A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 18, No. 13, 24 – 30 MARCH 2015
Hashimpura Acquittal: Shameful Injustice
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