ML Update 24 / 2011

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 14, No. 24, 07 – 13 JUNE 2011

Resist the UPA Government’s Undeclared Emergency

In its attempt to defend its brutal crackdown on a peaceful protest in the national capital, on the heels of its lavish official welcome and secret back-room dealings with Baba Ramdev, the UPA Government finds itself increasingly exposed, discredited and desperate.

Union Minister Kapil Sibal, defending the police action at Ramlila Grounds that has critically injured some protestors including women, declared that the police action was “a lesson to everybody.” Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari has written an article describing street protests as a threat to democracy. The scene is set for a re-enactment of the Emergency – with the Congress-UPA Government unleashing a crackdown on people’s resistance to corporate plunder and corruption after branding it as a threat to democracy. In the national capital, Section 144 has been imposed on public spaces of democratic protest like Parliament Street.

The UPA’s brazen attempts to deny any corruption in the 2G and CWG scams have failed miserably; two UPA MPs and one Minister are already behind bars. One scam-tainted former Chief Minister has been inducted into the central cabinet and as the 2G probe progresses, some more heads are likely to roll. Unable to continue with its act of shielding the corrupt, the UPA Government is now resorting to all out repression in a desperate bid to contain the people’s outrage against corruption that is spilling out on the streets.

The Congress is trying to justify the violent eviction of Baba Ramdev and his supporters from Ramlila Maidan by invoking the RSS-BJP backing for his agitation. The RSS nexus with Ramdev and his own ideological closeness to the Sangh are self-evident. But haven’t the Congress’ actions, far from having any anti-communal content, actually boosted the legitimacy of Ramdev and the assertion of communal forces?

First, the Congress cultivated Ramdev as a useful counterweight to Anna Hazare and the Lokpal campaign. Ramdev obligingly backed the UPA Government’s position that the PM ought to be kept out of the purview of the Lokpal legislation. Top Ministers and even the Cabinet Secretary of the UPA Government greeted Ramdev at the airport. The subsequent revelation that Ramdev met Ministers at a hotel and signed a pre-done deal even before his fast had begun reflects poorly on the integrity of not only Ramdev but also the UPA Government.

In the span of a few hours the Government changed tack, and the violent police action was launched to evict Ramdev and his sleeping supporters. On the very first day of his fast, Ramdev was on the defensive on the question of his deal with the Government. The presence of notorious Babri demolition accused Sadhvi Rithambara on his platform had drawn censure from many, leading other anti-corruption campaigners like Anna Hazare to keep a distance. But the police action conferred credibility once again on a discredited Ramdev by cloaking him in a halo of martyrdom.

Predictably the BJP, till recently beleaguered by bickering of its leaders over the Bellary mining mafia, is trying to revive and reinvent itself as a crusader against corruption and repression. But to the people at large, the BJP’s own dismal track record on corruption and repression is difficult to forgive or forget. In states ruled by the BJP, not only has communal violence been orchestrated; every manner of dissent or people’s protest against corruption and corporate plunder is subjected to the severest repression, even as BJP leaders and governments stand implicated in notorious scams.

The repression unleashed by the Congress-led UPA Government underlines its refusal to address the burning question of corruption in the country. Even the process of drafting an effective Lokpal bill in cooperation with civil society activists is now sought to be undermined and sabotaged by the Government. The anti-corruption movement must resist repression in every form and align itself with the struggles for democratic transformation in India. Only then can it defeat the UPA Government’s efforts to defend corruption and unleash repression, and expose the BJP’s false claims of championing democracy and resisting corruption.

Nationwide Call to Protest on 26 June, Anniversary of the Emergency

Combat Corruption, Resist Repression! Save Democracy, Save India!

The CPI(ML) extends support to the one-day fast being held at Rajghat on 8 June 2011 by civil society activists and anti-corruption campaigners in protest against the repressive agenda of the UPA Government.

With brutal crackdowns on peaceful protests, intensifying repression and police firing on people’s movements resisting corporate plunder and forced eviction from land, draconian laws and increasing assaults on civil liberties, and bans on democratic protest including even in the national capital, corrupt regimes both at the Centre and most states have launched an all-out assault on democracy.

On 26 June this year, the anniversary of the imposition of the infamous Emergency, the CPI(ML) will hold protest marches and demonstrations at block, district and state levels as well as in the national capital to protest the undeclared Emergency being witnessed today and resolving to intensify the struggle to combat corruption, resist repression and defend democracy.

(Kavita Krishnan)

for Central Committee, CPI(ML)(Liberation)

Fact Finding in Farbisganj Police Firing

A CPI(ML) fact finding team comprising of CC member and Bihar State Committee Member, Comrades KD Yadav and Rajaram Singh (the two are also national vice president and general secretary respectively of All India Kisan Mahasabha), alongwith Araria District Party incharge, Naval Kishore and block secretary of Forbesganj, Genalal Mahato visited Bhajanpur village in Forbesganj and met with the villagers and family members of the deceased Mustafa Ansari, Mukhtar Ansari, Sajmin Khatoon and 8-month old child Naushad.

The team learned from the villagers that the road from Bhajanpur to Raniganj is 60 years old and at various points in time the zilla parishad, gram panchayat, mukhiya and others have conducted the repairing work. Keeping the path till here in mind NH 57 has constructed a subway also. But in course of BIADA acquiring land and construction of private factory by BJP legislative councillor, Ashok Aggarwal, on 28 acres of land, a conspiracy was hatched by them to block and close this road. This road connecting Bhajanpur to Raniganj, connects Bhajanpur village mainly inhabited by minority community (1000 families), to Karbala, Idgah, hospital and local bazaar. So the demand of the villagers to maintain this road is fully justified.

On 2nd June a wall was constructed on one end of the road, on the directions of BJP MLC Ashok Agarwal and on other end a deep digging was done for laying foundation. On 3 June the villagers held a strong protest against this and demolished the boundary wall. The police from 6 stations was already present there and perpetrated most heinous firing, firing hundreds of rounds of bullets and even after Mustafa and Sajmeen were shot above their waist the police flung on to them and trampled their felled but still alive bodies with their boots. This incident exposes the true face of anti-rural, anti-minority character and barbaric face of Nitish Kumar’s Govt. Pregnant Sajmeen Khatoon was returning after feeding her husband Farooq Ansari who is a construction worker at this factory. Mustafa was returning from his shop with 8000 rupees and mobile and he was still alive after being shot but police trampled his chest and bled him to death. 8 month old Naushad was killed on the NH in police firing and his mother is injured and admitted at PMCH. 18 year old Mukhtar used to labour outside and was returning to the village.

Within 6 months this is the second incident of barbarism against minorities in Nitish Govt. On 22 Dec 2010 when the villagers of Bamraha under Kursakanta were protesting against an incident of rape, the jawans of BSF murdered four people of minority community. These incidents expose the truth about good-governance in Nitish government.

The CPI(ML) has demanded immediate arrests of the police officers led by the SP who conducted the firing, BJP Councillor Ashok Aggarwal and his goons, charging them under IPC 302, cancelling the lease of the 28 acres land, maintain the said road as it was, compensation of rupees 10 lakhs to the family of the deceased, 3 lakhs rupees as compensation to those injured and judicial inquiry of the whole incident. All those injured in firing have been shot above their waist, more than 100 families of the 1000 are BPL families.

Cadre Meet in Coimbatore

A Party cadre meet was organised on 2nd June in Coimbatore to discuss election performance and the next course of action. over 65 comrades participated in the meeting and they came out with ideas for preparing for the forthcoming local bodies elections in TN. they have also planned a fast protest demanding implementation of uniform syllabus and controlling the private schools extracting exorbitant fees (AISA held a demonstration on 3rd June at Chennai in which 150 students, parents and teachers participated). Com.S.Kumarasami, PBM and Com.Natarajan, SCM, attended the meeting.

Movement Intensifies against the Eviction of Peasants in Pilibhit

Hundreds of thousands of peasants/ farmers were already ravaged by displacement due to floods in Lakhimpur Khiri in Pilibhit district of UP. Now State’s Mayawati Govt and Centre’s UPA Govt are bent upon evicting/displacing scores of villages, which have been inhabited for hundreds of years, in the name of village land belonging to forest department.

The present generation of farmers and their fore fathers have invested immense toil to make this land fit for tilling and cultivable and they have been sustaining themselves through this land. In 1959, one raja Oyal Yuvraj Dutt wrote a letter to the then administration of his intention to will this land to forest department. It is to be noted that after the 1950 passing of the anti-zamindari act, the raja had no legal standing on this land. The farmers have been fighting for their right to till the land since 1959. They even went to Allahabad High Court and asserted their right on the land since they have been settled on the land for generations. However the court DFO passed an order for eviction and even allowed the administration to use force.

On 21 May 2011 the forest department threw leaflets in the villages asking the peasants to vacate in 10 days. But violating its own 10 day time-period, it conducted a mike campaign on 24 May declaring 24 hours as the deadline to vacate the land.

CPI(ML) has very old roots in this region and it has been leading peasants’ struggles since 1980s. CPI(ML)’s State Committee member and District Secretary, Com. Ramdaras also hails from here. The party has been leading the struggle under the banner of Landless Peasant Cultivators Welfare Committee. After the forest department’s 24 hours deadline on 24 May, next day a meeting of the peasants was organized and it was recognized that Mayawati govt is trying to repeat Bhatta-Parsol in this region. On 20 May a protest meeting was held which was addressed by CC member Com Krishna Adhikari, State standing Committee member and AIKM leader Com. Afroz Alam and Com. Ramdaras. They asked why the forest rights act was not being implemented in the district and that CPI(ML) accepts this challenge from the state that wants to evict and displace lakhs of farmers. The peasants are ready to die but not give up their land. They also said that assault on livelihoods and State’s war on peasants to evict them from their rightful land in UP will be Mayawati’s Waterloo.

The forest department again declared on 29 May that it will forcibly evict the people on 1st June. The peasants also started preparations to defend themselves. When the forest department reached the village on 1 June it faced organized resistance from 2000 peasants. The police and the forest department had to retreat in face of stiff resistance led by Com. Ranjit, Master Shrinath, Tapeshwari, etc. An encouraging environment has been generated by this victory of the peasants. The peasants have also started an indefinite dharna from 3 June at Mudabujurg to intensify their agitation. The movement is being fought under the banner of All India Kisan Mahasabha, led by CPI(ML).

Press Conference in Delhi to Highlight Repression and Plunder at POSCO

A Press Conference was held at Delhi on June 8 to draw urgent attention to escalating repression on villagers resisting the POSCO project in Odisha, and to underline the rampantly corrupt and illegal nature of the corporate plunder of natural resources represented by the project.

Those who addressed the Press Conference included Sudhakar Reddy, Secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Committee of the CPI, Kavita Krishnan, Central Committee member of the CPI(ML) Liberation, Leo Saldanha of the Environment Support Group (Bangalore), Shankar Gopalakrishnan of the Campaign for Survival and Dignity, Mamata Dash of the National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers. Madhuresh of the National Alliance of People’s Movements also participated.

At the Conference, a copy of the recent study on the POSCO project by the ESG (Bangalore) titled “Tearing through the Water Landscape: Evaluating the environmental and social consequences of POSCO project in Odisha, India” was released.

Organisers of the Press Conference included the All India Students’ Association (AISA), Environment Support Group (ESG) Bangalore, Campaign for Survival and Dignity, National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) and All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA).

Below is the statement released at the Press Conference:

Nation’s conscience must be awakened to anti-POSCO struggle

Tackling corruption must begin by scrapping the scandalous POSCO project

The brutal police action unleashed by the UPA Government on Baba Ramdev’s fasting camp in Delhi has shocked the nation’s conscience; even the Hon’ble Supreme Court has taken suo moto cognisance of the blatant disregard for fundamental rights, and questioned the Government raison de d’etre to so quell dissent. Most mainstream political parties have jostled with each other to gain attention in condemning the incident; and this has by far been the only issue covered and debated non-stop by the electronic and print media for some days now.

However, little or nothing is being said or done about a far more serious situation that is developing in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha, where villagers of Dhinkia, Gobindpur, Patana, etc., are resolutely and peacefully opposing the forcible acquisition of their private and forest lands by the Odisha Government for the benefit of South Korean steel major POSCO. Over the past few days, at least 26 platoons of riot police (over 1,000 police personnel) have been deployed to ruthlessly beat down women, children, the aged, and men who have kept a day/night vigil and not allowed any State functionary, police or company official to enter these villages; thus continuing a phenomenal act of peaceful resistance to POSCO venture, sustained for six years now under the leadership of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samithi.

Brutal police tactics, criminal intimidation and illegal methods are being employed here to wrest from these peacefully protesting villagers 4000 acres of extraordinarily fertile agricultural and forest land to establish the single largest industrial foreign investment conceived in recent times. The project involves the establishment of a mega steel plant (12 MTPA), backed by a massive coal-fired thermal power plant (400 MW expandable to 1,100 MW), and a major captive port for handling the world’s largest cargo ships (Capesize, usually more than a quarter km. in length). The project involves further land acquisition for a captive iron ore mine requiring 6,100 acres of predominantly forest land in Khandadhar Hills of Sundergarh district and at least 2,000 acres more for a massive gated township to house POSCO employees. In addition, there would be dedicated water, road and rail linkages that will further exacerbate the displacement and environmental destruction caused by the project.

POSCO: A scandal far bigger than 2G scam

It is high time the nation’s conscience is affected by what the project affected communities are suffering under the hands of the Navin Patnaik regime in Odisha. It is time to appreciate the fact that the POSCO project is perhaps the most shocking example of corrupt practices legitimised by State support. This is because the project is nothing short of a legalised loot of our natural resources – iron ore in this case. In an unprecedented deal, Indian and Odisha Governments have supported POSCO’s demands to mine 600 million tonnes of the finest iron in India on a 30-year lease. Of this, 30% can be exported for processing in POSCO’s Korean plants and thus endorsing profiteering abroad! With current fine iron ore rates crossing Rs. 8,000/tonne, it is simple arithmetic to note that POSCO can recover its capital investment of Rs. 52,000 crores in less than eight years, an unthinkable proposition in any industrial venture! Truly, the POSCO venture is a scandal far worse than those involving 2G and Commonwealth Games.

In fact, A. Raja, principal accused in the 2G scam, may have facilitated POSCO’s entry when as Indian Environment Minister in 2007 he accorded the first major statutory clearance by approving the captive port component, one day before he transited to the Telecom Ministry. This was done without any review and also in response to severe pressure from then Union Finance Minister Chidambaram. Various key environmental and forest clearances quickly followed, all by subverting laws and breaking down the massive industrial/mining venture into little parts to hide their true environmental, social and economic consequences.

Three years later when Jairam Ramesh, the sitting Environment Minister, ordered a comprehensive review of these clearances by setting up two independent investigations, both committees confirmed that the clearances had been secured by fraud and subterfuge, and strongly recommended withdrawal of these illegal approvals. The appropriate action that the Minister should have taken was to cancel these fraudulent clearances and initiate criminal action against all involved in the POSCO decisions. Such action would have been true evidence of the oft-made claim by the UPA Government that it is serious about tackling corruption.

Instead, Jairam Ramesh claimed he was working towards “cooperative federalism” and on the basis of his “faith and trust” in the Odisha Government approved the project’s environment and CRZ clearances on 31 January 2011 and subsequently the forest clearance on 2nd May. This was despite absolute evidence that the Forest Rights Act had been fundamentally violated by deliberately overlooking Gram Sabha resolutions (convened by the constitutionally empowered Panchayats in the project affected villages) that clearly rejected the project. Ramesh, thus, became a party to the fraud in environmental decision-making and also directly responsible for the dangerous situation that is developing in the POSCO affected villages today.

We fear that the exigent State police action that is now underway in these villages may result in another Kalinganagar or Nandigram type of situation. The scant attention paid by mainstream political parties, the media and the public is only strengthening the Navin Patnaik Government to disregard Constitution norms and act ruthlessly to secure lands for the advantage of POSCO.

In an effort to prevent such a carnage from taking place, various eminent people in the country have intervened and appealed to the Prime Minister of India to “immediately ask the Odisha government to halt this illegal attack, to withdraw all clearances given in violation of law, and to take an impartial position in the court cases filed by the people. Failure to stop this attack will show that the UPA government’s much vaunted concern over issues of displacement, forest rights and "inclusive growth" is simply an eyewash.” A copy of this appeal is enclosed.

While endorsing these demands, we additionally urge that: (1) The Odisha Government must immediately withdraw its police operations and forcible acquisition of land for POSCO. (2) The Central Bureau of Investigation must immediately expand the scope of its ongoing investigations against A Raja by reviewing his role in the POSCO clearances, and that of all those who have been involved in illegally promoting this scandalous project, possibly including then Finance Minister and presently Home Minister, Chidambaram. (3) The scandalous POSCO project must be scrapped as its benefits will be accrued mainly by major American financiers (including Warren Buffet) who are major stockholders of this South Korean company.

CPI(ML)’s Candidates in Bihar Panchayat Elections- final tally

We have won 17 Zilla Parishad seats, 109 Block Development Council seats, 93 Mukhiyas and 82 Sarpanchs.

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-14-24.pdf

MLU-14-24.doc

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