ML Update | 18 | 2015

March 25, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18, No. 13, 24 – 30 MARCH 2015

Hashimpura Acquittal: Shameful Injustice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AIPWA Gheraos Jharkhand Assembly

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

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

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

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

Struggle against Land Acquisition in Tripura

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

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

Kisan Mahasabha Leads March to Uttarakhand Vidhan Sabha

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

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

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

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

23 March: Bhagat Singh Martyrdom Day Observed

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

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

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

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

Agitation in Nirsa after Worker’s Death

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

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

Victory for Students Movement in Bhojpur

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

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

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

Weaver’s Strike in Gaya

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

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

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

BBMP and BWSSB Workers’ Demo in Bangalore

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

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

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

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

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

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ML Update | No. 12 | 2015

March 18, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18 | No. 12 | 17 – 23 MAR 2015

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

Bhagat Singh-Sukhdev-Rajguru!


Defend Land and Labour Rights !



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



Join 100 Day Bhoomi-Adhikar Shram Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan,

23 March – 30 June

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

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

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

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

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

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

Land-Food-Livelihood – Resist Corporate Loot!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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MLU-18-11.pdf

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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MLU-18-09.pdf

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

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ML Update | No. 07 | FEB 2015

February 12, 2015

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18 | No. 07 | 10 – 16 FEB 2015

Delhi Gives Modi His First Big Jolt
Just nine months after the BJP’s sweeping Lok Sabha victory under Modi’s stewardship, Delhi has handed out the BJP a crushing defeat in the elections to the Delhi Assembly. In May 2014, the BJP had bagged all the 7 LS seats in Delhi with a lead in 60 of the 70 Assembly segments. In February 2015, the outcome stands spectacularly reversed with the BJP reduced to just three seats and the AAP securing way above half of the polled vote and an astounding seat tally exceeding even the 95% mark.

The Delhi verdict stands out for its unprecedented intensity and sharp clarity. To be sure, the verdict must be seen primarily in the specific context of Delhi where the AAP had struck a popular chord with its brief stint of 49 days before Arvind Kejriwal had dramatically resigned. This time round, Delhi has voted overwhelmingly to give AAP the strongest possible mandate and the fullest opportunity to translate its promises into reality. The urban poor and every deprived neighbourhood of Delhi voted overwhelmingly for the AAP as did large sections of Delhi’s middle class voters.

The BJP must have sensed it coming and so it pressed all it had into service. Modi led the campaign from the front with all the might of his government; Amit Shah applied all his vote-gathering acumen while the RSS brought its fabled organizational network into play. But this was one election in which almost every move of the BJP backfired and contributed to this spectacular electoral rout of the party. And having made it into a huge prestige battle for the Modi government and personally for the Modi cult, there is no way the BJP can now trivialize the defeat and attribute it to some local factors.

Two unmistakable messages emanating from the Delhi elections will keep resonating beyond the borders of Delhi in the coming days. The assertion of the urban poor and working people and young people of Delhi is a reassuring phenomenon in the ongoing battle against corporate plunder and mass deprivation and denial of rights. Instead of talking about migration of voters from this or that party to AAP, one must recognize and respect this decisive assertion of the people. The second feature that stands out is a distinct rebuff against the communal agenda unleashed by the BJP and the growing authoritarian overtones of the Modi regime.

There is also a deeper message about the AAP model of politics. The BJP had sought to discredit and target the AAP as a party which advocated and practiced anarchy. The emphatic victory of the AAP clearly shows that the people of Delhi did not think so. The people were clearly upset and angry with the ill-advised resignation of Arvind Kejriwal, but the AAP attempt at charting a new course combining governance and agitation and shedding trappings of ‘VIP culture of the political establishment’ has the backing of the people as long as the AAP stays true to its basic promises.

The political evolution of the AAP will continue to evoke interest and attention beyond Delhi. Buoyed by its tremendous initial success in its debut elections to the Delhi Assembly in December 2013, the AAP had tried to spread its net far and wide in the 2014 LS elections with Kejriwal himself taking on Modi in Varanasi. Kejriwal came back apologizing for his resignation and the AAP adopted almost an exclusively Delhi-centric approach, concentrating all its resources and energy in Delhi. It now remains to be seen how the AAP combines its role as the ruling party in Delhi and its attempt at expanding its political presence and role on the national plane.

The post-poll analysis of the Delhi vote makes it abundantly clear that the biggest proportion of AAP votes came from Delhi’s urban poor and deprived areas and from dalits and Muslims who traditionally voted for the Congress. Some observers and activists naturally feel tempted to see the rise of the AAP as a sign of ‘class war’, but it must be remembered that AAP describes its own politics as ‘class politics without class struggle’ and the economic vision outlined by Kejriwal fully endorses the free market thrust of neo-liberalism while disapproving of the corruption it invariably engenders.

Regardless of how the AAP evolves as a political formation, the Delhi verdict will definitely inspire the people across the country in their ongoing battle against the corporate-communal offensive spearheaded by the Narendra Modi regime. If all the 2014 elections had gone the BJP way, 2015 has begun on a different note. It is now time for the voices of resistance and change to resonate louder and clearer across the length and breadth of India.

All India Conference of Contract Workers in Bangalore

All India Conference of Contract Workers, organized by AICCTU, was held in Bangalore on 1-2 February 2015. More than 5000 contract workers from across the country participated in the conference. On the first day of the conference, workers marched from Freedom Park to Banappa Park in a massive rally organized in support of their demands. The rally saw huge participation of thousands of contract workers that included contract sanitation workers of Bangalore Municipal Corporation (BBMP), contract workers of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), workers from the NIMHANS Hospital, workers employed in public sector undertakings such as HAL, BHEL and BEML, workers from the Bangalore Race Course and MICO-BOSCH, workers in the Ready Mix industries such as RMC, Prism Cements, RDC Concrete, Lafarge and Kennametal WIDIA. Contract workers from Koppal, Davanagere, Mysore and Kolar also joined the rally. Delegates from across the country came to attend the Conference, and took part in the rally.

The rally was followed by a public meeting which was presided over by All India Vice President of AICCTU Com. Shankar. AICCTU general secretary Com. Swapan Mukherjee delivered the inaugural speech. The meeting was addressed by Karnataka State President of the AICCTU Comrade Balan, Bihar State President of AICCTU Comrade Rambhali, Karnataka State Secretary of the CPI(ML) Comrade Bharadwaj, AICCTU State Organising Secretary Clifton D’ Rozario, Deepa Pathak from Uttarakhand among others. At the meeting, speakers condemned the increased contractualisation of labour in both the private sector, the public sector and in the government itself. They came down heavily on the Modi government for its pro-corporate and anti-labour policies and its proposed amendments in labour laws. The Modi government’s move to amend the Contract Labour (Abolition and Regulation) Act in a way that will exclude most establishments from the ambit of the laws came under sharp criticism from the delegates. The delegates also spoke of how the Congress and the BJP are no different on this issue and how the Karnataka state Government, in spite of claiming itself to be an opposition party led government, was pursuing anti-labour policies.

An open session on ‘Contract Labour , Law and Politics’ was held in the evening of 1 Feb, where the Keynote Address was delivered by Com. Rajiv Dimri, All India Secretary of AICCTU. The session was also addressed by leaders of other Left trade unions including CITU, AIUTUC and TUCC. All the speakers called for a broader Left coalition to take on the challenge of increasing contractualisation of the workforce.

All India Contract and Other Workers Federation was launched during the course of the conference to guide and lead the struggles of contract workers across the country.

Com. Balan, from Karnataka was elected as the All India President while Com. Rambhali from Bihar was elected as the All India General Secretary. A resolve was undertaken to march to the Parliament to press for the demands of contract workers. The conference ended with a call for a strong, militant and powerful struggles of contract workers to resist the joint onslaught of the government, industry and the judiciary on the workers of India.

CPI(ML) in the Delhi Elections

In the recently held assembly elections in Delhi, CPI(ML) fielded Com. Surendra Panchal, a veteran activist of the communist workers’ movement, from the Narela assembly seat; Com. Ajay Kumar Singh, a trade union activist, who had recently lost his job while fighting for the workers in SMA industrial area, from the Wazirpur assembly segment; and Com. Mala Devi, active among women working as domestic help, from Kondli assembly segment. In all these three assembly segments, CPI(ML) had been running an intense campaign amongst the working class and employees. The campaign included several processions, rallies and street corner meetings. Sangwari, a cultural group, held several street plays in support of party candidates in all the three assembly areas. These plays highlighted and critiqued the anti-people policies of the Modi government, while strongly raising the demand for an urgent change in the government as well as policies in order to guarantee rights to the common people and especially the working class in Delhi.

7 left parties – CPI(ML), CPI, CPI(M), Forward Block, RSP, SUCI(C) and Socialist Party(India) – brought out a united appeal urging the people to vote and support the candidates of these parties on the 14 seats contested by them. In order to prevent BJP or Congress from coming to power, the CPI(ML) also issued an appeal requesting people to support AAP candidates in remaining seats, while remaining critical of AAP on several issues.

CPI(ML)’s Statement on
Detainment of South Gujarat Tribal Activist Jayram Gambit under PASA

CPI (ML) strongly condemns the detainment of South Gujarat tribal activist Jayram Gambit under the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act (PASA) following the campaign led by him and his associates against the attempts to hand over tribal lands to non tribals largely for mining purposes. In past several years, Gujarat has witnessed severe assaults on the rights and livelihoods of the tribals and increasing instances of land grab by the state for the profit of corporate houses. Additionally, the use of draconian laws like PASA on activists fighting for the oppressed and marginalized, have become a mainstay of the BJP governments in state and the centre. CPI (ML) demands immediate release of Jayram Gambit and an investigation into his unconstitutional detainment. CPI (ML) also extends its support to all the progressive sections fighting against the anti-people policies of the BJP led governments in state and at the centre.

Seminars in UP Against BJP-corporate Control over Media and
in Defense of Freedom of Expression

In the wake of several assaults on freedom of expression and dissent, and the ouster of journalist Pankaj Srivastava for complaining against biased media coverage, AISA organised seminars in Lucknow University and Allahabad University on freedom of expression and the current state of the electronic media respectively. On 2 February, a seminar was organised in the Students’ Union building of Lucknow University on ‘Freedom of Expression and the Present Day Context’, in which Dr. Pankaj Srivastava, senior journalist and former associate editor with IBN-7, was invited as the main speaker. Addressing the seminar, Pankaj Srivastava pointed out that a handful of corporates are controlling the entire media and all the natural resources and hence they are fearful of peoples’ movements and any expression of dissent. In such times, only that amount of ‘freedom of expression’ is allowed space which does not harm the interests of these corporates and the governments nurtured by them, and therefore the voices of all who try to highlight peoples’ resistances are being silenced. He said that the cameras of the media persons remain focused only a select few, and reports on farmers’ suicides, displacement of tribals and genocides of dalits never become the breaking news. AISA state president, Sudhanshu Bajpai said that even as some in India raised slogans of ‘freedom of expression’ post the Paris attacks, when it comes allowing similar tolerance for freedom of expression in India, it is allowed only if it does not pose a threat to the agenda of the ruling establishment and the affluent sections. UP state AIPWA president Tahira Hasan added that the corporate houses were not merely looting our natural resources, but also our freedom of expression, our human rights and our democracy. She emphasized the need to strengthen the people’s movements against such onslaughts and said that campus premises could be strongholds of such movements.

The other seminar on the ‘current state of electronic media’ was organised in the students’ union building of the Allahabad University, in which once again Pankaj Srivastava was one of the main speakers. Pankaj Srivastava shared his experience of protesting to the IBN-7 management against the channel’s biased coverage on the eve of Delhi assembly elections, for which he has was sacked. He said that not only the was the channel propagating the BJPs communal agenda, it had categorically refused to carry news on farmers’ suicide and on the acquittal of all the accused of the Dalit massacre in Shankar Bigha (Bihar) by the Jehanabad district court. Addressing the seminar, Prof. Lalbahadur Verma stressed on the need to find alternatives to the practices of monopolization in media. Sunil Yadav, former editor of Samkaleen Janmat cautioned that the Central government was using the media as a medium for its own campaigns as was evident during the recent Obama visit, where the entire media kept highlighting the irrelevant and non-serious aspects of the Obama visit while maintaining a silence on the dangerous Indo-nuclear deal. Journalist Ranvijay Satyaketu pointed towards the use of media by the government in creating a false illusion of development, while no actual development was actually happening. The seminar was moderated by Comrade Ramayan Ram.

Road Block in Gopalganj to free a primary school land

For a long time, the construction work of Pakhopali primary school in Bhore block of Gopalganj district had been stalled by some local goons and anti-social elements working in collusion with the local administration. The students were forced to sit in the open and study. The CPI (ML) took the initiative to organise demonstrations in front of the block office, and issued an ultimatum that the construction work be started within 15 days. However, bribed by the goons with huge amounts, the officials once again refused to take any action. In light of the continued inaction by the authorities, on 13 January 2015, the road from Bhore to Mirganj was blocked. Initially, the officials refused to either remove the road block or meet the protestors, but by the evening when vehicles had lined up for 2 kilometres on either side of the jam, the authorities were forced to declare that the construction would begin from the following the day. After obtaining the report from JEE, the construction work has since been started.

Protest Demonstrations by Workers in Bhilai

The AICCTU-affiliated Union Centre of Steel Workers organised a protest demonstration on 23 Janaury 2015, outside the service department of the Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) to highlight the residential problems such as seepage, sewerage, sanitation and maintenance. The protest demonstration was addressed by local AICCTU and CPI (ML) leaders, following which a delegation went to meet the general manager of the of the City Service Department of the Bhilai Steel Plant to hand over the list of demands. However, the General Manager refused to meet the protestors. The protestors continued to raise slogans against the head of the department and submitted their list of demands to the Deputy General Manager.

While addressing the protestors, the speakers pointed out how the BSP management had failed to provide proper accommodation facilities to its workers. Of the 35,000 quarters in the township, nearly 25,000 have been allotted to BSP staff and other people. Of these quarters, while a few have been demolished after being termed damaged; the remaining have been either illegally occupied or with the collusion of the officials are in the possession of the close associates of the officials. This has caused BSP a loss of several lakhs, despite which BSP management has failed to act and the workers continue to be forced to live in unhygienic dwellings. The protestors demanded that if crores could be spent on modernization and expansion of management services, why a similar amount could not be spent on proper accommodation for the workers. Issues of contractual workers such as non-payment of minimum wages, non-issuance of salary slips and provisions of ESI were also raised.

Citizens Protest against Vandalism of Churches in Delhi

Following a spate of incidents of vandalism in Churches in Delhi, a citizen’s protest was called to demand action against those responsible for the acts of vandalism. Kavita Krishnan, PB member of CPI(ML) along with several AISA leaders and office bearers of AISA led JNUSU also joined the protest. The protestors were to march peacefully to the office of the Home Minister Rajnath Singh. However, the Delhi police which so far had failed to prevent these repeated acts of vandalism and even act against those responsible was suddenly seen to be actively assaulting the protestors. The police began to beat up peaceful protestors and tried to prevent them from marching to the Home Ministers’ office. The sudden action of the police against the protestors which chosen to remain mute spectator to acts of vandalism is highly condemnable and this reflects a clearly partisan attitude. CPI(ML) strongly condemns the high handedness of Delhi Police and its brutal victimization of the protestors. The growing instances of targeting of the minorities in Delhi and the unabated issuing of statements aimed at communal hate mongering by BJP leaders and Hindutva groups supported by the BJP must be strongly opposed and resisted. CPI(ML) demands a probe into the police brutalities on the protestors and the growing attacks on Delhi Churches.

Resist the appropriation of Gandhi by his killers

Mahatama Gandhi’s assassination on 30 Jan 1948 merits to be the first terrorist act and political murder of independent India. Ironically, while the image of Gandhi is being used as mascot of the government’s Clean India camapign (a crafty ploy that is intended to capitalise on the public stature of Gandhi), these efforts are accompanied by resurgent moves to legitimise Gandhiji’s assassin by building Godse temples with calibrated indulgence by those in power. During last many decades most Hindu nationalists have kept the appreciation of their hero, Nathuram Godse under wraps. With the new dispensation coming to power (Modi Sarkar, May, 2014), it seems these acts are being silently appreciated by those in power. This inference is logical as none in the positions of power have either reprimanded or opposed these Godse acolytes. The latest in the series of acts-statements by this Godse appreciation club is the bhumi pujan by Hindu Mahasabha for Godse temple in Meerut (Dec 25 2014). There are several demands from the Hindu Mahasabha offices to install his statues and they have requested land from the Centre to erect a statue of Godse in the national capital. In light of these developments, on 30th January 2015, a public meeting and a film screening was organised by AISA led JNUSU to bring out the many underplayed suppressed aspects and facts about the assassaination of Gandhi. The programme was attended by Rajesh Ramachandran, noted Journalist and Researcher, R. Prasad, noted cartoonist and activists of several other left student groups.

Comrade Rajarshi Dasgupta

The Other Name Of Commitment

After a long battle with cancer, Comrade Rajarshi Dasgupta—popularly known as Pushanda to his comrades—breathed his last at a private hospital in north Calcutta on 7th February, 2015, at 8.05am. With his condition deteriorating he was hospitalized on 24th January.

Born on 16th August, 1950 to Sephali Dasgupta and Sashanka Bhushan Dasgupta, a freedom fighter, he was a tireless fighter. His entire life was dedicated to the advancement of the cause of the revolutionary struggle, for the transformation of the society. He passed the higher secondary examination from the Hindu School at Calcutta and was admitted in the St. Xaviers College for graduation. But his association with revolutionary politics drew the ire of the college authorities and he was rusticated. Later he got admission in the Ashutosh College, Calcutta from where he obtained his graduate degree. His service life began with the land revenue department under the West Bengal government. He subsequently joined the central government as an income tax officer and retired in 2010 as a joint commissioner. During his service he developed intimate bonds with colleagues and employees of all strata, and became a companion and leader of their struggles. He was co-convenor of the Council of Action of Income Tax. At the all-India level he served as the secretary of the Income Tax Gazetted Officers’ Federaton. Alongside his service life, Com. Rajarshi Dasgupta was integrally associated with revolutionary politics and a committed worker of CPI(ML) Liberation. He contributed regularly to the state organ of the party Ajker Deshabrati and also occasionally to the central organ Liberation under the pen-name Sukanta Mondal. His socio-economic analysis won him great compliments. His writings inspired as well as enriched the party workers.

A dedicated organizer of the working class movement, he served on the state committee of the West Bengal unit of the party, and was also a member of the working class department and the Calcutta District Committee. His commitment to the party was so complete that even while battling the cancer, he took it upon himself the task of joining the ninth party congress held at Ranchi in April, 2013. And even in his failing health, a few days before he took leave of us, he, taking great pains, duly made his final contribution, a write-up on the privatization of the state sector, to the special issue of the state organ to be published shortly. In his multifarious activities he was an active member of an organization devoted to the treatment and help of the people suffering from cancer, the terminal disease that took his life. And according to his will, his body was donated to the Calcutta Medical College for the benefit of medical research.

Com. Rajarshi Dasgupta was steadfast in his communist ideals and never compromised with his beliefs. His honesty, humanitarian concerns, duties to his family and other near ones and the party were exemplary. Always amiable and warm-hearted, no one could ever think of harbouring any bitterness against him. His is a great loss to us. The Central Committee and the West Bengal State Committee express deep condolence to the family and friends of the departed comrade.

Red salute to Comrade Rajarshi Dasgupta!

ML Update | No. 06 | 2015

February 4, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18 | No. 06 | 3-9 FEB 2015

Covert Attack on the Constitution

On the occasion of Republic Day, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry of the Modi Government issued an advertisement, with an image of the Preamble of the Constitution minus two key words – ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’. The Preamble of the Constitution declares that “WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; And to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation; IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.”

Scrambling to defend itself on the intent behind the omission of ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ from a 2015 Republic Day advertisement, the Modi Government – as well as the BJP and its allies – found themselves speaking in many contradictory tongues.

First, the I&B Ministry explained that they had merely used a watermark of the original 1950 Preamble, which at the time only had the words ‘Sovereign Democratic Republic’. What is wrong in commemorating the original Preamble, they asked innocently? Had the mater remained there, perhaps the apprehensions of India’s concerned citizens would have subsided.

But soon enough, Shiv Sena, an ally of the BJP, hailed the ‘accident’ by which the two words were excluded, and called for the accident to be turned into a ‘reality’. And soon after, the Telecom Minister of the Modi Government, senior BJP leader Ravishankar Prasad, called for a ‘national debate’ on the need for those two words in the Preamble! In support of these calls for outright deletion on the one hand and ‘debate’ on the other, it was argued that the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ had been introduced by Indira Gandhi during the Emergency. These words carried the Emergency taint, it was argued in saffron quarters, and therefore should be deleted.

The Shiv Sena and Ravishankar Prasad revealed the real ‘Mann ki Baat’ behind the omission of the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ from the Preamble as displayed in the Modi Government advertisement. That ‘Mann ki Baat’ is nothing but the agenda of eroding secularism to head in the direction of a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ in which minorities will not enjoy equality and freedom. It is extremely significant that throughout, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi maintained a calculated silence on the subject, allowing his Government and party to speak in many voices.

Many offensive amendments made by Indira Gandhi to the Constitution were deleted by subsequent amendments by the Janata Government as well as by Supreme Court intervention. But no Government in the four decades since the Emergency has ever yet felt the need to ‘debate’ the inclusion of the words ‘secular’ and socialist’, and there is good reason for this.

The main reason is that those words simply underlined or amplified the assurance present in the rest of Preamble, as well as in many Articles of the Constitution. The word ‘Secular’ only reflects the spirit of the Preamble’s guarantee of ‘liberty of faith and worship’, of equality, and of fraternity based on the ‘dignity of the individual’. And this spirit is fully reflected in several Articles of the Constitution.

What about ‘socialist’? It may be argued that with the passing of the ‘public sector’ regime and the establishment of liberalization as a policy framework, is has become anachronistic to call India ‘socialist.’ Others can argue, rightly, apart from the outward trappings of five-year plans and public sector, the Indian State was not socialist in any sense of the term. India was never even a welfare state, let alone socialist in the revolutionary sense. The failure to carry out land reforms and democratise agrarian relations, and the growing subordination of the public sector to the interests of crony capitalism are the two biggest negations of any kind of socialism.

But what these arguments forget is that the term ‘socialist’ is important in as much as it reflects the spirit of ‘social, economic and political justice’ promised in both the Preamble and the directive principles of state policy. At a time when Governments are trying to step back from their duty of ensuring basic entitlements of food, shelter, water and so on to the people, the Constitutional commitment to that duty is important. At the present juncture, any move to drop the word ‘socialist’ is nothing but a ploy to claim Constitutional ‘approval’ for the rampant flouting of the principles of social and economic justice by Governments.

In a recent interview, BJP President Amit Shah has reiterated that his party sees no need to remove the words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ from the Preamble. But it is significant that in the same interview, Shah refused point blank to comment in any way on RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat’s declaration that India is a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation). If the BJP is indeed committed to the secular spirit of India’s Constitution, why is it unwilling to outright condemn the RSS’ ‘Hindu Nation’ claim that is the worst possible attack on that spirit? In the same interview, Amit Shah defended what his party calls ‘ghar wapsi’ and called for a ‘law against conversions’ – both of which fly in the face of the Constitutional guarantee of the freedom to practice and propagate one’s faith.

Ravishankar Prasad and others may ask, rhetorically, if Ambedkar was less secular because he saw no need to include the word ‘secular’ in the Preamble. But can there be any doubt whatsoever that Ambedkar was deeply opposed to the notion of India being a theocratic ‘Hindu Rashtra’? Ambedkar himself organized mass conversions to Buddhism and declared, ‘I may be born a Hindu but I will not die a Hindu’. Can there be any doubt that Ambedkar would find a ‘law against conversions’ opposed to the basic spirit of India’s Constitution as he drafted it?

A ‘Hindu Rashtra’ is not just deeply dangerous for India’s religious minorities. It also spells an end to the Constitutional promise of equality and freedom for India’s Dalits, adivasis, oppressed castes and women. At the time when India adopted the Constitution, the RSS had opposed it and had called for the Manusmriti to be the Constitution of India as a ‘Hindu Rashtra’. The RSS organ Organiser, on November 30 1949, had complained that the Constitution had no mention of the Manusmriti – the same Manusmriti that is full of horrific decrees against the basic dignity and freedom of Dalits and women, the same Manusmriti that Ambedkar had publicly burnt.

It is precisely as a rebuff of and safeguard against these forces that seek to turn India into a Hindu nation that India’s Constitution and Preamble must continue to declare India’s secular character without any room for ambiguity.

Landless Poor Demonstrate in Bihar

Nearly one lakh landless poor demonstrated at over 200 regional centres in Bihar on the issue of dwellings and land for farming, following the call given by All India Agricultural Labour Association (AIALA) and Shehri Gareeb Morcha (Urban Poor Front). Angrily raising slogans of ‘Give us land not announcements’, the protestors demanded that they be given homestead land, papers for land occupancy, and occupation of the land for which they have been issued papers. In the course of the demonstration, nearly 1 lakh applications were given across the state in which the question of allotting nearly tens of thousands of acres of land for which papers have been issued. Once again the Manjhi government is offering false assurance of homes and farming lands to the poor. While several announcements pertaining to land distribution are being made on papers, in actual the situation is the exact opposite where on an increasing rate the poor are being displaced even from whatever little land they do have for living and agriculture. In the survey report brought by CPI (ML) it had been revealed that nearly sixty percent of people in Bihar were landless. Had the JD (U) government implemented the land reform recommendations then nearly 21 lakh acres of land marked by the committee could have been recovered by the state government and distributed to the landless for accommodation and doing agriculture. Protesting against the false promises of the state government, thousands of people even demonstrated in the cities on the question of land reforms.

The various AIALA leaders leading the demonstrations declared that they will continue to expose the false assurances of the government and intensify the movement to force the government to implement its announcements.

Protest against Exploitation of Women

In the past few days several instances of exploitation of women have been reported in Bihar. In one incident, a minor girl hailing from West Bengal was gang raped on 5 February in Muzaffarpur district collectorate. In yet another case of brutal exploitation, a woman named Geeta Rani, residing in a posh locality of the capital city tortured her 11 year old domestic help, inserting hot rods inside her private parts and had her sons send the dead body to the girl’s home. All the accused in this case are absconding.

Amidst all these instances, PMCH nurses continue to protest in order to be regularized. They had started an indefinite hunger strike on 3 January 2015 that had lasted two weeks and during which the health of several nurses had deteriorated.

In light of these increasing occurrences of violence against women and their continued exploitation, protests marches were taken out under the leadership of AIPWA leaders and activists in Patna, Bhojpur and Muzaffarpur on 8 January and organized. The protestors demanded that the district administration of Muzaffarpur take responsibility for the gang rape of a minor and that Geeta Rani, who had brutally tortured a minor help, be arrested along with the other co-accused. In the rallies conducted following the protest marches, it was also demanded that the state administration guarantee safety of women and fulfill the demands of the protesting nurses. In Fatuha, besides the aforementioned demands, the AIPWA led protestors also demanded that the concerns of women working for the midday meal programme be immediately addressed. The protest march in Fatuha was led by State AIPWA President Saroj Chaubey.

Mahapanchayat by All India Kisan Mahasabha in Uttarakhand

On 28 January 2015, thousands of people took part in the mahapanchayat called by the Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Mahasabha in Bindukhatta in Nainital district, demanding the status of a revenue village for Bindukhatta and protesting against the state’s decision to make Bindukhatta a municipality. The residents of Bindukhatta have been demanding the status of village since 1970’s under the leadership of CPI (ML) and its mass organizations. Though, for a considerable period, no other political party was willing to support this demand, of late the demand for a village hood has become a part of the manifestos of most parties in the state. However, despite this, ignoring the long standing demand of the residents of this forest land, Bindukhatta was made into a municipality and the anger of the people could be clearly seen in the streets of Laalkuan. It is important to note that though members of bureaucracy had cautioned the state government against making Bindukhatta a municipality and pointed out several legal hurdles, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Harish Rawat chose to ignore people’s genuine demand along with the suggestions of his own bureaucratic advisors. CPI (ML) believes that the decision to make Bindukhatta a municipality is solely guided by the motive to enable some Congressmen become councilors, chairmen and also find employment for several Congress contractors. This is a conspiracy to deny to the common people of Bindukhatta ownership rights to their land.

Flustered by the participation of thousands in the protests organized by the Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Mahasabha, the Congress workers burnt the effigy of those who participated in the demonstrations. The burning of effigy of protesting masses only exposes the political bankruptcy of the Congress.

Movement in Ramgarh against Gang Rape and Murder of Tribal Women

On 15 December 2014, two minor tribal women were gang raped in Vasundhara Vatika hotel, located in Rajrappa Road in Chitarpur (district Ramgarh, Jharkhand). One of the victims had to be referred to Ranchi following excessive bleeding, however, her life could not be saved. On 27 December 2014, a team led by CPI (ML)’s Bigendra Thakur, Jaglal Soren, Mahadev Manjhi, Heeralal Mahto and RYA’s Amal Kumar Ghoshal and Krishna Munda, went to Tikahara Tola in Bokaro to meet the families of the parents. The information gathered by them revealed that one of the girls, aged 16, was working as a sweeper in hotel named Vasundhara Vatika owned by Dilip Saav for a wage of Rs. 3000. Within a few days of joining work, Dilip began to sexually assault her and also forced her into sex work with other guests in the hotel. On 15 December, when the victim and another 14 year old girl from the same village who had joined work were sleeping in the same room, Dilip along with two other men came to their room and gang raped them. After FIRs were filed by surviving victim and the father of the girl who died, Dilip was arrested, however, the issue of a sexual exploitation racket was thrown into cold storage. The report prepared by CPI (ML) and RYA team revealed that several girls from outside areas were brought and forced into sex work and also that the incharge of Rajrappa Police station, Lileshwar Mahto had been staying in one of the hotel rooms for nearly four months.

After returning, a press conference was called in Ramgarh office in which the district secretary Com. Bhuvneshwar Bediya, Com. Saryu Bediya and the members of the fact finding team exposed the rape incident and demanded that the culprits be arrested, the hotel premises be sealed, the rapists be charged for murder and Lileshwar Mahto be suspended. On 28 December 2014, thousands of women and youth took out a protest march under the leadership of AIPWA leaders Rupa Besra and Jhuma, RYA leader Amal Kumar Ghoshal and several other CPI (ML) leaders. On 29 December 2014 again thousands of people marched from Chitarpur bazaar to Rajrappa Mod, under the joint leadership of CPI (ML), AIPWA and RYA leaders demanding immediate action on the culprits and Lileshwar Mahto and compensation for the survivor and the family of the dead victim. The administration is still attempting to cover up the issue exposing BJP government’s view on security of rural tribal women. The movement led by CPI (ML) has resulted in several people from rural and urban areas coming out on streets in protest.

Demonstrations by Footpath Shopkeepers in Jehanabad

On 29 December 2014, all the footpath shopkeepers of Jehanabad carried out an angry demonstration outside the district council office under the banner of the ‘Footpath Shopkeepers Association’, led by CPIML activists. The demonstration followed a massive procession from Unta Sabzi Mandi to the district council office. The programme was led by district councilor Upadhyaya Yadav, AICCTU leader Dheeraj Gupta, ML city incharge Santosh Keshri and Footpath Shopkeepers Association leaders Arvind Kumar Chopra, Bablu Kumar and others. Through the programme, demands were raised pertaining to – permanent arrangement for footpath shopkeepers, provision of pukka shops, drinking water and toilets for shopkeepers, entry of footpath shopkeepers in BPL list and immediate vacation of shops by those not involved in business. While there has been a long standing movement on these demands, no concrete steps have yet been taken by the district authorities. A delegation of leaders handed over a four-point demand letter and pressurized the district administration to assure that immediate action will be taken, failing which the movement would be intensified.

CPI (ML) Ensures Return of Land to a Tribal Family in Maharashtra

About 100 km away from Mumbai, in a Dhabon village of Palghar district, some non tribal hooligans had snatched the land of a tribal family. On 16 January 2015, under the leadership of CPI (ML), the land was recovered from the goons and restored to the family. On the instructions of a goon, Chaubey, the family was told by some of the local tribal leaders working as brokers for Chaubey that the family had no ownership over the land and they must take accept Rs. 25,000 and vacate the land. Having no knowledge about ownership rights of the tribals, the family vacated the land. When the local CPI (ML) leadership came to know about the incident they obtained the property documents on which it was mentioned that land belonged to the family that had been forced to vacate. On 16 January 2015, the party cadre along with the family launched the occupy movement and captured the land by putting red flags on it. At the start of the movement, Com. Mahendra Singh was remembered on his 10th martyrdom day.

Protest against Suspension of AISA Leader from Lucknow University

AISA activists organised a protest rally in GPO, demanding the revocation of the expulsion of their leader Sudhanshu and re-establishment of the women’s cell in Lucknow University. Earlier this month, in a shameful assault on campus democracy, the Lucknow University (LU) administration had expelled comrade Sudhanshu Bajpai, UP state president of AISA, from LU for the ‘crime’ of organizing a seminar on LU campus on the Love Jihad bogey and for burning the effigy of the UP Chief Minister at a subsequent protest held by AISA. The seminar against ‘Love Jihad’, which was to be addressed by AIPWA national secretary comrade Kavita Krishnan, was disrupted by ABVP.

Addressing the protest rally, AISA leader Puja Shukla said that the actions of LU administration show that there is no space or permission in the University for discussing the rights of women to exercise their choices. AISA Jt. Secretary, Sandeep Sen said that the expulsion was an outcome of AISA’s attempts to expose the corruption in the university and raise questions about the mismanagement. Protest was held by AISA activists in Delhi in front of UP Bhawan.

Unveiling the Statue of Mohan Singh

On 31 December 2014, in Bahedi village of Bareily district, the statue of Comrade Mohan Singh was unveiled. Com. Mohan Singh was a leader of CPI (ML) and the Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Mahasabha. He had died in an accident on 31 December 2013 while he was leading an indefinite hunger strike by the farmers fighting for the outstanding payment of 44 crore for sugarcanes. On the initiative of the party and the local farmers, it was decided that his statue would be established in the Kisan Bhawan, Bahedi on his first death anniversary. The statue was unveiled by the CPI (ML)’s central committee member and the general secretary of Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sabha, Com. Rajaram Singh.

On this occasion a pledge-taking rally was also organized for the farmers. Addressing the gathering, Com. Rajaram Singh said that when the communal forces were busy breaking the unity of farmers and killing many in Muzaffarnagar last year, and the farmer’s unions instead of coming to their rescue had chosen to ally themselves with the saffron brigade, it was the Kisan Mahasabha under the leadership of Com. Mohan Singh that sent a strong message of united farmer’s movement. He added that in current times when Modi Government has launched an unprecedented attack on the farmers, the legacy of Com. Mohan Singh will help in providing the direction. The rally was chaired by veteran Communist leader Com. Atri Kumar Rishi and was moderated by Com. Javed Akhtar.

More than 300 people including late Com. Mohan Singh’s wife Rachna Singh, participated in the programme.

ML Update | No. 05 | 2015

January 28, 2015

​ML UPDATE

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18 | No. 05 | 27 JAN – 2 FEB 2015

Republic Day Pointers Beyond the ‘Namobama’ Hype

As Prime Minister, he devoted his first Independence Day speech to inviting foreign capital to come and ‘make in India’. Now Narendra Damodardas Modi has used the first Republic Day celebration of his government to demonstrate his government’s readiness to accommodate US demands and blandish his million-rupee pinstripe suit, tailored in UK, that had his name embroidered all over. It seems Modi is however not the first to set a precedent by wearing such a suit. Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s ousted President, had apparently already worn his name on his sleeves to deny Modi the opportunity to create a world record. Unfortunately for Modi, narcissism and megalomania are also subject to competition.

Observers of Indo-US relations have noted all the ‘right steps’ the Modi government has been taking from day one to impress the US. From decontrolled pharmaceutical prices and US-friendly patent norms announced before and during Modi’s US trip to increased FDI in insurance, easier land-grab policy and vastly reduced food security cover and all such steps taken or recommended on the eve of Obama’s Republic Day visit to India, the Modi government has gone all out to satisfy the Americans. Freeing American suppliers of liabilities in case of any damage inflicted by their reactors on the Indian people has been the latest concession offered during Obama’s R-Day visit. Modi and his men now hope that US will now expedite nuclear and military supplies to India.

Modi and his propagandists would like us to believe that foreign policy is more about the ‘personal chemistry’ among leaders of different countries than about dealing with the global economy and geo-political pulls and pressures. Modi went so far as to say that we need not bother about the text (commas and full stops, in his words) of agreements and joint statements, for the personal chemistry of leaders can obviate or transcend the limits set by such texts. India’s experience from the early Nehruvian years of non-alignment through the Indira era of Indo-Soviet friendship to the current phase of strategic subservience to the US, clearly shows that the text and the fine print are of decisive importance in matters pertaining to the foreign policy, no matter whether the policy is conducted with the near-robotic manner of a Manmohan Singh or the melodramatic exuberance of a Narendra Modi.

As the hype over the so-called Modi-Obama ‘personal chemistry’ dies down, what will really matter are the concessions granted and promised to the US in the nucIear deal and other agreements and the implications in India’s neighbourhood of the growing convergence between Washington’s Asian design and New Delhi’s ‘Act East’ policy. By making Indian insurance companies subsidise US and other Nuke MNCs in case of an accident, and insulating these suppliers from the risk of being sued by victims of a disaster, the Modi Government has rendered Indian citizens more at risk of such disasters. This is because Nuke Corporations that are confident that burdens of accidents will be borne by the Indian taxpayer, are likely to cut costs on safety provisions in reactors.

In the sixty-six years of India’s republican existence, this was the first time an American President was present as the guest of honour at the Republic Day parade. Ram Madhav, the RSS spokesperson turned BJP General Secretary, says that having watched the military parade dominated by old Russian supplies Obama would now feel an urgency to step up American military imports to India. This is the comprador mindset hiding behind the ‘make in India’ slogan that redefines ‘national dignity’ only in terms of US certificates and ‘national interest’ only through the prism of so-called ‘natural’ alliance with the US.

As far as the Indian people are concerned, the Republic Day marks, first and foremost, the anniversary of the adoption of India’s Constitution. Hence it should be an occasion to assess the country’s progress in terms of the rights and liberties of the citizens rather than in terms of the power and achievements of the state. Over the years, successive governments have made it more into a show of the state – marked by a military parade with some civilian adjunct in the form of officially approved glimpses of ‘Indian culture and public life’ – rather than a celebration of common citizens. With the RSS at the helm, the cultural display in this year’s Republic Day parade acquired unmistakable religious overtones, with even a state like Jharkhand represented by temples than its rich history and diverse heritage.

Heightened assault on constitutional rights and liberties of the working people, systematic suppression of dissent and attempted homogenization of India’s pluralist cultural legacy pose serious threats to the essence of the secular and democratic republic proclaimed in the Constitution. Defying the hype and fiction of the ‘Namobama’ chemistry, the time has come for all of us join and win the battle for the essence of the Indian republic defeating the forces of communal division, corporate plunder and comprador capitulation.

Nationwide protests against US President Obama’s India Visit

On 24 January 2015, there were nationwide protests against the visit of US President Barack Obama as the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade celebrations in New Delhi. In New Delhi, Left parties – CPI(ML), CPI, CPI(M), SUCI(C), AIFB, RSP and the Communist Ghadar Party of India – jointly held a protest march from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar. The protestors raised slogans against US imperialism, dilution in the liability clauses in the Indo-US Nuclear Deal, enforced changes in the drug manufacturing regime in India to facilitate corporate greed and sell-out of India’s sovereignty, and the protest march culminated in a protest meeting at Jantar Mantar. The meeting was addressed by leaders of all the participant Left Parties, including CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, CPI general secretary Sudhakar Reddy, CPI(ML) Politburo member Kavita Krishnan and others.

Addressing the protest, comrade Kavita Krishnan detailed the reasons for the protest. Reminding the gathering of the Bhopal gas tragedy and the manner in which both the US and the Indian governments had conspired to allow the Dow Chemicals to escape liability for the massive loss of lives and livelihoods, comrade Kavita pointed out that Obama was coming to India to seal a deal which weaken and dilute the liability of US companies in case of industrial disasters in India. Even prior to this visit of Barack Obama, US Secretary of State John Kerry had visited India during the Vibrant Gujarat summit, along with an entourage of US corporate leaders, in order to push for a more ‘business and investment-friendly’ atmosphere in India. And this, is nothing but a euphemism for cheap land, water and electricity, tax breaks, sops for corporates and a weakened labour rights’ regime. In fact, farmers protesting against the Vibrant Gujarat meet were arrested, in a sure signal to the US that the Modi government was more than willing to know-tow to US business interests and that no protests against the regime of corporate profiteering would be tolerated. Various speakers at the protest meeting also pointed out that the protest march was being called against US aggression, racist attacks in the US, and US’s interfering in India’s economic and foreign policy matters to further its own interests. The protest ended with a burning of Barack Obama’s effigy.

Joint protests were also held in various districts of Bihar, in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere. In Patna, a protest dharna was held at the Bhagat Singh Chowk, Gandhi Maidan. The dharna was led by CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, and leaders of CPI, CPI(M), AIFB and SUCI(C). Joint protest marches and dharnas were also held in Bhind, Madhya Pradesh and Bhilai, Chhattisgarh. In Bhilai, a protest meeting was held at the JP Chowk in Sector 6, which was addressed by CPI(ML) Chhattisgarh state secretary Brijendra Tiwari and comrade JP Nair, CPI leader C.R. Bakshi, CPI(M)’s S.P. Dey, SUCI(C)’s comrade Vishwajeet and others.

In Uttar Pradesh, six Left parties, including CPI(ML), CPI, CPI(M), SUCI(C) and AIFB held protests at various district headquarters. In the capital Lucknow, a protest was held from Parivartan chowk, via Hazratganj to the GPO. The protestors pointed out the US’s horrific track record of imperialist aggression, wars, occupations, human rights’ violations and imposed dictatorships across the world. The recent undemocratic Ordinances passed by the NDA to undermine peoples’ rights and facilitate corporate profits were also the result of US diktats which the Modi government was more than ready to heed, pointed out the protestors. The protest was led by the district secretaries of various Left parties. The protest in Allahabad was addressed by CPI(ML) UP state secretary Ramji Rai. Protests were also held in Gazipur, Balia, Bhadohi, Chandoli, Kanpur, Mau, Devaria, Gonda, Faizabad, Ambedkarnagar, Lakhimpur Kheri, Pilibhit, Jalaun, Muradabad, Mathura and Sonbhadra.

Historic Strike Against Coal Ordinance

(India’s coal mine workers held a historic two-day all-India strike against central government’s move of denationalization and privatization of coal industry through the Coal Ordinance. This was the first major resistance put up by organized workers in the last seven months of the Modi Government. This government, which has been launching an all-out attack on the rights of working class through amendments in labour laws and policies of privatization, disinvestment and FDI, was forced to talk to workers’ representatives. The government was forced, in a written agreement, to form a committee comprising of coal ministry officials and trade unions to look into the matter of privatization and other issues raised by the strike. AICCTU affiliate, the Coal Mines Workers’ Union (CMWU), participated actively in the Strike. AICCTU leader Sukhdev Prasad reports from Dhanbad.)

The countrywide hartal on 6-7 January 2015 by 5 lakh coal workers of CIL and Coal Outsourcing was extremely effective and successful. After the 1 lakh 86 thousand crore coalgate scam through the coal block allocations came to light, the Supreme Court cancelled 214 allocations. With the exposure of this huge scam the corrupt officials and companies should have been punished but the Modi govt, instead of punishing them, gave these 214 companies compensation for losses and with shameless haste brought an ordinance through which all the coal blocks were re-auctioned and the concerned companies were given free rein to sell coal and the concerned lands were also made over to those companies.

On 24 Nov 2014 all the 5 unions in the JBCCI called for a hartal. 4 out of these 5 unions postponed their hartal after an assurance from the coal minister, but the coal workers stood up against this decision. As a result the above 4 recognized unions called for a 5 day hartal from 6-10 Jan 2015. CITU and AICCTU, supporting the 5 day strike call, decided on 13 Jan as their hartal day and gave a strike notice to this effect, closing any possibility of the 4 recognized unions taking back their strike call.

When the hartal started on 6 Jan, AICCTU and CMW came out in full force in ECL, BCCL, and CCL, i.e the entire coal belt of Jharkhand. The coal workers joined the strike with a voluntary energy fed by years of anger and injustice. Generally, a hartal sees a bigger strike in the morning shift and average strike in the afternoon shift. Work starts again in the night shift. But this time on 6 Jan there was such total strike in all the 3 shifts that the hartal was prolonged and carried over to 7 Jan. Generally in a one day hartal a few workers report for work, but this time this did not happen. All processes of coal transportation, whether truck loading or wagon loading, were totally closed for 2 days.

Some emergency services of the coal industry had been kept out of the hartal but even in these cases the management had to first get the permission of the striking workers. This was the scenario throughout the entire coal belt of Jharkhand. All attempts to break the hartal by influencing sections of the striking workers through TMC in Bengal, JMM, Dadai group (INTUC), AJASU etc in Jharkhand proved unsuccessful and the workers refused to go to work. Another unique feature of the hartal was the solidarity shown by the local rural people with the coal workers.

The ruling parties as well as the media tried propaganda to break the hartal—claiming that only 4 days’ coal was left in the power houses and the entire country would be plunged into darkness due to the hartal. The Congress backed Dadai group in Bermo coal belt, AJASU in Ramgarh coal belt, and JMM in other areas of CCL tried to break the hartal by use of force but the CMW opposed them strongly and kept the hartal unbroken.

An additional achievement of the hartal is that during the negotiations the coal minister was forced to give in writing that CIL would not be privatized. It was also decided during the negotiations that a review committee would be formed to review the terms and conditions of 42 coal block allocations, and this review committee would include trade union representatives.

The striking workers submitted a 10 point list of demands including stopping of privatization of CIL, scrapping the coal block auction ordinance, guarantee of security of jobs of all workers in CIL, and stopping of dissolution of CIL in the name of reorganization.

Rapists of Dalit Girls in Kurmuri Convicted

All 3 rapists of the 6 Dalit teenage girls in Kurmuri village, Bhojpur, Bihar, have been convicted in a remarkably short time, within three months. This verdict is a tribute to the courage of the survivors and the prompt and sustained efforts of the CPI(ML) Liberation and AIPWA.

It may be recalled that the main accused in the case, Neelnidhi Singh is a former Ranveer Sena area commander and known to be close to Ara MP RK Singh (from the BJP) and Tarari MLA Sunil Pandey from the JD(U). As a result, the police officials in Tarari as well as the Ara district administration dilly-dallied in taking any action against him. Right from getting the FIR filed, it was CPI(ML) and AIPWA activists who struggled for justice, every step of the way.

Leftist SYRIZA Registers Emphatic Electoral Win in Greece

The Left has registered an emphatic win in Greece in the recently concluded elections, with the SYRIZA winning 36 per cent of the votes and 149 out of the 300 total seats. The SYRIZA, a coalition originally comprising of a broad array of forces – including democratic socialists, green Left as well as Maoist and Trotskyist groups in Greece – became a unitary party in 2013. In the elections this year, SYRIZA has conclusively defeated the previous center-right New Democracy party, which was reduced to a distant second. Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi, far-right, anti-immigrant came third in the elections after polling 6.3 per cent of the votes.

The election results in Greece are hugely significant, considering that the SYRIZA ran its entire election campaign on an anti-austerity plank. As several political commentators have pointed out, it is the working class of Greece, the poor, the unemployed and the retrenched workers who have powered this victory – thus delivering a huge blow to the EU-IMF dictated austerity measures that have plunged Greece into a chaos of debt and humanitarian crisis. Moreover, this is the first time since the Spanish revolution of 1936 that a Left party has won general elections in Europe.

Over the years, SYRIZA which started mobilizing support against the disastrous liberalization-globalization regime dictated to Greece, has been steadily increasing its support base. It climbed from 4% to 27% in the 2012 elections, when it managed to represent the social dynamics of the massive social movements rocking Greece. After 2012, when the New Democracy-PASOK coalition government pushed harder on the neoliberal ‘restructuring’, SYRIZA captured the growing discontent and disillusionment in Greece. As Owen Jones points in the Guardian, it is the middle-aged working class women who have played a major role in this victory. He reports: “Outside the Greek finance ministry are cleaners who used to work there, until 16 months ago – like so many Greeks – they lost their jobs. ‘We were just numbers, not human beings,’ one tells me. Ever since, they’ve camped outside, battled riot police, and become iconic figureheads of the struggle against austerity. Plastered around their camp are defiant posters: a clenched fist in a kitchen glove, a cleaner sweeping away Greece’s discredited, despised political elite. ‘We hope to take back our lives, our jobs,’ I’m told. ‘After so many years, to be happy again’… Greece is a society that has been progressively dismantled by EU-dictated austerity. Outside one polling station, I speak to Georgia, who works at a hospital clinic manned by volunteers which caters for the impoverished. For unemployed Greeks denied access to the public healthcare system, such clinics are lifelines. Georgia has one clear ambition – that after a year or two of a Syriza-led government, her clinic will no longer be needed and will close. Syriza supporters speak often more as though they are in a disaster zone than competing in an election. Dealing with the “humanitarian crisis” is described as the new government’s number one priority.”

SYRIZA has won the elections on two specific proposals: (1) a social salvation plan to ameliorate the consequences of the neoliberal onslaught on the lower classes, and (2) a plan to re-negotiate the Greek public debt with the EU and the IMF, in order to make it sustainable. The emphatic win to these proposals is surely a mandate for the massive anti-austerity protests in Greece and Europe. Moreover, this mandate is an inspiration for movements in India and the rest of the world against anti-people, neoliberal policies. After Latin America, now Europe too is challenging the ‘There is No Alternative’ (TINA) narrative, and is reasserting the Left, defying those who had announced the demise of the Left and victory of capitalism long ago. No wonder then, that the IMF, as well as the powerful elite in Europe, have already stated that the victory of SYRIZA might have a huge ‘destabilizing’ effect in the whole of Europe.

Obituaries

Rajni Kothari

Veteran political scientist and civil libertarian, Rajni Kothari passed away on 19th January 2015. He was 87. He was among the founders of the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) and later its President. He was also the founder of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, an institute that continues to produce important and original research in the social sciences. He set up the Lokayan as a forum for dialogue between activists and intellectuals.

Rajni Kothari helped draft the manifesto of Jayprakash Narain’s Janata Party. However, he became critical of the Janata experiment. In the wake of the anti-Sikh massacre in 1984, he was among the authors of the meticulous and damning fact-finding report by the PUCL and PUDR, titled “Who are the guilty?”, that named the guilty Congress leaders.

He was a close observer and friend of the Indian People’s Front; especially of the IPF’s rise in the Hindi belt, its opposition to the draconian press bill, and the powerful peasant movement led by the CPI(ML) and IPF in Bihar that also blazed the trail for social justice. After the Bathani Tola massacre in Bihar in 1996, he was part of a committee to pursue justice. Rajni Kothari will be remembered as a path-breaking social scientist and political commentator, who inspired and influenced many political scientists and activists.

Jasodhara Bagchi

Veteran academic and women’s movement activist, Prof Jasodhara Bagchi passed away on January 9 at the age of 77. She taught English Literature at Jadavpur University in Kolkata since 1963, till her retirement in 1997. She was a Left activist, close to the CPI(M), and a dedicated activist of the Left women’s movement. She helped found the discipline of Women’s Studies in Jadavpur University and India. She initiated the publication of the Bengali Women Writers Reprint Series, to safeguard and showcase women’s writings that might otherwise be lost. She wrote extensively on women’s struggles.

The launch of her latest book, Parijayee Nari O Manabadhikar (Migrating Women and Human Rights), at the Kolkata Book Fairwas stalled by the Mamata Banerjee Government which termed it as “politically controversial”, presumably for its Left perspective.

She served as the Chairperson of the West Bengal State Commission for Women from 2001 to 2008. Salute to Jasodhara Bagchi, whose legacy will inspire the Left movement and women’s movement in India.

Mike Marqusee

Mike Marquesee, academic, writer and activist, passed away on 13 January 2015, after a long battle with multiple myeloma. Mike, an American school student of Lithuanian Jewish ancestry had been influenced by Malcolm X and black resistance. He shifted to England in protest against the Vietnam War, and ever since lived primarily in Britain. He raised his voice against various forms of religious fundamentalisms – opposing the diktats against Salman Rushdie, and the communal campaign to destroy to Babri Masjid in India.

In Britain Mike was known for both his writings and his activism – he was the main Press Officer for the Stop The War Coalition that organized the over a million people march in London against the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. At a time when Israel racist genocidal assaults on Palestine continued, Mike Marqusee was a refreshing secular, anti-Zionist voice committed to the struggle for justice for the Palestinian people. He contributed a fortnightly column to The Hindu and was a regular columnist for Britain’s largest circulation leftwing magazine Red Pepper. Salute to Mike Marqusee!

ML Update | No. 04 | 2015

January 22, 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18 | No. 04 | 20 – 26 JAN 2015

Defeat the Modi Design of Governance by Ordinance

One of Modi’s pet pronouncements after coming to power in May 2014 was ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’. By the end of the year, the meaning of the slogan became quite clear: ‘Minimum Parliament, Maximum Ordinance’! Modi scarcely attends Parliament and his cabinet prefers to take the ordinance route to amend key laws passed by Parliament. Ahead of the budget session, the Modi government has already promulgated more than half a dozen ordinances, a measure that, according to the Supreme Court, should only be resorted to in extreme emergencies. The President of India, despite reports of discomfort with the flurry of ordinances, has chosen to go with the government and give his assent to the controversial measures.

Three of these ordinances have already evoked widespread protests in the country: the decision to raise FDI limit in insurance sector from 26 to 49, a gift to US insurance companies before Obama’s Republic Day visit; the ordinance opening up the coal sector for private commercial mining; and the most autocratic and pro-corporate diktat of them all, the land acquisition ordinance that overturns the amended land acquisition law of 2013. While in opposition, the BJP had been opposing FDI in insurance and had supported the 2013 legislation replacing the widely resented colonial era Land Acquisition Act of 1894. Now at the helm of a government in which the BJP enjoys absolute majority on its own, the BJP is brazenly rewriting the laws showing utter contempt for the people’s voice, both within and outside of Parliament.

The land acquisition ordinance has exempted several sectors from the mandatory consent and social impact assessment clauses, paving the way for wholesale acquisition of fertile multi-crop land for a pittance in the name of compensation and resettlement. Land remaining idle after acquisition will no longer be returned to the original owners. Along with this draconian ordinance, the government is also busy finding ways to restrict, dilute and deny the powers enjoyed by gram sabhas in tribal areas under the Forest Rights Act and the Fifth Schedule so that tribal communities have no say in regulating land acquisition and mining and construction activities in their traditional habitat. Laws like Chhota Nagpur and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Acts in Jharkhand are also being sought to be amended to deprive tribal communities of whatever legal protection they have been traditionally enjoying over their land.

The thrust of the Modi government’s agenda of development has thus become crystal-clear – wholesale acquisition of agricultural and tribal land whether in the name of industrial corridors or mining or urbanisation or private universities, engineering colleges, hotels and housing projects. The other pet slogan of Modi – “Make in India” – relies and revolves completely around FDI. When Modi woos FDI with his favourite formula of 3Ds – demand, demography and democracy – he places the purchasing power of Indian consumers, skilled labour of educated Indian youth and the legislative system of India, all at the disposal of foreign capital, thereby promising it maximum operating freedom and profits. This land-grabbing FDI-dependent model of development means nothing short of a war on the rights and resources of the Indian people – peasants, workers and job-seekers in particular.

The ordinances will have to be subjected to parliamentary debate in the forthcoming budget session. While resisting every act of forcible acquisition on the ground, pressure must now be mounted in every possible way on the government and Parliament for withdrawal of the ordinances and defeat of legislative attempts to turn these ordinances into laws. The first budget of the Modi government signalled systematic cuts in social sector spending and attempts to abandon whatever welfare measures were legislated in the last few years in the spheres of forest rights, employment guarantee and food security. By all indications the forthcoming budget will only seek to intensify this assault on social welfare and people’s rights. The working people and their fighting organisations must get united to resist these attacks and push back the government.

CPI(ML) statement on Muzzafarpur Riots

The communal frenzy orchestrated in Azizpur village, which comes under the Saraiya police station in Muzzafarpur in Bihar is a shame on humanity. This communal frenzy in Muzzafarpur was planned and organized on the lines of the Muzzafarnagar riots in Uttar Pradesh in 2013. On 11 January 2015, an FIR was filed by the police regarding the abduction of Bharatendu Sahni. However, instead of investigating this matter with the seriousness it required, the administration adopted a careless attitude. As a result, communal forces in the area got sufficient time in which to create a communal frenzy. At a time when a dangerous communal atmosphere exists all over the country, this slack attitude of the local administration in a sensitive matter of an interreligious relationship raises several questions.

On 18 January 2015, a mob openly indulged in looting, arson and murder in broad daylight, between 12 pm and 3 pm, while the local police merely watched the entire horrific proceedings from a distance of a just 1 km away. When riots were being orchestrated in Azizpur village, the local BJP MLA as well as the DSP, the SHO and other police personnel were present. They however allowed the violence to continue and the village to burn. The police and the BJP leaders entered the village only after the frenzied crowd had dispersed after the violence and arson. These facts were highlighted by CPI(ML) leaders at a press conference in Patna, after a CPI(ML) team visited the area and investigated the issue. The CPI(ML) fact-finding team consisted of CPI(ML) politburo member comrade Dhirendra Jha, AIPWA general secretary Meena Tiwari, Iftikhar Alam of the Insaaf Manch, Aftab Alam, Suraj, Prof. Arvind De and Prabhat Bharadwaj.

CPI(ML) leaders stated at the press conference that five people had been killed in the communal frenzy, more than thirty houses had been completely burnt down, and all houses belonging to members of a particular community were looted. The village is now practically deserted; only a few elderly people have been left behind. Women and children have taken refuge in the neighbouring villages. An atmosphere of fear prevails in the entire area. Property worth crores has been looted, and property worth many more crores has been burnt and destroyed in the arson. There are also apprehensions that several people in the village are missing. However, many Hindu families in the village risked their own lives and the safety of their families in order to provide protection to the Muslims of the village. This indeed highlights Bihar’s syncretic culture and the strong communal harmony that prevails.

The evidence of looting, violence and arson clearly shows that several weapons such as hammers and spades were used in a large scale. According to eyewitnesses, the mob consisted of only around 500 people – the local administration is claiming a figure of 2000 in order to hide its incompetence. The nature and character of this incident appears to be very dangerous. A united response to such communal forces is the need of the hour. CPI(ML) appealed to all people to maintain peace and harmony in this situation.

CPI(ML) has also demanded the immediate suspension of the DSP and police station incharge, who are responsible for the incident. Moreover, CPI(ML) has demanded an enquiry against the SP and the DM of the area. Moreover, the local administration must not just ensure the safety of the residents of the village, but should also provide compensation for the loss of life and property. Bharatendu Sahni’s family should also be provided compensation. CPI(ML) has demanded a time-bound judicial enquiry to look into all aspects of the incident, which will submit its report within three months. This enquiry should also cover the role of the Paru BJP MLA Ashok Singh. CPI(ML) also demanded that the Bihar government apologise to the people of Bihar for its inability to prevent this incident.

(A more detailed report on the entire Muzaffarpur incident will be release later)

Protests against the acquittal of all the accused in the Shankarbigha massacre case

After shameful verdicts acquitting all the accused in the Bathani Tola, Laxmanpur Bathe and Miyapur massacres, last week all the accused in the Shankarbigha massacre too were acquitted by a lower court. CPI(ML) launched massive protests in Bihar against this travesty of justice. The Party called for a Bandh in Jehanabad and Arwal on 16 January 2015 – and subsequently, normal life was completely disrupted in both these districts as a result of the CPI(ML) bandh. In Jehanabad, thousands of CPI(ML) activists flooded the streets from the morning itself, and blocked rail traffic in the area. Several trains including the Intercity Express were halted for some hours. As a result the traffic on the Patna-Gaya rail route was severely disrupted.

In Arwal, thousands of CPI(ML) supporters participated in the protest led by CPI(ML) district secretary comrade Mahanand, demanding action against the perpetrators of the Shankarbigha massacre and justice for the victims. Addressing the protestors at the Bhagat Singh crossing in Arwal, comrade Mahanand pointed out that the very same government and administration which never tires of claiming that it stands for Dalits and deprived communities in the state, is one by one acquitting and releasing all those accused of orchestrating feudal massacres of the rural poor in Bihar. These massacres had been orchestrated during Lalu Prasad’s RJD regime, and when the JD(U)-BJP was in power, these murderers of the rural poor were acquitted and released in a well-organized manner. One of the first decisions taken by the Nitish Kumar government was to disband the Amir Das Commission, set up to investigate the political connections of Ranveer Sena and the feudal caste militias in Bihar. Now, even though BJP is no longer in power in the state, and the so-called social justice parties are running Bihar, rural poor in the state are being denied justice. Their struggle and battle for justice continues. The murderers in the Laxmanpur Bathe, Bathani Tola, Miyapur, Narayanpur and Nagari massacres, and now in the Shankarbigha massacre, have been acquitted. This shows clearly that the government in Bihar is a government which protects feudal-criminal forces, and which betrays the poor in the state after seeking their votes.

In Jehanabad, a protest meeting was also organized at the Arwal crossing. This protest meeting was attended by Party district secretary comrade Sriniwas Sharma, AIKM leader comrade Ramadhar Singh, AIPWA leader comrade Kunti Devi and others. Protests were also held in Agiaon, Sahar, Piro, Charpokhri, Gadhani and other parts of Bhojpur, where effigies of the Bihar Chief Minister were burnt. Protests against the acquittal of the Shankarbigha accused were also organized in Aurangabad, Bhabua, Nalanda, Siwan, Darbhanga and other districts.

Public Hearing in Tamil Nadu on the impact of BJP and AIADMK’s economic policies

A public hearing was organized by the CPI(ML) Madurai district committee on 10 January 2015 in Madurai. Comrade T.N. Gopalan, Dr. Vijaya Baskar from MIDS Chennai and Mr. Karunanidhi who is an advocate in the Chennai High Court Bench in Madurai were part of the panel which examined the witnesses at the public hearing. These witnesses included rural poor who had travelled several miles to depose their plight due to cuts in government expenditure on rural development programs.

Several facts were highlighted at the public hearing. The people of Tamil Nadu are being denied jobs under the MGNREGS. Card holders lucky enough to get jobs are waiting for almost 3 months to get wages. The AIADMK Government on its part has affected drastic cuts in social welfare assistance. Around 20,00,000 people were removed out of the total of 35,00,000 people who were getting welfare assistance under various schemes such as the Old Age Pension (OAP) scheme, schemes for assistance for handicapped, widows, destitute women and so on. These curtailed lists was prepared by the Revenue Department without informing the beneficiaries and got ‘approved’ by Gram Sabha meetings, which were never really held but were nevertheless recorded on paper.

Ninety nine percent of witnesses who deposed at the public hearing were women. Most of them were destitute or widows. They also shared their experiences of denial of ration card/ MGNREGA jobs as one cannot get ‘double benefits’ from the Government. They stated that ‘direct to the beneficiary’ clause is actually causing fraud and delayed payments. The biometric method to identify the person has failed many a time, resulting in people having to wait in front of rural bank counters for days. The cut in lists was arbitrary; while many landowners and supporters of ruling parties earn Rs. 1000 per month under various social welfare schemes, the poor and weaker sections are left high and dry.

Members of AISA had worked for several days to record cases, which were presented to the panelists. The facts were then verified by the panel by cross examining the persons who deposed. Many of the witnesses stated that the Government that they had voted for had vetoed their right to life.

The panelists concluded that the actions of the state and Central governments were arbitrary, and denied the welfare of the rural poor. The panel said that they would come out with a report soon and make all efforts to lobby in favor of the people. Comrade Balasundaram spoke at the public hearing and said that we need to conduct a ‘clean India’ campaign to remove the rulers’ loot and pro-corporate, anti-people policies.

Demonstrations against the arrest and imprisonment of NVH workers in Tamil Nadu

NVH is the South Korean auto ancillary of Hyundai, situated in the auto hub of Sriperumputhur. It employs about 150 permanent and 500 contract workers. The permanent workers formed a union under the banner of the United Labour Federation, but the Management has not yet recognised it. The workers subsequently went on a warpath demanding recognition, basic amenities, revision of wages and against the practice of employing workers under contract.

As a punishment for the protests, 10 workers were suspended and another 5 workers were terminated for demanding drinking water and water in the toilets. The workers’ movement then demanded the reinstatement of those suspended and terminated; workers went on a strike by assembling inside the factory premises. State leaders of the Federation and workers who were thrown out by the management gathered at the gate of the factory in support of the strike. Irked by the action of workers, the South Korean officers attacked them violently. This was videographed and the video subsequently went viral in many social media networks. Around 40,000 people watched this video on the day it was uploaded.

The police went into the factory by midnight on 1 January 2015, and arrested the striking workers including 3 women. They also arrested the workers assembled at the gate. While hundreds of workers arrested were released by the evening, 28 workers who had spearheaded the movement were sent to the Vellore prison. But the Korean officers who had attacked the workers went scot free. Condemning the incident, AICCTU and RYA jointly organised a demonstration on 5 January 2015 at Sriperumputhur, on 6 January in Coimbatore and on 8 January in Ambattur.

Massive Rally Marks A Decade of Comrade Mahendra Singh’s Martyrdom

A massive rally on 16 January 2015 at Bagodar marked ten years of Comrade Mahendra Singh’s martyrdom. The entire Central Committee of the CPI(ML), as well as people’s movement activists including Dayamani Barla attended the rally. Comrade Mahendra was assassinated in 2004.

In the morning, Central Committee members of the party went to pay respects at Comrade Mahendra Singh’s ancestral village Khambra. Party General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, people’s movements leader Dayamani Barla, CPI(ML) MLA Rajkumar Yadav and former MLA Vinod Singh as well as other central leaders of the party were among those who joined the village people in offering flowers at the bust of Comrade Mahendra Singh. Schoolchildren lined the road to Khambra, with flowers and red flags in their hands, in memory of the man who had pioneered the setting up of schools in the village.

Back at Bagodar, the CPI(ML) leaders and people’s movement activists paid tributes at the bust of Comrade Mahendra outside the CPI(ML) office. Speaking here, Politburo member Comrade Ramji Rai said that Comrade Mahendra was a true people’s representative, in a much more profound sense than just an elected member of the Legislative Assembly. Falsely accused of violating Assembly norms, he had made history by resigning in the House itself; it was the Assembly which had to expunge the accusations and take him back. He was the one fearless voice of people’s movements inside the Assembly.

Speaking at the Rally, the newly elected CPI(ML) MLA from Dhanwar, Rajkumar Yadav said that Amit Shah and Modi failed in their bid for a ‘CPIML-free Jharkhand’ because they can never succeed in creating a ‘struggle-free Jharkhand’.

Comrade Vinod Singh addressed the Rally, underlining the many issues that face the youth and people of Jharkhand. AIPWA GS Meena Tiwari and AIKM GS Rajaram Singh also addressed the Rally. Dayamani Barla spoke of the great pillar of support that Comrade Mahendra Singh was to people’s movements, and how the CPI(ML) continued that legacy.

CPI(ML) GS Comrade Dipankar said that the CPI(ML) was a party of struggle on streets, fields, factories – when given a chance, the party would also represent those struggles inside the Assembly, but even when we fail to win the seat, the struggles would continue undaunted. He saluted the coal workers for their historic strike against the Coal Ordinance and farmers’ struggles against the Land Grab Ordinance. He said that the people of Bagodar had proven wrong those who imagined that they could wipe out the CPI(ML) by killing Comrade Mahendra Singh. He said that the BJP Government wanted to hand over the country and Jharkhand over to ‘company Raj’ and foment hatred between communities. The JVM had proved to be the B-Team of the BJP. It is the time of the hour to raise high the red flag and join hands with people’s movements to defend democracy and people’s rights.

Several resolutions were also passed, condemning the anti-democratic manner in which Ordinances are being promulgated by the Modi government by bypassing all forums of debate, condemning the Land Acquisition Ordinance which seeks to facilitate corporate land grab by doing away with the need for social impact assessment and peoples’ consent in several projects and expressing solidarity with the coal miners’ ongoing struggles against the recent Coal Ordinance. Resolutions were also passed against the growing saffronization of education and institutions of the State and against growing communal fascist assaults and threats and intimidation of religious minorities. The Rally also condemned the brutal assault on Krishnadev Verma in Birni, and demanded a CBI enquiry in the matter as well as justice and compensation for the victim’s family. The Rally demanded that the state government take active steps to increase employment opportunities in the state, and also ensure unemployment allowance for the unemployed youth.

Anti-communal campaign in Jehanabad

On 12 January 2015, CPI(ML) held protests all over Jehanabad town against the communal assaults launched by BJP and Bajrang Dal activists on a prayer meeting in a church in Madhavnagar in Jehanabad. On 11 January, a group of BJP activists had entered a Protestant church during a routine prayer meeting. They abused those present, looted the church and the organisers of the meeting, vandalized the premises, and broke chairs, mikes and other property in the church. A CPI(ML) team which investigated the whole incident, also came to know that the DM and SP of the area refused to take any action during the assault – even though the Christians in the church kept calling them for help. The police arrived only much later, and even then refused to arrest or any action against those who had perpetrated the violence. In fact, the BJP and Bajrang Dal activists abducted two of those present in the church, falsely accused them of conducting ‘conversions’ under ‘coercion’ and handed them over to the Police after beating them up.

The CPI(ML) protest march, which was held on 12 January began from the CPI(ML) district office, went through the town and culminated in a public meeting at the railway station campus. The protest march demanded action against those communal forces which had attacked a prayer meeting of Christians in Jehanabad. The protest was led by CPI(ML) central committee member comrade Ramjatan Sharma, district secretary Sriniwas Sharma and others. Addressing the protest, comrade Ramjatan Sharma pointed out that ever since the Modi government has come to power, the emboldened communal fascist forces in the country are increasingly indulging in communal hate mongering, violence and intimidation of religious minorities.


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