ML UPDATE 35 / 2010

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 13, No. 35, 24 – 30 AUGUST 2010

Indian Parliament in August 2010: Telling Images of a Shocking Reality

Thanks to climate change, monsoon in India has of late become increasingly erratic. In some parts, it reaches late, in many areas it never shows up. Delhi has its wettest August, Bihar and Jharkhand get the third successive drought. But monsoon or no monsoon, nothing can disturb the annual ritual of monsoon session of Parliament.

Predictably enough, this year the monsoon session began on a tumultuous note. Proceedings were stalled for days on end over the issue of rising prices – unquestionably the most explosive issue of the day. But the government’s ‘bomb disposal squad’ which never manages to defuse a bomb in real life succeeded in defusing the parliamentary bomb with magical precision. The bang over the issue of voting on price rise ended with the whimper of a parliamentary resolution expressing concern over ‘inflationary pressure’ on the economy. After the popular high of a powerful ‘Bharat Bandh’ on July 5, we saw the parliamentary low of a tame surrender by the opposition!

A similar thing had happened earlier during the budget session. On April 27, there was another Bharat Bandh called by more than a dozen opposition parties, but when voting took place on cut motions we saw two parties that had sponsored the bandh – the RJD and the SP – conveniently run away from the ‘trouble’ of voting against the government. This time round, it was the turn of the BJP to take the lead in unmasking itself. On the July 5 bandh day, the BJP had led the charge seeking to project itself as the rallying centre of a pan-opposition unity; in Parliament it took the lead in letting the government off the hook.

The RJD and SP have of course once again provided considerable comic relief. These parties that never bothered to demand any hike in MNREGA wages for the rural workers who bear the brunt of rising prices were particularly vocal in bargaining for a massive jump in the salaries and allowances of Members of Parliament. Holding a mock parliament inside parliament, Mulayam Singh Yadav announced the opposition’s own ‘government’ with Lalu Prasad as its PM, BJP leader Gopinath Munde as the Speaker and himself as the ‘manager’! While the MPs got a hefty hike in salary, allowance and pension, the deflation of the famous prime ministerial ambition of the Lalu-Mulayam duo is surely not to be missed.

The exact contours of the Congress-BJP or Government-Opposition deal will perhaps emerge only gradually. But if we join the dots that are already visible, a picture surely begins to take shape. Narendra Modi has been let off the hook in the Amit Shah case, the roaring CWG controversies have suddenly been silenced by an invisible waving of the ‘Queen’s Baton’ and the Nuclear Liability Bill is now all set to be passed with a clever play of words. While the country will bear the cost and consequences of any nuclear accident, private suppliers and operators will make merry, and the law will argue endlessly over the ‘intent’ of the supplier instead of fixing any concrete liability!

Meanwhile, the continuing killings by security forces in Kashmir hardly evoke any murmur in Parliament. The government never ceases to claim Kashmir as an integral part of India, but the blood flowing on the streets of Kashmir is never recognised as Indian enough to merit any discussion in India’s Parliament. The Prime Minister answers Kashmir’s cry for an urgent political solution with yet another tired economic package and the Home Ministry releases 2008 images of Taliban-type terror in Kashmir to counter the undeniable current reality of an unprecedented mass upsurge in the valley.

Seldom has Parliament appeared as disconnected from the reality of the country and its people as in August 2010, the month of 63rd anniversary of India’s independence.

National Day of Solidarity With Kashmiri People

On 20 August 2010, in keeping with a resolution adopted at its founding Convention, the All India Left Coordination (AILC) comprising the CPI(ML) Liberation, the CPM Punjab, the Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) Maharashtra and the Left Coordination Committee Kerala, observed the National Day of Solidarity with Kashmiri People in various important centres of the country. Through protest marches, dharnas and demonstrations left activists across the country declared a strong message of solidarity to the struggling people of Kashmir and determination to sensitise and mobilize struggling people in India on the question of the repeated betrayals and daily brutalities perpetrated by the Indian state against the people of Kashmir.

In the national capital, a solidarity dharna was organised at Jantar Mantar which was attended by a large number of students, workers, activists and democratic individuals. Addressing the dharna, Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary of CPI(ML), condemned the stubborn continuation of a policy of repression of mass demonstrations and the attempt to deny the authenticity of the Kashmiris’ outrage and protests. He asserted that nowhere can unity be achieved at gun point or under the army jackboot and added, “In Kashmir the much-touted economic packages cannot assuage the sense of alienation, and are no substitute for addressing the political demands and aspirations for justice and dignity of the people of Kashmir.” The Solidarity Dharna was also attended and addressed by CPI(ML) Central committee members Kavita Krishnan, Prabhat Kumar, Delhi State Secretary Sanjay Sharma, AICCTU leader Rajiv Dimri, JNU Student leader Sucheta De, AICCTU leaders Satvir Shramik and NM Thomas, film maker Sanjay Kak and others.

The National Day of Solidarity with Kashmiri People was observed in 12 different districts of Punjab including Mansa, Sangroor, Bathinda, Chandigarh, Raikot (Ludhiana),Nangal (Ropar), Rahon, Mukandpur (Navan Shehar), Tarntarn, Gurdaspur, Ajnala, Raiya (Amritsar), Mahetpur (Jalandhar), and Mukerian (Hoshiarpur). Main speakers at different places were Rajwinder Rana, Sukhdarshan Natt, Kanwaljeet, Harbhagwan Bhikhi, Iqbal Kaur Udasi, Harmeet Smagh (of CPIML-Liberation) and Mangat Ram Pasla, Harkanwal Singh, Raghveer Singh, Gurnam Dawood, and Rattan Singh Randhawa (of CPM-Punjab) and others. In Assam, the effigy of Chidambaram was burnt in several parts of the state.

In Pune, a public meeting was organized by Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) which saw enthusiastic participation of workers, students and intellectuals. Among others Com. BJ Kerkar of Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) spoke at the meeting. In Mumbai, CPI(ML) and Lal Nishan Party held a public meeting at Dadar and have planned to hold a dharna for Kashmir at Churchgate on 25 August.

In Bihar, solidarity marches were organized in 20 districts including Ara, Patna, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur, Purnea, Sasaram, and Kaimur. In Jharkhand, seminars were held at Bagodar and Deoghar, and protest marches and mass meetings were held in Giridih town, Ranchi, Gumla, Dumka and Hazaribagh.

In UP, CPI(ML) organized solidarity marches and mass meetings across the state at Lucknow, Varanasi, Kanpur, Gajipur, Mughalsarai, Chandauli, Jalon, Allahabad and Ballia.

In UttarakhandCPI(ML) along with AISA held protest demonstrations and effigy burning of the UPA Government at Pithoragarh, Dehradun and Haldwani.

At Gangavati in Karnataka, CPIML protestors burnt the effigy of the central and the Kashmir state governments. Basavaraj Soolebavi of Karnataka Souharada Vedike, Virupaksha of AICCTU and Peer Pasha, a noted left intellectual addressed the gathering. A memorandum was submitted to the Tahsildar at HDKote taluk in Mysore dist.

In Andhra Pradesh, a dharna was held at the Kakinada collectorate in which 200 people participated; at Vijayawada a padayatra from Gandhinagar to the sub-collector’s office culminated in a dharna; at Narsipatnam of Visakha district, a dharna was held at the Revenue divisional office.

In Tamil Nadu, solidarity programmes were held at Tirunelveli, Thanjavur, Pudukottai, and Chennai along with poster campaigns and distribution of 10,000 leaflets in many dist. In Puducherry, RSP, Forward Bloc state leaders too participated in CPI(ML)’s solidarity programme.

Kashmir Solidarity Letter to PM by UK & US-based Organisations

On 20 August, coinciding with the Kashmir Solidarity Day all over India by the All India Left Coordination, various organisations in the UK and US submitted a letter to the Indian Prime Minister via the Indian High Commission in London as representatives of Indian and South Asian diaspora organisations and civil liberties organizations in Britain. The signatories are:

Amrit Wilson, South Asia Solidarity Group; Avtar Jouhl, Indian Workers’ Association (GB); Raj Pal, South Asian Alliance; Jasbir Singh, The 1857 Committee; Estella Schmid, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities; Marai Larasai, Imkaan (a national charity supporting Black, South Asian, and Minority Ethnic women’s organizations working on violence against women); Saima Yousaf, National Union of Students; Anu Mandavilli, on behalf of Friends of South Asia, USA

All India Left Coordination (AILC) Statement on Nuclear Liability Bill

It has emerged very clearly that the UPA Government, in formulating the Nuclear Liability Bill is working under pressures from the foreign nuclear supplier companies as well as domestic representatives of in industry, to the complete detriment of the interests of the potential Indian victims of a nuclear accident.

Undermining even the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Bill, the UPA Government has, in one guise or another, sought to dilute even the original draft of the Bill and introduce clauses that will protect suppliers of nuclear equipment from incurring any liability in case of a nuclear accident.

In a series of subterfuges and semantic jugglery, the UPA Government has sought to ensure that a supplier of nuclear equipment will be protected from having to pay any compensation unless the supplier’s “intent to cause nuclear damage” is proved. Since “intent” will be almost impossible to establish, nuclear suppliers will effectively enjoy freedom from all liability in case of a nuclear accident.

After much-shadow boxing between the main Opposition party and the ruling Congress, it is also apparent that the BJP too is in collusion with the Congress in the ploy to pander to the foreign nuclear corporations and domestic supplier lobby and sell out the interests of Indian people.

The Bill seeks to introduce private players as nuclear operators and to place a maximum cap on compensation that can be sought by victims of a nuclear accident; it also seeks to limit the liability of nuclear operators.

Now, after the Government’s machinations to protect the foreign and domestic nuclear suppliers’ industry from liability stand exposed, there is an attempt by the USA as well as by Indian corporations to whip up a bogey that the Nuclear Liability Bill represents a threat to “India’s nuclear industry,” as well as to “India’s international credibility as a nuclear power.” Such propaganda is only a smokescreen to hide the fact that the Bill is a threat to the right of Indian people to compensation in case of a nuclear accident.

The UPA Government is clearly desperate to pass the Nuclear Liability Bill in line with the interests of US nuclear industry before the forthcoming visit of US President Obama to India. The All India Left Coordination (AILC), in the interests of India and Indian people, condemns the devious attempts by the UPA Government to script the Bill to suit private nuclear players and demands scrapping of the Nuclear Liability Bill.

‘Naxal’ Witch-Hunt – Mirzapur Police Targets CPI(ML) CC Meeting

The CPI(ML) Central Committee held its last meeting at Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, on 1-3 August 2010. Following the meeting, the Mirzapur police has made a deliberate attempt to intimidate the local party leaders in the name of an ‘anti-Naxal’ offensive.

On 6 August, a police official hand-delivered a letter addressed to Mohammad Salim, the National President of the Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) and a senior leader of the party in Mirzapur. The letter is signed ‘In-Charge, Naxal Cell, Mirzapur’, but there is no name accompanying the signature. The letter states that "information was obtained" that a CPI(ML) programme was organised at Mirzapur, in which office-bearers and activists from the "Naxal-affected states" of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, as well as ‘Naxal-affected’ districts of UP participated. The letter adds, "Mirzapur is an extremely sensitive and Naxal-affected" district where there are "continuous reports of movement of Naxalites."

The letter goes on to say, "We have come to know that you have organised a Conference and cadre meeting in this Naxal-affected area, in which suspicious people took part. Being an Indian citizen and a senior office-bearer of CPI(ML), it was your topmost duty… to obtain permission from the district administration for such a meeting. You are already aware that Section 144 is in place all over Mirzapur, and no conference or programme can be held without permission in an unconstitutional way." In the manner of a show-cause notice, the letter then asks Comrade Salim why action should not be initiated against him and participants in the meeting for "100% violation of Section 144 CrPC," and warned that if no answer was received by 7 August, action would be initiated against him for which he would be solely responsible.

The Mirzapur party has responded to the ‘letter’ via the District Collector, demanding to know who the ‘In-charge, Naxal Cell’ is who has signed it.

The CPI(ML) has condemned in the strongest terms this attempt to brand its Central Committee as a haven for ‘suspicious’ elements. Rather, it is the behaviour of the UP police that is suspicious and shady. Well aware of the antecedents of the CPI(ML) and its leadership (including the fact that it is a party registered with the Election Commission of India, and CCMs who attended the meeting included several former elected people’s representatives and leaders of recognised Trade Union, Agricultural Labour and Peasants’ organisations with lakhs of mass membership), the UP police deliberately chose to target the party and its highest leadership.

It may be recalled that following the CPI(ML) State Committee meeting in Gorakhpur (February 12-14 2010), the UP police and intelligence officials had interrogated district-level CPI(ML) leader Rajesh Sahni for two hours, demanding to know why intelligence officials were not allowed to attend the State Committee meeting, and implying that this meant some illegal activities were being plotted in the meeting! The interrogators also asked why the party insisted on opposing the Government and Green Hunt, and warned that if the party did not change its stance on Green Hunt, it was liable to face action. Comrade Sahni was told that the police had considered arresting the entire State Committee. Subsequently, various other members of the district committee also received calls making ‘enquiries’ about each other and about the party functioning.

The UP police and Government are clearly taking advantage of the ‘Green Hunt’ climate to defame and intimidate people’s movements and harass political forces that are voicing dissent.

Police Firing on Farmers in Western UP:

A Fact-finding report

(On 14 August, ironically the eve of Independence Day, farmers protesting against corporate land grab were fired upon in Western Uttar Pradesh. A team of the All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM) comprising AIKM Vice President Comrade Prem Singh Gehlawat and National Executive member Comrade Afroz Alam visited the site and met with protesting farmers. Given below is a brief summary of the main findings of their investigation.)

The Yamuna Expressway would be 165 km long, acquiring the fertile lands of Gautam Buddha Nagar, Aligarh, Mathura, Agra and Hatras districts of Western UP and affecting 1192 villages. Jay Prakash (JP) Associates are the builders and developers of this project. Other than the expressway, some 30,000 bighas of land on either side of the Yamuna are being acquired for building townships and commercial ventures. It is this prime land which the Government is acquiring from farmers at throwaway prices and handing over to JP for mega profits that has irked the farmers and brought them out from their farms to the battlefield.

Villagers from the six villages – Zikarpur, Kansera, Jehangarh, Udaypur, Tappal and Kripalpur villages of Tappal block in Aligarh district had been sitting on an indefinite fast since 27 July under the banner of Sarva Dal Kisan Sangarsh Samiti, led by Ram Babu Katelia. Their main demands were (1) Increase of land rate from the existing Rs.412/square metre to Rs.870/sq. metre, the rate given to farmers in Noida two years ago, (2) Residential accommodation in the new township to the farmers whose land had been acquired for building the township (3) Residential accommodation to landless labourers of the area who would lose means of livelihood after land acquisition.

The Incident: On 14 August, at about 5 pm, a plainclothes Station Officer of Tappal Police Station along with some masked goons of JP reached the dharna site and arrested Ram Babu Katelia. When farmers resisted, they were fired upon by the SO and four people received gunshots. Hearing that their leader had been kidnapped, villagers from the neighbouring villages started gathering at the scene. Meanwhile, a PAC truck reached at the dharna, uprooted the tents and on retaliation from the villagers fired on the unarmed villagers, killing three, including two children. The PAC entered Zikarpur village and mercilessly beat up even women and children. The villagers fired in self-defence and in the ensuing melee one PAC officer was killed. The farmers were in no mood to relent and ultimately the PAC had to flee. Meanwhile some farmers erected blockades on the Aligarh-Palwal road. Next day, on 15 August, thousands reached the dharna to chalk out the next course of action. The neighbouring towns of Tappal, Jattari and Zewar observed total bandh. In adjoining Mathura, farmers blocked the roads. A large part of Western UP was celebrating its own version of Independence.

On 16th, a massive Kisan Panchayat was organized at the Dharna. Leaders of all major political parties addressed the Dharna. Comrades Prem Singh Gehlawat and Afroz Alam also reached the spot and addressed the gathered villagers and later visited the homes of the four killed- 13 year olds Mohit, Prashant Sharma and Rafiq (untraceable, presumed dead) and Dharmendra (26).

To douse the spreading fire, Mayawati rushed her Cabinet Secretary to Aligarh where Katelia was jailed. Under pressure from the movement, Katelia was unconditionally released, a compensation of 10 Lacs was announced for those killed by the police and the land rate increased from 412 to 570 per square metre.

The UP Unit of CPI(ML) observed 23 August as a Black Day in various districts of the State against the corporate land grab and police firing on farmers. The cadres wore black ribbons, held marches and dharnas and organised protest demonstrations apart from sending memorandums to the Governor demanding strict punishment to the guilty policemen, stopping all land acquisition without farmers consent and an immediate halt to the ongoing repression on farmers in Western UP and Aligarh.

Protest demonstrations were held at four centres in Mirzapur, Robertsganj in Sonbhadra, Maniyar in Ballia and Ghazipur, while dharnas were held in Sitapur, Lakhimpur Khiri and Pilibhit. The protests also drew attention of the public to the issue of danger to Country’s food security due to acquisition of fertile lands and transfer to corporates for non-agricultural business.

Orissa CPI(ML) Leader Arrested in Land Struggle

Comrade Tirupati Gamango, State Committee member of CPI(ML), was arrested by the Rayagada police when 500 CPI(ML) Liberation activists occupied 24 acres of ceiling surplus land at Banduguda panchayat of Bisam Cuttack block of Rayagada district. Along with Com. Tirupati, Rajendra Hikka was also arrested.

The party had been demanding redistribution of ceiling surplus land to local adivasis as per the rules of Orissa’s Ceiling Surplus Act but the BJD-led government, while failing to distribute land that is the adivasis’ rightful due, instead distributed 6000 acres of land to the MNC Vedanta.

On 4 August, as part of an ongoing land rights campaign led by the party, CPI(ML) activists occupied 24 acres of land. Following the arrest of Comrade Tirupati Gamango, a protest demonstration was held at Gunupur sub-collector’s office on 9 August, where a delegation of state committee members including Comrades Yudhistira Mahapatra, Ashok Pradhan, and Muralidhar Behera met the sub-collector. A bail hearing for Comrade Tirupati and Comrade Rajendra Hikka is due on 26 August.

Recently, reports by official panels indicate how the Orissa Government deliberately colluded in the large-scale violation of laws by POSCO and Vedanta. The same Government, while colluding in corporate crimes and grab of adivasis’ and peasants’ land, is out to arrest and harass activists who are leading adivasis’ struggles for land.

Workers’ Convention: Onwards to 7th September All India General Strike

All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) held a Workers’ Convention on 12 August 2010 in Constitution Club, New Delhi "Against Corporate Loot, Privatization and Assault on Workers’ Rights". The Convention was attended and addressed by leaders of Maharashtra Sarva Shramik Mahasangh, CTU (Punjab) and Left Coordination Committee (LCC), Kerala. Worker activists and leaders from Delhi and neighbouring states like Punjab, U.P. and Uttarakhand participated in the convention.

The convention was presided over by Comrades NM Thomas, Hari Singh, RN Thakur and Bhagwant Singh Samao of AICCTU, Bhim Rao Bansode of Maharashtra Sarva Shramik Mahasangh, P Kumanrankutty of LCC, Kerala and Com. Randhawa of CTU (Punjab). The main speaker at the convention was CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya. A resolution supporting the All India Strike was read out by Rajiv Dimri.

The General Secretary of AICCTU Swapan Mukherjee welcomed the participants and also delivered the concluding speech. Apart from members of Presidium, the convention was addressed by Vijay Kulkarni of Maharashtra Sarva Shramik Mahasangh; Ram Kishan, Secretary General of All India Health Employees and Workers Confederation; leaders of AICCTU – Babulal (U.P.), Santosh Roy (Delhi), K.K. Bora (Uttarakhand), Satbir Shramik, (MTNL); Ravi Rai, General Secretary of AISA; Kanwaljeet, leader of RYA (Punjab) and others.

The convention resolved to give a fitting rebuff to the anti-worker approach of the powers that be and intensify the nation-wide campaign for the success of the all India General Strike on 7 September 2010 called by Central Trade Unions including AICCTU in the backdrop of intensified onslaught on the working class by the UPA Government at the Centre and State Governments of all hues and people’s resistance.

Mahila Panchayat Issues Open Call to PM, Demands Law against ‘Honour’ Crimes

Women from Delhi and Rajasthan as well as women students from various universities in the Capital held a ‘Mahila Panchayat’ at Parliament Street to demand that Parliament enact a law against ‘honour’ crimes.

The Panchayat was addressed among others by AIPWA’s National Secretary Com. Kavita Krishnan, Sudha Choudhury, AIPWA State President from Rajasthan, another AIPWA activist from Udaipur, Ms.Farhad, spoke about the situation and struggles of Muslim women, Sucheta De, Secretary of AISA JNU Unit, Parnal Chirmuley, Asst. Professor at JNU, historian Dr. Tripta Wahi and Hindi poet Anamika who recited moving poetry on the issue.

The Mahila Panchayat collectively issued an open call to the Prime Minister of India that was submitted as a memorandum to the PMO. The open call demanded that the UPA Government – (1) Declare a law against all forms of attacks (be it killings of couples or forced marriages) on individual’s freedom to choose a life partner, (2) That the law also cover other instances of ‘honour’ crimes like imposition of ‘dress codes’ or attacks on people for lifestyle choices like befriending those from other communities, celebrating Valentine’s Day, visiting pubs, etc.., (3) That the law spell out punishment for police and local authorities that fail to protect couples who have complained of ‘honour’ 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

MLU-13-35.pdf

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