ML Update | No. 42 | 2014

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 17 | No. 42 | 14 – 20 OCT 2014

‘Love Jehad’ Myth –

Communal-Patriarchal Hate Story

The centrepiece of the BJP’s and Sangh Parivar’s vicious ‘love-jehad’ campaign has just been exposed as a lie. The young woman in Meerut, who was supposedly a victim of ‘love jehad’, has approached the police with the truth. And the truth is that she was in fact a victim of the patriarchal pressures of family and society and the conspiracy of the communal political forces.

As a Hindu woman who fell in love with, married, and was pregnant by a Muslim man, she faced the ire of her family and community. And this all too familiar situation was exploited by the politics of communal hatred. A love story was twisted into a hate-story to feed the myth of ‘love jehad’. Love, elopement, and marriage were distorted to claim rape and forced conversion. And as a result, 10 innocent persons suffered arrest and jail, and the young woman herself has faced immense coercion and intimidation.

We have always maintained that the ‘love jehad’ campaign by the BJP victimises women as much as it does minorities – and the Meerut case itself is a classic example of this. In patriarchal societies, consensual love between men and women of different castes, communities or classes is often branded as rape by the woman’s parents. A recent study of rape trials in Delhi showed that a whopping 40 per cent of rape complaints in Delhi are actually filed by parents of girls or women who have eloped with a lover. In all these cases, the actual violence faced by the woman had been at the hands of her own family and community, in the name of ‘honour’. And of course, the ‘honour’ killings of lovers who break caste and community barriers continue to abound in India.

The BJP’s and Sangh Parivar’s ‘love jehad’ campaign, in order to fan up suspicion and hatred against the minority community, gives political fire-power to such ‘honour’ crimes, coercion and curbs on the freedom of women. Several prominent BJP leaders openly talked of ‘love jehad’; BJP leaders have issued calls against entry of Muslim men into ‘garba’ dance halls; the ABVP, the RSS student outfit, has launched a national campaign against ‘love jehad’, and the RSS’ official organs have carried inflammatory cover stories promoting the ‘love jehad’ myth.

Every person and every woman must have a right to choose who they love, marry or have relationships with. This right is protected by India’s Constitution. How can these rights and freedoms of people, and of women be protected if India’s ruling party openly endorses and conducts campaigns against these rights? In India today, a woman in love with a man from a different caste or community cannot count on the Government and state machinery to protect her rights. A Muslim or Christian man in love with a Hindu woman, or a Dalit man in love with any woman, cannot count on the Government and state machinery to ensure his right and that of his lover. Instead, the police and political parties often share the prejudices of casteist and communal patriarchy. And now, to make matters much worse, India’s ruling party is seeking to expand its political influence by promoting the myth of ‘love jehad’, thereby promoting communal hatred and also attacking women’s freedoms.

In BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh recently, police, under pressure from Sangh Parivar mobs, tried to separate a married couple because the husband is Christian and the wife Hindu. The communal politics of the BJP is making it all the more difficult for women and inter-caste, inter-community couples to defend their rights. Given this context, it is crucial that amendments be made in the existing Special Marriages’ Act, under which inter-religion marriages are currently allowed. As per provisions of the existing legislation, a one-month period is provided during which parents and family members of the consenting couple are informed and can register their opposition to the proposed marriage. It is essential that this one-month window, which surely opens the doors for pressure and coercion to play, should be done away with. Democratic forces all over the country need to give a fitting rebuff to the BJP’s and Sangh Parivar’s communal-patriarchal campaign, and boldly assert and celebrate the rights of all persons to love and marry according to choice.

Protests against gang rapes and feudal violence in Kurmuri, Bhojpur

On 8th October 2014, 4 minor girls and 2 women, all ragpickers from the Mahadalit community of Dumaria village, visited a scrap dealer in Kurmuri village of Bhojpur. The scrap dealer, Neelnidhi Singh, a known former Ranveer Sena area commander, held them captive at gunpoint and along with two associates, raped the women. It was only after a protracted and militant protest that the local police and administration was forced to file an FIR against the accused and take action. A CPI(ML) fact-finding team consisting of AIPWA secretary Meena Tiwari, Bihar RYA President Raju Yadav, former Ara MP Rameshwar Prasad, AIPWA state President Saroj Chaubey and AIPWA leaders Indu Singh and Shobha Mandal visited the Dumaria village as well as Ara town on 11 October and met the victims and their family members. According to this fact-finding team, the main accused, Neelnidhi Singh is not just a former Ranveer Sena area commander but is also known to enjoy the support of Ara MP RK Singh (from the BJP) and Tarari MLA Sunil Pandey from the JD(U). As a result, the police officials in Tarari as well as the Ara district administration dilly-dallied in taking any action against him, until CPI(ML) leaders and activists intervened and public pressure was mounted. Though the incident took place on 8 October, an official complaint was lodged only after 24 hours, and the medical tests of the victims were done only on 10 October 2014. The local administration and police also tried to tamper with the evidence and the witnesses, and therefore, CPI(ML) has been demanding the suspension of the Ara SP and DM, and the removal of the Tarari police station in-charge. The 3 accused have now been arrested.

This incident points to the sense of impunity and boldness that feudal forces and Ranveer Sena elements have been displaying in the wake of a BJP victory at the centre and the patronage/appeasement by JD(U)-BJP and now JD(U) Govt. in Bihar. The Nitish Government’s scrapping of the Amir Das Commission that was about to expose the political (mostly BJP and JD-U) links of the Ranveer Sena, and the serial acquittals of massacre-accused Ranveer Sena men have gone far to emboldening such elements. The recent eviction of mahadalits in Gaya and the attack on Dalits on Independence Day at Baddi last year have all been warning signals. And Kurmuri shows starkly how Ranveer Sena men who went scot-free, continue to think they can get away with rape and atrocities against Dalits. If action had been taken against Neelnidhi Singh in previous, pending cases, then he would not have been free to indulge in this latest heinous crime. The need of the hour therefore is to force the reluctant governments at the Centre and in Bihar to restore the Amir Das Commission and to ensure an early tabling of its report.

CPI(ML) has launched a spirited statewide movement in Bihar, demanding justice for the rape survivors of the Kurmuri violence, immediate removal of the in-charge of the Tarari police station, immediate suspension of the local DM and SP, and immediate reinstatement of the Amir Das commission. CPI(ML) called for a Bhojpur bandh and Bihar-wide protests on 13th October 2014 against the gang-rape. On 13 October, around 200 AISA-RYA activists marched in protest on the streets of Ara. The market in Ara town as well as the university premises remained closed. AISA-RYA activists led by Bihar RYA President Raju Yadav, Bihar RYA joint secretary Manoj Manzil and AISA Bihar state secretary Ajit Kushwaha also organized a ‘Rail Chakka Jaam’ at the Ara railways station, which lasted for some hours and disrupted the Patna-Mughal Sarai railway line. Simultaneously, CPI(ML) activists led by CC member Saroj Chaubey, Dilraj Preetam, Kayamuddin and others staged a road block on NH-30 near the Ara bus stop for hours together. Traffic was also blocked at Fatehpur, Jethwar and Kumhari in Tarari. Massive protest marches were held by CPI(ML) activists at Charpokhri, Piro, Sandesh, Sahar and other parts of Ara. In Jagdishpur, CPI(ML) activists were arrested for protesting.

Protests against the Kurmuri gang rapes and against the growing feudal violence in the state were organized by CPI(ML) in different parts of Bihar. In Patna city, a protest march beginning from the Patna radio station was led by comrade Santosh Sahar, Bihar state committee members Kamlesh Sharma and Navin Kumar, comrades Ashok Kumar, Pannalal, Naseem and Murtaza Ali, as well as AISA leaders Mukhtar and Sudhir. In Patna rural too, protests were organised in Masaudhi, Naubatpur, Dulhijan Bazaar, Paliganj, Vikram, Bihta, Dhanrua, Phulwari Shareef, Maner and Phatuha. In Jehanabad, more than 500 activists registered a militant protest at the DM office against the Kurmuri gang rapes and the rape and murder of a girl in Ratni, Jehanabad. The protestors gheraoed the Jehanabad DM office for hours. In Arwal, 500 CPI(ML) activists marched on the streets in protest, and organized a protest meeting within the Arwal block premises. Protests were held in Siwan town, Darauli, Guthni, Aandar and Nautan in Siwan, as well as in Nasriganj, Karakat, Vikramganj and Tilauthu in Rohtas, in Dumrau, Kesath, Sonbarsa and Navanagar areas of Buxar district, and in Darbhanga, Purnea, Betia, Muzzafarpur and Bhagalpur. A ‘Nyay march’ (march for justice) will be organized by CPI(ML) on 17 October against feudal and patriarchal violence, demanding reinstatement of the Amir Das commission and the release of all TADA detainees.

In solidarity with the ongoing struggle for justice in Bhojpur, the CPI(ML) and AIPWA organized protests in different parts of the country on 13th October 2014. In Delhi, a protest demonstration was held at Bihar Bhawan. The protest at Bihar Bhawan was addressed by CPI(ML) Politburo member Kavita Krishnan, Delhi State Secretary Sanjay Sharma, AICCTU leader comrade Mathura Paswan, AISA Delhi President Sunny Kumar, Jan Sanskriti Manch’s Ramnaresh Ram and JNUSU General Secretary Chintu. In Tamil Nadu, a demonstration against Bhojpur gang rapes was held in Coimbatore on 14th October at the gate of the Pricol factory. Hundreds of Pricol workers led by their union’s general secretary Com. M. Saminathan raised slogans demanding justice against feudal and patriarchal violence by the Ranveer Sena, and demanding the immediate reinstatement of the Amir Das commission and tabling of its report. On the previous day too, on 13th October 2014, the AICCTU had held a protest at the Pricol factory gate demanding end to violence on women, freedom without fear for women, implementation of the Verma Committee recommendations, prevention of honour killings in Tamil Nadu and action against Haryana BJP CM candidate’s remarks on dress code for women.

In Uttar Pradesh, the AIPWA organized protests in Devaria, Balia, Gorakhpur, Kanpur, Lakhimpur Kheeri and Sitapur districts. In Devaria and Sitapur, AIPWA protested at the district headquarters, led by AIPWA state secretary Geeta Pandey and district secretary Sarojini respectively. AIPWA leaders submitted appeals to the President, demanding justice for the gang rape victims in Bhojpur and immediate reinstatement of the Amir Das commission, to the district in-charges at various district headquarters in Uttar Pradesh.

Tikari March against the feudal violence in Pura

As part of the ongoing movement in Pura, Gaya, against the feudal violence, murder of Arjun Manjhi and continuing intimidation of dalit villagers, CPI(ML) held a march in Tikari on 10 October 2014, in which thousands of people from Gaya, Jehanabad, Arwal and Aurangabad participated. Former Ara MP Rameshwar Prasad, former MLA Rajaram Singh, AIPWA secretary Meena Tiwari, AIPWA state President Saroj Chaubey, Arwal district secretary comrade Mahanand, Gaya district secretary comrade Niranjan Kumar, comrade Ramadhar Singh and AIALA leader comrade Gopal Ravidas addressed the protest march.

Campaign in UP against communal hate-mongering

Over the past few months, the communal situation in Uttar Pradesh has gone from bad to worse with the RSS_BJP-VHP doing everything possible to spread communal hate and violence across the state. In the backdrop of this volatile communal atmosphere, the festivals of Dussehra and Bakrid fell close to each other this year (on 3 and 6 October respectively). Prior to these festivals, there was an incident in Sansarpur village of Lakhimpur Kheeri district where communal passions were deliberately stoked. On 29 September, shops owned by poor people belonging to the minority community were looted and their standing paddy crops destroyed in this village, which falls under the Gola tehsil. All this acts, which were justified in the name of ‘cow protection’, were perpetrated under full protection provided by the state administration and local police. The work of inflaming passions was done by Sangh-BJP members and by the BSP candidate in the last Lok Sabha election. On 30 September the CPI(ML) held a protest dharna in front of Lakhimpur Kheeri headquarters demanding justice for the victims, compensation for their losses, and strong action against those guilty of inciting communal passions and also against the police in Mailani thana who protected the guilty. In view of the communal incidents in Kheeri and other places in the State, and the grave apprehensions regarding communal harmony and safety of minorities in the festive season, the CPI(ML) State unit released a statement in Lucknow on 1 October demanding that the government put in place a specific strategy to maintain communal peace and harmony.

However, given the inept law and order administration of the Akhilesh government, communal forces attempted to incite riots in Kushinagar, Bhadohi, Mirzapur, Faizabad, Gonda, Allahabad and other places, using the occasion of the traditional immersion of Ganesh idols as a cover. Even as the administration and police of the SP government failed to control the riot-mongering, it was only the reasoning, wisdom, and restraint of the common people that averted any serious communal incident. On the eve of the Bakrid festival, on 5 October 2014, CPI(ML) once again released a statement praising the people for discomfiting the evil intentions of communal forces and condemning the attitude of the administration, and asking the government to make strong and alert arrangements for safety, keeping the Bakrid festival in view.

Tamil Nadu AICCTU’s 8th State conference held

Tamil Nadu AICCTU’s 8th state conference was held on 4-5 Oct 2014 in the garment manufacturing city of Tiruppur. The venue of the conference was named after Comrade Gangaram Kol, martyr of the AICCTU’s tea garden workers’ movement of Assam. The inaugural session started with flag hoisting by senior woman comrade Kuppa Bai, following which leaders and delegates paid tribute to Comrade Gangaram Kol. The first session started with the convention titled ‘Defeat rightward politics and let us march on with leftward path’. Leaders from AITUC, CITU and AIUTUC participated. Comrade A S Kumar, deputy Gen. Secretary gave the introductory speech. This was followed by the presidential address by Comrade N K Natarajan who emphasized that in the current situation when pro-corporate, communal and anti-people elements have usurped power with people’s mandate, it is the responsibility of the Left parties to fight back. Comrade Anavaradhan, state president of AIUTUC, vehemently attacked the politics of the ruling BJP/NDA government. Comrade Arumugam, state Vice President of CITU talked of the need for ideological training of workers, along with economic struggles. State General Secretary of AITUC pointed out in his address that earlier various issues connected to the residential area of workers used to be part and parcel of trade union work. Recalling that people used to approach the Union office even for drinking water problems, he stressed the need for trade unions to go back to that style of functioning which is extremely relevant even today.

Launching a scathing attack on the Modi government, Comrade Balan, state President of Karnataka AICCTU also pointed out that at a time when even the High court and Supreme Court were delivering several retrograde judgments against the workers’ movement, the need of the hour was to strengthen the struggle to defend the rights of unorganized workers against all kinds of assaults. Stressing on the need for Left unity, Comrade S. Kumarasamy delivered the concluding speech of the inaugural session, stating that AICCTU was ready to join hands with left and democratic forces to strengthen democratic struggles in the present situation.

The delegate session was conducted by a 7-member presidium comprising comrades Palanivel, Jawahar, Raman, Suseela, Kuppa Bai, A Govindaraj and Damodharan. Comrades Ramesh, Desikan and Sekar were part of the Technical team. It was inaugurated by National secretary and central observer of AICCTU Comrade Rajiv Dimri. In his speech Comrade Dimri talked about the adverse implications of Modi’s ‘Make in India’ slogan for the workers of the country and appealed to the delegates to galvanize the whole organization for the forthcoming Jail Bharo agitation planned on 28th October 2014, and also for the National conference to be held in the middle of 2015.

The conference was also addressed by state secretary of PUCL comrade Balamurugan, state secretary of CPI(ML) comrade Balasundaram, comrade Thenmozhi of AIPWA, All India Vice President of AICCTU comrade Balasubramanian, comrade Janakiraman of AIALA, as well as and comrade Sathyakrishnan of AISA and comrade Bharathi of RYA. A total of 340 delegates and observers took part in the conference. After all the deliberations, the outgoing General secretary Comrade Sankarapandian presented the draft report and resolutions which were unanimously adopted. The conference also elected a new General council, an executive committee and office bearers which in turn elected Comrade N K Natarajan as President and Comrade Sankarapandian as General Secretary.

Agitation against fraudulent SHGs in Bihar

About 15 self-help groups (SHGs) have been operating for the past ten years in Pindri panchayat of Bahadurpur block in Darbhanga district. They are registered through NGOs and received funding from the government at the time of the registration. The women in these groups are from the Party base, as this is an area where the Party works intensively. For 6 years these groups had been very active, with active participation by the members. The group held weekly meetings, and members used to avail of loans from the SHGs. The women found these loans simpler to avail of, and moreover more affordable when compared to loans from local moneylenders. Participation of women in this process was on the increase, and they deposited their share in the group account even if they had to borrow money for doing so. In recent years, the government has made a change in the structure and monitoring arrangements of these self-help groups. A state level organization ‘Jivika’ has been formed, which works as a governmental NGO and through which the self-help groups are sought to be organized and run in a new form. And now, each group has received a bank notice informing them that they should deposit the loan amount, otherwise there would be a legal case registered against them.

Worried by this notice, the women in the groups brought their problem to the Party. They were eager to start an agitation against the SHG coordinators and the bank. A special meeting of the self-help group women was called at Manth Chhaprar. AIPWA state secretary Shashi Yadav, Party block secretary Abhishek Kumar, panchayat chief Jangi Yadav, and other comrades took part in the meeting. 120 women from about 15 groups took part in the meeting. The women have altogether deposited about Rs 88000 in the bank through their monthly savings, and now a debt of Rs 2. 50 lakhs was being shown against them. They had also received notices for repayment of loans. The women said that the group coordinator of the SHGs and the bank manager have connived together to take out loans in the name of the women’s group, and have shared the spoils between them.

After enquiring into the matter, the meeting decided on a plan of protracted agitation and also stressed the importance of legal action. The day after the meeting, the bank held a camp in that area, in which the women participated and gheraoed the bank manager. The bank manager assured the women that he would take up the matter with the higher authorities and would not file a certificate case as of now. After that, the women demonstrated in front of the Collectorate on 4 August 2014. About 250 women participated in the demonstration, demanding scrapping of the fraudulent loans and arrest of the scamster coordinators and bank manager. A memorandum was submitted to the Collector giving a 15-day ultimatum, at the end of which, if expected action is not taken, an indefinite agitation would be launched in front of the Collectorate. A vigilant and organized endeavour is required in this matter as there is a widespread attempt across the state to bring more and more women under the organization ‘Jivika’. In this situation, the CPI(ML) and associated organizations especially AIPWA and KHEMAS will take the initiatives to agitate across Bihar against this fraud in the days to come.

Obituary

Com. Subrata Chakraborty, CPI(ML )District Secretary of Jalpaiguri, West Bengal passed away on 27 September 2014 at the Jalpaiguri district Hospital after sustaining a head injury on 26 September morning. He was only 64 years old and left his wife and only daughter behind.

Com. Subrata Chakraborty joined CPI(ML) in the tumultuous days of 1968 after the peasant upsurge of 1967, remaining underground. In 1971 he got a job with Military Engineering service (MES), but left it after a few months. After 1974, during the party reorganizing days he became a member of Jalpaiguri-Coochbehar regional Committee and worked as an important organizer in Kamakshaguri areas in North Bengal. Later he served the party as the secretary of Jalpaiguri Town Committee and Jalpaiguri Sadar Block Committee respectively. He was elected the District Secretary of Jalpaiguri in 2004 and became a member of West Bengal state Committee in 2007 and continued in both the party posts till death.

His mortal remains was laid in state at the district party office in Jalpaiguri town, where party state committee members, district committee members of jalpaiguri and Darjeeling and district leaders of CPI(M), RSP, SUCI, Samajbadi Janaparishad and CITU paid homage to his revolutionary past. His last journey was attended by a considerable number of party workers and citizens from other walks of life. Long live the revolutionary legacy of our beloved leader Com. Subrata Chakraborty.

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