ML Update | No. 43 | 2015

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 18 | No. 43 | 20 -26 OCT 2015

Serial Re-Enactment Of The Dadri Lynching By The Sangh Parivar

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, breaking his silence very late, claimed that the lynching of a Muslim man over ‘cow slaughter/beef-eating’ rumours was a mere ‘social tragedy’ with no political motive, for which the Central Government and the ruling BJP bore no responsibility. The Minority Affairs Minister in his Cabinet said Dadri belonged to “the past” and India needed to “ look to the future.”

Since then, a series of lynchings and attempted lynchings of Muslims in various parts of India, is a chilling reminder that far from being an isolated ‘tragedy’ that is ‘past,’ communal mob lynchings of Muslims is becoming a grim part of India’s present. A young man, Noman was killed by a mob in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, over an allegation that he was driving a truck that smuggled cows for slaughter. Another young truck driver, Zahid, in Udhampur (Jammu and Kashmir) was burnt to death by a mob – on the pretext that he was transporting cows for slaughter. There have been attempted mob violence over ‘beef’, ‘cow slaughter’ and ‘cow smuggling’ at Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh) and Hubbali (Karnataka).

Leaving no doubt whatsoever about which forces are planning and carrying out such organized mob violence, the RSS mouthpiece Panchjanya has defended the Dadri lynching by repeating the lie that “Mohammad Akhlaq was killed in Dadri because he killed a cow.” Not only that, the Panchjanya has brazenly rationalized mob murders by saying that "Vedas mandate killing of those who slaughter cows."

The Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has also declared that Muslims “can live in India but must give up eating beef.” BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj has called for public hanging of those who eat beef and support the eating of beef. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has announced a countrywide ‘cow protection’ campaign that promises to ‘rescue’ cows from ‘smugglers.’

The timing of this vicious campaign is quite deliberate. Assembly elections are on in Bihar, and the BJP is desperate to create a Hindu-Muslim polarization over ‘cow slaughter’ and ‘beef’, hoping in particular to prise away Yadav support from the RJD. Prime Minister Modi himself led the charge, making repeated speeches asking Yadavs to consider if they, the worshippers of the cow, wished to vote for those who defended the eating of beef. The non-BJP ruling parties in Bihar too had begun to falter and fall into the BJP trap, getting defensive on the question of beef. It is ironic that while the BJP and Modi himself are so openly using lynch-mob politics to forge a Hindu vote-bank in Bihar and the rest of India, PM Modi has dismissed all concerns about the hate-crimes against Muslims as ‘pseudo-secularism’ and ‘vote bank politics.’ The so-called ‘reprimand’ by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and BJP chief Amit Shah to the hate-mongering BJP leaders is an unconvincing eyewash, especially since the said leaders are openly unreprentant, the lynchings continue unabated, and the BJP remains as wedded as ever to communal politics over ‘beef’ and ‘cow.’

It is India’s writers, artists and intellectuals who have spearheaded a remarkable tide of resistance. At present count 315 writers, performing artists and others have expressed protest – by returning awards, stepping down from posts, writing essays and open letters, or otherwise speaking out, to condemn mob lynchings and murders of writers and India’s minorities.

Common people too are speaking out, and resistance can be seen all over the country in various forms. In Bihar itself, a national daily found that across rural-urban and caste-community divides, young voters are declaring “This is a democracy: we have the freedom to eat what we like,” and voicing opposition to communal polarization and violence.

The Modi Government’s attempt to shrug off responsibility for the lynchings of Akhlaq, Noman and Zahid, and to jeer at and question the credentials of the protesting writers, artists and intellectuals is only exposing the Government’s arrogance and high-handedness.

India is a country of diverse cultural traditions and dissenting voices. The serial lynchings of Muslims and murders of writers and rationalists accompanied by explicit and implicit encouragement and patronage from the Narendra Modi Government make it clear that a war is being waged both on diversity and on dissent. The courage and conscience displayed by India’s common citizens and writers and artists show the way ahead. India’s Culture Minister derided the protests, saying ‘Let writers stop writing.’ But threats, insults and even bullets have not silenced the pens of India’s writers, nor the voices of India’s citizens who are defending pluralism and democratic values.

Jan Adhikar Yatra in Jharkhand

Against Anti-People Policies of the State and Central Governments

Sky-rocketing prices of onions and dal, back-breaking cost of living, the drought-famine crisis—and the people are supposed to be enjoying the pleasures of “achhe din”! Through the alleged “sabka sath, sabka vikas” (development for all) the governments at the Centre and State are implementing policies to deprive the poor and fill the coffers of big corporate houses and companies and give them free license to loot. For the rest of the people, what remains is “Mann ki Baat”, announcements, assurances, and rhetoric. The situation is going from bad to worse, and hard fought people’s welfare laws and schemes are being sought to be weakened or removed. The AIPF, through a Jharkhand Jan Adhikar Yatra (People’s Rights Drive)from 1 October to 10 October, appealed to the people to fight against this conspiracy and to raise voices in unison in order to defend people’s rights.

The AIPF and several other people’s organizations jointly conducted the Jharkhand Jan Adhikar Yatra and studied and analyzed the ground situation by visiting different villages in North Chhota Nagpur, Palamu, South Chhota Nagpur and Kolhan. They called for the people in the villages to agitate in a united struggle for their rights. During this Yatra, leaders from the AIPF and other people’s organizations organized village level meetings, nukkad meetings, and night meetings which were attended in good numbers by adivasis, women, youth, and people from different sections of rural society.

In Chhotanagpur zone, the Yatra began from Bagodar on 1 October with a huge gathering of people. After paying tribute at the Birsa Munda Samadhi in Ranchi, the Yatra in South Chhotanagpur zone was flagged off with the resounding of drums played by the Jharkhand Jan Sanskriti Manch, led by AIPF leaders Dayamani Barla, Anil Anshuman, Nadeem Khan, Xavier Kujur, film maker Meghnath, Aloka and prominent persons from people’s organizations.

In Palamu zone, the Yatra started from Tihri (Badgad Bhandariya) on the Jharkhand-Chhattisgarh border, led by noted economist Jean Dreze, Ravindra Bhuian, and leaders from people’s organizations. The Jan Yatra proceeded through hundreds of villages in remote hills, dense forests, as well as plains in various districts and blocks, and culminated in a public meeting at Raj Bhavan on 11 October.

The Jan Adhikar meeting began with people’s songs sung by Jan Sanskriti Manch. Throwing light on the aims and objectives of the Jan Ahikar Yatra, AIPF national advisory committee member Jean Dreze said that the issue of struggle for people’s rights should be an issue of daily struggle for us. He pointed out that all rights regarding land, food, forests, education, employment and information are rights which have been won after hard fought battles. The present central government is bent on ending these rights; therefore we must struggle to save them. The Jan Adhikar Yatra has succeeded in making the people alert and conscious. In the days to come, we shall fight together and win.

Com. Vinod Singh said that this Yatra is a symbol of the struggle of the oppressed and marginalized people of Jharkhand. The rights regarding food, forests, MNREGA that the government has so far given the people are not favours granted by the government. During this Yatra we saw how the government machinery is openly flouting all laws, causing much anger among the people of the villages. The overwhelming support given to the Yatra shows the resolve of the people. The meeting was also addressed by Dayamani Barla, human rights activist Fr. Stane Swami, Afzal Anees of the United Milli Forum, Jhamas President Devki Nandan Bediya, and representatives from different people’s organizations. Conducting the programme, Anil Anshuman of JASAM said that this Yatra is the beginning of our fight for our rights and that there are many battles that lie ahead. James Herenz (NREGA Watch) and Subhadra Devi lent active cooperation in conducting the programme. Giving the valedictory speech, AIPF advisor and senior journalist Faisal Anurag stressed the need for a struggle based on a pervasive unity.

The Jan Adhikar Yatra raised and discussed the following issues: the government’s assault on land rights and employment guarantee; false cases and imprisonment of thousands of innocent people; food security bill, social security pension, and forest rights guarantee. The AIPF, Campaign for Right to Food, Adivasi-Mulvasi Raksha Manch, Bagaicha, Jharkhand Jan Sanskriti Manch, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, Ekta Parishad, Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, Jangal Bachao Andolan, NREGA Watch, United Milki Forum, Jharkhand Jan Sangathan Morcha and other people’s organizations participated in the Yatra. A resolution was passed to start a statewide agitation on the issues raised in the Yatra.

Kisan Mahasabha March in Uttarakhand

Against Acquittal of Rape-Murder Accused

On 10 July 2012, an 8 year old minor Dalit girl Sanjana, hailing from Tiwarinagar village in Bindukhatta, Uttarakhand, was found raped and murdered. The accused was arrested after several days had passed and much pressure was built by way of protests by the party. The lower court found the accused in the murder case guilty and passed a death sentence on them. But on 8 October 2015 the High Court acquitted them for want of proper prosecution by the government. In protest, the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha burnt the effigy of the Stat government in Bindukhatta on 9 October and demanded an answer by the government to the people for their failure to provide proper prosecution. Addressing the protesters, Kisan Mahasabha State President Com. Purushottam Sharma said that the Congress government in the State and the local MLA and Labour Minister Harish Durgapal are responsible for this. The government was deliberately negligent in the case through the government lawyer and ensured the acquittal of the accused. He said that this government is a government of criminals and mafia. The MLA is misusing power to provide protection to all the criminals in the area. He demanded that the State government should without delay file an appeal in the Supreme Court. Kisan Mahasabha team under the leadership of Com. Sharma also met the family of Sanjana and assured them that they would continue the fight for justice for Sanjana.

On the 10 October, the Kisan Mahasabha took out a march against the State government from Lalkuan, led by Com. Purushottam Sharma, district President Bahadur Singh Jangi, Bindukhatta President Basanti Bisht, and CPI (ML) district Secretary Kailash Pandey. The march started at Shaheed Smarak, went through Lalkuan bazaar, and culminated in a protest meeting at the Railway station. Addressing the meeting, Com. Purushottam held the State government and the local MLA responsible for shielding the guilty, and also questioned the suspicious role played by the government lawyer in the case, demanding an enquiry into his role and the authenticity of his degree. He said that the negligence shown by the lawyer, considered close to the Chief Minister, smacks of pressure from above. He stressed that it is the responsibility of the State government to ensure punishment to the guilty in this case, and the agitation would continue until justice is done to Sanjana.

The CPI (ML) has resolved to observe 12 October as Protest Day throughout the State to protest against the suspicious role of the State government and the Labour Minister Harish Durgapal in getting the guilty persons acquitted from the High Court. On 12 October the various units of the Party in the State will hold protests, marches, dharnas and effigy burnings.

Dharna by JHAMAS in Ramgarh Coal Sector

Jharkhand Mazdoor Sabha (Jhamas) organized a one-day dharna on 18 September 2015 in front of the Barka-Sayal area’s Central Coalfields Limited (CCL) GM’s office situated in the Ramgarh coal sector. The dharna was organized to demand- (i) appropriate compensation for the raiyyat displaced, (ii) employment in lieu of land acquisition, (iii) employment for unemployed youth, (iv) starting a local cell, among various other demands. Hundreds of people including displaced families from within a range of 25 km of the Barka-Sayal area, local women, men and youth participated in the dharna.

Speakers who addressed the dharna said that coal mining is being done through outsourcing in Balkudra colliery. Bhurkunda which comes under the GM, Barka-Sayal, and the villagers’ lands have been taken for this purpose. However, the villagers have not got appropriate compensation and they have also not been rehabilitated. With the connivance of brokers and the coal mafia, the CCL management is getting the coal mining done by any means, fair or foul. Even a local cell is not being opened in this project for the local unemployed people. As a result, the local people and the affected families are forced to work as contractual labour. They are not paid the minimum wages as fixed by the government. Employment can be given on a large scale and migration of youth to other states can be prevented by starting a local cell. But the CCL management shows no interest in starting a cell. The rural unemployed are angered at this attitude of the management and by staging this dharna they have warned the management that if the displaced villagers are denied employment they will be forced to fight for their rights.

On the other hand, the CCL are bound by CSR rules to develop rural areas coming within a range of 25 km of Barka-Sayal. They must make arrangements for roads, electricity, clean drinking water, schools, toilets, irrigation, medical facilities, and professional training for unemployed youth. However, there is lack of transparency in this and CCL is misusing funds allocated for this purpose. The company is creating very few vacant posts in the name of giving professional training. Recently they brought out only 25 vacancies for mining engineering training which makes for an extremely small number. Thus the project affected people are being cheated. People have been displaced in large numbers in 14 districts of CCL. If CCL does not solve the issue of their employment and livelihood, a chakka jam will be done in front of the CCL in days to come.A delegation from Jhamas also met the personnel officers of Barka-Sayal area and submitted a 7 point memorandum to them.

Protests against Declaration of Municipality Rather Than A Revenue Village

On 14 October, a large number of rural protesters under the banner of Nainital unit of All India Kisan Mahasabha faced repression by police and goons backed by local Congress MLA and Labour Minister in Bindukhatta. This was a protest against forcible implementation of state government’s decision of making Bindukhatta a Municipality instead of a revenue village. Local people are opposing this move by the Congress government of Uttarakhand, a move that will mean an indirect handover of thousands of acres of local peasants’ lands to the land mafia operatives. These lands had been acquired by the Bindukhatta peasants after a protracted and long land struggle spanning two decades during the 1980s and 1990s – and now the peasants’ control over the same lands is in danger of being weakened. People of Bindukhatta were not given their due status of a revenue village for which they are struggling since three decades, now the ‘municipality’ status will force them to an unnecessary tax regime, but their greater worry is that their lands will not remain safe. They reiterate their demand for a ‘revenue village’ while opposing the forcible making of a municipality. Their fight to save their lands and democracy is facing stiff attacks by various vested interests which are backed by the local MLA and land mafia lobby.

A “road block” protest was organised on 14 October to stop the inauguration of the municipality office. Ironically, the place chosen for this office is the local community hall which was constructed by the people through their collective efforts and resources, without any governmental support, and symbolises their collective resolve and unity evolved through long struggles and comradeship. The determined people of Bindukhatta protested vigorously and the Minister’s convoy could not move even for an inch for half an hour till the police lathi-charged the protesters. Even then, the Minister’s convoy had to divert its route. The police, frustrated at not being able to quell the protest, have arrested 18 of the protesters and framed various false charges on leaders.

It was land seizure movement led by CPI(ML) during the 1980s and 1990s that rehabilitated Bindukhatta after a long and protracted land struggle which has acquired a place in the history of democratic struggles of Uttarakhand. Thousands of poor landless who came from almost every district of the state showed how redistribution of land can save thousands of families from penury as well as forced migration to other states in search of livelihood. Their hard toil on lands and their collective resolve that through their shramdaan (voluntary labour) created roads, dozens of schools, community halls, and play grounds amidst state repression and without any help from any agency, has transformed Bindukhatta into a relatively prosperous area which now has its own share in the region’s economy, in spite of the fact that they are still deprived of a revenue village status and entitlements on their lands. The decision of making it a municipality is now being seen as a clever ploy to turn back their social and economic achievements.

CPI(ML) Uttarakhand Secretary Rajendra Pratholi has condemned the police repression on the protesting people and said that this peaceful resistance is for saving lands and reiterating demand for entitlements. He said that people’s opinion must be taken by the government before making any decision which affect their lives. He condemned attack on women protesters by Congress supporter goons and demanded stern punishment for them. Kisan Mahasabha State President Purushottam Sharma alleged that local MLA and Labour Minister Harish Durgapal is misusing power by trying to forcibly capturing the Rajiv Nagar people’s community hall for the municipality office. He told that a memorandum of protest has been sent to the DM by the people of Rajiv Nagar and Car Road which has a population of 6,000. On 13 October a petition had been filed in the High Court Chief Justice’s bench asking for a stop to the process of capturing the people’s community hall and forcibly opening a municipality office by the administration. The petition states that other than this single community hall for a population of 6,000, there is no other public place available for community programmes, cultural programmes, marriages and other functions. The Bindukhatta community health centre also functions in this community hall, and two polling booths are also put up here during Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. Comrade Purushottam further said that it is necessary for Bindukhatta to not be made a municipality in order for farmers to secure ownership rights to agricultural land. The farmers will lose their lands if Bindukhatta becomes a municipality.

CPI(ML), AIKM and AIPWA organised a protest on October 19 against this repression. A large number of people including activists of Uttarakhand ASHA Health Workers Union participated. A memorandum was sent to the CM through this protest. Comrade Raja Bahuguna addressing the protesters criticised Congress and BJP both for betraying from the promise of revenue village and for increasing mafiadom under Harish Rawat’s CM tenure. Protesters demanded immediate and unconditional withdrawal of cases framed and pledged to continue the struggle till the demands are met. They also termed the so called inauguration of the municipality a mockery as this was done amidst repression, beating of local people including women, and in presence of those who were outsiders brought there only to fill the vacant seats.

For Employment and Ration

“Khanapuri band karo, ration ka prabandh karo” (stop superficial excuses, make arrangements for ration), “Declare Jharkhand drought-affected”, “Begin relief work, waive farmers’ loans”, “Pay arrears of agricultural insurance”- these were some of the slogans accompanying the CPI (ML) protest on 9 October at the Chanho block HQ in Ranchi.

Addressing the meeting, district Secretary Com. Bhuwaneshwar Kewat said that the entire Jharkhand is in the grip of drought but the government is sunk in oblivion. In the name of assessment and evaluation, the government is not going beyond cosmetic superficialities. The farmers and rural people are desperate with imminent famine looming large. If relief work is not started immediately, Jharkhand will become another Vidarbha in the country. He added that people did not want announcements and promises; they wanted employment and ration. CPI (ML) leader Jagannath Oraon said that there is a yawning gap between the promises and delivery of the government. They talk of the poor but work for the rich corporate houses. We, the people of Jharkhand, will not give anyone the license to loot the resources, land, forests, and minerals of Jharkhand.

After the meeting a 13 point charter of demands was submitted to the Deputy Magistrate stating the above demands as well as demanding strict implementation of MNREGA, conducting a survey to bring all poor families under BPL and making arrangements for 50 kg ration-kerosene and oil, dal and sugar.

Prisoners’ Mass Protest and Hunger Strike in Hazaribagh Jail

Prisoners in Hazaribagh jail serving life sentences protested by sitting on indefinite fast from 6 October against Jharkhand government’s inability to implement Supreme Court’s directives regarding constitution of a review Board to review the release of prisoners who have served up to twenty years of prison term as per the law. Nearly 150 other inmates in Hazaribagh jail also sat on a day’s fast on 8 October in solidarity with justice seeking fellow inmates. It was also demanded from the state government to follow regulations regarding shifting of life sentence serving people to open jails after seven years. The indefinite fast was concluded on 16 October.

Terming this a grave human rights violation being done by Jharkhand government, the CPI(ML) and All India People’s Forum held a march in Ranchi on 17 October in support of prisoners demands.

OBITUARY

Comrade Bhim Paswan

Com. Ram Karan Paswan (Bhim Paswan), 55 years, passed away in the morning of 12 October 2015 at PMCH. He remained a dedicated soldier of the Party till his last breath. Com. Bhim had been in the forefront of several protest struggles in many blocks of Patna district. He was ill with a liver ailment for the past one year, and was treated at different hospitals. At one point there seemed to be some improvement in his condition, but on 11 October his condition deteriorated and he was immediately admitted in Emergency where he breathed his last.

The outpouring of people in his funeral procession on 12 October proved his popularity among the masses. The funeral procession started from his ancestral village, wended through Dulhin Bazar, and reached the banks of River Punpun in Ichipur where he was cremated after the people bade their final farewell.

Com. Bhim’s association with the Party started in 1985. He was born in a landless family in Baliyari Math of Vikram block. He stood like a rock with the Party through its ups and downs, and worked ceaselessly in the area as an excellent organizer.

Red Salute to Com. Bhim Paswan!

Comrade Sachchidanand Singh

Com. Sachchidanand Singh from Gamharbad village, Jaynagar block, Kodarma district, Jharkhand, joined the CPI-ML in the latter half of 1990. He was a dedicated and hard-working Comrade from the very beginning. He was the CPI-ML branch Secretary in Gamharbad, and was ever active in the interests of the people and the Party. Com. Sachchidanand passed away on 23 September after a serious illness. A condolence meet in his memory was held at his village Gamharbad on 4 October. The Jaynagar block Party base as well as many local people gathered to pay tributes to Com. Sachchidanand.

Red Salute to Com. Sachchidanand Singh!

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