundelkhand farmers. They visited the villages of Talbehat and Bar blocks and met the farmer families.

According to the team, the effects of the drought in Lalitpur have been escalated further due to the government’s neglect and administrative corruption at local levels, so much so that most of the farmers ruined by last year’s hail storm have not yet received government compensation; large scale corruption is going on in whatever little compensation is being given. People have been forced to migrate from their villages in large numbers because of failure of agriculture due to scarcity rainfall and lack of water in canals. In this situation farmers have become trapped in the clutches of government loans and moneylenders.

The CPI(ML) team said that in spite of all the announcements and claims of the government in regard to the Bundelkhand drought there has been no relief for the farmers as evident in Lalitpur district. The report demanded that Bundelkhand should be declared drought-affected, all loans to the farmers should be waived, strict action should be taken against private moneylenders, free fodder should be provided for cattle, work should be made available under MNREGA throughout the year, the scope of food security should be increased and an increased amount of food grains should be made available for each family, water should be released in canals, cleaning and re-boring of wells should be done, and hand pumps should be installed.

RYA Observes Protest Day

Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) conducted a National Campaign demanding the release of RYA National President Com. Amarjeet Kushwaha, National Executive Member Com. Manoj Manzil and Com. Satyadev Ram, CPI(ML) MLA from Darauli, Bihar. All three of them have been arrested due to false cases foisted upon them while leading struggles against feudal forces and fighting for the rights and dignity of the struggling masses of Bihar. As part of the campaign thousands of postcards addressed to the Chief Minister of Bihar, demanding the immediate release of the three comrades, have been sent from different parts of the country.

As part of this Campaign, RYA observed 25th of January as National Protest Day. Protest demonstrations, marches and dharnas were held across the country. On the eve of Republic Day the youth of the country asked as to why those who defend the rights of the people and fight to ensure the principles enshrined in the constitution are being imprisoned and the perpetrators of massacres at Bathani Tola, Bathe, Gujarat are roaming free and occupying the highest offices of the country. On this day programs were held at Chandigarh, Gwalior, Mughalsarai, Faizabad, Patna, Siwan, Samastipur, Darbhanga, Gopalganj, Bokaro, Ramgarh, Hazaribagh and many other places. Memoranda to the Chief Minister of Bihar were submitted through the local administrations.

Delhi’s Striking Workers’ Demands Must be Fulfilled Immediately

CPI(ML) Delhi State Committee condemned strongly the current impasse between Govt of Delhi and three Municipal Corporations on the issue of payment of salaries of employees especially of sanitation workers.

It is to be noted that the Commissioners of three corporations as per minutes of meeting held on January 15 with Chief Minister have accepted that they have received this year’s non-plan funds from which salary was supposed to be paid.

The employees of three municipal corporations have been at the receiving end of this petty politicking on part of BJP led Corporations while Central government’s deliberate silence on the issue only facilitating the present impasse. Their salaries have not been distributed for months and they are on strike demanding salaries. Along with employees, the people of Delhi’s daily life have got a hit with garbage piling in city and with regular municipal and even health services coming to standstill with doctors and health employees of MCD joining the agitation.

CPI(ML) Delhi state secretary Ravi Rai has said in an statement that it’s not difficult to see that current impasse has more political connotations than merely financial aspects with elections in three corporations due at the end of year. The BJP is trying to hide its failures in Municipal corporations in Delhi in particular and of its central government’s in general, behind such petty politicking which is not going to yield anyway. On the other hand, instead of merely relying on politics of posturing against Central Govt, had the AAP govt. implemented its own promise of regularisation of Delhi’s contractual employees on priority, the ongoing discourse in Delhi’s politics would have been quite different today.

CPI(ML) extends its solidarity with striking workers and demands that their salaries should be cleared immediately. The current impasse must be resolved by all sides, including Central Govt, Delhi Govt. and all three Municipal Corporations, keeping interests of people of Delhi in mind whose daily life has taken a hit.

Sand Workers Oppose Privatisation of River Bank, Rally To Demand Work

Thousands of rural sand workers took out a rally on 8 January 2016 in Dadi block of Hazaribagh district. They were raising slogans: ‘Give the sand bank royalty to the land owners’; ‘Give work for every worker’; ‘End willful royalty from sand banks’; and ‘Include sand workers in the BPL list.’ The rally reached the BDO’s office where a public meeting was held. Men and women attended the rally with traditional weapons, belchas and kodis. Tongi panchayat in Dadi block falls in the Pathari region, not suitable for agriculture, with a majority of adivasi population. Earlier, people used work in limestone quarries, but they are completely closed now. The second alternative for livelihoods for men as well as women was to work as sand lifters from the banks on the Damodar river, which since last year has been given to big contractors from Mumbai by the Jharkhand government. Under the banner of the CPI(ML), the rural workers have been demanding that the work on the sand banks should be given under the control of the local village panchayats. After the sand banks were auctioned off to the contractors, the latter are extracting tax arbitrarily as per their whims instead of following the norms fixed by the government. In comparison to other banks of the Damodar river such as Patratu and Barkakana, the contractor is charging Rs. 500 per truck more, with the result that the number of trucks here is very less. This situation has created a grave crisis of livelihood for the workers, to which the government and the administration are paying no attention.

Addressing the meeting, CPI(ML) district Secretary Com. Bhuneshwar Bediya said that the State BJP government had come into power with the promise of adopting localized policies and creating jobs, but in the last year it has nothing to show except broken promises and a series of anti-people policies. It has totally neglected people’s basic needs, conservation of water, forest and land, and the task of employment generation. Instead, the government has formed a land bank to facilitate handing over of water, forests and lands to corporate houses and private companies. The government is giving the common people polluted air and polluted rivers in order to benefit the corporate houses and companies; land and minerals are being looted.

Struggle against Workers’ Retrenchment

Samvas Sadan Samiti Karamchari Sangh (Gaya) affiliated to AICCTU is carrying on a struggle for the reinstatement of workers who have been illegally removed from their jobs after having worked for 15-20 years.

Samvas Sadan Samiti has been constituted for the care of the Vishnupad temple in Gaya, and for taking care of travelers’ convenience. The President of the Samiti is the district officer and its members are government department officers and representatives of the pandas. From October 1983 onwards the permanent and temporary workers of the Samiti have been getting wages and allowances as per government norms. The Patna High Court had dissolved the Samiti, however, the Supreme Court ruled against the dissolution and reinstated it. Meanwhile, flouting all rules, temporary workers were removed from work from February 2015 and the wages and other payments to permanent workers are not being paid, causing a situation of starvation for the families of the workers. The workers are struggling for reinstatement of jobs and other issues. In support of their 5 point charter of demands, AICCTU organized a convention on 19 December 2016 which resolved to intensify the agitation further.

Demonstration In Solidarity With Pricol Workers Struggle

AICCTU and AISA held a demonstration at Bangalore in solidarity with workers of Pricol in Coimbatore. Hundreds of workers and students gathered at Town Hall demanding release of 8 imprisoned workers. Com. Shankar recollected that this is a first ever conviction in the period of liberalization where verdicts are delivered not on the basis of evidence on record but keeping the vested interests of capital in mind. Com. Clifton D’ Rozario, Karnataka state General Secretary, pointed out the struggles and enormous amount of sacrifice by workers of Pricol. Com. Appanna, AICCTU, Com. Maruthi, AISA and Com. Nirmala also addressed the protestors. A similar demonstration held at Gangavati was led by the CPI (ML) state secretary Com. Bharadwaj and another one at HD Kote by AIARLA state secretary Com. Javaraiah.

Protests in Bihar Against Tax Hike By Nitish Government

The CPI(ML) has strongly condemned the increase in taxes by 13.5% on essential goods in the name of revenue increase by the Nitish government. Protests were held across the state on 16 January. Party State Secretary Kunal said that it is quite unfair and unnecessary to raise taxes on the people when they are already burdened with spiraling prices. The Nitish government has got a mandate from the poor in Bihar for development and guarantee of justice, not for increasing the already sky high prices. The Bihar government is following the footsteps of the Central government and both are bent on making the common man to shoulder the burden of price rise in various ways, proving that both are anti-people governments.

Com. Kunal further said that the government is not keeping its promise on its electoral promise of total prohibition, which has now been limited to country liquor alone; in other words, the sale of foreign liquor and black marketing of country liquor will continue. On the other hand, using the loss of revenue through prohibition as an excuse, it is raising taxes on essential goods; the government could have explored other means of compensating the revenue loss such as taxing the rich and ending corruption.

As part of the state-wide protests, demonstrations were held in front of several district headquarters with the demand to revoke the raised taxes without delay. Effigies of Nitish Kumar were burnt in Rohtas and Nasriganj. A protest march was taken out at Nawada. Effigy burning was also done in Jehanabad, Nawada, Siwan, Bhojpur, Bhagalpur, Beguserai, Darbhanga, Gopalganj, Muzaffarpur, Arwal and all other districts.

AIARLA Memorandum To Bihar Food And Supplies Minister

A delegation comprising of AIARLA General Secretary Dhirendra Jha, former MP and AIARLA National President Rameshwar Prasad, CPI(ML) MLA from Balrampur Mahbood Alam, AIARLA State Secretary Virendra Prasad Gupta and Gopal Ravidas, submitted a memorandum to the Food and Supplies Minister of Bihar on 18 January.

The socio-economic census of 2013 has once again established that Bihar is in the grip of dire poverty. A large part of the State’s population is affected by starvation, near starvation, and malnutrition. Continuous drought conditions have made the situation even worse. Most of the dalit, mahadalit, and EBC families as well as senior citizens, disabled, and children of destitute families are deprived of the right to food. The Bihar government has passed the Food Security Act, but even today a large section of needy families is deprived of this right. The list of beneficiaries of the Food Security Act is a bundle of irregularities. Moreover, the PDS system is so corrupt and lax that the poor do not get rations for even 6 months in a year. Food security is very important for a backward and poor State like Bihar and the guarantee of social justice is also very important. Therefore, the AIARLA delegation demanded from the Minister for Food and Supplies to act without delay on the following demands:

1. Issue food security coupons to all needy families under the Food Security Act. Remove rich families from the food security list. Make an all-party panchayat level committee to finalise the list of beneficiaries under the food security list. Fix the date for final publication of the list and prior to that put it in the public domain and ask for corrections.

2. The mega-alliance government should put a stop to the process of cash-for-food being inflicted on the people by the BJP.

3. End the dealer system of ration-kerosene distribution and start government co-operative shops on the basis of revenue villages as in Tamil Nadu.

4. Break the dealer-MO-SDO nexus responsible for loot and black marketing of rations. Make the distribution system transparent, computerized, and digital.

5. Display the ration-kerosene distribution report on the 15th of every month on boards at Block offices. Cancel licenses of erring dealers on the basis of complaints and register cases against them.

6. Make the work system of district SFCs and godowns corruption-free and transparent.

7. The right to food should be made more meaningful by distributing eggs, potatoes, onions, milk and dal along with rice, wheat and sugar under the PDS system, as per the recent directive of the Supreme Court in connection with drought-affected areas. Give the benefit of the already existing Antyodaya scheme to dalit-mahadalit and destitute families and further expand this scheme.

Protests Against Institutional Murder of Rohith Vemula Continue

Bangalore: A massive all organisation Protest was held at Bangalore on 19 January demanding justice for Rohith Vemula. The protestors demanded immediate Resignation of HRD Minister Smriti Irani, MoS Labour Bandaru Dattatreya and the Vice Chancellor of HCU, Revoking of expulsion of 4 Dalit Students and Judicial Inquiry into the casteist attack on dalit students by HCU administration and ABVP. The protestors shouted slogans against Brahmanism, against fascist attacks on University students and growing intolerance to the voices of dissent. AISA students from Bangalore University and various other colleges led by state president Com. Maruthi participated in the demonstration. On 26 January, AISA organized a convention on this issue. The convention was addressed by Com. Balan, state president of AICCTU, Raghupati from CPI(ML) and Rangaswamy, who is a lecturer.

Uttar Pradesh: CPI(ML) had called for state wide protests from 20 to 24 January. A protest march was taken out on 23 January in Lucknow from Parivartan Chowk to Hazratganj Chowraha. CPI(ML), CPI(M), CPI and some other organizations participated in the march. The meeting held near the Ambedkar statue was addressed by critic Virendra Yadav, IPTA General Secretary Rakesh, Jan Sanskriti Manch State President Kaushal Kishore, Janvadi Lekhak Sangh Secretary Nalin Ranjan Singh, CPI(ML) district in-charge Ramesh Singh Sengar, CPI’s Mohd Khalid, CPI(M) leader Prashant Singh, AIPWA State President Tahira Hasan, and AIDWA leader Rupa Singh. One day earlier on 22 January the protest of the students in the presence of PM Modi during the convocation ceremony at Ambedkar University, Lucknow, was an expression of the countrywide anger and outrage. Condemning the arrest of the students who protested against Modi, the speakers demanded the withdrawal of all cases registered against those students. The programme was conducted by Rajeev Kumar of the CPI(ML).

In Varanasi a march was taken out on 25 January from Ambedkar square culminating at the Collector’s office, in which hundreds of protesters participated. On the same day the CPI(ML) held dharnas in Kanpur at Ram Asre Park and in Ballia at the district Collector’s office. In Gorakhpur the CPI(ML) along with Jan Sanskriti Manch took out a march on 20 January. In Mau HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s effigy was burnt on 20 January. On 24 January protests were held in Suriyawan (Bhadohi), Robertsganj (Sonbhadra), and Lalganj, Madihan, Ahirora and Jamalpur blocks in Mirzapur.

Red Salute to Prof Randhir Singh

Eminent Marxist scholar and popular teacher of political theory Prof Randhir Singh passed away on the night of 31st January in Delhi. He was 95.

Prof Randhir Singh was a founder of the Left student movement in India, during India’s freedom struggle. He was a brilliant student even in his school and college days. He is best remembered for his unwavering lifelong commitment to popularising and communicating Marxist theory widely, in the most accessible language of the people. Till very recently, he would still travel to Punjab villages and small towns to give talks on political developments as well as on Marxist thought.

In spite of his formidable academic prowess, he was always had the unassuming air that is the hallmark of the activist. He was a close friend of many Left activists, and many in the CPI(ML), young and old, will have fond memories of their rich interactions with him.

Prof Randhir Singh inspired many generations to study Marxism and to study society using Marxist tools.

CPI(ML) extends its heartfelt condolences to his family members.

Red Salute to Comrade Randhir Singh !

ML Update | No. 05 | 2016

January 27, 2016

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.19 | No. 05 | 26 JAN- 1 FEB 2016

Reflections on Republic Day

Republic Day 2016 is no occasion for celebration but one for somber reflection. The suicide of Dalit scholar and scientist Rohith Vemula is a grim reminder of the fact that India continues to live the “life of contradictions” that Dr. Ambedkar warned about 67 years ago: contradictions between formal political equality, and entrenched inequality in our social and economic structures.

The President’s speech on the eve of Republic Day, however, failed even to attempt to reflect on these contradictions. The President chose to quote Dr Radhakrishnan’s words, that the “End-product of education should be a free creative man who can battle against historical circumstances and adversities of nature." These words ring hollow and hypocritical as we remember Rohith Vemula’s anguish at the fact that as a Dalit, he could never be “treated as a mind” and was never allowed to overcome “the fatal accident of (his) birth.”

Education in India is shackled by caste discrimination. Dalit students are still subjected to segregation and untouchability in schools. 23 of out 25 cases of suicides in higher education institutions since 2007 were of Dalits. Drop-out rates of Dalits and others who suffer social and economic deprivations are high, with discrimination masquerading as ‘meritocracy’, and beneficiaries of reservations being branded “less deserving.” As the courageous students who raised slogans against the Prime Minister at the BR Ambedkar University convocation at Lucknow observed, Ekalavyas continue to be oppressed by Dronacharyas even today. How can the President’s words announcing “generational change” and proclaiming that “Youth have taken centre stage” have any meaning as long as idealistic and committed youth like Rohith – and those demanding justice for Rohith today – are hounded by those in power?

While protesting students, Dalits, peasants, women and common citizens demanding social and economic justice as well as Constitutional rights and liberties are indeed the best expression of the spirit of the Republic, it is ironic that they are being branded ‘anti-national’ by those ruling at the Centre. The Padma awards this year chose to reward many of those who had condemned the writers, artists and citizens who had returned awards to protest against State-sponsored bigotry.

It is a matter of concern that the official observance of Republic Day reduces citizens to spectators at a parade of military hardware. But it is even more of a concern that for the past two years, the Modi regime has turned it into a foreign policy event.

This year, for the first time ever, India invited foreign troops to lead the Republic Day parade. The French Army’s 35th Infantry Regiment’s colonial legacy (in particular, the invasion of Algeria in 1830 which was followed by fierce anti-colonial resistance) and its more recent imperialist legacy of invading Afghanistan in 2001 were highlighted in the Indian and international media, along with its joint counter-terrorism exercises with Indian Army personnel earlier this month. India’s Republic Day is a tribute to India’s anti-colonial resistance; and this legacy is deeply tarnished by a decision to honour this colonial-imperialist legacy. The question to be asked is, if India would next invite British troops that subjugated and massacred Indian anti-colonial fighters, to lead the Republic Day parade?

Modi’s choice of Republic Day guests – US President Barack Obama last year, and French President Francois Hollande this year – as well as this unprecedented decision to invite French troops to lead the parade, are worrying indications of the level on which India has begun to flaunt her strategic identification with Western imperialist powers and especially with the most aggressive champions of the ‘war on terror.’

At the same time, the Modi Government is also aggressively pursuing the ‘Make in India’ model, suppressing wages, safety measures, labour laws, environmental protections and industrial democracy and selling out India’s land and precious resources to woo Indian and foreign corporations. The notorious Rafale Deal as well as the Jaitapur Nuclear project, being pursued by Modi and Hollande, are symbolic of this devastating model. The moribund French company Dassault is being given a fresh breath of life by India’s offer to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets at a hugely inflated price. The protests of the peasants and fisher-people of Jaitapur, and pressing concerns of safety, livelihood and environmental protection are being ignored in order to push the French company Areva’s reactor, which even French regulators have deemed to have serious design flaws.

The core values of India’s Republic are being eroded rapidly by the Modi Government as it intensifies the assault on freedom to dissent, the rights and dignity of Dalits, women and minorities, and surrenders the interests of India’s citizens at the altar of corporate greed. It is the people’s movements in the country that are battling brutal repression and injustice to reclaim the republic.

Mahendra Singh Martyrdom Day Observed All Over Jharkhand

Sankalp Sabha held in Bagodar, Call for ‘Ghera Dalo’ for Food Security & Ration Cards from 9 February

The 11th martyrdom anniversary of people’s hero Comrade Mahendra Singh was observed as ‘sankalp diwas’ (pledge day) all over Jharkhand on 16 January.

People thronged in huge numbers at the Jan Sankalp rally held at bus terminal ground in Bagodar in Giridih district of Jharkhand to remember their beloved leader who had led a fearless struggle against all oppressive forces and embraced martyrdom eleven years ago.

The rally was addressed by CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya. He said that today there is once again a situation similar to the 1975 Emergency days; the promise of ‘achhe din’ has changed to the reality of ‘bure din’ (bad days); stoking communal passions and working for the interests of corporate houses is being done in the name of ‘development’; minorities are facing increased intolerance and being victimised in the name of terrorism; adivasis are being discriminated against in the name of counter-insurgency; voices of dissent are being ruthlessly crushed. There is not a single deed accomplished by the Modi Government which can be said to be in favour of the poor. Com. Dipankar stressed the need for pledging to fulfill Mahendra Singh’s dreams, which is the only way the anti-people policies of the Central and State governments can be resisted and the agenda of the fascists can be given a befitting reply.

He also mentioned the recent incident of Birni block panchayat Chairperson’s election where a ruling party candidate was declared elected in spite of the fact that he did not enjoy majority support and expressed confidence in people’s struggles which will certainly give a befitting reply to the district administration’s blatant act of electoral malpractice.

The meeting was also addressed by former MLA Vinod Singh and Rajdhanwar MLA Rajkumar Yadav. Marxist Coordination Committee’s MLA from Nirsa Arup Chatterjee addressed the rally and remembered the legacy of martyred comrades Mahendra Singh and Arup Chatterjee.

Early in the morning, the life size statue of Mahendra Singh at his native village Khambra was garlanded by leaders, who then proceeded to Bagodar town to pay tributes at his statue at Kisan Bhawan.

People also pledged to intensify the movement for food security and BPL ration cards and to resist the ongoing land grab by the corporates, announcing a district-level sit-in (Dera Dalo Ghera Dalo) campaign on 9 February on the issue of food rations.

On the same day, a Sankalp Sabha was organized at Albert Ekka Chowk in Ranchi which began with party’s veteran leader Sukhdev Prasad and social activist Father Stan Swamy paying floral tributes to the martyr. The meeting was addressed by Comrades Shubhendu Sen, Bhuvaneshwar Kewat and many others. They said that successive state governments had ensured that even after 12 years the killers of Mahendra Singh have not been punished.

They also condemned the verdict of double life imprisonment against the 8 Pricol workers in Coimbatore and termed it as a step taken to strike terror in the hearts of the working class. They reiterated the resolve to fight against ‘Company Raj’ to save ‘jal, jangal, jameen’ (water, forest and land resources). Filmmaker Meghnath said that when the real heroes of the country fighting for the rights of the oppressed come on the political stage, those in the echelons of power tremble. That is the reason why the governments serving the corrupt corporates are afraid.

The CPI State Secretary KD Singh said that Mahendra Singh will always be remembered in the annals of Left movement as a brave fighter. CPIM State Secretary Gopi Kant Bakshi said that a united Left would carry forward Mahendra Singh’s fight.

A march was held in Ramgarh, in which protesters condemned the move to create land banks by snatching gair-mazarua land (commons lands) from the poor only to hand it over to the big corporates. Protesters also demanded land rights for the poor and condemned the ongoing process of exclusion of almost 80% poor from the ambit of the Food Security Act.

Hundreds of activists paid tributes to comrade Mahendra Singh in Hesalong village in Hazaribagh district while a talk was organised in Dhanbad on ‘Current Political Challenges and the Path Shown by Comrade Mahendra Singh’. Cadre conventions were organised in various blocks of Deoghar and Jamtara districts and thousands marched in Palmou, Garhwa, Latehar, Gumla and other places. Similar programmes were held in Koderma, Bokaro, Lohardaga and other districts.

‘Jabab Chai’ Rally at Shahid Minar in Kolkata

Against Mamata Misrule and CPIM’s Betrayal

Several processions of peasants, agricultural labourers, workers from jute, tea, construction and other non-formal sectors, students and youth, and others marched to join the ‘Jabab chai’ (Demand Answers) rally at Shahid Minar in Kolkata on 21 January. They came holding banners and placards from different corners of the state to the Maidan braving a chill in the wind. Women constituted a large segment of the rally.

The meeting began with rousing songs reflecting the rally’s mood, by cultural activists Halishahar Sanskritik Sangstha, Chalar Pathe from Bujbuj, Mira Chaturvedi from North Bengal, Raka and Sanjay, Biswarup Basak, Nitish Roy and Ashok Chakravarty. An adivasi team from Bankura also gave a dance performance.

Party General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, State Secretary Partha Ghosh, Politburo members Swadesh Bhattacharya, Kartick Pal, Arindam Sen, and Dhurjoti Bakshi as well as state committee members and mass organization leaders were on the dais.

In his opening address CCM Abhijit Mazumdar spoke briefly on the deplorable situation prevailing in Bengal under Mamata regime with special emphasis on the starvation deaths of tea workers. Partha Ghosh then spoke, exposing the ruling TMC’s deliberate plans for unleashing terror on any sort of democratic protests. Peasantry and the working population in Bengal are reeling under severe crisis pertaining to price hike, lack of access to food, deprivation from minimum wages, unemployment, poor people have already been fleeced of their petty reserves by the chit funds run and supported by the MPs and ministers of Mamata cabinet. He also vehemently criticized the Chief Minister for letting loose lumpens in all sectors and called it a ‘Syndicate Raj’. He also stressed the need to resist every attack on democratic rights and the need for a massive left and democratic resistance that would keep away from opportunistic coalitions with the corrupt Congress. He warned that TMC is only an off-shoot of the autocratic Congress and it would be suicidal for CPIM to join hands with them. Comrade Mina Pal spoke of the struggles of working women and working people in West Bengal, and the need to strengthen these. Kartick Pal took on the CPIM for committing shameful criminal deeds in Singur and Nandigram and asked CPIM leaders to accept the responsibility of their wrongdoing and apologise before the masses. That only can pave the way for a consolidated left counter-offensive in the forthcoming assembly election.

As the principal speaker of the rally, Comrade Dipankar said that in 2011 only the ‘signboard’ of the ruling party in Bengal had changed and the people of Bengal has been suffering the bane of misrule for the last 5 years. In 2014 there had been a change in the Central Government too with BJP coming to power with absolute majority. And an uncanny similarity is being seen in the function of both the governments, with tall promises amounting to nothing. All over the country people’s protests are taking on to the streets in large numbers. In Bengal similar protests are also visible. A concerted left resistance is needed now to overthrow the Mamata regime. He expressed his surprise over the CPIM view and insisted that the people of Bengal will never accept a CPIM-Congress unholy alliance that denies the historic legacy of left movements here. The need of the hour is to call for a struggling left unity on the bulwark of mutual faith and respect. The future of leftism depends much on the united struggle, not in opportunistic electioneering. The people of Bengal have already discarded the efforts of the communal-corporate BJP to expand their strength. BJP has no future in Bengal. Our immediate task is to reiterate the urgency and strengthen the unity of the toiling masses to fight out the enemies of the people.

The rally was presided over by State secretariat member Com. Basudeb Basu.

Countrywide Solidarity With Struggle for Justice for Rohith Vemula

(Some of the solidarity actions in which CPIML and its mass organizations have participated in, are summarized below)

After Rohith Vemula’s tragic suicide on 17 January, AISA and CPI(ML) have led as well as been part of several joint actions against the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula.

On the day after Rohith’s suicide, there was a massive joint protest at the MHRD office in Delhi. Students were brutally lathi charged where AISA DU activist Sudhanshu Shekhar was badly injured in the head and had to be taken to the hospital. Several others too, including AISA JNU President Shweta Raj, were injured. On 19 January, AISA-RYA called for a National Protest Day on the issue, and subsequently protests were held across the country where the MHRD letters to the administration of University of Hyderabad were released and the role of the MHRD nailed.

Besides Delhi, protests were also held in other parts of the country. AISA unit of the Madurai Kamaraj University held protests in their campus. In Patna, students, youth, cultural activists, Left-democratic activists and citizens took out a protest march which culminated in a meeting attended by CPI (ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar, State Secretary Com. Kunal, CPI (M) leader Com. Arun, as well as Prof. Nawal Kishore Choudhary. Protests and effigy burnings were also held in Jamui, Samastipur and Bhagalpur in Bihar.

On 21 January, responding to the call issued by the Joint Action Committee in Hyderabad, a protest march was held in JNU where the effigy of MHRD Minister Smriti Irani was burnt, and in DU, AISA was a part of a protest march called by Save DU in the Arts Faculty, North Campus. On 23 January students, youth, intellectuals and other progressive sections held a protest in Chandigarh demanding action against Union ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya. CPI (ML) and RYA activists actively participated in the protest.

On 24 January, AISA took the initiative to organise a public meeting in JNU. This meeting, which was addressed by ICSSR chairperson Prof. Sukhdeo Thorat, Prof. Satish Deshpande, journalist Dilip Mandal and others, was very well attended. The speakers and students also saluted the courage of students who had protested against Modi during the convocation ceremony in BBAU.

On 25 January, AIARLA, AIPWA and CPI(ML) held a protest march at Tuni in Andhra Pradesh and also gave the call for ‘Solidarity Day’ in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on 28 January. In Delhi, a massive public meeting was organised by AISA at the DU Arts Faculty on the same day which was addressed by several faculty members and intellectuals in Delhi including DUTA President Nandita Narain, Aditya Nigam, noted journalist Dilip Mandal, artist Shuddhabrata Sengupta, AISA national president Sucheta De, JNUSU VP Shehla Rashid, and the students who protested against Modi at the BBAU convocation ceremony. AISA Bihar unit gave a call for state-wide protests on 25 January. Responding to this call, Patna University observed a strike, and protests were held at Ara, Samastipur and in other parts of the state.

On Republic Day, the AISA-RYA unit of Villupuram, Tamil Nadu, demonstrated demanding the arrest of district authorities, Vice Chancellor and others related to suicide of three girl students in SVS college; they also demanded justice for Rohith. Comrades were arrested and later released in the afternoon.

AISA has been in close touch with the JAC in Hyderabad, and has promised all possible support for the students’ struggle there. Apart from the solidarity visit on 20-21 January by a team consisting of CPI (ML) Politburo member Kavita Krishnan and former JNUSU Gen. Sec. Chintu, along with JNUSU VP Shehla, AISA leaders- former JNUSU VP Anant and former JNUSU Joint Secretary Piyush Raj have also gone to Hyderabad to be part of the ‘HCU Chalo’ call on 25 January.

A Delhi chapter of the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice has been formed, and in solidarity with the ongoing protests in Hyderabad, a massive protest has been called on 27 January 2016.

AICCTU Observes PRICOL Workers’ Solidarity Day

On 18 January 2016, AICCTU organized demonstrations in many parts of Tamil Nadu demanding justice for the eight Pricol workers who are languishing in jail with double life sentence. State and District leaders of all central Trade unions including CITU, AITUC, HMS, LPF, INTUC, BMS, MLF, NTUI and other state level unions also took part in the ‘Free Pricol Eight’ campaign. Campaigners also voiced for the release for Maruti workers who have been condemned to prison without trial for months. Demonstration in Chennai was presided over by Com. Jawahar, state Honorary President AICCTU and inaugurated by Com. Balasundaram, state secretry of CPI(ML). Other speakers who addressed the demonstration were A S Kumar, State Deputy General secretary of AICCTU, A Marx , Human right activist, Geetha of Unorganised workers’ federation, Kumarasamy, National president of AICCTU. Activists of Democratic Advocates’ Association, AISA, RYA and AIPWA also took part.

Demonstration held in Coimbatore was presided over by Damodharan, state President of AICCTU. Leaders of CITU, LPF, HMS, INTUC, MLF and BMS also took part. Protest demonstrations were also held at Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli and Karur. In Salem AICCTU cadres met workers and distributed pamphlets and booklets during the campaign for seeking justice for pricol workers. Comrades in Tiruvellore organized a poster campaign demanding release of Pricol right. On 17 January massive signature campaign was organized at Vandalur. All central Trade union leaders criticized the unprecedented repression let loose on Pricol workers and expressed their solidarity to take up the struggle for their release.

AICCTU Dharna in Lucknow

AICCTU and its affiliated labour unions held a dharna in front of the Deputy Labour Commissioner’s office in Lucknow on 12 January to protest against anti-worker amendments to the Labour Law by the Modi regime and the growing corporate-fascist attacks against the working class. The speakers on this occasion said that the BJP led Modi government, in the interests of corporate houses, is bent upon making ineffective the labour laws won after hard struggles. A calculated move is on to break the spirit of workers by weakening workers’ unions and slapping false cases on workers and punishing them. The latest example of this is in the Pricol factory in Tamil Nadu where 8 workers have been sentenced to double life imprisonment because they participated in workers’ struggles. Condemning this action severely, the speakers demanded the release of these 8 workers. They also condemned the Central and State governments for failing to alleviate the socio-economic conditions of construction workers. The dharna was addressed by CPI(ML) leader Ramesh Singh Sengar, AICCTU district convener Surendra Prasad, Construction Workers’ Union President Naumilal among others. A 9-point charter of demands was submitted to the President through the Deputy Labour Commissioner.

Midday Meal Workers Protest

Before the elections the Bihar government had raised the honorarium of midday meal workers by 25% due to pressure from the district and state level series of agitations. As a result of these struggles, the midday meal workers should have got Rs. 1,250 instead of Rs 1,000 from August 2015 onwards. However, the ground reality is that in most schools honorarium for only three months has been paid in 2015. The government had also announced that in case of death of a midday meal worker, the family of the worker would receive a compensation grant of 4 lakhs; however, as they have no identity cards, on what basis can their families receive this grant?

With the above demands the Fatuha unit of the Bihar State Rasoiya Sangh staged a protest at the Fatuha block office on 8 January 2016 led by the association’s state President Saroj Choube and Joint Secretary Sona Devi. Fatuha unit Joint Secretary Shanti Devi, Treasurer Savitri Devi, Subhadra Devi, Kanchan Devi, and CPI(ML) Fatuha Secretary Shailendra Yadav addressed the protesters. The midday meal workers from Belchhi and Daniyawan also joined the protest.

The rally proceeded from Fatuha railway station, with women shouting slogans such as ‘Saadhe barah sau mein dum nahin, 1500 se kam nahin’ (Even Rs. 1250 is not enough, No less than 1500), ‘give government employee status to midday meal workers’, ‘pay honorarium arrears immediately’, ‘pay honorarium into midday meal workers’ accounts’, ‘issue ID cards to midday meal workers’, ‘issue 4 cotton saris as uniform’, and ‘give the benefit of insurance’. In spite of being informed, the BDO was missing from his office.

Addressing the meeting, the speakers said that the government extracted the votes of the midday meal worker by making a paltry increase of Rs. 250 in their honorarium, but now that they are coming to the government with their problems the concerned officers are fleeing away from their offices. The midday meal workers are not being paid the money they have earned and therefore, they must strengthen their organization and further sharpen their agitation.

CPI(ML) Protest at Garhani

On 19 January 2016, a protest was held at Garhani block for a 7 point charter of demands which included: (i) giving land entitlements to the landless poor who had settled on the land of an absentee landlord; (ii) entitlements for the poor who were settled on embankment of the pond in Morsiya Ahar;(iii) enquiry into the bhoodan land in Barap-Baligaon and redistribution of the land among the poor; (iv) to conduct the panchayat elections on party basis and revoking the pre-condition of toilets for the panchayat elections; (v) repairing defunct hand pumps in villages, besides other demands. A memorandum was submitted to the Garhani Zonal Officer following the protest.

Kashmiri Flood Victims Yet To Be Rehabilitated

Hundreds of Kashmiri families who were devastated by floods in the Valley are yet to be rehabilitated. Many of them are stationing in Delhi as refugees in very deprived and inhuman conditions. A camp was set up in Shashtri Nagar which is known as national Kashmiri Relief Camp where nearly 350 families are living in tents since last many months. They are still not able to go back to their homes and are surviving on meagre help being occasionaly provided by Delhi government and some independent organisations. A CPI(ML) team comprising of Comrades Prabhat Kumar, Prem Singh Gahlawat and Aslam visited this camp on 22 January and met the inhabitants. They were told by many teenaged and young boys and girls that they want to continue their studies after going back to their homes. Majority of the inhabitants are from Kulgaon district. The Team members also met the members of the Camp Committee and handed them over a sum of Rs. 10000 as contribution and assured them of every possible assistance in future whenever required.

ML Update -A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine – Vol. 19 | No. 04 | 19 – 25 JAN 2016

January 21, 2016

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 19 | No. 04 | 19 – 25 JAN 2016

A Dalit Scholar Killed By A Saffron Witch-hunt

The suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohit Vemula in University of Hyderabad (UoH) is nothing short of institutional murder. It is undeniable that the scientist, scholar and activist Rohit Vemula had been pushed to despair because of the manner in which the Central University had victimized Dalit student activists under pressure from the ABVP and Ministers of the Central Government.

The Ambedkar Students Association of the UoH had held a protest against ABVP’s disruption of a screening in Delhi University of a documentary film on Muzaffarnagar communal violence. Subsequently, Rohit Vemula and four other members of the ASA had been falsely charged with having attacked an ABVP leader. A Proctorial enquiry found neither medical evidence nor testimonies of security staff to back up the ABVP leader’s claim. Yet, the students were suspended following pressure from a BJP MLC Ramachandra Rao. However, the then Vice Chancellor revoked the suspension and promised a fresh enquiry.

However, the suspension continued and the fresh enquiry was never held – in large part because of the meddling by BJP’s Secunderabad MP and Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatraya. Not only that, an official order by the University subjected the 5 Dalit students to what amounted to a social boycott – they were barred from accessing hostels, library, and other common places, and from contesting students’ union elections.

It is on record that Dattatraya wrote to the HRD Minister accusing the ASA of ‘casteist, extremist and anti-national’ activities. This letter cited an ASA protest against the death penalty for Yakub Memon and falsely claimed that an ABVP leader had been attacked when he protested against this event. In response to this letter, the MHRD sent no less than four letters in a span of three months to the University, demanding that action be taken to curb ‘anti-national’ activities on the campus. It was in obedience to this witch-hunt that the University reversed a former Vice Chancellor’s decision to revoke the suspension of the five students including Rohit.

One of the key culprits responsible for Rohit’s death is the systematic misuse of power by the BJP Government at the Centre to harass activists and scholars. The sequence of events in UoH followed the same pattern that has already been seen in the IIT Madras – when the IIT Madras derecognized the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle in response to a letter from the HRD Ministry, which cited anonymous letters accusing the APSC of inciting hatred against the Modi Government. The same MHRD that sends insistent letters seeking action on organizations with dissenting ideologies, remains silent when the ABVP repeatedly indulges in violence and vandalism on campuses. When Central Ministers and the HRD Ministry act as an arm of the ABVP or the RSS and sends letters to Universities branding student activism as ‘anti-national’ and ‘anti-Government’, it is nothing short of a witch-hunt.

There are several other recent instances of similar witch-hunts on campuses. One is BHU’s termination of a teaching contract with Dr Sandeep Pandey following a complaint that his teaching was ‘against national interest’. Another is the ABVP protest and pressure from Minister of the BJP Government in Rajasthan that forced police in Udaipur to file an FIR against a professor who delivered a lecture at Mohanlal Sukhadia University in Udaipur.

Another culprit for Rohit’s death is the administration of the University of Hyderabad. The University, instead of going by its own investigation that had found the accusations against the ASA members to be false, chose to succumb to political pressure from the Central Government and ruling party. Moreover, the University imposed a blatantly casteist social boycott in addition to the suspension on the Dalit students. Rohit had, weeks before his suicide, written a letter to the Vice Chancellor saying that if the VC could not protect the rights of the Dalit students facing political victimization, it should just provide suicide ropes in every Dalit student’s room. Instead of acting with urgency on this bitter and desperate cry for help from Rohit Vemula, the Vice Chancellor chose to ignore it.

The third and final culprit is the institutional failure of our education and political systems to address the deep-seated hostility and injustice faced by students from Dalit and other deprived backgrounds. In 2013 a fact-finding report had documented 24 student suicides in various colleges in Hyderabad till 2013. The Andhra Pradesh High Court, acting on a PIL into which several college and University teachers of AP had impleaded themselves, had recommended several short- and long-term measures to counter the systemic hostility and caste discrimination faced by such students. But colleges and Universities in Andhra Pradesh largely ignored these recommendations.

Nor is the problem limited to Andhra Pradesh. In the last four years, it is estimated that 18 Dalit students committed suicide in the country’s higher education institutions. In 2007, the Thorat Committee had found evidence of open, blatant caste discrimination and violence against Dalit and adivasi students in AIIMS. Students who battle caste discrimination and arrive at the halls of higher education are humiliated, demoralized, declared academically ‘unfit’ – and the epidemic of suicides continues while the various corrective recommendations gather dust.

The saffronization drive of the BJP Government cannot be trivialized as merely a case of political appointments. It is an attack on reason, on academic and political freedom, on struggles for caste and gender equality on campuses, and on dissenting voices among students and teachers. This drive turns deadly when it compounds the systemic discrimination against Dalits in higher education.

Dabholkar, Kalburgi and Pansare were killed by the Sangh Parivar’s bullets, and Rohit Vemula was a victim of a saffron witch-hunt by the Sangh Parivar and the Modi Government. His death has exposed, once again, the deep-seated hatred of RSS, ABVP and BJP hold for Dr. Ambedkar and his struggle against the caste system.

All those responsible for Rohit’s death must be punished – and the Central Ministers Dattatraya and Irani who led the witch-hunt must not be spared, but must immediately be sacked.

Block Level Protests by CPI(ML) in Koderma

Over 1,000 rural poor under the leadership of block Scretary Com., Munna Yadav and comrades Rajkumar Paswan, Vijay Paswan, Ibrahim Ansari and others staged a forceful protest at the block office in Jaynagar block, Koderma district, Jharkhand on 22 December 2015. Their main demands were: (i) food security, (ii) ending of corruption in ration cards, (iii) immediate distribution of ration cards, BPL, old age pension for women, (iv) 200 days work under NREGA, (v) speedy implementation of occupancy of farmers’ lands, and other demands. The protest rally marched through various bazaars and reached the block office where a 10 point charter of demands was submitted to the BDO. Impressed by the forceful slogan chanting during the rally, many people came and stood with the protesters. A special feature of the protest was that every CPI (ML) candidate (winning as well as losing) who had stood in the recent panchayat elections was present with their complete people’s support base.

Similarly, on the anniversary of the Markachho firing, (on this date in 2003 three comrades were martyred in the police firing upon the CPI (ML) protest at the Markachho block office) a huge contingent of activists under the leadership of block Secretary Com. M. Chandra staged a dharna protest in front of the Markachho block office. Tributes were paid to the martyred comrades and a charter of demands was submitted to the BDO including the above mentioned demands including demands for making available regular rations under the Antyodaya scheme, 200 days work in a year, Rs 500 minimum wages, and other local demands.

AICCTU Dharna in Kanpur

As part of the state-wide protests against the growing number of incidents of flouting labour laws in Uttar Pradesh, AICCTU organized a one-day dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Labour Commissioner in Kanpur. Addressing the dharna, AICCTU State President Com. Hari Singh said that the State government has been unable to implement labour laws and the factory owners are openly flouting these laws. Illegal lay-offs are being carried out in LML since 2007 and 25% lay-off arrears have not been paid, causing a situation of starvation for the workers. It is the government’s responsibility to end illegal lay-offs and ensure employment for the workers. Tanneries are being closed in the name of pollution. It is the responsibility of the State government, in co-ordination with the Centre, to find a solution for pollution so that workers can continue to earn their livelihood.

Addressing the dharna, AICCTU city President Com. Umesh Tiwari said that nowhere in Kanpur are labour laws being followed. Neither are pay-slips being given, nor are workers made members of ESI. Moreover, they are not even being given gate passes, and if they ask for bonus, they are shown the door out.

Addressing the dharna, CPI (ML) leader Com. Vijay Kumar said that the Modi government is trying to change the labour laws to suit the interests of corporate houses. The 2nd September countrywide strike showed that not only workers but also students, youth, and farmers are gradually standing up against the governments at the Centre and the State. He appealed to the workers to build a pervasive unity in order to fight effectively against capitalist attack on the one hand and communal frenzy on the other.

Addressing the dharna, the AICCTU city Secretary appealed to all workers in Kanpur to form a grand unity and build up the organization. He pointed out and condemned the irregularities and corruption in the construction sector and demanded that registration of workers is done by going to the workers’ areas. The dharna was presided over by Com. Anant Ram Vajpayee and conducted by Com. MS Zaidi. Comrades Rana Pratap Singh, Netram, Ajay Singh, Manoj Singh, CPI (ML) media in-charge Com. Asit Kumar Singh, zilla mantri Ram Asre and others also addressed the dharna.

CPI (ML) Rally in Valsad to Demand Land for Displaced Adivasis

On 28 December 2015 a huge rally and meeting demanding allotment of land to displaced adivasis was organized under the leadership of CPI (ML) in Kaprada taluka of Valsad district in Gujarat State bordering Maharashtra. In 1980 work on construction of a dam (namely, Madhuban dam) was started in Kaprada-Dharmapur and Dadra-Haveli taluka of Valsad district under the Daman Ganga Reservoir scheme. Hundreds of adivasis were displaced for the construction of the dam without any alternative arrangements being made for them. 17 villages were submerged in the total submersion area, and apart from this, people from 10 other villages were thrown out of their villages. Till today they have not received any compensation. During these past 35 or more years of displacement hundreds of families from these villages have been struggling for employment and livelihood.

After the construction of the dam this reservoir has been the chief source of water supply to Valsad city, Vapi industrial area, Daman industrial area, Silvasa, GIDC, and Union Territory Dadra-Haveli. But the poor adivasis who were displaced for the construction are the ones who are bearing the brunt of the suffering even today. On the one hand the entire area gets its drinking water and irrigation facilities due to this reservoir; on the other hand, the area where the displaced adivasis are taking shelter is devoid of any civic amenities. Even the small amenities they have been given are limited only to amenities on paper. In many villages job cards have been made under MNREGA but the cards have not been issued to the workers. In village Astal, the administration claims to have made 400 job cards but investigation showed that no one has got any job card. Environmental problems have taken a serious turn in the vicinity of industrial areas; Vapi is counted among the most polluted cities of the country.

The BJP government in Gujarat has adopted a totally insensitive attitude towards all these issues. The poor people of Gujarat are the greatest sufferers from the so-called ‘development model’ of Gujarat and the adivasis have borne the severest brunt. The CPI (ML) is ceaselessly fighting against this attitude of the BJP. Focusing on these issues, the party organized a huge rally and meeting on 28 December to highlight the problems of the poor and adivasis. The protest meeting was led by party politbureau member Com. Prabhat Kumar, and addressed by Gujarat in-charge Com. Ranjan Ganguly and comrades Laxman Bhai Patanwadia, Amit Patanwadia, Kaprada taluka leader Kamlesh Gurab, Dhakal Bhai, Ganga Bhai, Sushila Ben, Jayanti Ben, and others.

In the memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister through the Collector, the party has demanded that the long overdue rehabilitation of the displaced should be completed soon, adequate compensation should also be given, arrangements should be made in every home for basic civic amenities such as toilets, drinking water, pucca access roads, lighting, etc. They have also demanded the job cards under MNREGA should be handed over to the workers, corruption and scams in MNREGA should be ended, and officers responsible for this should be punished. All workers should be given regular work as per MNREGA rules, and adivasis should be given land as per the Adivasi Forest Rights Act.

Left Parties Protest in Udaipur

Responding to the state-wide Left parties’ call for ‘halla bol’ protest, the local units of CPI (M), CPI and CPI (ML) held a ‘halla-bol’ dharna protest on 7 January 2016 in front of the Collectorate. The dharna was to protest against- (i) the anti-people policies of the Centre and the State, (ii) the use of people’s hard-earned money for the benefit of corporate interests, and (iii) the failure of the Modi government to honour its promises. AISA, AIPWA, Kachhi Basti Union and other organizations also participated in good numbers in the protest.

Addressing the huge gathering at the protest, district Secretary Com. Chandra Dev Ola said that the people had voted the BJP to power on the issue of development but instead it is protecting the interests of capitalists. The common man has become sorely troubled by rising prices and loot by the government and therefore everyone needs to unite and fight against this and teach the government a lesson. CPI (M) district Secretary Com. Mohanlal Khokhawat warned the government that until the people of kachhi bastis in Udaipur are not given pattas, they will continue the fight and will not rest till they succeed. He further said that it is the duty of the government to give pattas to common people who have been living on a land for a long period of time. Senior CPI (M) leader Rajesh Singhvi said that the fight for the rights of the people living in kachhi bastis ad other needy people in the district would be further strengthened. CPI-ML district Secretary Com. Lehar Singh Chhajed pointed out the autocratic ways of the Modi and Vasundhara governments and said that these two governments have deactivated all the schemes which had been made for direct benefit of the common people. This government is constantly working against the interests of the people and is making policies to benefit the selfish interests of capitalists.

The chief speaker at the dharna CPI (ML) State Secretary Com. Mahendra Choudhary condemned the Modi government’s treachery on the issue of black money and other populist promises. Exposing the ‘chaal, charitra, chehra’ (gait, character, and face) of the BJP, he said that after promising ‘achche din’, the BJP has actually played the politics of communal divide in the country. The protest meeting passed a resolution to fight against the government’s anti-people policies.

Young comrades at the dharna energized the protesters with songs like ‘Le mashaalein chal pade hain log mere gaon ke’ and ‘Gar ho sake to ab koi shamma jalaiye’. A delegation of Left parties met the administration and informed them about democratic demands such as pattas for people living in Udaipur’s kachhi bastis, licenses for thela drivers, and occupancy for dalits and adivasis on their lands. The Collectorate was gheraoed and a symbolic ‘road block was done. In the talks with the delegation the administration assured them that the work of giving pattas to the people of the kachhi bastis would be completed in the next 2 months. After consulting the people at the protest, the delegation informed the administration that if this assurance was not implemented within the next 2 months, a prolonged and forceful protest would be launched in the coming days.

CPI(ML) Dharna in Triveniganj

On 30 December 2015, CPI (ML) held a protest demonstration in the Triveniganj subdivision in Supaul district in Bihar. The protest focussed on 11 point charter of demands and was led by CPI (ML) leader, Com. Sita Ram Yadav. Addressing the protest meeting, district secretary Com. Jai Narayan Yadav said that the grand alliance government had given a free reign to the criminals. From block to the state level, corruption was rampant. The poor could are not being able to get any work done without having to pay bribes. CPI (ML) activists protesting against the rampant corruption are being framed in false cases and sent to jail. From entitlement in property matters to public distribution system, there is open illegal extortion that is taking place. Arbitrary amounts are being extorted from farmers in exchange of spurious seeds and fertilizers. Crimes like theft, robbery, murders, kidnapping are on the rise all around. After the protest demonstration, representativ9iies from CPI (ML) handed over a list of 15 point memorandum which included demands for- (i) ration cards for the poor, (ii) an end to the illegal extortion in the public distribution system, (iii) compensation to farmers who suffered losses due to the spurious seeds sold to them, (iv) implementation of Dr. Bandopadhyay commission recommendations, (v) provide occupancy to parcha holders of homestead or bhoodan land, (vi) appointment of a female doctor in the referral hospital, (vii) release of CPI (ML) MLA Com. Satyadev Ram along with comrades Amarjeet Kushwaha and Com. Manoj Manzil, who have been framed on false charges for having participated in struggles for defending land rights of the poor, (viii) an end to illegal extortion in child welfare department, along with several other demands.

Activists’ Convention in Gwalior

An activists’ convention was organized on 3 January 2016 in Gwalior to further teaching, training and agitation on issues of struggle and party organization and expansion. In addition to activists from Gwalior, farmers, trade union activists, youth and women activists from Bhind and Sheopuri also participated in the convention.

Addressing the convention chief speaker and party PB member Com. Prabhat Kumar said that under the incumbent BJP government in MP the people of the State continue to suffer from unemployment, price rise and corruption. There is no relief in sight for the people in spite of the same party being in power at the Centre. No section of society, be it farmers, youth, workers, or women appear to be getting any relief. The Vyapam scam has clearly shown that the echelons of power from the Chief Minister downwards, as well as the bureaucracy, are fully entrenched in the mire of corruption. On the other hand, there is a calculated conspiracy to render constitutional values and principles irrelevant. Com. Prabhat said that progressive, democratic, justice-loving and Left forces have registered protest against this not only in the State but also at the national level, and voices of dissent have been raised from every corner. In this phase the role of a revolutionary communist party like the CPI (ML) is very important. In order to strengthen our role, we must strengthen the party and our people’s organizations; to do so it is essential that we interact extensively with workers and farmers and all sections of society, make them aware of the current situation and the necessity to join the struggle. Through such efforts we can strengthen our party and people’s organizations in Madhya Pradesh and also strengthen people’s struggles.

Prior to the convention, programmes were held in the Gwalior region under the month-long ‘Save democracy-Save India’ campaign. On 26 October 2015 a campaign was run in minority populated areas Noorganj, Sewa Nagar and other areas against attempts to spread communalism and to maintain peace and harmony and defeat the evil designs of communal forces. In the same series, a ‘’silent juloos’ and human chain were organized on 29 October. On 6 December all Left parties jointly took out a march from Dal Bazaar and held a rally at Phulbagh gate. Between 26 December and 2 January nukkad sabhas were organized at Mama ka Bazaar, Abarpur, Sabji Mandi, Khajanchi Baba ki Dargah, Purashani, Chhoti Madaiyya, Kedarpur, Barauan (all small villages and mohallas near the city) as well as Dal bazaar. The nukkad sabhas placed before the people local issues such as electricity, water, sewers, access roads, etc. as well as state level and national issues.

The convention was also addressed by Central control commission member Com. Devendra Singh Chauhan, district Secretary Com. Vinod Rawat, Com. Anwar Ali, Com. Anita Bai, Dhirendra Bhadoriya, Munni Kushwaha, Naro Bai and others. At the start of the convention condolences were paid to departed senior communist leader A B Bardhan.

ML Update | No. 03 | 2016

January 12, 2016


MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 19 | No. 03 | 12 – 18 JAN 2016

Lapses in Pathankot Episode Must Be Probed

The Pathankot epidode has exposed the incoherence and irresponsibility of the Modi Government when it comes to questions of national security as well as the country’s foreign policy. The Government’s handling of the episode is symptomatic of the over-centralization and lack of responsibility and accountability that has become a hallmark of the Modi model of governance. The episode raises many questions that demand an answer – if any effective lessons are to be learnt by the country.

In spite of prior intelligence inputs, terrorists were able to breach the perimeter of India’s largest Air Force base, and the lives of seven Indian personnel were lost. It is glaringly apparent that the security of the Air Force base, and the borders, are severely compromised by the drug trade in the area, in which BSF and Punjab Police personnel seem complicit.

The role of the SP and his companions who were apparently abducted and then let off by the terrorists after their car was hijacked, is under a cloud of suspicion. But it remains that even after this incident was reported, and it was clear that unauthorized persons had access to an official vehicle, the Punjab Police failed to act with any sense of urgency.

What is highly questionable is that the entire Pathankot operation was headed by the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, Ajit Doval. To which Ministry is the NSA accountable and answerable? What executive powers does the NSA enjoy, and where are these defined?

With the National Security Advisor in command, the Army troops stationed at Pathankot were barely involved, and the Air Force Base was left in the hands of the Defence Security Corps (DSC, comprising retired military personnel), some Air Force Garud commandos, and the National Security Guard troopers (who are trained and equipped to respond to hostage crises or other specific and focused operations rather than to protect a vast Air Base).

What was unforgiveable was the fact that, based presumably on inputs from the NSA, the Home Minister chose to tweet prematurely announcing the success of the counter-terror operation. The very next morning, firing continued at the Air Base and more lives of Indian security personnel were lost. Shockingly, the Defence Minister chose to dismiss the loss of lives of five DSC men as ‘bad luck.’ The fact is that the DSC forces should have been evacuated from the area during the operation.

It is likely that the Pathankot attack was aimed at derailing the peace dialogue that has recently resumed between India and Pakistan. The Indian State tends to suspend dialogue in the wake of waves of jingoism that are whipped up after a terrorist attack – and this very fact provides an incentive for terrorist attacks. The Indian Government must not allow talks to be derailed under any circumstances. The Pakistan Government has set up a probe and made some arrests – the probe must be pursued to its logical conclusion, and those responsible for the attack punished.

It is a matter of concern that the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, instead of introspecting on the lapses in his handling of the Pathankot operation, has gone on to announce, in an interview to a newspaper, that peace talks between India and Pakistan will be suspended until India is satisfied with Pakistan’s investigation. How can the National Security Advisor feel emboldened to dabble in diplomacy and speak out of turn on sensitive matters of foreign policy?

The BJP and Narendra Modi have a track record of shrill jingoism, war-mongering and communalizing of the issue of terrorism, for political purposes. The Pathankot episode has exposed their hypocrisy, and has underlined the fact that those who indulge in communal rhetoric over terrorism and anti-Pakistan jingoism cannot protect the country’s interests.

A thorough probe must be ordered into all aspects of the Pathankot episode – identifying and holding accountable all those responsible for compromising security, and for avoidable losses of lives of security personnel.

Peace between India and Pakistan is the best antidote to terrorism, and peace talks must be a priority for the Indian Government, and must not be derailed under any circumstances.

AIPWA’s for Complete Implementation of Liquor Ban in Bihar

When Nitish Kumar first came to power in 2005 with the help of the BJP, his Government implemented the existing liquor policy, doubling the number of liquor licenses issued. As a result, liquor began to be sold in streets, colonies and even ration shops. The liquor shops began to mushroom even in the restricted areas surrounding schools, religious places and residential areas. While the closed sugar mills remain shut, land suited for agriculture was given away to liquor barons like Vijay Mallya to open liquor factories. AIPWA and several other women organisations started campaigns and movements demanding liquor ban. CPI (ML) along with several other left parties has been raising the demand of the complete liquor ban. The liquor is not only engulfing an entire generation of youth, it also aggravating domestic violence against women.

Ten years later, during the 2015 assembly elections, Nitish Kumar declared that if he came to power again he would implement a complete liquor ban. After being re-elected with a complete majority, he declared that a complete liquor ban would be effected from 1 April. However, after the liquor mafia started exerting pressure, the government began talking about a stage-wise ban, with a ban first being effected on illegal and local liquor and only later on foreign liquor.

AIPWA organised a state-wide demonstrations and marches from 28 to 29 December, raising slogans like- “Stop fooling people, implement complete liquor ban”, “stop the farce of stage wise liquor ban”, “we want employment, not liquor”, “stop harassing poor in villages in the name of liquor ban”. In several places, the marches were followed by meetings which were addressed AIPWA leaders.

State-wide Protests by AIARLA in Bihar

Against attacks on Dalits,

Demanding Release of CPI(ML) MLA Com. Satyadev Ram and other leaders

On 5 January 2016, AIARLA held protest demonstrations in front of several district and block headquarters across Bihar on the question of increasing attacks on the Dalits and the poor in the state, and also to demand the release of CPI (ML) MLA from Darauli, Com. Satyadev Ram and other leaders. Leading the protests in Dhanarua in Patna district, the General Secretary of AIARLA, Com. Dhirendra Jha addressed the protestors and said that it was clear from the Bihar election mandate that people of Bihar want justice. However, the Nitish government is trying to frame the leaders leading pro-people agitations on various false charges and putting them in jail. We will not tolerate the incarceration of leaders who are popular among the poor and have been known to raise their voice for them. Leaders like Com. Satyadev Ram, National President of RYA, Com. Amarjeet Kushwaha and the state Joint Secretary of RYA, Com. Manoj Manzil have been put in jail on false charges following their crucial role in the Land rights struggle of the poor and they must be released without any delay. He added that post elections, the attacks on the poor and Dalits have increased and the rate of crimes has also increased. Killings of Puttu Manjhi in Hilsa and the beating to death of Dalits in Atari are just few of such instances. The instances of rapes have also risen in Bihar.

AIARLA also demanded from the newly elected state government- (i) to immediately starts MNREGA in drought affected areas, (ii) add all poor in the list of beneficiaries, (iii) provide adequate and regular pension to the needy old, (iv) provide occupancy to the holders of land papers and handed a memorandum including this demands. Memorandums were also submitted in various district offices. The AIARLA leaders warned that if the government did not initiate immediate action towards this direction, then a gherao of MPs and MLAs will be launched in the entire state. They also added that a movement will be launched for the revocation of the condition according to which having a toilet at home was being made a pre-condition to contest in Panchayat elections. From 19-24 January 2016, a series of protests will be held by the poor for their demands at Panchayat offices throughout the state. AIARLA leaders also said that the protest was also against the life imprisonment of eight union leaders who had participated in the movement in the Pricol factory situated in Coimbatore. They expressed their solidarity with the struggling workers and pledged to continue the struggle.

More than ten thousands of rural poor and agricultural labourers participated in the protests held in 23 districts and the 10 blocks within Patna district itself.

CPI (ML) activists protest demanding arrest of notorious tea tycoon G.P. Goenka

The closure and non-functioning of tea gardens owned by notorious tea tycoon G.P. Goenka had claimed nearly 360 lives by the end of 2015. The 16 non-functioning tea gardens were once a source of livelihood for nearly 29,680 permanent workers who worked there and the over one lakh dependents who depended on these workers for their sustenance. Lakhs of people, either working in the tea gardens or dependent on the workers’ income have been left starving as they continue to remain deprived of wages, rations, and health care facilities. On 6 January 2015, hundreds of CPI (ML) activists led by Com. Abhijit Mazumdar protested in Siliguri demanding the arrest and confiscation of the properties of the notorious corporate tea tycoon G.P. Goenka. They also courted arrest after a brisk scuffle with a posse of state policemen at Siliguri court. The protesters also demanded promulgation of minimum wages, proper implementation of Food Security Act and entitlement of homestead land to the workers’ families etc. In 4 other North Bengal districts namely South Dinajpur, North Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar also National Highways were blocked for 1 hour from 11 a.m. through to 12 p.m. The activists were released later and they will continue the struggle till the demands are met.

Movement of Poor in Begusarai

On 21 December when administrative officials of Begusarai district went to Balia block along with the police force to ensure occupancy for the holders of land papers at Mor Alipur, Masudanpur and Shaahpur, the local goons attacked the poor, in which Bhattu Ram was injured. The holders of land papers also by way of organised resistance, forced the goons back and forced the officials to do the needful. The 5 tractors which were on the way to help the holders of land papers plough the land were also stopped on the way and were released after exerting pressure on the administration. The occupancy process was then started. However, despite that occupancy could not be ensured for 134 holders of land papers on 120 acre 68 dismil land. On the second day, when the administration started dilly dallying, the holders of land papers sat on an indefinite dharna in front of the block officials. The protestors were issued threats that cases would be filed against them, however they remained undeterred. CPI (ML)’s district secretary, com. Divakar Kumar, block secretary, Com. Noor Alam, and other local party leaders addressed the dharna and expressed solidarity with the agitators. The people spent the cold night at the site of the protest and when on the following day, the number of protestors increased, the block officials came under pressure and were forced to reach the protest site to talk to the protestors. During the talks, it was demanded that the goons who had obstructed the process of occupancy and beaten up the mahadalits, cases be filed against them and that they be arrested. They also demanded that as per the orders issued in favour of the holders of land papers by the DM court, occupancy be provided to the 134 holders of land papers on 120 acre, 68 dismil land, tractors be provided for ploughing and also that special police force be called to ensure that agricultural activities can be started on the land. The officials assured concrete steps towards this direction. After the talk, Com. Diwakar, AIARLA district president, Com. Rambalak Sahni and party leader Noor Alam ended the dharna. This agitation has had a positive impact on the agricultural labourers and the poor and increased their confidence in the struggles being fought by the party.

On 23 December, a dharna was also held in Manjhaul under the CPI (ML) banner. This dharna was to demand receipt of the occupancy land for the holders of land papers, 3 dismil land for their homes and for the release of jailed leaders, Com. Satyadev Ram, Com. Amarjeet Kushwaha and Com. Manoj Manzil.

Students Protest against AVAP Event on ‘Ramjanambhoomi’ in Delhi University

AISA along with other student organizations staged a massive protest on the first day of a ‘seminar’ organised by Arundhati Vashishtha Anusandhan Peeth (AVAP) on the issue of ‘Ramjanmbhoomi’. Around 700 students from different organizations joined together in front of the Arts Faculty which was heavily policed and was almost turned to a police cantonment with armed forces covering the way to the seminar hall. The policemen even used force to keep the students intact inside the barricades. It was shameful that barricading and deployment of the armed forces were done not to protect the defenders of secularism and the University’s autonomy but rather to protect the hate mongers sitting inside the conference hall seeking to divide the country and provoke violence in the name of ‘Ram Mandir’.

AISA condemned the manner in which DU gave permission for this communally provocative ‘seminar,’ while on many occasions it has refused permission for seminars or discussions organised by student groups. This is an instance of state power being used to impose communal ideas on academic spaces. A large number of students and teachers had demanded the cancellation of the event, pointing out that a University should not play host to communal politics, and also pointing out that the event was not a ‘seminar’ in any academic sense.

Sucheta De, National President of AISA said, "this is not only the case with DU but rather we can see a systematic pattern in which the government is destroying the academic institutions. It was couple of months back when we saw that Yogi Adityanath was invited to Allahabad University and then we saw JNU giving invitation to Baba Ramdev for a conference. One may wonder what these non academic people have to do with the academic talks".

"Now with the assembly elections due in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal in the coming year, we can sense a clear conspiracy of polarizing the students on communal lines and this is how they have done it in the past. We will, with all our might, resist any attempt by the Sangh Parivar to saffronize educational institutions and communalise the students."

Obituary

Com. Kaali Prasad

Com. Kaali Prasad, who was better known among people as KP Bhai, took his last breath on 5pm at his home in Pratapgarh. Com. K.P. Bhai, was born on 4 July 1951 in Pratapgarh. He completed his schooling there and then went to Allahabad for his higher education. The radical left wing student organization, PSO, used to organize regular study circles. It is through them that he came to understand Left ideas. After completing his education, in 1976, K. P. Bhai started his job in A.G. office and continuing his political activism, was elected to the workers’ union there. He played a crucial role in the forming of unions in several other areas and departments of the city and formed a coordination of workers of U.P. education board, Indian telephone industry, ITI, Cotton mill, Triveni Sheets and others. He was suspended in 1996 for his role in the workers’ struggles but he remained undeterred. He also remained in leadership positions of AICCTU after its formation. He used to implement the party policies and remained active with tremendous enthusiasm. Outside the party also he was respected as a left ideologue and a very powerful speaker among various organisations working among the oppressed sections. He retired from his services in 2011 and after that Pratapgarh became the centre of his party activities. Throughout his life he followed left principles and remained active in the struggles of the workers, peasants and oppressed sections. He played a crucial role in the organising Shaheed Mela in Shivgarh Turi and Pratapgarh.

Red Salute to Com. Kaali Prasad.

Com. Khursheed Ahmad

Com. Khursheed Ahmad, a resident of Sherghaati in Gaya district, passed away on 24 December 2015. He was 50. He was suffering from cancer. He completed his MA in History from Magadh University. In 1991-92, he got associated with the Indian People’s Front (IPF) and began to participate in the various democratic struggles being fought for the problems affecting his area and Gaya. After the IPF, he became directly associated with CPI (ML) and also worked in the Inquilabi Muslim Conference front. Throughout his life, he continued to be a party member.

On 3 January 2016, CPI (ML) and Jan Sanskriti Manch, organised a programme in the memory of Com. Khursheed Ahmad in which several social and political activists, leaders and intellectuals of Gaya city participated. They shared their insights into the works of Com. Khursheed. Leaders of Inquilabi Muslim Conference, Com. Wasi Ahmad, Dr. Hamid, District president of JSM, Com. Ahmad Sageer and several others shared their memories of working with Com. Khursheed. A pledge meeting was also organised in his memory.

Red Salute to Com. Khursheed Ahmad !

ML Update | No. 02 | 2016

January 5, 2016

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 19 | No. 02 | 4 – 11 JAN 2016

Free the PRICOL Eight !

Fight the Double Life Imprisonment for Eight Trade Union Activists !

Pricol 8 Solidarity Campaign

Eight leading activists of Kovai Maavatta Pricol Thozhilalargal Otrumai Sangam (Comrades Gunabalan, Manivannan, Rajendran, Ramamurthy, Sampathkumar, Saravanakumar, Sivakumar, and Velmurugan) have recently been sentenced to double life imprisonment by a Coimbatore trial court in connection with the unfortunate death of an HR executive of Pricol in September 2009. The Pricol Management had in fact charged as many as 27 workers and leaders, including women workers and AICCTU President Com. S Kumarasami with murder and conspiracy, but the rest were acquitted by the court. This is by far the harshest instance of an anti-worker anti-union judgement in recent times where workers and leaders have been framed and convicted without any evidence. The Pricol conviction can be compared to the TADA sentence given in Bihar in 2003 to Comrade Shah Chand and thirteen other activists of the rural poor movement and to the host of recent attacks on trade union rights in Gurgaon, Noida, Mumbai, Pune and other industrial centres. The Pricol workers’ movement led by AICCTU has however successfully resisted every offensive of the management and the state and gone from strength to strength uniting the broad masses of factory workers and securing considerable pay increase in successive wage agreements. The present judgement is aimed at crushing the morale of the workers, but the workers are valiantly fighting back against this repressive onslaught.

This issue of ML Update is dedicated to the Pricol 8 Solidarity Campaign that will spread campaign for acquittal of the brave Pricol 8 comrades and take the message among workers in every trade union and all working class localities from 1 January – 15 February 2016. We appeal to all to collect funds to support the Pricol struggle.

Solidarity messages can be sent to Pricol workers through email at pricolworkers or by post to the KOVAI MAAVATTA PRICOL THOZHILALARGAL OTRUMAI SANGAM, 126, ESWARAN KOIL VEEDHI, OPP PRICOL CO-OP STORES, SRKV POST, PERIANAICKEN PALAYAM, COIMBATORE – 641020. Funds can be sent to the CPI(ML) Central Office or AICCTU Central Office.

Eight leading activists of the Kovai Maavatta Pricol Thozhilalargal Otrumai Sangam – Comrades Gunabalan, Manivannan, Rajendran, Ramamurthy, Sampath, Saravanakumar, Sivakumar and Velmurugan – have been sentenced to ‘double life imprisonment’ in a shocking verdict of the Coimbatore Sessions Court.

‘The very severity of the verdict – in a case lacking in any evidence of wrong-doing, let alone murder – suggests that the verdict is not just an ordinary judgement against some accused workers. Rather, it serves as an assault on India’s working class movement – in effect, it is like a warning to trade unions and workers all over the country to comply with the current political-economic attack on labour laws and unions – or else be criminalised.’

This is a conviction scripted to favour corporates in a class war – just as much as the acquittals of the Bathani Tola and Laxmanpur Bathe perpetrators were scripted to drive home the point that the blood of the poor and the Dalits does not count, and crimes of the feudal, or the wealthy and powerful, do not count as crimes.

A TADA Court, in a verdict of 2003 had sentenced 14 peasant activists of Jehanabad who had struggled to defend their water-chestnut pond from feudal forces, and had killed no one, to life terms for ‘terrorism’ under the lapsed TADA law. In 2015, the Coimbatore Sessions Court (situated in the ‘Bomb Blast Court’ attached to the Coimbatore jail) has indeed sought to teach India’s workers that trade unions activism will be treated on par with organized crime or terrorism – and punished with draconian sentences.

In the very dawn of the working class movement in 1886, the Haymarket Eight of Chicago – agitating for an 8-hour working day – were convicted of ‘conspiracy’ and murder and received draconian sentences. 130 years later, working class activists are again framed and convicted for conspiracy and murder, their guilt decided even before the trial began.

The tragic death of a PRICOL HR vice-president, Roy J George, on 21 September 2009, has been the pretext to accuse the Union leaders of conspiracy and brand the whole working class movement as terrorists and killers.

In March 2016, the Kovai Maavatta Pricol Thozhilalargal Otrumai Sangam (Coimbatore District Pricol Workers’ Unity Union) affiliated to AICCTU will complete ten years of its struggle – a struggle to seek the right of workers to form unions, and to make a corporation abide by labour laws. The Union had succeeded in the face of all odds in forcing the management to recognize the Union and negotiate with it.

Even after the death of Mr George and the subsequent witch-hunt and crackdown, the Pricol struggle is remarkable in that, unlike at Maruti, the Union could not be wiped out. Instead, they have won successful agreements in subsequent years as well, and the Union has grown stronger. The struggle of Pricol workers inspired their counterparts to form unions in Sriperumbudur (called the ‘Detroit of Tamilnadu’ by TN’s rulers). Hyundai workers first dared to tread in the path of Pricol workers – inspiring a sort of contagious formation of trade unions in many factories in Sriperumbudur! Pricol workers broke the lull in the working class movement of Tamilnadu.

It is the Union’s very success that has marked it out for special punishment – the example of Pricol workers had inspired other workers in Tamil Nadu’s and India’s automobile sector to unionise and struggle, and the corporates hope that the verdict will now serve to demoralize workers and establish Pricol as a warning rather than an inspiration.

This verdict will have far-reaching implications for the working class movement – and first and foremost for the Maruti workers, who are waiting for the verdict in a similar case, in which a large number of workers have been falsely implicated in the death of an HR Manager.

The Pricol workers, in an act of remarkable courage and solidarity, remembered the woes of others in their own time of great trouble. They need to support the families of the convicted and jailed colleagues and comrades – but first, they spared a thought for others. On their first salary day after the verdict, they collected Rs 5 lakh for the flood-affected of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. The Pricol workers have also earlier collected funds to help the families of jailed workers in the Maruti’s Manesar factory.

Now, it is the Pricol workers who need our solidarity and support – the solidarity of the working class and democratic movements all over the world.

The Verdict

In all, 25 workers, Union activists and leaders were accused of a conspiracy to murder Roy George inside the HR chamber, as revenge for the decision to dismiss several workers. Of these, four including AICCTU National President S Kumarasami were accused of having hatched the conspiracy and instigated the workers, while 9, including AICCTU leader M Guruswamy, were accused of having physically beaten George to death with iron rods. It turned out that Guruswamy was not even an employee of Pricol Plant -1 at the time of the incident, and so it was absurd to suggest that he could make it past the company’s security into the HR vice-president’s chamber to commit murder. It also turned out that his name was inserted in the FIR and complaint. He was therefore acquitted. But the verdict did not ask- if Comrade Guruswamy was so obviously wrongly and brazenly implicated, then should the whole case against the other workers also not be questioned?

The verdict acquitted all except 8 – including those Union leaders who supposedly conspired to murder and instigated the murder. When the judgment found that the prosecution failed to prove criminal conspiracy, then is it not natural that all the charges based on conspiracy should also fail?

Running unions is not a conspiratorial activity – its success depends on political judgement and leadership, not on murderous plots!

What was the actual evidence against the eight convicted workers? The verdict tells us that the murder was committed with eight iron rods – so, it is implied, at least eight men needed to be convicted for it! What evidence there is to link these particular eight men with those eight rods is a matter of minor detail – of no consequence as far as this judgement is concerned! So, we find that no bloodstains of Mr George were shown on the rods; no finger prints linked the rods (allegedly the murder weapons) with the convicted men. Further, the prosecution claims there were eight wounds on Mr George’s body (corresponding to eight rods), while the doctor who admitted Mr George said there was one wound, while the post mortem report said there were three wounds. There is simply no evidence to establish either the number of rods, or the rods as the murder weapons or the eight workers as the ‘killers.’

Moreover, the prosecution case was full of obvious, glaring falsehoods, disproved by their own witnesses or other indisputable facts. For instance, the prosecution, in a written counter to a discharge petition filed by some of the accused, had stated that a CCTV recording not only showed the time and place of the occurrence, but also revealed the identity of some of the accused persons who were not named in the FIR and the overt acts of some of the accused.

When the said CCTV footage was actually produced in court, it showed nothing of the kind. To explain away this simple contradiction in the prosecution’s own claims about its own evidence, the judgement chose to rely on a claim by the IO who stated that the CCTV did not function on 21st September. Surely the judgement should have asked, if the IO knew that the CCTV did not function, how come the prosecution claimed the opposite so positively, in writing, earlier? The IO, questioned on the stand, also could not say who exactly told him the CCTV did not function on the said day. The obvious conclusion should have been that the CCTV footage was probably suppressed by the prosecution because it contained something that might have contradicted their case and embarrassed the Pricol management. But the judgement did not draw this inference.

The incident was said to have taken place in the HR vice-president’s chamber at 11.40 AM. The IO, however, said he was present outside the chamber between 11.41 am to 11.46 am on the same day, and that no one – neither from the Pricol HR department or the armed reserve police (which had been deployed in Pricol for more than a year) told him about any untoward incident or even about any ambulance being needed to take injured persons to the hospital. This was a key prosecution witness, categorically stating he was present just outside the place of the alleged murder – and yet he saw or heard nothing untoward! He saw no killers fleeing, no unusual activity! Yet, the prosecution did not declare him a hostile witness. Further, there is no evidence that anyone – of the more than 1,000 workers, hundreds of officers, directors or the injured or eye witnesses – made a phone call to the police or summoned the police station that is a mere ten minutes away.

The judgement, for the purpose of explaining the false claims about CCTV footage, held the IO’s statement to be reliable rather than the written evidence of the prosecution’s own previous claims. The judgement, who relied on the IO’s statement when it suited the prosecution case, chose not to do so when the IO’s statement was inconvenient and contradictory to the prosecution case. The judgement merely observed that it was “unfortunate” that the investigating officer’s evidence was contrary to the prosecution case!

If the IO was present right on the spot, why the delay of several hours in lodging of an FIR (it was lodged at 6.30 pm)? Why the delay in submitting the FIR to the magistrate (it was submitted the next day – an inexplicable and suspicious delay since such delay is commonly associated with false cases).

To explain the delay, the prosecution claims that the injured were admitted to hospital in a staggered way (the deceased who was battling for life was admitted at 1.22 pm and others were admitted at 2.30, 3.00 and around 3.30 pm). But the nurse who accompanied the injured to the hospital has stated that she got them admitted in the hospital and remained there for 15 minutes and returned to the factory in the same ambulance. The ambulance register states that the ambulance left the factory to the hospital at 11.50 am with the injured and returned at 1 pm. This totally contradicts the prosecution’s attempts to explain the delay.

When a Salman Khan who crushed pavement dwellers to death or perpetrators of Dalit massacres are acquitted, then even the most unshakeable eyewitness evidence is deemed ‘not enough’ to convict, and there is zero pressure to hold ‘someone’ guilty. But in a case where workers and union activists are implicated, what does it matter that the death is not proved to be a murder; neither murder weapons nor killers are proved; and most of the prosecution’s claims are contradicted by their own key evidence and witnesses?

A Short History of the Long Struggle of PRICOL Workers

Pricol Limited is an automobile component manufacturer with units in Coimbatore, Pune, Gurgaon and Uttarakhand. It has overseas units in Indonesia and Brazil. Pricol group engages in real estate, construction, travel and hospitality sector.

In the Coimbatore units, the overwhelming majority of the workers formed two unions associated with AICCTU in early 2007. The management refused to recognize the unions and negotiate with them. Rather it branded the unions as Maoist and threatened to leave Coimbatore if the workers do not leave the new unions.

Workers went ahead with their struggles. In addition to foisting false cases by the police, the company punished the workers with punitive transfers to Uttarakhand, denial of wage increase, stoppage of increments and incentive, demotion, partial lock out, break in service and dismissals. The company rubbed salt in the wounds by stating that everything will be given back and solved if the workers leave the struggling unions. The workers fought the state-management-police nexus in the streets and courts. Continuous and consistent struggles and a combination of various forms of struggles were carried out. The state government was forced to intervene many times under Section 10(1), 10 (3) and 10 B of Industrial Disputes Act. The workers succeeded to a large extent before the High Court and Supreme Court. Almost all the criminal cases other than the murder conspiracy case have been dismissed.

During the course of the struggle, the unions were democratised and the workers were politicised. Pricol worker vanguards organised a district committee of Communist Party of India (Marxist – Leninist) in Coimbatore. These workers have extended one hand to the rural and unorganised workers and another hand to democratic struggles. Even during the period of conditional bail, the workers chose to live among rural poor in villages of Kandarvakottai in Pudukkottai district. In this long period of nearly a decade they have participated in more than hundred protests and solidarity campaigns.

Whether it is relief and rehabilitation for Bihar floods, Nepal earthquake or solidarity with the Maruti workers, Pricol workers played an exceptional role. Even in the face of December 3 2015 double life imprisonment for 8 of their coworkers, they mobilised Rs. 5 lakh to help rain and flood affected people of Tamilnadu on December 8 2015.

They worked and contributed for the 8th and 9th Congress of CPI(ML) and they organized the 9th State Conference of Tamilnadu CPI(ML) in Coimbatore. According to the police and the management, the women workers of Pricol led a 17-hours road blockade and they were in the forefront in breaking the siege by the police or in blockading the factory on a particular occasion. On 10.10.10, they organized a family festival with working class content with the participation of thousands of workers and their family members. This festival was a celebration of struggle, sacrifice and social transformation.

Pricol workers reached out to the people of the surrounding areas and they intervened electorally in the local body, assembly and parliament elections. Pricol workers led two Tamilnadu level ‘long marches’ and were instrumental in bringing to the fore of the working class movement the issues of Rs.20,000 wages per month as minimum wages, housing rights, legislation for recognition of majority unions and to protect the interests of apprentices (LA Bill 47/2008) and for its early notification by the central government. They were in the forefront in organizing All India TU strikes.

In 2011 they won recognition for their union, smashed the siege laid on them and signed two wage agreements with the management in 2012 and 2014. The first agreement in 2012 was for a period of two and a half years and the second one was for a period of four years. Most of the benefits in the 2014 agreement were to take effect from the first year itself. A worker with 25 years of service in Grade 5 was drawing a gross salary of Rs.8,593 in 2007 (pre-recognition). In 2015 (post-recognition) any such worker in Grade 5 with 25 years of service is drawing Rs.24,427. In 2007 (pre-recognition) a worker with 25 years of service was getting terminal benefits amounting to Rs.1.25 lakhs and now the same amounts to Rs.3.55 lakhs in 2015 (post-recognition). In the past decades production and productivity increases were arbitrarily and unilaterally imposed by the management on the workers. But now in the last two agreements production and productivity increase are decided by collective bargaining.

The higher the wages, the lower will be the profits; the lower the wages, the higher will be the profits. This is the crux of global class struggle between wage labour and capital. This found its intensified reflection in Pricol struggle.

In these days of reduction of work force, they were successful in getting more than 230 workers confirmed and in prevailing upon the management to settle the cases of more than 500 workers whom the management claimed were complete strangers.

It will be pertinent to remember the events before the tragic death of Mr. Roy George on September 22, 2009 (which was the basis for the Pricol murder conspiracy case). The Pricol management has been notorious for its record of rampant violation of labour laws, court verdicts and government orders. Far from recognizing the union supported by the overwhelming majority of workers, it had constantly victimized workers for siding with a ‘Marxist-Leninist union’, hoping to break the union through coercion and intimidation. In the name of facing the recession, it had resorted to harsh wage-cuts, robbing every worker of tens of thousands of rupees.

An indefinite fast by Pricol workers which lasted up to its 15th day found its echo in the Tamilnadu assembly on 29.6.2009. The labor minister while replying to the calling attention motion of various opposition parties, listed the various unfair labor practices of Pricol management and assured the house that the government will not let down the workers. Then on the same date the government issued two GOs under sections 10(1) and 10B of the ID act 1947. Instead of complying with the government order, the management exercised its legal right to challenge the same in the high court. Comrade S Kumarasami was to appear for the workers in that case scheduled to reach around 29.09.2009. It was in this background that the murder conspiracy case was foisted against comrade S Kumarasami and 26 others.

Now from March 5 2016, Pricol workers have decided to hold a year-long commemoration of the beginning of the 10th year of their struggle.

The management is also getting busy with its second round of onslaught against the workers by beginning with the deprivation of bonus for Deepawali 2015. This year they have unilaterally declared only 8.33% as bonus when 35.34% was paid as bonus for the years 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Incidentally this denial of bonus costing the workers a few crores of rupees has come at a time when the trial in the murder conspiracy case was nearing its conclusion.

Pricol workers are now busy in organizing contract workers and sanitation workers in Coimbatore. Now eight of their vanguards are in Coimbatore jail, which housed the Chinniyampalayam worker martyrs who were hanged and which housed VO Chidambaram, the anti-colonial hero. Pricol workers are taking all steps for the release of their eight comrades – hailed as heroes of the struggle and victims of a witch-hunt – at the earliest.

Denial of Industrial Democracy

A year before the death of Mr George at Pricol in Coimbatore, a similar incident had happened in Greater Noida in which the local head of Italian firm Graziano Transmissioni was allegedly beaten to death by a group of sacked employees. It was reported that the Graziano incident was sparked off when goons hired by the management beat up workers who had been summoned on the pretext of talks. A similar incident had also been reported from Gorakhpur. At the Maruti plant in Manesar, too, a similar incident had taken place. At Gurgaon, the killing of a worker by management ‘bouncers’ during an agitation against sacking of employees who were leading the struggle to unionise, had sparked off a massive strike. A few incidents involving mill managers have also been witnessed occasionally in the jute mills in West Bengal notorious for huge PF defaults and most anarchic and arbitrary labour practices by the mill owners.

Yet instead of recognising the common thread that runs through such cases – absence of industrial democracy, rampant violations of labour laws and complete denial of the right to unionise, miserable working and living conditions of workers, and recurrent violence and victimization by management against vocal workers – a section of media tends to join the corporate chorus of defaming the organized trade union movement and calling for labour reforms to give still greater freedom to capital to dictate terms to labour.

Show Solidarity With Pricol Workers

A meeting of all central trade unions in Tamilnadu was held on December 10. The joint press statement by HMS, LPF, AITUC, CITU, AIUTUC, WPTDC, INTUC, BMS and AICCTU termed the sentence as reflecting the antagonism of the capitalist forces toward the working class and it called for the working class of Tamilnadu and India to rise up in solidarity with the jailed Pricol workers.

AICCTU has also sent an appeal to international trade unions and sought their support for the fight of the Pricol workers in getting their coworkers released. There will be a two-month long countrywide solidarity campaign from January 1 to February 15, with mass campaigns amongst workers and Unions to seek support and spread awareness.

Free The Pricol Eight !

Free The Vanguards of India’s Working Class Movement !

ML Update | No. 01 | 2016

December 31, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 19, No. 01, 29 DEC 2015 ­– 04 JAN 2016

Agenda 2016:

Defend Democracy, Resist the Fascist Offensive

If there is one message that resonated across India all through 2015, a resonance that can only grow in the coming days as the Indian people battle their way against the continuing assault of the Modi government, it is the resolve to save democracy and save India. Only nineteen months ago Modi had flown from Ahmedabad to Delhi in that private aircraft of Adani after winning an unprecedented majority for his party in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. According to the mythology propagated by Modi and his bhakts, these nineteen months were supposed to have heralded the much promised ‘achchhe din’, but instead of the much awaited ‘good times’ what India got has rekindled the memories of the nineteen months of the infamous Indira era Emergency.

As during the Emergency, personality cult and sycophancy once again reign supreme. ‘Modi-fication’ is the keyword in every sphere of governance. Newspapers and television channels are full of propaganda about the leader who very much believes that the post-Independence history of this vast and diverse country was actually barren till he leapt out of the pages of mythology with his grand ‘rescue mission’ and ‘digital vision’! And while there is no explicit media censorship today, there is veritable voluntary censorship, with large sections of the mainstream corporate media systematically reducing news to advertisement and eulogy of the ruling establishment, giving a complete go-by to the critical role of investigative and interrogative journalism in speaking truth to power and subjecting the state and the ruling dispensation to a degree of public accountability.

There are of course a couple of crucial added dimensions to the ongoing ‘elected’ tyranny of the Modi rule compared to the ‘constitutional’ Emergency of the mid-1970s. Under Modi, India has now become a key ally of the US-led world order on both domestic and foreign policy fronts, subjecting India to an unprecedented level of predatory corporate plunder and strategic imperialist intervention and yoking India firmly to the vagaries and horrors of the Western war of neo-colonial occupation and domination camouflaged as a ‘war on terror’. And then there is the vicious RSS agenda of subverting the ideas and institutions of modern India to subject the country to its vision of Hindutva majoritarianism, which the RSS and its innumerable affiliates and allies are now brazenly enforcing with total impunity and complete complicity of the Modi government.

2015 has however made it abundantly clear that the people of India are not amused and are determined to resist the calamitous Modi misrule with all their might. No government in recent memory became so hugely unpopular in such a short period of time. Peasants have already forced the government to withdraw the land acquisition ordinance, workers have gone on a massive countrywide strike against the proposed anti-worker labour law amendments, students are uniting against cutbacks in scholarships and the WTO-dictated commercialisation of higher education, and in an unprecedented show of collective assertion, prominent writers, scientists, film-makers, historians and other intellectuals, have indicted the government for promoting a climate of intolerance, bigotry and fear in the country. And the protests and resistance of the people have begun to find emphatic expressions in the electoral arena as well, delivering blow after blow to the BJP’s ambitious expansion plans. From Delhi to Bihar and UP to Gujarat, this has been the real big story of 2015.

We thus have a challenging stage set for 2016 to confront the Modi government with more determined opposition on every front and defeat the Sangh’s design of orchestrating communal hate and turning India into a laboratory of aggressive majoritarianism. The BJP has ambitious expansion plans for the states that go to the polls in the first half of 2016 – Assam, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu – and it will be important to check the party in each of these elections. The BJP story of the last thirty years tells us two things – that wherever the party gets hold of political power, it uses it to the hilt to advance the RSS agenda, and also that the party keeps coming back to power by exploiting every hint of political vacuum. The challenge therefore is to build on the growing anger and disillusionment of the people and the multitude of ongoing struggles against the Modi order, and shape a powerful Left resurgence.

Protest in Karnataka against Communal Organisations

The CPI(ML) and AIPF units in Karnataka have strongly condemned the threat issued by the communal fascists, and have demanded from the State’s Congress Government to take urgent action against those threatening Vidya Dinker. Party and AIPF have also demanded swift action in all pending cases of communal violence and intimidation in Mangalore and Karnataka.

Vidya Dinker, a social activist and one of the National Campaign Committee member of the AIPF has lodged a police complaint against Bajrang Dal and other Sangh Parivar members for preventing the screening of a film (Dilwale) in Mangalore. After this he started receiving threats. VIdya Dinker has received similar threats in the past also for opposing the fascists and communal forces. The Congress Govt has not taken any action against the goons so far.

This is yet another instance of Congress condoning communal incidents in Karnataka, in effect, trying to appease the communal forces in the state. The incident also reflects the complete ineffectiveness of the state government and growing saffronisation of police machinery in the State and particularly in Dakshin Kannada district. CPI(ML) (Liberation) and AIPF have decided to organise protests against the growing acts of communal intolerance and intimidation in the state, including extending unflinching support to protest actions in support of Vidya Dinker.

Jharkhand Panchayat Elections

CPI(ML) Emerges as the Biggest Party in Terms of Seats in Giridih District

The three stage panchayat elections in Jharkhand concluded on 12 December and results were out by 24 December. CPI(ML) candidates secured total 14 Zila Parishad seats including 11 in Giridih, 1 in Koderma, 1 in Dhanbad and 1 in Jamtada, but in terms of votes and seats-wise performance our party’s profile has certainly improved from the last time.

In Giridih CPI(ML) emerged as the single largest party and won 11 Zila Parishad seats. The party has won 6 out of 9 seats in Bagodar, while it was second on two seats and third in one seat; In Dhanwar we have won 3 of the 9 seats, second by a narrow margin on 4 seats and third on 2 seats; and won 2 seats in Jamua, and lost by narrow margin on 3 seats, and were in contest in the remaining 4 seats too. In the 3 assembly constituencies of Giridih CPI(ML) was emerged as the leading party both in terms of seats as well as total votes, and as the biggest party in Giridih.

In the Dhanbad district’s Nirsa constituency we have won on one seat whereas we are second on 2 seats, while won on one seat in Koderma, and lost on one by a narrow margin.

Party candidates have secured more than 20 thousand votes only from two council seats in Koderma. In Barkatta, we have got more than 10 thousand votes. We were in contest on 3 of the 8 seats contested in Panki of Palamu district and here too more than 10 thousand votes.

In the three-tier panchayati system in Jharkhand, the lowest tier is that of panchayat whose elected candidate is called a mukhiya. As a continuation of ruling class parties’ political culture of money-muscle power, highest aspiration has been seen in this tier only regarding getting elected as a mukhiya. Barring a few exceptions, this post has seen most rampant corruption. The Party, on the contrary views these elections as an opportunity to transform the panchayati system into a people’s welfare forum, by simultaneously using it as a platform of sharpening the struggles of rural poor against the existing political hold of the vested interests. At this level various kinds of power brokers and government officials form a nexus for corruption to flourish. CPI(ML) encourage mukhiyas to publicy declare their commitment towards fighting corruption. A strong presence or our control in panchayat samitis helps people in sharpening the struggle against corruption.

The panchayat and zila parishad (district council) elections in Jharkhand are officially not conducted on political party banners. This gives ample space to allow money power to be able to wrest control on important posts. The candidates elected by the people for panchayats, vote further to elect District President and Block Pramukh. These posts should also be demanded to be voted for directly by the people. Though not overtly violent, the stakes in these elections of vested interests have resulted in reports of arson, murdering opposing candidates and even few incidents of rape of the children of candidates as per reports from the State.

CPI(ML) candidates tried to present a wholesome agenda for the entire panchayats. This emphasis was most successfully manifested in Giridih poll outcome where it has won 101 panchayat samiti seats and is now hopeful of successful contests towards block pramukh posts in Bagodar, Birni, Dhanwar and Ganwan. The BJP is trying its bit to foil people’s manifested unity and rising aspirations at panchayat level.

The Party has registered itself as a winning, second or third force in about 300 panchayats. People’s expectations from us have increased. Now we have to utilize all this experience in expanding the Party and making local committess a well-functioning Party structure.

This panchayat election too reflects the overall negative mood for the BJP as it had to suffer defeat in various districts. In Giridih and Koderma, from where the BJP has both the MPs and some MLAs, it has become a third or fouth force in these panchayat elections. The anti-BJP mood was reflected in Lohardaga Assembly by-election also.

CPI(ML) in UP Panchayat Elections

In the panchayat elections held from October to December in Uttar Pradesh, the Party has won one zila panchayat member, 14 BDC and 12 village pradhans. The districtwise tally is like this – Deoria – 1 DDC, 2 BDC and 2 pradhans; Gazipur – 6 BDC and 1 pradhan; Lakhimpur Khiri – 2 BDC, 1 pradhan; Sonbhadra – 1 BDC and 1 pradhan; Chandauli – 3 pradha; Gonda – 2 pradhans, one BDC each in Balia, Maharajganj and Faizabad, and one pradhan each in Ambedkar Nagar and Jalaun.

Besides these, the party candidates were on 2nd position on four seats; two in Deoria, and one each in Sitapur and Pilibhit.

Now the indirect election will be held to elect zila panchayat president and block chiefs. The Party has campaigned for establishing the role and agendas of the poor in panchayat elections, rallying the people against money and muscle power, it will similarly ensure that its elected candidates will keep their vote secure and will not let it be influenced by money and muscle.

18 December Pledge Day

Comrade VM’s 17th Smriti Diwas

Uttar Pradesh: 18 December was observed as Pledge Day in UP in memory of Comrade Vinod Mishra. On this occasion cadre meetings were organised in different districts of UP. The Central Committee’s Pledge Day call was read in the meetings everywhere and discussions were held after paying tributes to Comrade VM and observing two minutes silence in his memory.

At Allahabad a Pledge meeting was held on the day which was attended by party members and many people from intelligentsia and student-youth of the city along with the members of party State Commitee who had been there to attend the State Committee meeting. The meeting was addressed by Party’s General Secretary Comrade Dipankar.

He said that Comrade VM along with several comrades mobilised lots of people in giving birth to various people’s movements and building the Party in the process. He also said that enthusiasm generated among our supporters after Bihar election verdict must be utilised in expanding the Party as only an expanded and bigger Party can effectively counter communal and capitalist forces. Comrade Dipankar also answered questions from the students-youth attending the Pledge meeting.

Comrade Pranay Krishna, General Secretary of Jasam (JSM), commented on the returning of awards by a wide range of writers, cultural personalities, scientists protesting intolerance, he said that it has happened for the first time in history that such a large number of renowned intellectuals all across the country have returned their awards. The programme was conducted by UP State Secretary Comrade Ramji Rai.

Jharkhand: The Jharkhand State Level Cadre Convention concluded with the pledge to transform the Left movement in the Country into a powerful communist-led nation-wide movement and political force. About two hundred Party activists from districts of Jharkhand attended the convention and Pledge Day and reiterated their resolve to strengthen the communist movement and place the Party firmly in command of the political situation.

Some of the senior leaders present in the convention were Comrades Swadesh Bhattacharya, Politburo member, State Secretary Janardan Prasad, CC members Subhendu Sen and Manoj Bhakt, Vinod Singh, Anant Prasad Gupta, and MLA Rajkumar Yadav.

Addressing the convention, Comrade Swadesh said that the promise of good days by the Modi Govt has been exposed as hollow and empty promises for electoral gains by lying to the people.

Puducherry: Pledge day 2015 was observed in Puducherry and Karaikal regions. The State Committee organized cadre meetings at Puducherry and Karaikal. At Puducherry this was attended by all leading cadres where the State Secretary Comrade S Balasubramanium elaborated on the CC’s call for pledge day 2015. Many new members also joined the Party on this occasion.

At Karaikal the meeting was led by A.S. Singaravelu, State Committee member. R. Alagappan, Local committee member explained the CC call to the cadres.

The meetings also resolved to continue the relief and rehabilitation work tirelessly among the people who have been affected by the recent rains and floods.

All India Kisan Mahasabha Uttarakhand State Conference

The AIKM Uttarakhand State Conference was held on 16-17 December at Lalkuan in Nainital district. An impressive rally of peasants was also organised on the inaugural day on 16th as a mark of people’s organised assertion and unity.

The rally was addressed by Kisan Mahasabha’s all India President comrade Ruldu Singh who strongly criticised government’s pro-big capital anti-peasant policies. He said that the government is bringing new schemes every other day to grab the peasants’ lands, while farmers’ suicides are increasing and the crisis is spreading in the far corners of the country. He also criticised Uttarakhand govt. for not declaring Bindukhatta a revenue village, instead has made it a municipality which will deprive peasants of their due land entitlements.

AIKM’s Uttarakhand President Purushottam Sharma demanded to withdraw cases imposed on activists for leading struggles of the Bindukhatta peasants. Veteran revolutionary peasant leader comrade Bahadur Singh Jangi thanked the people who assembled there in large number to express their resentment against state government’s decisions and policies.

Comrade Awatar Singh, CPI(M)’s peasant leader emphasised on the unity of the left forces to address today’s challenges and said that people’s struggles are the key for the greater unity. Md. Yamin ‘Binni’, a leader of Van Gujjars, a struggling tribe, also spoke in the rally, where he criticised state government for discriminating between hill and terai regions by depriving terai gujjars from cultivation rights. He said that state government is violating Forest Rights Act 2006 by stopping gujjars from cultivation in forest villages on the one hand, and by not rehabilitating them as per the rule. The leader of Winsor Sanctuary movement Ishwar Joshi deplored the fact that in a state which was formed as the result of a strong people’s movement is now facing loot of people’s precious resources like water, forests and land owing to govt. policies. Many more speakers also addressed the rally which was conducted by Vimal Rauthan and Bhuvan Joshi.

The rally was followed by the delegate session of the Conference. The conference venue was rechristened after comrade Man Singh Pal who was a leading piller of Bindukhatta land struggle. A draft document was presented by com. Purushottam Sharma. AIKM leader from Punjab comrade Gurnam Singh was the central observer for the conference. He highlighted the need to expand the organisation in state and to learn from the experiences of various peasant struggles.

CPI(ML) Uttarakhand Secretary Rajendra Pratholi addressed the conference and emphasised on the stronger organisation for bigger struggles at a time when peasants and workers are facing attacks on their livelihood. He hailed Bindukhatta’s peasant movement which has now become examplary for being vibrant and consistent since last 40 years by incorporating new dimensions in it with changing times.

Raja Bahuguna, CPI(ML) Central Committee member, said that Modi’s foreign tour is going on amidst falling exports, ruining economy and growing revenue of capitalists like Adani, who is now 49% richer in just one year. He reminded delegates that the very first blow this govt. received was from the peasants of the country who forced Modi govt. to withdraw the land acquisition ordinance. He also said that the Congress Govt. in state and BJP Govt. in centre are following same pro-corporate policies.

The Conference elected a State Executive and a State Council with Purushottam Sharma as President and Atul Sati as Secretary and Bahadur Singh Jangi as Vice President.

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. 52 | 2015

December 24, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18 | No. 52 | 22 ­– 28 DECEMBER 2015

A Government-Made Disaster

The severe rains and subsequent flooding that have devastated Chennai, parts of coastal Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry have now subsided. But the many questions that the floods raised as to the culpability of successive Governments and disastrous policies must not be allowed to subside.

Even when it came to basic rescue and relief work, the callousness of Governments of TN and Puducherry as well as the Centre were in stark contrast to the remarkable display of selfless voluntary efforts by citizens. As many have remarked, the city of Chennai in particular showed its best side in its worst crisis – with people rising above differences of faith to help each other. The Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has issued an appeal on media and social media – an appeal which is an exercise in building up her own image as a ‘caring Mother’ of the citizens, while her party insisted on putting photos of the CM ‘Amma’ on relief packages. Such shameful and self-serving advertisements have only rubbed salt into the wounds of people who – so long after the disaster – are still unable to return to their homes and have lost everything.

It is clear by now that the calamities that struck Uttarakhand, Kashmir and now Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, are not mere ‘natural disasters’ – they are very much a product of the ‘development’ policies of Governments. Elected Governments are not needed to be ‘mothers’ (Amma) or ‘parents’ (mai-baap) to citizens – they are required to take responsibility and be accountable. There is no getting away from the fact that the floods were not an act of God, as claimed by the Chief Minister who declared that “Losses are unavoidable when there’s very heavy rain.” Rather, the floods were made by successive Governments – and the Government must be held accountable for the losses suffered by people. Compensation in such a disaster cannot then be an act of charity – it must be a penalty on the Government for having left people not only unprotected but more vulnerable than usual.

It is now widely recognised that the release of excess water from the Chembarambakkam Lake, which supplies water for Chennai, was the main reason for the havoc Chennai faced. The failure of DMK and AIADMK Governments to increase the capacity of the lake to match the needs of growing urbanisation was one of the main reasons for the disaster. Moreover, ‘development’ and ‘modernisation’ that has pandered to real estate mafias backed by political rulers, has meant rampant violation of the coastal regulation laws, unchecked construction on environmentally sensitive land, and blocking of natural drainage systems.

Even now, in the name of correcting this mess in the wake of the floods, the Government is refusing to act against the builders and real estate mafia who are responsible for the worst encroachments on environmentally sensitive land. Instead, it is preparing to use the floods as a pretext to evict the shanties of the poor on riverbeds, and, in the name of ‘rehabilitation’, is preparing to shift vast masses of the urban poor far away from the city centre.

The Governments and ruling parties in TN and Puducherry are trying to brand any criticism as an insensitive attempt to ‘politicise’ a natural disaster. But this ploy to deflect criticism is failing badly. Increasingly, people are demanding that the Government take responsibility for having caused the worst of the devastation, failed to provide safe homes for the poor, and failed to rescue, give relief to or rehabilitate those affected. It is increasingly clear that it is the Government of Tamil Nadu that has ‘politicised’ the very work of relief and rehabilitation, using it not only to project the Chief Minister as a benevolent Mother but also to further attack the rights of the poorest and most vulnerable.

The Central Government too has not been far behind in its callous and self-serving response. The Prime Minister’s own official social media team came in for flak when it photo-shopped an image of the PM viewing the flooded areas from a helicopter. Just as in the case of the Nepal quake, the PM’s attempts to turn the TN and Puducherry floods into a PR-exercise to boost his image boomeranged spectacularly. What is inexcusable is that the Centre has refused to declare the floods a national calamity, instead restricting it to a ‘disaster of severe nature.’ This play of words is actually playing with lives.

It is time the Centre and State governments are forced to take measures for adequate compensation for all sections of people affected by the floods and for complete rehabilitation assistance. The disaster should be declared a national calamity and a compensation commensurate with the loss should be released.

Sankalp Diwas Observed on the 17th Memorial Day of Comrade VM

December 18, the 17th anniversary of the death of former party General Secretary Comrade Vinod Mishra was observed by CPI(ML) all over the country as Sankalp Diwas (pledge day) to expand the party and strengthen the communist movement. The Call issued by the Central Committee was collectively read. The sankalp sabhas were held in all places across states as comrades gathered to pay tributes to Com. Vinod Mishra and reaffirmed their pledge to carry forward Comrade VM’s legacy with powerful advances on every front.

One-day Strike in Bokaro Steel Plant

On 3 December 2015, a successful one-day strike was observed in the Bokaro steel plant. Nearly 3000 workers participated in the strike. Since several days an intense brainstorming had been happening among the workers. Nowadays, in SAIL (Steel Authority of India Limited) a lot of issues are being determined in forums like NJCS (National Joint Committee for Steel). This forum includes CITU, AHMS, INTUC and BMS. Though each of these have been recognized in some or the other unit of SAIL, whenever there is a dialogue with the SAILS administration regarding the questions of the workers, there is always a cutting down in the rights of the workers. This has been happening for the past one year. Hence the credibility of the NJCS has fallen down among the workers. For instance, we can see that earlier there was no sealing on the gratuity of the workers but now the limit has been set at 10 lakhs. More recently even the health facilities have been withdrawn from the dependents who are 25 years of age. Now, when the time for the bonus is near, it is already being spread through the media that since SAILS has suffered loses, there will be no bonus. The NJCS has failed to refute this even though the Bokaro steel plant made a profit of 451 crores last year. As a result of this, the anger of the workers against the NJCS leaders and it is in view of this situation that we decided to form a forum of a non NJCS unions. These include- AICCTU, JMS, Bokaro Mazdoor Samaj, Akhil Jharkhand Shramik Sangh and Jharkhand Krantikaari Mazdoor Union (PCC-CPIML).

This non NJCS front immediately raised four key issues: (i) temporary workers be paid a bonus equivalent to the last year before Dusshehra, (ii) 20% bonus be given to contractual workers, (iii) medical facilities be renewed for the dependents aged 25 years and (iv) an end be put to cut in all the facilities. Since usually NJCS negotiates on these issues, the talks with SAILS management has started in Delhi, but even though the practice is to give bonus before Dusshehra, the entire Dusshehra period went in the talks. During this time the front intensified its campaign and warned the management of a lunching a movement if the justice was not done to the workers. Even NJCS warned the management of strike anytime after 3 November. The SAILS management immediately sent Rs.9000/- to the account of all the workers, however during this period, the workers were able to obtain a copy of a document that had been signed by the NJCS in which there had been an agreement on the ending of medical facilities to the dependents aged 25 years. The front also came to know that the NJCS had been hiding the information that SAILS management had proposed a cut in several facilities provided to the workers. As the anger of the workers increased, NJCS decided to issue a notice of strike on 19 November, and realising the urgency of the situation the front also gave a call for a strike on 19 November. One day before the strike, regional labour commission called unions for a talk. There were also reports in the newspaper about talks on 25 November because of which there is was a situation of confusion. NJCS shifted the date of strike to 3 December, and to ensure that there was no disruption of workers’ unity, the front also gave a call for 3 December. However, Krantikari Ispat Mazdoor Sangh (KIMS), which is run under the leadership of local MLA Samresh Singh, only announced a delay in strike without giving the call for strike. In other situations, they tried to create confusion among workers. On the other hand, BMS and INTUC took back the call for the strike.

In such a situation, the front intensified its campaign and even took out a cycle rally in the last phase preceding the strike to mobilize the workers. During this time, the front also came to know that the news about talks on 25 November had only been circulated to delay the strike and there was no such plan. The front exposed the unions that had used this as a pretence to call off the earlier strike and who had ensured the management that there would be no strike. The front had called for a Sabha on 2 December which the Samresh Singh lead KIMS tried to disrupt. However, the front ensured that the massive was sabha was held. The next day, there were attempts to mobilize those against the strike to disrupt the strike, however, the front ensured that the strike was successfully held. The strike held on 3 December 2002 is remembered till date as a historic event in the movement of Bokaro steel plant workers, however, the strike on 3 December 2015 broke all records. It also showed the workers the way for the future. The intensity and enthusiasm that the strike inspired must be sustained and carried forward.

Protest in Begusarai

Under the joint banner of CPI (ML) and AIARLA, agricultural labourers and students and youth took out a march to the Balia subdivision office. The protestors carried several flags and placards and held an angry demonstration outside the subdivision office, handing memorandum to the officials. The demands contained in the memorandum included- (i) to ensure land to 132 parcha holders in the Meeralipur, Maksudanpur and Shahpur areas of Balia zone, (ii) legal action on anti-social elements who displaced parcha holders from their lands in violation of the law, (iii) implementation of the recommendations of the land reform commission, (iv) guarantee 3-3 dismal land for accommodation and employment for the poor landless and investigation and action on the ration scam that took place under the food security scheme, (v) improvement of health and education situation, (iv) correction in electricity bills, (vii) registration of sharecroppers and issuing them identity cards whereby they can benefit from government grants, and several other demands. Addressing the protestors, CPI (ML) district secretary, Com. Diwakar Kumar said it was the result of consistent movements that the district official was forced to issue an order rejecting the false claims of anit-social and feudal elements and in support of the parcha holders, in case of 120.68 acre lands. The protests were led by CPI (ML) block secretary Com. Noor Alam and AIARLA, district secretary, Com. Chandradev Verma, along with other leaders.

AISA Organizes People’s Vigil on WTO Meet

In view of the Indian Government’s participation in the 10th Ministerial Conference of WTO which was scheduled from 15th to 18th at Nairobi, Kenya and the promise made 10 years back during Doha Round of WTO on Higher Education according to which the Indian Higher Education will become a tradable service in the global market leaving it open for plunder by private and global capital, AISA organised a people’s vigil from 15 to 18 December 2015. The purpose of the vigil was to send a clear and a loud message to the government that the students and youth of this country were resolutely against the sell out of higher education. In a press statement issued prior to the vigil, Delhi State Secretary of AISA, Com. Ashutosh Kumar said, “We will not let the Government of India to silently sell out education, future and sovereign decision making power of our country to WTO. We are going to hold mass public demonstrations during 15th to 18th December when the WTO Ministerial Conference is held at Nairobi.”

As a part of this campaign that had earlier seen huge mobilizations in Delhi on 8th and 9th, the following programmes took place from 15th to 18th December.

On 15 December 2015, AISA appealed all to join the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan’s ‘Chetvani Rally’ against corporate takeover of our land, forest and education at Sansad Marg, Jantar Mantar. On 17 December 2015, a massive human chain was formed at 2 pm at Central park in Connaught Place. Initially the Delhi Police tried to prevent the human chain from being formed and issued a letter to JNUSU Gen Secretary, Com. Rama Naga that there was no permission. However, the students resolutely asserted their right to protest and ensure the inclusiveness and accessibility of higher education in India and continued their protest and a massive human chain was formed despite all obstacles. On 18 December 2015, which was to be the last day of the WTO negotiations, a protest demonstration was called Ministry of Commerce and Industry (Udyog Bhawan) to stop the commerce minister from committing Higher Education to be converted into tradeable service for profit making. During the protest, Com. Sucheta De, National President of AISA said that, “In spite of mass dissent against the India’s impending negotiations with WTO, the GoI has not even responded to the protesting students and academicians. Why the public is not being told about India’s promises and commitments to WTO? What is there to hide?” Despite heavy barricading by the police, a determined protest was held and the students vowed to continue their agitation against sell out of higher education.

AISA Wins President’s Post in Chennai Bharathi Women’s College

Bharathi college is a women’s college in Chennnai with nearly 4500 students. Com. Seetha of AISA, a student of this college has been in the forefront in taking up issues of students for basic amenities like potable drinking water, canteen and clean toilet facilities. Several campaigns undertaken under the leadership of AISA activists resulted in the administration being forced to undertake some immediate steps for the benefit of the students. AISA continues to struggle for permanent solutions to these basic issues. Com. Seetha has played a crucial leading role in several of these campaigns and initiatives. As per college norms only 3rd year UG students are allowed to contest elections along with various undemocratic stipulations like 90% attendance etc. When Com. Seetha reached 3rd year, she filed her nomination to contest the Presidential post, but her candidature was rejected citing certain stipulations. Challenging this undemocratic move Com. Seetha filed a writ petition in the High court of Madras, which allowed her to contest elections. However, she was able to obtain the order of the judgement only on 19th Aug 2015, a day before the date of election. She still contested despite losing several campaign days. Annoyed by her action, the college management = withheld the results of the post of President. Com. Seetha approached the Court again, which directed the management to announce the results and declare the victory of Com. Seetha for the post for President. The students have reposed their great faith in Com. Seetha of AISA in fighting for campus democracy and these pro-student struggles would be intensified in the days to come.

AIPWA and AISA Statement on Demands for Lowering the Age of Juvenility in Selected Cases of Rape

‘Treating Juveniles as Adults Will Not Deter Rape – Ensuring Justice in Every Rape Case Will Deter Rape’

AIPWA and AISA express concern at the outcry to lower the age of juvenility in selected cases of rape. We strongly oppose such moves, which are not in the interests of justice for women. We appeal to all to consider the facts, and to recognise the real issues that confront the struggles for justice in rape cases.

We would like to remind that the Justice Verma Committee rejected both death penalty and sending juveniles into the adult Courts and jails. The Committee, quoting extensively from studies of international experience, and praising the maturity of women’s organizations on the issue, noted: “We have heard experts on the question of reduction of the age of a juvenile from 18 to 16 for the purpose of being tried for offences under various laws of the country. We must confess that the degree of maturity displayed by all the women’s organisations, the academics and a large body of thinking people have viewed this incident both in the criminological as well as societal perspective humbles us….We are of the view that the material before is sufficient for us to reach the conclusion that the age of ‘juveniles’ ought not to be reduced to 16 years.”

There is a false hype being created that rape by juveniles is ‘increasing’. The fact is that juveniles are accused in a very small percentage of total rape cases. And of those cases, a very large proportion comprises of cases of consensual love among teenagers, in which parents of the girl have falsely filed ‘rape’ charges. Many of such boys tend to be from oppressed castes.

The ‘common sense’ logic is: ‘rape is an adult crime’, and if anyone is mature enough to rape, he should be mature enough to be punished. This is a mistaken understanding of the concept of ‘maturity’. Sexual impulses, and the ability to commit a murder or a rape, can develop in children as young as 10 years old. But the fact is that this ability does not signify ‘maturity.’ Based on scientific studies, it is now internationally accepted that in adolescents, the frontal cortex of the brain – called the CEO of the brain – that controls the ability to plan, take decisions, correctly assess risks and set long term goals, is not fully developed. This is why young persons must not be treated as adults.

Sadly, an argument is being constructed that we need a change in the law to allow us to selectively punish juveniles in some cases – i.e the cases which receive media hype and selective outrage. Our stance is that treating some rapes as ‘extraordinary’ allows us to treat most rapes as ‘ordinary’. The same BJP leader Subramanian Swamy who is demanding lowering of the age of juvenility in the December 16th case, is the one who is branding the 16-year old victim of Asaram as a liar!

We teach young boys in our society that ‘real’ rapes are committed by some ‘animals’ who deserve brutal punishment. But at the same time, the same young boys learn from adults that rape is no big deal. When police in Bastar rape a 14-year-old girl, they see no media or political outrage. They see the rapists of Dalit girls in Bhagana escape. They see how the rapists of Muzaffarnagar are treated as heroes and openly defended by a Minister (Sanjeev Balyan) in the Modi Government. They see how witnesses in the Asaram rape case are killed – and how thousands of his supporters openly propagate that the rape laws ‘break society.’ They see how the women who came forward to complain against Tejpal or Pachauri are blamed and shamed while the men they accused remain untouched by the law. So our young boys do not learn that rape is morally wrong and is a crime followed surely by punishment – instead they learn that some rapists are animals who deserve to be punished; while most rape complainants are liars; and most responsibility to prevent rape lies with women not with men. As long as our system and our society teaches these lessons, we cannot deter rape and sexual harassment.

The system has failed to deliver justice for most complainants who came forward to seek justice under the new rape laws. Yet those who rule the system – instead of implementing existing laws and ensuring justice in each case – prefer to divert attention towards yet another new ‘severe’ law.

Several studies have shown how in the US, sending juveniles in selected cases to the adult courts and jails has not deterred crime. Instead, it has deterred reform and encouraged the juveniles to become criminals. As a result of this experience, between 2005 and 2010, fifteen US states enacted laws to prevent young people from entering the adult criminal justice system.

What is needed is better reform and rehabilitation measures both for juvenile and adult offenders – such measures will make our society safer.

We repeat – do not make regressive changes in juvenile laws in the name of women. Implement existing laws and safeguard women’s freedoms.

ML Update | No.51 | 2015

December 17, 2015


MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 51, 15 ­– 21 SEPTEMBER 2015

CC Call for Pledge Day 2015:

Seize the Moment, Expand the Party and

Strengthen the Communist Movement

(In lieu of editorial)

(Seventeen years ago, on December 18, 1998, we had lost Comrade VM right in the midst of a meeting of the Party Central Committee in Lucknow. Every year since then the Party has been observing this day as the annual Pledge Day, launching the annual membership renewal campaign and renewing the pledge to accomplish the revolutionary mission of the party.)

Seventeen years ago when we had lost Comrade VM, the country had just begun to grapple with the first NDA government and the ideological-political implications of having a BJP-led government at the Centre. Under Com. VM’s leadership, the whole Party had launched a determined ideological counter-offensive against the BJP’s saffronisation agenda and a powerful “Oust Saffron, Save the Nation” mass campaign. The first NDA government did not last long, but it did return to power with a bigger coalition in 1999. However, in the first opportunity after the Gujarat genocide of 2002, the country managed to get rid of the disastrous NDA regime.

Today, seventeen years later, we can see the contours of a full-scale corporate-communal offensive unleashed by yet another BJP-led government, this time back in power with a bigger majority. But we can also say that we are witnessing the potential of Comrade VM’s vision of a powerful revolutionary-democratic resistance. If 2014 was a year of major setback for the Indian people, when Narendra Modi rode a wave of demagogy to central power to systematically unleash the entire gamut of the disastrous saffron agenda, 2015 has indeed been a year of the Indian people striking back.

And between the February washout of the BJP in Delhi to the November drubbing in Bihar, it has indeed been a great fightback on every front. Opposition by peasant organisations and the common people compelled the Modi government to go back on the land acquisition ordinance even after repeated promulgations. The massive September 2 strike by trade unions including large sections of unorganised and contract workers signalled a determination to fight hard to defeat the Modi government’s attempts to subvert labour laws and abolish industrial/workplace democracy.

The successful battle for the restoration of the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle in Chennai IIT, the FTII strike and now the Occupy UGC campaign have exposed the myth of a Modi wave among the educated urban youth. And the campaign initiated by the country’s eminent writers, film-makers, scientists to return awards and resign from posts marked a new high of collective assertion by intellectuals, playing truly the role of public intellectuals representing the pluralist ethos and democratic conscience of India.

The Bihar elections were a key battle for the CPI(ML) and other Left forces in Bihar. The consistent role of the CPI(ML) as the leading centre of people’s struggle and the pivot of Left politics helped in bringing together the Left to fight this crucial battle as a united and independent bloc. It is a battle that we had to fight against all odds. After twenty years of uninterrupted presence in the Assembly, in 2010, the Party had failed to win a single seat. The media and the outside political world had written us off. But the Party in Bihar successfully summoned all its strength and led the 2015 battle.

After the 2010 setback, the Party paid renewed attention to strengthening its ties with the people and overhauling the Party organisation. The Party’s poll performance in Bihar could not however improve in the 2014 LS election and for the first time we could not poll one lakh votes in any of Bihar’s Lok Sabha seats. The Party organisation took up the challenge, launched a massive socio-economic survey, unleashed a whole series of local struggles and put in serious efforts to expand and streamline the Party network on the ground.

The result is now before all of us. In the extremely bipolar elections of Bihar, the Party has successfully stood its ground, improving its performance in almost all major seats and winning three seats amidst highly keen contests. The Party has managed to secure more than 10,000 votes in sixteen seats, crossing the one-lakh mark again in Bhojpur and Siwan.

The Bihar elections have re-established the Party as the leading Left force in Bihar and coupled with our base in Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, this can surely help us strengthen our role as a growing centre of people’s struggles and Left politics in the entire Hindi belt and intervene in the whole range of ongoing protests and struggles against the corporate and communal fascist offensive of the Modi raj.

The unleashing of the entire gamut of the RSS agenda in tandem with the most brazen appeasement of foreign capital and corporate power and strategic subservience of Western imperialist powers has made the spectre of fascism a growing real threat. But we must not rush into making any alarmist reading of the situation and must not fall prey to defeatist ideas and strategy. The massive and wide-ranging protests have made it clear that the people are alive to the threat and will not allow the BJP to hijack and destroy the country. We must make use of every democratic avenue to raise our voice and strengthen the resistance and unite and cooperate with every positive initiative and struggle to combat the fascist danger.

If the BJP is taking the fullest advantage of the decline of the Congress, if a completely new force like AAP is now ruling in Delhi and making its presence felt in Punjab, the challenge before the communists is, first and foremost, to shape a powerful communist resurgence on every major plane of class struggle – ideological, political and organisational. And to do this we must combat the defeatist liberal idea that fails to address this key question and seeks to reduce the battle against the fascist danger to a bankrupt defence of the status quo.

At the same time we must concretely grasp the challenge of expanding the Party organisation and strengthening its role at the present juncture. The Ranchi Congress and the Lucknow Workshop have delineated the appropriate policy framework and key organisational tasks and targets. The entire Party must now rise to the occasion with powerful advances on every front. On the seventeenth anniversary of the demise of our beloved visionary leader, let us rededicate ourselves to Comrade VM’s dream of making CPI(ML) the biggest communist party of India and making the communist movement a powerful national political force.

Joint protests against communalism by left parties on 6 December

Six Left parties organized a joint campaign from 1 to 6 December on the 23rd anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition against the Modi govt’s drive to spread communal hatred and destroy the secular fabric of the country. Reports received so far from different states are as follows:

Bihar: CPI(ML), CPI(M), CPI, SUCI (C), Forward Bloc, and RSP held anti-communal protest marches and meetings in Patna and many other places in Bihar.

In Patna, with the permission being refused in the main regions, the march was taken out from the public library and it culminated in a meeting at Gardanibagh thana. Addressing the meeting, Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that in spite of electoral debacles in Delhi and Bihar, the BJP continues to pursue its agenda of communal hatred; recently Home Minister Rajnath Singh even questioned the Country’s secularism. He pointed out that the Babri demolition was part of a chain of events which started with the Bhagaplur riots and ended with the Surat and Bombay riots. Today those very people are in power and we must unite to oppose their communal agenda. The Bihar Govt, showing scant respect for the peoples’ verdict, is not playing the role it should, and even refused permission for the protest meeting to express the peoples’ protest against the communal agenda of the BJP. Comrades Sarvoday Sharma (CPI-M), Arun Kumar Singh (FB), TN Azad (SUCI (C)) also addressed the meeting. CPI(ML) PB member Com. Dhirendra Jha conducted the meeting.

In Bhagalpur a protest march and a meeting were held, latter at Shaheed Bhagat Singh memorial in which activists from the 6 Left parties participated, shouting slogans and carrying banners against the attacks on secularism, assault on the Constitution, politics of hate, attacks on education, and the fascist-communal attempts to destroy secularism and transform India into a Hindu-rashtra.

In Supaul protest march culminated in a meeting presided over by Com. Jitendra Chowdhury. Speakers said that the RSS and Modi Govt are going all out to destroy the Country’s Ganga-Jamni culture of diversity, curb the freedom of educational and cultural institutions, and intimidate and attack free thinking intellectuals. The workers, farmers, youth and intellectuals of the country must unite to fight this evil design. Protests were also held in Arwal, Muzaffarpur, Bhojpur, Sasaram, Masaurhi, Gaya, Jehanabad, Darbhanga, Gopalganj, Champaran, Nawada, Purnea, Paliganj, and other places. In Siwan, a protest meeting was held at martyr Comrade Chandrashekhar’s memorial.

Uttar Pradesh: Anti-communal protests were held in the midst of panchayat elections (7 Nov-13 Dec) in many districts of UP including capital Lucknow. In Lucknow hundreds of activists from Left parties and peoples organizations, workers, farmers, students, youth, women, writers, and intellectuals protested vociferously against the Sangh’s hate campaign and in favour of India’s collective culture and collective heritage. The meeting was presided over by Com. Ramesh Sengar of CPI(ML), Com. Madhu Garg (CPI-M), Com. Asha Mishra(CPI), and it was conducted by Com. Jayprakash of the SUCI (C). The protest meeting was addressed by leaders from the Left parties as well as organizations like IPTA, JASAM, AIDWA, AIPWA, PRALES, JALES, Mahila Federation, KALAM, SFI, AISA, DYFI, CITU, AITUC, AICCTU, Nirman Mazdoor Union, and Dalit Soshan Mukti Manch.

In Kanpur a dharna was staged at the Gol Chauraha Park on 5 December under the aegis of Trade Union Ekjutta Manch to protest against injustices towards dalits, minorities, and workers. Activists from 7 trade unions participated in the dharna. Com. Arvind Kumar and Hari Singh addressed the dharna.

Joint Left protests, marches, and meetings were also held in Mau, Ghazipur, Allahabad, Varanasi, and Lakhimpur Kheeri.

Jharkhand: CPI(ML) and AIPF jointly organized a meeting and discussion on Politics of Intolerance and the Left in Giridih on 6 December, presided over by Com. Manoj Bhakt. He said that the BJP is doing this as a conspiracy to divert attention from people’s issues such as price rise, education, health and employment where the govt. has cheated and betrayed the people. The meeting was also addressed by Rajesh Sinha of AIPF.

Assam: A convention against communalism was organized by 4 Left parties– CPI(ML), CPI(M), CPI, and SUCI(C) at Nagaon. The meeting was presided over by a 4 member presidium. Comrades Rubul Sharma, Iftaqur Rahman, Achyut Akerya, Jyotirmay Jana and others addressed the convention, which was followed by an impressive rally.

Haryana: Left parties jointly conducted a campaign against the politics of communal hatred being carried out in the Country as well as the State. Sankalp marches were taken out in Yamunanagar on 5 December and in Karnal on 6 December. Presiding over the Yamunanagar march, Com. Prem Singh Gehlawat said that the BJP Govt. is carrying on a reign of loot and divisiveness; their narrow thinking and fawning over the rich stands exposed thoroughly. Intolerance and hatred in the State have risen sharply since the Khattar Govt. came to power, but the people will fight and oppose this and put an end to this divisive agenda. Com. Jarnail Singh Sangwan, Dharam Pal Chauhan and Mahendra Singh Chopra highlighted the anti-poor and anti-workers/farmers character of the govt. The Karnal rally on 6 Dec was attended in large numbers by women, and addressed by Com. Gehlawat, Com. Jagmal, Shyam Lal Jaisinghpura, Kartar Singh, and others.

Joint protests against communalism and growing intolerance were also held in Delhi and Chandigarh.

Students, Academicians and Cultural Activists from across the country join

AISA’s National Convention


Against the sell-out of Indian Higher Education in WTO!!

Thousands of students brave police brutalities during OccupyUGC march to Parliament!!

Today when the govt. elected by people is gearing up to sell the future of students of this country by submitting Indian Higher education in WTO as a commodity of free trade, thousands of students are today out in the streets to remind the govt. about its responsibility to ensure quality and affordable education for all Indian citizens. If sell out of coal and 2G against peoples interest can put UPA out of power, then sell out of education can also throw NDA out of power, said Sucheta De, AISA’s National President, at the mass students rally on the morning of 8 December.

More than 1500 Students from JNU, DU, AMU, Allahabad University, HCU, EFLU, Jadhavpur University and numerous universities marched on the streets of Delhi and raised slogans against fund-cut and sellout of Indian higher education. The students reached the site of OCCUPY UGC movement early morning and marched into the streets of central Delhi and reached Jantar Mantar where the National Convention began from 1.30 pm and went on till after 7 pm. The convention was a part of the ALL INDIA RESISTANCE CAMP against WTO, organized by All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE).

Students were joined by prominent intellectuals and activists such as Medha Patkar (Narmada Bachao Andolan), Yogendra Yadav (Swaraj Abhiyan), Nandita Narain (President DUTA and FEDCUTA), Anand Teltumde (Dalit intellectual and activist), Kavita Krishnan (Woman Rights Activists and Gen Sec, AIPWA), Tanika Sarkar and Harbans Mukhia (historians), Anil Sadgopal (President, AIFRTE), Aditya Nigam (Political Scientist, CSDS) and others who also addressed the convention.

Addressing the National Convention Medha Patkar said, since three decades our govts have been shamelessly destroying the resources of this country so that some people can make enormous profits. Prof. Yogendra Yadav, from Swaraj Abhiyan addressed the students and pledged his full support to the OCCUPY UGC movement. Apart from these scholars and activists, many cultural activists like Sambhaji Bhagat (Maharashtra), Hirawal (from Patna), Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (Tamilnadu), Sangwari (Delhi) performed at the Convention. DUTA president Nandita Narain mesmerized the students by singing Faiz’s poem “Hum dekhenge”. The programme ended with a Dastangoi performance (Dastan-e-Awaargi) by Ankit Chadha and Himanshu Bajpai.

On 9 December, thousands of students from all over the country gathered in Delhi. As the students began their march to Parliament, they were brutally assaulted by the Delhi Police. This shameful and cowardly crackdown on OCCUPY UGC march to parliament received unequivocal criticism from all across the country as photographs and videos of unprovoked lathi-charge, tear shells and water-cannon went viral on social media. Several students were seriously injured. On 12 December, a protest was called against the police brutalities. Comrade Ashutosh Kumar, AISA State President speaking at the protest said that we will not let the just demands of the millions of students of the Country be silenced by such brutal attacks. Students from all across the country cannot be so brutally beaten up on the streets of Delhi by the Police without the BJP governments nod.

As the WTO negotiations are starting from 15th December, AISA has given a call of people’s vigil on WTO meet through series of protest actions from 15th to 18th December. In press statement, Com. Anmol Ratan, Delhi State President, AISA said- We will not let the Government of India to silently sell out education, future and sovereign decision making power of our country to WTO. We are going to hold mass public demonstrations during 15-18 December when the WTO Ministerial Conference is held at Nairobi.

AICCTU Protest in New Delhi in Solidarity with PRICOL Workers’ Struggle

All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) organised a protest on 8 December in solidarity with the 8 workers of Pricol Ltd, of an auto company in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu outrageously sentenced to ‘double life-term sentences’ by a Trial Court in Coimbatore in connection with a case of tragic death of the Company’s HR vice-president, without any evidence whatsoever. For the past decade Pricol witnessed a massive workers’ movement against the Company for its notorious anti-worker, anti-union activities, continuous exploitation, arbitrary dismissal, wage cuts, employing contractual labour in core production and so on. The company management as part of its ploy to crush and deny industrial democracy, tried to frame the Trade Union including AICCTU All India President S Kumarasami for the tragic death of the HR vice president in 2009.

The Pricol movement was part of the nationwide labour struggles against the increasing exploitative and anti-worker and violation/erosion of labour laws seen from Pricol to Regent Cements (Puducherry) to Maruti Manesar and so on. Since the Maruti Manesar struggle the country has witnessed quick and ‘pro-corporate’ judgements and observations like "denying bail to workers because it affects the investment atmosphere". And at the same time, millions of Indian workers are reeling under the intense anti-worker environment perpetuated by the government- judiciary- corporate nexus in India. Comrade Agnitra from AICCTU giving a brief about the Pricol movement spoke on the increasing worker exploitation and changes in labour laws. Comrades Nayanjyoti from KNS, Vasudevan of NTUI, and Santosh Rai of AICCTU expressed their solidarity with the struggling workers of Pricol and that the trade unions will fight against the anti-labour laws and assault on rights of workers. The increasing confrontations between workers and company management are results of attempts to change the already anti-worker atmosphere drastically in the favour of corporate companies by enacting anti-worker and anti-trade union rules and regulations.

CPI(ML)s Save Democracy, Save People Campaign throughout Tamil Nadu on 8 December 2015

At a time when many parts of Tamil Nadu have been devastated by deluge and several have lost their lives and livelihoods because of the maladministration of the government of Tamil Nadu, at a time when most of the water bodies and canals that carry flood waters are occupied by land mafia enjoying political patronage even as the ruling Jayalalitha government continues to be inept with relief operations and at a time when the Coimbatore sessions court has sentenced 8 of the Pricol workers with double life imprisonment, the CPI(ML) has taken up the Save Democracy, Save People campaign in Tamil Nadu.

In keeping with this campaign, on 8 December 2015, a massive demonstration was held at Plant 1 and Plant 3of the Pricol factory. About Rs.4 lakhs were collected for flood relief from the workers at the gate of the factory itself. Shanthi gears also witnessed powerful demonstration which was addressed by Com. S .Kumaraswamy, PB member of CPI(ML). In Chennai in spite of the heavy showers, workers demonstrated at Ambattur demanding relief work on war footing. The workers also expressed their solidarity with Pricol workers. Com. Munusamy led the protest. Currently, there are many teams collecting relief material both in cash and kind from the residential areas and both collection and distribution of relief material are being taken up. In Tiruvellore, more than 600 people were mobilsed in front of the BDO office demanding relief as part of the campaign. In Vandalur of Kanchipuram district, flood affected people were mobilised in front of the Tahsildars office, as a result of which he immediately distributed dhotis and sarees. In the demonstration held in Salem, the protestors demanded Industrial democracy and the right to form unions and bargain collectively in the wake of the Pricol verdict. Leaders of AITUC, HMS , Pattali thozhir sangam also joined with us. At Viluppuram also, hundreds of people were mobilised demanding relief and rehabilitation. The Viluppuram protest was addressed by the state secretary of CPI(ML), Com. Balasundaram.

In Sriperumbudur, a memorandum demanding Rs.20,000 for unorganised workers was submitted, since they have been unable to go for any work. Demonstrations were also held at Tirunelveli, Mayiladuthurai, Karur, Pallipalayam and Kanyakumari. The RYA leaders and activists aided in removal of encroachments in water bodies.

Construction workers of Puducherry UT
demand lean period relief (rainy season relief) of RS 15000/-

In the past many years construction workers Puducherry UT were demanding lean period relief to all members enrolled in the welfare Board. In the last two months due to inundation of all low lying areas of Puducherry and Karaikkal regions where the majority of construction workers lived, caused by incessant rains, all work came to a standstill and workers’ dwellings were lost.

Almost all workers are now jobless. The ruling ALL INDIA NR Congress government showed scant attitude towards the just demands of workers. On 10th December AICWF of Puducherry unit organized a big demonstration in front of the Construction Workers Welfare Board. The demonstration was led by P Murugan, AICWF working committee member. A large number of women workers participated. A memorandum was submitted to the Chief minister through the labor commissioner cum member secretary Puducherry building and other construction workers welfare Board. The labour commissioner had conveyed that to the agitating leaders that the government had agreed to extend relief to all welfare board members.

Huts of the Poor in Delhi Once Again Razed; Demolition Kills One Child

CPI(ML) Liberation held a protest demonstration and burnt Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s effigy at Jantar Mantar on 15 December to protest against the inhuman demolition in Shakurbasti. The party condemned the anti-people move by the government and submitted a memorandum to the General Manager, Northern Railways listing its main demands. The party demanded that all the affected people be provided proper houses by the government without delay and strict action be taken against officials involved in conducting such drives in Delhi be it in Shakurbasti, Wazirpur or Mansarovar Park.

Mathura Paswan, State Committee member, CPI ML said , “The sad demise of a child happened during the demolition drive which started at 9 am. This government takes care only of the rich and not only neglects but kills the poorest.” Sucheta De, National President, AISA and CPI ML state committee member described the incident as being similar in nature to earlier demolition drives conducted by the railways in Mansarovar Park and Wazirpur. She said, “After all in whose interest is a child being killed and people rendered homeless? It is the duty of the government to ensure right to shelter for all, in which it has miserably failed”.

Earlier CPI(ML) team led by State Committee members Mathura Paswan, Amarnath Tiwari, Rooplal, VKS Gautam and Ajay had visited Shakurbasti. While talking to the affected people forced to stay outdoors in the chilling winters of Delhi team had found that the people were very angry with the state government as well as the Railways. Javed, a migrant worker from Bhagalpur, Bihar while talking to the team narrated the demolition as happening without prior information. “Humlogon ko mauka hi nahin mila, JCB lekar sab aa gaya aur bhagdad mach gaya” said Javed, which clearly describes the way the poor are being shattered by the government.

The team also found out that the stretch of dwellings which have now been razed to ground were shelters for migrant workers from mostly Bhagalpur, Araria, Khagaria districts of Bihar as well as Jhansi, UP and Bilaspur, Chattisgarh. Most of the people are engaged in loading and unloading goods trains on daily wages, many women are employed as domestic workers in nearby colonies. Md. Moinuddin, a tea shop owner who has been a resident of the area for more than two and a half decades accused the AAP government of playing with people’s emotions. “It is our home that we demand not their alms- they are distributing AAP caps, what will we do with that, just let us be in peace.” The team saw the precarious condition of relief facilities with water tankers having long queues and tussle among local people for essential commodities like blankets and ration packets.

The protest was attended by people who had been affected by demolitions in Wazirpur area as well. One of the residents of Wazirpur, narrated how the residents of Wazirpur have been forced to live in constant fear of getting displaced since the railways bulldozed their homes without notice an year ago. The protest also saw participation of students from JNU, Jamia Milia Islamia and DU.

ML Update | No. 50 | 2015

December 8, 2015

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18 | No. 50 | 8 – 14 DEC 2015

Signs of Revival of the Sangh’s Communal Ram Mandir Agenda

Twenty-three years after the vandals of the Sangh Parivar had demolished the Babri Masjid in brazen defiance of India’s history of composite culture and every tenet of the rule of law, the Sangh brigade seems desperate to rake up the Ram Mandir issue all over again. On the eve of the twenty-third anniversary of the demolition, Mohan Bhagwat renewed the Mandir call first at the funeral of Ashok Singhal in Delhi and then again in another meeting in Kolkata. The VHP wants the Modi government to legislate in favour of the temple. The Shiv Sena, the closest ideological ally of the BJP, is of the same opinion. Even Nitish Kumar, the estranged BJP ally who has retained power for the third successive term in Bihar riding on a powerful anti-Modi vote, misses no opportunity to teasingly ask the BJP to fix a time-frame for the construction of the temple.

Is the Sangh contemplating a return to the Ayodhya agenda after the humiliating electoral debacles of Delhi and Bihar and to prepare for the crucial UP elections of 2017? The aggressive and hugely emotive mobilisation around the Ram Mandir issue had yielded massive electoral dividends for the BJP in the late 1980s and early 1990s, catapulting it to power for the first time in UP. The rise of ‘Hindutva’ helped the BJP broaden its base beyond its traditional ‘forward’ caste core and contend with the empowerment appeal of the Mandal Commission among the backward caste population. Since then the BJP has tried hard to expand and consolidate its ‘Hindutva’ constituency through its sustained campaign of aggressive communalism and Islamophobia, punctuated periodically by riots, massacres and other forms of targeted violence. Recent reverses however indicate diminishing returns for this strategy of ‘low-intensity warfare’, prompting perhaps a rethink and a possible return to the ‘proven blessings’ of Ram.

For the ideologues and political managers of the Sangh parivar, the ‘Ram Mandir’ campaign was a multi-dimensional exercise aimed simultaneously at reinventing Hinduism, reinterpreting Indian nationalism and redesigning governance on a majoritarian plank. Defying Brahminical regimentation, Hinduism has evolved as a non-regimented religion with an amazing diversity of beliefs and practices. By projecting Ram as the ultimate warrior and the foremost Hindu symbol, the Ram Mandir campaign sought to impart a decisive military muscle to the otherwise diverse and rather amorphous Hindu religious persona. The territorial and historical evolution of Indian nationalism as a modern cementing force against British colonial rule was sought to be redefined as something traditional and even eternal, revolving primarily around this aggressive Hindu identity and invoking the pride and glory of a mythical past and the injured sense of a perceived Hindu victimhood through the medieval period.

The mob vandalism that demolished the mosque in broad daylight was no ‘uncontrollable momentary excess’ but very much part of the script and the celebratory smiles on the faces of the leaders present on the spot revealed it all. Had the demolition been carried out on an unscheduled date and in the absence of these leaders, the BJP could have even tried to pass it off as an ‘accident’ on the lines of the recent incident of Dadri mob lynching. Apart from achieving the immediate and direct objective of demolishing the mosque, the Ayodhya expedition of the Sangh brigade was also intended to challenge and test the institutional fabric of the constitutional Indian republic. While the BJP had to pay an immediate price in the form of dismissal of its governments in UP and three other states and a temporary ban on the RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal, it gained enormous confidence in terms of impunity for the criminal act of demolition and a clear shift in the post-demolition legal-juridical discourse and framework that privileged Ayodhya as a special case and exempted it from the ambit of the subsequent legislation that guarantees the character of places of worship as on 15 August 1947. The BJP used these ‘gains’ from Ayodhya to the hilt in Gujarat to consolidate its rule through a genocide followed by serial staged encounter killings and a corporate-cheered quasi-privatised mode of governance driven by the NaMo-bhakti cult. By 2014, the BJP had managed to create a veritable mythology of a ‘Gujarat model’ and win its first ever majority at the Centre with the promise of replicating the ‘Gujarat model’ on a countrywide scale!

The renewed Sanghi call for ‘Ram Mandir’ must be seen in this larger perspective and not just as another twist or turn in the protracted Ayodhya dispute. The Ram Janambhoomi campaign has always been a pivotal rallying point for the Sangh’s vision of Hindu Rashtra and from the vantage position of central power, the Sangh brigade has now launched an all-out assault on India’s pluralistic heritage and ethos and the constitutional values, ideas and institutions of modern India. But the developments of 2015 – powered by the resistance of India’s peasants to land acquisition and agrarian crisis, the opposition of trade unions and the working class to the attack on labour rights, the spirited protests of students against the ongoing sale of higher education to the dictates of global capital, the unprecedented collective assertion of the democratic conscience of India’s writers, artists and scientists, and most tellingly, by the verdicts of Delhi and Bihar Assembly elections and now the Gujarat local polls – have made it quite clear that the Indian people have begun to see through this Sanghi game-plan and are determined to foil it with all their might.

Convention on ‘People’s Verdict 2015: The Role Of The Left’

The CPI(ML) Bihar State committee organized a people’s convention in Patna on 3 December to discuss the implications of the recent Bihar election results and the role of the Left parties in terms of the challenges and responsibilities that lie ahead. Other Left parties as well as progressive individuals were also invited to the convention.

Dhirendra Jha on behalf of the Presidium invited leaders to the dais which included Comrades Dipankar Bhattacharya, Swadesh Bhattacharya, BB Pandey, Pradeep Jha, Sandeep Saurav, Arun Kumar Mishra, and Akhilesh Kumar Singh. The convention started with a commemorative song by Hirawal as a tribute to Com. Bindeshwari Singh and well-known journalist Arun Kumar.

RYA President, Com. Raju Yadav and AISA State Secretary Ajit Kushwaha spoke of the need for a pervasive agitation on student issues such as the dismal condition of education, scarcity of jobs, lack of campus democracy, and exorbitant fees due to privatization of education. AICCTU leader Com. Ranvijay Kumar said that the Nitish government has always suppressed the legitimate demands of workers, such as ending of contractual labour, equal pay for equal work, and regularization of service; these issues remain unresolved and we must unite and agitate to force the Mahagathbandhan government to address them. KHEGAMAS President Com. Rameshwar Prasad said that those fighting for dalit rights are being slapped with false cases and thrown into jail, which is why Com. Satyadev Ram, Com. Amarjeet Kushwaha, and Com. Manoj Manzil had to fight the elections from inside jail. He stressed that KHEGRAMAS would continue the struggle for vaas-awaas, labour and land issues.

AIPWA State secretary Com. Shashi Yadav and National Vice President Com. Bharati Kumar said that women workers on contractual and honorarium basis would be further organized and their struggle carried forward. Tarari and Balrampur MLAs comrades Sudama Prasad and Mahboob Alam said that the Party has won in three Assembly constituencies in spite of extreme polarization; they vowed to raise the issues of irrigation, sharecroppers’ rights, agrarian reforms, false cases on activists, and other important issues inside the Assembly as well as outside on the streets.

CPM and CPI leaders Arun Kumar Mishra and Akhilesh Kumar said that the Bihar elections have brought the Left as a viable third force in India. Nitish and Lalu cannot be relied upon to stop fascist forces; this can be accomplished only by a concerted effort of the united Left. Well-known doctor and public health activist Dr P. N. P. Pal and retd. Lt. Gen USP Sinha appealed for a united struggle for the rights of the poor, dalits, farmers, and minorities and reforms in labour, agriculture, education and health.

Kisan Mahasabha General Secretary Com. Rajaram Singh said that the people of Bihar have shown a high level of consciousness and have thrown out the fascist BJP; the poor and marginalized have put their trust in the Left. The basic questions of justice are still unresolved and we cannot pin our hopes on this new government. It is for the united Left to fight and get justice for the poor, dalits, and minorities.

CPI (ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya saluted the people of Bihar for shattering the BJP’s dream of furthering their agenda of destroying the country’s democratic and multicultural fabric. He pointed out that this result is not the outcome of one single day. Over the last 10 years Nitish has been instrumental in encouraging the growth of the BJP in Bihar. The poor, dalit, working class, students, women, and minorities in Bihar were not happy with this and had always protested, creating the climate for the present mandate. There was anger against the undeclared emergency in the country, earlier expressed by intellectuals returning awards, and now expressed by the people of Bihar. He said that the ‘Mandal-2’ and ‘development’ promises of the Mahagathbandhan government are false promises. Culprits in carnages have been acquitted in spite of overwhelming evidence, activists have been jailed with false cases slapped on them, education and land reforms have been put in cold storage, industries are shutting down, and privatization is rampant in education, health and other sectors. The Left must unite and fight strongly on all these issues. The convention concluded with the Party State committee passing a 5-point resolution and political proposal.

Left Campaign against Communalism

Six Left parties- CPI (ML), CPI, CPI (M), SUCI (C), MSS and RSP organized a Sadbhavna march and a protest meeting in Ranchi on 2 December 2015 under the campaign against communalism undertaken from 1 December to 6 December to protest against rising intolerance and communal frenzy.

The march which started from Sainik Bazar in Ranchi under the leadership of Com. Shubendu Sen from CPI (ML), Com. Gopikant Bakshi from CPI (M), Com. K D Singh from CPI, human rights activist Fr. Stane Swami, Com. Siddheshwar Singh from SUCI (C), Com. Sushant Mukherjee from MSS, Com. Eti Tirkey from AIPWA, Com. Xavier Kujur from JASAM, and Com. Nadeem from AIPF, culminated in a protest meeting at Albert Ekka chowk.

Addressing the meeting, Com. Shubhendu Sen said that one chief reason for the increasingly vitiated atmosphere in the country is the conspiracy by the Modi government to implement the Sangh parivar’s communal agenda by inflicting Hindu nationalism on the country. That is why their Ministers, MPs, Chief Ministers, and even Governors are making communal statements on the one hand, while on the other hand the saffron brigade is running riot. It is the Left which must take up the responsibility to stop this. CPI (M) Secretary alleged that the Jharkhand government is responsible for the recent communal tensions in Jamshedpur and Ranchi as troublemakers were not reined in on time. The CPI leader said that the Left will not allow any conspiracy to destroy or weaken the Ganga-Jamuni culture of the country. Com. Siddheshwar Singh said that this fanning of communal tensions is an attempt to divert attention from the failure of the Modi government to bring “achche din”. Fr. Stane Swami said that the country is today faced with grave dangers which can be combated only by the united struggles of people’s organizations.

Conducting the programme, Com. Anil Anshuman of JASAM said that the ideology which contributed nothing to the country’s independence and nation-building is today setting itself up as the watchdog of patriotism. Other people’s organizations as well as hundreds of workers from construction workers’ unions also participated actively in the campaign.

Convention against Communalism in Nagaon, Assam

In the lead up to the programme of 6 December 2015, a convention was organized by four left parties- CPI, CPI (M), CPI (ML) and SUCI (C) at Nogoan in Assam. The convention was against communalism and increasing intolerance in the country. The convention was presided by 4 member presidium comprising of Com. Mridupaban Bora of CPI (ML), Com. Amarendra Sharma of CPI (M), Com. Sunaram Bora of (CPI)and Com. Lakhan Mirdha of SUCI (C).Speakers in the convention included Com. Ifakur Rahman from CPI (M), Jutirmoy Jana, teacher and writer, Com. Rubul Sarma of CPI (ML)l, Com. Achute Aceryya from SUCI (C), Abdul Aalam, an ex teacher. After convention an impressive procession also took place in the Nagaon town.

Protest by Left Parties against Communalism & Demolition drives in Chandigarh

On 6 December 2015, a joint march was called by CPI, CPI (M), CPI (ML) and CPI (Punjab) against growing communal intolerance and also against the continued demolition drives in Chandigarh even in this cold winter season. Hundreds of people on foot, bikes and auto rickshaws participated in the joint march. Besides protesting against the growing communalism and intolerance, the march jointly called by the left also demanded that the Chandigarh administration immediately stop its demolition drive in this cold winter. Only recently, On 3rd and 4th December, the administration had demolished 500 shanties of poor people secretly. The announcement regarding demolition was made in the night and the demolition carried out in the morning, denying any chance to the poor people to organize resistance. Comrades visited two such demolition sites during the 6th December march and expressed solidarity with people who had been rendered homeless. Comrades from CPI (ML) also independently visit another site in the form of caravan, where the administration is likely to start demolition a few days later. More than five hundred houses are in this area and the people living here have expressed willingness to start a struggle under the leadership of CPI (ML). The CPI (ML) leaders will meet the advisor to the Union territory of Chandigarh to pursue the matter of ending demolition.

40th Martyrdom Anniversary of Comrade Jauhar Observed in Puducherry

On 29th November 2015 Puducherry state committee organised meetings to observe the 40th Martyrdom anniversary of Com. Jauhar former General Secretary, Com Nirmal and Com. Ratan at Puducherry. Com. S.Balasubramanian, State Secretary, recollected Com. Jauhar’s heroic role in the revolutionary peasant upsurge in the battle of Babubandh. He also gave a speech about brief history of our party’s evolution to the new comers.

CPI(ML) Statement on Pricol Case Judgement

Eight AICCTU activists who are employees of a private company Pricol were sentenced to double life imprisonment on this Thursday in a shocking judgement of the sessions court case that began following the militant agitation by workers in September, 2009. CPI (ML) and AICCTU extend their wholehearted support to the Pricol workers who have decided to file an appeal against the double life imprisonment meted out to 8 of their co-workers by the sessions judge of the bomb blast cases court. Making use of the tragic death of Mr. Roy George, Pricol’s HR Vice President, the police foisted a criminal case against 27 persons including Com. S. Kumarasami, National President of AICCTU and Polit-bureau member of CPI(ML). This was done to crush the majority trade unions which were fighting for recognition. The workers of Pricol Limited have decided to seek justice not only in the courts of law but also in the people’s court pointing out the facts that the judgment is completely against the evidence on record and that it is only based on assumptions and conjectures. The said judgment does not deal with many of the arguments submitted by the defence. This judgment only sends a message that struggling workers and trade unions will be penalized. The hasty and hurried manner in which this judgment has been announced it is quite clear that the verdict is a product of the inherent class prejudice and bias of the capitalist system against the workers.

The CPI (ML) and AICCTU have launched a campaign to “Save People; Save Democracy”. The CPI (ML) and AICCTU call upon the workers, trade unions, left, democratic and progressive forces to extend solidarity to the Pricol workers in their struggle for justice. Massive demonstrations in the district headquarters were held by AICCTU in support of the jailed Pricol workers. Also in rain-battered and power- starving Chennai, our comrades held a huge demonstration.

In this hour of massive distress, Pricol workers not only took resolve to fight for justice for their fellow comrades, but also have decided to extend a helping hand to the rain and flood affected people in Tamil Nadu.

Red Salute to the indomitable fighting spirit of Pricol Workers!

Protest to Demand Relief for Flood Affected in Puducherry

The State Unit of CPI(ML) organised a massive demonstration on 27th November in front of the Deputy Collector’s Office, Villianur, Puducherry condemning the total inaction and criminal negligence on the part of ruling AINR Congress government of Puducherry UT led by Rangasamy. The government had completely failed in alleviating people’s pain and loss of properties and crops due to the continuing heavy rains and floods in Puducherry and Karaikal districts. The protestors demanded immediate relief to all who were affected by the rains and floods. The demonstration was led by Com. P. Murugan, State Committee member CPI(ML).

The major demands made by the protestors from the government:

i. Rs.30,000/- compensation per acre to the farmers for the loss of standing crops.

ii. Rs.10,000/- compensation to each unorganised worker who lost his livelihood due to the continuing rains and floods.

iii. Constitution of State level Disaster rehabilitation and relief fund.

iv. Rs.5 lakhs compensation to the victim families who lost their lives in the rains and floods.

v. Immediate removal of encroachments of water bodies and water ways which caused the floods

vi. Declare Puducherry and Karaikal Districts as flood hit and extend relief accordingly.

A large numbers of Urban and rural poor and farmers took part in the demonstrations and an eighteen points charter was submitted to the Chief Minister through the Collector for immediate redressal.

Obituary
Bindeshwari Singh

Comrade Bindheswari Singh, a veteran communist leader and the District Committee member of CPI (ML) Bhojpur unit, passed away on the morning of 3 December 2015. He was suffering from cancer. Com. Bindheswari hailed from Tarari and had played great role in the Bhojpur movement.

The Party along with thousands of masses pay homage to the departed leader !

Red salute to comrade Bindeshwari Singh !

Dr. B. D. Sharma

Dr. Brahm Dev Sharma, a committed defender of the rights of Adivasis and the 5th schedule areas, passed away on 6 December 2015. He was 86. An IAS officer, he committed his life fighting the oppression and exploitation of the poor, particularly the adivasis. His contribution to democratic movements and official policies aimed at strengthening democracy at the grassroots and defending the rights and livelihood of those in the forest areas was remarkable and will always be remembered. He played an instrumental role in framing of several key policies affecting the lives of poor living in rural and forest areas, such as the Forest Rights Act and the Panchayat Extension of Scheduled Areas Act (PESA) which enables the Gram Sabhas to govern their own resources in scheduled areas. He also served as the Vice Chancellor of the North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU) in Shillong in Meghalaya and as the commissioner of the National Scheduled Caste and Scheduled tribe Commission, after resigning from the government.

In times of increased assaults on lives and livelihoods of people by way of policies like land acquisition and open invitation to the corporate to loot the natural resources especially in the forest regions, a real tribute to Dr. B. D. Sharma’s legacy would be by strengthening the movements against anti-people policies of the government and for defending people’s rights and livelihood.

CPI (ML) salutes the legacy of Dr. B.D. Sharma.

Red Salute to People’s Poet Vidrohi !

Inimitable revolutionary poet Vidrohi passed away on 8 October. Ever since his days as a JNU student several decades ago, he dedicated himself and his poetry to students’ and people’s movements. He was a constant presence in JNU, and no struggle or protest in Delhi was complete without Vidrohi ji’s sharp and honest poetic voice. Fittingly, he spent his last days and hours among his beloved students, with the Occupy UGC movement, and he came to the UGC to join AISA in the all India March to Jantar Mantar. All students at the anti-WTO Convention today observed two minutes silence in Vidrohi ji’s memory.

Vidrohi ji was also active with the Jan Sanskriti Manch, and an award winning documentary film had been made by young filmmaker Nitin on him, titled ‘Main tumhara kavi hun’ (I am your poet).

Vidrohi never wrote his poems, only recited them. But his poems will never be forgotten, his voice, challenging every power boldly, from rulers to gods, will inspire movements always!


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