ML Update 30 | 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 | No. 30 | 22 – 28 JUL 2014

BRICS Summit

Potential and Inherent Limitations

The sixth BRICS summit was held at Fortaleza, Brazil on 15 July 2014 in the immediate aftermath of the World Cup football tournament, also hosted by Brazil. The Fortaleza summit produced a 72-point declaration and a 23-point action plan, and was followed by a larger meeting with leaders of UNASUR, the regional forum of South American nations including Brazil. The highlight of the sixth BRICS summit has been the announcement of the agreement to launch the BRICS bank, called the New Development Bank (NDB), and a common fund called the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), to help member countries cope with any possible short-term balance of payments pressure.

BRICS is a unique cross-continental grouping of five countries with little in common in terms of their specific historical, cultural or geo-political background. It is a peculiar reflection of the developing situation where the former number two and current number two of the world economy – Russia and China – have joined hands with three emerging economies across continents to defend their shared economic interests. It is significant that the grouping has taken shape in the backdrop of the global financial crisis which has had a more adverse impact on the three traditionally dominant centres of post-War global capitalist economy – the US, Western Europe and Japan – than these emerging players.

It is futile to look for signs of any radically alternative economic policy approach in BRICS declarations. All five members of BRICS are closely integrated with the existing processes of economic globalisation. But the commitment to the UN and multilateralism as against the unilateral domination of the US and other western powers, the quest for greater freedom for developing countries from the domination of dollar and the Fund-Bank establishment, and the stress on infrastructural investment and state-owned firms and small and medium enterprises as opposed to the unmitigated domination of speculative finance and MNCs do mark some areas of contention within the ongoing processes of globalisation.

The real challenges to the development of the BRICS potential come from the conflicting strategic priorities of member countries, particularly India. If BRICS really has to emerge as a platform of economic cooperation for the global south in opposition to the disastrous hegemony of the Fund-Bank establishment, the spearhead must be directed consistently against the US. Yet, the Indian ruling classes remain bound by the dictates of New Delhi’s strategic partnership (a euphemism for subservience) with Washington. The insistence on a pro-US foreign policy reinforcing the Indian ruling classes’ growing integration with the structures of neoliberal globalisation undermines India’s potential as a responsible contributor to BRICS.

The contrast between Modi’s BRICS braggadocio and India’s shameful silence and advocacy of neutrality on the issue of Israel’s war on Gaza has once again exposed the foreign policy hypocrisy of the Indian ruling classes. The BJP’s inability, nay refusal, to boldly advocate and stand by the Palestinian people’s integral right to peace, dignity and independence in the face of the US-backed Zionist offensive of Israel, only goes to expose the hollowness of India’s pro-global south posturing in the global economic arena.

While BRICS remains relevant in the context of the growing worldwide quest for multipolarity and freedom from the oppressive domination of the Fund-Bank establishment and the hegemony of dollar, popular pressure must be developed within India for reorienting India’s economic and foreign policies in correspondence with the BRICS theme of greater assertion of the global south. Brazil is trying to dovetail its role in BRICS with the perspective of greater economic and political cohesion with other South American countries; India must also combine her commitment to BRICS with closer cooperation with SAARC and other Asian countries.

Dharna at Lucknow Against Rape and Murder

AISA activists held a dharna at Saraswati Vatika in Lucknow University on 22 July 2014 to protest against the brutal incident of rape and murder in Mohanlalganj, the subsequent attempts by the administration to cover up the incident with false stories, and attempts of the Samajwadi Party leaders to hide behind false statistics.

Addressing the dharna AISA State President Sudhanshu Bajpayi said that today the incidents of sexual violence in the State as well as the country are on the rise. Putting the central government also in the dock he said that our Prime Minister is silent on such an inhuman crime, and these crimes are being perpetrated on the very home ground of the Home Minister, and yet our Home Minister remains silent. Cornering the State government he said that it is evident from the manner in which the top officials of the administration are giving evasive reports about the incident, that the administration is bent on shielding the criminals.

Sudhanshu Bajpayi also strongly opposed the ploy of hiding behind false statistics by the Samajwadi Party leaders. He pointed out that the State government has totally failed to maintain the law and order system in the State; moreover, the SP leaders are defending their failure by saying that in a State with such a high population like U.P., these incidents are actually quite low. He said that if the government is incapable of maintaining the law and order system, it has no right to remain in power.

AISA campus secretary Nitish Kanaujiya, campus Vice President Ashwini Yadav, Apoorva Verma, Shalini, Chandrakant, Rajiv Gupta, Sushant and others participated in the dharna.

Ramgarh’s Dalits Threatened As They Testify in Court Against Attack

Dalits of Ramgarh village (Dadri, UP), have begun testifying in court against the gram pradhan Kuldeep Bhati and his henchmen, who had subjected them to a murderous attack on March 14, 2012. They have been waging their battle for justice under the banner of the CPI(ML). To prevent them from testifying in court, or to pressure them to turn hostile, the gram pradhan and his men have intensified their campaign of intimidation.

A CPI(ML) team comprising PB member Kavita Krishnan, State Committee members Aslam Khan and Shyamkishor, as well as Anas Kidwai, Mohit Kashyap, Rituparna Biswas and Prashant Gupta of RYA, Susanne Adley visited Ramgarh on July 20, 2014.

The March 14th Attack

On March 14, 2012, the Dalit Jatav families of Ramgarh (Dadri, UP) had been subjected to an assault by the gram pradhan Kuldeep Bhati, and his henchmen. This attack, happening soon after the UP Assembly poll results, had the purpose of punishing the Jatavs from having staked claim to panchayat land that had been allocated to Dalits as homestead plots.

Men, women and even old people were attacked with rods and axes in their houses, which left dozens of them with broken bones and skull injuries.

One of the youths who had been at the forefront of this battle, Tikaram, had his legs chopped off in July 2013 by Bhati and his supporters.

Fresh Intimidation

The first testimony in the case against the perpetrators of the 14th March, 2012 attack, was registered in the Gautam Budh Nagar District Court (Surajkund) on 2nd June, 2014. Brahm Jatav was to appear in court again on 23rd July, where the lawyer for six of the accused would cross-examine him.

Brahm is the first and one of the key witnesses in the whole case. There are 19 other witnesses from the Dalit community, apart from the police witnesses. Now, ‘Operation Intimidation’ is on, to silence their voice.

Brahm told us that the Dalits were asked to attend a Gujjar Panchayat on 8th June to ‘settle’ the ‘dispute’. He and other Dalits were reluctant to go, but some of Bhati’s men came to Brahm’s home and pressurised him and other Dalit youth to attend. Brahm asked that the Panchayat be held on neutral ground. Instead it was held in an area completely populated by the dominant caste, locally known as the Dak Bangla.

At Brahm’s home, Bhati’s men accused Brahm, Tikaram’s brother Bhuvanesh and other Dalits of ‘harbouring Pakistani terrorists’ in their homes. This was a transparent insinuation against CPI(ML) activists Aslam Khan as well as RYA activists Anas Kidwai and others who happen to be Muslim. At that time, RYA activists Anas Kidwai and Prashant Gupta were at Tikaram’s house. Seven of Kuldeep Bhati’s henchmen, packed with pistols, arrived there to ‘meet’ Anas and Prashant. Barely veiling their threats, they told Anas and Prashant, “Why are you interfering in village matters? We would not like something bad to happen to you. There are more than a 100 of us gathered close by.” The henchmen then coerced seven of the Dalit youths to go to the panchayat.

This was the day after the murder, in Dadri, of BJP leader Vijay Pandit. As a consequence, Section 144 was imposed in the area, prohibiting mass gatherings. Yet, when Brahm and the handful of Dalit youth arrived at the panchayat, they found 150 people gathered there. This was a gathering of dominant caste men, from a total of 12 villages. Though this massive armed gathering was in clear violation of Section 144, the police were nowhere to be seen; they had turned a tacit blind eye.

“They had lathis and pistols with them,” said Brahm, “The gathering was menacing and did not inspire confidence in us.” The panchayat began by reminding the Dalits of the borrowed money they owed to the dominant case lenders. They asked for the money back, on the spot: “We’ll tie you here and keep you till you pay.” Having begun on an offensive note, they then began to talk of a ‘compromise.’

Bhati’s men said that they would clear the occupation of the 4.75 bighas of panchayat land, and would pay medical expenses incurred by the Dalits injured in the attacks, and in return the Dalits must agree to sign an affidavit on a ‘stamp paper’, stating their willingness to withdraw statements against the accused in the 14 March 2012 attack. They were told that they could be killed anywhere as they had nowhere to go, being surrounded by villages that are dominated by the Gujjars: “Even if some of us go to jail, we will still manage to kill you from inside the jail.” The Dalit youth, fearing for their lives, stated their agreement but resisted the pressure to sign the affidavit then and there, saying they would do so the next day.

In the next couple of days, immense pressure was brought on Brahm and others to sign the compromise affidavit. He stalled, asking for the land to be cleared of illegal occupation first. As a gesture that he was willing to clear the land of occupation, Bhati had an illegal shop demolished, that had been blocking the road used by the Dalits to access the panchayat land. But Bhati’s emissaries then told Brahm and his father Harpal that they would have to pay Rs 2 lakh for the demolition of the shop!

On 20th July, the Dalits, though clearly disturbed and terrorised, expressed their intention to stand firm and not give in to the intimidation and pressure to ‘compromise’. Prakashi, one of those worst injured on March 14, 2012, declared, “I’ll identify the accused in court and face the consequences. I refuse to be scared of them. We do need the land, but we know they’ll never clear the occupation or let us use it. It’s a fight for our dignity now.”

A young man, Virpal said, “They too are scared of us, else they would never have to collect 150 people in order to talk to us! They are scared that we might stop fearing them. And their fear is justified.” He recounted an instance where he and another youth were accosted by some powerful men of the dominant caste. In such an altercation, in normal circumstances, the latter would have slapped the Dalit boys. But this time, Virpal said, they did not, and that only indicated that the court case was acting as a fetter on Bhati’s henchmen.

Vikas, an RYA activist from the village, said, “We all know they’ll never let us have the land. Moreover, the ‘affidavit’ they’re asking us to sign is meaningless, since it is the State that files the case, not us. So the affidavit, even if we were to sign it, would not end the case, but it would merely weaken our side of it. It would require us to lie and turn hostile in Court. We are not going to do that.”

Observations

1. It is clear that the UP police and administration have taken no lessons from Muzaffarnagar. How come dominant caste ‘panchayats’ of armed people are allowed to gather in defiance of Section 144, in an sensitive area where horrific violence has already taken place many times? Section 144 is used often enough to prevent peaceful protests; yet it is not enforced to prevent actual rioting and organised violence!

2. Moreover, the echoes of Muzaffarnagar can be heard in the ugly insinuations against activists who happen to be Muslim. The ease with which such activists can be branded as ‘Pakistani terrorists’ and threatened with violence is of great concern.

3. The coercive nature of the caste ‘panchayats’ is also underlined by the episode. We often hear khap panchayats legitimised as a community’s way of dispute resolution, avoiding litigation. The actual nature of such ‘dispute resolution’ is exposed by this episode, whereby Brahm and his Dalit friends did not have a real choice not to attend the ‘panchayat.’ Note, this was a dominant caste panchayat where the Dalits were ‘summoned’; this was no dispute resolution between ‘equal’ members of a rural ‘community’. The Dalits were outnumbered by an intimidating gathering of armed men from the dominant caste. The Gujjar ‘panchayat’, in the name of dispute resolution, was staged to threaten the Dalits into turning hostile as witnesses in an atrocity against Dalits. And the sheer absence and apathy of the police and local administration gave the Dalits an unmistakeable message that they are isolated, and left to fend for themselves. The police apathy creates a situation where it is possible for perpetrators of unmistakeable crimes – a daylight assault on Dalits and dismemberment of a Dalit youth – to force the victims to ‘compromise’ in the name of dispute resolution rather than stand their ground in Court.

Demands

It is clear that there is an immediate threat of fresh violence against the Dalit witnesses and their families.

1) We demand that the witnesses in the 14th March 2012 attack case, and their families, be provided with police protection, as they face very serious threats to terrorize them into not appearing in court.

2) We also demand that the occupied land be immediately cleared of occupation and handed over to the rightful claimants of the Jatav community.

Dalits Observing Memorial Day for Ilavarasan Face Brutal Repression in Dharmapuri, TN

A public hearing was held in Salem on 13th July, in which Dalits of Natham Colony testified to the brutal police repression unleashed on them by the Dharmapuri police. The repression was unleashed when they attempted to observe the first death anniversary of Ilavarasan, a dalit youth, who was found dead in mysterious circumstances on 4thJuly last year after he married a Vanniar girl, Divya. The marriage of Ilavarasan and Divya was used as a pretext by the Pattali Makkal Katchi party to organise arson and violence against dalit villages in Dharmapuri.

When Ilavarasn’s family members and the people of Natham village began talking about observing the first death anniversary of Ilavarasan, the Dharmapuri police clamped Sec 144 on June 27th in Dharmapuri block, and latter expanded it to the entire district. Six members of the village, illegally held in the police station, later had several cases slapped against them. They were jailed on charges of engaging in a conspiracy to eliminate PMK leaders, possessing lethal weapons, and getting arms training with Naxalites. After 11 days, the arrested Dalit youth were charged with NSA!

More than 1500 police were engaged to encircle the entire village. From dawn to dusk, houses were ‘searched’. Members of the villages and relatives were restricted from even entering or leaving the village.

The women, elders and children spent several sleepless nights. The family members, mostly women, ran from pillar to post to every police station to know if their loved ones were alive. From every police station they got only arrogant responses and threatens.

Women in large numbers with their children approached the district collector and demanded to stop the police brutality. If not, they declared, they would surrender their voter ids and family cards and walk out of the village. Even then the inhuman police repression continued.

The village people approached the high court for a remedy, seeking to be allowed to observe the memorial day. Instead of upholding civil and democratic rights enshrined in the constitution, the HC placed restrictions, stating that only Ilaravarasan’s immediate family members could observe the memorial day from 3-4 pm, and other relatives could join from 4-5 pm! Moreover, the HC banned political parties and organizations entering the district even! In such a background, the public hearing was held in Salem.

The jury of the public hearing comprised Rathinam, a senior HC advocate, Balamurugan, an advocate and novelist and Murugavel, an advocate and writer.

Six women from Natham colony deposed before the jury. Ramani, a native of the village, who is also an SCM of Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist)(People Liberation), said that the repression was staged under the direct supervision of the District SP Asra Garg. When the women complained about the brutality, he arrogantly replied, “I will plant bombs in your houses and send you all to jail.” She also revealed the police-PMK nexus. Even before the FIR could be filed before the magistrate’s court, PMK founder Ramadoss and his newly elected MP-son Anbumani Ramadoss were reading out the FIR in their press conference, she said.

Sumathi, Saalammal and Selvi, residents of the Natham colony, who were leading the women in the trying times, narrated the police brutalities with tears in their eyes.

Sumathi said, “The police called our kith and kin to the station for a routine enquiry on 27th June around 12 noon, but illegally held them. We were made to run to every police station to look for our people but in vain. Starting from 1 pm of 27th June to 4 am of 28th June, we ran from one police station to another. Several of us fainted, unable to withstand hunger, thirst and sleeplessness. While our people suffering inhuman tortures inside the police lock-up, we were subjected to intimidation and insult by the women police outside the police station! And when we were able to see through the window, six policemen were standing on the knees and thighs of our people, and beating them all over, even as they shouted out in unbearable pain.”

Selvi said, “On Nov 7, 2012, the fatal day when our villages was razed to the ground by the frenzied mob of PMK, AIADMK, and DMDK men, the police was a mere mute spectator. But now when we just wanted to observe the death anniversary of Ilavarasan, we have been subjected to such inhuman tortures. Don’t we have even the right to observe death anniversary of our loved one?”

Ramachandran of Karur spoke about the role of the police and administration in another incident. Instead of arresting the culprits who did the heinous crime of rape and murder of a dalit student in the area, the police harassed the friends of the victim in the name of inquiry, and planted stories assassinating the character of the victim!

Rajasankar from Cuddalore district narrated their fact finding report about attacks on Dalits in Vadakkumangudi village, that took place to deter Dalits from voting for Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (the party allied with DMK and headed by Tirumavalavan) and to tilt the balance in favour of PMK in this reserved constituency.

One participant, Venkatesan from Villupuram district, recounted how an upper caste (Thevar) DSP had encouraged the Vanniar mob to attack a Dalit colony there, when the Dalits of Kunnathur claimed their due share of drinking water from the panchayat president. Throughout the attack, the said DSP simply sat in his jeep, having tea and biscuits.

A college girl Sofia, narrated her bitter experience of humiliation and castiest slurs even in the city of Salem.

After the depositions, Balamurugan on behalf of the Jury concluded that the Dharmapuri police’ case against Dalits is a fabricated one. He pointed out a gaping hole in the police FIR: the named accused are in police custody right from 27th June onwards, but the FIR says the accused were apprehended on 28th June. The cases framed are illegal and the repression unleashed is totally against constitutional rights.

The Public Hearing was organized by CPIML (Liberation), Marxist Party and Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) (People Liberation). Gunasekaran of Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) (People Liberation), Gangadaran of Marxist Party and Balasundaram State Secretary of CPIML also spoke at the hearing. CPIML SCM Chandramohan, District secretary Mohanasundaram also participated.

Resolutions were passed condemning the police repression and demanding a judicial enquiry; that the November 7th 2013 attack on 3 dalit villages by a PMK mob be tried by a fast track court and the culprits punished speedily; all the police excesses in Kodiyankulam, Tamirabarani, Paramakudi and Dharmapuri, Chidambaram must be re-enquired by a special Judicial Commission and the culprits punished.

Several Left and Dalit intellectuals, professors, students, TU activists, CPIML activists, and women in large numbers participated in the hearing.

More Protests Against Attack on Gaza

CPI(ML) held protests demanding an end to the attack on Gaza in Puducherry, Chennai and Kanyakyumari. In Kanyakumari, the CPI also joined the demonstration. The Chennai demo was addressed by Politburo member Comrade Kumarswamy, State Secretary Balasundaram, and the Chennai City Secretary Sekar. The Government’s refusal to allow a Parliament resolution condemning Israel’s attack was strongly condemned by the protestors.

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