ML Update 19 / 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 No. 19 7 – 13 MAY 2014

Remembering Karl Marx on his 196th Birth Anniversary

If we have chosen the position in life in which we can most of all work for humankind, no burdens can bow us down, because they are sacrifices for the benefit of all; then we shall experience no petty, limited, selfish joy, but our happiness will belong to millions, our deeds will live on quietly but perpetually at work, and over our ashes will be shed the hot tears of noble people.

– Marx, Letter to His Father (1837)

Yes, Comrade Karl, your deeds and words do, indeed, ‘live on quietly’ – and sometimes not so quietly – but ‘perpetually at work’!

Long Live Karl Marx!

Communal Poll Rhetoric Takes Deadly Toll in Assam

Venomous communal election rhetoric, adding fuel to long-simmering ethnic and communal fires, has taken a terrible toll in Assam. Over 30 people, most of them Muslim women and children, were massacred in Assam’s Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD).

The BTAD region has witnessed a communal massacre in 2012, and is well known to be at high risk for such violence. Why, then, did the State Government headed by the Congress’ Tarun Gogoi fail to monitor the activities of militant groups and provide proper protection for the vulnerable minorities?

The latest massacre took place in the wake of a series of communal statements during the election. In one such statement, an MLA of the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), Pramila Rani Brahma said that the BPF candidate for the Kokrajhar constituency was likely to lose as Muslims did not vote for him. She indicated that the BPF, which is now an alliance partner of the Congress in Assam, might now join hands with the BJP.

In its manifesto for Assam, the BJP’s Assam unit promised to identify and evict all ‘illegal immigrants’ from Assam; making it clear that it would treat only Muslims as “illegal immigrants” while welcoming “Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and members of the Scheduled Castes” as “refugees” from Bangladesh.

Speaking at election rallies in Assam, Modi had stoked hate against Muslims, suggesting that rhinos were being killed in Kaziranga to clear the ground for “illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.” He spewed more venom in Srirampur, West Bengal, on April 27th, saying that “illegal Bangladeshis” must keep their bags packed, since he would evict them on May 16th once he became PM. Undoubtedly, this hate-speech, branding Muslims in Assam and W Bengal as “illegal immigrants”, contributed to the horrendous election-time massacre in Kokrajhar.

Those wishing to convince themselves or us that Modi has turned a new leaf since 2002 should pay attention to Modi’s conduct after the Assam massacre. At a rally in Asansol a day after the massacre, the man projecting himself as PM-in-waiting did not utter a word of grief for the women and children killed in cold blood. He did not mention the killing at all – much as he did not mention the Gulbarg Society massacre in his address to the press on 28 February 2002, five hours after 69 Muslims including Ehsan Jafri had been massacred on his watch. Instead, Modi rubbed salt into the wounds of those killed in Assam, suggesting that after all, they were Muslims, and therefore not Indians. He said in his Asansol speech, “Those (from Bangladesh) who observe Durgashtami, they are a part of our Hindustan and they will stay here. But we will deport those who are infiltrators.” In a tweet on 4 May, Modi said, “Those who were children of Bharat Mata, those who observe Durgashtami they are my brothers. We must treat them like children of India.”

Modi’s Asansol speech and his 4 May tweet are dangerous hate-speech, above all because of the way he defines ‘Hindustan’ and ‘children of mother India’ in terms of Hindu religious customs. His speech clearly states that in his view, the acid test for whether someone is to be treated as an Indian or an illegal infiltrator, is whether they ‘observe Durgashtami’ or not. His words are thoroughly unconstitutional because they imply that those of non-Hindu faith are not “part of our Hindustan”, not “children of Bharat Mata.” Modi is making it clear that he intends to act as though India (Hindustan) is the ‘Hindusthan’ or ‘Hindu Rashtra’ of the Sangh’s fanatic dreams.

The politics of branding Muslim citizens in W Bengal and Assam as ‘illegal immigrants’ must be challenged and defeated, and at the same time, a humane and secular policy towards refugees from neighbouring countries fleeing persecution, as well as economic migrants must be evolved urgently.

After Jammu and Kashmir, Assam has the second largest proportion of Muslims, roughly a third of the state’s population, and a significant part of this population is concentrated in the districts bordering Bangladesh. However, what is important to note that much of this mass migration of Muslims who settled in these districts, happened during the period of India-Pakistan partition and again during the emergence of Bangladesh. The Assam accord fixed 1971 as the cut-off year to decide the legality of immigration. Thousands who settled after this cut-off date have already been deported. Calling the bluff of the bogey of incessant influx of ‘illegal Bangladeshi infiltration’, census figures show that since 1971, the decadal growth rate of population in Assam has been lower than the all-India growth rate. To brand Muslim citizens and voters as “illegal immigrants” is therefore a deliberate communal falsehood. The worst part is that in every pogrom in Kokrajhar, the internally displaced Muslims living in relief camps, having lost their papers in the arson, are threatened with loss of citizenship and eviction.

Modi’s ‘refugee vs infiltrator’ distinction also needs a strong rebuff. Instead of a false distinction between (Hindu) refugee and (Muslim) infiltrator, we need to stress that there are refugees and economic migrants in India across religious divides.

BJP’s Manifesto claims “India shall remain a natural home for persecuted Hindus and they shall be welcome to seek refuge here.” This is a deliberately misleading formulation. India is the natural destination of many refugees fleeing religious persecution in neighbouring countries. These include Pakistani and Bangladeshi Hindus, Hindu and Muslim Tamils from Sri Lanka, and also, Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar. India, unfortunately, is yet to sign the 1951 Refugee Convention, according to which signatory nations are obligated not to deport refugees back to countries where they face persecution. If India were to sign this Convention, refugees would be assured of humane and dignified treatment within India.

Moreover, the use of the word ‘infiltrator’ (with overtones of ‘terrorist’) for economic migrants who happen to be Muslim, is deliberately communal. India is a natural labour destination for a large number of workers from neighbouring Nepal and Bangladesh. The economic migrants from Bangladesh include both Hindus and Muslims, and like those from Nepal, deserve recognition of their right to work, and other rights in the country where their cheap labour is exploited.

In countries across the world, labour flow of economic migrants from across borders is a reality. In the US, the Obama administration has recently had to issue work permits and extend amnesty to so-called ‘illegal aliens’ from Mexico, and the huge contingent of Latina workers in the US have been demanding recognition and comprehensive rights. In India, too, a humane policy is urgently called for, to protect the rights and safety of economic migrants from Nepal and Bangladesh.

Modi and his henchman Amit Shah, throughout the election, have been using coded communal language to send signals to a potential Hindutva votebank, while avoiding action by the EC. But when Amit Shah, in his Bijnor speech, branded the whole Muslim community as a community that ‘violates the honour of our mothers and sisters’, the EC has no excuse for failing to take sterner action. Now, Amit Shah has branded the whole of Azamgarh as ‘base for terrorists’, while Modi has declared that Hindu religious practices will be the litmus test for who is Indian and who is not. These are openly communal utterances that the EC should not ignore.

Meanwhile the battle for democracy goes on. With every communal signal sent out by Modi and Co. in the hope of communal consolidation, the determination of democracy-loving Indians to defeat his dreams of turning India into a totalitarian Hindu Rashtra intensifies.

CPI(ML) Perspective on Banaras Elections and More

(Ajaz Ashraf interviewed CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya for Livemint, on the party’s stand in Banaras, and other questions. Courtesy Livemint, May 5 2014)

Why did the CPI(ML) take the decision to support Kejriwal? What does the battle for Varanasi signify to you?

Our decision to support Arvind Kejriwal in Varanasi is determined by the specific political context of the battle for Varanasi in 2014. The BJP’s bid for power in the current elections has taken the shape of a thoroughly Modi-centric campaign.

And Modi has chosen Varanasi to stake his claim for national electoral legitimacy and leadership. So it is important to oppose Modi’s Varanasi expedition and expose and challenge his variety of corporate-driven communal politics. Modi’s choice of Varanasi is also heavily loaded with political symbolism. It is a city which epitomises India’s multicultural, pluralistic legacy in a most poignant, evocative way. The Sangh brigade is out to distort this legacy and give it a communal twist. During the Sangh’s Ayodhya expedition, we often used to hear the slogan Ayodhya toh jhanki hai, Kashi-Mathura baki hai (Ayodhya is only the preview for Kashi and Mathura).

During Modi’s nomination procession we heard another ominous cry: UP Gujarat banega, Kashi shuruat karega (Gujarat will be replicated in UP and it will all start from Kashi). Coming in the wake of the Muzaffarnagar carnage, such slogans have an unmistakably horrific resonance.

All things considered, it is really important for all who stand for democracy and people’s movements to put up a bold fight against Modi’s communal and autocratic campaign in Varanasi. When Kejriwal announced his plan to contest from here, we decided to support him from the point of view of defending democracy and our pluralist legacy.

Had Kejriwal not jumped into the electoral fray in Varanasi, would the CPI(ML) have fielded a candidate from there?

Varanasi was not on our list, as we are concentrating our forces in several other seats in the region including Chandauli, Robertsganj and Mirzapur. But had Kejriwal not chosen to contest we might well have considered fielding our own candidate or supporting some other candidate against Modi.

The CPI(M) has also fielded a candidate from Varanasi. Do you wish the CPI(M) withdraws its candidate?

I respect the CPI(M)’s decision to contest. If AAP would like to secure the CPI(M)’s support, it is for the AAP leadership to reach out to the CPI(M) leadership, but I guess it’s a bit too late now. This is AAP’s debut Lok Sabha election and they decided to expand their presence by fielding as many candidates as possible. It did not really reflect a serious approach to building a party or a movement, and (after) elections (are) over, I’m sure AAP will also have enough inputs for introspection.

Why is it that a party like AAP catches the popular imagination in a way the Left hasn’t been able to?

It is true AAP has won spectacular electoral success in its very first attempt in Delhi and that has helped catch the popular imagination elsewhere. In various phases in the past and even now, various sections of the Left have also caught the imagination of the people in terrains that are much more complex and difficult than the metropolitan milieu of Delhi. The question of catching the imagination and arousing the hopes and aspirations of the people must be viewed in the larger context of serving their interests and securing and expanding the rights of the people. AAP’s journey has just begun, its ability to serve the interests of the people and, more importantly, its ability and willingness to take on the well-entrenched structures and patterns of institutionalized oppression and injustice is yet to be tested.

To be sure, the Left movement in the country is passing through a challenging phase of transition and reorientation following the decline of the CPI(M)-led model, whether in West Bengal or in national politics. The CPI(ML) and various mass organizations associated with it are playing an important role in advancing the democratic movement and upholding the revolutionary banner in a whole range of conditions and contexts.

The rise of AAP at this juncture is surely an interesting development with lots of possibilities. As the battle against corporate plunder and corporate subversion of democracy intensifies, the revolutionary Left and AAP will hopefully assess their respective positions and explore possibilities of meaningful cooperation.

How does the Left handle the culture of consumerism, in which there are people whom it looks upon as its natural social base?

The social base of the Left movement still predominantly comprises the rural poor and the unorganized sector of the working people who are not really considered eligible consumers by the globalizing Indian economy. Their consumption demands are driven by basic needs and surely not by luxury and greed.

Far from promoting the mythical prosperity of an ever-expanding middle class, capitalism today is seen to be polarising the society into a tiny top of the super-rich with their extravagant and elitist lifestyles and an overwhelming majority of working people subjected to the pincer attacks of the state and the market leading to acute under-consumption and forced austerity.

The extreme inequality and massive environmental degradation that stare us in the face will definitely catalyse a major social, political and cultural churning. Rather than worrying about the pitfalls of consumerism, we would like to get the most out of this churning.

MAY DAY 2014

This year the 128th May Day poses a challenge before the working class to root out the communal, fascist, and corporate capitalist nexus. The challenge is for changing the present policies and taking forward the struggle for pro-people policy building and fighting for all democratic rights including trade union rights. Taking inspiration from the historic two-day strike on 20-21 Feb 2013 and the ongoing democratic movements across the country, it is only through a strong and pervasive workers’ and people’s movement that the ugly rearing head of fascism can be crushed. AICCTU organized programmes across the country to take the message of this challenge and responsibility to the working class. May Day was observed in all the states and working class centres all over the country, while the reports from many places are still awaited here are some we have received so far.

In Delhi, as in the past years, May Day was celebrated jointly by May Day Organising Committee of which AICCTU, AITUC, CITU, HMS, UTUC, TUCC, Mazdoor Ekta Committee, and various workers’ federations are the constitutents. The May Day procession attended by thousands of workers proceeded from Ramlila Maidan to Town Hall (Chandni Chowk) where a public meeting was held. On behalf of AICCTU the meeting was addressed by Delhi State Secretary Santosh Rai. The meeting was also addressed by AITUC General Secretary Gurudas Dasgupta, CITU Secretary Swadesh Debroy, and HMS General Secretary Harbhajan Singh Siddhu among others.

May Day programmes were also organized at Wazirpur, Narela, and Noida by the unions affiliated with AICCTU.

In Karnataka, an impressive and enthusiastic rally of 3000 workers was organized in the capital Bangalore under the banner of AICCTU, which was the biggest May Day rally in the State. Different sections of the working class, including the most oppressed, took part in the rally, from sanitation workers to computer operators, contract workers from Central and State public sector units (HCSCL, HAL, BHEL, etc.), nursing staff from government hospitals, vendors, and workers from various corporate and multinational companies like Bosch, Lafarge, Stump Schule, Somappa Spring, etc.

A gate meeting was organized at Bharat Earth Movers Limited in Kolar Gold Fields which was attended by workers in large numbers. Flag hoisting and meetings of construction and stone workers were organized throughout Kolar district.

May Day celebrations at Mangalore and Manipal started with flag hoisting at Prism Cements and Readymix plant at Manipal. At Mangalore’s Bekampadi industrial area, hundreds of workers took out a rally from the LPG plant of Bharat Petroleum.

At Sakleshpur in Hassan district AICCTU workers from the power sector (IPCL etc.) hoisted the flag and took out a rally followed by a meeting.

In Bihar, After flag hoisting at Patna AICCTU office by State General Secretary RN Thakur, a rally was taken out. A procession was taken out in Phulwari. The joint rally and meeting at Patna was addressed by ranvijay and RN Thakur on behalf of AICCTU.

In Bhagalpur town hundreds of unorganized sector workers affiliated to AICCTU observed May Day by remembering the martyrs who strengthened the foundation of the workers’ movement with their martyrdom. On the occasion workers’ rallies were taken out from the four central points of the town, participated in by hundreds of workers from AICCTU affiliate Bihar Rajya Nirman Mazdoor Union, Riksha-Thela-Tam Tam Chalak Sangh, Asangathith Kamgar Mahasangh, Mahila Kamgar Union, and Bidi Bunkar Motor Transport Mazdoor Union. All the rallies converged into a public meeting at Ghantaghar Chowk. The meeting demanded taking back of CCA put on kissan leader Randhir Yadav and false cases slapped on student and workers’ leaders. In the evening a joint rally was taken out with AITUC and CITU addressed by SK Sharma and Mukesh Mukt on behalf of AICCTU.

A meeting was organized at Patepur in Vaishali which was addressed by CPI-ML General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya after tributes were paid to the Chicago martyrs. Flag hoisting at Hajipur Industrial Area was followed by a mass meeting.

At Purnea a huge rally was taken out from the stadium with the largest participation of unorganized sector workers, which proceeded through the main roads of the town and culminated in a meeting at Ajit Sarkar Chowk.

At Ara, AICCTU and Karmchari Mahasangh Gope Group organized a discussion and meeting. The speakers included Yadunandan Chowdhuri, Balmukund Chowdhuri, Madan Prasad, Janki Singh, and Akhilesh Prasad. At Khagariya, construction workers’ Union and Karmachari Mahasangh (Gope Gut) organized a rally. At Gaya, a seminar was held in which workers from various sections participated. In Darbhanga the flag hoisting and meeting was organized. A rally and meeting with an impressive participation by unorganized sector workers was taken out at Jehanabad.

JHARKHAND: At Ranchi, AICCTU affiliate Jharkhand Nirman Mazdoor Union took out an Adhikar rally under its banner from Harmu Bijli Market which proceeded from Harmu Chowk and culminated in a meeting at Harmu Mazdoor Maidan. At the outset a 2-minute silence was observed to pay tribute to the May Day martyrs. The meeting was addressed by senior CPI-ML leader Bahadur Oraon, and other leaders.

In Khunti, May Day was celebrated for the first time organised by AICCTU. The meeting at Manda Maidan, was attended by hundreds of workers.

At Mugma area (ECL) of Dhanbad district prabhat pheri was taken out in all the collieries and tribute was paid to martyrs by flag hoisting. Prabhat pheri and flag hoisting was also organized at all the collieries in BCCL area 12 of Patlabadi. In the evening a meeting was organized at Junkudar of BCCL area 12. Programmes were also organized at all the collieries in ECL of Mugma area. In the evening a seminar was held in Dhaura (basti) with the participation of workers from Baijna colliery. Prabhat pheri and flag hoisting was also organized at BCCL area 10 and 11. Meetings were also organized in area 11 AICCTU office and Dhanbad district office.

At Bokaro a prabhat pheri proceeded from sector 3, through sector 2 and 4, and returned to sector 3 where a meeting was held after flag hoisting. Pamphlets were distributed in the Steel Plant.

At Bandhedih power plant in Koderma district a morning meeting with flag hoisting was held with the participation of hundreds of workers and tributes were paid to the martyrs. The meeting was also addressed by CPI-ML leader Rajkumar Yadav. In the evening a meeting of construction workers was held in the CD Girls’ School grounds at Jhumri Talaiyya in Koderma district.

In Chhota Govindpur mohalla of Tatanagar a meeting and flag hoisting was organized at Veer Kunwar Singh stadium. At Ramgarh hundreds of workers gathered under the banner of Jharkhand Nirman Mazdoor Union to take out a rally in the town and organized a meeting at Subhash Chowk. This gave a call to step up the workers’ movement. A meeting was held with the participation of hundreds of workers from the Jharkhand Ispat factory. The flag was hoisted by district President Vijendra Prasad. A 11-point charter of demands was also submitted to the factory administration. May Day programmes were organized at CMW office in CCL Ara Kanta. Flag hoisting was done and the meeting was held. A meeting was held at Topa colliery after flag hoisting. A joint programme at Giddi colliery was addressed by Bhaiyyalal Besra and Baijnath Mistry on behalf of CMW. Arajpatrit Karmchari Mahasangh organized a meeting and flag hoisting at Hazaribagh town.

UTTAR PRADESH: May day was celebrated in several places in UP by AICCTU and affiliated unions. At Labour Chowraha of Jhunsi in Allahabad a public meeting and flag hoisting was organized. A public meeting was held at Jal Sansthan, Allahabad. A rally was taken out by Safai Mazdoor Ekta Manch from the municipal office to Subhash Chowraha civil lines followed by a public meeting organized by May Day Samaroh Samiti.

At Jalaun the Palledar union organized a rally and public meeting. At Faizabad the construction workers’ union organized a public meeting. The contract workers’ union in Ayodhya held a public meeting. At Lucknow the construction workers’ union organized a public meeting. On the occasion of May Day, Paliya Bajaj Sugar Mill Mazdoor Union, Paliya Kalan, Kheeri, organized a public meeting at Colony gate.

At Kanpur Sajha Manch organized a joint meeting at Ram Aasre Park which was addressed by State President Hari Singh on behalf of AICCTU. A charter of demands to be submitted to the next government was also passed at this meeting. AICCTU also organized a sankalp sabha at Nirala Nagar Mazdoor Chowk and paid tribute to martyred workers.

ASSAM: In Tinsukiya, AICCTU and affiliated union Asom Sangrami Chah Shramik Sangh observed May Day in village Gutibari, the home of martyr Gangaram Kol. Thousands of tea garden workers participated in the meeting. Prior to the meeting a rally was taken out in Panitola area. Many new tea garden workers participated in this programme. The flag was hoisted by AICCTU State Secretary Subhash Sen and the tribute programme at Shaheed Smarak was inaugurated by Gangaram Kol’s wife Sokhila Kol. Two resolutions were passed in the meeting: first, to speed up the CBI enquiry into the murder of Gangaram Kol, and to strengthen the protests against the attempts to shield the guilty in this matter, and second, to accelerate the movement to include the tea workers’ ration at the rate of Rs. 14.20 in their basic pay for the purpose of calculating their bonus.

May Day programmes were organized at Mariyani, Jorhat under the leadership of Bibek Das and Jiten Tanti, at Nungati, Guwahati under the banner of United Workmen’s Union, and at Silchar and Naugaon under the leadership of Tea Garden Union and Asha Karmi Union. A rally was taken out at Dibrugarh and Tingkhong with good participation of tea garden workers and construction workers.

At Guwahati May Day was observed under the joint banners of central trade unions and federations. At Dibrugarh AICCTU, AITUC and CITU took out a joint rally.

In Bhilai, Chhatisgarh, a rally and meeting was organized with good participation of Bhilai Municipal Corporation sanitation workers at Supela Chowk. A memorandum was submitted to contract company “Kiwar” through the meeting, and talks were held with the management on the problems faced by workers. Rallies of contract sanitation workers were also taken out in the municipalities of Bhilai, Charoda, and Kumhari. In the morning hours, parchas were distributed at the Maroda and Joratarai gates of Bhilai Steel Plant.

A public meeting was organized at Rasmarha (Durg district).

In Puducheri town and Karayakal, flag hoisting and meetings were organized at AICCTU and CPI-ML offices. All the unions affiliated to AICCTU participated in these programmes.

In Tamilnadu, after 148 days of strike in Jimkhana club, agreement reached between management and the union and 250 workers observed this May day on a victorious note. They re- entered into the premises on 2nd May – 150th Day of their strike. In Child trust hospital, where AICCTU affiliated union put forth Charter of demands for the new settlement, workers enthusiastically participated in this May day. Workers of Agarval bhavan, known for its sweets and savories’ took part in the May Day programmes at the Ayanavaram union office.

Ambattur is our traditional area of work, where flag hoisting in factories such as On load gears, Standard chemicals, Sai meera, Climax, Jay engineering works Siracal automotive and Mercury fittings were organized and also Flag hoisting by construction and Workers right movement in five branches in workers residential areas. Two newly affiliated unions M K P Casting and Topaz tools (P) Ltd also observed this May day by hoisting of AICCTU Flag in their respective gates.

Management, Police and Local thugs tried to prevent Mayday rally and Public meeting at Automobile hub of Sunguvar chatram of Kanchipuram district which was thwarted by Trade Union activists and 200 workers participated in a colourful rally jointly organized by AICCTU and RYA. Rally with banners, placards and festoons of Bhagat Singh was flagged off by Iraniappan, State Secretary of AICCTU. Public meeting was addressed by Kumarasamy, National President of AICCTU. About 20 workers victimized by MNC managements of Huyandai, Nokia, Asian paints, Nippon exports, C&F, etc. were felicitated at the stage. A public meeting jointly organised by Asian Paints and Nippon Exports was also held. Thousands of pamphlets were distributed among workers of this area and hundreds of wall posters also released.

In Thiruvellore district, May day flag hoisting were organized in 33 places. It was jointly taken up by CPI(ML), AICCTU and AIALA. Rally was participated by various sections of working class including street vendors, rice mill workers, van and car drivers, load-men, auto drivers, factory workers of Jumbo bag and Kiran Global, construction workers and onion basket making workers. At the end of the rally a public meeting was held. Pamphlets were distributed and posters displayed on the eve of the May Day. Meeting also paid tributes by observing 2-minutes silence for the Victims of bomb blast at Chennai railway station.

Surface Transport drivers and cleaners association held a May day public meeting and flag hoisting at the entrance of Shereif Logistics, Minjiur, Kavundar Palayam, Thiruvellore district. About 150 drivers belonging to Indo Transport, Shereif & sons, Orange transport, ASK transport and Nijapatham Transport took part .

A joint trade union rally in Viralimalai was organised. Workers of Xomox, Irizar TVS, Rane power steering, Rane engine valves, SRF, Cethar vessals held meetings and union flags were hoisted at respective factory gates. At the end of the rally a meeting was held. In Namakkal district May day was observed by hoisting flags at 13 places at Kumarapalayam and Thanttankottai areas. In Salem Flag hoisting took place at 24 centers including 3 in rural areas and 1 by the Co-optex employees union. There were meetings held at 6 places. In Tirunelveli workers took out a two-wheeler rally in the city and addressed gatherings at 5 places. Flag hosting took place at 10 centers.

In Coimbatore, workers assembled in front of the Pricol plant-3 and hoisted flag rendering slogans remembering May Day martyrs. Then workers in 400 two-wheelers with flags reached plant-1 in a rally. Workers of Suba Plactics also joined them. May Day was observed in plant-1 also. In Shanthi Gears flags were hoisted at three entry points with the participation of more than 500 workers.

May day was observed in Civil Supply Corporation by hoisting flags in 13 centers throughout Tamilnadu including Dharmapuri, Tirupur, Vilupuram and Coimbatore. May day was also observed in Dindigul, Theni, Tanjore and Karur districts.

Obituary

Father Thomas Kocherry passed away on 3 May. Thomas Kocherry was a social activist, priest, and lawyer who helped found the independent fishworkers union, the Kerala Swatantra Matsyathozhilali Federation. He was committed to organising fishworkers against the big fishing cartels and mafias. He was also a Special Invitee at World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) and Executive Committee Member of National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF), India.

He had been part of the campaign for justice for Bathani Tola and Laxmanpur Bathe, and had expressed solidarity with CPI(ML)’s initiatives and struggles on many occasions.

Just hours before he passed away from a heart attack, he had written an article exposing Modi’s model of development and his communal, corporate-driven politics. When Amit Shah said the Modi wave was a tsunami, Thomas Kocherry had reminded people that fishworkers recognise and fear a tsunami as a force of destruction – and India’s people should, likewise, beware of the Modi tsunami.

CPI(ML) Liberation and all democratic movements have lost a very good friend and comrade. But Thomas Kocherry’s legacy will live on – in the struggles of working people, in movements challenging plunder and exploitation, in anti-communal struggles, everywhere.

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