ML Update 32 / 2012

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.15 No.32 31 JUL – 6 AUG 2012

Stop the Witch-Hunt of Maruti Workers

Uphold Labour Laws and Ensure Industrial Democracy

The fundamental questions raised by the Manesar tragedy, however, are being drowned out in the shrill accusations against, and ongoing witch-hunt of the Maruti workers. Maruti workers are being indiscriminately arrested (over a 100 are in jail); their families threatened; and even workers of other factories in Manesar are being subjected to illegal detention and searches. The Governments of Haryana and the Centre, the corporations, and much of the media are united in raising outraged cries against the workers, who are being painted as a murderous mob which hunted and lynched the hapless Maruti management. It should be noted that those baying for the Maruti workers’ blood in this instance, are silent on the case of Ajit Yadav, the worker at the Rico Auto Factory at Gurgaon, who was thrown in a furnace and burnt to death by company officials and hired ‘bouncers’ in 2009: a case in which the killers are yet to be punished. In the Maruti instance too, the fact is that the management had introduced hired muscle to deal with a peaceful negotiation by the Union – leading to violent clashes between workers on the one hand, and the management and bouncers on the other.

What, after all, accounts for repeated instances of such violent clashes across the country, in most of India’s industrial belts? At Maruti, as at Pricol, and in fact in all industries and MNCs in India, workers are forced to wage long, frustrating struggles simply to avail of the rights which are written into India’s labour laws. These include the right to form a union of their own choice and the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ which mandates that contract workers, paid far less than permanent workers, cannot be employed in the core production processes of industry. Inevitably, in every instance, workers leading the peaceful struggles are laid off; the government and labour departments do nothing to uphold the labour laws; hired muscle is used to ‘discipline’ workers; illegal lockouts are resorted to; and even when legal battles are won, the laws are rarely implemented on the ground. Maruti workers too have time and again led peaceful agitations demanding the right to unionise. On the last occasion, the leaders of the struggle were bought off by the management. Eventually, the union (MSWU) was registered in March this year with the labour department after much delay. However, even now, the Maruti management, in violation of the law, insists that the Union cannot be affiliated to any central Trade Union, and the Haryana Government has failed to set up the legally mandated grievance redressal committee and labour welfare committee. Wages continued to be low, arbitrary penalties like loss of wages in case of leave were common; contract workers were being paid a fraction of what permanent workers received, for the same work; work conditions were being made more undignified and exploitative (for instance curtailment of tea and toilet breaks) in order to speed up the assembly line production. Permanent workers were repeatedly told that they had no right to raise the issue of contract workers’ rights and violation of the provisions of the Contract Labour Act. Throughout, the Haryana Government and labour department condoned the violations by the Maruti management, and failed to act to defend the legal rights of workers. In a situation where the system stubbornly refuses to uphold labour laws and allows open violations to be the norm; where avenues for redressal of grievances are denied and union’s functioning curbed; and where managements routinely introduce hired muscle, victimization, and corrupt means to deal with protesting workers, outbursts and clashes are inevitable.

Branding the workers as criminals while refusing to acknowledge or the correct the widespread violations of labour laws and denial of industrial dignity and democracy can only aggravate industrial unrest, never resolve it. Instead of correcting the widespread violations of labour laws, the corporate sector and Governments too are using the Maruti incident as a pretext to clamour for ‘reform’ of labour laws. In other words, they are seeking the legalization of the ongoing violations – and the freedom to exploit the workers without any legal impediment.

The ray of hope in the dismal situation is the determination of the new generation of workers all over the country to agitate and defend their rights. In Pricol, the workers braved the all-out witch-hunt of 2009 to eventually emerge victorious and secure an agreement on their long-pending demands. It is encouraging that the workers of Pricol in Coimbatore and Honda in Gurgaon have staged demonstrations recently in solidarity with Maruti workers. India’s working class and trade union movement must resist the attempts to criminalise the Maruti workers’ struggle, and must continue and intensify the struggle for industrial democracy, equal pay for equal work, and workers’ rights and dignity.

Charu Bhawan Inaugurated and Book on CM Released

On 28 July 2012, the 40th anniversary of the martyrdom of CPI(ML)’s founding General Secretary and leader of the historic Naxalbari movement, Comrade Charu Mazumdar, the CPI(ML) inaugurated its Central Office ‘Charu Bhawan,’ and unveiled a bust of Comrade Charu Mazumdar at the office. A book in memory of Comrade Charu Mazumdar, Charu Mazumdar: The Man and His Legacy was released on the occasion.

The CPI(ML) Central Office, U-90 Shakarpur, was christened Charu Bhawan and inaugurated by the party General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya. A bust of Comrade Charu Mazumdar was unveiled by party Politburo member Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya, who is also the sole surviving member of the CPI(ML) Central Committee which was reorganised on the second martyrdom day of Comrade Charu Mazumdar, 28 July 1974. The bust of Comrade CM was sculpted by Shri Bodhan Hansdah of Birbhum district of West Bengal.

Anita and Madhumita, daughters of Comrade Charu Mazumdar, as well as his son, party Central Committee member Abhijit Mazumdar, were also present on the occasion.

Politburo and Central Committee members of the party, CPN(UML) Central Committee members Comrades Devi Gyawali and Guru Baral, Kalpana Wilson of the South Asia Solidarity Group (London), as well as veteran party leaders, former members of the party central committee, leaders of mass organisations, and leaders from various states, paid floral tributes to Comrade Charu Mazumdar’s bust.

Cultural groups Hirawal from Patna and Ganasanskritik Parishad from Kolkata presented ‘Shaheed Geet’ (songs in memory of the martyrs). A condolence resolution was adopted, paying tribute to the martyred and departed comrades of the party’s 1st Central Committee (elected in 1970), including Comrades Charu Mazumdar, Saroj Dutt, Sushital Roy Choudhary, Kanu Sanyal, Nagbhushan Patnaik, Appu, Vempatapu Satyanarayana, Adibatla Kailasam, Appalasuri, Shiv Kumar Mishra, and Soren Bose; martyrs of the first generation of the ML movement including Comrades Panchadi Krishnamoorthy, Panchadi Nirmala, Subbarao Panigrahi, Master Jagdish, Rameshwar Ahir, Baba Bhuja Singh, Daya Singh; party General Secretaries Comrade Jauhar (martyred in 1975) and Comrade Vinod Mishra (passed away in 1998); martyred and departed Central Committee members including Comrades Ram Naresh Ram and Mahendra Singh, and other martyred comrades from different fronts. Observing two minutes’ silence, the gathering resolved to pay tribute to the departed and martyred comrades of the entire Indian communist movement and ML movement, and to carry forward their legacy of struggle and make their dreams a reality.

A book on Charu Mazumdar: Charu Mazumdar: The Man and His Legacy, was presented by Comrade Arindam Sen to Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya who released it and dedicated it to the fighting people of the country. The book contains a short biography of Comrade Charu Mazumdar, a memoir by Comrade CM’s daughter Anita Mazumdar, a collection of rare photographs culled from family albums, quotations from Comrade CM’s writings, and some articles about the historical context and enduring relevance of Comrade CM’s life and work.

Comrade Abhijit Mazumdar greeted the gathering on behalf of the CPI(ML) Central Committee and Comrade Charu Mazumdar’s family and called for carrying forward Comrade CM’s legacy. Party General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, speaking on the occasion, recalled that Comrade Charu Mazumdar and his comrades, bearing the worst brunt of state terror unleashed in the late 1960s and 1970s, had given new life and meaning to the country’s communist movement and revolutionary peasant movement. Today, as the country faces a renewed assault on democracy and on the rights of peasants and the poor, the legacy of Comrade Charu Mazumdar becomes all the more relevant. He also said that this was a time when there was a debate ongoing in the country’s communist movement. The entire country was in search of a political alternative to the loot and repression unleashed by the Congress and other ruling class parties, but at such a time, the CPI(M) was extending support to Pranab Mukherjee – a move which has sparked off widespread debate among CPI(M)’s own ranks. Hailing the young comrades who were speaking out boldly against the opportunism of the CPI(M), he expressed the hope that the country’s Left movement would rebuff the opportunist and revisionist trends, and firmly uphold and defend the revolutionary tradition. He said that only a revolutionary Left movement to transform the country’s corrupt and repressive regime could be a true tribute to Comrade Charu Mazumdar. The programme ended with a rousing rendering of the Internationale.

Martyrs’ Day Observed All Over the Country

All over the country, party units at district and local levels observed the martyrdom day of Comrade Charu Mazumdar. In Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, 28 July was observed with cadre meetings and other programmes.

In Tamilnadu, 28 July was observed with programmes against the anti-people Jayalalithaa government, mobilizing people on their issues at the local committee levels. Serious efforts were taken by the district committees and various campaigns such as signature campaigns were taken up at the panchayat and area levels. On July 28 in 55 centers, around 7000 were mobilized on various issues from statutory wages for NREGA to garbage removal.

In Chennai, demonstrations were held in 5 points. Migrant workers organized a demonstration demanding implementation of Migrant workers Act and TN rules. Earlier they released a pamphlet in Hindi. Over 550 organized and unorganized workers were mobilized in these demonstrations. In Sriperumbudur meeting, a booklet on the issues of trainees was released.

In Coimbatore, comrades took up campaign in 5 centers but could hold demonstration in only one center as permission was denied in other centers. Over 100 participated in the demonstration.

In Pudukottai protest demonstrations were held demanding Rs. 132 for NREGA work, against reduction of job cards and wages as per work completed (piece rate). In 13 panchayats of over 1200 were mobilized on these main issues and other panchayat based issues. In Kanyakumari in 6 centers 1500 were mobilized on house site patta and other local issues. In Tiruvallore district demonstrations were held in 4 centers with over 800 rural poor demanding Rs. 132 for NREGA work, unemployment allowances under nrega, renovation of group houses and house site pattas. In Nagapattnam-Tanjore district demonstrations were held in 5 centers and over 800 were mobilised in these demonstration on the issues of statutory wages of Rs.132 for NREGA, wage arrears for four months since the date of announcement, etc. In Manalur area, the BDO gave assurance for implementing statutory wages immediately.

In Villupuram, demonstrations were held in 5 centers on the issues of Rs.132 for NREGA work, compensation for Thane victims and local amenities. In three centers local AIADMK men attempted to disrupt our campaign right from the stage of pamphlet distribution. But inspite of this attempt around 1000 rural poor participated in the protests in these centers.

In Namakkal district demonstrations were held in 4 centers on the issues of inclusion of power loom workers in the BPL list, toilet facility for the power loom workers in the place of work and local amenities. In Tirunelveli, demonstrations were in 6 centers demanding scrapping KKNPP and other local issues. In Salem demonstrations were held in 3 centers with 250 on issues of local amenities.

In Odisha, programmes commemorating Martyrs’ Day were held at Bhubaneswar, Rajkanika and Bhadrak with public meetings, rally and Sankalp Divas initiatives. At Bhubaneshwar, the programme was addressed by Comrades Radhakanta Sethi, Yudhistir Mohapatra and Mahendra Parida, who described the historic context and revolutionary role and continues relevance of Comrade Charu Mazumdar. The meeting was presided over by Comrade Janakirao. At Rajakanika AIPWA State Secretary Comrade Sabita Baraj and party district secretary Comrade Bidhan Das addressed the meeting. A big rally was held at Bhadrak which was addressed by Comrade Samar Bal and Comrade Jayanti of AIPWA. These meetings gave a call for the 31st August Jail Bharo agitation against corruption, land grab, corporate loot, and price rise, and also resolved to take up special membership drives on all fronts to spread the party in Odisha.

CPI(ML) Statement on Riots in Assam

The tension and violence spreading from Assam’s the Bodo Territorial Administered District and Kokhrajar has claimed over 50 lives, while an estimated 4 lakh are displaced, homeless, and forced into relief camps. The inaction and failure of Congress Government of Assam, the Central Government, and the Bodo Territorial Council Administration are squarely responsible for this escalating violence. In June 2012 itself, the warning signs of tension were there – but the Government both in Assam and the Centre have failed to act to preempt or contain the violence.

The tension in these areas is no new phenomenon. In 1983, there were clashes between Bodo and non-Bodo people; in 1996, there were Bodo-Muslim riots, and 5000 families displaced at that time continue to remain in relief camps even today; there have been clashes between Bodos and adivasis; and again 1 lakh people were affected in violence in 2008. The Government of Assam and the Centre have, throughout, failed to resolve the pending political issues and questions of land security of the Bodos as well as minorities. Clearly, even the formation of the Bodo Territorial Council is inadequate and has failed to resolve the issues, aspirations and apprehensions of the concerned communities.

The CPI(ML) strongly condemns the attempts by certain leaders of Assam as well as national leaders of the BJP to justify the violence and further foment tension by communalizing the issue and branding the Muslims who have been residing in the area for decades as ‘foreigners’.

The CPI(ML) demands that the Government of Assam and the Centre take urgent measures to contain the violence; ensure the speedy rehabilitation of the displaced and compensation for all affected families; and come down firmly on any attempts to communalise the already volatile situation. The CPI(ML) appeals to the people of Assam and the secular and democratic forces to do all they can to stop further violence, rebuff divisive forces, and strive for a peaceful and amicable resolution of the issues of political identity and sharing of resources.

On the ongoing ethnic violence in Assam: A Statement

(Excerpts from a Statement issued in Delhi on 27 July 2012, endorsed by a number of concerned organizations and individuals)

We the people from various parts of northeast residing in Delhi, along with concerned individuals, university members, various students’, teachers’, trade union, women’s, civil and human rights organisations from Delhi, strongly condemn the ongoing ethnic conflict with serious communal undertone that has erupted in four districts (Kokrajhar, Dhubri, Chirang and Bongaigaon) of Lower Assam. This has been the most widespread and alarming conflict in the recent history of Assam.

We understand that the eruption of this conflict is not ‘spontaneous’. Tensions between different communities have been prevailing, primarily over the questions of access to available resources. We understand that the Assam Government, the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) administration and the Central Government were very much in knowledge of the simmering tensions in this area. We believe that the lack of any action in abating pre-existing tensions has actively contributed in escalating the scale of violence. The massive spree of arson, violence and killings would not be possible without the knowing compliance of the state.

Both the Bodo and the Muslim population of this area have historically been at the margins of the ‘Assamese society’. However the society at large and a section of the Assamese media as well as national media have been tendentiously pointing finger at ‘illegal’ immigration from Bangladesh as the root cause of this violence. We understand that these kinds of conflicts do not arise out of simple causalities. It is important for all of us that we steer clear from raising alarm bells of xenophobia.

We condemn the use of this moment of violence and mayhem by various groups with vested interests to drive home the longstanding demand of deporting Bangladeshi immigrants. We strongly condemn all acts of violence and destruction of human lives as a means for furthering any political interests.

We demand that:

1) The violence, arson and killings must immediately stop.

2) The Assam government, BTC administration and the Central Government take full responsibility for the loss of lives and livelihood and rehabilitate all those who have been displaced.

We appeal that:

1) All sections of Assamese society play a proactive role in stopping the mayhem in these districts of Lower Assam.

2) Leading organizations of various communities in these four districts call out for a collective resolution to restore peace and normalcy.

3) The media, both regional and national, should be responsible in their reportage so that communitarian animosities do not aggravate further.

The Statement was endorsed by several organisations including the Manipur Students’ Association Delhi; Kuki Students’ Organisation Delhi; Hmar Students’ Association; Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights; Campaign for Peace and Democracy (Manipur); Manipur Womens’ Gun Survivors Network; Save Democracy Repeal AFSPA Campaign and AISA, as well as several intellectuals and activists.

28 July Martyrs’ Day:

Successful Jharkhand Bandh Against Land Grab

Forced acquisition of land from adivasis is all too common in Jharkhand. On 25 July, the entire state came to a standstill in response to a Bandh called by the CPI(ML) against land grab. Several other organisations also supported the Bandh call or gave independent calls for a Bandh on the same day. The Jharkhand Dishom Party independently called for a Bandh, and 21 organisations including the Adiovasi Jan Parishad, the Adivasi-Moolnivasi Chhatra-Yuva Sanghatan, the Sarna Prarthana Sabha, Nagdi-Chaura Zameen Bachao Morcha, and Ulgulan Mahila Manch actively participated in the Bandh, holding a torchlight procession in Ranchi on the eve of the Bandh, and holding a mass meeting on the evening of 24th July at Albert Ekka Chowk which effectively blockaded the Chowk for several hours.

The Bandh was called in the wake of the ongoing struggle of adivasis of Nagdi village near the capital Ranchi, against the attempt to grab 228 acres of fertile land. The Jharkhand Government plans to grab land of 35 villages for campuses of IIM, Law College and Triple IIT, and Nagdi was a test case. The land in question was acquired on paper way back in 1957 – but even then, adivasis waged a successful struggle, refused compensation, and retained effective control of the land. Since then the land has been cultivated every year by the adivasis, who even have proof of having paid land revenue till very recently. Some months back, the Government, seeking to regain control of the land, constructed a boundary wall around the proposed site. But the adivasis of Nagdi and all 35 villages launched a determined agitation. They began an indefinite dharna in end April, which was led by activist Dayamani Barla. On behalf of the party, AIPWA leader Comrade Guni Oraon centred in Nagdi to help lead the agitation.

The HC and SC rejected the adivasis’ petition, but the adivasis refused to accept defeat. A massive protest meeting in May was addressed among others by CPI(ML) MLA Vinod Singh, Marxist Coordination Committee MLA Arup Chatterjee, and CPI(ML) leader Bhuneshwar Kevat. On 4 July, the Nagri adivasis broke the boundary wall – and faced a severe lathicharge. CPI(ML) held a protest march the next day in Ranchi, as did other Left parties and adivasi organisations. The Nagdi protestors blockaded the main road from 5-7 July; Vinod Singh was among those who addressed the mass meeting at the blockade site. On 9 July, the Nagri protestors held a militant Raj Bhawan March, where they clashed with the police, and it was only with Vinod Singh’s intervention that their memorandum could be submitted to the Governor.

On 12 July, the All India Kisan Sabha held a Convention against the corporate grab of land, forests, water, and minerals. Representatives of struggles against corporate loot as well as a range of mass organisations, intellectuals and social activists participated in the Convention, which emphasised the need for broad-based unity in the struggle against corporate plunder of resources and displacement of adivasis and peasants.

Addressing the Convention as the main speaker, CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya said that earlier, the Government was instrumental in directly grabbing land to hand over to corporates. Faced with the political consequences of people’s resentment against land grab, however, now the Governments are seeking to take a back seat and allow corporations to acquire land directly. There are changed political circumstances too. Today, Jharkhand is a separate state, several of its Chief Ministers are adivasis, and under their patronage, Jindals and Mittals are blatantly defying laws like CNT and PESA to grab and loot forests and land. Political forces bearing the ‘Jharkhand’ name, once the new state was established, have emerged as agents of corporates rather than champions of the true spirit of a separate Jharkhand. Congress and BJP which compete for pwoer at the Centre, are united on the question of corporate plunder in Jharkhand. Comrade Dipankar called for struggles against corporate plunder and eviction to be united on new principles and a new direction, inspired by the struggles and sacrifices of Siddo-Kano, Birsa Munda, and Mahendra Singh.

The Convention was also addressed by noted intellectual and Jharkhand Jan Sanskriti Manch President Dr. BP Kesri; Father Stan Swamy, a noted activist in struggles against displacement and state repression; CPI(ML) CC Member Bahadur Oraon on behalf of the presidium; Ramashray Singh, leader of the Ghatwar Adivasi Mahasabha who spoke of the struggles of those displaced by the Maithon DVC Project at Dhanbad; CPI(ML) leader Sarayu Munda who is heading an agitation against land grab by Jindal at Patratu in Ramgarh, who also spoke of the struggle against land grab by Reliance in Badkagaon area of Hazaribagh; AIPWA leader Geeta Mandal who reported about the notorious Devghar land scam; CPI(ML) leader Rajkumar Yadav who spoke of the anti-eviction struggles in Koderma; and noted poet and JSM’s national Vice President Dr. Shambhu Badal. Comrade J P Verma proposed a 9-member Struggle Committee Against Eviction, which the Convention adopted unanimously. Comrade Chandranath Bhai Patel presented a set of political resolutions, and CPI(ML) State Committee member Anant Prasad Gupta thanked the gathering.

The Jharkhand Bandh of 25 July was very successful – and the capital Ranchi wore a deserted look, with shops, schools and transport halted, and protest marches held by various organisations. At Ranchi, the CPI(ML)’s protest march on the day of the Bandh was led by CCM Bahadur Oraon, State Secretary Janardan Prasad, State Standing Committee member Anant Prasad Gupta, Bhuneshwar Kevat, Anil Anshuman, Guni Oraon, Sarojini Bisht, and Rajendrakant Mahto. The scores of protestors were arrested at Firaylal Chowk, and taken first to the Women’s Police Station at Bazaar, and later to the Jaipal Singh Stadium Camp Jail. Party leaders including State Secretary Janardan Prasad have been booked by the police under several sections, in a completely vindictive way.

In Giridih, thousands of CPI(ML) activists made the Bandh successful. At Bagodar, the protests were led by Vinod Singh, and the GT Road was blockaded from 6 am to 1 pm. Road blockades were held at Rajdhanwar (led by Rajkumar Yadav); Bengabad (Rajesh Yadav); Jamua (Jaiprakash Verma) as wekk as Saria, Gandey, Tisri, Chatro, and several other places.

At Tilaiyya in Koderma, the Asansol-Varanasi Passenger was stopped for 1 hour. Blockades were held at Domchanch (in spite of heavy rain); Hazaribagh (led by Chandranath Bhai Patel); several places in Hazaribagh and Ramgarh districts as well as the NH-33 in Ramgarh. Hundreds of protestors at Ramgarh led by JHAMAS State President Devkinandan Bedia were arrested after a clash with the police. Blockades were held at several places in Bokaro district, and at Nirsa in Dhanbad, the National Highway was blockaded for 2 and a half hours. Protests were held at Devghar and Mohanpur in Santhal Parganas.

CPI(ML) activists were arrested at Gumla; distributed leaflets at Tata; blockaded the NH at Bundu; and were arrested while implementing the Bandh at several places in the Palamu range. At Garhwa, protestors led by Kalicharan Mehta blockaded streets and railways.

This Bandh was the first ever political state-wide strike on the burning issue of land grab, corporate plunder, and eviction. Its success reflects the political assertion of the adivasis and rural and urban poor, their anger against corporate plunder and eviction; and their disillusionment and anger with the political parties that have enjoyed power in Jharkhand. The CPI(ML) is determined to expand the unity of fighting organisations on the issue of corporate plunder and eviction, and to prepare for even more powerful and effective statewide agitation on the issue.

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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