ML Update | No.17 | 2015

April 22, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 17, 21 ­– 27 APRIL 2015

Expose BJP’s Attempts to Appropriate Ambedkar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Red Salute to Comrade Ammaiappan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Countrywide Kisan Mahasabha Padyatra against Land Ordinance

(Under AIPF National Struggles Campaign)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Protest Against Army Rape of Three Women in Karbi Anglong

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

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

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

20th State Conference of Mahasangh

(Gope Group)

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

AICCTU’s 1st Uttarakhand Conference

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

Vidhansabha Gherao by Jharkhand Midday Meal Workers’ Association

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

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

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

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

First District Conference of AISA- Madurai

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

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

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ML Update | No.16 | 2015

April 16, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 16, 14 ­– 20 APRIL 2015

Custodial Killing by Police in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Protests in Bengal against Ranaghat rape

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report from the Ongoing Movement in Bindukhatta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Launch of RYA in Karaikal, Puducherry

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

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

Meeting elected following comrades as functionaries,

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

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

Construction Workers’ Protest in Devaria

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

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

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ML Update | No.15 | 2015

April 9, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 15, 07 ­– 13 APRIL 2015

BJP National Executive: Defensiveness and Desperation Over Land Grab Law

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AIALA National Conference held in Bhubaneshwar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Chittoor and Nalgonda Fake Encounters

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

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

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

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

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

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

Construction Workers’ Protest in Faizabad

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

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

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

Copies of Land Acquisition Ordinance Burnt in Protest Across the Country

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

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

On Garissa University Massacre in Kenya

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

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

On the ongoing crisis in Yemen

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

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

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

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

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ML Update | No.14 | 2015

April 1, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

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

Suppression of Dissent: The AAP Mantra of Governance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Land Struggle-Labour Struggle Campaign Launched under AIPF Banner

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

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

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

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

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

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

Militant Demo of Bangalore Sanitation and Water Supply Workers

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

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

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

Protest in Gaya against Anti-Encroachment Drive

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

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

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

Dear comrades,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obituary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ML Update | 18 | 2015

March 25, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 13, 24 – 30 MARCH 2015

Hashimpura Acquittal: Shameful Injustice

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e acquittal of all the accused police personnel in the Hashimpura custodial massacre case of 1987 is a comment on the callous and communal rot that pervades India’s politics and police machinery and the utter failure of its criminal justice systems.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AIPWA Gheraos Jharkhand Assembly

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

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

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

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

Struggle against Land Acquisition in Tripura

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

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

Kisan Mahasabha Leads March to Uttarakhand Vidhan Sabha

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

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

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

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

23 March: Bhagat Singh Martyrdom Day Observed

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

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

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

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

Agitation in Nirsa after Worker’s Death

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

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

Victory for Students Movement in Bhojpur

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

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

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

Weaver’s Strike in Gaya

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

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

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

BBMP and BWSSB Workers’ Demo in Bangalore

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

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

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

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

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

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ML Update | No. 12 | 2015

March 18, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18 | No. 12 | 17 – 23 MAR 2015

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

Bhagat Singh-Sukhdev-Rajguru!


Defend Land and Labour Rights !



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



Join 100 Day Bhoomi-Adhikar Shram Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan,

23 March – 30 June

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

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

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

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

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

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

Land-Food-Livelihood – Resist Corporate Loot!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ML Update | No.11 | 2015

March 12, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 11, 10 – 16 MARCH 2015

The Message of International Women’s Day 2015

​I​
nternational Women’s Day is a celebration of more than a century of women’s mass movements demanding equality and freedom.

It is important to remember that it was socialist revolutionary women who began observing International Women’s Day to commemorate the historic strikes by women workers in the United States of America, demanding an 8-hour working day and the right to vote. Those working class women and revolutionary socialists struggled for women’s freedom – and for a revolution that would free not only women but the world’s people from oppressive shackles.

This is a history that the market and most of our ruling politicians would like us to forget, as they seek to appropriate IWD and empty it of its true historical and contemporary significance.

Many politicians would like us to observe IWD as a day to express gratitude to women for their ‘selfless service’, and praise women for their ‘achievements’. And in the same way, various companies that commercialize IWD would like us to observe IWD as a day to buy gifts for women to express gratitude and praise.

This ‘praise’ and ‘gratitude’, ironically, is like a paternalistic “good conduct” prize to women for performing the roles prescribed by patriarchy. While in fact, IWD commemorates women’s rejection of those patriarchal roles and the struggle to overthrow patriarchal structures!

Reflecting this patriarchal approach, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a message on IWD saying, “I salute the indomitable courage and stellar achievements of women.” In this message, he mentioned the ‘’Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ (Save and Educate Daughters) scheme and the Sukanya Samruddhi scheme (to “support the marriage and education of young women”). These schemes also reinforce the notion that girls and young women must be ‘saved’ because they are “good daughters”, not because they are equal human beings. ‘Sukanya’ literally means ‘good daughter’. And why should ‘marriage’ be tagged with ‘education’ as a goal for women, when there are certainly no schemes for the marriage of men; is it not a tacit appeasement of the dowry system?

Modi’s message does not mention that his Government’s first full Budget recently slashed the funds for the ICDS scheme by a whopping 51%. This scheme is meant to combat malnutrition and healthcare in children and gender discrimination against girls, and is run by anganwadi workers. How can the PM ‘save daughters’ by slashing the budget for this scheme? By slashing the budget for this scheme, India’s abysmal performance on child nutrition and girl children’s rights will take a further beating, and anganwadi workers will continue to be underpaid and exploited.

Moreover, Modi is silent on the fate of the rape survivors of Muzaffarnagar, who were raped at the behest of leaders of Modi’s party, as part of the communal violence that helped secure BJP a huge mandate in the Parliamentary elections. The accused men continue to enjoy impunity thanks to the protection of the ruling party, and the quest for justice is being actively obstructed.

The Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Women’s Day message also reinforced patriarchal stereotypes. He said, “When I used to fight against the corrupt system, my wife ran the house and my mother supported me", and asked Delhi men to admire “how easily and honestly women carry out their responsibilities and relationships without expressing the slightest protest … They go about their jobs while taking care of their families." He asked men to refrain from street harassment because “Men who do not respect women outside can never respect women in their household."

Patriarchy expects women to “run the house” for men who lead political struggles; to do household work as their ‘responsibility’ alone; and do waged “jobs” as well as “take care of families”, all “without expressing the slightest protest”. The history of the women’s movement is a history of women rejecting this division of labour and assignment of roles. It is the history of women expressing vocal, vigorous protest against being asked to bear the burden of housework alone; against exploitation at work and in the home; and against being expected to “run homes” for men who have prominent public roles. It is the history of women leading struggles and social and political movements. Kejriwal’s message shows that he has chosen not to credit this history of protest, but has praised women for ‘suffering and bearing burdens in silence’ – something that patriarchy has always done.

Moreover, why should men be asked to refrain from violence against women, as a show of respect to women in their homes? In effect, this amounts to asking men to keep all women safe, in gratitude for the services women perform for men inside homes. In fact, men are violent and coercive to women inside homes precisely because they feel entitled to women’s household services. This fact is clearly indicated by a study based on the based on the India Human Development Survey 2004-05, which found that justifications for wife-beating and domestic violence in India ranged from ‘going out alone without permission’ (about 39 per cent), followed by ‘neglect of household duties’ (about 35 per cent), ‘badly cooked meals’ (about 29.50 per cent), and dowry-related (about 29 per cent).

The BBC film India’s Daughter also reinforces the idea of the obedient and well-behaved Indian daughter, who seeks her parents’ ‘permission’ to go out with a male friend. It claims to show the “mindset of the rapist”, but it locates the abhorrent anti-women ideas only in the rapist and his lawyers. It fails to show how the custodians of the system, including police officers and politicians and godmen, display the same mindsets. It also profiles poor underprivileged men in India as rapists, failing to show that rape is a much larger problem, occurring across classes both in India and in the world.

Close to IWD, the horrific lynching of a rape-accused man in Dimapur by a mob of thousands is a chilling reminder of how the issue of rape and ‘women’s safety’ is often turned into a patriarchal display of violence rather than a quest for justice for women.

In this case, the accused is from the minority Muslim community, and was wrongly profiled as an ‘outsider’, an ‘illegal Bangladeshi immigrant’, whereas in fact he was from Assam. But even if he had been Bangladeshi, the fact is that the lynching would still be an instance of xenophobic, patriarchal violence.

The incident highlights how xenophobia and communal hatred against ‘illegal Bangladeshis’ is being whipped up in the eastern parts of India and also elsewhere in India.

But the Dimapur incident also raises the question of why mobs never ‘avenge’ rapes committed by men of their own community? Such mob violence is orchestrated and unleashed only when a man from an ‘Other’ community is accused of raping “our women,” that is when the rape is seen as an attack on the community’s ‘honour’. Women are seen as property and repositories of community honour, and men accused of violating that property and that ‘honour’ are attacked. This is no different from khap panchayats killing men for having married women from another caste.

In Dimapur, and in the political pogrom unleashed by the BJP in Muzaffarnagar, and in the mob attack on African men in Rajiv Chowk in Delhi, the same patriarchal sentiment was operating. In Khirki, it was African women who were painted by an AAP Minister as the threat to the safety of ‘our women.’

Justice for women can never be brought about by unleashing mob violence to ‘avenge’ them, and it can never be achieved on the basis of asking men to “respect all women like ‘their’ women.” Instead, all men must be asked to learn to respect the autonomy and freedom of all women, including those in their families. And the patriarchal structures of class, caste, gender, race, from the homes to the workplaces, must be challenged. That is the message of International Women’s Day!

JOIN Founding Conference of the All India People’s Forum (AIPF), 14-15 March, 2015

Ambedkar Bhawan, Delhi

​D​
ear Friends, ten months ago Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India promising to reduce prices, check corruption, bring back black money and usher in good times for the country. 2014 is over and we are now in 2015. Do we see the Modi government moving towards fulfilment of those wonderful poll promises? The answer is a big NO.

Oil prices are going down globally, but we don’t really feel it in India. Even if petrol and diesel prices have been reduced a bit, fares and transportation charges and prices of every essential commodity continue to go up. There is no sign of black money being recovered and BJP President Amit Shah has now said the talk of every family getting Rs 15 lakh through repatriation of black money was just empty poll rhetoric. In contrast, we see that I billion dollar loan from jan-dhan of our public bank is being doled out to favoured corporates like Adani !

While the government is not implementing the poll promises made to the common people, it is working overtime to pass on favours to big companies of Indian and foreign origin. Ordinance has been issued to expedite land grab in corporate interest. Coal and other mines are being opened up for commercial private mining. Foreign investment is being favoured in every sector of the economy. And during US President Obama’s recent visit to India, Modi has virtually freed US companies supplying nuclear reactors to India from any liability, compensation and legal action, in the case of any accident. To pander to the greed of US drug companies, the Modi Government is systematically undermining India’s patent policy; which will stall domestic production of several life-saving drugs and escalate their prices for common people in India and across the world.

The Planning Commission has been wound up and funds allocated for welfare programmes are being squeezed systematically. In the latest budget, the government has slashed expenditure on welfare and social spending, the worst hit being the health, women and child welfare, and education sectors. A drastic reduction in food security coverage from 75% to 40% is planned. In the name of the ‘Make in India’ campaign, the government is inviting foreign capital to come and exploit India’s labour cheaply while labour laws are being systematically subverted to deny Indian workers any legal safeguard against wage-theft, unsafe workplaces and oppressive working conditions.

Commercialisation and saffronization of education are being given a fresh push. Public-funded education is being weakened through huge budget cuts, autonomy of education institutions are being trampled upon, and obscurantism and communal poison are being promoted both through syllabus changes and appointments.

And accompanying this economic attack on the common people is the mischievous communal agenda of the Sangh Parivar which has the backing of the Modi government. Every small local dispute is being blown up or sheer rumours are being spread to whip up communal frenzy and target the Muslim community. The RSS chief has declared India a Hindu Rashtra, BJP MPs, ministers and so-called sadhus and sadhvis are asking Hindu women to produce four children and more, churches are being vandalised right in the national capital and the Modi government remains a silent spectator.

The time has surely come to rise in powerful protest against these mischievous anti-people anti-democratic moves of the Modi government. And to be sure the protests have very much begun. In sector after sector workers and employees are opposing the government’s policies, peasants are up in arms against the land-grab order and the rural poor are insisting on their right to employment guarantee and food security. And now in the elections to Delhi Assembly, the people of Delhi have given a resounding rebuff to the BJP and an emphatic mandate to the AAP to fulfil its promises to the poor and working people and deprived areas of Delhi.

To resist the Modi government’s assault on the common people and the communal and divisive agenda of the Sangh Parivar and strengthen the Indian people’s battle for comprehensive democracy, dignity and justice, a whole range of democratic organisations and individuals have decided to come together and launch a national platform called the All India People’s Forum. The founding conference of the AIPF is being held in Delhi at Ambedkar Bhawan on 14-15 March and this will be followed by a massive Jan Sansad at Parliament Street on 16 March to call upon the government to withdraw the land-grab ordinance and other anti-people measures, fulfil its electoral promises of reducing prices, eliminating corruption and bringing back black money and firmly stop the communal and divisive forces.

We appeal to all of you to participate in the AIPF founding conference and the Jan Sansad, contributing with your support, your ideas and suggestions for sustained campaigns.

International Women’s Day Celebrated

On the occasion of the International Women’s Day on 8 March, AIPWA organised protests and rallies in various states including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and other parts of the country. In Delhi, AIPWA and several women’s organisations held a massive joint march from the Rajiv Chowk metro station to Jantar Mantar. Thousands of working class women from different parts of Delhi as well as students participated in this march, which culminated in a public meeting and dharna at Jantar Mantar. Representatives from various women’s organisations addressed the meeting – highlighting the Modi government’s assaults on women’s rights, autonomy and freedom for women. Several speakers pointed out that the Modi government, which came to power on the slogan of ‘Bahut ho gaya naari pe vaar, abki baar Modi sarkar’, was now systematically cutting down on budgets and the Central government’s spending on women. The number of the proposed and much needed rape crisis centres had been reduced from 660 to a mere 36. At the same time, Hindutva groups were mounting an even more aggressive assault on women’s autonomy and freedom of choice. Addressing the dharna, Comrade AIPWA national joint secretary Kavita Krishnan talked of how the Kiss of Love protests by young men and women across the country had emerged as a challenge to the patriarchal moral police brigade of the ABVP, RSS, Bajrang Dal and Hindu Mahasabha. She also pointed out how the Modi government’s much-touted ‘Make in India’ campaign was a huge assault on the rights of women workers. Not just are women workers bearing the brunt of pathetic working conditions and an exploitative work atmosphere, they are also having to deal with feudal and patriarchal control over their lives by industrial managements. She also pointed out that women’s ‘protection’ was now being aggressively used as an excuse by communal fascist forces to unleash a dangerous campaign of threats and intimidation as well as violence and hate-mongering against Muslims – the love-jihad and the VHP’s ‘Beti Bachao, Bahu Bachao’ campaign in UP being a case in point. AIPWA also held joint protests and programmes with other women’s groups in Lucknow, Kanpur, Patna, Bhilai and elsewhere.

Students’ March to Parliament Against Lyngdoh Committee recommendations, proposed Central Universities Act and CBCS

For the past two months, leaders of the AISA-led JNUSU have been visiting campuses across the country to campaign against the undemocratic Lyngdoh Committee recommendations (LCR), and various anti-student legislations being mooted by the Modi government’s Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD). Responding to JNUSU’s call, hundreds of students from JNU, Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Patna University, Veer Kunwar Singh University (Ara), Allahabad University, Tilka Majhi Bhagalpur University, Jadavpur University, Punjab University, Central University of Haryana and Trishur College Kerala participated in a United Students’ ‘March to Parliament’ on 3 March 2015 against the LCR and the MHRD’s proposed Central University Act.

Through the ‘common’ Central University Act, the MHRD is trying to force all central universities to follow a ‘common’ admission, a ‘common’ syllabus and ‘transferrable’ faculty. This will kill the autonomy of central Universities like DU and JNU, kill their uniqueness, kill their respective areas of strength in teaching and research. Through this Act, the saffron brigade wants to achieve its long term ideological agenda of saffronisation of higher education. In the name of ‘common’ syllabus and course structure, this Act will enable the RSS ‘think-tanks’ of ‘Dinanath Batra variety’ to impose their whims on all Universities including JNU, DU etc. By ‘centralising all recruitments’, the Central Government will have a free hand to dictate faculty appointments of its choice. And the provision to ‘faculty-transfer’ will act as a weapon to keep the upright faculty members who ‘do not fall in line’ under permanent threat.

We have seen that in recent years, students have repeatedly been treated as guinea pigs for ill-motivated experiments: the forced impositions of ‘Semester system’, then ‘FYUP’ and now a so-called CBCS (Credit Based Choice System). Like the FYUP, the CBCS is also a combination of silly and shallow Foundation, Core and Elective papers. This will dilute the academic quality of Honours courses and over-burden students and teachers with useless courses, when colleges lack both permanent teachers and enough infrastructure. On the one hand, the Lyngdoh recommendations are being used to scuttle campus democracy and effective participation of students in the decision-making process. On the other hand, the Government is trying to thrust anti-student policies on Universities such as the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) and the Central Universities Act.

The students were therefore marching to Parliament to demand an immediate repeal against the undemocratic Lyngdoh committee recommendations which govern student union elections, and to defend campus democracy, academic autonomy and democratic rights of students in higher education. The protest march to Parliament was met with a crackdown by the Delhi Police. Protesting students were lathi charged, several students including women students were manhandled by the Police, and some students including JNUSU office bearers were detained in the Parliament Street police station.

Campaign in Gaya against police complicity in murder

CPI(ML) has been running a campaign against police repression in Gaya district, after the dead body of 35-year Laldev Yadav was found in a jeep parked within the premises of the Tikari police station in Gaya. A week back, Laldev Yadav’s wife had been injured after getting hit by a vehicle belonging to Mukesh Sharma from the neighbouring village. It had then been decided that Mukesh Sharma would pay for the treatment of Laldev Yadav’s wife. However, instead of keeping to this promise, Mukesh Sharma molested Laldev Yadav’s wife on the afternoon of the same day. After Laldev Yadav’s wife filed a complaint with the police, on 27 January 2015 both Mukesh Sharma and Laldev Yadav were called to the police station. However, Laldev Yadav did not reach home that night and next morning his dead body was found in the premises of the police station. These suspicious circumstances clearly pointed to the complicity of the police and the local administration.

Under the leadership of CPI(ML), a road jam of the Gaya-Tikari road was organised to demand that the police personnel, including the police station in-charge, be held accountable for this murder. The protestors demanded that the station in-charge be arrested and 10 lakh compensation as well as a job be provided to the relatives of the deceased. A Tikari bandh was also called and successfully organised on 30 January 2015 to press for these demands.

Protest in Gopalganj against feudal-communal forces

CPI(ML) held a one-day protest in Gopalganj on 18 January 2015, against attacks on women by the Hindu Yuva Vahini and other feudal-communal forces. On 19 December last year, members of the Hindu Yuva Vahini had assaulted women in the Musahari bazaar area of the Vijayipur block of Gopalganj. Moreover, these very same feudal-communal forces had attacked several youths including Raju Ram, Vyas Yadav, Ramashankar Gupta and others. CPI(ML) organised this one-day protest against these incidents and the growing assertion of feudal-communal-fascist forces in Bihar.

Addressing the protest, state vice president of the All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM) and CPI(ML) state committee member Amarnath Yadav pointed out that ever since the Modi government assumed power, feudal-communal forces affiliated to the RSS are feeling all the more emboldened in launching assaults on women, dalits and Muslims. He also pointed out that forces such as RJD-JD(U) have only provided amply grounds for the growth of communal-feudal forces in Bihar. The protest was also addressed by CPI(ML) leaders Jitendra Paswan, Lal Bahadur Singh, Subhash Patel, Ramnaresh Ram, Ramesh Baitha, Rajesh Yadav and others. The protest was presided over by Sriram Kushwaha.

Red Salute to Comrade Man Singh Pal!

Comrade Man Singh Pal, CPI(ML) Uttarakhand’s state committee member and popular leader of the Bindukhatta movement, passed away on 9 March 2015 in Delhi. Born in 1960, Comrade Man Singh came to Bindukhatta in 1979 and had been actively involved with the land struggles there ever since. Since then, he has been known as one of the leading voices in the people’s movement in Bindukhatta, participating and leading several struggles. He led struggles for ration cards, construction of schools, hospitals and roads and provision of electricity. In 1985, he was also jailed twice for participating and leading struggles against corruption. In 1988, he was jailed for 33 days for his leading role in the massive movement against the state repression in Mahtosh Modh in Gadarpur block. In 1990, he started a movement for establishing a people’s higher secondary school. He faced a 15-year long trial by the forest department for his role in fighting for land rights for the poor. In 1994, he sat on an indefinite hunger strike against the management of the Century Paper Mill, demanding employment of youth in the area. In 2004, he was involved in the milk movement, and recently was involved in the protests against the rape and murder of an 8-year old girl in Lalkuan. Since 2004, he had been involved in struggles related to land and declaration of revenue villages in Bindukhatta.

He assumed various onerous responsibilities both in IPF, and later in the CPI(ML). He had thrice been the area secretary of CPI(ML)’s Bindukhatta unit. He had also been a member of the Uttarakhand state leading team before CPI(ML)’s state conference. After the state conference in 2013, he had been a member of the state committee. In 2012, he had also been CPI(ML)’s candidate for the Lalkuan assembly seat. He was known, loved and respected for his generous nature and close connect with people. Despite his own economic difficulties, he often set aside his problems to help others. A condolence meeting was held in his memory in the CPI(ML) office on 9 March 2015.

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

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ML Update | No.10 | 2015

March 4, 2015


MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 10, 03 – 09 MARCH 2015

Budget 2015: Bonanza for the Rich, Bitter Austerity Pill for Others

Whichever way one looks at the first full-fledged budget of the Modi government, three features would stand out in bold relief. The budget has certainly handed out a big bonanza to the corporate sector – may not be as big a bonanza as would make the share market jump in joy, but a substantial bonanza nevertheless. That there are sharp cuts in social spending is another fact that stares everybody in the face. MNREGA may have escaped the kind of cut many had apprehended, but the axe has fallen heavily on every other item. But if the budget has added to the disappointment of one section of the people, it is the section which had voted in a big way for the BJP in the last Lok Sabha elections – the burgeoning Indian middle class. It is the middle class that along with the poor and the deprived will bear the burden of the 2015-16 budget – the 1.5% hike in service tax will pinch the middle class in every step of life.

Let us take a closer look at all these three defining features of the budget. In one fell swoop, the government has done away with wealth tax. The government knows that in a country with such sharp inequality as India, the abolition of the wealth tax cannot be defended as a matter of principle. So we are told the wealth tax is not cost effective, the cost of collecting the tax is higher than the amount of tax collected. In other words, the rich in India have mastered million ways not only to amass massive wealth but also to keep it safe from the taxman. If the government admits to this basic failure of ‘governance’ and wants to use it as a pretext for abolishing the very tax levied on wealth, how on earth does it expect us to take its threats against black money seriously? The 2% surcharge announced on income of above Rs one crore will also suffer on the same count.

The government has of course not stopped with just the abolition of wealth tax. It has also handed out a Rs 200,000 crore tax bonanza over the next four years by promising to lower the corporate tax from 30% to 25%. And this when according to the government’s own calculation, the current tax rate of 30% actually works out to an effective tax rate of only 23%! The exemptions dished out to the corporate houses – in tax as well as customs and excise duties – continue to be staggering, during the first year of Modi government (2014-15), they just increased from Rs 5,500 billion in the last year of the UPA government (2013-14) to Rs 5,890 billion. And with no MAT (minimum alternate tax), inheritance tax or wealth tax, an exemption-laced lowered corporate tax is all that the corporate sector will have to face in the coming years. Add to this the proposed changes in the land acquisition law and labour laws, the disinvestment offerings and the government readiness to bear all risk in PPPs, the size of the corporate cake could not really be any bigger!

Contrast this bonanza to the treatment meted out to the consumers – the service tax has now been raised to a whopping 14% and like every other indirect tax, this too affects the people regardless of their income, making it blatantly disproportionate and regressive. During the Delhi elections, Modi talked of his ‘luck’ that his tenure so far has seen global oil prices crash from $110 per barrel in June 2014 to just about half, $57 per barrel. Far from transferring the benefits to the people, the government has resorted to a steady hike in excise duties on petrol and diesel and now in freight rates in this year’s rail budget, mopping up billions of rupees of extra revenue, and if yet government figures show stagnation on the revenue front, it only shows highlights the dire need to increase taxes on the rich, do away with the sundry exemptions and improve the actual collection of taxes. But the government has chosen the opposite way and the result is an unprecedented squeeze in public spending and that too in the most sensitive social sectors concerning the most deprived sections of the population.

Compared to last year’s budget, total plan expenditure is estimated to decline by a massive Rs 1.1 lakh crore, an unprecedented squeeze of about 20%. The decision to wind up the Planning Commission and replace it with the strange sounding ‘NITI Aayog’ was clearly not just a wordplay, the Modi raj has actually embarked on the dangerous journey of cutting back even whatever little money the government it spends on basic services and people’s welfare. From Sarva Siksha Abhiyan to higher education, mid-day meal to National Health Mission, SC/ST sub plan to women and children welfare, the axe has fallen on virtually every single social expenditure item. Even the allocation for sanitation and drinking water has been reduced, leaving one to wonder if like ‘kala dhan wapsi’ (repatriation of black money), ‘swachchhata’ would also turn out to be just another ‘jumla’ or ‘empty rhetoric’ for the BJP. And contrary to the BJP propaganda of ‘cooperative federalism’, the states do not get any extra resources to make up for the cuts in central expenditure.

Arun Jaitley has advised the middle class to take its own care. What he has not said in so many words is that his government has abandoned the poor. Tax cuts for the rich, spending cuts for the poor and greater cost burden on the working people and middle classes – these are the classic features of a dreadful economic regime that is known as ‘austerity’ to the whole world. Yes, instead of the promised glimpses of ‘achchhe din’, Arun Jaitley’s budget has delivered the first few pills of austerity to the overwhelming majority of Indian people. In the economic realm, the truth of ‘minimum government, maximum governance’ has started ringing as ‘minimum responsibility of the government, maximum burden on the people’. The time has come for all sections of the people to rise in unison against this disastrous economic direction.

Reduction in Social Sectors in Budgetary Allocations (BE) of 2014-15 and 2015-16 (BE)

Departments 2014-15 (BE) Rs. Cr. 2015-16 (BE) Rs. Cr. Change
Agriculture (including Agri Research) 28,795 23,323.85 -19%
Drinking Water and sanitation 15,263.15 6,238.87 -59%
Health and family Welfare 34,874.86 29,358.87 -15%
AIDS Control 1,749 1,357 -22%
Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation 5,558.6 5,169.47 -7%
Rural Development 79,999.8 71,593.08 -10%
Women and Child Development 20,900.82 10,084.40 -51%
(In particular ICDS) 18,321 8,471 -53%
School Education 54,8444.18 41,934.50 -23%
Higher Education 27,565.20 26,760.26 -8%

CPI (ML) Statement on Rail Budget

The 2015-16 Rail Budget of the Modi Government is going to hurt the pockets of the citizens, by the back door.

In spite of the fall in international crude oil prices, the Budget has shown no corresponding fall in rail fares. Instead, hikes in freight rates are going to result in hiked prices that will burden various sections of Indian people.

The Budget has hiked freight rates for urea by a whopping 10 per cent – this will undoubtedly put an immense burden of increased fertilizer prices on farmers.

The across-the-board hike in freight prices of groundnut oil, grains and pulses, LPG and kerosene, as well as cement, coal, and iron and steel will have a cascading effect on prices of essential items of household consumption and will also lead to an overall price rise.

This Budget, like previous budgets, has failed to take the safety measures called for to prevent rail accidents, in spite of the fact that 15,000 people die every year in rail-related accidents and fires. The obvious priority measure to prevent accidents would be to fill in the 3 lakh vacant posts in the railways. But instead, the Rail Budget has proposed ‘audio-visual’ warnings to road passengers at unmanned crossings. Why should crossings remain unmanned at all? As long as they remain unmanned, is it really imaginable that mere audio-visual warnings will prevent accidents?

In the name of correcting under-investment in the Railways, the Rail Budget has further opened the doors for private profiteering at the cost of the invaluable public asset that is the Railways.

The move to install surveillance (CCTV) cameras in passenger coaches and ladies’ compartments is extremely troubling. Instead of making women safer, this will in fact increase the vulnerability of women passengers to voyeurism and snooping as well as misuse of the CCTV footage. The CCTVs are also likely to be used to profile and harass women and children from the poorer sections, vendors, transgenders, and other vulnerable sections of the population, for whom the railways are a lifeline but who are at the mercy of corrupt and insensitive rail authorities.

The Modi Government’s Rail Budget has proved once again, that far from the acche din promised, the Government is relentlessly increasing burdens on citizens and offering up public assets for private profit.

Kisan Mahasabha Holds Countrywide Protests against Land Acquisition Ordinance

The Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha organized countrywide protest demonstrations against the Land Acquisition ordinance on 23 February 2015. Thousands of farmers took part in these protests held in about 84 districts across states including UP, Bihar, MP, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Andhra Pradesh. The farmers expressed their outrage and submitted memorandums to the President through the district authorities demanding repeal of this ordinance.

The CPI (ML) and Kisan Mahasabha also resolved to mobilize farmers and rural poor and hold special countrywide gram sabhas between 24 February and 14 March2015, to conduct a signature campaign against the Land Ordinane as well as cuts in MNREGA and Food Security bills. A people’s parliament will be held on 16 March in New Delhi and the memo with the signatures will be submitted to the President and the Lok Sabha speaker, demanding a stop to the anti people attempts of the Modi government.

In Bihar, protests, nukkad sabhas and demonstrations were organized at Gandhi Maidan, Bhagat Singh chowk in Patna city, Nawada, Shekhpura, Ara, Bhagalpur, Jamui, Beguserai, Siwan, Darbhanga, Western Champaran, Buxar, Hajipur in Vaishali. These were very well attended by farmers, rural poor and women. Speakers including Kisan Mahasabha national secretary Rajaram Singh, Rajendra Patel, Pramod Singh, Mahesh Yadav, Manoj Pandey, Jainath Yadav, Vishveshwar Prasad Yadav, and many other leaders pointed out that the 2013 Land Acquisition bill with provisions for 70-80% consent, 4 times compensation social impact assessment, and rehabilitation, etc., was passed after a long struggle by farmers. The Modi government’s 2014 ordinance has thrown out all these provisions in a single blow, increasing food insecurity and displacement, reducing agricultural land, and robbing the farmer of what little relief he had got through the 2013 Bill.

In Uttar Pradesh protests were held in Ghazipur, Balliya Kushinagar,Mhou, Chandauli, Niyamtabad, Saidipur, Sonbhadra, Mirzapur, Kanpur, Bareilly, Lakhimpur, Moradabad, Mathura, Jalaun, Pilibhit, Puranpur, Deoriya, Padrauna, Gorakhpur, and other places. Farmers and leaders who addressed the protest meetings vowed to fight against this draconian ordinance and called upon farmers to unite against this land loot.

In Madhya Pradesh demonstrations and protest rallies were held in Bhind district. Kisan Mahasabha leaders addressed the meeting and pointed out that the central and state governments were conniving together to loot land from the farmers. Earlier, meetings and padyatras (foot marches) were organized at 20 villages. A memorandum was submitted to the President through the district authorities demanding the repeal of the ordinance.

In Andhra Pradesh protests were held in Eastern Godavari and Krishna districts. Protest meetings were held in Karnal in Haryana. In Rajasthan demonstrations and rallies were organized in Jhunjhunu and Salumber block in Udaipur. Farmers protested against land grab of 7000 hectares by Birlas without farmers’ consent, and increase in electricity rates by 18%.

In Punjab protests were held at Faridkot, Kot Kapoora, Mansa, Budhlada, Sangrur, Barnala, Gurdaspur, Bhatinda, Rampura Phool, and other places. Protests and dharnas with the participation of about 1500 farmers were held at Puri in Orissa and also Kalahandi district. A huge protest rally and meeting was held at Haldwani in Nainital district of Uttarakhand.

Farmers and rural poor across the country thus protested against the land grab ordinance and vowed to fight for its repeal.

AICCTU in Joint Demonstration all over Tamil Nadu on 26 February

All 11 central trade unions participated in a joint demonstrations held at Chennai Central railway station . More than 1000 workers took part and Com Jawahar state Honorary President addressed on behalf of AICCTU .Com Sekar and Munusamy were present . In Tiruvellore Joint demo was held at main Bazaar While Com A S Kumar Deputy Gen secretary of AICCTU present, Com Anburaj and Thirunavukkarasu addressed on behalf of AICCTU. Demonstration at Dharmapuri district was addressed by Com Murugan of electricity board union and Com Govindaraj state Gensecretary of Civil supplies corporation union also participated along with workers. In Tanjore, Com Rajan , state secretary , In Karur Com Bal raj, state VP of EB union, In Dindigul, state secretary Com Manivel, In Namakkal Com Subramani district secretary along with Com Govindaraj state secretary, In Erode District Tresurer Com Venkatesan along with Com K R Kumarasamy , In Salem Com Viswanathan of Co-optex union along with comrades Natarajan and Velmurugan , In Madurai, Com Mathivanan, In Tirunelveli State leaders Sankarapandian and Ramesh along with district secretary Com Ganesan and In Kanyakumari, Comrades Mary stella and Suseela took part .Demonstration in Coimbatore district was held at 3 places . In Periyanaickan palayam Com Damodharan state VP addressed .More than 100 workers from AICCTU took part. In Singanallur Com Balamurugan Leader of Shanthi gears union spoke on behalf of AICCTU. In Pollachi, Punch of Civil supplies loadmen participated in a joint demo and Com Durai spoke.Apart from AICCTU Leaders of central trade unions viz CITU, AITUC, AIUTUC,INTUC, BMS and LPF addressed the gathering.Workers from almost all sectors were mobilised by the trade unions .

All CTUs Demonstration in Bangalore

Joint Council of Trade Unions of all central trade unions in Bangalore organized a Dharna Satyagraha on 26 Feb. 2015 as a part of all India call.

Protestors demanded a minimum wage of Rs. 15000, withdrawal of pro-corporate, anti-worker amendments to labour laws, scrapping of contract labor system, same work- same payment, regulation of skyrocketing prices, etc.

Com. Shankar, AICCTU All India Vice President called upon workers to prepare for more militant struggles in the comin days to take on Modi led corporate, communal fascist central government and anti-worker Congress government in Karnataka.VJK Nair, CITU, Ananta Subbarao of AITUC, Radhakrishna of AIUTUC, Shivashankar of TUCC addressed the protestors along with other CTU leaders.
All workers were symbolically arrested and released on the same spot.
JCTU delegation also met the Governor and submitted a petition to be forwarded to the central government.

AIPWA Strongly Condemns the Move to Install CCTVs in Railway Coaches and Public Places

The AIPWA strongly condemns the Rail Budget announcement of the move to install CCTV cameras in railway coaches and women’s coaches in suburban railways. We also oppose the ongoing use of CCTV cameras in Delhi Metro as well as the move to install such cameras in public streets and public transport in various parts of the country.

The Budget Speech says that CCTVs will be installed ‘without compromising privacy’. How is that possible?

Already, there is evidence that CCTVs serious compromise women’s safety rather than promote it.

In the Delhi metro, for instance, CCTV footage of women and couples have been leaked as pornography on the internet. This incident should serve as a warning bell as to how vulnerable CCTVs in public spaces can make women.

International studies have shown that there is no evidence that CCTVs or the fear of being watched has reduced crimes. Instead these studies show that the data from surveillance videos are almost invariably misused. This has included systematic misuse by the State to profile and spy on certain sections of the population as well as on activists; and also misuse by individuals monitoring the footage, for personal snooping, stalking, voyeurism as well as leaking onto the internet.

Moreover, on Indian streets and public transport including the railways, it is women, children and transgenders, as well as men from the poorest sections, the homeless and the destitute, who are the most vulnerable to violence, that goes mostly unreported. Instead, this section of people are profiled as the source of danger and subjected to police harassment and violence, in the name of keeping streets and passengers safe. CCTV surveillance will severely increase the insecurity and vulnerability to harassment and violence of this section of people.

CCTVs in public transport and railways are therefore very ill-advised and strongly condemnable.

Instead, what is needed is to improve the sensitivity and accountability of the RPF as well as appointment of trained staff on all trains and stations, available at the press of a button, specifically to offer support and respond promptly and sensitively to women facing harassment and violence.

It should be noted that women’s movement groups have never sought CCTV surveillance. This is because we know that women from their homes to the streets, are most vulnerable to surveillance, to a sense that Big Brothers of various kinds are watching them, judging them, controlling them. Moral policing in the name of ‘safety’ and sexual stalking/snooping are only two different sides of the same coin for women.

Joint Protest Rally by Khemas and Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Mahasabha in Kolkata

The State committees of Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha and Akhil Bharatiya Khet Mazdoor Sangh organized a massive joint protest rally and public meeting on 4 February 2015 in front of Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee’s office and submitted a charter of demands to the CM. The anti farmer and anti worker policies of the central as well as state government were exposed through the rally. About 5000 people participated in the rally and the meeting was attended by farmers and workers from different districts. The meeting also saw a good participation from women.

The main issues raised in the rally were: repeal of the Land Acquisition Ordinance, guarantee of 100 days’ work through MNREGA with no cuts, strict implementation of the food security bill, stopping cuts in ration distribution through PDS, and to protest against the West Bengal government’s Agricultural Market bill which facilitates corporate entry into the agriculture market and bodes destruction for farmers’ markets. The meeting was jointly chaired by Kisan Mahasabha State President Annada Bhattacharya, Joint Secretary Suvimal Sengupta, and Khemas state President Sajal Pal and Joint Secretary Babloo Bannerjee. The rally was led by Com. Kartik Pal, Com. Partho Ghosh, Com. Tapan Batvyal and Com. Sajal.

Speakers who addressed the meeting stressed on the anti farmer, anti worker and pro-corporate policies of the Modi government; the series of anti-democratic ordinances, and pointed out the need for subsidies on water, agriculture, fertilizers, and food grains. The speakers also pointed out how the West Bengal government was also pursuing pro-corporate and anti farmer policies as a result of which 100 farmers committed suicide in a single year. A resolution was passed calling for protests at all district headquarters as part of the countrywide protests against the Land Acquisition ordinance on 23 February.

Protest Demonstration for Reinstatement of Contractual Workers Laid off in Chhattisgarh

A protest demonstration was held by Centre of Steel Workers on 24 February 2015 in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh to demand immediate reinstatement of laid off contractual workers and raise other workers’ issues. A memorandum was submitted during the demonstration to the CEO, Bhilai Steel Plant and the Executive Director, HSCL, demanding immediate reinstatement of thousands of workers who had been laid off. They also demanded inclusion of a provision in the contracts to ensure that when the contract changed hands, the workers already employed should not be removed. They also demanded strict implementation of labour laws and safety rules, as well as payment of monthly wages by the 10th of each month along with payment slips.

Speakers addressing the meeting said that the “achche din” promised by the Modi government had brought only loss of jobs and employment crisis for thousands of workers. This action by the management has created widespread outrage among the workers. The speakers called upon all contractual workers to put up a united fight against this injustice. The demonstration was led by Brijendra Tiwari and the meeting was addressed by AICCTU leaders Muktanand Sahu, Shiv Kumar Prasad, Vasuki Prasad Unmat, Ashok Miri, JP Nair, and others. The laid off contractual workers numbering 2500 participated in the demonstration. All the workers who have been laid off are directly involved in the production work of the Bhilai Steel Plant.

CPI (ML) condemns the killing of anti-fundamentalist blogger Avijit Roy

CPI (ML) strongly condemns the brutal murder of Bangladesh born American blogger Avijit Roy who was known to speak out against religious fundamentalists. His wife was also brutally injured in the attack. Last year too, another blogger, Ahmed Rajib Haider had been hacked to death by religious fundamentalists for speaking against extremism in religion in Bangladesh. The growing attacks on anti-fundamentalist and rational voices all over the world, including India, are a serious reminder regarding the need for progressive forces to join hands against fundamentalism. In the protests that immediately erupted in Dhaka and other parts of Bangladesh denouncing the murder of Avijit Roy and condemning the failure of the state to protect him, concerns regarding upholding of democracy and freedom of expression were also raised. The spontaneity and mass participation in the protests following the murder of Avijit Roy in Dhaka and of Com. Govind Pansare in India, is a sound reminder to the extremist forces that bullets can kill a people but not their ideas and abilities to influence. CPI (ML) extends solidarity to the protestors standing for democratic and secular values in Bangladesh and salutes the courage of Avijit Roy.

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

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ML Update | No.09 | 2015

February 25, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 09, 24 FEB – 02 MARCH 2015

The Exit of Jitan Ram Manjhi and

the Agenda of Assertion of the Oppressed People in Bihar Politics

​A​
fter nine months of professed ‘renunciation’ of office, Nitish Kumar has secured his ‘re-anointment’ as the Chief Minister of Bihar. The much awaited showdown between Nitish Kumar and Jitan Ram Manjhi eventually fizzled out rather tamely, as Manjhi tendered his resignation just a little before the scheduled floor test in the Assembly. The support extended by the BJP remained an unused cheque, with its future validity remaining an open question. Nitish Kumar has time till the middle of March to prove his majority.

Kumar now says his decision to resign and hand over power to Jitan Ram Manjhi in the wake of the rout of the JD(U) in the Lok Sabha election of 2014 was an ‘emotional’ one. Being the calculating and pragmatic politician that he is, Nitish Kumar is not really known for taking ‘emotional’ decisions. Indeed, the decision to install Jitan Ram Manjhi as the stopgap Chief Minister of Bihar was anything but an ‘emotional’ gesture. It was a shrewd political move aimed at killing several birds with one stone.

By making Jitan Ram Manjhi the Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar had insulated both his party and government from the immediate impact of the huge defeat suffered in the Lok Sabha elections. He projected himself as a leader who was ready to shoulder responsibility for the defeat. And most significantly, he wanted to convey the message that he was serious about the mahadalit discourse initiated by his government, hoping to claim every credit for ‘sacrificing’ his own seat of power for a leader coming from the most oppressed and marginalised Musahar caste.

But as Jitan Ram Manjhi began to test Nitish Kumar’s calculations with the steady assertion of his new found authority and unmistakable emergence from Kumar’s shadow, Nitish Kumar began to panic. The BJP, the party that habitually patronised and defended every massacre of mahadalits in Bihar, discovered great political merit in the symbolism of Jitan Ram Manjhi and got ready to outplay Nitish Kumar in the game he had started with the Manjhi card. But more than anything else, it was perhaps the Delhi election outcome which limited the BJP’s options and made sure that the Bihar political drama ended in a rather anti-climactic denouement.

Jitan Ram Manjhi has been a politician of the old Congress school who later switched over to the Janata Dal. He comes from the Gaya-Jahanabad belt of Bihar which witnessed heinous massacres of the rural poor all through the 1980s and 1990s. Manjhi never really spoke out for the dignity, rights and survival of the oppressed people in this turbulent period. Following the political tradition of Jagjivan Ram and Ram Vilas Paswan, and unlike someone like Karpoori Thakur, he never really sympathised with the oppressed poor’s battle for social dignity and emancipation.

As Chief Minister, he had the chance to address the basic agenda of the oppressed people. A CPI(ML) delegation met him and asked him to reopen the massacre cases in which the culprits have all been acquitted by the High Court, reinstitute the Amir Das commission whose disbanding had emboldened the Ranvir Sena to resume its campaign of anti-dalit, anti-women violence and initiate measures to implement the recommendations of the Land Reforms Commission. Manjhi did not show any concern for these basic questions of justice, on the contrary he began to hobnob with the BJP, the biggest patron of social injustice and oppression.

Will Manjhi now seek reconciliation with Nitish Kumar to return to the Janata Parivar or will he float a new party and toe the Ram Vilas Paswan line to jump on to the BJP bandwagon? The early indications are he is keeping his options open. Let us leave these speculations to Manjhi who alone can determine his own future political course. What is most important is to reassert the agenda of people’s rights, justice and dignity in this new political juncture. Nitish Kumar must be held accountable for betraying the trust the people had reposed in him over his promises of development and good governance.

Towards the very end of its tenure, the Manjhi government took several decisions addressing some of the long-standing demands of Bihar’s most deprived and neglected sections of workers and employees. Pressure must be mounted on Nitish Kumar to respect and implement all those decisions. Recent developments have made it abundantly clear that whether it is the Janata Dal or the BJP, both are interested in using Manjhi only as a pawn and the real concerns of Manjhi’s community figure nowhere in their scheme of things. The communist banner of class struggle must be held high at this juncture as the real vehicle for the political assertion of the oppressed people.

Red Salute to Comrade Govind Pansare!

Why Are Killers of Pansare and Dabholkar Free?

​V​
eteran CPI leader Comrade Govind Pansare, shot at on 16th February, passed away on 20th February. Two armed men had at him and his wife in front of their house in Kolhapur district when they were returning from their morning walk. His wife Comrade Uma also survived a bullet injury.

Like Narendra Dabholkar, his friend and associate, Comrade Pansare too was a pioneer of the rationalist movement in Maharashtra. Dabholkar too was shot dead on his morning walk in August 2013, following threats by Hindutva terrorist groups. His killers are yet to be caught. Following Dabholkar’s murder, Comrade Pansare had stepped up pressure on the government for the passage of the Anti-Superstition Bill.

Who killed Comrade Pansare and why? To understand that, one would have to know his work.

In 1984, Comrade Pansare wrote a popular book called Shivaji Kon Hota (Who was Shivaji) on Chhatrapati Shivaji where he challenged the communal misuse of Shivaji by the saffron brigade. The book has been translated into many languages. The books says, “If there are any buyers for their hatred for Islam they should sell it on their own merit. They should not sell their commodity in Shivaji’s name. They should not sell that commodity under the brand of Shivaji. At the same time, the Muslims should not equate Shivaji with his image created by these so-called Shivabhaktas. They should look at history; they should appreciate his attitude to Islam religion. Then only they should make their opinion.”

This is how Dhaval Kulkarni summarises the Shivaji who emerges from the book, “Shivaji respected all religions, abolished serfdom, framed pro-farmer policies by doing away with arbitrary powers of local satraps (like Deshmukhs) to collect land revenue, took on established interests, and appointed Dalits and backward classes to prominent positions. In contrast with the modern version of the predatory state, Shivaji also warned his soldiers against ‘touching a vegetable stalk in the farms of the ryots (farmers).”

The Hindutva outfits were incensed by him because he ripped apart their hijacking of the historical figure of Shivaji for their anti-Muslim agenda.

Comrade Pansare helped organise and support the movements of a range of workers, especially in the unorganised sector. He was a vocal opponent of the Modi Government and the Fadnavis Government, and scathing in his criticism of the Sangh-BJP’s two-pronged strategy of appropriating Gandhi’s legacy and celebrating Gandhi’s killer Godse.

Filmmaker Anand Patwardhan observed, “In the week leading to his murder, Pansareji had spoken out against the forces that glorify Nathuram Godse and had also spoken about the need to re-investigate ATS chief Hemant Karkare’s death in light of the fact that Hindutva had targeted Karkare for his indictment of saffron terror and had the most to gain by his death.” Recently, he had been leading an anti-toll tax agitation in Kolhapur.

Hindutva outfits like the Sanatan Sanstha (implicated in Dabholkar’s murder as well as in blasts in Thane and Goa), had filed a defamation suit against Pansare, who had accused these organisations of fomenting terrorism. Pansare had even received a letter threatening ‘Tumcha Dabholkar Karu’ (“We’ll do a Dabholkar to you”).

Modi has assured now that hatred and violence will not be tolerated. But he is yet to say a word against the killing of Comrade Pansare. And he is yet to take any steps to rein in the organisations like the Sanatan Sanstha, which openly incite hatred against activists like Dabholkar and Pansare.

Apart from Dabholkar and Pansare, RTI Satish Shetty is also among the activists who have been killed in the past few years in Maharashtra. Shetty was murdered in Pune for exposing land grab, and the CBI investigation in the murder has made no headway.

Protests were organised on 16th February by left democratic forces all over Maharashtra, including, Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and Shrirampur. CPIML (Liberation) activists joined the protests in Mumbai and Pune. In both the places, the protests were organised by around 400 people each, despite the last minute call. In Mumbai, a public agitation was held in which CPIML, Lal Nishan Party, Republican Panther, Bigul Majdoor Dasta and AAP participated. In other places, CPI, CPM and Lal Nishan Party attended the protests in major numbers. The CPI(ML) demanded a judicial inquiry on this matter by a sitting Supreme Court judge.

Delhi Police detained a large number of students from various universities and Left groups as they gathered to protest Comrade Pansare’s murder.

Land Grab and the Lie of ‘Employment, Development’

The Modi Government’s Land Acquisition Ordinance nullifies the need for consent and social impact assessment for land acquisition for industrial corridors, security, rural infrastructure, housing and related infrastructure, and social infrastructure including projects under government and PPP models. This effectively opens the flood gate for land grab without consent by any public/private entity under any pretext!

The condition under Section 101 of the 2013 law, which requires that land not used for 5 years be returned to the owner, has been altered thus: “The time limit which has been set for a project or 5 years, whichever is later”. This opens the doors for real estate mafia to acquire land, sit on it, and then sell it when the land prices have shot up.

To justify the urgency of this Land Grab Ordinance, the Modi Government has claimed that land acquisition for industry and infrastructure is necessary to generate jobs and promote development.

The CAG Performance Audit Report on Special Economic Zones exposes the fact that land grab under the ‘public purpose’ clause has resulted in massive diversion of land for commercial real estate purposes, and that the claims of generating jobs and development have been a big lie. The Land Grab Ordinance is only setting the stage for more scams on the lines of the SEZ Scam, that will loot land and impoverish peasants to fill corporate real estate coffers.

CAG Report Exposes SEZ Scam : The SEZ Act 2005 (as well as SEZ Acts in states such as Odisha and West Bengal, enacted prior to the 2005 national act) all claimed to be a panacea for ‘development’. People’s movements resisting land grab for SEZs (at Raigad, Kalinganagar, Nandigram and Jagatsinghpur, and other places) have been met with firing and repression, and been branded as ‘enemies’ of development and employment-generation. The colonial 1894 Land Acquisition Act facilitated such land grab, deeming that farmers’ consent was not needed as long as land was acquired for ‘public purpose’.

The CAG Report lays bare the truth – that the people’s movements were right and the pro-corporate Governments were liars.

The Report observes:

“Though the objective of the SEZ is employment generation, investment, exports and economic growth, however, the trends of the national databases on economic growth of the country, trade, infrastructure, investment, employment etc do not indicate any significant impact of the functioning of the SEZs on the economic growth.

“Out of 45635.63 ha of land notified in the country for SEZ purposes, operations commenced in only 28488.49 ha (62.42 %) of land. In addition, we noted a trend wherein developers approached the government for allotment/purchase of vast areas of land in the name of SEZ. However, only a fraction of the land so acquired was notified for SEZ and later de‐notification was also resorted to within a few years to benefit from price appreciation. In terms of area of land, out of 39245.56 ha of land notified in the six States, 5402.22 ha (14%) of land was de‐notified and diverted for commercial purposes in several cases. Many tracts of these lands were acquired invoking the ‘public purpose’ clause. Thus land acquired was not serving the objectives of the SEZ Act.”

To summarize:

•Vast areas of land were acquired for ‘public purpose’ SEZs. But most of the land remained unused and were later diverted for commercial real estate purposes. This is a scam of massive proportions, and concerned Chief Ministers and the then Prime Minister ought to be criminally prosecuted for this scam.

•The CAG report also notes the environmental violations of the coastal Adani SEZ in Gujarat, in which both the then Modi-led State Government and the UPA Government were complicit, and which fisherpeople’s and farmers’ groups in Gujarat had exposed.

•The Land Grab Ordinance now again aims to do exactly what the SEZ scam achieved – grab land without peasants’ consent in the name of ‘public purpose’, and divert that land for real estate profits. This is why the five-year time limit for using acquired land is also being scrapped.

•SEZs fail to generate economic growth, jobs, infrastructure, investment. Those were just lies to justify robbing peasants of land and India of its food security. The same lies are being peddled in favour of the Land Grab Ordinance now.

•The CAG report also tries to calculate the massive amount spent on SEZs in terms of sops, tax exemptions, and so on (Rs 1.76 lakh crore, according to 83rd Report of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce

•on Functioning of SEZs, June 2007) but recognizes that tax sops are actually even more massive since they were ‘hidden’ and disguised.

•In fact SEZs robbed India’s poor peasants and adivasis of land, livelihood and jobs on a massive scale. The CAG report indicates the incalculable cost borne by the nation, of this massive loot of jobs, fertile fields, environment villages, lives and food security.

On 23rd February, on the call of the All India Kisan Mahasabha, gram sabhas all over the country met to pass resolutions demanding scrapping of the Land Grab Ordinance and an end to the moves to curtail MNREGA and Food Security coverage. These resolutions will be submitted to the President of India and Lok Sabha Speaker following the Jan Sansad in Delhi by people’s movements on 16th March, following the launch of the All India People’s Forum.

“Demand Fortnight” Observed by Kissan Mahasabha

The Bihar state council of the Akhil Bharatiya Kissan Mahasabha organized protest demonstrations in front of the block headquarters across Bihar between 27 January to 12 February 2015 to demand that the paddy be purchased from sharecroppers and small and medium farmers at Rs 1660 per quintal without having to show the papers of land ownership. Other major demands included- registration, identity cards and kisan credit cards and agricultural loans to all sharecroppers and lease holding farmers, subsidized seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides, fixing of farming rates as the level of the government, loan waivers (government as well as moneylenders’), diesel subsidy, crop damage compensation in case of floods or famine, guarantee of a fixed period of farming without fear of eviction, and roll back of the land grab ordinance. Thousands of farmers and sharecroppers joined the protests.

Protests and meetings were held at Daudnagar (Aurangabad) with strong participation by small and medium farmers demanding elimination of middlemen, compensation for loss of potato crop, and parchas for land occupied on the banks of river Sone. At Arwal and Karpi farmers protested along with 3 and 7 tractors of paddy respectively. Similarly at Kurtha block hundreds of farmers protested along with their paddy. Protests were also held at Chakai block in Jamui district. At Beguserai Khemas, Kisan Mahasabha and CPI(ML) jointly protested in front of the Collectorate and put forward the farmers’ demands. On 30 Jan various Left organizations took out a joint protest march in Beguserai. Protests and dharnas were organized at Darauli block in Siwan district, Bairiya block in Western Champaran and Darbhanga district.

“Paddy purchase fortnight” was observed in Patna district in the form of kisan dharnas in front of block headquarters. A 10 point memorandum was submitted through the BDOs to the Chief Minister. Farmers were mobilized through leaflets and village meetings. These programmes were organized at Naubatpur, Dulhin Bazar, Punpun, Bikram, Sampatchak, Paliganj, Dhanrua, Masauri, Fatuha, Bihata, and Maner.

A three day kisan jagaran yatra (farmers’ awareness journey) was taken out in Hajipur, proceeding through Hajipur, Bidupur, Rajapakar, Desri, Sahdei Bujurg, Jandaha, Mahnar and Patepur blocks and encompassing 48 nukkad/village meetings. On 30 Jan 400 farmers and sharecroppers with their paddy protested at the Hajipur block HQ. A total of 2500 quintal paddy was purchased by the administration on this day. Hundreds of farmers protested in Nalanda district on 12 Feb.

The Kisan Mahasabha demanded purchase of paddy up to April 15 and elimination of middlemen. About 500 farmers staged a road block in Dumrao block in Buxar district on 28 Feb. Protests and meetings were organized in Rajpur block on 2 Feb. Between 4 Feb and 11 Feb protests were organized at Nawagarh, Chougai, Kesath, where the speakers pointed out the anti farmer policies of the govt which were responsible for the farmers’ woes.

In Bhojpur, the administration of 9 blocks, namely Jagdishpur, Piro, Tarari, Sahar, Charpokhri, Sandesh, Agiaon, Gadhani and Udwantnagar, had to bow down before the protesting farmers who had come with their paddy, and purchase the paddy at 1660 per quintal. The dhan kharido movement began at Jagdishpur where farmers brought paddy loaded on 37 tractors in a procession from Naykatola crossing to the block headquarters. On 2 Feb around 2000 quintals of paddy was brought to Charpokhri block. On 4 Feb about 225 tractors of paddy were brought to Agiaon block. In Agiaon and Gadhani the farmers stopped all work for 4 days through road blocks and dharnas. In Sahar block sharecropping farmer Mohd. Nasir Hussain sat on an indefinite hunger strike along with his 88 quintals of paddy as the purchase centre in-charge refused to purchase his paddy. On 14 Feb the Kisan Mahasabha organized a huge meeting in support of Mohd. Nasir Hussain. On 15 Feb the BDO gave the assurance of meeting his demands and he ended his hunger strike.

The dhan kharido andolan has created awareness in the sharecroppers and farmers who are now expressing their anger against the government, middlemen, and administration.

Struggle against Gang Rape and Murder of Adivasi Girl in Jharkhand continues

On 15 December 2014, two tribal girls employed as cleaning workers in a hotel were gangraped by the employer in the hotel premises in Ramgarh district. One of the girls died due to the injuries caused during the brutal sexual assault. Soon after the incident was brought to light by the fact finding team comprising of CPI(ML) and RYA activists, CPI(ML) and AIPWA have been engaged in a sustained struggle to help the victims obtain justice even as most Jharkhand parties continue remaine silent on this matter. AIPWA National General Secretary Meena Tiwari along with a 15 member AIPWA team visited the village on 4 February, met and spoke with the rape victim and her parents, the parents of the dead victim, as well as other villagers. The team attempted to meet the Jharkhand Chief Minister, chairperson of the Women’s Commission, and Minister for Women and Child Development, but none gave the team an appointment. On 6 February AIPWA and RYA staged a dharna at the Ramgarh block headquarters. Addressing the dharna Meena Tiwari said that the poor people and adivasis would give a prompt and fitting reply to the BJP Government. Through the dharna a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister was submitted to the SDO, demanding among other things- speedy trial, immediate arrest of the two rapists and investigation of the role of the station in charge in trying to shield the guilty, action against the doctor who wrote a false medical report on the death of the victim and compensation for the victims. On 12 February, the Foundation Day of AIPWA, women in large numbers protested in Deogarh, Kodarma, Rajdhanwar, Garhwa, Dumka, Gomiya, and Ranchi, after which the charter of demand was sent to the Chief Minister. It has been decided that if these demands are not met, a protest will be held in front of the CM on 2 March.

Obituary : Prof. Tulsi Ram

Professor Tulsi Ram’s untimely demise at the age of 65 years took place on 13 February at Rockland Hospital in Faridabad. Till his last breath he continued his fight against the politics, ideology and culture of communal – religious violence, superstition and social and economic inequalities.

Tulsi Ram joined the left movement by associating with AISF and CPI during his days in Banaras Hindu University. Later he joined JNU and after his finishing his PhD in International Politics, got appointment as a faculty in the same university. Besides engaging in research in Marxism, International Politics, in particular the international politics during the period of Soviet Union, he also studied Buddhist perspectives and Ambedkarism, assimilating his understandings of them in his larger understanding of politics.

Besides being very well grounded in Ambedkarite thought, he remained a Marxist till his last breath. He never resorted to rhetoric or non-constructive criticism of the work culture of Communist parties on the issue of caste. Instead, he used the platforms available to him to present his nuanced understanding and analysis of the caste question. He wanted to resolve this question by engaging in criticism and introspection from within the Marxist organizational structure.

Today, when the Dalit movement is undergoing a great crisis and a deep process of introspection and inner struggle is underway, Prof. Tulsi Ram’s absence will be keenly felt. He used to say that one of the most dangerous trends for Dalit movement was the Dalits becoming casteist, and about the politics of BSP he used to say that BSP is making Dalits casteist.

Prof. Tulsi Ram played a significant role in the promotion and development of Dalit literature. His also played a crucial role as the President of Dalit Writers’ Association. He explained Dalit literature as the literature of liberation of the entire humankind. As a left activist he remained anti-imperial till the very end. ‘CIA- Rajnaitik Vidhwans ka Amriki Hathiyar’ (CIA- American tool of Political Demolition), ‘The History of Communist Movement in Iran’, ‘Ideology in Soviet-Iran Relations’, and ‘Angola ka Mukti Sangharsh’ (Freedom Struggle of Angola) are some his prominent works. Prof. Tulsi Ram also edited the magazine ‘Ashvaghosh’. In 2012 he was part of the Citizens for Justice for Bathani Tola platform. His demise is an irreparable damage to the culture of rational and dialectical materialist intellectual traditions and the Left-Dalit movements in India.

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

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ML Update | 08 | 2015

February 18, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 08, 17 – 23 FEBRUARY 2015

Challenge Islamophobic and Racist Violence in the US and India

The murder of three young Muslims in the US, followed by the brutal violence by US police on an aged Indian man, Sureshbhai Patel, have once again shone the spotlight on deeply entrenched Islamophobia and racism in the USA.

In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a Muslim man Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan Mohammed Abu-Salha were gunned down in their home by a white neighbor. The killer had been reportedly been expressing prejudice and hatred for the hijab worn by Yusor Abu-Salha, and had picked fights before with the Muslim family.

In a familiar pattern, the US police are trying to portray the killings as the consequence of a ‘parking dispute’ rather than an Islamophobic hate crime. This is reminiscent of the Delhi Police chief trying to portray targeted vandalization and desecration of churches in India’s national capital as a ‘robbery’, comparable to ‘robberies’ of temples.

The US media also largely ignored and trivialized the murders, thereby reflecting their own unwillingness to recognize and challenge Islamophobia. But local people, including neighbours, co-workers, and fellow students of the three victims, came out in large numbers to protest the hate crime. On social media also, outrage over the killings spilt over with the ‘Muslim Lives Matter’ hashtag, striking a chord with ongoing protests against racist murders that had used the ‘Black Lives Matter’ hashtag.

Soon after, in Alabama, police officers slammed an old Indian man on the ground, breaking his neck and partially paralyzing him. Sureshbhai Patel was visiting his son’s family to help take care of his baby grandson. Seeing Sureshbhai on a walk in the neighbourhood, a neighbor reported to the police that a “skinny black guy” was wandering about, leading him to fear about his wife’s safety. Sureshbhai communicated to the police that he was from India and could not speak English. But the senior police officer threw Sunilbhai on the ground, grievously injuring him.

Initially the Alabama police put out a press release justifying the police brutality and blaming Sureshbhai for disobeying the police. But following diplomatic intervention by India, the police officer has been sacked and arrested.

It would be a mistake to assume that the police behaviour against Sureshbhai Patel was an aberration. The attack on Sureshbhai is part of a pattern of similar incidents involving police high-handedness and killings of Black and Latina people in the US. In fact, the senior police officer who attacked Sureshbhai was giving the younger trainee officer a lesson in routine racist high-handedness and brutality. Aware that his actions and words were being recorded, he kept up a commentary falsely implying that Sureshbhai was being non-cooperative and violent. And in incident after incident of killings of Black and Latina men, the US police have literally got away with murder. They would have got away in Sureshbhai’s case too, were it not for the diplomatic issues involved.

Indian civil liberties activists in the US have pointed out that it is not enough to respond to the attack on Sureshbhai by ‘educating’ US police officers to distinguish Indian Hindus from Blacks, or from Araband South Asian Muslims. Instead, the effort must be to forge solidarity between Black and Arab communities as well as South Asians of all faiths, to resist the fresh surge in racism and Islamophobia in the US.

At the same time, our outrage over the prejudice and violence meted out to Sureshbhai Patel in the US, must also serve to make us introspect about xenophobia and anti-Black racism in India. When Black people are subjected to mob violence in India, the politicians and police here, too, tend to blame such violence on ‘criminal activities’ by ‘foreign nationals’ rather than on racist prejudice. When people from North Eastern states are attacked in Indian cities, the police try to claim that the incidents are random rather than racist. Violence against Muslim economic migrants and refugees alike tends to be justified, celebrated and promoted as action against ‘Bangladeshi infiltrators’.

Communal hatred and violence, at the hands of Hindu majoritarian groups as well as by police, against religious minorities in India has been systematic and state-sponsored. The BJP continues to systematically use anti-minority hatred and violence to expand its presence across India. Following President Obama’s remarks on the need to curb religious intolerance and by the scathing call by New York Times for Modi to break his silence, the Indian Prime Minister has finally declared his Government’s commitment to uphold religious freedom of all Indians. But these vague statements are mere lip service, given that no action has been taken against members of Modi’s own Cabinet and his team of MPs who have been at the forefront of the hate-mongering. Further, his words ring hollow in the face of the systematic persecution of activists who have been striving to pursue cases of communal violence in which Modi himself is implicated, and the systematic impunity to the BJP President and police officers who staged fake encounters of Muslim men and women in Gujarat on Modi’s own watch.

The Chapel Hill murders and the assault on Sureshbhai Patel have reminded us all that Islamophobic, racist and xenophobic prejudice and violence are no less a problem in the US than in India. The way forward is for movements against communalism, Islamophobia and racism in India, the US, UK and other countries to join hands with each other in closer solidarity and united struggle.

Mid Day Meal Workers Struggles in Bihar

In the workshop organized by the party in Muzaffarpur on 21-22 September 2014, it was decided to intensify and speedup the process of uniting the mid-day meal workers in Bihar. Since of the 1, 86,000 mid day meal workers, nearly 1, 25,000 of them are women, it was further decided that it would be most appropriate to bring them together under the banner of AIPWA under the leadership of AIPWA leaders. In keeping with this decision, efforts were initially started to bring together the women mid day meal workers in four blocks of Patna district- Fatuha, Dulhin Bazar, Punpun and Paliganj. Their main demands are- 1) As per the resolution no. 2401/20.7.07 passed by the General Administration Department of Bihar, pay an honorarium of 15,000/- per month, on a regular basis (at present they are paid merely 1000/- per month); 2) All the cooks should be given the status of government employee and thereafter they should be provided the facilities due to a fourth class employee; 3) All the cooks should be given an identity card and a uniform; 4) All the cooks be provided with the benefits of ESI and EPF; 5) all the cooks should be included in the accident and health insurance policies; 6) Female cooks should be provided with the facility to avail maternity leave, emergency leave and special leave; 7) the pending honorarium of all the cooks should be immediately paid; 8) The honorarium due to all the employees be deposited in their account; 9) The cooks should not be made to job that are not a part of their job profile, such as cleaning school premises, cleaning toilets, washing utensils, etc.; 10) All the mid day meal workers should be treated with dignity and should not be threatened with expulsion threats.

Focusing on the above mentioned demands, demonstrations were held in Dulhin Bazaar on 28 January, in Paliganj on 29 January and in Punpun on 4 February. Prior to the demonstration in Punpun, a convention was also held on 1 February in which 45 mid day meal workers were also present. Nearly 150 mid day meal workers participated in the demonstration in Dulhin Bazar, 100 in Paliganj and about 200 in Punpun. The state AIPWA President, Com. Saroj Dubey was present in all the demonstrations and after each demonstrations, the charter of demands was presented to the block officers.

On 1st February, 2015, a unit of State Midday Meal Workers’ Association was also established in a convention held in Fatuha in which nearly 225 mid day meal workers participated. They shared their difficulties and problems. The convention ended with the formation of 23 member committee and by a passing a resolution to ensure the success of the programmes undertaken for 12 February and 24 March 2015, in continuation of the early initiatives.

On 12 February 2015, thousands of midday meal workers under the banners of State School Midday Meal Workers’ Association and AIPWA staged demonstrations in different districts in front of the district officials. In the state capital, Patna, the protest demonstrations were led by state AIPWA President Com. Saroj Chaubey, state AIPWA Jt. Secretary Com. Anita Sinha, Patna AIPWA Vice President cum Sinhi Panchayat head, Com. Asha Devi along with several other state and district level AIPWA leaders. In Bhojpur district, the protests demonstrations were led by AIPWA General Secretary Com. Meena Tiwari and in Nawada, they were led by the Com. Shashi Yadav, AIPWA Secretary. In Gaya, the protest demonstrations were led by Comrade Reeta Baranwaal and in Siwan, Comrades Sohila Gupta, Malti Ram, Kumanti Ram led the protests along with other leaders.

In the protest demonstrations held in Patna, the speakers pointed out how in Bihar, the mid day meal workers were being paid only Rs. 33/- day for only ten months in a year, despite working for nearly 8 to 8 ½ hours every day. This was in clear violation of resolution no. 2401/20.7.2007 of the Bihar government’s Common Administrative Department according to which the workers were to be paid an honorarium of Rs.15,000/month. In protest demonstrations in different states, the workers pointed out how even the current wages were paid after considerable delays and not deposited in their accounts. The charter of demands of the mid day workers were submitted to the district officials of the different districts.

First State Convention of the Insaaf Manch in Bihar

The ‘Insaaf Manch’ (Platform for Justice) was formed an year ago in Muzaffarpur to raise the voices of minorities, dalits and women. In one of its major initiatives, the Insaaf Manch had organized successful movements against witch hunting of minority youth who were falsely implicated by NIA in terror cases. In some of the cases relating to the Patna bomb blasts, the NIA had been forced to release boys whom it had initially picked up and tortured, and in one case, mass protests by villagers themselves had prevented NIA from being able to abduct and torture a young man.

The Insaaf Manch has also made significant interventions in the cases involving mass killings of Dalits. The Insaaf Manch held its founding Bihar State convention on 15 February 2015. The convention was held at the Gate Public Library in Patna. CPI (ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya, President of the UP unit of Rihar Manch, Mohd. Shoaib Inqualabi, Convenor of the Inquilabi Muslim Conference, Com. Salim, and others participated in the conference.

Addressing the convention, Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that it is not the ruling class but the common masses who will set the political agenda of the country. The slogan of ‘sabka saath-sabka vikas’ (support of all- development for all) has been proved to be a lie. The issues of the common masses included- home, food, employment, land, peace and harmony and these were the agenda for people’s struggles. After coming to power with a clear majority, BJP has speeded up the economic policies introduced in the 90’s, is running the government mainly by way of ordinances and instead of fulfilling the promises it made to people, it has started working for the benefit of a handful of rich corporations and imperialist interests. Meanwhile the RSS has started showing its true colours and its cadre is enjoying complete support from the central government. The BJP government had not only compromised the sovereignty of the country by signing the nuclear deal but had also endangered the life of the citizens. However, the Delhi elections had shown that people were not pleased with the policies of the BJP government. He also spoke about how the youth from minority communities were being targeted in the name of fighting terrorism. The Insaaf Manch, he said, had proved to be a platform reflecting the concerns of democratic citizens for the young boys and men who are picked up and tortured by security agencies to falsely accuse them of terrorism.

Referring to the current political situation in Bihar, Com. Dipankar pointed out that while on one hand, Nitish Kumar who had initially made Jitan Ram Manjhi the CM of Bihar was now bent on having him removed. On the other hand, BJP which had over the years provided political patronage to those responsible for the numerous mass killings of Dalits and had compared Ranveer Sena chief Brahmeshwar Mukhiya to Gandhi, was now trying to prove itself as a well wisher of the Mahadalits by supporting Jitan Ram Manjhi. The attitude of both the JD (U) and the BJP towards Mahadalits is evident from their own actions.

Com. Salim, the national convenor of the Inquilabi Muslim Conference, in his speech said that in times when the fascist forces were trying to run their dictatorship in the country and the secularism and democracy were under threat, the struggles fought by the Insaaf Manch in Bihar were indeed laudable. He cautioned that the attempts of the BJP to destroy the secular fabric of the country and compromise it’s sovereignty for the benefit of handful of individuals and the US, will be strongly resisted and defeated.

Prof. Jameel Saheb, Anwar Hussain, Islamuddin, Neyaz Ahmad, Shahid Muzaffarpuri, Manoj Manzil and several other leaders also addressed the convention. In their speeches, they all pointed out that the minority communities had now understood how the ruling parties assumed silence on the question of justice be it in the case of witch hunting of Muslim youth in the name of terrorism or on the issue of justice to the victims of mass killings of Dalits in Laxmanpur Bathe and Bathani Tola. They spoke about the hope of justice that the Insaaf Manch had been able to inspire among the minorities and the Dalits through their various initiatives and interventions.

Towards the closing of the convention, a 57 member state level committee was formed with Mohd. Iftekhaar Aalam as the President and Suraj Kumar Singh as the Secretary.

Workshop for women workers in Uttar Pradesh

A workshop for women workers was jointly organized by AIPWA and AICCTU in Kanpur on 25 January 2015. The women workers who participated in the conference included women working in factories, nursing homes and laundries in Kanpur and also the mid day meal workers in the state primary schools. Addressing the participants, state Jt. Secretary of AIPWA Com. Kusum Verma said that in the present times when the current government was planning to introduce several anti-workers’ policies and laws, it was important that the workers working in different areas unite to resist and defeat such moves. She added that women workers had to put with double oppression. From home to work, they had to face insecurity and discrimination. She pointed out that provisions like day care facilities at work places for children of working women, double wages for overtime and secure transportation service for women working in night shifts were integral parts of labour laws and that AIPWA and AICCTU would unite working women to assertively raise these demands and ensure equal wages and dignified working conditions for women. Addressing the workshop, the district president of AIPWA, Com. Shivani Verma said that under the present system, working women have to play a dual role in societal development. One hand they have to take up the responsibility of raising their children and on the other hand participate in the production process. However given the patriarchal structures, they have to face oppression on both fronts. During the workshop, the honorary President of AIPWA, Com. Vidya Rajwar that there were provisions for providing free education to the children of working women and for providing them with cycles for the purpose of commutation under the ‘U.P. Buildings and other construction workers welfare ordinance’ and these could be availed only by mobilizing and uniting with organization’s struggles.

Construction Workers’ Protest in Lucknow

On 22 December 2015, nearly 300 construction workers demonstrated outside the office of Deputy Labour Commissioner under the banner of the AICCTU affiliated Construction Workers’ Union, to protest against the obstacles being posed in the registration and delivery of benefits to the workers and in support of their basic rights. Secretary of the Construction Workers Union, Nomi Laal, other leaders of construction workers- Kaamta Prasad, Bhanumati, Keshav Mishra, Geeta ji, District in charge of CPI (ML) Com. Ramesh Singh Sengar, leader of Railway Workers’ Union, Com. Magan ji and Scooter India Workers’ Union Aarbi Singh addressed the protest demonstration. The leaders pointed out the big scale rigging that was taking place and also that for long they had they been demanding that the opinions of the registered workers’ unions be taken into account. However no heed was being paid to these demands. Our union has been demanding that basic provisions such as night shelters at labour sites, toilets, tin shades for resting purpose and safe drinking water facilities be provided to the construction workers. However, neither has any action been taken so far by the concerned authorities, nor have they even bothered to provide any updates regarding the progress on the aforementioned demands. Several speakers also raised the demands of providing identity cards and ration cards to all the workers who had come from the outside states such as Bihar, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh or even from districts in UP outside Lucknow. They also demanded that the names of these workers, who had given their sweat and blood for the development of Lucknow, be added in the BPL list and they should be given places to stay. The speakers also pointed out that while certain provisions did exist for the registered workers such as provision of Rs.1,00,000/- for building house for workers who have land, it was unlikely for a construction worker to have land in Lucknow. During the protests, list of demands were submitted to the concerned authorities which included- 1) Camps be organized on construction sites on specified dates and time for the registration of construction workers; 2) Provisions such as toilets, tin shades for taking rest and drinking water facility, be made available on construction sites; 3) All construction workers be issued red ration cards and their names be included in the BPL list; 4) Colonies should be established for providing housing facilities to construction workers; 5) There should be effective mechanisms to ensure that wages usurped by the building owners or builders be paid to the workers; 6) There should effective mechanisms to ensure that the provisions and benefits guaranteed to the workers through various laws are made available to them.

Protest against Hindu Mahasabha’s threats on valentines day

The Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha had issued threats prior to 14 February that couples seen holding hands or displaying any other form of affection publicly on the Valentine’s Day would be forcibly married off. The Hindu Mahasabha had further warned of conducting ghar waapsi in case of inter-religious couples. Responding to such anti constitutional diktats that reflect utter disdain towards individuals’ freedom to choose and express, several progressive organizations including AISA and JNUSU, called for a protest outside the Hindu Mahasabha office in Delhi on 14 February 2015. In a creative form of protest, the students and youth had come with garlands and musical instruments daring the Hindu Mahasabha cadre to carry out their threats of marrying them. The protestors included couples belonging to different religions, castes and sexual identities. They raised slogans on the lines of “Fall in love, not in line”; “No Man shall be discriminated for wearing a sari and no woman shall be violated for a short skirt”; “In love, our consent is all that matters, we neither fear your threats, nor your fetters”! However, the Delhi police instead of protecting the rights of common citizens and taking actions against those who had issued threats chose to cordon off the area outside the Mahasabha office and detain the protestors who were only asserting their right to choice and expression. While the political patronage accorded to the threat issuing cadres of saffron brigade was clearly evident, the students and youth demonstrated that they were not the ones to bow done in face of such right wing threats.

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

MLU-18-08.pdf


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