ML Update 43 / 2011

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 14, No. 43, 18 – 24 OCTOBER 2011

Resist the Saffron Politics of Intolerance and Intimidation

The attack on Prashant Bhushan by men claiming to belong to the ‘Sri Ram Sene’ and ‘Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena’ is the latest instance of saffron thuggery. The Supreme Court advocate and activist was assaulted by attackers who barged into his chambers at the Supreme Court. He was targeted because he had, at an interaction with the press two weeks ago at Varanasi, recommended withdrawal of the AFSPA and army presence from Kashmir, and, if the Kashmir issue still remained unresolved, a referendum to allow self-determination for the people of Kashmir.

Such physical assaults on intellectuals, activists and artists who express views that are contrary to the reactionary worldview of Hindutva are a hallmark of communal fascism in India. They bring to mind the fascist brigades in Mussolini’s Italy who would target intellectual voices of dissent. From women who wear jeans or visit pubs and artists of Muslim origin to historians who document truths that are inconvenient to Hindutva’s mythology and individuals who challenge the jingoistic discourse on Kashmir – all become targets for organized violence by these self-styled custodians of morality and patriotism.

It is all the more deplorable that the attackers choose to cloak their brand of intolerance and violence with the name and legacy of Bhagat Singh. In doing so they attack the very memory of Bhagat Singh – whose life and death was dedicated to the reasoned revolutionary politics inspired by Marxism and Leninism; who was not only committed to fighting for Indian freedom but also for international working class unity; and who was not only an atheist but a lifelong opponent of communal hate-mongering. The young Bhagat Singh was moved to join the freedom struggle after visiting Jallianwala Bagh – the site of brutal colonial repression. Can anyone genuinely inspired by Bhagat Singh today fail to denounce the thousands of mass graves in Kashmir which contain the victims of custodial killings by security forces?

The Shiv Sena – itself known for similar acts of vandalism and violent intimidation – has hailed those who attacked Prashant Bhushan. The BJP and RSS have tried to distance themselves from the attackers. But it is quite undeniable that the attackers have had close links with the BJP and Sangh. Advani has been unable to deny an old file photograph in which he is seen closely clasping the hands of Tejinder Bagga, one of the perpetrators of the attack on Prashant Bhushan. Actually, the attackers have the same relation with the Sangh Parivar that Pragnya Singh Thakur (the Malegaon blast accused), Dara Singh (killer of Graham Staines) and Nathuram Godse (Gandhi’s assassin) did. They are very much products of the same ideology and political culture of the Sangh-BJP, and the latter is only too happy to make political use of such foot-soldiers of their fascist politics until their actions become an outright political liability.

Congress spokesperson Digvijay Singh has displayed the Congress’ characteristic willingness to embrace the right-wing jingoistic posture and slogans when it is convenient. Digvijay claimed to denounce the attack on Prashant Bhushan, but he himself mounted an ideological edition of the physical attack by asking Anna if it was “proper” for him to associate closely with Bhushan given his views on “basic issues of the country’s unity and integrity.” Till yesterday Digvijay had been accusing Anna of being RSS-backed – and now, the same Digvijay has no qualms about attacking Anna from the same RSS-brand of jingoist ideology, that inspired Prashant Bhushan’s attackers, and that seeks to silence any discussion of state repression and self-determination in Kashmir by branding it a threat to ‘unity and integrity.’ In opportunistically joining the Ram Sene-Shiv Sena chorus against Prashant Bhushan, Digvijay and the Congress have, once again, emboldened the forces of chauvinism and communal fascism.

The episode has also posed a challenge to ‘Team Anna’ from the perspective of democracy. Anna’s supporters too were beaten up in court by supporters of Prashant Bhushan’s attackers. Anna and his team did condemn the attack, but distanced themselves from Bhushan’s remarks on Kashmir. Their dismay and discomfort with Prashant Bhushan’s views on Kashmir – and therefore with his political views beyond the narrowly defined corruption issue – was palpable. When Anna Hazare was jailed, a wide spectrum of democratic forces protested the arrest as an assault on democracy. When Prashant Bhushan was attacked, too, many protested – but the Anna ‘Team’ itself conspicuously failed to organize any demonstration of protest.

Saffron terrorists, perpetrators of communal violence and organized acts of vandalism and intimidation are emboldened by a long history of being let off lightly. We must demand that the attackers be put behind bars and such groups that perpetrate organized violence be proscribed. The forces committed to secularism and democracy must strive to expose and resist the fascist forces who masquerade as ‘patriotic’ and ‘nationalist’. The ideological brethren of Savarkar (who betrayed the freedom struggle and begged pardon of the British rulers) and Godse (who assassinated Gandhi) cannot be allowed to lay claim to the legacy of Bhagat Singh.

Solidarity with the Maruti Workers

CPI(ML) leaders, leaders from All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) and student activists and leaders of AISA in Delhi have been regularly visiting the striking Maruti workers in Gurgaon, Haryana. On 15th October a team comprising CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, Party’s Haryana incharge Comrade Prem Singh Gehlawat, Delhi State Secretary Comrade Sanjay Sharma, AICCTU’s Delhi GS Comrade VKS Gautam and a students’ team led by AISA General Secretary Ravi Rai visited the striking Maruti workers at Manesar in Haryana. On 17th, again a team of student activists of AISA visited them to express solidarity.

Comrade Dipankar’s Address to the Striking Maruti Workers

The struggle of workers of Maruti Suzuki has not only changed the identity of Manesar Industrial Area, but also sent a message to the whole country. The company owners felt that they could repress the workers according to their whims, and that workers would have no liberty to fight. The ‘goonda-raj’ that was being thrust on the workers has been challenged by the Maruti workers and the workers all over the country are glad that the fight that has begun at Maruti will end the repressive regime of capitalists and looters everywhere in the Country.

The workers had a very simple demand of having a union of their own choice, which is their right. This is a right of the workers all over the world. This law came into existence in India in 1926 – even though the country was then not free and still under the British Rule. Every worker has the right to form a union, whatever industry/sector s/he is employed in. But workers are being denied this right in free India!

This struggle has sent out the message to all the company owners and managements in the country that the workers have the right to form unions which managements will have to recognise, and that the workers will defend and achieve this right. The issue of right to union is linked with the issue of freedom, Constitution and democracy, and is a fundamental issue of the workers’ struggle in the country.

When the SEZ Act was passed no party in the Parliament opposed it, but when the Act was being imposed, the peasants and farmers have opposed it everywhere. No matter what laws get passed in the Parliament and what the governments say, the workers, peasants and the people must have the final say.

Threats are being given that the factory will be shifted to Gujarat if the struggle is not ended. They want to silence people’s struggles by branding the struggles as a threat to ‘investment.’ This is not a situation in the Maruti Factory alone, or even of Manesar alone, the situation will have to be changed all over Haryana and the country. Earlier people commented that workers’ struggles are limited to Bengal, Maharashtra; Shankar Guha Niyogi did it in Bhilai. They said there cannot be a workers’ struggle in Haryana, red flags will not be allowed here, but the workers here have shown that if their problems are not addressed then the red flag will flutter everywhere in Haryana and a new situation will come to prevail. And when such a situation will come to prevail everywhere in the country, no owners and managements will have the guts to try to frighten the workers with the threat of shifting the factory to other states.

The Maruti struggle will definitely change the prevailing circumstances and strengthen the workers, their identity will be strengthened and the morale of the capitalists will surely go down.

Some say that change is happening everywhere. Earlier they used to say that after the collapse of the Soviet Union only the rule of capitalists will prevail. However, at the capitalist headquarter, i.e. in the US itself, the workers and the youth are out on the streets opposing their government. They are protesting the bailouts and immunity given to the capitalists.

The Maruti struggle has created history. We will definitely try to mobilize more workers, students and common people in support of your struggle. These days the media does not speak in support of the workers, only the capitalists have a voice there. It advises the Maruti workers to have patience, that they should maintain discipline. We are only demanding that the Union be registered and the management should talk to the workers’ union. If a simple demand of a union cannot be accepted then what remains of democracy in the country. Will this country be only for the capitalists? Will only their goons and the govts that work for them continue to run the country? Definitely a wider debate will rage on this issue in the country. All those who are fighting against corruption, inflation, loot and pro-rich regime will surely join in in this struggle.

Our Party has always fought for the rights of the poor and working class. This is a huge modern factory, but inside it, you workers are being treated in the most backward and exploitative way, where the rights that workers won centuries ago are being overturned and denied. A battle is raging in the country against such repression and exploitation, and for democracy, and the Manesar workers are definitely at the forefront of that battle. I offer the red salute to you on behalf of my Party and the nation-wide workers’ organizations and we will make efforts to spread your struggle all over the country. No matter what pressures the govt brings upon, you will definitely win this struggle as all democracy loving people , struggling people and all working class organizations in the country are standing with you.

Inquilab Zindabad!

Condemn Police Firing in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh

The CPI(ML) strongly condemned the recent police firing in Darrang, Assam, which took the lives of four jute farmers demonstrating against denial of remunerative prices. The increasingly repressive face of the Congress Government of Assam has come to the fore in the incidents of firing on protestors in Guwahati some months ago, and the recent firing at Darrang.

The CPI(ML) also condemned the brutal STF and CRPF action against young students celebrating Durga Puja in Roing, Arunachal Pradesh. The unprovoked and brutal firing has seriously injured nine students including a girl. Shockingly the security personnel even tried to fire in the air and storm the hospital premises where the injured were admitted, till students’ protests finally turned them back. This act of repression is an attempt to intimidate the local population that has been protesting against the Dibang Dam. The public hearing for the dam is due on October 31. The repressive measures are being unleashed to instill fear and prevent people from expressing their opposition to the Dam. The Congress Government of Arunachal Pradesh is defending the heinous act of firing on young students celebrating a festival by branding anti-dam protestors as ‘Maoists.’

The police and security personnel responsible for the heinous firing at Assam and Arunachal Pradesh must be punished swiftly and severely.

Statewide Protests

Protesting the killing of 4 peasants, CPI(ML) organized protest programmes at different places in Assam. The Assam Police killed four peasants and injured many when it opened fire on hundreds of peasants on 10th October at Bechimari under Dolgaon Police Station of the north Assam district. While condemning the brutal killing, CPI(ML) held protest programmes at Tinsukia and Chabua on 12th Oct, Jorhat on 11th Oct, Nagaon 12th Oct, Behali 11th Oct and Barpeta 11th Oct. District Committees and local committees of the Party burned effigies of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and demanded a high level enquiry into the incident. The Assam State Committee and Hills Party Committee jointly submitted a memorandum to the Governor of Assam on 13th October that demanded an investigation into the Bechimari incident immediately and to publish the report within a week; and also demanded Rs.10 lakhs to every victim’s family and Rs.3 lakhs for every injured peasant. It also demanded to stop repressing the peasants, to fix and declare minimum support price before harvesting and to purchase agricultural produce directly, provide subsidy on manure, seeds, pesticides and distribute them through fare price system.

March to Raj Bhawan on Autonomous State and Corruption Issues

CPI(ML) Hills party committee (HPC) organised a march to Rajbhawan on 13th October on the issue of Autonomous State and rampant corruption in Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council. More than 200 marched from Latasil field near Guwahati High Court and sat on dharna at Raj Bhawan. A team led by Party’s PB member Com. Rubul Sarma and HPC Secretary Selawar Bey, Ravi Kr. Phangcho, Mahen Bey, Laison Inleng met the Governor and submitted a memorandum on threse demands: (i) creation of an autonomous state under article 244(A), (ii) investigate corruption in the Congress run Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council and Dima Hasao districts, and (iii) removal of clause 8 of BLT accord of 2003. It may be worth mentioning that Bodos are recognized as ST in plains all over Assam, but BLT accord under this clause recognized them as ST hills in Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts. Indigenous hill tribes are opposed to this clause and it is feared that if the clause is not scrapped it would lead to social tension between various ethnic groups.

Protest Held Against Attack on Prashant Bhushan

Hundreds Protest Against Saffron Brigade’s Politics of Intolerance and Intimidation, Burn Effigy of Sri Ram Sene

Hundreds of students, university teachers, intellectuals, cultural activists and people’s movement activists gathered at Jantar Mantar on 14th October to protest against the attack on noted activist and senior advocate Prashant Bhushan by goons belonging to the Sri Ram Sene and other saffron outfits. The protest was organised by the All India Students’ Association (AISA).

The protestors raised slogans against the assaults on freedom of expression and demanding arrest and stern action against the perpetrators of the attack on Mr. Bhushan. The protestors also raised slogans against police failure to act against the perpetrators of the attack on Mr. Bhushan’s supporters inside Court premises in full view of the police.

The protest meeting was addressed by a range of democratic activists. The meeting was conducted by Ravi Rai, General Secretary of AISA. The meeting was addressed by N D Pancholi of PUCL, NK Bhattacharya of Janhastakshep, Arvind Gaur of Asmita, Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary of CPI(ML) Liberation, filmmaker Ajay Bharadwaj, Manipuri activist Seram Rojesh (CPDM), Rakesh Kumar of Socialist Front, Sandeep Singh, National President of AISA, Ram Krishna Reddy (Delhi Telangana Joint Action Committee), Mahtab Alam, Ameek Jami of AIYF among many others.

Similar protests were also held by AISA at many places in the Country including Banaras, Patna, Arrah, Kolkata and Chandigarh.

Demonstration against Mamta Govt in Kolkata

Party’s Kolkata District Committee organized a militant protest demonstration in Kolkata on 18th October against the highhanded gesture made by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during her visit to the troubled Jangalmahal, belying all the poll promises made by her before the assembly elections held early this year. Her party and she herself had promised that the Joint Forces operative in Jangalmahal would be withdrawn, all the political prisoners would be freed and UAPA would be given a go by. So her visit to the place evoked lot of expectation among the poor tribal people inhabiting that place, who have been reeling under acute state terror prevailing in that area because of the repressive attitude of the Joint Forces. She has totally gone back on her promises and instead, issued open threat of fiercer action in the name of containing the Maoists. To make matters worse, a tribal woman named Shibani Singh was brutally raped by the Joint Forces personnel, while they entered her house in search of her absconding husband. She had to be hospitalized and the police refused to register an FIR.

Assembling at Subodh Mullick Square, the demonstrators led by District Secretary Kalyan Goswami took out a colourful and militant procession to Esplanade, where the Jangalmahal policy of the Mamata Government was burnt. We demanded withdrawal of the Joint Forces, all the political prisoners be unconditionally released, UAPA Act be revoked and exemplary punishment be meted out to the rapists of Shibani Singh immediately. The demonstration, the first of its kind since Mamata government took over office, evoked positive response from the masses.

From Tahrir Square to Times Square: Protests Erupt in Over 1500 Cities Worldwide

Tens of Thousands Flooded the Streets of Global Financial Centers, Capital Cities and Small Towns on 15th Oct.

After triumphing in a standoff with the authorities over the continued protest of Wall Street at Liberty Square in Manhattan’s financial district, the Occupy Wall Street movement has spread worldwide today with demonstrations in over 1,500 cities globally and over 100 US cities from coast to coast as of 15th October. In New York, thousands marched in various protests by trade unions, students, environmentalists, and community groups. As occupiers flocked to Washington Square Park, two dozen participants were arrested at a nearby Citibank while attempting to withdraw their accounts from the global banking giant.

"I am occupying Wall Street because it is my future, my generations’ future, that is at stake," said Linnea Palmer Paton, 23, a student at New York University. "Inspired by the peaceful occupation of Tahrir Square in Cairo, tonight we are coming together in Times Square to show the world that the power of the people is an unstoppable force of global change. Today, we are fighting back against the dictators of our country – the Wall Street banks – and we are winning."

While the spotlight is on New York, "occupy" actions are also happening all across the Midwestern and the Southern United States, from Ashland, Kentucky to Dallas, Texas to Ketchum, Idaho. "People are suffering here in Iowa. Family farmers are struggling, students face mounting debt and fewer good jobs, and household incomes are plummeting," said Judy Lonning a 69-year-old retired public school teacher. "We’re not willing to keep suffering for Wall Street’s sins. People here are waking up and realizing that we can’t just go to the ballot box. We’re building a movement to make our leaders listen."

Protests filled streets of financial districts from Berlin, to Athens, Auckland to Mumbai, Tokyo to Seoul. In the UK over 3,000 people attempted to occupy the London Stock Exchange. "The financial system benefits a handful of banks at the expense of everyday people," said Spyro Van Leemnen, a 27-year old public relations agent in London and a core member of the demonstrators. "The same people who are responsible for the recession are getting away with massive bonuses. This is fundamentally unfair and undemocratic."

In South Africa, about 80 people gathered at the Johannesburg Securities Exchange, and protests continued despite police efforts to declare the gathering illegal. In Taiwan, organizers drew several hundred demonstrators, who mostly sat quietly outside the Taipei World Financial Center, known as Taipei 101.

600 people have begun an occupation of Confederation Park in Ottawa, Canada today to join the global day of action (15 October). "I am here today to stand with Indigenous Peoples around the world who are resisting this corrupt global banking system that puts profits before human rights," said Ben Powless, Mohawk citizen and indigenous youth leader. "Native Peoples are the 99%, and we’ve been resisting the 1% since 1492. We’re marching today for self-determination and dignity against a system that has robbed our lands, poisoned our waters, and oppressed our people for generations. Today we join with those in New York and around the world to say, No More!"

In Australia, about 800 people gathered in Sydney’s central business district, carrying cardboard banners and chanting "Human need, not corporate greed." Protesters will camp indefinitely "to organize, discuss and build a movement for a different world, not run by the super-rich 1%," according to a statement on the Occupy Sydney website.

The rapid spread of the protests is a grassroots response to the overwhelming inequalities perpetuated by the global financial system and transnational banks. The organizers said that the Occupation of Liberty Square in Manhattan will continue indefinitely.

Occupy Wall Street is a people powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. #OWS is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Spain, Greece, Italy and the UK, and aims to expose how the richest 1% of people who are writing the rules of the global economy are imposing an agenda of neoliberalism and economic inequality that is foreclosing our future.

Source: www.occupywallstreet.org

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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