ML UPDATE 16 / 2010

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 13, No. 16, 13 – 19 APRIL 2010

Punish the Masterminds of the Bathe Massacre

13 years after the brutal massacre of landless poor by the Ranveer Sena at Laxmanpur Bathe in Jehanabad, Bihar, the verdict of the Additional District and Sessions Court of Patna sentencing 16 Ranveer Sena men to death and 10 to life imprisonment is welcome, though belated. However, those who bear greatest guilt for that massacre are yet to be punished: Ranveer Sena chief Brahmeshwar Singh did not even face trial in this case, and the political patrons of the Ranveer Sena have completely evaded scrutiny and punishment.

The Ranveer Sena was a private landlords’ militia set up with a very similar purpose to the Salwa Judum – to spread terror among the landless poor and dissuade them from joining the CPI(ML) movement. The Ranveer Sena, backed by a range of leaders across political parties, indulged in several massacres of unarmed landless poor at Bathani Tola, Shankarbigha-Narayanpur and Laxmanpur Bathe to send a barbaric message of the consequences of struggling for land, wages and dignity.

On December 1, 1997, a gang of the Ranveer Sena, a landlords’ private militia, crossed the Sone river and entered Bathe village, using guns and swords to slaughter 58 unarmed and sleeping people. Of these 27 were women (of whom about a third were pregnant) and 10 were children. In an attempt to quiet the outrage that followed this attack and allegations of political patronage for the outlawed Ranveer Sena, the then Rabri Devi Government appointed a Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice (Retd) Amir Das on December 27, 1997, to probe the political links of the Ranveer Sena. The Commission had repeatedly complained about non-cooperation and denial of sufficient resources by the RJD Government. In 2006, when the Commission was on the point of preparing its final Report and had requested for a final extension of its tenure, the JD(U)-BJP alliance headed by Nitish Kumar disbanded the Commission in one of its first actions after it came to power.

The complicity of topmost leaders of the Nitish Kumar Government in the massacre and the Government’s own role in suppressing justice is underlined by Justice (Retd) Amir Das’ statement following the verdict, in which he declared that the masterminds of the Bathe massacre are in power in Bihar today. Justice Amir Das has said that his Report would have indicted 42 political leaders across the political spectrum, mostly from the BJP and JD(U) but also the RJD and Congress. This list includes BJP leaders like the present Deputy CM of Bihar – Sushil Kumar Modi and former Union Minister C.P. Thakur and former RJD Minister Shivanand Tiwari who is currently the JD(U) spokesperson.

Not only have these leaders evaded justice by scuttling the Amir Das Commission, they have also managed to protect the Ranveer Sena Chief Brahmeshwar Singh. The CID did not even investigate the case against Brahmeshwar Singh on the grounds that his name figured in the 1998 chargesheet among the “absconders.” Brahmeshwar Singh was arrested in 2003 and has since been in prison in Bihar – yet he continued to be treated as an “absconder” and was never charged by the police in the context of the Bathe massacre. Laxmanpur Bathe was the biggest massacre perpetrated by the Ranveer Sena; yet there was no attempt by the CID to probe the role of its Chief into the massacre – in spite of the fact that he was in prison and available for interrogation! This selective omission of Brahmeshwar Singh clearly indicates that the political patrons of the Ranveer Sena ensured that he was protected from any probe.

The Nitish Government’s commitment to protect and appease the feudal forces of big landlords who were the mainstay of the Ranveer Sena is further proved by its refusal to implement the recommendations of the Land Reforms Commission.

All defenders of democracy and justice have a stake in ensuring that the Bathe verdict is upheld and all political ‘masterminds’ who patronised the perpetrators of gruesome massacres of rural landless poor are brought to book. And as Nitish Kumar embarks on his pre-election “Vishwas yatra”, the justice-loving people of Bihar must get ready to punish him for his treacherous act of “vishwasghat” (betrayal).

CPI(ML) Liberation, CPM Punjab and Lal Nishan Party (Leninist)

Call upon Working Call and the Country’s Poor to Observe

Nationwide General Strike on 27 April 2010

With Powerful Mass Actions

Against Price Rise and State Repression

Attack by Congress goons on CPI(ML) Supporters in Pilibhit

On April 3, Congress leader B M Singh and his supporters forcibly began erecting a dais on the land of Madhu Mandal, a peasant who is a supporter of CPI(ML). When Madhu Mandal objected, Congress goons entered his house and beat him up. Villagers then gathered to protest and Congress goons beat up other CPI(ML) supporters too.

B M Singh’s mass meeting took place the same evening. Hundreds of residents of Rahul Nagar showed black flags to B M Singh and expressed their anger and protest. The Congress supporters unleashed a pre-planned attack on the CPI(ML) supporters, and dozens were injured on both sides. On the previous day itself, CPI(ML) had informed the police and administration that an attack was impending, but the latter did not respond. When CPI(ML) activist Sayeed was at the hospital attending to the wounded, B M Singh arrived and threatened to abduct and kill him. B M Singh was arrested following a written complaint by the CPI(ML) in the police station. But in retaliation, the administration sent PAC into Rahul Nagar, which entered the homes of CPI(ML) supporters as identified by Congress supporters, and severely beat up people. CPI(ML) supporters immediately began a dharna at the DM’s office demanding an end to the PAC terror. The PAC-sponsored violence then stopped but various serious criminal charges including the Seventh Criminal Amendment Act were invoked against CPI(ML) CC Member Krishna Adhikari and several other leaders, activists and peasant supporters. Five CPI(ML) activists including AIALA leader Devashish were arrested and jailed. The CPI(ML) has called for party foundation day April 22 to be observed with a massive mass meeting against repression.

Congress leader B M Singh and his supporters have been trying for long to evict people from the Rahul Nagar workers’ settlement and capture the land. Some months back, B M Singh had threatened to clear the village and his goons had entered the home of CPI(ML) district committee member Comrade Nagina Ram and attacked him and family; an FIR (number 409/09 was registered in the police station). Most residents of the Rahul Nagar workers’ settlement are dalits, extremely backward or peasants and workers of the migrant Bengali community – most of whom are CPI(ML) supporters. This village is now being branded a ‘Maoist’ haven in a systematic campaign of misinformation and slander by media outfits (for instance see the Sunday Nai Duniya, a UP weekly, dated 14 February 2010).

The village came into being under a government ‘colonisation grant scheme.’ Later the Forest Department laid claim to the village but could not prove it. The dispute over the land is now in the Court and the peasants have got a stay from the HC in their favour. In spite of this, CPI(ML)’s opponents especially the Congress led by B M Singh have an eye on this land. B M Singh is the owner of huge farms and several farm houses. He wants to clear out Rahul Nagar and establish a farm house on that land.

The CPI(ML) held a dharna at Shahid Smarak in the UP State Capital of Lucknow on April 5 in protest against the assault by Congress supporters led by Congress leader BM Singh and police on party supporters in Rahul Nagar, Pilibhit. The party demanded that charges of rioting be registered against B M Singh, his henchmen be arrested, the PAC camp be removed from Rahul Nagar, false cases against CPI(ML) activists be withdrawn and they be released unconditionally, and land be regularised in the names of the residents of Rahul Nagar. A memorandum addressed the Chief Minister with these demands was submitted. The dharna was addressed by CPI(ML) Politburo member Ramji Rai, who said that B M Singh was fomenting riots and violence to capture the land of the workers’ settlement at Rahul Nagar. If the Mayawati Government were to ensure that residents of Rahul Nagar got their due rights over the land, this would not be possible. The dharna was also addressed by Kranti Kumar Singh, Balmukund Dhuria, Tahira Hasan, and Shiv Kumar. On April 5, a Protest March was also held at Puranpur, Pilibhit on the same question and a memorandum submitted to the SDM.

CPI(ML) demands release of hunger striking comrades at Gorakhpur

On 9 April CPI(ML) held a protest demonstration at the office of the mandalayukt to demand release of the nine activists including three women activists who had been jailed while holding a hungher strike at the Collector’s office.

Hundreds of protestors led by State Standing Committee member Rajesh Sahni raised slogans at the mandalayukt’s office, after which the latter met a delegation and assured them that action would be taken. The protestors then went to the city magistrate’s office and held a dharna there. And finally the nine comrades were released.

On April 8, nine comrades – including Vinod Bharadwaj, Nandu Prasad, Bajrangi Nishad, Manorama Chauhan (all district committee members), Talbeda Begum and Anari Devi – were arrested and jailed while on hunger strike. Anari Devi was on hunger strike at the DM’s office in protest against the grabbing of her land by the husband of the village pradhan, Anari Devi’s family has resided on land in the Jangal Pakdi village of Pipraich thana in Sadar Tehsil for the last 40 years. Shivratan, the husband of the village pradhan had made attempts to evict Anari Devi’s family and grab the land. He then meddled with the land deeds and tried to grab the land. The administration here ranged itself with Shivratan and his men who were forcibly capturing Anari Devi’s land. Anari Devi and her family are party supporters and it as in her support that the hunger strike was being held.

Contractor Workers continue movement in Guwahati Refinery

Contract and unorganised workers in the Guwhati Refinery are continuing their movement on some longstanding problems. A nexus of the Refinery management, contractors and the anti-worker Refinery Workers’ Union has been depriving these temporary workers from their minimum rights and dignity for a long time. The agreement signed with the United Workmen Union has been violated. Recently this nexus resorted to retrenchment and repressive measures. Recently one women worker was discharged from her job. Contract workers under the banner of the AICCTU-affiliated United Workmen Union has led a series of protest programmes that includes wearing of black badges on 5 and 6 April, a dharna on 7 April, hunger strike on 8 April and dharna and gate meeting on 9 April this year. The management-contractor-RWU nexus has filed a case in Noonmati P. S. against three leaders of United Workmen Union including its General Secretary. Apart from the AICCTU-affiliated trade unions, other trade unions also extended support to this movement.

AIALA Road Blockade in Assam

In continuation of the movement launched by Sadou Asom Gramin Sramik Santha (Assam unit of AIALA), Asom Sangrami Chah Sramik Sangha and Karbi Anglong & N C Hills Kisan Sramik Sabha held a road blockade in different districts of Assam, on 23 March, 2010 to press their longstanding demands. On 21st January, 2010, nearly 5000 rural workers submitted a 11-point mass memorandum to the Governor of Assam at a Rajbhawan March programme. It was a culmination of a mass signature campaign in Assam’s major districts of AIALA’s work.

One of the major demands was a Special Assam Assembly Session to discuss the work of the Rural Development department, but there was no response from the Government. These issues were ignored by the Government even during the ongoing budget session of the Assam Assembly.

The Road blockade was effective at many places. In Tinsukia nearly 500 people gathered to block the main road for an hour. In Dibrugarh district the blockade was held at Lahowal and Tingkhong where nearly 1000 people took part. In Bargang, Behali (Sonitpur district) nearly 2000 agrarian workers and tea workers imposed a road blockade for nearly an hour. In Nagaon the blockade was held at two places – Nagaon town (1200 people) and Jakhalabandha (200 people). In Jorhat 500 people gathered to block the Assam Trunk Road for 45 minutes. In Chandrapur (Kamrup district) 300 people took part in the programme. From Barpeta a memorandum reiterating the demands was sent to the Governor through the DC, Barpeta. In Karbi Anglong district the blockade was held at Bokajan.

The Demands raised included:

i) Hold Special Assam Assembly Session to discuss works of Rural Development department,

ii) Curb prices and provide ration card and 25 essential commodities,

iii) Provide all rural families with job cards, 100 days works, Rs. 200 as minimum wage, otherwise provide unemployment allowance,

iv) Provide all poor families with BPL cards, IAY house and sanitary latrine,

v) Special reservation tea tribe people in panchayat schemes,

vi) Settle landless tea workers in ceiling surplus land and build IAY house for them,

vii) Ensure land rights for forest dwellers and provide them patta,

viii) Scrap immediately anti-people land policy imposed by Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council,

ix) Form an autonomous state combining Karbi Anglong and N C Hill by implementing Article 244(A) of the Indian Constitution and adopt a resolution in Assam Assembly,

x) Immediately withdraw the proposal of separating Assam Asset from Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC),

xi) Stop Sixth Edition of Kaziranga national park project and safeguard the life and livelihood of people living riverine strertch.

Convention at Khammam for Telangana Statehood

On 23 March the CPI (ML) Liberation organized a big rally and a convention at Khammam demanding separated statehood for Telangana. Nearly 500 people attended the Convention, including party activists, women, students, lawyers and teachers.

The convention inaugurated by CPI(ML) Liberation District Secretary C K Damodhar. The Convention paid homage to the martyrs of the struggle for separate statehood for Telangana as well as Shaheed Bhagat Singh. The editor of Telugu Liberation Comrade P Sathyanarayana, D Harinadh, state committee member, Shelam Swamy of Nalagonda, M Suguna Rao, lawyer, B Sydhulu representing the teachers forum, K Maleesh of the Telangana Students’ Joint Action Committee and M Kailash of AISA and B Venkateswara Rao, DC member addressed the convention. Three resolutions were adopted at the Convention: demanding that the UPA Government present and pass the Telangana Separate Statehood Bill in Parliament immediately; Withdrawal of the paramilitary forces from Osmania University Campus; and withdrawal of all cases booked against the students and employees who participated in the struggle. Protest songs were presented by Pammy, a lawyer, Ravi Babu as well as Himavathi of AIPWA.

8th Party Congress of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party of Bangladesh (RWPB)

A three-member delegation of the CPI(ML)(Liberation had been to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, to attend the 8th Party Congress of the RWPB held on and from 1st April to 3rd April, followed by a grand meet with the leaders of the left and democratic parties/formations of Bangladesh on 4th April evening, including Comrade Saiful Haque, General Secretary, RWPB. The CPI(ML) delegation was led by Politburo member Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya, and included PB Member Comrade Kartick Pal and Tripura State Secretary and CCM Comrade Mrinmoy Chakravarty. The delegation met with warm welcome, communist fraternity and comradely hospitality. The Party Congress symbolised proletarian simplicity, commitments and bold and tireless struggles towards reorganisation and rebuilding a revolutionary communist party.

RWPB came into existence in 2004 with a split in Workers’ Party of Bangladesh. RWPB leaders it is said, revolted against the class collaborationist opportunist line, parliamentary cretinism and abject surrender to ruling class parties adapted by the WPB leadership. As of now the WBP is a partner of the ruling Awami League led ‘grand alliance’. On the contrary, the RWPB is consistently striving to adapt Marxist-Leninist ideological-political positions, provide revolutionary orientation to workers, peasants’ movements, focusing on agrarian movement as the axis, develop joint forums of trade unions and anti-imperialist political forum with other left parties and democrats, etc. The 8th Party Congress of RWPB reasserted their opposition to the Government’s abject surrender to imperialist forces, especially US and to the domination and dictates of the Indian ruling classes, sway over of free market economy leading to severe agricultural and industrial crisis, price hike and unemployment, and above all, establishing a reign of terror, insecurity – and autocratic rule, and posing of serious threat to country’s sovereignty, national interest, national wealth and security. The Party Congress also noted the danger of growing threat of religio-fascist forces and their militarist terror under direct and indirect patronisation of the ruling elites. The Party Congress outlined policies and programme to combat all such threats, the central slogan being, “Strengthen people’s struggling unity against imperialists, lootera rich-classes” and and religio-fascism”. The Party Congress not only updated and adopted ideological-political resolutions, programme and constitution, but also discussed and adopted two other policy resolutions viz. 1. Policy of financial resources of the Party, focusing on “rely on the members and the masses and ensure transparency”; and 2. Guideline for the Party members, depicting organisational principles and tasks. Finally the councillors (delegates) elected (i) a Central Committee, (ii) Presidium (re-named Politburo) (iii) Central Control Commission, (iv) Alternate members and (v) a batch of central organisers.

The inaugural session deserves special mention as it witnessed on the one hand, popular and powerful peoples’ revolutionary culture, Tagore songs to folk songs to Sukanto- Nazarul recitals and dances by children on the theme of “red sun in the eastern horizon embracing the red flag”. On the other, the session figured the presence of leaders from nearly one and a half dozen parties/formations who greeted the RWPB Congress. Most of them share common political platform with RWPB.

All these parties, added with some other nationalist parties/forums, left and democratic personalities, graced the 4th April Dhaka Press Club lounge talks and exchanges with our neighbouring comrades and friends. Most of them appreciated our views and concerns about the US design in the sub-continent, regional hegemonistic ambitions of the Indian ruling classes as well as the growing prospect of extended resistances, solidarity and united peoples’ movement. All were unanimous for further urgent move in this direction.

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