ML Update | No. 17 | 2016

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.19 | No. 17 |19 – 25 APR 2016

Stop Massacre of Civilians in Kashmir

Less than ten days after the PDP-BJP Government assumed power in Kashmir, Kashmir has witnessed a fresh bout of killings of civilian protesters by Army bullets. Five civilians have been killed, and several have suffered injuries that may cripple them for life. Once more, Kashmir has been plunged into the cycle of killings, protests, more killings, accompanied by curfews and internet bans.

The episode was triggered when civilians came on the streets of Handwara to protest the alleged molestation of a minor girl by Army personnel. The Army responded by firing on and killing three civilians. When people came on the streets in other parts of northern Kashmir to protest the killings, the Army again responded by killing more civilians.

The handling of the complaint of alleged molestation by the J&K Police has been rife with shocking violations of laws and norms. By law, the police should have promptly registered an FIR and recorded the girl’s statement before a magistrate. Instead, the police instead illegally recorded and released a video of the girl that denied molestation by the Army and revealed the identity of the girl, thus compromising her privacy and safety. The girl’s statement before the magistrate (denying molestation by the Army) has been recorded only after the police held the girl, her father and aunt in illegal custody for several days. While such a statement might have carried credibility and calmed tempers had it been recorded on the very first day, it can no longer do so now, because the J&K Police itself has fatally compromised the credibility of the process and sent the unmistakable message that it cared more to protect the Army’s reputation than to ensure well-being and justice for a Kashmiri teenage girl. And whatever the facts about the alleged molestation, there can be no excuse for the killings of civilian protesters.

The Handwara episode has once again underlined how the heavy military deployment in civilian areas of Kashmir promotes a callous disregard for the value of Kashmiri lives and the right of Kashmiris to protest. Time and again, we see how civilian protests and stone pelting by young people in Kashmir are invariably met with bullets aimed to kill, while similar protests in other states are generally handled with more restraint, with police action intended at dispersing rather than killing protesters.

The Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has made some token expressions of anguish and has appealed to the Union Defence Minister to rein in the Army and prevent civilian killings. But the very ineffectualness of these gestures expose the opportunism of the PDP, and the yawning gap between Kashmir’s main political parties and the agony of Kashmir’s people.

The BJP Government at the Centre and its increased footprint in the Valley is undoubtedly intensifying the alienation of Kashmiri people. The attempts by vested interests including Central Ministers to create polarization and hatred by fanning up hyper-jingoist frenzy in NIT Srinagar are a case in point. The calculated attacks on Kashmiri students in various campuses all over India, and the use of sedition laws to suppress protests against the execution of Afzal Guru, are all sending the message to Kashmiris that their voices will be gagged and criminalised.

The Congress and National Conference have condemned the current round of killings. P Chidambaram, who was Home Minister in the UPA Government has preached against a militarized approach to Kashmir and has even called for a repeal of the AFSPA. But when he himself was Home Minister, he and his Government presided over a spree of killings of civilian protesters in Kashmir in 2010, and the cover-up of the Shopian rape and murder in 2009.

The glaring contrast in the ways the BJP in power deals with protests and agitations in Kashmir and other states can only further alienate and anger the common people of Kashmir. In Haryana Jats were allowed to go on a veritable rampage in the name of reservations and the Khattar government came to a political settlement. In Gujarat, militant protests by the powerful Patel lobby do not lead to an unleashing of state terror. But protests in Kashmir, on any issue whatsoever, are always sought to be silenced and crushed militarily. The largely biased coverage of the killings by the Indian media, painting protesting Kashmiri civilians as violent and the Army brutality as a display of nationalism, adds further to Kashmir’s agony and alienation.

The rhetoric of ‘development’ and ‘governance’ is no substitute for a political solution to the central issue of Kashmiri self-determination and questions of denial of justice in Kashmir. The first precondition for meaningful political dialogue must be the withdrawal of Army from civilian areas in Kashmir; the scrapping of draconian laws like the AFSPA and PSA; a credible process of truth and justice in the various instances of fake encounters, disappearances, mass graves, and sexual assaults in Kashmir; and the freedom of political expression and protest for the Kashmiri people, both in the Valley and in the rest of India.

AIPF Organises National Convention in Delhi

The All India People’s Forum (AIPF) held a national convention on the theme “Deepening socio-economic crisis: Way forward for peoples struggles to defend country and democracy“ on 18 April 2016 at the Constitution Club in Delhi. This national convention was held in the backdrop of a deepening agrarian and economic crisis, unemployment, growing fascist assaults and brutal crackdown on democratic movements in campuses across the country. The AIPF, since its inception a year ago, has been at the forefront of voicing the entire range of peoples’ concerns across many states. The convention was attended by activists from various peoples struggles, including Dr. Binayak Sen, Sunilam (Samajwadi Samagam), Prof. Jagmohan Singh, John Dayal, Himanshu Kumar, Isha Khandelwal (Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group), Roma Mallick (All India Forum of Forest Working People), Dr. Manzoor Alam, Shahid Kamal, Anil Chamadia, Anand Swaroop Verma, Vidyabhushan Rawat, ND Pancholi, Ambarish Rai, Dipankar Bhattacharya (CPI-ML), Bhimrao Bansode (Lal Nishan Party – Leninist), Mangat Ram Pasla (CPM Punjab), as well as student leaders from JNU, FTII and elsewhere.

Addressing the convention, Sunilam, convenor of the Samajwadi Samagam, talked about the massive ongoing repression on the farmers’ movement in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Sunilam himself had been jailed before for leading farmer’s protests. In the midst of a huge agrarian and economic crisis, farmers’ are also bearing the brunt of brutal repression, he mentioned. John Dayal spoke of the persecution of minorities, “Islamophobia has become state policy under the Modi government”, he said.

Speaking of the ongoing assault on democracy in Chhattisgarh and especially in Bastar, Himanshu Kumar highlighted the fact that the present state of repression has a history, and traces back beyond the present BJP-Modi regime. One would have to think beyond the Congress-BJP binary, he pointed out. Isha Khandelwal, of the Jadgalpur Legal Aid Group, also spoke eloquently and in detail about the ongoing repression of all democratic voices in Bastar: “When we went to meet the Inspector General of Police Kalluri, he told us that they needed to take land away from people to give it to corporations. Clearly, what is underway is a cleansing operation, where people are being thrown out”, she said.

Roma Mallick of the All India Union of the Forest Working People spoke of the land grab and police repression in Uttar Pradesh, when forest people try to defend their legal rights. Dr. Binayak Sen said that he himself had got bail on sedition charges from the Supreme Court, and he was proud and happy that young students today are battling the sedition law and state repression on all dissenting voices He also talked of rampant malnutrition, poverty and deaths, and the various government’s complete disinterest in addressing this horrific situation.

Dipankar Bhattacharya, general secretary of the CPI(ML), talked about the importance of not just resistance, but also of the need to launch a counter offensive: “It is a time of both crisis as well as potential, and students are to be congratulated because they have taken on the task of launching a counter offensive by carrying forward the legacy of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar”, he said. Bhimrao Bansode, secretary of the Lal Nishan Party – Leninist, mentioned that the Congress governments could not protect activists such as Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and Prof. Kalburgi and neither have they booked their killers and ensure justice. The RSS-BJP is trying desperately to appropriate Ambedkar, but they will never succeed because of their inherent differences between the RSS’ worldview and Ambedkar vision, he said. Mangat Ram Pasla, general secretary of CPM (Punjab) said that in Punjab and all over the country, farmers are suffering from drought and an unprecedented agrarian crisis, while the Modi government is busy protecting the likes of Vijay Mallya.

The conference was also attended by Manzoor Alam of the Milli Council, Rajeev Yadav from the Rihai manch in Uttar Pradesh, Shahid Kamal from the Rashtra Seva Dal, ND Pancholi, Vijay Pratap of the Samajwadi Samagam, Anand Swaroop Varma, journalist Anil Chamadia and others.

Student leaders who have been battling sedition charges and a brutal crackdown by the ABVP-RSS-BJP were felicitated by the convention. JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar was felicitated by Dr. Binayak Sen. Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, former JNUSU office bearers Ashutosh Kumar and Anant Prakesh Narayan, current JNUSU general secretary Rama Naga, and GSCASH representative Aishwarya Adhikari, as well Rakesh Shukla from the FTII were felicitated.

The following resolutions were passed by the Convention:

The Convention:

1) Demands an urgent intervention to resolve the drought crisis, agrarian crisis and farmers’ distress including writing off of farmers’ debts and a special package for drought-affected farmers; expansion of MNREGA and Food Security Act in the drought affected regions; and rolling back of interest rate reduction on small savings.

2) Demands an immediate end to the military repression and firing on civilians in the Kashmir Valley and repeal of the AFSPA.

3) Demands disbanding of all private militia in Bastar and stern action against police officers complicit in attacks on and eviction of activists and journalists in Bastar.

4) Demands punishment of Ministers and other authorities responsible for the crackdown on campuses, victimisation of student activists and the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula.

5) Demands enactment of a ‘Rohith Act’ to protect Dalit students from discrimination on campuses; restoration of UGC scholarships and funds that have been slashed and roll-back of fee hikes in IITs and higher-education institutions.

6) Demands stern action to recover all dues to public sector banks from Vijay Mallya, Mukesh Ambani, and blacklisting of all wilful corporate loan defaulters.

7) Demands scrapping of the Sedition Law and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

8) Pays tribute to Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar on the occasion of his 125th Birth Anniversary Year, and calls upon people to uphold his mission to annihilate caste, and achieve a truly egalitarian and democratic India.

9) Calls for a united people’s resistance against the countrywide campaign of communal bullying and violence unleashed by the Sangh Parivar on a range of pretexts ranging from beef to Bharat Mata slogans.

10) Calls for powerful, united struggles to defend the democratic rights of workers, peasants, women, Dalits, Muslims, Christians, adivasis and all citizens and resist the corporate-communal-fascist offensive.

Beating of a Muslim Youth on Pretext of Possessing Beef in Ranchi

In an incident which took place on 27 March in Chanho near Ranchi, a Muslim youth travelling in a tempo was so brutally beaten by the police on suspicion that he was in possession of beef that he had to be hospitalized in a serious condition. When he was searched, no beef was found on him. People who held a road block to protest against this incident were also threatened.

When CPI(ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya, who was in Jharkhand at the time, came to know of the incident he went to Chanho and also met the youth in hospital. He called for a struggle to ensure justice for the young man. He said that the BJP government is inflicting a reign of terror on the entire country in a planned and calculated manner, which is why people belonging to minority communities are living in the shadow of fear under the Raghuvar government in Jharkhand. He added that the Balumath incident is, if anything, even more brutal than the Dadri incident, and the real murderers are being protected. It is under this agenda of the Sangh that frenzy and passions are being incited under the guise of nationalism.

National Trade Unions’ Convention in Delhi

General Strike on 2 September 2016 Announced

A national convention of workers was held on 30 March 2016, at the Mavlankar Hall in New Delhi, under the joint banners of the country’s central trade unions. The convention issued a declaration calling for a countrywide general strike on 2 September 2016 to strengthen the agitation against the government’s neglect of workers’ demands and the growing attacks on workers’ rights. It is noteworthy that last year on this same date the working class of the country had held a countrywide strike to protest against the Modi government.

The central trade unions which participated in the convention were AICCTU, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, UTUC, and LPF. The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) did not participate in this convention. Independent national federations and organizations from various sectors such as banking, insurance, defence, railways as well as Central/State workers participated in the convention. The convention was addressed by AICCTU National Secretary Santosh Roy, AITUC General Secretary Gurudas Dasgupta, CITU General Secretary Tapan Sen, HMS General Secretary Harbhajan Singh Sidhu, UTUC leader Abani Roy, INTUC General Secretary Sanjeeva Reddy, AIUTUC General Secretary Shankar Saha and other union leaders.

Addressing the convention, Com. Santosh Roy said that the present government brings to mind the slavery practiced by the British government. The Modi government is attacking and oppressing workers and farmers from all directions. However, the working class will put up a historic fight in the same way that it played an important role in the freedom struggle. He further said that the truth of the current situation is revealed by the way in which the judiciary has passed anti-worker sentences in the Pricol, Maruti and Honda cases on the one hand and remains silent on the people who loot the country’s resources and spread communal hatred and violence, on the other hand. He called upon workers, farmers, students, dalits, adivasis, women, and all struggling sections to come together in rock-solid unity and make the strike on 2 September a huge success.

CPI(ML) Campaign In Tamilnadu For Upcoming Assembly Elections

On Dr. Ambedkar’s birth anniversary, the concluding day of the “Save nation, Save Democracy“ campaign, public meetings introducing CPI(ML) candidates in the upcoming Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu were held in 10 constituencies. In a well-attended public meeting organized by workers of Pricol, Shanthi Gears and other industries at Perianaickanpalayam in Coimbatore, CPI(ML) candidates Com. Velmurugan (standing from Goundampalayam) and Com. Natraj (standing from the Mettupalayam constituency) were introduced by Com. Kumarasamy, CPI(ML) politburo member. In the Ambattur constituency, CPI(ML) candidate Com. Palanivel, a worker with the Murugappa group of companies and state secretary of AICCTU, was introduced by Com. A S Kumar, CPI(ML) State Committee Member. Chennai district secretary Com. Sekar addressed the meeting, and both organized as well as unorganized sector workers participated.

Com. Janakiraman, who is the state General secretary of AIARLA and the CPI(ML) candidate from the Madhavaram constituency in Tiruvellore district, was introduced by CPI(ML) state committee member Com. Jawahar. Com. Venkatesan, state secretary of AIARLA, is contesting from Ulundurpet, and he was introduced by central committee member Com. Balasundaram. Rural poor, and mostly women, attended the meeting where his candidacy was announced. In Sriprumpudur, which is an SC seat and the automobile hub of Tamil Nadu, a worker with Asian Paints Com. Rajesh is the CPI(ML) candidate. RYA national secretary Com. Bharathi addressed the meeting, and workers from many industries assembled in the meeting. Kumarapalayam in Namakkal District is a powerloom centre and Com. Govindaraj, leader of powerloom workers and CPI(ML) State Committee Member is contesting. Com. Chandramohan introduced him In a public meeting.

Com. Vanitha, a women worker of MNREGA, has been fielded from Gandarvakottai is an SC seat in Pudukottai district. Com.Jayanthi is contesting from Vedachandur in Dindigul district, and she was introduced by Com. N K Natarajan. Com. Antony muthu is the CPI(ML) candidate from Colachel in Kanyakumari district, and he was introduced by state committee member Com. Sankarapandian.

Jan Sammelan in Gorakhpur

The Gorakhpur units of CPI (ML) and AIARLA jointly organized a Jan Sammelan ‘Naye Bharat ke Vaaste, Bhagat Singh-Ambedkar ke Raaste’ on 3 April 2016 at Ambedkar Park in Langdi Gulriha village under the Bhagat Singh-Ambedkar Sandesh Yatra campaign. Speakers addressing the function called for an enhanced struggle to realize the India of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar’s dreams.

Inaugurating the conference, National Secretary of Jan Sanskriti Manch Manoj Kumar Singh said that today the RSS and BJP are claiming to teach ‘nationalism’ to the inheritors of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar, whereas the truth is that the RSS had nothing to do with the freedom struggle and never struggled for the rights and issues of dalits, workers, farmers and women in independent India. He pointed out that RSS-BJP had done nothing except to cause divisiveness among the people of the country and strengthen the caste system. Describing the freedom struggle in detail, he said that Bhagat Singh and Baba Saheb had nurtured a vision of ending inequality at every level in the country and establishing a society free from oppression, and spent their entire lives working for the fulfillment of this vision. Today it is up to us to take their struggle forward and achieve the India of their dreams.

Former President of Gorakhpur Journalists’ Press Club Ashok Choudhury spoke about the prevailing conditions in education, health, agriculture and labour and said that a conspiracy is on today to deprive the country’s poor youth of education. Apart from education, budgetary cuts are also being made in health and other social security projects, resulting in dire distress for the poor. He cautioned the people about the RSS-BJP’s attempt to co-opt the country’s icons as their own.

Advocate Shyam Milan spoke of the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula and said that the youth of the country would not let Rohith’s martyrdom go in vain and would give a befitting reply to the Modi government which supports Brahminism. CPI(ML) district Secretary Rajesh Sahani spoke in detail about the aim of this campaign by the Party, and said that the Modi government in its 2 years in power had attacked farmers, workers, intellectuals and youth, and now it has launched a murderous attack on freedom, in the name of ‘nationalism’. Even programmes organized on Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar are being attacked because they are afraid of the ideas and thoughts of these two icons. These attacks are being strongly protested and we must strengthen these protests further. Presiding over the meeting, Com. Shriram spoke about the attacks on dalits in and around Gorakhpur and called upon dalits and the poor to join the CPI (ML)’s struggle against these attacks. The conference was also addressed by Com. Ajay Bharti, Ramanand, Manorama, Vinod Paswan, and others. AIARLA district Secretary Vinod Bharadwaj conducted the proceedings.

State-Wide Protests In Jharkhand Against Threats To CPI(ML) MLA

On the evening of 31 March, CPI(ML) MLA Rajkumar Yadav received a threat on his mobile from an extremist group PLFI that if he does not pay up Rs 20 lakhs within one week he will be killed just as Mahendra Singh was killed.

CPI(ML) said this was a political conspiracy, and announced a state-wide protest on 2 April. This is not a simple case of threat for extortion by an extremist group, but a conspiracy by the same forces which carried out the political conspiracy to murder Com. Mahendra Singh in order to stop the growing influence of the CPI (ML) in Giridih district as well as in the entire State. The politician involved in the conspiracy to kill Com. Mahendra Singh is the present BJP State President Ravindra Rai, who is from Raj Dhanwar and whom Com. Rajkumar had given a tough fight in the last Lok Sabha election. It is noteworthy that in the recently concluded Panchayat elections, CPI(ML) representatives won in good numbers, enhancing the political profile of the Party. On the other hand, growing disenchantment of the people poses a tough challenge to Ravindra Rai’s being re-elected in the Koderma Parliamentary constituency.

The Party held a state-wide protest on 2 April to demand a high level enquiry into this matter and arrest of the true culprits. Ranchi CPI(ML) State Secretary Janardan Prasad led the joint protest march by AISA, AIPF and CPI(ML) from the Party office to the Albert Ekka chowk where an effigy of the government was burnt.

Addressing the protest meeting Com. Janardan Prasad said that democratic rights and the true representatives of the people are not safe under the Raghuvar government. Com. Mahendra Singh was killed in a political conspiracy during the rule of the BJP’s Arjun Munda government. Now under the Raghuvar government, Com. Rajkumar is being threatened. The people of Jharkhand will give a befitting reply to this. The protest programme was attended by AISA members as well as CPI(ML), Jan Sanskriti Manch and AIPWA members. Protests were also held in Godda, Devghar and Dhanbad.

Protest In Delhi Against Fresh Spate Of Feudal-Casteist Murders In Bihar

AISA organized a protest demonstration and effigy burning of the Bihar government in Delhi’s JNU on 17 April 2016 against the fresh spate of feudal murders in Bihar. In the past month, three dalit CPI(ML) activists – comrades Mahesh Ram, Rampravesh Ram and Garo Paswan – have been brutally murdered by feudal forces in Begusarai. Clearly, they were punished for their ‘crime’ of leading battles of the poor for land, rights and dignity.

The protest was addressed by JNUSU general secretary and AISA leader Rama Naga, former JNUSU general secretary Chintu (who herself is from Bhojpur and has witnessed CPI(ML)’s struggles against feudal privilege, oppression and violence there), DSF leader Pratim Ghoshal, activist Umar Khalid and others. Comrade Rama Naga spoke of how the poor and the Dalits are fighting the might of the state, and the might of the entrenched feudal powers with their ideological power and the strength of organized struggles of the masses. “Feudal oppression and killings in Bihar have always existed. What has changed since the 1980s is the brave fight back by the poor”, said Umar Khalid. The protest was also attended by representatives from the Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association, Democratic Students’ Federation (DSF), Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and the Democratic Students’ Union.

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