ML Update 29 / 2011

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 14, No. 29, 12 – 18 JULY 2011

SC Verdicts on Salwa Judum, Land Grab and Black Money:

Far-Reaching Implications for Democracy

Some recent Supreme Court verdicts on the Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh, on land acquisition in Greater Noida (UP) and on black money must be welcomed for their far-reaching implications for democracy.

The two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Reddy and Nijjar strongly indicts the governments of Chhattisgarh and the Centre for patronising the unconstitutional ‘Salwa Judum,’ rejecting the premise that private militia was justified in the name of counter-insurgency.

The judgement comments on the “yawning gap” between the claims of “constitutional democracy,” and the “reality of the situation in Chhattisgarh,” where the State of Chhattisgarh “claims that it has a constitutional sanction to perpetrate, indefinitely, a regime of gross violation of human rights.” It questions the Chhattisgarh Government’s claim that “anyone who questions the conditions of inhumanity that are rampant in many parts of that state ought to necessarily be treated as Maoists, or their sympathizers, and yet in the same breath also claim that it needs the constitutional sanction, under our Constitution, to perpetrate its policies of ruthless violence against the people of Chhattisgarh…”

The verdict finds no credibility in the State Government’s claim that the ‘SPOs’ were being given police training and that they were given arms only for use in self-defence. Noting the superficial quality of the ‘training’ and the lack of education of the SPOs, the verdict held that these tribal youths’ Constitutional right to equal protection (Article 14) and right to life (Article 21) were being violated.

In response to the State Government’s claim that by appointing them as SPOs, it was actually providing the tribal youth with jobs and a future, the verdict said it “cannot comprehend how involving ill-equipped, barely literate youngsters in counter-insurgency activities, wherein their lives are placed in danger, could be conceived under the rubric of livelihood.”

Noting that “recent history is littered with examples of the dangers of armed vigilante groups that operate under the veneer of State patronage or support,” the judgement also expressed “deepest dismay” at the Union of India’s policy towards the Salwa Judum. Rejecting the Centre’s protestations that their responsibility ended with payment of the SPOs’ honorarium, the verdict observed, “it is the financial assistance being given by the Union that is enabling the State of Chhattisgarh to appoint barely literate tribal youth as SPOs.” It further noted that in this policy “jointly devised by the Union and the States,” the young tribals have “literally become cannon fodder in the killing fields” of Chhattisgarh.

The Bench ordered that the State Government and Union Government immediately put a stop to using and funding SPOs in any form; recall of firearms issued to SPOs; protection of the lives of the ex-SPOs; a stop to the Chhattisgarh Government’s practice or arming private vigilante groups; FIRs and investigation into all the crimes of Salwa Judum/Koya Commando; and a CBI investigation into the acts of violence in three Dantewada villages and the violence against the team led by Swami Agnivesh in March 2011. The CBI was instructed to submit its first status report within six weeks.

In addition to a painstakingly argued verdict demolishing the rationale of state-sponsored private militia, the verdict also offers its own insights on the roots of the conflict in Chhattisgarh and other parts of the country. It locates the root of the conflict in the State’s “amoral political economy” which holds that “obsession with economic growth is our only path, and that the costs borne by the poor and the deprived, disproportionately, are necessary costs.” Elaborating on this theme, the verdict says, “On the one hand the State subsidises the private sector, giving it tax break after tax break, while simultaneously citing lack of revenues as the primary reason for not fulfilling its obligations to provide adequate cover to the poor through social welfare measures. On the other hand, the State seeks to arm the youngsters amongst the poor with guns to combat the anger, and unrest, amongst the poor.”

The BJP and sections of the media have sought to undermine the verdict by branding its critique of neoliberal economic policy and its literary flourishes as “ideological.” But whether or not the Governments of Chhattisgarh and the Centre choose to be guided by these opinions of the Bench, they will find it difficult to refute or defy the substantive part of the verdict. This substantive part and its clear and hard-hitting orders, will have far-reaching consequences on the practice of arming private militia in the name of counter-insurgency, which has been widespread not only in Chhattisgarh but in the N East and other parts of the country. It is a powerful vindication of the voices of democracy which have questioned the Salwa Judum’s constitutionality, and been branded as ‘Maoists’ in return.

Predictably, the UPA Government and Chhattisgarh Government have spoken of seeking a review of the verdict on the grounds that it would ‘hamper anti-Maoist operations.’ This is a shameless and stubborn admission on part of the BJP’s Chhattisgarh Government and Congress Government at the Centre, that the ‘anti-Maoist operations’ rest on outright unconstitutional and inhuman means. These Governments must immediately comply with the SC order, disband the Salwa Judum and punish the crimes perpetrated by these private militia. They must also take the verdict as the basis for initiating talks with Maoists and restoring peace in Bastar and other conflict areas.

In another significant verdict, another Supreme Court Bench upheld an Allahabad High Court verdict quashing land acquisition by the UP Government in Shahberi village of Greater Noida. The Bench held the use of emergency provisions to acquire land to be illegal and unjustified, pointing out that 60 percent of the already acquired land had not been utilised by the state. It dismissed the petitions by Greater Noida Authority (GNA) and several private builders against the Allahabad HC verdict and fined the GNA Rs.10 lakh. It also questioned the change in land rules from industrial to residential purposes. In light of widespread land grab from farmers for the real estate business in the garb of ‘industrial use’ and ‘public purpose,’ the SC verdict is a shot in the arm for ongoing peasant protests.

The Reddy-Nijjar SC Bench has also intervened on the significant question of black money. Although it has, in the wake of vociferous protest by the Central Government, reserved its verdict on the question of appointing a SIT to track black money, the Justices have questioned the political will of the Government to tackle the problem.

Pointing out the serious dimensions of the problem, and its “serious repercussions for the country,” Justice Reddy questioned the Government counsel’s claim that a committee had already been appointed to track black money. He asked, “The case against Hasan Ali Khan was registered in 2007 and you conduct the custodial interrogation in 2011. What is going on in this country, what is the speed of your investigation, you started the probe only after persistent queries from this court.” He also mooted the idea of a retired SC judge to monitor the functioning of the committee, but the Government opposed this as well.

At a time when all arms of the State are deeply compromised in unconstitutional and unconscionable corporate plunder, repression and corruption, the above Supreme Court verdicts represent judicial attempts to restore a measure of balance and credibility in the system. These verdicts are welcome and their orders must be strictly implemented by the concerned Governments.

Nitish Kumar Confronted by Protesting AISA Members in Delhi

Cancel Bail to Brahmeshwar: Nitish Government Must Stop Protecting Massacre Masterminds

AISA activists held a spirited protest confronting Bihar CM Nitish Kumar when he was visiting Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on 13 July 2011. AISA members raised slogans demanding that the bail given to Ranvir Sena’s mastermind Brahmeshwar Singh be cancelled forthwith and ensure exemplary punishment for the ‘Butcher of Bathe and Bathani.

The release of Ranvir Sena chief Brahmeshwar Singh on bail is the result of the Nitish Kumar-led NDA Government’s deliberate tactics of emboldening feudal forces. Last year, several of the accused in the Laxmanpur Bathe and Bathani Tola massacres of agrarian poor by the Ranvir Sena, were given death and life sentences by a Bihar court. But the main accused, Brahmeshwar Singh, did not even stand trial in these cases, because the Bihar Government and police informed the court that he was an ‘absconder’- in spite of the fact that he had been ensconsed in Ara jail since 2002! In fact, in the 8 years that Brahmeshwar had been in Bihar’s jail, successive governments – both of RJD and NDA – had failed even to name him in FIRs in these massacre cases! At that time, the Special Public Prosecutor had observed about Brahmeshwar’s status as a non-FIR accused.

Subsequently, Brahmeshwar has been remanded in the Bathani Tola case, which is pending against him. If he is out on bail, he will undoubtedly use his freedom to intimidate and even eliminate witnesses as he has done in the past.

The Nitish Government, as soon as it assumed power, disbanded the Amir Das commission that was investigating political linkages with the banned Ranvir Sena. The Nitish Government is systematically weakening cases against, and facilitating the release of masterminds of feudal massacres of dalit agrarian poor – even as champions of peaceful mass movements of the poor like Shah Chand mukhiya and other comrades in Jehanabad are convicted under the draconian TADA and continue to languish in jail.

Kolkata Protest – Fascist Raman Singh Go-Back

On 10th July, members of the All India Students’ Association (AISA) and Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) jointly organized a protest demonstration in Kolkata in front of the venue (Kolkata University Institute Hall) where BJP’s Chhattisgarh Chief Minister, Raman Singh and its leader LK Advani had come to address a seminar. In the seminar, Raman Singh was to deliberate on his experiences of "Combating Naxalism and Salwa Judum" in Chhattisgarh.

AISA and RYA activists and members shouted slogans there demanding immediate end to Salwa Judum, stop facilitating corporate plunder in Chhattisgarh, repeal CSPSA, stop assaults on adivasis and stop operation green hunt. The protest march started from College Square and culminated in front of the seminar hall. There an effigy too of Raman Singh was burnt. The protest was led by AISA leaders Ranajay, Jul and RYA leader Dipankar.

Sibal Must Step Down and Face Charges

No longer can the Congress wash its hands of corruption in the telecom sector by pinning the blame on coalition partners alone. If two former Telecom Ministers – A Raja and Maran – have had to step down and are facing investigations into corrupt practices, now it emerges that the present incumbent, Kapil Sibal, too is tainted.

In yet another questionable favour to a corporate house, Sibal reduced the penalty from Rs 650 crore (Rs 50 crore per circle for 13 circles) to Rs 5 crore against Anil Ambani-headed RCom for violation of the terms and conditions of Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) agreement and UASL agreement (i.e switching-off/closure of services to subscribers from USOF sites without notice).

This unauthorised and dubious waiver of a hefty fine must be investigated, and pending that, Sibal too must step down as Telecom Minister.

CC Meeting and a Convention at Mysore

Following successful conclusion of the central committee meeting from 30 June to 2 July 2011, held for the first time in Karnataka, a well-attended, colourful convention was organized on 3 July at Mysore. “For a Left Alternative; Against Corruption, Price Rise and State Repression” formed the theme of the convention and was presided over by the party GS Com. Dipankar and was inaugurated by V Shankar, CCM. Com. E Ramappa, State Secretary of CPI(ML) conducted the proceedings. Special guest was comrade Hariharan, Convenor of Left Coordination Committee, Kerala, who was accompanied by Venugopalan, Kerala State Leading Team member of (CPIML). Prof. Lakshminarayana was the other guest from Mysore. J Bharadwaj, SLTM of Karnataka and Rati Rao, VP of AIPWA also addressed the gathering along with Appanna, Somu, Narayanaswamy from Bangalore and Prakash from Davangere. C Javaraiah, district secretary of the Party welcomed the gathering and Gaddappa thanked the people and guests for their cooperation for the success of the convention.

The convention was preceded by a colourful rally of workers, clad in red, from railway station to the hall marching through the important streets of Mysore. All workers were wearing red T-shirt with AICCTU and hammer and sickle logo and each one of them was also carrying a flag. Hundreds of workers with red T-shirt looking like Red Volunteers were the star attraction in the convention and also in Mysore. In view of the CC meeting, major junctions in entire Mysore were decorated with red buntings and party flags. Media covered the entire event on an everyday basis.

Comrade Dipankar began his speech by congratulating the Karnataka comrades for making excellent arrangements for the smooth conduct of the 3-day long central committee meeting at Mysore. He came down heavily on the UPA government for the unprecedented and worst-ever corruption scandals in the history of post-independence India. He also made a distinction between the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare that is focusing on Jan Lok Pal while the movement led by CPIML is carrying forward the movement beyond the confines of legislations. He also criticized the Baba Ramdev’s political motives behind the issue of black money while condemning the police repression. He said that the people worst affected due to corruption and scams are the vast majority of poor, including workers, agricultural labourers and poor peasants. He called upon the people to raise the level of anti-corruption movement to the level of a political battle against corruption and for democracy.

Com. Shankar, CCM, exposed the fallacy of anti-corruption rhetoric by Yeddyurappa and the BJP while the BJP-led state government is actually favouring and promoting corporate loot and corruption. He condemned the BJP government for earmarking thousands of acres of land in each district for the corporate houses. As an instance, he cited the cases of the district Haveri and Gadag being earmarked for POSCO while Bellary being divided between Mittals and Reddys.

Com. Hariharan hoped that Mysore convention would begin a new chapter in the history of Left movement in Karnataka. He also said that anti-corruption movement led by communists alone can put an end to the viciousness of corruption and nothing else.

Chhattisgarh Diary

On 1st July, 19th anniversary of the martyrdom of 17 worker comrades a rally and meeting was held in Bhilai by CMM. The rally started from Chhawani Chowk and culminated in a meeting at Niyogi Chowk. Prior to the rally martyrs portraits were garlanded at the place near Bhilai Power House Railway Station where they were martyred. As is known 17 workers were murdered by the Bhilai Power House police on 1st July 1992. More than 500 workers participated in the rally.

The main demands of the rally were proper implementation of labour laws, action against corrupt ministers and officials, reinvestigation of the murder of Shankar Guha Niyogi and renaming the Bhilai Power House Station as Shaheed Shankar Guha Niyogi station. A memorandum to this effect was sent to the President of India and Railway Minister through the DM of Durg.

Workers participating in the rally came from Raipur, Bilaspur, Rajnand gaon and Durg districts. The rally and meeting was addressed by Mahendra Parida (AICCTU Secretary, Orissa).

On 2nd July a seminar on the theme Lessons of Paris Commune and Vanguard Role of the proletariat in today’s Imperialist Age was organized at Chattisgarh Headquarters, Sector 7 Bhilai. The discussion was facilitated by Sudha Bhardwaj of CMM.

AICCTU organized a conference of contract workers on 6th July at Banbred in Durg district. Comrade Sapan Mukherji was the main speaker. He said that in Raman Singh government laws are being violated rampantly no matter whether it is Bastar or Bhilai. Mafias and corporates are dominating the State. Acts meant for contract workers are not being implemented and called upon all to take up organized initiatives to end the terror of contractors, and organize the contract workers of Steel Plant and wider campaign among rural poor.

MARCH IN PATNA to hold Nitish accountable

Contrary to what Nitish Kumar had promised – free food grains to 1.5 crore BPL families, 10 decimal homestead land to landless families, and legal status to the dwellers of jhopar-pattis – poor people of Bihar are witnessing eviction by demolition of jhopar-pattis in the name of development and non-inclusion of names in BPL list. CPI(ML) held a protest march in Patna on 6 July on a 10 point demand including the above issues . The march broke the police cordon and forced their way to the chamber of the SDM.

Stop the Repression of Socialist and Pro-Democracy Activists in Malaysia

CPI(ML) condemns the arrest and detention without trial of 30 activists of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), including Dr Jeyakumar Deveraj, a federal member of parliament.

This crackdown is part of an ongoing repressive campaign by Barisan Nasional government headed by Najib Razak against those campaigning for democratic reforms. Civil society groups under the banner of Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih, meaning “clean”) had been mobilising for a pro-democracy, anti-corruption rally demanding electoral reforms.

The PSM activists have been arrested on the draconian pretext that they were “waging war against the king” and “attempting to revive communism.” One of the grounds for arrest is that they wear T-shirts with the images of “communist leaders” (such as Che Guevara) on them.

The activists were first detained for seven days, and then re-arrested under the “Emergency Ordinance,” this time on the ground that they had been distributing leaflets for the Bersih rally on July 9, which the Government had declared illegal.

Some years back in 2007, the first Bersih rally had been attended by thousands and had been met with severe repression. This time, the Government is justifying the ban on the rally by claiming that it could provoke an attack by right-wing Malay-chauvinist ‘Perkasa movement.’

The CPI(ML) has written to the Prime Minister of Malaysia and Malaysian embassy in India, demanding the release of the PSM activists.

Speech by AICCTU Representative in the 100th ILC at Geneva

(This speech was delivered by the AICCTU representative Rajiv Dimri in the Plenary session of “committee for social protection” (social security) in the 100th session of International Labour Conference (1-17 June 2011, Geneva) on behalf of Workers’ Committee. This session was held in the Assembly Hall of the UN Building on 17 June. The speech was made in the context that this session had adopted a Report on Social Protection and this apart, finalized a “Recommendation” on “Social Protection Floor” (SPF), which will be placed in the Conference next year for adoption.

Respected Chair and delegates,

I would take this opportunity to thank each and everyone for his or her contribution in the preparation and adoption of this comprehensive and sound report on Social Protection. But, the job is half finished. All should endeavour to finish this job….

The last 30 years or so have witnessed massive informalization of work and rise in the informal sector particularly in the developing nations including India and the countries of sub-continent, with situation becoming worse as a result of new economic policies, which emerged during this same period.

We have a huge population of informal workers ranging from contract & outsourcing labour in private sector including MNCs and public and government sectors to construction, agricultural and domestic workers who work and live in miserable conditions with no/or minimal social security and trade union rights. In India 94% of working people belong to informal sector, and according to a commission of India called “Dr. Arjun Sengupta Commission” 77% of total Indian population i.e. 860 million people earn less than half a dollar a day. This whole situation may not be very different in most of the developing nations. The recent global financial crisis by making working people jobless has only increased their woes.

So, the prevailing scenario urgently calls for the recognition of social security by the governments as a human right, as a social and economic necessity so as to provide comprehensive income security, health and medical care to all along with old age pension, and very importantly to eradicate the evil system of child labour.

To make this great objective achievable the governments particularly of the countries with huge population of informal workers must take the responsibility of providing social security on their shoulders. Many governments including the Indian government have taken steps and formulated schemes for social security, but they are still of piecemeal nature. The Indian government has also developed a certain level of social security mechanism, which includes some schemes and Acts called “National Rural Employment Guarantee Act” (NREGA) and “Social Security for Unorganized Workers’ Act”. But still, a lot is to be done to strengthen this. A big section of informal workers continue to remain outside the scope of these schemes as the scope of these schemes has been limited to the criteria of “below poverty line”; the provision of giving work under NREGA is limited to only 100 days a year; there is no employment guarantee for urban workers; the implementation of Social Security Act is very weak and the Act itself is not supported by an adequate national social security fund.

So, In view of the above situation, the governments, after having made some progress in developing a social security mechanism, should take lead in supporting the ILO Recommendation on SPF in 2012 and move forward to develop a comprehensive and universal social protection (security) structure in their countries with the active involvement of trade unions. Let a new history be created.

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

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