ML Update | No. 19| 2016

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 19 | No. 19| 03 – 09 May 2016

Stand by the Fighting Students of JNU

Unable to stop the ongoing assertion of students in JNU by slapping sedition charges and student leaders to jail, the Modi government has now gone back to invoking the Hyderabad model of punitive action against JNU students. In an unprecedented farcical act of ‘disciplinary action’, the JNU administration has imposed heavy penalties of Rs. 10,000 to 20,000 on some twenty students, additionally rusticating some of them for varying periods of academic year. Some students have also been evicted from their hostel accommodation and even denied entry rights into the campus. All this has been done in the name of a so-called High Level Enquiry Committee which was constituted in a most arbitrary manner violating the well established norms of the University. Even though the report was submitted to the VC in March itself, the VC chose to wait till end April when students were expected to be completely preoccupied with examinations and submission of papers thereby putting them to an added disadvantage.

But this cowardly calculation of the JNU administration has failed to deter the fighting students of JNU. Since April 27, nineteen leading student activists, including most of the victimised students, of JNU have been staging an indefinite hunger strike at the Administrative Block of JNU which has been rechristened as Freedom Square since the February crackdown of the police and the massive student-teacher resistance that followed. The hunger strike enjoys the total support of the JNU community and solidarity fasts and other solidarity actions are being organised across the country. In an encouraging expression of student-worker unity, contract workers of Mumbai Municipal Corporation collected Rs 10,000, the fine amount slapped on JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar. And on the 1st of May, students and workers of JNU jointly celebrated the historic May Day in support of the hunger strikers.

JNU is widely known as a bastion of the Left student movement in India. But this has been possible because of the institutionalised and deep-rooted democratic environment of the campus. This is one of the few campuses in the country where elections are held every year and elections witness a battle of ideas and not a vulgar competitive display of money- and muscle-power. The attack on JNU students is therefore an attack on the best model of campus democracy in the country. In this era of brazen commercialisation of education and the entry of foreign and private universities, JNU remains an exceptional institution of eminence and excellence where students from deprived and underprivileged sections and remote and backward regions can still acquire quality education. This has been made possible by the conscious and consistent efforts of the Left student movement and the AISA in particular to secure the full benefits of reservations in the face of a virulent anti-reservation lobby which has been quite active in the campus and has been the mainstay of the ABVP. Incidentally, a key organiser of the anti-reservation lobby was chosen to head the so-called High Level Enquiry Committee and most of the victimised students come from dalit-OBC and minority communities!

Most importantly, JNU has developed a model of student politics which concerns itself not only with the immediate world and career-related issues of students but with every major problem facing the people. JNU students have been siding consistently with the peasants and adivasis fighting against land acquisition, with the unorganised and contract workers fighting for trade union rights, with the dalit and minority communities’ quest for justice in the face of state-sponsored feudal and communal violence, with the women of the country in the battle against patriarchy, with the people of North-East and Kashmir in their battle against the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act. JNU student leaders have therefore been targeted by ruling establishments cutting across political boundaries. JNU leaders were arrested during the Emergency of Indira Gandhi, Chandrashekhar was killed in Siwan by RJD goons backed by Shahabuddin with the full blessings of Lalu Prasad Yadav and today JNU leaders bear the brunt of the Modi government’s attack on students and universities.

As the students of JNU wage a most crucial battle for justice and democracy, every fighting Indian must side and stand with the fighting JNU community. It is a battle India must win to thwart the fascist offensive of the Modi Government and Sangh brigade.

5TH Jharkhand State Conference of CPI(ML)

The Jharkhand unit of the CPI(ML) held its 5th State convention in Com. Chinta Singh auditorium at Devghar (Rohith Vemula Nagar), the historic land of ‘Hul’, with a resolve to build a people’s alternative to the Modi-Raghuvar corporate-fascist rule. PB member Com. Prabhat Kumar Choudhury and CCW member Com. Rajaram Singh were the central observers and PB member Com. DP Bakshi was the special guest at the convention.

CPI(ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya spoke of the Sanghi attempts to arouse communal passions in Jharkhand and the ‘local policy’ of the government, and stressed that we will not allow Jharkhand to become another Gujarat, or indeed another Chhattisgarh.

Com. DP Bakshi said that the neo-liberal economic policy had adversely affected all sections of society and the Party must take up the responsibility for organizing all these sections.

CPI (M) State Secretary Com. GK Bakshi, CPI State Secretary Com. KD Singh, and Com. Arun Mandal of the Forward Bloc also addressed the conference.

Com. Janardan Prasad presented a document for discussion. Of the 225 delegates, 35 presented their views on the document which was later adopted unanimously. A 41-member State committee was elected, with Com. Janardan Prasad being re-elected as State Secretary.

Uphold the legacy of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar: Advocates’ Association convention in Chennai

Democratic Advocates’ Association (DAA) organized a convention in Chennai on 27 April at the Bar council of Tamil Nadu Meeting hall. The theme of the convention was – ‘Uphold the legacy of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar”. The convention was presided over by Com. Bharathi, state convenor of DAA. The speakers included Mr. Hariparanthaman, retired Madras High court Judge, Eminent Lawyers like Ms.Vaigai, Mr.Vijayakumar, and Mr.K.M.Ramesh, PB member of CPI(ML), com. Kumarasamy, Ex-Bar council member Mr.Velmurugan , Mr. Milton of Peoples’ right protection center and Mr. Tamilselvan. Speakers called for repeal of Sedition act and enactment of Rohith Act against caste discrimination in institutions of learning. The Convention honoured Advocate Tamilselvan, who fought for Tamil to be made as High court’s official language.

AIPWA Conference in Chandauli

The 2nd Chandauli (Uttar Pradesh) district conference of AIPWA against the growing oppression and violence against women concluded on 17 March with the demand for safety, employment, dignity and freedom for women. About 500 women attended the conference which was inaugurated by senior AIPWA (Varanasi) leader Com. Vibha Wahi. AIPWA State Joint Secretary Com. Kusum Verma critiqued the Modi and Akhilesh governments on their tall talk of women’s safety and dignity. AIPWA leader Com. Anita spoke of several instances where AIPWA had intervened against workplace sexual harassment in Chandauli district. Com. Nisha Mishra pointed out that the Central and State governments were taking no steps for the wage increase and regularization of ASHA and Anganwadi workers. The chief guest, AIDWA district Secretary Com. Lalmani Vishwakarma also stressed the need for women to organize themselves and struggle. CPI(ML) Chandauli district Secretary Com. Shashikant Kushwaha said that the Rail Freight Corridor project affecting Chandauli will not only affect the livelihoods of farmers but also the lives of the women and children in the family.

A 23-member district council and 9-member district executive was elected through the convention, which elected Com. Anita as Secretary, Com. Munni as President, Com. Reena and Sunita as Vice-Presidents, and Com. Sabeena and Jyoti as Joint Secretaries.

CPI(ML) demands arrest of mining mafia in East Godavari

The mining mafia has been actively looting the laterite mines in Chinturu, Gajenapudi and Vanthada villages in Prathipadu Mandal of East Godavari district with the help of local revenue, forest officers and active support and participation by leaders of political parties. On 2nd May, under the leadership of CPI ML (liberation), the local struggle committee opposing laterite mining’ conducted a mass rally from R.T.C bus stand to the Tehsildar’s office demanding the arrest of the mining mafia and also the recovery of nearly 500 crores looted. Hundreds of agricultural workers, small farmers, Dalits and tribals participated in the march.

Com Bugatha Bangaru Raju, party CCM said that the Mandal revenue officer had issued NOCs (No objection certificates) without any enquiry. After people protested, the District Joint Collector admitted this in his report and recommended a fine of Rs .12 crores on mining companies. But no action was taken, and some suspended officers got stay orders from the courts. Com. Raju demanded immediate action offending officers and mining mafia.

Com Harinath, District Secretary of CPI LM (liberation), East Godavari said the AP Assembly enquiry committee on the scam found that more than Rs. 500 crores worth of laterite had been illegally mined in forest land.

After the sit in dharana in front of the Revenue office, the committee leaders submitted a memorandum to the authorities. Along with CPL (ML) leaders, Com R. Simhachalam, president of the adivasi Girijana Sangam, Com Manukonda Lachababu, Apparao, T.Nageswararao also participated in the protest.

Hunger Strike in JNU

Since April 25th, 19 students under the leadership of JNUSU have been sitting on a fast unto death demanding withdrawal of the unjust and vindictive rustications and fines. Those on hunger strike include JNUSU President Kanhaiya, JNUSU Gen, Sec, Rama Naga, Ex-JNUSU VP Anant Prakash Narayan, Ex JNUSU Gen. Sec. Chintu Kumari, JNUSU Convenor Shweta Raj, Umar Khalid and others. As we go to press the strike has entered its 6th day. Teachers from different universities and activists visit the site daily. Many cultural groups like Sangwari have also performed at the site of the Hunger Strike.

The ABVP which is not getting any support from the students in JNU and other universities in a desperate attempt has been trying to provoke students and teachers.

On 3rd May the JNU Teachers Association in solidarity observed strike for one day. AISA RYA held a National Solidarity Hunger Strike on 2-3 May across the country. Inside Ara jail, some 45 prisoners led by RYA leader Comrade Manoj Manzil went on fast in solidarity with the JNU students.

May Day 2016

Some highlights of the 2016 May Day events from around the world include a massive rally by hundreds of thousands of Cubans which condemned the campaign to ‘destabilize’ leftist governments around Latin America.

In France, May Day came in the wake of a huge ongoing uprising of workers and youth against a proposed new labour law legislation that would be a major blow to workers’ rights. The Socialist Party Government introduced this proposed reform in February, unleashing waves of protests. On March 9, 500,000 people participated in a national day of action. 1.2 million joined trade union demonstrations in more than 250 cities and towns on March 31. On the night of March 31st, despite rain, hundreds gathered night in Paris’s Place de la République, in the first of the “Nuit Debout” occupations. On April 9, tens of thousands more marched in Paris and other French cities against the law. Nuit Debout night-time vigils and mass meetings are now being held all over France, against the proposed labour law and also calling for political change. The “state of emergency” declared in Paris since the November 13 terror attacks have given the police a green signal to crackdown on the protests against the labour law, with tear gas and violent beatings. In March, a video of high school student protesters being violently beaten by the police led to outrage and criminal charges against the officers. The Labour Minister Myriam El-Khomri has declared that the government would not "cede to the street." But as of now, it seems that the street won’t cede to the Government. Between May 1 and May 3, there have been huge demonstrations against the labour law, raising the slogan ‘Non Merci’ (No Thank You); the French Parliament is debating the labour law amendment bill (watered down now in the face of the protests but still unacceptable to people) since May 3 even as we go to press.

CPI(ML) and AICCTU May Day Events

May Day saw gatherings all over India protesting the attacks on workers’ rights and the open and covert erosion of labour laws by the Modi Government.

In Delhi, workers and students charged with ‘sedition’ showed solidarity with each other. Jawaharlal Nehru University students have been punished by the University authorities for hosting or supporting a poetry reading event against atrocities in Kashmir. On May Day, contractual workers of the University, including sanitation and mess staff, who are part of the AICCTU-affiliated All Indian General Kamgar Union marched with students on the campus to the spot where 19 students are on hunger fast against the vindictive punishments. Comrades Urmila and Anju, who are leaders of the Union, reminded people that it was united student and worker protests that forced contractors and the University to implement minimum wage laws, maternity entitlements, provide gloves and masks, and so on. N 2007, students protesting for these workers’ rights had been rusticated by the University. They said the Government and University was branding those students as ‘anti-national’, who had stood up for the rights of workers and all oppressed people. The protest was also addressed by JNUSU GS Rama Naga and other hunger striking students, JNUSU VP Shehla Rashid and CPIML Politburo member Kavita Krishnan. In the evening, as a token of their love and solidarity, the workers also presented ‘PRICOL Solidarity’ postcards (supporting the workers of the Pricol factory of Coimbatore who have been unjustly convicted) to the hunger striking students.

In the evening, a massive march by all trade unions was held in Delhi, from Ramlila Grounds to the Town Hall, calling for a campaign to make the All India Workers’ Strike of September 2 a success.

AICCTU and Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha jointly organized a rally and meeting on the occasion of May Day at Rasmarha Industrial area in Durg district, which was addressed by Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha leaders Bhimrao Bagde and Janaklal Thakur, AICCTU leaders Brijendra Tiwari, Ashok Miri, and others. The speakers condemned the anti-worker policies of the Raman Singh government.

At 5 PM a joint trade union meeting was held at Ambedkar Chowk, Power House, Bhilai, attended by AITUC, AICCTU, HMS, CMM, and AIUTUC. A workers’ meeting was held at the stone quarry in Mura, Raipur. A meeting of AICCTU activists was held at Korba which was addressed by BL Netam and others. CMM organized a meeting at Kota, Bilaspur.

In Punjab May Day rallies were organised in Barnala and Gurdaspur in which several hundreds of workers participated.

In Hyderabad, the May Day was celebrated by holding a programme with building construction workers in the city.

May Day programmes were also held in Guwahati, Nagaon and Tinsukia.

In Chennai and Ambattur of Tamil Nadu, workers from OLG, Innovator, Jay Engineering, Standard Chemicals, Mercury Fittings and TI Diamond Chain assembled in front of their respective factory gates in the morning and hoisted red flags. In the evening, a Public meeting was organized in Ambattur Industrial estate, thronged by workers belonging to both organized and unorganized sectors. The meeting was addressed by Comrade Kumarasamy, All India President of AICCTU and the MLA candidate for the Ambattur constituency, Com. Palanivel, a worker in TI Diamond Chain factory. In Coimbatore red flags were hoisted at Pricol plant 1, plant 3, Suba Plastics and Shanthi Gears factories. Mass meeting here were addressed by AICCTU, Pricol Union and CPIML leaders as well as Comrades Velmurugan and Natraj, MLA candidates of Goudampalayam and Mettupalayam constituencies. After the meeting, 200 workers joined the election campaign for these candidates. In Tiruvellore, Namakkal and several other districts also, after the hoisting of the flag, the workers left to campaign for CPIML candidates in the Assembly elections. In Tirunelveli, a motorbike rally marched through main streets of the town and culminated at Metal Factory at Industrial Estate.

In Puducherry also May Day was observed with much enthusiasm in midst of election campaign.

AITUC, AICCTU and CITU observed May Day together in Bhubaneshwar.

In Jharkhand, the Labour Ministry in Ranchi to snatch May Day from the workers. The Ministry tried to lure the workers by presenting them with shoes and caps and trying to convince them that the unions were no longer needed as they governments were taking care of them. The workers rebuffed these attempts and independently observed May Day in protest against the rampant violations of labour laws by State and Central Governments.

Colliery workers under the banner of the CMWU observed May Day in several areas of Dhanbad District. CMWU held a ‘May Day Week’ with week-long gatherings and protest events in the district. Colliery workers also held events in the Ara and Topar Collieries in the Kujju area. In Bokaro, the AICCTU organised a gathering of construction workers. In the evening, AICCTU together with CITU and UTUC held a May Day mass meeting. A march was held in Bermo and a mass meeting at Chandankyari. AICCTU, CITU and AITUC held a mass meeting together at Giddisi in Ramgarh district, announcing their intention to hold a May Day Week with week-long events. Workers at the Steel Plant in Hesla also held a mass meeting.

Workers of the Banjhedih Thermal Plant in Koderma District held a meeting at the Plant gate. Workers held meetings at Gumla and Palkot in Gumla district. Mid Day Meal workers in Garhwa District held a May Day mass meeting together with the Karmchari Mahasangh employees association. The Akaal Virodhi Manch (Platform Against Drought) comprising CPIML, All India People’s Forum, Jharkhand Jan Sangharsh Morcha, the Daily Wagers Union and other groups held a May Day street corner meeting. Workers marched on May Day in Kundhit block, Jamtada district. The Construction Workers’ Union held a March in Ranchi.

The Mid Day Meal Workers Union – Rasoiya Sangh held meetings all over Ranchi, Palamu and Hazaribagh districts.

Punish Adani Management For Accident That Killed 7 Workers in Gujarat

CPIML condemns the criminal negligence that has caused seven workers to be killed and six others severely burned after an accident at the Adani Power Limited (APL)’s Mundra Power plant in Kutch on April 20. Most of these workers are from Bihar and Jharkhand.

The internal enquiry into the accident by the Adani management and by the local district administration cannot be trusted. The Gujarat Government and the BJP, including Prime Minister Modi are known to enjoy a close relationship with Adani, and so a cover-up is most likely. The CPIML demands an independent time-bound judicial probe to identify and punish the perpetrators.

Corporations have enjoyed a sense of impunity since the Bhopal disaster, and this has only been emboldened with the Modi Government’s bid to loosen labour and safety laws in the name of ‘self-certification’ to woo corporate to ‘Make In India.’

The ‘Gujarat Model’ that the Central Government headed by Narendra Modi favours, is an openly anti-worker, pro-corporate one. In Gujarat, authorities have recently admitted that the Gujarat Government under Modi “did nothing” for construction workers’ welfare, compensating only 7 out of 731 workplace deaths, because of rules that only allow ‘registered’ construction workers to qualify for compensation. Not surprisingly, these rules are in tandem with the fact that Gujarat has among the worst rates in the country for registration of construction workers in welfare boards! Only 19% of Gujarat’s construction workers are registered, and expenditure on social security even for those registered workers is abysmally low.

The CPIML demands that labour and safety laws be strengthened all over the country to ensure punishment andblacklisting as well as criminal prosecution of companies and contractors for non-compliance.

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