A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 12 No. 49 01 – 07 DECEMBER 2009
Oppose the Continued Sell-out of Our National Interests
o one who knows anything about current trends in international relations, expected the Indian Prime Minister’s recent visit to Obama’s America to be a grand success. It was essentially a matter of testing waters, and in the event the visit turned out to be high in hype but low in substance. More worrisome, together with its prelude and postlude it proved to be yet another exercise in making Indian foreign policy subservient to America’s at the cost of our national priorities.
At the start of his journey, Manmohan Singh showered praise on the American economy, saying it has “the capacity to bounce back to its normal growth point.'' Contradicting the Chinese proposal that the dollar should be gradually replaced, as an international medium of exchange, by a supranational currency basket like the SDRs issued by the IMF, he said he saw no alternative to the U.S. dollar. His support was not limited to words alone. Before going to Washington he got his Cabinet to approve a nuclear-accident liability bill that seeks to cap liability of the reactor supplier at a mere $537 million (Rs2,500 crore) in case of mishap and makes the Indian state-run operator, rather than the foreign supplier, ultimately responsible for compensation. The bill -- intended to provide cover mainly to US firms (which, unlike France's Areva and Russia's Atomstroyexport, are in the private sector) -- seeks to further burden Indian taxpayers, rather than put the onus on the sellers of multibillion-dollar reactors.
For all these offerings, the Indian Premier achieved no progress, barring sweet words of “reassurance”, towards his dream deal. How could he? The Obama administration is openly reserved about the nuclear deal (Obama himself had tabled killer amendments to the agreement during the senate's ratification process in 2006) and the two countries are still struggling to bridge their differences over India's right to reprocess US-supplied nuclear fuel, which must be resolved before India can buy nuclear reactors from US companies. So, although India has kept two nuclear parks exclusively reserved for American firms, doubts have started being expressed whether the deal itself is turning sour.
The visit was not totally barren, of course. Manmohan and his team, which included leading Indian businessmen, had a chance to window-sell India to American CEOs and they did their job well enough. A number of MoUs as well as several other initiatives and agreements were signed, further tightening the imperialist noose around India’s neck. One of the most objectionable among them is the “Expansion of the U.S.-India Counterterrorism Cooperation Initiative”, which is expected to provide a new boost to the already growing FBI meddling in India’s internal affairs.
Mr Singh also offered shameless support to naked US aggression on a neighbouring Third World country when he told Washington’s top policy wonks that any “premature talk of exit [from Afghanistan] will only embolden the terrorists.” In perfect sync, India voted at the IAEA against Iran (for the third time in the last few years) the day after Singh left Washington. Notably, in addition to Brazil even Pakistan, and even the Karzai government in Kabul, which cannot survive without US military support, abstained from voting. India’s vote came a day after the US National Security Adviser James Jones urged New Delhi to play a role on the Iranian nuclear issue.
Clearly, the UPA government under Manmohan Singh wants us to believe that closer ties with Uncle Sam, at the cost of friendship with immediate neighbours and other developing countries, is a passport to peace, prosperity and power. But facts of history, particularly our experience over the past year, have proved to the contrary. 26/11 has shown that playing second fiddle to the US-Israel axis can only mean greater vulnerability to terror strikes while the economic crisis originating from the Mecca of capitalism has laid bare the pitfalls of imperialist globalisation and liberalisation.
All patriotic and democratic forces must therefore reject the comprador course of Manmohan Singh, oppose the entire spectrum of Indo-US strategic partnership and join the battle for safeguarding our already battered economic, political and strategic sovereignty.
South Orissa Bandh against Police Firing and Killing of Adivasi Activists at Narayanpatna
Narayanpatna is a block in Koraput district of Orissa (bordering AP), mostly populated by tribals and some dalits. Here, lands belonging to tribals have been grabbed over time by non-tribal landlords, liquor mafia etc, in violation of the Orissa Land Reforms Act and the Orissa Scheduled Areas Transfer of Immovable Property Regulation. In spite of the fact that the area falls under the 5th Schedule, the Government has made no efforts to recover and redistribute tribal land. The impoverished tribals here mostly work as bonded labour for landlords.
Some tribal youths led by Lachika Linga, himself a bonded labourer who managed to free himself from bondage, formed the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha, which led struggles to recover and redistribute adivasi lands illegally taken over by non-tribals. In retaliation, the Government in collusion with private companies and landlords began sponsoring Salwa Judum-type ‘peace committees’ that are basically private armies, and branding the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha as a ‘Maoist’ front.
Recently, in combing operations for alleged ‘Maoists’, the police indulged in severe repression and harassment of women and children. In protest, on 20 November, 200 CMAS members including 100 women came to Narayanpatna Police Station. When the police refused a delegation entry to discuss the issue with the OIC, the protestors broke open the gate and entered. A team of the main leaders of CMAS including one Singanna and Kumudini went to meet OIC. During the heated exchange between the OIC and Singanna, the OIC began to shout that he was being attacked by CMAS leaders, and on his orders, IRB guards on the roof of the police station began to fire on the crowd gathered outside. Hearing the sound of firing CMAS leader Singanna and others came out of the police station. Singanna was hit in the chest while he was walking out of the police compound. He received ten bullets in his chest and fell in front of the small police gate. Another CMAS member Andru Nachika of Bhaliaput village received bullet injuries and fell face down outside the police compound. Around 60 more persons have been injured and some are in a serious condition.
On 23 November, the cremation of Singanna and Andru Nachika was held, which was attended by CPI(ML) Liberation State Committee member Tirupati Gomango and AICCTU leader Mahendra Parida. The CPI(ML) Liberation, along with CPI(ML) New Democracy and other ML groups jointly gave a call for a South Orissa bandh, and our comrades participated in the bandh to make it a success in districts of Rayagada, Koraput, Kalahandi, Gajapati, and the state capital of Bhubaneswar, in the course of which some 100 Liberation activists were arrested. At Bhubaneswar, Liberation activists led by State Secretary Khitish Biswal, Mahendra Parida, Bansidhar Parida and Srinivas held a rail roko.
The protests continue as the police continue with arrests of supporters and sympathizers of the CMAS, branding it a ‘Maoist’ outfit. Tapan Mishra, an adviser of the CMAS, has been arrested as a ‘Maoist.’
25 years after the Bhopal Gas Disaster:
UPA Govt. and MP Govt Out to Bury the Truth and Bail out the Killers
n the night of December 2nd and the early morning of December 3rd 1984, some 40 tonnes of Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) spewed out of the Union Carbide Corporation’s pesticide plant in Bhopal, exposing over 5,00,000 people to the toxic fumes. 25,000-35,000 people died as a result, hundreds of thousands of persons were maimed for life, and entire future generations poisoned.
Union Carbide left without cleaning up the toxic chemicals dumped on the ground – and 25 monsoons have washed those toxins deep into the soil, poisoning the drinking water of the same people Carbide gassed 25 years ago. Studies have shown toxins to be present even in the breast milk of mothers living around the factory.
Yet the killers go free, and the polluter asks the victims to pay! The Indian Government has done nothing to demand that Warren Anderson, CEO of Carbide, be extradited to India to face trial. And Dow Chemicals, which has taken over Carbide, has refused to take responsibility for cleaning up the Union Carbide factory wastes.
Soon after the incident, Union Carbide denied that poisonous gases had been released, claiming that the stuff was merely like tear gas. Their doctors tried to peddle the story that all affected would soon be well. One of the Carbide doctors recommended sodium thiosulphate as treatment – but withdrew this (correct) advice, since success of this treatment would have proven that poisonous gases had crossed into the bloodstream, resulting in heavier damages for Carbide! The MP Govt then even banned the sodium thiosulphate treatment method and razed down clinics run by relief groups offering such treatment.
Today, the BJP Govt of MP and the Congress Govt at the Centre are united in their efforts to exonerate the killers.
Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh visited the Carbide factory site (off limits to the public due to Court orders, in view of the toxicity) in Bhopal recently. He proclaimed that since he was alive and well in spite of the visit, this was proof that the factory site is now harmless and no longer poisonous. So, Dow is not called upon to clean up any further!
On top of this, the Madhya Pradesh Government has now decided to throw open the doors of the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal to the general public as a tourist spot – as ‘proof’ that the poisons are gone and all is well! Madhya Pradesh Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Babulal Gaur has announced that the waste lying in the Union Carbide factory site here for the past 25 years is no longer toxic enough to adversely affect human beings.
The Bhopal survivors have, in response, invited the MP Chief Minister, Jairam Ramesh as well as heads of the research centres that have certified the wastes as harmless for human consumption, for a “feast” cooked out of the local water and factory wastes.
Indian ruling class parties and governments have done their best to roll out the red carpet for Dow. Among those who have pleaded and lobbied on Dow’s behalf between 2005 and 2007 are Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Home Minister (then Finance Minister) P. Chidambaram and Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, as well as Ratan Tata. However, public conscience in India refuses to forget or forgive Dow’s role. IIT students and alumni have campaigned hard against Dow being allowed to conduct recruitment on IIT campuses, or sponsor IIT events.
The Bhopal crime is a damning instance of how India’s ruling class is committed to defending corporate killers and MNCs at the cost of Indian people’s lives and safety. Shamefully, Dow’s long-term legal counsel who peddles all the lies on behalf of the killer MNC is none other than the Congress party spokesperson – Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
Kaiga: Warning of More Bhopals
On the very eve of the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, we have witnessed another disaster at the Kaiga nuclear plant in Karnataka, in which some 50 workers have been exposed to radiation. The Government’s response to this disaster is ominously similar to its response to Bhopal.
The Union Carbide website, in a statement on the disaster, says: “The gas leak could only have been caused by deliberate sabotage. Someone purposely put water in the gas storage tank, and this caused a massive chemical reaction. Process safety systems had been put in place that would have kept the water from entering into the tank by accident.” The same “no leak, but sabotage” line is being peddled at Kaiga too: with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) chief declaring that a “mischief-maker” put vials of radioactive tritium into the water cooler, and there was “no leak.” There have also been news stories declaring that the affected workers are “all well” and back at work (with no mention – and possibly no investigation – of the long-term effects of radiation). In India, most existing reactors have experienced accidents – for example the unexplained power surge at the Kakrapar reactor in 2004; the 1993 fire at Narora; the collapse of containment at Kaiga in 1994 – and any such accident could well cause a major disaster. Such dangers were pointed out by those who had campaigned against the Indo-US Nuke Deal. But such warning signals are deliberately played down by the Government which wants to peddle the lie that nuclear power is “safe, clean and green,” in order to make the Nuke Deal and the strategic partnership with the US, more palatable.
Poison on the Platter:
In October this year, India approved the commercial release of Bt Brinjal, the first ever such Genetically Modified (GM) food crop anywhere in the world with the toxin-producing Bt gene in it. The Bt Brinjal is produced as part of a US Artificial Insemination Department (USAID) programme called Agri-Biotechnology Support Programme [ABSP] – a Public Private Partnership of various institutions with MNCs Monsanto and Mahyco. This is a direct effect of the Indo-US Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture, signed alongside the Nuke Deal. Now, Supreme Court observer to the committee Dr Pushpa Bhargava, in his letter to the GEAC and Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, has revealed that Prof Arjula Reddy, Chairperson of the Expert Committee on whose recommendation the approval was granted, had complained of being under “tremendous pressure” to clear Bt Brinjal and had calls from Agricultural Minister, Genetic Engineer Approval Committee (GEAC) and industry.
Bhopal, Bt Brinjal, Kaiga – all are grim evidence of how governments are willing to lie to the people, even endanger their lives and allow them to be poisoned – all in order to serve corporate interests or partnership with the imperialist US.
On the eve of the 25th Anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, the people of India demand that the UPA Government:
Demand The Extradition Of Carbide Ceo Warren Anderson From The Us
Ensure Dow’s Liability For On-Site And Off-Site Cleanup
Blacklist Dow And Union Carbide
Guarantee Free Treatment At Local Area Hospitals
Withdraw Approval For Bt Brinjal
Institute An Independent Enquiry By Scientists Into The Kaiga Disaster
Protest against Power Plant in Nagapattinam District
A protest meeting opposing the proposed power plant near Sirkazhi in Nagapattinam dist, was held on 28th November. Two units of 500 MW each at the cost of Rs 5000 crore is in the pipeline according to the press release of PEL (Patel Engineering Limited). Of the total Rs 5000 crore investment, the company’s share will be only Rs. 1500 crore. Rest of the amount (Rs. 3500 crore will be mobilized from public sector banks. To bring coal from Indonesia for the power plant a jetty at the cost of Rs 500 crore in Poombhuhar would be developed. (Poombhuhar is also a heritage site). This will severely affect the fishing activity of the fisher folk. The Tamil Nadu Electricity Board will provide a 400 KV transmission line.
1013 acres of agricultural land at the cost of Rs. 15 crore was already acquired. Local leaders of various political parties were engaged in the land purchase spree. Though the project was being shaped up since 2007, only after the sudden and quiet land buying spree, the coastal people realized the danger and started raising their opposition. Both the fishing and agricultural community will lose their land, employment and livelihood. The social stability will be jeopardised.
In the face of the opposition from the local fisher-folk, the district Collector organized two public hearings and both ended abruptly as the people are vehemently opposed to the project. The collector could not pacify the agitated people. Then the company laid a ploy to divide the local people. Some yielded to the foul play of the company. This resulted in a group clash. The district administration waiting for a chance, sprung into action. So far, 66 people of Vanagiri village have been implicated under several false cases. 22 of them were sent to Trichy Jail, 140 km from Sirkazhi.
When the CPIML & All India Agricultural Labourers’ Association (AIALA) team headed by Com. Ilangovan, State Committee member (SCM), CPIML and National Council member, AIALA, (other members of the team, Subramanian, Veerachelvan, Kalaiarasan) visited the affected village, no male member could be found. Heavy police force was deployed in the village. The women folk were furious and they endorsed the proposals of the team to conduct campaign opposing the power plant.
On 28th Nov. the distt. unit of CPIML and AIALA held a protest meeting at Dharmakulam near Poombhuhar. Apart from our own gathering, around hundred people from 4 villages participated. Indirani of Vanagiri, Veerapandi of Poombhuhar spoke at the protest meeting. Heavily coming down on the DMK govt which has invited the company to start the project, Com. Ilangovan called upon the people to unite to drive away the company. One village youth, Silambarasan, also spoke of Singur and Nandigram where people successfully fought and wrested their right.
Not only in Vanagiri, throughout the more than 1000 km of coastal stretch in Tamil Nadu, several coal based power plants have been proposed. To facilitate commissioning of these plants major and minor ports are also in the pipeline. Altogether three major ports and 9 minor ports and few jetties are proposed. In the Port town of Nagapattinam, Dist. headquarter, one Tridem group with the investment of Rs 10,000 crore is going to develop a giant power project and a deep sea port. Duly, the project will be accorded ‘Free Trade Zone’ status. 3000 acres of non-agricultural land has been given by the DMK govt to the company.
All these projects will wreak havoc to the ecology, environment, land and sea mass, there by uprooting the life and livelihood of millions. The cumulative effects will be several times more than the Tsunami devastation brought to the people of the coastal districts. Apart from the fishing community, labouring peasants and agricultural labours too are raising their voice of opposition. Party and AIALA are planning for a ‘no-power-plant campaign’. People from different walks of life have responded positively. Big corporate companies and corporate-friendly DMK govt. are in sync to inflict lethal assault on the rice bowl of the State.
Protest against Human Sacrifice
An extremely shocking and horrifying incident has taken place in the home district of Bihar CM – Mr. Nitish Kumar. A two-year old boy Indrajeet Das, son of one Ravindra Ravidas from Bisai Bigaha village under Parwalpur Block of Nalanda Dist. was kidnapped and killed as a (ritual) sacrifice at the newly built “Tiranga” brick kiln in Bakaur village under Islampur Block on 20th October 2009. The owners of the brick kiln got the boy kidnapped at a sum of Rs.15000/- with the help of local contractors.
Furious against this atrocious and most cruel barbarism the CPI(ML) held protests at Bihar Sharif (Dist. HQ) on 23rd October and a public gathering in Bisai Bigaha village on 28th October. The speakers at the meeting strongly condemned the fact that the local JD(U) MP and the son of the local MLA have shamelessly gone out of their way to protect the killer brick kiln owner. The CPI(ML) leaders addressing the public gathering called upon the people to punish such owners through a people’s proceedings/mass action. Party has demanded capital punishment for the killer owner of the brick kiln and immediate cancellation of kiln’s licence, rupees five lakh compensation to the family members of the slaughtered child.
AISA’s 4th Unit Conference at JMI
The 4th Unit Conference of All India Students’ Association ‘s (AISA’s) Jamia Milia Islamia (JMI) unit was held on 4th November, 2009 at Com. Ibn-Ul-Hasan Basru Hall (Department of Arabic studies), JMI, with the slogans: “Defeat the Assault of Neo-Liberal Agenda on Student Community!!” “Defeat State’s War On Democracy”, “Down With Repressive Policies & Draconian Laws!!”, “Intensify Struggle For Campus Democracy!!”
A thirty seven member executive committee was elected by the Conference. Seven office bearers with Com. Aslam Khan as Secretary and Com. Sandipan as President was elected in turn by the EC. AISA’s General Secretary Ravi Rai, Delhi State Secretary Rajan Pandey, Delhi State President Sandeep Singh addressed the delegates.
It was resolved that the Unit will intensify the membership campaigns keeping in view the upcoming National Conference and intensify the struggle for Campus Democracy.
Land Snatched by Zamindars Re-captured in Begusarai
In Sakarbarsa village under Cheria-Bariarpur region in Begusarai dist., 85 landless people had been granted parcha for ceiling surplus land in 1991 but the Administration did not actually get the land’s possession transferred. However, the parcha holders have been getting receipts issued in their name and even received compensation for crop damage in 2007 due to floods. In the meantime the local zamindar captured the land by deceit in 2002 through a fraudulent order from the Dist. Magistrate.
On 6th November this year, 500 people armed with traditional weapons and led by CPI(ML) re-captured the 106 bighas of land, granted to the 85 parcha holders, by planting red flags on the land. Since August the Party had been alerting the Administration through dharna etc. about this issue, but all went in vain. After the re-capturing SDO, Land Reforms Commissioner- Manjhaul, Area Inspector – Bariarpur PS reached the spot on 12th November to hold talks. We spoke to them to sort out the matter and land’s actual ownership rights by the 85 parcha holders was explained to them.
The zamindar is employing various tactics to hamper the tilling of the land and also threatening to snatch it back with the help of goons and Administration. The people are also prepared this time.