ML UPDATE 28 / 2010

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 13, No. 28, 06 – 12 JULY 2010

Stop Killing and Insulting the Protesting People of Kashmir

Kashmir is once again exploding in anger. At least eleven civilians including a nine-year-old young boy was killed by paramilitary forces in the month of June. As we go to press (6 July 2010), there are reports of at least four more deaths, including a woman and a teenager, in a fresh spurt of CRPF atrocities on protesters in Srinagar. The killing of a child in police firing would evoke angry mass protests anywhere in India. But in Kashmir valley, the state is so afraid of the people and so contemptuous of any notion of democracy that the people are not allowed to protest even when they lose their near and dear ones in police firing or in fake encounters by the armed forces. The familiar cycle of killings-protests-more killings-curfew is being repeated once again all over Kashmir. Anantnag, Baramulla, Sopore, Srinagar – it is again curfew raj all over the valley.

The state government has offered some formal apologies for some of the killings and announced a couple of probes. But these measures do not really carry any credibility for Kashmir has had enough and seen them all. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah initially sought to attribute everything to instigation by his political rival in the valley, the PDP led by Mehbooba Mufti. But as the intensity of protests grew and people started comparing the mass anger to the upsurge in the valley twenty years ago or to the intifada in Palestine, Omar started singing a different tune. He now says it is up to New Delhi to come up with a political solution.

Omar is right when he says that Kashmir needs a political solution and the problem cannot be solved by economic packages or by the rhetoric of development and good governance. But what he said is only half the truth. What he did not mention was the more important residual half – that the sense of alienation among the people of Kashmir has been reinforced by brutal governance and continuing denial of democracy and that Omar’s own government is carrying forward that tradition of complicity and betrayal. The National Conference today is a pale shadow of the popular political organization that Omar’s grandfather Sheikh Abdullah had formed. Neither the NC nor the more recent PDP, the two largest regional political formations thrown up by the valley, address the agony and aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

If the regional parties of Kashmir have failed the people, the rulers in Delhi have never even bothered to understand Kashmir, notwithstanding the Kashmiri origin of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and the special relationship between the Abdullahs and the Nehru-Gandhi clan. The Sangh brigade is of course known for its penchant for abrogation of Article 370, but even the Congress which swears by Article 370 has historically been guilty of following an essentially militarist strategy vis-à-vis Kashmir. Any democratic upsurge of the Kashmiri people is viewed as the Congress as a “Pak-instigated disturbance”. In the present case too, even as the people of Kashmir are crying for justice and democracy, the Union Home Secretary dismisses it as “nonsense whipped up by the separatist elements” and attributes everything to Pakistani infiltration and instigation.

By and large, most sections of the mainstream Indian media which otherwise play a significant role in exposing many scams, human rights violations or policy failures and betrayals of the ruling parties and the state – Bhopal is a most recent case in point – tend to go with the Congress version of the Kashmir story, even if they stop short of endorsing the Sangh-BJP clamour for abrogation of Article 370. The voice from Kashmir has little place in the ‘national’ media. An English paper from the valley editorially questioned and decried this media bias: “matters are made worse by the motivated and manipulative coverage by mainstream Indian media whereby the Kashmiris are depicted as hostile people up against the “patient” troopers.” Kashmiri journalists and writers have rightly asked, “In which part of India “undeclared” curfew is imposed and strict “restrictions” are applied to imprison people in their homes simply because they want to protest peacefully against the excesses of forces? In which part of India mobile phone networks are ordered to suspend operations and SMS service is banned for so called “security reasons”!”

By blaming the mass protests in Kashmir on Pakistan, the Indian ruling elite is only mocking at its own claim of Kashmir being an integral part of India. If Kashmir is an integral part of India, then the protests in Kashmir must be seen as protests by a section of the Indian people, and the Union Home Secretary who dismisses the protests as “a separatist nonsense” must first be dismissed. Of late, Prime Minister has been talking of human rights in Kashmir – it is the most burning issue in Kashmir today and has to be answered here and now. A beginning can be made by immediately revoking the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act and lifting all restrictions on the Kashmiri people’s democratic right to protest. Let the powers that be in New Delhi and Srinagar show the courage to bring the perpetrators of killings to justice. Let them show the courage to talk to the angry and anguished people of Kashmir.

CPI(ML) Condemns the Killing of Azad and Hem Pandey,
Demands Judicial Inquiry to Unearth the Truth

The CPI(ML) strongly condemns the killing of CPI(Maoist) spokesperson Azad (Cherukuri Rajkumar) and journalist-activist Hemchandra Pandey from Uttarakhand in a so-called ‘encounter’ in the jungles of Adilabad district near Andhra-Maharashtra border. The Andhra government’s repeated claim that the Maoists have no strike-power left in Andhra renders the police version of a prolonged gun-fight between the Maoists and the police in the jungles of Adilabad highly suspect. What makes the whole thing all the more intriguing is the CPI(Maoist) claim that Azad was carrying a confidential communication received from Swami Agnivesh in connection with a possible dialogue between the state and the Maoists. The CPI(ML) therefore demands a judicial inquiry headed by a senior judge of impeccable reputation to establish the truth before the people. Both Azad and Hem Pandey had begun as radical student activists and are fondly remembered by many of their fellow students and activists. The CPI(ML) shares the grief of the bereaved families and their friends.

CPI(ML) Central Committee

All India Rural Strike Observed

As we go to press, reports are coming in that the All India Rural Strike called by AIALA and supported by AIKM and AIPWA has been successfully observed in various states including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, Karbi Anglong, Orissa, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatishgarh on 7 July. We will report in detail next week. Below is the text of the call issued by AIALA for the Strike, which outlines the main issues highlighted in the Strike.

Make the July 7 All-India Strike of Rural Workers A Great Success!

Rural poor brothers and sisters,

Ruling parties of various hues come to us during every election, and take away our votes after promising a better future. It is the majority votes of India’s rural poor that forms governments, yet as soon as power is grabbed, the very same governments forget us and all our needs and aspirations. In this regard, it is difficult to find any distinction among all governments whether at the centre or in the states. It is as if betrayal is another name for governance.

A majority of the population living in rural India are cursed with landlessness. While land for cultivation is still a distant dream, even 10 cents of land for building a house is not made available to the poor. The share-croppers are not even guaranteed minimal legal protection. It is not as if Central and State governments don’t have laws to work with, there is no dearth of reports either, yet governments have been running away from implementing land reforms in favour of the poor.

At the same time, governments are working overtime to displace tribal people, and poor peasants and appropriate an ever greater share of water, forests, minerals and fertile land for massive corporate loot and plunder.

We the landless and rural poor know that in every village and panchayat , even today there are large tracts of land that are stolen and controlled by the landed gentry. Think again, then why is the government running away from giving land to the poor?

Amidst the loud claims of Shining India and Bharat Nirman, poverty is steadily increasing. Governments’ own reports are forced to admit this fact. Everybody in this country knows who are poor. Agricultural labourers, other rural workers, artisans, small and marginal peasants, and urban unorganised workers and contractual workers are all poor without any exception. Yet governments continue to play games over poverty estimates and BPL lists. Isn’t this a most cruel joke on the poor?

Everywhere, state protected corruption in PDS deprives the poor of essential provisions for their families while PDS items sell in black markets and the poor are subjected to back-breaking food inflation. While pulses and vegetables have disappeared from the plates of the ‘common man’, many have slid into a state of starvation and semi starvation.

Governments shed crocodile tears over rising prices, but they shy away from implementing the minimum wage level of Rs. 200 a day. This is despite the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission and the Supreme Court instructions for minimum wage rate revision. They have mired NREGA in corruption and added Mahatma’s name as a veil, why can’t they at least double the provisions to at least 200 days of assured employment to at least 2 members of every family on minimum daily wages of Rs. 200?

During the last Lok Sabha elections, the Congress had promised to give us a Right to Food Act. No such Act is yet in sight. Why can’t they revise the BPL list and ensure at least 50 kgs of subsidised food grains to every BPL family every month?

The governments complain of lack of funds. Nothing could be a bigger lie. They give away tax exemptions worth billions of rupees in every budget. In this year’s budget they have given concessions worth 57 crore rupees per hour or almost Rs. one crore per minute to the rich. Even if one-fourth of the crores allocated as subsidies to the capitalists are spent in favour of the poor, the problems of food, employment and shelter of the poor can be resolved.

We need to understand this puzzle. India’s 86 crore poor are being fleeced relentlessly even as a rich minority is being pampered with lucrative packages. It is time we got organised and asserted ourselves on a countrywide scale. Let us make a beginning with a countrywide rural workers’ strike on July 7 and tell the rulers that they cannot get away for long with their policies of lies and loot and repression.

Let us give an ultimatum to the ruling classes and their parties and governments. On the day of the strike on behalf of crores of rural workers living in lakhs of villages and panchayats across the country, let us raise our united voice of struggle. Come! Join this call by AIALA for the first ever All India Rural Workers’ Strike and make it a historic success.

More reports of protest against hike in fuel prices

Andhra Pradesh: Dharna, rasta roko (road blockades) and effigies of Manmohan Singh led UPA Govt. were burnt in five districts including East Godavri’s HQ Kakinada, on 28 June, in Eelaswaram mandal on 26 June, in Narsipatnam mandal of Visakha district on 27 June, and on same day also at Vissannapeta in Kakinada dist. All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) and All India Agricultural Labourers’ Association (AIALA) organised the protests in some of the above mentioned places. AIPWA protested in Ananthapuram and Krishna districts as part of AIPWA’s central call for nation-wide protests. These protests in five districts were led by comrades Nageswar Rao, B.Vasudeva Rao, K. Ratnakumari, Ganesh, S. Gangababu, D. Pulla Rao, Jamulamma and Gayatri Devi among others.

AIKM’s Dharna in Haldwani

Newly formed All India Kisan Mahasabha held a day-long dharna on 30 June at Haldwani in Nainital district to demand administrative recognition for Bindukhatta as revenue village, immediate construction of a check dam on Jamrani, flood protection and stopping the implementation of elephant corridor. A memorandum for the President of India was handed over to the Dy.Magistrate of Nainital. The dharna was addressed by CPI(ML)’s Uttarakhand incharge Com. Raja Bahuguna and Com. Bahadur Singh Jangi among many others.

AIKM Holds Seminar in Chhattisgarh

The All India Kisan Mahasabha held a seminar in two sessions on 4 July in Bhilai. The first session, dedicated to the memory of the late Chandrabhan Tikariha, centred on a discussion of the ‘Cooperative Movement.’ Speakers in this session included Yoganand Tikariha, I S Sahu, Inmoulishankar, Mordhwaj Chandrakar and Jaiprakash Nayar who called upon farmers to give a new dimension to the cooperative movement. This session was conducted by Rajendra Parganiha. The second session was a convention on ‘Agrarian Crisis Today and the Way Out’. Rajendra Parganiha presented a position paper on this topic. After this, Siyaram Sharma of Jan Sanskriti Manch outlined the roots of the agrarian crisis and Saroj Meshram of Vidarbha region spoke of the farmers’ suicides and stressed the need for mass movements against anti-farmer policies. The main speaker at the Convention was AIKM General Secretary Rajaram Singh who outlined the historical perspective of the agrarian crisis and its present form – including corporate land grab, privatization of water and electricity, and the proposed plans to ensure corporate and MNC control over seeds and other resources. This second session was conducted by Jaiprakash Nayar.

The programme was attended by farmers from Bilaspur, Raipur and Durg district. Among those who attended were CMM President Bhimrao Bagade, CPI(ML) CCM Comrade Rajaram, Brijendra Tiwari, and many others.

Kisan Meeting – Following the black day on 26 June (Emergency was clamped on this day) in Punjab a meeting of eleven peasant organisations was convened in Ludhiana. At the meeting all the eleven organisations unanimously decided to support the July 7 strike of rural workers called by the AIALA. Comrades Ruldu Singh, Bhagwant Samao (peasant leaders) and Prem Singh Gahlawat- Party’s incharge for Haryana were present at the meeting.

Shaheed Diwas Observed in Bhilai on July 1

A meeting of leading activists among the cleaning (safai) workers was held in Bhilai on 30 June. The meeting was attended and addressed by AICCTU General Secretary Swapan Mukherjee. The meeting took up the issues of implementing labour laws and intensifying the struggle against harassment of women workers and high-handedness of contractors.

On 1 July at 6 am, a mass meeting was held at Boria Gate of the Bhilai Steel Plant. The meeting was addressed by comrades Jaiprakash Nayar, CPI(ML)’s Chhattisgarh secretary Brijendra Tiwari and Swapan Mukherjee. The meeting was held to protest against disinvestment in SAIL, price rise, and state repression.

July 1 is observed as ‘Shaheed Diwas’ in Bhilai, marking the massacre on that date in 1992 when 17 workers were killed in police firing at a protest at the Power House railway station. To mark this day, the ACCTU along with Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha held a march from Chavni Chowk to ACC Chowk culminating in a mass meeting. The meeting was addressed by CPI(ML) CC member Comrade Rajaram, AICCTU General Secretary Swapan Mukherjee, CMM President and AICCTU Vice President Bhimrao Bagade, comrades Brijendra Tiwari, Jaiprakash Nayar, Dilip Parkar, Kapildas Mamikpuri, A G Qureshi, Bahorik Nishad, Shariba Temam and others. Revolutionary songs were sung by Poonaram Sahu. The meeting was conducted by Tulsi Devdas.

Speakers at the meeting said that the infamous firing in 1992 marked the first footsteps of liberalization of the Indian economy. In the nearly two decades since then, state repression has been heightened with the intensification of the anti-people economic policies. Workers are denied their rights everywhere, and their protests are met with bullets and batons. The meeting raised the demand that in memory of the martyrs of 1992, Bhilai Powerhouse Station be renamed after Shaheed Shankar Guha Niyogi and submitted a memorandum to the Government via the Collector to this effect. The meeting also called for support to the All India Rural Strike called by AIALA on 7 July.

On the evening of July 1, at 6 pm, an extended meeting of the office bearers of the Centre of Steel Workers was held in Comrade Swapan Mukherjee’s presence, in which plans were made to intensify the struggle among Bhilai Steel Plant workers.

International Working Class Actions

PRETORIA (South Africa)- Unions representing 1.3 million government workers are threatening to strike within two weeks, but the planned action is unlikely to disrupt the Soccer World Cup, which heads for its final on Sunday. The state employees are the latest workers to threaten industrial action that could have disrupted the world’s largest sporting event staged for the first time on African soil, embarrassing President Jacob Zuma and his government. But the unions said on Monday it may take two weeks to mobilise the workers and they still hoped for a resolution to the dispute. The unions said the workers, including nurses, police officers, teachers and other government officials such as immigration staff, turned down a 6.5% wage raise. They are demanding an above-inflation salary increase of 8.5% and a doubling of housing allowances.

SEOUL (South Korea): Tens of thousands of auto workers in South Korea went on strike Wednesday to oppose the government’s lifting of a ban on U.S. beef imports. About 20,000 workers at Kia Motors Corp stopped work for two hours, union officials said. Some 13,000 other Kia workers on the night shift and about 45,000 union members at South Korea’s largest carmaker, Hyundai Motor Co, planned to do the same later in the day.

The partial walkout at the two affiliated carmakers were the centerpiece of a one-day strike by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions to protest U.S. beef imports and the pro-business policies of President Lee Myung-bak. The 600,000-member KCTU said about 130,000 people across the nation were expected to join the strike, including workers at textile and chemical factories.

Europe-wide Protests against Spending Cuts

Greek riot police fired teargas at protesters in Athens during a nationwide strike on Tuesday. Unions representing about 2.5 million workers, half the workforce, have backed the strike. Trade unions have said they will hold a “European Day of Action” on September 29 to protest against spending cuts. Here are details of some of the major protests in euro zone countries whose economies are saddled with high debt levels.

GREECE: About 10,000 people took part in marches across Athens during a nationwide strike on Tuesday — the fifth joint strike called by public and private sector unions this year. A group of about 150 black-hooded youths threw petrol bombs at police guarding the parliament building in Athens. On June 23 communist trade unionists blocked travelers from boarding ships at Greece’s largest port, stranding tourist ferries as part of protests against austerity measures in the debt-choked country. In Athens, 5,000 communists staged a march.

SPAIN – Spanish workers shut down Madrid’s metro system on Tuesday in anger at a 5 percent public sector pay cut.

ITALY – The CGIL, Italy’s biggest union with 6 million members, held rallies in Rome, Milan and other cities on June 25 to try to force the government to redraft a 25-billion-euro austerity package, which Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says is an essential part of European efforts to save the euro. Thousands marched in Rome on June 12 to protest against austerity measures that include cuts in funding to local authorities and freezing the salaries of public sector workers.

FRANCE – In a challenge to President Nicolas Sarkozy, French unions held nationwide strikes on June 24 and hundreds of thousands of workers took to the streets to protest against plans to raise the retirement age to 62.

Bernard Thibault, the head of the CGT, France’s largest union, estimated at least 2 million protesters had joined about 200 rallies throughout the country and said this would increase pressure on the government.

Sarkozy’s government has vowed not to back down on the centerpiece of its reform raising the age of retirement to 62 from 60 by 2018 — saying the move is needed to prevent the pension system from going bust and sinking state finances.

GERMANY – Tens of thousands protested on June 12 against Germany’s biggest austerity drive since World War Two. On June 7, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet unveiled plans for 80 billion euros ($96.30 billion) in budget cuts and taxes over four years.

PORTUGAL – Tens of thousands marched in Lisbon on May 29 against government austerity measures and the leader of the biggest union vowed to intensify resistance, but stopped short of calling a strike. The rally was the first display of popular discontent since May 13, when the government announced a package including tax rises and cuts in pay and spending.

Demonstrations to take place as Netanyahu meets with Obama

The movement to end the siege of Gaza is growing. On July 6 there will be demonstrations at the White House, and in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Charlotte, and Syracuse, which are scheduled to coincide with the Israeli Prime Minister’s meeting with President Obama.

On the eve of his White House visit Netanyahu’s government just announced its latest Gaza-propaganda ploy to derail the growing global movement to end the criminal siege. On Monday, Israel dropped its restrictions on some consumer goods into the Gaza Strip but retained tight limits on desperately needed construction materials. Israel announced that they would bar steel, concrete and other construction materials and many other goods. This makes it impossible to rebuild from the massive destruction caused by Israel’s murderous bombing campaign in 2008-2009.

The protesters are aiming at increasing the pressure on White House to pressure Israel for ending the seize of Gaza. An appeal from the organisers (ANSWER) of the protest said that “A truly historic victory was won on June 20, 2010 at the Port of Oakland. For the first time ever, an Israeli ship was prevented from loading/unloading cargo in a U.S. port. The full-day shut down of work on a Zim Navigations (the national shipping line of the Israel) ship was the result of powerful picket lines at all four gates at the SSA terminal.”

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

MLU-13-28.pdf

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