ML UPDATE 30 / 2010

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 13, No. 30, 20 – 26 JULY 2010

Sompeta: Shame on Brutal Bloodshed,
Hail the Peasants’ Resistance and Victory!

Once again, we have been witness to an unequal battle – thousands of women and men, defending their land and livelihood against corporate land grab armed with nothing but sticks and chilli powder facing a thousands-strong police platoon armed with batons and guns. Sompeta in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh is the latest to enact this heroic scene of resistance – seen earlier at Kalinganagar, Singur, Nandigram, Dadri, Jagatsinghpur and many other places. Four fishermen were killed in the police firing while over 60, including many women, were reportedly severely injured in the brutal lathicharge.

At Sompeta, rural poor, mainly fisher-people were protesting the setting up of a thermal power plant by NCC Power Projects Limited (NCCPPL), a subsidiary of a real estate company, the Nagarjuna Construction Company (NCC). The power plant had been granted Environmental Clearance in spite of the fact that it would have destroyed the fragile ecosystem of the Beela wetlands in the area, thereby also devastating the livelihoods of the fisher-people.

Just a week ago, the Union Minister for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, had visited Sompeta and assured villagers that their concerns would be examined sympathetically. The power plant’s environmental clearance had been challenged, and the decision of the National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) was awaited. The plant was yet to get clearance from the State Pollution Control Board. Yet, in spite of the fact that so many issues were pending, why did the Congress State Government not only allow the NCC to go ahead with its plans to erect a boundary wall, but even back up the company with a police force of 2000? In full view of the police, the NCC had further amassed private goons in the guise of ‘construction workers’, and these goons joined the police in beating up the protesting villagers.

On the day that the boundary wall of the thermal plant was to be constructed, people of 24 affected villages gathered to protest. The police (and NCC’s private goons) chased and rained baton blows and eventually bullets on the protestors who offered a brave resistance. Later in the day, the police continued their terror spree, raiding villages and thrashing villagers. The police even attacked a hospital run by a well-known local environmentalist, beating him up as well as villagers being treated at the hospital.

At the cost of their lives however, the villagers of Sompeta did win a victory. The National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA), following the firing, quashed the environment clearance which had previously been granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests to the NCC. Acting on appeals by environmental activists and concerned citizens against the clearance, the NEAA had sent a team in June itself, which had submitted a report. The report categorically found that the clearance was based on false information by the MoEF’s appraisal committee; the latter had indulged in “concealment of information” regarding the ecological importance of the wetlands area proposed for the power plant. The NEAA has further ordered that “no new power project be approved in the State of Andhra Pradesh till a survey of all wetlands is completed”.

It is telling however that it took a militant protest by thousands of villagers and the death of four in police firing to force the NEAA to act on the report submitted by its own team! Also, it must be asked, who will take responsibility for the clearance granted by MoEF which smacked blatantly of bias in favour of the private company in flagrant violation of all environmental norms?

In Andhra Pradesh, successive Congress Governments have unleashed repression – at Mudigonda, Gangavaram and now Sompeta – on the rural poor when they protest against land grab or demand their right to homestead land. Meanwhile the same Governments have turned a blind eye to corporate land grab and illegal mining by private corporations like Satyam-Maytas or NCC in blatant violation of the laws of the land. Alongside the issue of the Sompeta firing, allegations of large scale illegal mining against the son-in-law of former Chief Minister YSR Reddy are also rocking Andhra Pradesh. In neighbouring Karnataka, too, the BJP Government has given a clean chit to its two mining mafia MLAs, the Bellary brothers, despite overwhelming evidence of their being implicated in illegal mining.

Clearly, across the political spectrum, the ruling class is committed to ensuring full freedom to private corporations to loot and scoot, even at the cost of the livelihood and lives of our country’s people. It is only the determined and heroic resistance struggles of the people in the face of the most brutal repression that offers any challenge to corporate loot and land grab – and any hope of saving the country’s land, livelihood, environment and resources.

Punish the Perpetrators of Treasury Fraud in Bihar

In an unprecedented move on July 15, Patna High Court ordered a CBI probe into the issue of unaccounted withdrawals by the Bihar government. Successive CAG reports had pointed out a growing discrepancy between amounts withdrawn and accounts submitted, but the government of Bihar never paid any heed and by March 31, 2008 the amount of unaccounted withdrawals had reached a staggering Rs. 11,412 crore. While the withdrawals began during the last years of Rabri Devi’s reign as Chief Minister, the fraudulent withdrawals have grown in bulk in recent years and most of the withdrawals have happened under rural development and employment heads like Indira Awas, MNREGA, mid-day meals etc.

The NDA government of Bihar has sought a stay on the CBI probe on the plea that the CAG report in question was yet to be processed by the Public Accounts Committee of Bihar Assembly and hence the HC order would amount to judicial intrusion into legislative autonomy. Meanwhile, opposition MLAs demanding an answer from the government on the scam have been assaulted inside the Assembly by MLAs from the treasury benches even as the BJP and the JD(U) seek to trivialize the enormous irregularity as a mere problem of ‘adjusting accounts’.

The HC order corroborates the public perception and experience of growing bureaucratic domination and ‘developmental corruption’ under the present government. While welcoming the HC’s order, CPI(ML) has called for enhancing the scope of CBI inquiry to include PDS- and excise-related irregularities, immediate resignation of the scam-tainted government and punitive action against the accused ministers and officials.

Campaign in Industrial Zone in Jharkhand for AIALA Strike

A week long campaign from 1-7 July was took place in the industrial zone of three districts of Dhanbad, Bokaro and Ramgarh in Jharkhand organised by Central Coal Mines Workers’ Union (CMWU), Jharkhand General Workers’ Union, All India Central Council of Trade Union’s (AICCTU) and the CPI(ML) on the issues raised by rural workers for 7 July strike as well as on the issues threatening the industrial workers of this coal belt. The week long campaign was to make industrial workers aware about the 7 July strike call by rural and agricultural workers and oppose the proposed ten percent disinvestment in the coal sector along with issues of petroleum price hike and price rise.

During this week, various joint meetings and gatherings of coal workers and rural workers were held in the BCCL-12 area, Mugma, Govindpur etc. in Dhanbad between 1-5 July. These meetings were addressed by Comrades Suvendu Sen and Dist. Secretary Nagendra Kumar apart from others. Panchayat level conventions were held at several places in Ramgarh district– Ara, Sandi, Orla, Chumba and Gungri under Mandu block addressed by comrades Bhubaneswar Bedia and Mohan Datta apart from many other comrades; Bartua, Tirri, Hehal, Paki and Jogo panchayats in Patratu block addressed by Comrades Qayamuddin Ansari apart from many other comrades; and Comrades Baijnath Mistry and Saryu Bedia addressed conventions in two panchayats of Ramgarh and Gola block. At Kathara coal mine area of Central Coalfields Limited in Bokaro district wider campaign was taken among the organised coal workers and one thousand leaflets were distributed. Campaign also took place among the rural workers of Bermo, Gomia and Chandan Kiyari. Finally, on 5 July a workers’ convention was organised at Kathara in which apart from many workers, various local leaders and HMS union leaders also participated. The speakers appealed to the CMWU to conduct more campaigns on still bigger scale. Comrades Sukhdeo Prasad, Baleshwar Gope and DK Mistry addressed this convention apart from many others. Apart from discussing the sell-out of vast resources of the country to the corporates and five lakh crore subsidy to them in addition where as only 40 thousand crores for rural workers, the convention appealed to the coal workers for coming out in full support of the 7 July strike called by AIALA. Other organisational protest programmes were also chalked out for July-August against the disinvestment of coal sector.

Apart from the above mentioned initiatives many more reports are there of cycle rallies, marches, solidarity meetings etc. in almost every panchayats and attended by 1000 and 1500 rural and industrial workers respectively in Ramgarh district. Dharnas were also held at some block headquarters such as Chandan Kiyari and Bermo in Bokaro district. In these dharnas dozens of women and men from many villages participated, in one of them 50 from one village alone. A long march covering several miles was held from Petarwar to Jaridih participated mostly by the local workers, rural as well as urban and led by Comrade Parmeshwar Mahato.

People’s Anger Explodes against Feudal Tyranny

An 8th standard girl of Rajpur village in Siwan’s Raghunathpur block was sexually harassed by a boy from Rajput caste while on her way to school on 5 June. The girl complained to teachers but to no avail. The girl’s parents and paternal uncle (who are from Yadav caste) went to the boys house to complain upon learning of the incident from their daughter. Instead of reprimanding the boy and apologising to the girl and her parents, the feudal minded family of the harasser boy severely assaulted the three of girl’s family inside their house as a result of which the father Mr. Pundev Yadav lost his life at Patna’s PMCH hospital on 6 June. The news of death and preceding injustice to the family evoked widespread anger in the region. The CPI(ML) decided to hold the cremation in front of the perpetrators’ house. Thousands of people (despite busy season of weddings) armed with traditional weapons like lathi’s etc. from several nearby villages marched to Rajpur raising slogans against the feudal-goons-police nexus. The enemies of people had run away by then seeing the growing anger. The senior police officials including the DSP present at the protest gathering requested CPI(ML) leaders for a week’s time for taking action. Initially the Party was in no mood to relent to the request as couple of such incidents have taken place recently in which the police took bribes to let off the criminals. However, the DSP made repeated appeals and so it was decided to give them the time. He promised that if the accused are not apprehended in 10 days’ time their belongings will be attached. Of the 9 accused two were given a chase before being grabbed and property of two were attached. Now, all except one have been arrested and sent to jail.

Successful People’s Struggle against Feudal Excesses in Patna

Tineri village in Masaurhi block of Patna district has been a kind of centre of feudal excesses. Every kind of crime and barbarity has been faced by the poor of this village perpetrated by the upper castes that support the BJP-JD(U) combine. Earlier the poor could not even caste their votes and Maoists along with RJD and LJP had made inroads among the poor who were not united. Gradually CPI(ML) gained greater acceptance among the poor and they even got their first chance to exercise their right to vote in the last election held in Bihar. Ever since then the feudals of the village have started harassing and threatening the poor on pretexts made out of trivial incidents like someone’s cattle or goats accidentally entering in their fields. One day on similar pretext Gulab Manjhi was being kidnapped and taken away by the feudal goons for probably being eliminated when the poor got an air of it and got promptly organised and beat away the goons and Gulab Manjhi was thus saved. On 26 June hundreds of villagers took out a protest march for pressurising the police to lodge an FIR and it was a success. July 7 was decided as the date for holding a large meeting cum gathering for further protest action. The feudal terrified by the militant assertion of the poor put all sorts of pressure on local administration and even sent appeals to Nitish Kumar to prevent the meeting of July 7 and they also announce that they will not let it take place. The Mukhiya (head of village) called on local Party cadres and tried to intimidate them and asked them to refrain from holding the 7 July protest. A Peace Committee was also initiated by the Sub-Divisional administration to reconcile the feudals and the aggrieved villagers. However, the Party decided not to entertain the pleas of the feudals and there was also the issue of long standing history of feudal excesses and people’s long suppressed anger against the terrible injustices. The feudals demands were rejected and a large protest meeting was held on 7th July. Erstwhile supporters of Maoists also participated in the meeting and this has enthused the poor. This was Party’s first ever meeting in this village and preparations are afoot for bigger struggles for justice.

Withdraw All India Bar Exam! AISA Protest at Davanagere

Davanagere unit of AISA in Karnataka organized a protest in front of DC Office on 19 July against the recently introduced All India Bar Exam (AIBE), equivalent to CET, for law students to practice law after enrolment. In the name of enhancing the quality of law profession, Bar Council of India (BCI) has introduced one more exam illegally through backdoor method of passing a resolution in BCI. Law students passing out of colleges from 2009-2010 onwards are not allowed to practice in courts after enrolment. They should write AIBE and only after that they will be allowed to practice, if found eligible.

AISA termed the BCI resolution as illegal and against the Advocates Act, 1961. It claimed that the right to practice is inherent in enrolment and any condition to bar practice, pre or post – enrolment, is against the law. Supreme Court has already made it clear that no condition can be imposed for enrolment.

AISA said that if the BCI feels that the universities are not competent authorities or university exams are not sufficient to ensure quality, they can very well coordinate with the university exam system. Instead, punishing students with one more exam is unjustified. AISA also demanded that entrant – advocates should be provided with proper infrastructure, legal books and journals along with a stipend of Rs.10000/pm if at all the BCI and the government are really interested in ensuring quality. AISA also demanded reversal of policy of privatization and commercialization of legal education and emergence of legal education mafia to be primarily responsible for any deterioration in law education. Protestors demanded immediate scrapping of AIBE as their major demand.

DM Prasad, NEC, AISA led the rally while Parameshwar, District President presided the demonstration. Comrades Raghavendra, NCM, Manjunath, District Secretary and Kumar, DCM addressed the gathering. A memorandum was also submitted to the BCI through the District Collector.

Party Study Camp at HPHalli, Karnataka

A Study Camp was organized at Harapanahalli on 10-11 July in order to provide new orientation to the cadres at a particular juncture of party’s growth in Davanagere – Bellary district. Professor VN.Lakshminarayana spoke on the Basics of Marxism, political parties and their class nature. Com.Shankar, CCM, said that the party has succeeded in mobilizing mass of people on their own issues while the developing a team of cadres and developing appropriate party structures to provide leadership to the growing mass resentment is the real challenge and the need of the hour. He also outlined the need for a conscious ideological struggle against the deviations in election participation and against the BJP’s and mining mafia’s consistent attempt to ideologically corrupt masses in the region with money power. Com. E.Ramappa, state secretary, traced the growth of our party in recent years and emphasized on the need to develop a work culture of assuming responsibilities and leadership by the second level cadres in order to attain next phase of growth. State Convener of IIMS spoke on the state’s political situation and the need for a left response against the communal onslaught. VP of AIPWA spoke on the need for taking up women issues as an integral part of the agricultural labour movement.

Similarly, another study class was held at HDKote, Mysore on 3rd July where majority were women cadres. Com.C.Javaraiah presided the function and the same teachers spoke on different subjects.

Puducherry Reports

On 26th June a massive protest demonstration was held at Puducherry town at the news of severe price hike in petroleum products. The demonstration was led by Com. S Motilal- Town Secretary of CPI(ML). Large number of LPG cylinder distribution workers from AICCTU participated demanding roll back of Petrol, Diesel, Kerosene and LPG prices. A silent street play was also performed amidst the protest which attracted the people.

Comrade Balasundaram, CCM, Com. S Balasubrmanian, State Secretary CPI(ML), Puducherry, State Committee members of Puducherry P Ravikumar and P Sankaran addressed the demonstrators condemning anti-people politics of UPA Government and the inaction of state governments.

July 7 rural workers strike in the union territory of Puducherry: Rural Workers Movement of Puducherry organised panchayat level public meetings at three panchayats in the Puducherry region and an effective public campaign by Karaikal unit of Rural Workers Movement during the last week of June for the first ever all-India rural workers’ strike. A state level press meet was organised on 25th June. Campaign demands were also highlighted through numerous posters for rural workers strike.

On 7th July A Taluk level demonstration was held in front of Deputy Collector’s office at Villianur, Puducherry. Workers unions affiliated to AICCTU struck work and participated in the demonstration. Rural workers, constructions workers of three panchayats in Puducherry region struck work. The demonstration was led by Com. P Sankaran, organiser Rural Workers Movement Com. MA Akbar, General Secretary, Democratic Construction Workers Union (AICWF), Puducherry State Secretary of AICCTU Com. S. Motilal, President Movement for Protection of Homeless Com. CS Sagayaraj addressed the demonstrators, condemning the State Congress Govt. apathy towards decline of agriculture and falling standards of agrarian labourers in the Union Territory of Puducherry. This was the largest attended demonstration in the recent past. On the same evening a big demonstration was held near bust stand at Karaikal in Puducherry where agriculture is the major occupation for livelihood. The demonstration was led by Com. K Ganesan, District organiser of AIALA, E Jayabal, Town Secretary CPI(ML) and Com. AS Dhandapani Rural Secretary CPI(ML).

National Convention of Workers call for an All India General Strike

A National Convention of Workers was held on15th July, 2010 at Mavlankar Hall, New Delhi. It was addressed by leaders of AICCTU, AITUC, HMS, CITU, INTUC, AIUTUC, TUCC and UTUC. BMS, which was a part of the ongoing joint trade union action from the very beginning, did not participate in the convention and has withdrawn from the strike call.

On behalf of AICCTU, General Secretary, Swapan Mukherjee addressed the convention and NM Thomas, vice president was in the presidium. The Convention has called for an All India General Strike in these words – The Convention…resolves to call for an All India General Strike on 7th September, 2010. The Convention calls upon the entire working people of the country, irrespective of affiliations to make the all in united call for countrywide general strike a total success. If the Govt. does not concede the demands the trade unions will intensify the struggle further and prepare for a March to Parliament.

The Poor Struggle…

"India’s abysmal track record at ensuring basic levels of nutrition is the greatest contributor to its poverty as measured by the MPI. …

"The new data also shows that even in states generally perceived as prosperous such as Haryana, Gujarat and Karnataka, more than 40% of the population is poor by the new composite measure…

"Nutritional deprivation is overwhelmingly the largest factor in overall poverty, unsurprising given that half of all children in India are under-nourished according to the National Family Health Survey III (2005-06). Close to 40% of those who are defined as poor are also nutritionally deprived. In fact, the contribution of nutrition to the overall MPI is even greater in urban than rural India.

"A comparison of the state of Madhya Pradesh and the sub-Saharan nation of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which have close to the same population and a similar MPI (0.389 and 0.393 respectively), shows that nutritional deprivation, arguably the most fundamental part of poverty, in MP far exceeds that in the DRC….

"Multi-dimensional poverty is highest (81.4% poor) among Scheduled Tribes within India’s Hindu population, followed by Scheduled Castes (65.8%), Other Backward Class (58.3%) and finally the general population (33.3%).

"… Based on the MPI, Bihar has by far the most poor of any state in the country, with 81.4% of its population defined as poor, which is close to 12% more than the next worst state of Uttar Pradesh.

"As per the Planning Commission’s figures, 41.4% of Bihar and 32.8% of UP is poor. … Almost 60% of north-east India and close to 50% of Jammu & Kashmir are poor as per the MPI, while the Planning Commission figures are around 16% and 5% respectively…."

– From ‘55% of India’s population poor’, Rukmini Srinivasan, TNN, July 15)

…While the Rich Prosper

"Last year may have been a cruel year for much of the country with double-digit food inflation, but India’s high net worth individuals (HNWIs) prospered — just over 120,000 in number, or 0.01% of the population, their combined worth is close to one-third of India’s Gross National Income (GNI).

"HNWIs, in this context, are defined as those having investable assets of $1 million or more, excluding primary residence, collectibles, consumables, and consumer durables. According to the 2009 Asia-Pacific Wealth Report, brought out by financial services firms Capgemini and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, at the peak of the recession in 2008, India had 84,000 HNWIs with a combined net worth of $310 billion. …

"According to the firms’ 2010 World Wealth Report, India now has 126,700 HNWIs, an increase of more than 50% over the 2008 number. While the figure for combined net worth is not available, it seems safe to assume that as a class not only have India’s super-rich recouped their 2008 losses, they have even made gains over their pre-crisis (2007) positions. In 2007, 123,000 HNWIs were worth a combined $437 million.

"Meanwhile, in 2009 alone, an estimated 13.6 million more people in India became poor or remained in poverty than would have been the case had the 2008 growth rates continued, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). Also, an estimated 33.6 million more people in India became poor or remained in poverty over 2008 and 2009 than would have been poor had the pre-crisis (2004-7) growth rates been maintained over these two years…."

– From ‘Rich getting richer’, Rukmini Shrinivasan, TNN, June 25

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-13-30.pdf

MLU-13-30 word.doc

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s