ML UPDATE 14 / 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 No. 14 2-8 APR 2014

Crafting an Image for Modi:

Communalisation,

Politicisation of Terror Investigations

In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections 2014, several instances of politically-motivated violence have been witnessed. The communal violence at Muzaffarnagar, intended to sharpen communal polarisation and consolidate the dominant and majority community in UP and neighbouring states in favour of the BJP, is a prominent instance. In Bihar, the murder of a young Muslim schoolteacher Akbar Khan followed by the murder of CPI(ML) Liberation leader Budhram Paswan, have also been used to serve a political purpose.

Following Comrade Budhram’s murder, feudal forces fired celebratory shots in the air, aiming to terrorise the poor supporters of CPI(ML). Following Akbar’s murder, there was a malicious attempt to spread a rumour that he was killed because he cheered for Pakistan in a cricket match. Fortunately the communal canard failed, because the young Akbar, who used to teach poor children for free and organise actions to keep the streets free of sexual harassment for schoolgirls, enjoyed the affection and respect of local people of all communities. As the elections unfold, it is disturbing to note a trend of communalisation and politicisation of terror investigations. In the month of March, there has been a concerted attempt by investigative agencies and by sections of the media, to create an image of the BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi, as a leader who is the target of terrorists and to foster suspicion and hatred against the minority community as well. Following the arrest of 4 youths in Rajasthan recently, the media carried many stories claiming – supposedly based on ‘IB alerts’ that these four men were part of a terror plot against Modi. The Delhi Police Special Cell that made the arrests chose to hold a Press Conference about the arrests. What was the need for a Press Conference in an ongoing investigation, when no substantial facts are available? Such an exercise, in an election season, smacks of a political motive.

In Bihar, the conduct of the NIA in the investigation of the Bodh Gaya and Patna blasts, has reeked of shocking political bias as well as rampant torture. The supposed investigation has rested on the detention and torture of teenage boys, in an attempt to extract false ‘confessions,’ and the terrorisation and intimidation of an entire community. 19-year old Aslam Parvez from Abgila village, Arwal district, Bihar, has been held in NIA custody since March 5th. Papers report that he has been produced in a Ranchi court on March 31st. His father and other family members, who saw him in NIA custody in Delhi testify to the fact that he had been severely tortured. In a blatant display of political bias and intimidation, Aslam Parvez’s father Maksood Alam was asked by the NIA why he would not vote for Modi! Aslam Parvez’s cousin Irfan Ansari had been picked up on March 1st, and tortured in NIA custody: in Jehanabad, he was stripped naked and beaten on his legs and soles of the foot. In NIA custody in Delhi, soap was put in his mouth, and his head was held under water repeatedly. A chair was placed on his chest, and NIA personnel would sit on the arms of the chair to create unbearable pressure on his body. He put be placed in a room all night with no clothes on, with the fan on. Irfan Ansari was told by the NIA – ‘We’ll ensure that no Muslim from Arwal ever gets a government job.’ Several other young men from Abgila village were also detained and interrogated by the NIA; they were warned not to tell anyone about the torture.

The NIA Act is a draconian law under which an accused can be held in police custody for 30 days, and further detained without charges for

180 days: the case of Aslam Parvez clearly shows that such powers are a licence for extracting false confessions under torture.

The above facts emerged during a visit to Arwal by a team comprising CPI(ML) Liberation and the Rihai Manch of UP, a platform of activists and lawyers working to ensure that civil liberties are respected in terror investigations.

The BJP candidate from Ara LS, RK Singh, has been saying in speeches that as former Home Secretary, he is privy to knowledge that Modi is a prime target for terrorists. NIA during interrogations, asks the father of a detainee, why he doesn’t vote for Modi. The electoral purpose of such unsubstantiated assertions and biased line of questioning is obvious.

The political bias displayed by the NIA in Arwal further shows that terror investigations seem to following a political script. Such political bias and the use of torture, can never serve the cause of the truth or identify the true perpetrators of terror attacks.

Communal Profiling in Terror Investigations:

Report from Abgila, Arwal, Bihar

A team comprising CPI(ML) leaders Dhirendra Jha, Kavita Krishnan, Mohd Salim, Rajaram and Mahanand, as well as senior advocates and activists of Rihai Manch, Mohd Shoaib and Asad Hyatt, visited Abgila village in Arwal district on March 31, 2014. Below, we summarise what the team was told by people of the village:

NIA asks ‘Why won’t you vote for Modi?’

Maqsood Alam, father of 19-year old Aslam Parvez told the team that his son has been held in NIA custody since March 5th. Alam had taken his son to Karauna OP of Jehanabad after being informed by the police to present himself there. In his presence, his son was beaten by the NIA team and asked to confess to involvement in the blasts. Subsequently, he was held in NIA custody in Delhi and papers reported on April 1 that he was produced in a Ranchi court on March 31st and that he has ‘confessed’ to involvement in the blasts.’

Maqsood Alam and other family members were told by the NIA to present themselves in Delhi on the day of Holi. Alam saw his son in NIA custody in Delhi, and according to him, ‘Aslam Parvez appeared crazed by torture, talking incoherent rubbish. It was heartrending to see my young son in this condition.’

Maqsood Alam himself was interrogated by the NIA. During interrogation he was asked to which party he belonged, to which he replied ‘Maaley’

(CPIML Liberation is known in Bihar by this name). Asked ‘What’s Maaley’, he replied ‘It’s Dipankarji’s party (Dipankar Bhattacharya is the party General Secretary)’. To which an NIA interrogator asked him, ‘Why won’t you and your family support Modi, vote for Modi?’ Maksood Alam is a homoeopathic doctor; the NIA also tried to instigate his landlord to evict his clinic from the premises.

Severe Torture, Threats and Intimidation of Entire Community

Aslam Parvez’s cousin Irfan Ansari had been picked up on March 1st, and tortured in NIA custody. In Jehanabad, he was stripped naked and beaten on his legs and soles of the foot. In NIA custody in Delhi, soap was put in his mouth, and his head was held under water repeatedly. A chair was placed on his chest, and NIA personnel would sit on the arms of the chair to create unbearable pressure on his body. He put be placed in a room all night with no clothes on, with the fan on. Irfan Ansari said the NIA told him – ‘We’ll ensure that no Muslim from Arwal ever gets a government job.’ Irfan has been selected for the CRPF, and the NIA told him that they would ensure that he lost his place.

Irfan was asked to confess to having introduced Aslam Parvez to some ‘Hyder’ and to have been in Gaya on the day of the Bodh Gaya blasts (7 July 2013). He had in fact travelled by train to Asansol via Dhanbad; and the train passes through Gaya. However, he said he never alighted at Gaya. He was shown photographs of persons and asked, under torture, to identify them – but he was unable to do so.

Irfan was released and told that he would be interrogated again at a later date.

During interrogation by the NIA in Delhi, Manzoor Alam was brought face to face with Aslam Parvez, and the latter said to Manzoor, "We met together at Gaya with Irfan and Hyder to plan the Bodh Gaya blasts." Manzoor Alam said that Aslam Parvez’s manner revealed that he was under duress and severe torture.

Irfan’s brothers Rustom and Sohrab, Murtaza Ansari, Parvez Alam, Sarfaraz, Sarfuddin and Naushad Alam are some of the other youth from the village who have been summoned and interrogated by the NIA. There is an atmosphere of palpable terror, with every youth living in the village fears that he will be tortured and branded a terrorist.

The NIA Act is a draconian law under which an accused can be held in police custody for 30 days, and further detained without charges for 180 days. For Aslam Parvez, this has meant that the NIA has the powers to extract false confessions under torture.

The whole episode displays a disturbing trend of politicisation and communalisation of terror investigations.

Anniversary of Martyrdom of Com. Gangaram Koal

Workers Rights demand Day observed

25th March, 2014, the 1st Anniversary of Martyrdom of Com. Gangaram Koal was observed as ‘workers rights demand day’ in different districts of Assam. CPI(ML), AICCTU, ASCSS (Asom Sangrami Chah Sramik Sangha) organised meetings and protest processions on this occasion.

In Panitola under Tinsukia district CPI(ML) and ASCSS leader Gangaram Koal, was killed last year, and massive protests demanding arrest of culprits, including local MLA Raju Chahu, have still been continuing in the state.

Tinsukia district committee of CPI(ML) on his 1st anniversary opened Gangaram Koal Memorial complex in his native villege Gutibari. A mass meeting of around 800 people was organised which was addressed by Subhas Sen, party’s district secy, who called upon the people to defeat Congress, the party in the power, which defends culprits of Com. Koal. Other leaders including Subhrajyoti, Denish Orang, Devnath Mazhi, and those from various other organisations, attended the programme.

In Bargang, Sonitpur district, a protest procession of around 1000 people was brought out demanding arrest of killers of Com. Gangaram Koal. The procession was converted into a protest meeting where Bibek Das, CPI(ML) Assam State Secy, Lila Sarma district secy, Lakshmi Kanta Kurmi ASCSS leader and candidate of Tezpur Lok Sabha constituency delivered their speeches.

The Day was also observed in Tingkhong (Dibrugarh district), Jorhat, Nagaon, Silchar and Guwahati.

In Guwahati a meeting was jointly called by CPI(ML), AICCTU and United Workmen Union at Noonmati. The meeting was attended by workers of different industries and AICCTU affiliated unions. The meeting was presided over by AICCTU’s state president Biren Kalita. While addressing as main speaker, Rubul Sarma, PB member of the party discussed about party’s participation in the ensuing Lok Sabha polls and called upon all participants to take active role in election campaign. Loknath Goswami, Pankaj Das, Janik Barman, representatives from Asam Carban Employees and Workers’ Union, India Carban Employees and Workers’ Union, Builtworth Workers’ Union, Refinery Employees co-operative workers’ Union, and All Assam Construction Workers’ Union addressed the meeting. The meeting demanded immediate arrest of all culprits of Gangaram Koal murder and called upon the people to defeat Congress, the party that is defending the killers of Gangaram Koal. The meeting reiterated that struggle will continue until the culprits get punishment and resolved to hold high the sacrifice of the martyr comrade.

Uttarakhand Pony-Porters’ Union

Uttarakhand Pony-Porters’ Union in Dharchula is on agitation path and has given a 2-point memorandum to the DM for wage increase as well as fixing of load limit to be carried by them and their ponies.

The wages of the porters of Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra are officially decided by the District Magistrate. The Union has demanded a 20 percent increase in wages and to decrease the maximum load to be carried by them above the altitude of 14,000 ft upto 13 kg and by their ponies upto 35 kg limit.

CPI(ML) Election Campaign in Pithoragarh

CPI(ML) activists have covered hundreds of kilometers on foot during a Jan Davedaari Yatra (People’s Assertion Campaign) in second week of March to reach out to thousands of households in distant hills of Pithoragarh. While they made a lively dialogue on various issues party is raising in this election, it was quite disheartening to know that people in those villages still living under the trauma of devastating calamity happened last year as no relief and rehabilitation measures have reached to them significantly, even government officials and elected representatives have not cared to visit them. As roads and pathways are still unrepaired, people in dozens of villages have to spend thousands of rupees only on cartage of essential goods like foodgrains leading to unaffordable costs and hardships. The common salt can be purchased only by paying upto Rs. 70 for a kilogram! Then sorry plight of facilities like health, education, transport, and electricity can easily be understood.

The CPI(ML) has demanded that at least rations be supplied free of cost till the situation gets normal. With governmental and administrative apathy, the last year’s calamity stands prolonged indefinitely for those villagers of Dharchula district. The plight of such people in other districts of the state is no better.

Continuing with the campaign, the third week of March was spent on general propaganda in Dharchula town as well as rural areas, where activists campaigned against candidates representing parties, especially Congress and BJP, fostering on corporate money and corruption and asked for contribution for the campaign of CPI(ML) Candidate Vijay Kumar. Many people came forward not only to contribute funds but also to support and campaign for the issues party is raising. The major issues being raised there, besides the Charter of Demands and Manifesto of party, are an effective relief and rehabilitation policy, to give at least 3 acres of land in terai area to the calamity displaced families, proper development package for these border areas and, most importantly, the dignity of the people. It is well known fact that two chief ministers, Vijay Bahuguna and Harish Rawat, have completely failed in rehabilitating the affected people irrespective of various false claims being made by them.

A block level cadre convention was held on March 30 in Dharchula which was addressed by comrade Vijay Kumar who visited this region during his election campaign of Almora-Pithoragarh parliamentay seat. This was also addressed by party’s State Standing Committee member Purushottam Sharma who told that 56 big scams were reported during Congress govt. in state while this number was 65 for the BJP governments, and not a single case has been registered so far for any of the scams.

Party activists are engaged in similar campaigns in Garhwal and Nainital constituencies too involving a large number of youth and students.

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